Show: FOR THE RECORD Date: March 21, 2017 Guest: Donald Trump; Mark Meadows; John Cornyn; Sean Spicer; Thomas Massie; Paul Ryan; Michael McFaul; Jim Himes, Mike Allen, Annie Linskey, Anne Gearan, Erin McPike
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOR THE RECORD HOST: Yes or else, President Trump behind closed doors and facing divided GOP telling them vote for the healthcare bill or lose your seat in the 2018 Election. Did that worry and scare Republican lawmakers into changing their minds? Well, we have the latest vote count. It will give you a big hint where this bill might be going or not going.
Plus, the Kremlin is watching the congressional hearings and today hits back. The Russian Government responding to that stunning testimony from FBI Director James Comey. We`re going to tell you what the Kremlin said and why the next public hearing on the Russian Election hack could be even more explosive.
Plus, grilled on the hill Judge Gorsuch in the spotlight answering questions on everything from abortion to President Trump, the big question, will Democrats filibuster?
President Trump warning fellow Republicans vote "Yes" for the GOP Healthcare bill or else. Two days before this Thursday`s vote in the House and the GOP Healthcare bill, the president meeting behind closed doors with House Republicans to do arm-twisting. NBC news reporting the president saying the GOP majority is at risk for 2018 if the Republicans vote "No" on Thursday. "Washington Post" quoting President Trump saying, "I`m gonna come after you" now afterwards President Trump talking to reporters.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT-ELECT: We had a great meeting and I think we`re going to get a winner vote. We`re going to be...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you...
TRUMP: ...we`re going to have a real winner. It was a great meeting, terrific people. They want a tremendous healthcare plan and that`s what we have. And there are going to be adjustments made. But I think we`ll get the vote on Thursday.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You said...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Senator Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell saying today, "I would hate to be a Republican whose vote prevented us from keeping the commitment we have made to the American people for almost 10 years now." So what is the vote tally? Well, as of right this minute, 26 House Republicans are leaning "No" and that is plenty to kill the bill. House Freedom Caucus Chairman, Mark Meadows telling NBC that he`s not afraid of voting "No".
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK MEADOWS, HOUSE FREEDOM CAUCUS CHAIR, REPRESENTATIVE: I serve at the pleasure of the people of Western North Carolina. And when you serve at their pleasure, it`s only those 750,000 people that can send you home. And it`s a temporary job and I`ve known that from day one.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: This all coming after the House rules committee made changes to the GOP bill in an effort to get more Republicans on board and Democrats also bringing out the big guns. Tomorrow, Former Vice-President, Joe Biden will be on Capitol Hill with House Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi fighting to save Obamacare. With me Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, Senate Majority Whip. Good evening, sir.
JOHN CORNYN, SENATE MAJORITY WHIP: Hi, Greta. Good to be with you.
VAN SUSTEREN: So, what are your thoughts on the numbers? You`ve seen all the number counting in the House. It looks like they can`t afford to lose many. They have already - they have 26 who are not a sure thing. So, how does it look in the senate?
CORNYN: Well, it`s a work in progress. First, we want to see what the House does and of course there is likely to be some changes in the House Bill. As you mentioned, it goes before the rules committee and then will be voted on on Thursday. But I`m optimistic that they`ll hit to the 216. I understand that`s the number because there are five vacancies instead of the normal 218. And then we`ll take it up in the senate. It will be open for amendment and we will -- the senate will work its will.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, it looks like the senate has got some "No`s" though. You`ve got some problems in the senate -- Senator Rand Paul is no, Senator Mike Lee is no, Senator Tom Cotton is no so how do you get one of those three on board?
CORNYN: Well, we`re going to have to talk to them and try to keep working with them to address their concerns. You know, there is no such thing as a perfect bill as you know. There is as good as we can do bill. And this is just one step of the process in keeping that commitment that Senator McConnell talked about that we`ve been making for the last three elections. So, we need to keep our promises. We need to do the best we can and we need to keep working until we could bring down rates and get people more choices.
VAN SUSTEREN: I assume if it passes the House and makes it over to the senate, there`s a lot of pressure on those three senators because, you know, if they vote "No", then it`s over and that`s of course the warning that President Trump laid on the Republicans in the House today. How do you do your arm-twisting behind closed doors? Do you point that out to them?
CORNYN: Well, you know, senators are hard to arm-twist, I have to tell you, but I think it`s -- if people see this, they are the only thing between success in terms of keeping our promise and failure. I think that`s going to be very influential on all of them. And having the president being committed to this is really important and to have him continue to make the case with my colleagues is going to be critical to the outcome here. But this is not going to be easy, but I think it`s absolutely essential we keep our commitment.
VAN SUSTEREN: If there are amendments made to this bill in the senate, there are even amendments that are appealing to the Republicans in the senate, enough to pass the bill to get it passed the finish line, it won`t be scored by the CBO in advance to the vote, am I right?
CORNYN: That`s correct. That`s correct.
VAN SUSTEREN: So in some ways there, you know, this hold that Republicans going to keep they don`t want - they don`t want more debt and so they`re sort of flying blind then when they vote on it if there are these amendments change of significant proportion.
CORNYN: Well, you`re right you can`t add spending from the house bill. But as I understand what the house is trying to do is give the senate some space that is offset spending that would not raise the overall level of spending in the bill and raise a point of order and potentially kill the bill.
So we`re work very closely with the house to try to figure ways to accommodate the concerns of people not only in the house but here in the senate. And then try to reconcile those differences perhaps even in a conference committee.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, the other activity on Capitol Hill Senate Judiciary Committee, Judge Gorsuch, this is 2017. If this were 1980, this would probably be easy, I mean this should be - I think Scalia got almost unanimous...
VAN SUSTEREN: ...and he`s replacing Scalia on the court, how different is the environment today than like 10 or 15 years ago on this?
CORNYN: Well, I got here in 2002 and at that time there was a movement by some of our Democratic colleagues to try to raise the threshold for passage of the Supreme Court nominee at any federal judge to 60 instead of just the majority vote as you`re familiar with and there was a lot of activity ultimately Senator Reid using the so-called nuclear option change the Senate rules for lower court judges but not the Supreme Court.
I think there`s a lot of pressure on our Democratic colleagues because if Neil Gorsuch isn`t good enough for you, there probably never will be anyone good enough for my Democratic colleagues to allow an up or down vote, so this is a real test for them. And I know they`re having a lot of internal conflict and my hope is that ultimately they`ll decide to at least give us an up or down vote on this judge. You really can`t do any better than Neil Gorsuch.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I suppose they`re better off politically, although it shouldn`t be a political statement, but they`re voting yes for the Democrats, yes for Judge Gorsuch because it`s conservative-for- conservative. The next vacancy might be a liberal when they want really have all their ammunition because they don`t want to change necessarily, you know, how the court at least, you know, perceived on so many issues. Do you agree that they would be smarter to save their fight for the next round?
CORNYN: Well, I really do. Because it`s hard to find anything to criticize Judge Gorsuch about in terms of his record, his demeanor, his temperament and his qualifications so it may be smarter for them, but I know they`re not taking advice for me to wait and play that hand with the next nomination when as you point out it really will change the balance of the court. This one really just maintains the status quo in filling Scalia vacancy.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, senator we`ll be watching and see what happens. You`ll have your vote in the senate on the healthcare probably next week if it passes the senate - it passes the house this week, you`ll have your vote next week?
CORNYN: Yes, ma`am, that`s right.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. We`ll be watching. Thank you, sir.
CORNYN: Thanks, Greta.
VAN SUSTEREN: White House Press Secretary, Sean Spicer saying the president was right to suggest House Republicans who do not support the healthcare bill could find themselves in political hot water.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think there`s going to be a price to be paid, but it`s going to be with their own voters. And they`re going to have to go back and explain to them why they made a commitment to them and then didn`t follow-through.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Joining me, Republican Congressman, Thomas Massie from the great State of Kentucky. He was in today`s behind closed door meeting with President Trump. Now, after the meeting, Congressman Massie he took to the president`s favorite platform, Twitter. The congressman twitted, "President Trump visited this a.m. He is way more charming and intelligent than media want you to believe. I`m still no on ObamaCare-Lite. Nice to see you, sir.
THOMAS MASSIE, REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMAN: Thanks for having me on, Greta.
VAN SUSTEREN: OK, first about the tweet, what do you mean he`s way more smart and more charming? Did you think he wasn`t before?
MASSIE: You know, I`ve been in a room with him before and he does come across as more intelligent than he`s portrayed in the media or maybe even his own Twitter account and he was very charming. There was some lighthearted jabs at his opponents in the room, but it was all in good fun.
VAN SUSTEREN: You -- are you still - what I quote, I said that you were a no. Are you still a no right now?
MASSIE: You know, I`m a heck no on this and I think they`ve got problems with the vote. I`ve personally spoken to 29 of my conservative colleagues who are no on this as of today and we`re not even counting the moderate Republicans who are a no. So I think they`ve got a lot of arm-twisting to do between now and Thursday if they`re going to pass this bill in the house.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, 48 hours until the expected vote about 48 hours, is it possible to arm-twist enough I mean with all that -- you say you talked to 29, our count is 26...
VAN SUSTEREN: ...I mean, I don`t know, you know, it keeps changing it seems like every few minutes but is it, is it -- would it be possible to arm-twist to make enough people happy to get down, I think 216 is the number.
MASSIE: Well, I don`t know if it`s possible. I don`t want to say never here on Capitol Hill, but it could be possible. They just got such a steep climb. I don`t know why are they`re playing this game of chicken for Thursday. A lot of people are going to end up in very difficult situations.
Now, to your point about being in electoral trouble over this vote, before I came over here to speak with you, I counted my call log, I have 275 constituents who asked me to oppose this bill and only four who`ve asked me to support it. This is an unpopular bill whether you`re Liberal or Conservative.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, we just got word that Andy Harris, Republican for Maryland is a no, so we have 27 confirmed no`s, so that should be even more arm-twisting for the speaker. All right, if they whip it on Thursday and they find out that it`s not going to pass or even if they have the vote and it didn`t pass, what happens Friday morning?
MASSIE: I think you pick up the pieces and move on, you know, negotiations start when one party says no. And until one side says no, it`s not a negotiation. So we`ve been told we have a binary choice. We think the choice is stop this bad bill, go back to the drawing board and offer us a third choice. And this time the leadership shouldn`t mislead Trump into thinking that this is a homerun in the house when in fact this bill was probably dead on arrival.
VAN SUSTEREN: So, what do you think President Trump thinks? If you say that he`s been misled, by the House leadership...
VAN SUSTEREN: ...what do you think he is thinking, did he - did he sort of, you know, hint today that he feels misled or did he - or did he act like he`s 100% behind this?
MASSIE: Well, you know, the Whip team is still telling him this is a slam- dunk and it`s not. So he`s still being misled in my opinion as far as I can tell. You know, on Thursday, reality is going to come crashing down. And then we`ll see, you know, I can`t predict how the president will feel at that point, but you know, he`s been to Kentucky once and Vice-President Pence has been to Kentucky once.
And it`s still not changing Senator Rand Paul`s mind or my mind. So I`m not sure what else they can do to get the votes they need. If this vote - well right now Greta and I`m just standing feet from the - just a few feet from the chamber, this bill would fail by at least 20 votes.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, what is the single thing that would make a yes for you?
MASSIE: Well, there are a lot of issues in it. I say we`ve replaced penalties and mandates and subsidies with penalties, mandates and subsidies, but the problem I have the most are these refundable monthly tax credits. It`s a euphemism for a new entitlement program.
We`re just changing the way the subsidies work under Obamacare and trying to do it differently. If they would change those to tax deductions from tax credits, then I think it would be very palatable to a lot of Conservatives including Senators Rand Paul, you know, and the others.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, had the leadership lead on so that they are worried about this? I mean, you know, this -- to us it`s very public, does everyone -- the president says it`s going forward, you know, the leadership success is going to go forward. Behind the scenes, do they look like they`re sweating this one?
MASSIE: They`ve been calm right up until just a few hours ago. And on the floor, the arm-twisting was starting and you can see they`re a little more animated and they`re moving a little more quickly from person-to-person. But I think they`re - they`re getting an idea...
VAN SUSTEREN: Have you been offered anything? Have you been offered anything?
MASSIE: You know, what...
VAN SUSTEREN: How`s your - how`s your arm?
MASSIE: Some of my colleagues were flown on Air Force One back to Kentucky yesterday. I didn`t even get an offer to ride on Amtrak One. So, no, I haven`t been offered anything.
VAN SUSTEREN: What else, you know, what else is being offered? What`s up for grabs?
MASSIE: Well, I don`t know. They`ve tried to change how the bill works for New York for instance to try - I think to get some of the moderates on. They changed the way the Medicaid System works in New York under the ObamaCare-Lite that`s what I`m calling it. I really don`t think there`s enough they could change right now at this point.
I think they have to go back to the drawing board to get 216 votes in the house. And, by the way, the fact that there`s five vacancies doesn`t help the leadership. Those were Republicans that Trump nominated to his cabinet. Those are five votes they don`t have.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, we`ll be watching Andrews to see what the Republican Congressmen are headed out there to get a ride on Air Force One we`ll see between now and 48 hours from now.
MASSIE: I just want to get on Amtrak One, you know, that would be big enough for me.
VAN SUSTEREN: You can buy a ticket for that one. I do that one all the time.
MASSIE: OK. Thanks, Greta.
VAN SUSTEREN: Anyway, nice to see you.
MASSIE: See you.
VAN SUSTEREN: Now, throughout the hour, we`re going to be keeping an eye on the confirmation hearing for President Trump`s Supreme Court Nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch. Now, he`s been taking questions since 9:30 this morning and they are still going.
Senators on the judiciary committee hitting the range of topics including whether Judge Gorsuch would hold President Trump accountable for what he thinks or what he thinks to the president`s travel ban and what he thinks about Roe vs. Wade, which is the abortion case, more on the story later in the hour.
But first, more on President Trump warning Conservatives who are voting "No", will he follow-through? Also President Trump avoiding questions on the FBI investigation, when will he break his silence? And why is Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson preparing for a visit to Russia? The only journalist who traveled with him in Asia joins me live.
VAN SUSTEREN: President Trump on Capitol Hill today talking healthcare, but one big issue that he skipped now the investigation of whether his campaign had ties to Russia.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, you`re under FBI investigation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What`s the closing part of the deal, Mr. President?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: But someone who did talk about today`s investigation, House Speaker, Paul Ryan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL RYAN, HOUSE SPEAKER: I don`t think we learned anything new yesterday with Comey`s testimony. We have an investigation that`s been going on in the intelligence community there`s one federally. We`re going to get to the bottom of things all things Russia, but it is very clear that we have seen no evidence and have presented with no evidence that Donald Trump or his staff were involved in this with the Russians.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, we will certainly be hearing a lot more about this next Tuesday, Former CIA Director, John Brennan; Former Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper; and Former Acting Attorney General, Sally Yates will all testify before the House Intel Committee.
And we`re not the only ones who are watching those hearings very closely, so is the Kremlin. The Kremlin already responding to yesterday`s hearing saying, "The hearing participants are confused about the situation. They are trying to find confirmation of their own conclusions but can`t find either proof or confirmation and are going round in circles."
With me, Congressman Jim Himes Democrat of Connecticut who served in House Intelligence Committee and Michael McFaul who served as U.S. Ambassador to Russia from 2012 to 2014. Welcome, gentlemen and ambassador, first to you. The Kremlin obviously is paying very close attention to this hearing.
MICHAEL MCFAUL, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA: Well, they are. But they`re being very dismissive as your quote just suggested. They say that just like Speaker Ryan just said, there`s no evidence whatsoever. They`re going round and round and round on this trying to reignite a cold war and we need to get on with U.S. - Russia relations, this is getting in the way. They`re signaling a lot of support for Secretary Tillerson`s announced trip however. That got more attention yesterday than the hearings.
VAN SUSTEREN: Why is the Kremlin even responding to this hearing? I mean I would tactically just - I would observe but I wouldn`t be responding on a day-to-day, it`s like the president tweeting almost.
MCFAUL: Well, you know, after President Trump`s election, there was a lot of high hopes in Moscow about a, you know, a reset in relations with Russia. As a candidate he said some very positive things about Russia, about Vladimir Putin himself, and what they think is going on here is the deep state as they call it is tearing him down and making it impossible to move forward. So, in a way it`s an explanation for why U.S. and Russian relations have not moved in a positive direction that Putin was predicting.
VAN SUSTEREN: Congressman in watching the hearing yesterday, I`ve seen some of the reports and some has reported and I didn`t hear this or see this, I`m turning to you for, you know, corroboration, is President Trump himself under investigation or is it just the campaign?
JIM HIMES, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Well, the language that FBI Director, Comey used, which by the way directly contradicts what Speaker Ryan said, he said that the hack of the election is under investigation as are links to the Trump Campaign and possible coordination. Coordination was the word that he used.
Now, he didn`t single out the president and in fact he was asked very explicitly whether the president is under investigation and like every other detail about the investigation, he did not answer that.
But it is pretty clear that this is a wide ranging investigation and Speaker Ryan`s comments aside, that was a revelation even to those of us on the intelligence committee who suspected that there might be something going on, but this of course is the first time that we know that it exist and how very broad it is.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, in light of the fact that there is an investigation going on by the FBI, you`re still going to have a hearing next week with Brennan, Clapper, and Yates what do you hope to gather from them? Would you not rather sort of sit back for and let the FBI and the Intelligence Committee do this right now so that you don`t sort of step on their toes?
HIMES: Well, remember that these public hearings are really not about advancing the investigation, although of course yesterday is dead (ph) with Director Comey`s revelation. I expect that you will see a lot of very aggressive attacks on these three individuals, none of whom continue to work for the federal government on the question of leaks because of course some of the leaks happened under the watch of the leadership that will be in front of the committee.
Look, the work of the committee right now is pretty unglamorous. We are - we are waiting through boxes and boxes of documents, we`re talking about what individuals that we want to interview and frankly the individuals who really matter to this investigation, you know, whether it`s Roger Stone or Paul Manafort or whoever it maybe, those interviews will first of all be conducted in private.
And secondly, my guess is that some of those interviews will involve people needing to be subpoenaed in order to appear before the committee and not likely to occur in open session.
VAN SUSTEREN: Ambassador, Paul Manafort has adamantly denied doing anything wrong or improper, but there are reports that he`s under suspicion or investigation in Ukraine. Can you -- is there anything that you can sort of guide me on that whether that`s - is this politics as usual in the Ukraine or what is that?
MCFAUL: Well, I know the Member of Parliament personally. I`ve known him for years, who released that information yesterday. He`s one of the best investigative journalists before he joined the parliament in that country. He would not put this out if it were true.
And I think there`s a real easy way that gets to the truth which is to have a hearing, have it under oath and let Mr. Manafort come before whatever committee. I personally believe we`ll never get to the truth until we have a bipartisan independent commission so that it can be done on the record and not behind closed doors, but let him to say under oath and see what he says.
VAN SUSTEREN: What do you think, ambassador, is the sort of the mission of Secretary Tillerson when he goes to Russia for his trip?
MCFAUL: Well, they have had no contact with senior government officials including Vladimir Putin in Russia and it`s time to get on with that, so I applaud the fact that he`s going. And I expect him to meet with President Putin. I think he`s making a tactical mistake in not showing up in Brussels first at the ministerial of our natal alliance. It just sends a wrong optic that he wants to go to Moscow before Brussels and I would add to that less, you know, go to Berlin, go to Paris and London first, go to Moscow next.
VAN SUSTEREN: Congressman, you have Brennan - if Brennan, Yates and Clapper next week, is Paul Manafort on your sort of expected witness list and is General Flynn?
HIMES: He would certainly be on -- both of them would certainly be on the list of people that I think are essential for us to interview. And again, I agree with the ambassador, it would be great if this were a bipartisan commission doing this investigation as opposed to people who are in the political fray as all of us are.
But I wouldn`t expect necessarily that those individuals are a going to agree to testify, they may need to be subpoenaed and then if they are subpoenaed the question is whether they will invoke their Fifth Amendment right to remain silent.
But again given the nature of the investigation, as much as I agree with the ambassador, there will be an awful lot that needs to be discussed and disclosed behind closed doors because it touches on very sensitive and classified information.
VAN SUSTEREN: Which of course then lights me on fire, I think why I can`t know, why can`t everybody else know. So much is done behind closed doors. I understand the classified nature of some, but I think we over behind closed doors in this city, but that`s just me. Gentlemen, thank you both.
HIMES: But, you know, we can do this of course...
VAN SUSTEREN: What?
HIMES: ...because the 9/11 Commission dealt with a lot of classified information when all was said and done, they came out with a very, very solid report. Yes, a couple, you know, a couple dozen pages were classified at the end, but at the end they were able to go to the public...
HIMES: ...and say here`s what we got.
VAN SUSTEREN: You know, what the difference was? The difference was there was sort of a common enemy, meaning whoever attacked the United States. Here it`s almost Republicans versus Democrats, so I think it`s a little different posture which is - that`s why I want a little more of a spotlight on it, but anyway...
MCFAUL: And Greta and that`s so absurd and that`s so absurd. The Russians attacked us...
VAN SUSTEREN: I understand.
MCFAUL: They attacked the United States of America and I hope someday people will come to understand that this is not a partisan issue. This is an issue of national security, so thank you for saying that. I agree with you entirely.
VAN SUSTEREN: And...
HIMES: No, it is - it is so discouraging to hear, you know, I heard Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House essentially we`re on the same talking points that the Kremlin ran today to defend this president who by the way let`s be clear, this investigation is underway.
There is, you know, there`s this constant phrase of -- there is as of yet no evidence of course. You know, first of all, most of the evidence is in very secured spaces and...
VAN SUSTEREN: And I`ve got...
HIMES: ...nobody should be pre-judging where we wind up, but they have the Speaker of the House carrying water for this president...
VAN SUSTEREN: And I`ve got to go congressman...
HIMES: ...the Russians...
VAN SUSTEREN: ...I`ve got to go to break. I`ve got to pay for the lights in the studio...
VAN SUSTEREN: ...so, I`ve got to go. Thank you both for joining us.
MCFAUL: Thanks for having us.
HIMES: Thanks, Greta.
MCFAUL: Yes, bye-bye.
VAN SUSTEREN: The hearing for President Trump`s Supreme Court pick still going strong. Ahead, what Judge Gorsuch said today about holding president accountable including the current president? And what President Trump told Senator Ted Cruz about congress today.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOR THE RECORD HOST: We`re back with a warning from President Trump with only two days before house republicans vote on health care. The president telling them, warning them that if the bill does not pass, the republicans could pay for it at the polls at the midterm election in 2018. Now, as of right now, NBC News reporting at least 27 house republicans are leaning no for Thursday`s vote.
And get this, shortly after meeting with house republicans, President Trump joking he might actually be better off without congress. Here`s what he said to senators Rubio and Cruz while signing the bill funding NASA and talking about the heroic risks that astronauts take.
(START VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: It`s a pretty tough job. I don`t know, Ted, would you like to do it? I don`t think I would. Marco, do you want to do it? I`m not sure we want to do it.
TED CRUZ, JUNIOR U.S. SENATOR FROM TEXAS: You could send congress to space.
TRUMP: What a great idea.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Mike Allen is the executive editor and co-founder of Axios. Annie Linskey, reporter for "The Boston Globe." Mike, we`re done about 48 hours and the numbers are bad for the republicans tonight, 27 leaning towards no, if not no.
MIKE ALLEN, EXECUTIVE EDITOR AND CO-FOUNDER OF AXIOS: There are 17 would kill it and 21 would kill it. There is about 17 hard nos. So there is little.
VAN SUSTEREN: So four (ph) people were talking about.
ALLEN: . there is a little (inaudible). In the end, what I`m told, it`s gonna pass because it`s gonna be very hard for these specific guys in these districts to say no to Trump.
ANNIE LINSKEY, REPORTER FOR THE BOSTON GLOBE: Yeah.
VAN SUSTEREN: But is it worse to say having spent two years or six years or four years whatever it is saying I`m going to go out there and repeal Obamacare and now I`m going to vote for something which many people think is a fix Obamacare, it`s not really a repeal of Obamacare? LINSKEY: That is the problem that some of these guys are facing. And I will say people that I talked to at the White House -- when they talk about this, they do remind you that, oh, hey, Obamacare took a while to get through and it wasn`t on the first try that they got it. So there is a little bit of like pre-battle (ph) from the White House about, you know, for example if this vote didn`t happen on Thursday, that wouldn`t be the end of the world. ALLEN: But it is the end of the world in that it throws off everything, right? We have a very carefully set up (inaudible) scheme here if you`re going to get this through the senate, if you`re going to get a Supreme Court confirmation by Easter.
VAN SUSTEREN: . and not to mention a two-week recess coming out. I mean, there is that.
ALLEN: District work periods, they work. Come on, Greta.
VAN SUSTEREN: Look, they do go home and do a lot of district work, but this is I think what choose the word from the White House, Trump, I think, you know, health care. LINSKEY: Absolutely. I think you`re absolutely right. I think the while the White House might want to say it wouldn`t be the end of the world if this went off track, I think it most certainly would be. It would be another giant disaster.
ALLEN: And not just for congress. For Trump.
LINSKEY: For Trump.
ALLEN: President Trump especially after this week, after yesterday which was worse than republicans expected by far. He needs points on the board. This is his first chance. VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Okay. So the republicans who don`t like the GOP bill don`t like it because of the money involved, right? Primarily money. It`s expensive. So they are gonna take a few amendments to it, those republicans, and without having it scored again so they will fly blind? Because this is not gonna get a CBO score before they vote. How did they explain that?
ALLEN: Not at first. Come on, it is possible to do anything. And my grandmother used to say by hook or by crook. I think this might be where we are at.
LINSKEY: I think they are better off without the CBO score. Certainly, you know.
ALLEN: It was so great for them before.
LINSKEY: I think at this point, they would rather the CBO just went on their own district period and disappeared for a while. VAN SUSTEREN: If it passes the house and gets to the senate, they got three confirmed nos right now. Lee, Cotton, and Rand Paul. So they have to arm twist one of those into voting yes. Which one? LINSKEY: That`s a lot of.
ALLEN: I think Cotton could eventually vote yes. There would be dramatic changes and he would be able to say that he forced them.
VAN SUSTEREN: And of course then the other problem too is that if you were the one who has it fail.
VAN SUSTEREN: . and you have to tell the American people you`re the one who did that.
ALLEN: Well, you`d be a hero to certain constituents, but not your own. LINSKEY: And you`re gonna have the wrath of Donald Trump if you were that one senator who is the no vote. I think that would be a very difficult position to be in. ALLEN: Assuming the vote comes through on Thursday night, this played all right for Trump. Now, he looks like the closer, right, like he looks like he pulled it off. LINSKEY: Assuming -- assuming it all goes well. I mean, listening to your interviews earlier in the segment, Greta, I mean, these members of congress are playing a pretty tough game. ALLEN: No, specifically (inaudible) who is the head of the conservative conference. He told our (inaudible) he`s very pessimistic about it. He said that the White House is going to keep making changes and then they in the leadership eventually will dare conservatives to vote against it. His implication was that he would take the dare. And if he does, a lot of people go with him and that`s where you get that 27 or the big number NBC had.
VAN SUSTEREN: We have breaking news, we just passed the nine-hour mark in the senate hearing for President Trump`s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Neil Gorsuch. The judge taking questions on hot button topics on abortion and questions of impeachment. We`ll be talking about it later in the show. And is President Trump dealing with a credibility issue? Hear what White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said about that and former house speaker, Newt Gingrich, has a warning for the president and this Russia controversy. That`s next.
MARCO RUBIO, JUNIOR U.S. SENATOR FROM FLORIDA: Obviously, we all understand the importance of this presidential race. I would just ask everybody this: Can this country afford to have a president under investigation by the FBI?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, that is Senator Marco Rubio just before the election asking if the country can afford to have a president under investigation by the FBI. Now, he was referring to Secretary Hillary Clinton, but today we know the FBI is investigating the Trump campaign over a possible Russia tie. NBC`s Hallie Jackson asked White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer about the issue of credibility today.
(START VIDEO CLIP)
HALLIE JACKSON, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT FOR NBC NEWS: Is there concern on the part of the White House about the president`s credibility in that situation, that his own director is correcting his tweets and what he is saying in Real Time?
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Let`s be clear, he was answering questions. I mean, it`s not like he was out there, he was responding to a question. But at some point, there is a distinction between an investigation that it goes into Russia`s involvement in 2016, and this continued narrative that falsely tries to link the Trump -- the president or the White House into any of it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: And today, Republican Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich had a strong warning for President Trump.
(START VIDEO CLIP)
NEWT GINGRICH, REPUBLICAN FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I think that the Trump administration has to be much more cautious and frankly has to have a much aggressive legal strategy because these things grow and grow and grow.
(END VIDEO CLIP) VAN SUSTEREN: Back with me, Mike Allen and Annie Linskey. Also journalist, Anne Gearan, national politics correspondent for The Washington Post. Anne, what do you think about this? This whole sort of -- we heard Senator Marco Rubio. He is talking about Secretary Clinton but nonetheless your thoughts about this.
ANNE GEARAN, NATIONAL POLITICS CORRESPONDENT FOR THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, I think there are two huge issues here. One is the president`s credibility and ability to lead domestically and the other is his ability to lead on the world stage. And whether both allies and adversaries will either believe what he says or see him as compromised and unable to fully occupy the role of president of the United States, leader of the free world, you know, potential at, you know, shooter down if missiles from North Korea, whatever it is.
The thing that other countries want the United States to be is all of a sudden called into some sort of weird question by how much time he has to spend doing this and whether or not there is a legal issue and all of the other things that it raises.
VAN SUSTEREN: Almost that he likes a good fight. I mean, I`m not so sure that it mean -- I`m not so sure.
ALLEN: Well, this isn`t a good fight though. VAN SUSTEREN: No, I don`t think any of these fights are necessarily good. But I don`t see Trump breaking a sweat yet. LINSKEY: But you had, you know, the prime minister of Iraq making fun of the president of the United States in the oval office.
VAN SUSTEREN: And you had the president making fun of Angela Merkel being tapped three days earlier when we tapped her cell phone. ALLEN: But here`s (inaudible) not a good fight just to add a third.
VAN SUSTEREN: I didn`t mean good. You understand what I mean. ALLEN: I got what you meant. A third bucket. To Anne, the (inaudible) of his job (inaudible) to run the executive branch. And as we talk to people there, this is now beyond distraction. Now they`re actually worried. And at the very end of his testimony yesterday, when the FBI director would not answer the question of whether specific individuals were under investigation, it therefore makes you wonder about everyone who is in there.
And you talk to people from previous administrations, they say that is exactly the kind of situation where people have to lawyer up, where then later investigators can come in and ask for text messages, ask for e-mails. And as you know, you know plenty about federal investigations, they never wind up where they start, right?
VAN SUSTEREN: Indeed. I actually remember Karl Rove telling me years ago that when the Bush administration was under a lot of investigations, it was awful. Anyway, it was distracting. Next topic, a long day of questioning at the Judge Gorsuch hearing. Democrats making clear they have not forgotten how republicans block former President Obama`s nominee, Judge Merrick Garland.
(START VIDEO CLIP) NEIL GORSUCH, JUDGE OF THE U.S. COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE TENTH CIRCUIT: Whenever I see his name attached to an opinion, it`s one I read with special care. He`s an outstanding judge.
PATRICK LEAHY, SENIOR U.S. SENATOR FROM VERMONT: Do you think he was treated fairly by this committee, yes or no?
GORSUCH: Senators, I explained to you before, I can`t get involved in politics. And there is judicial cannon that prevent me from doing that. And I think it would be imprudent of judges to start commenting on political disputes between themselves or the various branches.
VAN SUSTEREN: And listen to this, Senator Lindsey Graham asking Judge Gorsuch about impeachment. LINDSEY GRAHAM, SENIOR U.S. SENATOR FROM NORTH CAROLINA: In case President Trump is watching, which he may very well be, one, you did a good job picking Judge Gorsuch. Number two.
GRAHAM: . here is the bad part, if you start waterboarding people, you may get impeached. Is that a fair summary? GORSUCH: Senator, the impeachment power belongs to this body. GRAHAM: That is even better. Would he be subject to prosecution? GORSUCH: Senator, I`m not going to speculate.
GRAHAM: But he`s not above the law. GORSUCH: No man is above the law. No man.
GRAHAM: Thank you. I think you`re a man of the law. And I really want to congratulate the president to pick you. Quite frankly, I was worried about who he would pick. Maybe somebody on TV.
VAN SUSTEREN: And today Senator Chuck Schumer calling for a delay in the vote because of the FBI`s Russia investigation. CHUCK SCHUMER, SENIOR U.S. SENATOR FROM NEW YORK: It is unseemly to be moving forward so fast on confirming a Supreme Court justice with a lifetime appointment while this big gray cloud of an FBI investigation hangs over the presidency.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: And we are back with our panel. Mike, you`re looking at your iPhone, but I know it`s because the news that Judge Gorsuch said that they attacks.
ALLEN: More or less, yeah.
VAN SUSTEREN: . that President Trump`s attacks on other judges.
ALLEN: It was fascinating. He`s now sudden publicly what we knew that he said privately on the senate A.P. just reporting that he said that President Trump`s attacks on federal judges were are disheartening and demoralizing. And putting more distance there. He said before that President Trump couldn`t tell him what to rule and so this is.
LINSKEY: Very smart. This is a play for the 60 votes that he wants to overcome. They don`t want to have to blow this up and this is a play for those sort of democrats, moderate democrats who might come on board and who on would appreciate that. GEARAN: And I think beyond that, on Gorsuch`s part, it is putting his foot down for the judicial independence he hopes to have once he`s on the court. I mean, he didn`t.
ALLEN: Once he becomes a so-called justice.
GEARAN: Exactly, so-called judge. He didn`t call Lindsey Graham down on any one of those things. He let Lindsey Graham make every single one of those points that yes, the president could be in potential legal jeopardy. Yes, this could come to the Supreme Court. Yes, no one is above impeachment. I thought there was fancy footwork going on there, but he let all of these things go. VAN SUSTEREN: And this is not the deal breaker anyway, but one of the questions asked by Senator Klobuchar is about cameras in the Supreme Court. And I`m a big advocate, the American people out to see what goes on in the Supreme Court. They pay their salaries, they pay for the lights there, and all these decisions really have an impact on them. And he didn`t say yes or no. He said he hadn`t thought about it. And I thought hadn`t thought about it, where have you been?
GEARAN: Talking away from that.
LINSKEY: It`s been a fight at the Supreme Court for 20 years.
VAN SUSTEREN: So he thought about it. He thought about it.
ALLEN: It`s A, impossible, and B, interesting enough. C-Span just did a poll and over the time that question has been asked, the public says cameras should come in. VAN SUSTEREN: But he says he hadn`t thought about it. How can you not think about it? That`s what I mean. I can say yes or no or I don`t like it or somebody said.
ALLEN: I think he winked.
VAN SUSTEREN: I thought that was a (inaudible). Anyway, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson might skip the upcoming NATO meeting and plans are in the works for a Russia trip. The only journalist to travel with the secretary joins us next.
VAN SUSTEREN: Big news today from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. The State Department saying he will not be at a NATO summit next month, instead he will meet with Chinese officials at Mar-a-Lago. And we also learned that next month, Secretary Tillerson will be traveling to Russia. One question, how much access will journalists have? So far, he has not given any on- camera interviews. Today, NBC`s Andrea Mitchell didn`t get much response at the State Department photo-op.
(START VIDEO CLIP)
ANDREA MITCHELL, VETERAN CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT FOR NBC NEWS: Mr. Secretary, North Korea is now threatening pre-emptive action. Can you say whether you think that`s a dangerous escalation, sir?
REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE: No comment today. Thanks.
MITCHELL: Any comment on the NATO meetings? TILLERSON: Tomorrow.
MITCHELL: Thank you.
VAN SUSTEREN: Secretary Tillerson allowed only one journalist to travel with him in Asia. He talked to that reporter about how he views the press. TILLERSON: I`m not a big media press access person. I personally don`t need it. I understand it`s important to get the message of what we`re doing out, but I also think there`s only a purpose in getting the message out when there`s something to be done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAN SUSTEREN: Joining me is the reporter who traveled with Secretary Tillerson in Asia. Erin, White House correspondent for the Independent Journal Review. Nice to see you.
ERIN MCPIKE, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT FOR THE INDEPENDENT JOURNAL REVIEW: You too.
VAN SUSTEREN: Okay. You`ve gotten a lot of heat.
VAN SUSTEREN: . because Tillerson didn`t allow all the press to go with him.
VAN SUSTEREN: That wasn`t your decision, was it?
MCPIKE: No. VAN SUSTEREN: Okay. He made that decision. Are you a pool reporter? MCPIKE: No.
VAN SUSTEREN: Okay.
MCPIKE: And that wasn`t my gig for this trip either. It wasn`t what we discussed. I`m not part of the State Department press corps. So I was not a pool reporter.
VAN SUSTEREN: So you might as well be like the writer for the New Yorker.
VAN SUSTEREN: . traveling with the president. Okay, so you got a lot of heat because everyone was mad because they said you should have said no because they let everybody go.
MCPIKE: I have. And look, so Alex Cartel (ph) who founded the site and I talked about this for several days and we both consulted mentors, a lot of people on the business and said, should we have a landing page and make our own reports and have people get the an e-mail alert every time I filed something. And we ultimately determined that would just be too much, it might not work out very well, and I should just focus on the longer story. VAN SUSTEREN: All right. And the truth is, in this city, is that if you hadn`t gone, we`d be jumping you for not taking the opportunity so the rest of us could -- damned if you do, damned if you don`t. Which happens to republicans and democrats at press all the time. All right. So moving on. Why won`t Tillerson talk to the press? MCPIKE: He didn`t talk to the press much at all at Exxon. He said to me.
VAN SUSTEREN: He`s not at Exxon. We`re paying his bill. We need to know what he`s doing. MCPIKE: You know, he said when I have a message to get out, I know where to go find the press. But he does not seem to like Washington at all. He doesn`t like the games we play. He wants to.
VAN SUSTEREN: I don`t like that he won`t talk to the press. MCPIKE: I know a lot of reporters don`t either. But he just -- it`s just not in his bloodstream. VAN SUSTEREN: Does the State Department see that as a problem? We`re not getting a lot of information out of the State Department and very important things. MCPIKE: Right.
VAN SUSTEREN: . went on for instance North Korea. MCPIKE: Currently, I don`t think that they think this is a problem and I don`t think that they have any plans to change course. And frankly, I have a feeling that Donald Trump probably is loving this. VAN SUSTEREN: That he doesn`t talk to the press. MCPIKE: Right. VAN SUSTEREN: All right. He`s taking a trip to Russia.
VAN SUSTEREN: Let me ask you about it. How was Asia? How was that trip? How was South Korea? MCPIKE: How was South Korea? Quite frankly, I spent my time in the motorcade. And the rest of the time, I was in the hotel working and doing phone interviews back here. So, I couldn`t tell you very much about what Tokyo was like, what Beijing was like, what Seoul was like. I was out in the DMZ obviously and that was quite interesting. VAN SUSTEREN: I don`t think people understand that when you travel in the bubble, I traveled often like with President Bush oversees or Secretary Hillary Clinton overseas, and there were times when I`d call back to Washington and they would ask me about something and I would say I don`t know what you`re talking about. They would say, are you traveling with the person? But we get so contained in these bubbles where they are like you do anything, see anything.
MCPIKE: Let me also tell you on Friday night, it was Friday night in Seoul, I was actually asleep. I went to sleep at 7:00 p.m. that night so that I could wake up three hours later and I had a phone interview with Bob Corker. It was 9:00 in the morning in the U.S. And I slept through this whole flap over Tillerson not having dinner with the South Koreans. VAN SUSTEREN: Indeed. All right. So when the article is where? MCPIKE: The article is coming out tonight on ijr.com. You`ll see the second part of my interview and how -- the big story about Tillerson and what he`s like. VAN SUSTEREN: All right. You got a lot of heat, but that`s, you know, you got thick skin as part of being in Washington. Anyway, nice to have you joined us.
MCPIKE: Thank you.
VAN SUSTEREN: Coming up, no excuses. We know about this. I`ll tell you what I mean, that is next.
VAN SUSTEREN: I have something to say for the record. Tonight, I want to leave all of us thinking about something. But first, some history, Rwandan genocide 1994. And I will warn you. What I am about to show you is graphic content, but it`s important to see how horrific this was. More than 800,000 innocent Rwandans viciously slaughtered. Many women and girls brutally raped and then slaughtered.
Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright says her biggest regret in her years of public service was the failure of the United States and the international community act to save those victims from genocide. So now, fast forward to now. Pope Francis is now speaking about that 1994 genocide Rwanda. And during the meeting with the Rwanda`s president, the pope apologizing for the church`s role in the horrifying genocide and asking for forgiveness.
So I know what you`re thinking as you look at those pictures. How could the world have let this happen? Well, fast forward to now. In South Sudan, a United Nations report just issued saying South Sudan is on the brink of genocide. On the brink? That sugarcoats it. My contacts on the grounds say it is happening right now. Genocide right now.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END
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