This is a rush transcript from “Fox News Sunday,” November 26, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
CHRIS WALLACE, “FOX NEWS SUNDAY” HOST: I’m Chris Wallace.
New sexual harassment claims shake Congress and the media.
WALLACE: Another apology from Democratic Senator Al Franken; calls for an ethics investigation into Congressman John Conyers.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I just heard about Conyers two minutes ago. As far as Franken is concerned, he’s going to have to speak for himself.
WALLACE: The president’s defense of Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore.
TRUMP: I can tell you one thing for sure, we don’t need a liberal person in there, a Democrat.
WALLACE: Plus, the firing of veteran newsman Charlie Rose. We’ll discuss the fallout with Carly Fiorina, formal former head of Hewlett-Packard who ran for president in 2016.
Then, Congress races to avoid a government shutdown, as tax reform heads to the Senate floor.
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Frankly, I don’t know why Democrats wouldn’t support tax cuts for the middle class.
WALLACE: We’ll break down prospects for both with Senator John Thune, the number three Republican in the Senate.
Plus, Michael Flynn’s lawyers have cut ties with the Trump legal team in the Russia probe. We’ll ask our Sunday panel what that means for the special counsel’s investigation.
All right now on “Fox News Sunday.”
WALLACE: Hello again, and happy holiday weekend from Fox News in Washington.
We begin with breaking news. The death toll continues to rise after militants attacked a mosque in Egypt during Friday prayers. Three hundred five people, including 27 children are dead, after militants set off an explosion in the mosque, then gunned down worshipers as they fled. No group has claimed responsibility.
Meanwhile, here in Washington, President Trump meets with congressional leaders Tuesday to push for tax reform and try to avoid a government shutdown in less than two weeks. But the big story is a series of sexual harassment claims rocking Capitol Hill and beyond.
Chief congressional correspondent Mike Emanuel starts us off.
MIKE EMANUEL, FOX NEWS CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: After four woman came forward accusing Minnesota Senator Al Franken of sexual misconduct, including the grabbing the bottoms of several of them, Franken came up with an apology on Thanksgiving night.
Quote: I’ve made some women feel badly, and for that I am so sorry, and I want to make sure that never happens again.
The longest-serving member of Congress, Michigan Democrat John Conyers, has been accused of rubbing and touching former staffers, and he admitted $27,000 settlement to one staffer. An attorney for Conyers said, quote: Congressman Conyers has no plans to resign.
But a female House Democrat and The Detroit Free Press said it is time for him to go.
REP. KATHLEEN RICE, D-NEW YORK: Enough is enough. At this point, what I am voicing publicly is what every single private citizen is saying across America.
EMANUEL: Then there is the case of Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore who has been accused of inappropriate behavior with teenage girls.
President Trump defended Moore, noting his denial.
TRUMP: Let me just tell you: Roy Moore denies it, that’s all I can say. He denies it. And, by the way, he totally denies it.
EMANUEL: Charlie Rose, a powerful newsman who has covered his share of politics, lost both his CBS and PBS positions quickly after revelations of inappropriate behavior with young staffers.
NORAH O’DONNELL, CBS NEWS: Let me be very clear. There is no excuse for this alleged behavior. It is systematic and pervasive.
EMANUEL: Texas Congressman Joe Barton had a scandal of his own this week when a former female lover released a naked photo of him on social media. Barton says he has asked the U.S. capitol police to investigate — Chris.
WALLACE: Mike, thank you.
Joining me now, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, Carly Fiorina, who ran for president last year.
Carly, welcome back to FOX NEWS SUNDAY.
CARLY FIORINA, FORMER HEWLETT-PACKARD CEO: Thanks. Good to be with you.
WALLACE: Let’s start with Roy Moore and the presidents evolving position on the allegations against the judge. Here they are.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president said in his statement earlier this week that if the allegations are true, then that Roy Moore should step aside.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: The incontrovertible principle is that there is no Senate seat that is worth more than a child.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I can tell you one thing for sure, we don’t need a liberal person in there, a Democrat.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: What do you make of the president now siding with Moore because, one, he says the judge denies the allegations, and two, because he says the judge has an opponent who’s a liberal?
FIORINA: Well, that’s politics, isn’t it, Chris? This is all about politics and that’s why when politicians talk about this, it doesn’t have a lot of credibility.
This has been going on in politics for a very long time. Democrats try and defend their own. Republicans try and defend their own.
It’s a little bit like George Washington warned us 200 years ago. The problem with politics and political parties is they care about winning above all else. Donald Trump cares about a vote in the Senate, no more, no less.
WALLACE: And what you think should happen to Moore? And what you think should happen to the Democrats? Because as Mike Emanuel pointed out in this piece, we got to senior Democrats now, Senator Franken and Congressman Conyers, who were also facing their own allegations. What you think should happen to these people?
FIORINA: Well, first of all, this behavior goes on all the time. It has for a long time, unfortunately. In politics, in the workplace, in athletics, and when we politicize it — it’s not my team versus your team, Republicans and Democrats alike are guilty of it.
I tell you the most helpful thing would be for Congress to change its own process and procedures. If someone wants to come forward and allege harassment or abuse in congress, they must go through a mandatory 30 days of counseling, mandatory mediation led by a lawyer whose express purpose is to protect the institution, and then maybe if they are lucky they get a secret settlement paid for by taxpayers from the Treasury.
That whole process is designed to protect politicians, Democrats and Republicans alike, to protect the institution and to make it next to impossible for a woman, or in some cases a young boy page, to come forward. That ought to change, that would actually help.
WALLACE: What you think about these politicians? To think that there’s an allegation against somebody — now, in some of these cases, Franken has acknowledged them. At some of the others have denied them, including Judge Moore and Congressman Conyers, do you think that should just be it, they should just — their career should be over?
FIORINA: You know, I think in virtually all of these cases, there has been corroboration of the women stories. And virtually every cases, not one woman who comes forward, it’s three, four, five, six.
And I think what’s most — I think what we all need to think about, but frankly particularly men need to think about, and in virtually all these cases, people knew. People knew this was going on. You can’t tell me that no one knew what was going on with Roy Moore and John Conyers or Al Franken or Charlie Rose or Roger Ailes or Howard Weinstein. People knew. Men knew and women knew.
And so, while we all express outrage now and people say, should they step down or should they not, I think the question going forward is, when are we going to stop tolerating this behavior and respecting the men who do it? Because all of these men have been respected, despite the fact that people knew.
WALLACE: Yes, I want to pick up — I want to pick up on that because you made a comment this week that may surprise people. I want to put it up on the screen.
You said: It will only be a watershed moment if men decide to step forward.
You weren’t talking about the men who commit the harassment. You were talking about the buddies, the other people in the office. Why are they the key?
FIORINA: Well, you see, women continue to step forward. Women continue to fight this. You know, we’re all shocked, for example, by the scandal of the doctor who was abusing young gymnasts. But 25 years ago, there was a scandal about a coach abusing young swimmers, and it all sort of disappeared and he went on to become famous.
In other words, you go through these waves, because it’s gone along a long time. Men, not most, but enough abuse their positions of power in return for sex. And what happens is, women step up but men continue unfortunately into many instances to respect the men who were behaving this way. Every single one of the men who has been exposed in the last several weeks was been respected.
And so, I think men need to decide, I’m not going to respect a man who disrespects women. I’m going to withhold my respect from him, unless he respects others, that will a watershed moment.
WALLACE: I want to turn to your story, because you wrote a troubling essay this week, and I should point out that we have a link to the essay on our web page, foxnewssunday.com. You tell your story starting almost 40 years ago as a secretary working your way up the corporate ladder.
Were you a victim of sexual harassment? What was your personal experience?
FIORINA: Of course I was. Every woman I know was. I don’t mean I’ve been raped or assaulted in some of the ways these women have.
But what was I groped by a friend of my family? Of course. Was I propositioned? Of course. Was I introduced as a bimbo? Of course.
Did I have on occasion men banging on my hotel room door and then lying about it the next morning? Of course.
This is common occurrence unfortunately and that is my point. My point is not that most men are bad, most men are good and respectful. And many, many men have helped many women, myself included.
And all women are not victims. But the perennial abuse of power by men over women has been with us for a long time. And everyone knows it. Women know it, and men know it.
WALLACE: As you are working your way up the corporate ladder, you talked before about men using their power to try — in exchange for sex. Was not something that was done with you where men were in effect saying you can do better, you can move faster professionally if you play ball?
FIORINA: Absolutely. I remember having an argument with one of my bosses. I had a very attractive female colleague and he told her that she should do whatever was necessary to get the sale. She confessed this to me.
And I went and confronted this boss. Not every woman feels she can confront a man, but I have most often confronted men.
And I said, you cannot give your subordinate this career advice. It is unacceptable. He was shocked. He was shocked.
WALLACE: Well, I want to ask you about that, because most people think of you, and as you present yourself here now and during the campaign, head of Hewlett-Packard, strong woman, take care of yourself. But we’re talking about at an earlier stage when you were a more vulnerable woman.
Did these — did these moments threaten you, shake you? I mean, what was the emotional impact on you?
FIORINA: Well, I will tell you one story. I remember sitting at a dinner with a set of colleagues. We were talking about a very large contract, FTS2000, right, here in Washington, D.C. And all of my colleagues were men. That was frequently the case.
And I remember one particular man saying to me, well, you know, when you get to — they were an examination of contractors — he said, when it comes time for us to present our credentials, we better hope you’re not having your period, you won’t be able to present. Wow.
And I remember getting up and walking into the parking lot and crying in rage. I felt humiliated and embarrassed and I came back to the table and didn’t say another word for the rest of the night, but that night I went home and I thought, no one is ever going to make me feel like that again.
So, yes, women go through all of these emotions and unfortunately many of the women who have come forward recently didn’t feel they were in a position to confront because the men had power over them, the power of their career, the power of their future. These women, when you watch them come forward, they obviously feel humiliated. They are embarrassed, it’s not easy.
Women have been coming forward for decades. The point of my post was to say it is men’s turn now.
WALLACE: We’ve had these moments before that seem —
WALLACE: — to grab the nation’s attention, people talk about changing it. You think of Anita Hill confronting Clarence Thomas during his Supreme Court nomination, Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, and people say, we’ve got to stop this. And as you know, the outrage —
FIORINA: It doesn’t stop.
WALLACE: — wears off. It doesn’t stop and the moment passes.
FIORINA: That’s right.
WALLACE: Is this going to be any different?
FIORINA: Well, that was the point of my post. The only way it is going to be different in my opinion is if men change their opinion about these kinds of men. Women have known this is going on and deal with it. Men have known this is going on, and unfortunately too often look the other way. Not all men, but too many men.
And I think the problem is that men still can respect men despite this behavior. When men decide, you know what, I can’t respect this behavior anymore. And power in and of itself is not what earns respect. What earns respect his behavior and leadership and decency and respect for others.
WALLACE: Finally, I want to ask you, I want to go back to President Trump because you have your own moment with him during the presidential campaign when he said this, look — about you: Look at that face, would anyone vote for that?
Here’s how you responded in the next debate, and I also want to play what President Trump said this week about the harassers being exposed. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FIORINA: I think women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said.
TRUMP: I think she’s got a beautiful face and I think she’s a beautiful woman.
I think it’s very, very good for women, and I’m very happy a lot of these things are coming out. I’m very happy — I’m very happy it’s being exposed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Which one is the real Donald Trump?
FIORINA: Oh, you know, we could endlessly analyze Donald Trump. What I focus on always is someone’s behavior, how do they behave? Are they leading or are they not leading?
WALLACE: And President Trump?
FIORINA: Well, I think leaders understand that how you do things is as important as what you do. Leaders understand that they need to build support. Leaders focus on solving problems. Leaders serve others.
WALLACE: And — you seem to be saying you don’t think this president meets that test.
FIORINA: Well, I don’t think he has yet often enough. He won’t be the first president to fail the test of leadership, and he won’t be the last, unfortunately.
Politics is too rarely about leadership. Politics is too rarely about problem-solving. Problem is too rarely about serving others.
Politics is to often about my team versus your team. It’s become like sports. And we all know how emotional and irrational sports is.
WALLACE: Carly, thank you. Thanks for coming in on this holiday weekend. And it’s always good to talk with you.
WALLACE: Up next, we’ll bring in our Sunday group to discuss the pressure to unmask the harassers on Capitol Hill.
Plus, what would you like to ask the panel about what should happen to Congressman Conyers and Senator Franken? Just go to Facebook or Twitter, @FoxNewsSunday, and we may use your question on the air.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He gives a total denial, and I do have to say, 40 years is a long time. He’s run eight races, and this has never come up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: President Trump defending Alabama Senate candidate Judge Roy Moore against allegations of sexual harassment after the president previously said Moore should step aside if the allegations are true.
And it’s time now for our Sunday group. Former press secretary to Vice President Pence, Marc Lotter, Marie Harf, a State Department official in the Obama administration, Catherine Lucey, who covers the White House for The Associated Press, and Guy Benson of townhall.com.
Well, Catherine, what can you tell us about the president’s change of position and decision to side with Moore after originally saying that if the allegations were true, he should step down, now saying he is denied it and besides his opponent is a liberal? Why did he change?
CATHERINE LUCEY, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS: Well, there’s a couple things here, and as you heard from the previous guest, politics plays a role. The president is concerned about his agenda should Republicans lose the seat in Alabama and that’s definitely part of it.
He also does appear to be stressing the idea that these are old allegations and, you know, questioning whether they are true or not. He’s really suggesting that that might be an issue.
It’s also interesting, though, that we’ve seen sort of changing responses to the president and also the president and his daughter are saying two different things. Ivanka Trump came out with a very strong statement saying that there’s a special place in hell for people who prey on children. But the president seems to be saying that, you know, that he is comfortable with — he does not endorse, but he seems comfortable with Moore.
WALLACE: This week, Leigh Corfman, who said she was 14 years old when Roy Moore touched her inappropriately, she told her story on television. Here’s a clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEIGH CORFMAN, ROY MOORE ACCUSER: He basically laid out some blankets on the floor of his living room and proceeded to seduce me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Marc, you are still close to this White House. As we said, you are the former press secretary for Vice President Pence, why do you think the president changed his mind and decided to side with Moore? And what do you think are the chances that, you know, they got December 12th, this special election, that he’ll go down and actually campaign with Judge Moore?
MARC LOTTER, FORMER VP PENCE PRESS SECRETARY: I’ve seen no information and I honestly don’t think he will go down to Alabama, and that’s not what I’m hearing from my former colleagues inside the White House still. But really, what this is going to come down to, the same thing that most elections do, when voters go into the polls in Alabama in a couple of weeks, they’re going to weigh these allegations.
They’re also going to take a look at Doug Jones’ record and whether they can — whether they want someone representing them in the United States Senate who was pro-abortion, going to be an ally of Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi and trying to block the president’s agenda. They will weigh those competing interests and they will cast their votes and they’ll make a decision.
WALLACE: But I guess my question is, it seemed that they had, the White House, a pretty good position, which is if it’s true, he should step down and stay out of it, and then the president changed that and decided to get into it, to the extent of saying, we don’t want a liberal in the Senate, and these are decade old allegations.
LOTTER: I think it’s pretty clear that Judge Moore is not going to step down. He has said that he’s not going to end — his name is going to be on the ballot whether this was a week or two ago or now. So, at this point, it’s in the hands of the voters of Alabama.
And what I think you heard the president say was, was that there are — while these are very disturbing allegations, but you also have to take a look at Doug Jones’ record. This cannot be — I know the Democrats and some of the media just want to make this a referendum on Roy Moore. But you also have another candidate in this race that you have to take a look at his record as they go into the voting booth.
WALLACE: Marie, let’s talk about the larger moment here, because it isn’t just Judge Roy Moore by any stretch of the imagination. As we pointed out, Democrats, Al Franken, John Conyers also stand accused. News man Charlie Rose’s 50 year career blew up in less than 24 hours.
What’s going on here in terms of this wave of allegations of harassment, and how far, how sweeping do you think it will be?
MARIE HARF, FORMER STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: Well, I think this is probably just the beginning, especially here in Washington. We talk a lot about Congress. This is clearly an issue that spans industries from media to politics to sports to comedy. It’s not Democratic. It’s not Republican.
I think this is just the beginning of a cultural moment where women feel comfortable speaking out. There is safety in numbers here. But the question, and Carly Fiorina brought this up, I think it’s a really important question, what is the long term change in behavior here? And how do we as a culture look at the different allegations, they’re not all the same. They’re all different in their own ways, how do we have standards for what the appropriate response should be?
Should they all have to resign? We would probably all say, no, but where’s the line? These are issues that we as a culture are going to be dealing with for months to come, and I really don’t want this political tribalism to get in the way of that conversation, because it truly does cross I think all partisan boundaries.
WALLACE: Well, let me pick up on this with you, because as I talked about with Carly, we’ve had these moments before. I mean, folks who weren’t paying attention back then and were too young when Anita Hill challenged Clarence Thomas in that hearing in the early ’90s when he was — had been nominated for the Supreme Court, it was just stopped every dinner, every party and people were taking sides.
And everybody thought, well, this is it, this is the tipping point. It wasn’t, obviously. We’re 25 years later, it still goes on.
Why do we think this will be any different, that the outrage won’t be there and then it will dissipate?
HARF: I think we hope it will be different because in part of the breadth of the accusations, you know, men across the political spectrum, across different industries. But there are a lot of women today, even Republicans who say sitting in the Oval Office is a man who was accused by over a dozen women of sexual harassment or assault.
So, clearly — I think for a lot of women, this moment feels empowering. But for a lot of us, it also feels like the problem is bigger than we thought, the fact that it crosses so many different genres. We have hoped that things will change, but we have no guarantee of that. And that is very frustrating to a lot of us.
WALLACE: We asked you for questions for the panel, and a lot of folks are upset to find out something I have to say I didn’t know, which is that members of Congress can settle cases with members of their staff, on sex harassment, in secret and at taxpayer’s expense.
And we got something on that from Donald Cooley, who tweeted this. Should their names, the members of Congress who have settled sex harassment cases, should their names be released? Should they pay back the money immediately? And should they be suspended, dismissed like corporate America?
Guy, how do you answer him?
GUY BENSON, TOWNHALL.COM: I think when people talk about during this warm, it’s hard to imagine something more swamp like than this, where our elected representatives can abuse their power, abuse subordinates and then secretly use a slush fund of our money to pay them off without any of the details ever being released. The fact that that is the current status quo is jaw-dropping I think to most taxpayers, and it’s completely unacceptable. On its face, that cannot continue.
WALLACE: Do you think — you know, again, I guess having been in Washington a long time, I’m always skeptical. Yes, they’re going to take a vote this week and mandatory sex harassment training for members and their staffers.
Do you think it will go further? Do you think that Congress will really clean up its act? That’s not a rhetorical question.
BENSON: No, because it’s a self-protection racket. That’s the whole point of this. Both parties know that there are people in their ranks being shielded by the status quo. And it’s a numbers game, it’s all about politics. So, they aren’t necessarily keen on this.
So, the only way that it will happen is if the American people are angry enough in a sustained way to make sure that a bill comes to the floor and is voted on and is passed, and people who vote against it are shamed, because there aren’t good reasons to vote no, I would view, at least on the transparency-minded bill.
WALLACE: All right. We have to take a break here. We’ll see you, panel, a little bit later.
When we come back, the push to get tax reform done by the end of the year. Senator John Thune joins us to discuss that and the effort to avoid a government shutdown.
WALLACE: Coming up, Senate Republicans take up tax reform.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN THUNE, R-SOUTH DAKOTA: We think that it helps to deliver meaningful assistance to the majority of Americans, mainly those in the middle class, middle income categories who desperately need a tax cut.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: We’ll ask GOP Senator John Thune about prospects for passing it, next on “Fox News Sunday.”
WALLACE: President Trump has promised the American people a big, beautiful Christmas present in the form of major tax cuts. Can the GOP deliver or will the bill get stuck in the chimney?
Joining us from South Dakota to discuss that and much more, the number three Republican in the Senate, John Thune.
Senator, you said recently you thought that President Trump could be influential, your word, in getting Roy Moore to step down. But, as we have discussed today, the president is now siding with Judge Moore.
And, in fact, I want to put up a tweet that the president sent this morning. The last thing we need in Alabama, and the U.S. Senate, is a Schumer-Pelosi puppet who is weak on crime, weak on the border, bad for our military and her great vets, bad for our Second Amendment, and wants to raise taxes to the sky. Doug Jones, the Democratic candidate Doug Jones would be a disaster.
Senator, does that disappoint you where the president is now?
SEN. JOHN THUNE, R-S.D., REPUBLICAN CONFERENCE CHAIRMAN: Well, I would like to see the president, Chris, come out and support what many of us have said, and that is that Roy Moore it needs to step aside, allow somebody else to be a write-in candidate. We can win that seat.
He is right. If a Democrat wins, it’s going to be a vote for the Pelosi-Schumer agenda, which is going to be against tax reform, against constitutional judges, against smart borders.
But the other alternative is if Roy Moore wins and he comes into the Senate in January, there’s going to immediately be an ethics investigation, which is going to be a cloud that he’ll be operating in, and it’s going to be a distraction for us and for our agenda.
So, you know, ultimately the decision’s up to the people of Alabama, but it strikes me at least that it would be on their best interest and in the country’s best interest, and certainly the best interest of our agenda, if the president would use his influence to try to get Roy Moore to step aside.
WALLACE: So do you think the president has made a mistake in splitting with Senate leaders, like yourself and Senator McConnell, and going with Judge Moore?
THUNE: Well, I can’t — you know, the president obviously can speak for himself, but — and I think he sees the specter of a Democrat holding that seat and what that might mean for his agenda. But the alternative, as I said, isn’t good either, Chris.
And so, as far as I’m concerned, the president, to the degree that he wants to use his influence in this race, could, I think, help everybody out by doing what he can to try and get Roy Moore to step aside, which is what we believe is in the best interest, again, certainly of the country, certainly the president’s agenda, and I would argue for the people of Alabama, although I — like I said, that’s a decision that they — they make and they don’t care a lot what Washington, D.C., thinks.
WALLACE: Let’s talk about the big — or a couple of big issues that are — you’re going to face on the Senate floor in the next week or two. The first is tax reform that should get to the full Senate floor this week.
But it’s in some trouble. There’s one Republican senator, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, who has already said that he’s a “no” vote, and at least five others are on the fence. Is tax reform in real jeopardy in the Senate?
THUNE: I believe it will pass, Chris. I think that in the end — we have members who are expressing what are legitimate concerns, who are — have ideas about how to make the bill stronger and better. And we’re certainly open to those. And we’re going to have an open process on the floor of the United States Senate where people can offer amendments. Those amendments can get debated and voted upon. So it will be a — plenty of opportunities to change the bill in the direction that some of our — our senators want to see.
But, on the other hand, we need to get this accomplishment. This is a goal that we’ve had for a long time. The tax code in this country needs to be changed if we’re going to be competitive in the global marketplace. Our businesses are not competitive today. If we want to get the economy growing at a faster rate, creating better paying jobs, raising wages in this country, we need to get this tax bill across the finish line.
And it also — our important goal in this is to deliver tax relief to middle income families. And the bill that we reported out of the Senate Finance Committee last week and that will be on the floor this week does that.
And so these are all things that our members are for. I think in the end we’ll get the votes. But it’s a process and — a legislative process. It takes time to move it across the finish line. But I think we’ll get a bill to the president.
WALLACE: I want to talk about one of the concerns that have — several of those senators that we just showed of the half-dozen senators, are concerned about, and that is that the official estimate is that the Senate tax bill, as it now stands, will add $1.4 trillion to the debt over the next decade. It would be even more, but as a budget gimmick, some personal tax cuts expire in 2025.
You’ve made it clear, you want to see those cuts made permanent. But if they are, that means the debt will go up even more, more than $2 trillion price tag for these tax cuts.
As a fiscal conservative, senator, are you OK with that, a tax cut that adds $2 trillion to the national debt?
THUNE: Well, look, Chris, the thing that you have to remember about this, and our members all know this. All the senators voted for the budget that allowed us to move this tax bill through the Senate Finance Committee. And we believe that with a reasonable amount, a small, modest amount of economic growth, that number gets completely wiped out. All you have to do is get four-tenths of 1 percent of additional GDP. And, remember, you know, the Congressional Budget Office, the official scorekeeper, says that we’re only going to grow the economy at about 1.8 to 1.9 percent for the course — over the course of the next ten years.
We think we can do much better than that. That should not be the status quo. We should not settle for 2 percent growth in this economy.
Smart tax policy we think can unleash this economy, generate much higher economic growth consistent with historical standards which have been the 3 to 3.5 percent range. But even if we get up to 2.2 or 2.3, we cover the cost of this bill.
So our senators, as they look at this, are going to be saying, OK, what does this due to growth in the economy? Is this a pro-growth tax bill? Will these policies generate faster growth and higher paying jobs and more government revenue? And, in the end, we believe that it will.
WALLACE: One of the other things that Congress has to do is, you’ve got to fund the government, which runs out of money on December 8th. Will you avoid a shutdown? And before December 8th, are you going to pass a long-term spending bill that keeps the government solvent all the way to the end of the fiscal year next September? Or do you think you’re going to end up just passing one or two week extension to kick the can down the road again?
THUNE: Well, we need to pass a long-term spending bill, obviously. And the legislative process, the negotiator that will go on between the White House and Democrats in Congress and our leadership in Congress, sometimes you need to do a short-term extension. But, ultimately, we need to do a bill that funds the government through the end of the next fiscal year and that addresses the important priorities that we need to address.
We’ve got some disaster assistance for some of these areas of the country that have been affected by the weather this last year, the hurricanes, and also some other things that need to be done in the year end bill. But we shouldn’t have a — there shouldn’t be any discussion about shutting down the government. We can make this thing work. We just need to get people at the table, negotiate it. I think the president’s bringing the leadership in the House and the Senate to his office later this week to do that.
WALLACE: Well, let’s talk about one key issue, because the Democrats are saying, if you want — and you need their votes. You can’t do this through a budget reconciliation with just 51 votes, so you’re going to need the Democrats onboard. And they’re saying the price is that you’ve got to have a DACA fix. That you have to find a way to protect the so-called dreamers as part of this spending compromise. Is that something that Republicans, like yourself, are willing to accept?
THUNE: I don’t — I don’t think that ought to be in this bill. This bill ought to be about funding the government. DACA is a big issue. Immigration is a big issue. There’s a lot of sympathy for assisting those, you know, young men and women who were in this country through no fault of their own, who are here illegally through no fault of their own, at the same time doing something about border security. We think those issues need to be coupled.
But that’s a big issue. That is a consequential, legislative issue that needs to be dealt with, but it shouldn’t be dealt within in the context of a year-end spending bill and the Democrats using it — trying to use leverage to — as a — you know, to shut down the government.
That’s not how this ought to be resolved. Let’s do the spending issue. We’ll negotiate that with the Democrats. The DACA issue and border security need to be negotiated separately, hopefully sometime next year.
WALLACE: All right. I want to deal finally with an only in Washington situation is that we now have an agency here in the nation’s capital with two dueling directors. And folks may not have been following this over the holiday weekend.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was created as part of Dodd-Frank to oversee companies that lend to consumers, but Republicans have opposed it from the start. The director quit on Friday and named his chief of staff, this is a Democratic director, holdover from the Obama administration, Leandra English, to be the acting director. But the president named Budget Chief Mick Mulvaney to run CFPB.
Question, when the agency returns to work tomorrow, who’s in charge?
THUNE: I think Mick Mulvaney will be in charge. And I think very much it sounds like now the Justice Department has come out in support of the president’s position on this. Ultimately this may end up in court. But the CFPB was created as an agency, Chris, in the first place that had very little accountability, very little transparency, really no oversight to Congress, and it’s an agency that needs to be reformed. So I expect that Mick Mulvaney will be on the job and he’ll be calling the shots over there.
WALLACE: But, you know, there is, as you well know, there are competing interest here because, yes, you’re right, the Justice Department says the president has the right to put Mulvaney in the job. On the other hand, under Dodd-Frank, the way the law is written is the deputy director, in terms of the vacancy, becomes an acting director until the president nominates somebody who’s confirmed by the Senate.
Is this something that you think that Congress may have to get involved with to try to sort out? Because if we’re talking about a court case, this could take a long time.
THUNE: Well, it could. And the best thing Congress can do is the president make a permanent nomination and we’ll process it as quickly as we can in the Senate and get somebody installed as soon as possible. That ultimately is the best way to resolve this.
But in the meantime, the president has made this appointment. I suspect maybe that it gets litigated, that it ends up in court. But I think, for the foreseeable future at least, my expectation is that Mick Mulvaney will be in that job. But I hope, in the end, it results in — in the reform to that agency, which has essentially very little accountability to the Congress or anybody else.
WALLACE: Senator Thune, thank you. Thanks for your time. And we’ll be following all the action in the Senate this week.
Thank you, sir.
THUNE: Thanks, Chris. Great to be with you.
WALLACE: Up next, we’ll bring back our Sunday panel to weigh in on Robert Mueller’s investigation as former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn cuts ties with the president’s lawyers. Does that mean Flynn is now cooperating with the special counsel?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: This man has served for many years. He’s a general. He’s a — in my opinion, a very good person.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: President Trump praising his former national security advisor, General Michael Flynn, even though he fired Flynn after just 24 days on the job.
And we’re back now with the panel.
Well, Marc, the president’s lawyers say they’re not worried about Flynn apparently dealing with the special counsel because they say he has no information, no evidence that would incriminate the president. Are your former colleagues in the White House really that confident?
MARC LOTTER, FORMER VP PENCE PRESS SECRETARY: I think they are. I mean what we’re looking at now is most likely, according to what the president’s lawyer says, another example like with Manafort and Gates where any kind of special counsel action might be related to outside business dealings that would be separate from the campaign and not necessarily tied to anything that was directly involved with the campaign.
WALLACE: But what about the possibility that these guys are in trouble, Flynn and Manafort, I mean they face federal indictments and they flip?
LOTTER: Well, there has to be information to flip on. And as the president has said on multiple occasions, and there’s still been no credible evidence showing any kind of collusion with the Russians and the Trump campaign. So these are probably just issues relating to General Flynn and his outside business dealings and not directly related to the campaign.
WALLACE: Catherine, from your very different vantage point in the White House press room, what’s your sense of the White House? Are they really that unconcerned about the developments this week involving General Flynn?
CATHERINE LUCEY, ASSOCIATED PRESS: Well, from some of the folks inside that I’ve talked to, I have heard some of what Marc is saying, that people feel like this isn’t raising anxiety levels, that there is a sense that Flynn has to make a — make — make his own choices, that it doesn’t necessarily blow back on the president.
But there’s also a reality that this White House is dealing with the cloud of an investigation. That it’s been there, you know, for months. There’s no sense that it’s ending anytime soon. And it’s not clear, you know, if and when another shoe drops and whether Flynn plays a part in that.
WALLACE: Guy, your thoughts about the developments this week?
GUY BENSON, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think the point is, the only reason there would be blood pressure rising or indigestion at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue as if they know Flynn has something to give Mueller. If this is Flynn trying to save himself or his son or from certain charges, the only way that this becomes a real political problem for the president is if he’s got the goods on someone very high up in the administration. If he doesn’t, then I don’t think this becomes — this doesn’t metastasize as far as it might. If he — if he does have that stuff, then, obviously, it’s, you know, it’s a four alarm fire.
WALLACE: I want to turn to North Korea because we saw a remarkable video this week that shows just how brutal the Kim regime is. Let’s put it up.
A North Korean soldier tries to escape by Jeep over the border into South Korea. As you’ll see, his vehicle gets stuck, and he starts running. That’s him starting to run. And North Korean soldiers fire dozens of shots at him.
He was hit apparently five times. This is infrared video that shows a South Korean soldier grabbing him and pulling him to safety away from the DMZ. That soldier now recovering. All of this as President Trump put North Korea back on the list of state sponsors of terrorism. But Secretary of State Tillerson admitted that there are questions as to how much that will actually accomplish. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE: The practical effects may be limited, but we hope that we’re closing off a few loopholes with this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Marie, your reaction to the video and your reaction to what the president did this week in putting North Korea back on the state sponsor of terrorism?
MARIE HARF, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think the video is a reminder of the length people are going to, to escape North Korea and the brutality of this regime. We know that. But seeing it on video, I think, is stunning for all of us in watching this video.
Secretary Tillerson is right, the state sponsor of terrorism designation is mostly, at this point, symbolic because we have so many sanctions on North Korea already. What I’m really looking for are tangible results coming out of the president’s long trip to Asia that he went on recently. North Korea was at the top of the agenda with China, with Japan, with South Korea. Those conversations could bear more fruit than just this designation that probably won’t do anything in practice.
We haven’t seen a lot coming out from that trip yet in terms of more pressure on North Korea. We may, but we haven’t yet. China still holds many of the cards and Russia has stepped up. Where China has pulled back, Russia has stepped up to help North Koreans. And I hope the administration is also raising this issue with Moscow too.
WALLACE: I want to ask you a question that President Trump asked, which is, why didn’t President Obama, why didn’t the State Department that you worked for, even if it was only symbolic, put North Korea back on the list of state sponsors of terrorism years ago?
HARF: Well, we had a variety of ways to put pressure on North Korea, with sanctions, both our sanctions and U.N. sanctions. We got incredibly tough U.N. sanctions passed on North Korea.
The state sponsor of terrorism list really doesn’t do us whole lot. It may send a signal that you’re trying to be tough, but unless you back that up with sanctions, which we haven’t actually seen a lot of since the designation this week, we haven’t seen them use it to do anything more, they just talk about it, then really the proof is in the pudding.
So this designation is not going to fundamentally or at all change North Korea’s calculation probably. We should focus on action, not on putting people on lists. And I want to see more action from his administration and some other countries, like China.
WALLACE: Do you like being lectured by the Obama administration on taking action on North Korea?
HARF: No, we don’t lecture each other.
LOTTER: We don’t lecture each other. But, I mean, this is a — this is a very important step. It’s hard for the United States government to ask its allies to do more when we don’t take a very simple step of putting them back on the terror list.
And we have seen concrete examples. There was a report this week that in October, China did not import any coal or key minerals from North Korea and exported zero diesel and gasoline to North Korea. So we’re seeing our partners step up.
This is a very simple step. The president said he was going to name our enemies and go after them. And so what you’re seeing is the president saying that the era of apology tours and hugging our enemies is over.
HARF: I didn’t hug any enemies. I don’t know what you’re talking about.
No, look, I think the rhetoric is fine. The question is, will it have any practical impact? And all of these things we’ve seen from the administration from other countries since President Trump took office, North Korea hasn’t changed its behavior. So what will finally get it to? Is it China cracking down? Is it other countries? There’s no magic solution, right? But the fundamental truth is, North Korea hasn’t changed yet, and we need them to.
WALLACE: Let me ask a different aspect of this, Guy, and that is the fact that the Kim regime has not tested a missile — we haven’t really noticed it because we don’t notice silence — since September. Why poke the bear right now?
BENSON: Well, I think the Trump administration is trying to delineate their approach versus — or from what the Obama administration pursued with the strategic patients.
I would also point out that the Bush administration, George W. Bush administration, took North Korea off this list in 2008 as a carrot in negotiations over denuclearization.
BENSON: That has not gone well. Why keep that concession on the table? Take it back. They haven’t earned it. They don’t deserve it. It’s the right move to re-impose this because their conduct has not approved it all, it’s gotten worse.
WALLACE: Fifteen seconds, Catherine.
LUCEY: I think also the president really wanted to show sort of momentum coming off of his trip. So even if this is something of a symbolic gesture, he really wants to show that he is continuing to do things as he comes out of this lengthy Asia tour.
WALLACE: Thank you, panel. See you next Sunday.
Up next, our “Power Player of the Week.” Once again, I dance with the turkeys.
WALLACE: Here’s a holiday riddle we ask every Thanksgiving. Who founded a huge tech company, created a successful cosmetic business, and now raises turkeys like the Native Americans did? Once again, here’s our “Power Player of the Week.”
SANDY LERNER, AYRSHIRE FARM: Farm with the land. Farm with the seasons. Know your soil. Know your rainfall. Know your — know your weather. Know your animals.
WALLACE (voice-over): Sandy Lerner is talking about sustainable farming, raising livestock and growing vegetables without the chemicals that are so common in what she calls factory farming.
Just days before Thanksgiving, she took me out to see — and, yes, to dance — with her 1,300 turkeys. Heritage breeds that trace back to the Indians.
LERNER: Come on, raise your arms. Gobble, gobble, gobble, gobble, gobble. Gobble, gobble, gobble, gobble, gobble.
WALLACE: Lerner is mistress of Ayrshire Farm, 800 acres in Upperville Virginia. But as interesting as her business is how she got her.
She grew up on a farm in California making enough from raising cattle to send herself to college.
LERNER: What I learned was to love work. I’m really happiest when I’m engaged and working and thinking and striving.
WALLACE: She got into computers. In 1984, she and her then-husband started Cisco Systems, that found a way to link networks of computers, the foundation of the Internet. But six years later, venture capital people were running Cisco.
WALLACE (on camera): How do you get fired from a company that you started?
LERNER: We just basically got taken to the cleaners. And part of that was, if you don’t have an employment contract. I got fired by the same guy who fired Steve Jobs.
WALLACE (voice-over): Lerner had a second act. She started a cosmetics company called Urban Decay, with eddy colors for women like her. And in 1996, she bought Ayrshire Farm.
LERNER: It’s historically been people who had disposable income will make strides in farming. Look at George Washington or look at Thomas Jefferson.
You’re such a pretty girl. Pretty is as pretty does.
WALLACE: She raises Shires, war horses that go back centuries, Scotch Island cattle and those turkeys, which she says taste better because of the lives they lead.
WALLACE (on camera): How much is an Ayrshire turkey cost as compared to what I get in a grocery store?
LERNER: Well, our turkeys are expensive. They’re between — I think they’re running this year about $160-$200.
WALLACE (voice-over): At those prices, there are questions about how to make this kind of farming profitable. But while Lerner is determined to run a sound business, it’s not just about the bottom line. There’s a 40 room mansion on the farm.
WALLACE (on camera): What’s it like living there?
LERNER: I don’t know.
WALLACE: What do you mean?
LERNER: I live in the log cabin and I love it.
WALLACE: Do you think you’re a bit eccentric?
LERNER: I am now that I’m rich. I used to just be weird.
WALLACE: And so just days before Thanksgiving, Sandy Lerner and I danced with the turkeys. She grew up on a family farm and she wants to see those values live on.
LERNER: I’m a cowgirl. I can tell what cows are thinking. It’s very much my success as a farmer, which is what George Washington was. He wanted to be a really good farmer. And I think I’ve become a good farmer.
WALLACE: Sandy Lerner has sold more than 800 turkeys this Thanksgiving and she donated more than 300 to local charities. Plus, she gave 1,000 chickens to people hit by Hurricane Harvey.
And that’s it for today. Have a great week. And we’ll see you next “Fox News Sunday.”
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