tv Fox News Sunday With Chris Wallace FOX News April 9, 2017 11:00pm-12:01am PDT
is next, we're about to be in it, have a great week. chris: i'm chris call has. president trump strikes back at syria in response to the chemical attack that killed innocent civilians, sending a message to bashar al-assad and the world. >> it's in the vital national security interest of the united states to prevents and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons. chris: we'll discuss the *'s decision. the signal it sends to russia and north korea in the middle of the chinese summit. our guest, president trump's
national security advisor, general h.r. mcmaster. should the president consult with congress first? we'll ask two leading senators whether the president needs congress' approval and the confirmation of neil gorsuch to the supreme court. senators ben cardin and john cornyn join us. we'll ask our sunday familiar how donald trump is handling his first big foreign policy task. our power player of the week, the former head of u.s. special forces on what we should do in syria. >> we cannot sit by and see this carnage occurring in syria and do nothing.
the trump administration says it's prepared to do more after this week's missile barrage and a syrian air base meant to deter bashar al-assad from using chemical weapons against his own people. in a few minutes we'll ask one of the key figures who helped president trump plan the attack, general h.r. mcmaster. but first let's bring in kristin fisher live from palm beach with the latest from the southern white house. reporter: residents of the same syrian town hit in that chemical weapons attack said war planes have returned to bomb them, this time without the deadly gas. in a letter to congress he
defended his decision to launch almost 60 tomahawk missiles without congressional approval saying he acted in the vital interests of the united states per unit to my constitutional authorities. he said the u.s. will take action as necessary and appropriate to further its important national interests. senior military officials say a russian drone was seen flying over the hospital where victims of the attack were taken. a few hours later, it was bombed. the kremlin is denying any responsibility. now russia is singled a warship towards the two u.s. ships that launched the strike on syria. rex tillerson is ready to take his first trip to moscow. the trip is still on and he will
be bringing a powerful message with him, that president trump is willing to take decisive action any time a country crosses his red line. chris: joining me live from march mar-a-lago. general h.r. mcmaster. the trump administration seems to be sending mixed signals. u.n. ambassador nikki haley says getting rid of assad is a priority. and rex tillerson says first we have to destroy isis. assad can wait. how does the president see this playing out in syria? lt. gen. mcmaster: both secretary tillerson and ambassador haley are right about this. what we need to do and what everyone involved in this conflict needs to do is do
everything they can to resolve this civil war to halt this humanitarian political catastrophe not only in syria, but a catastrophe affecting the greater middle east and europe and the american people as well. what's required is some kind of political solution to that very complex problem. what ambassador haley pointed out is it's difficult to understand how a political solution could result from the continuation of the assad regime. we are not saying we are the ones who will affect that change. what we are saying is other countries have to ask themselves shard questions. russia should ask themselves what are we doing here? why are we supporting this murderous regime using the most heinous weapons available. while people are anxious to find
inconsistencies in those statements, they are interested in the ultimate political objective in syria. chris: secretary tillerson said destroying isis should come first. you don't seem to be saying that. lt. gen. mcmaster: that's exactly what we are saying. we have seen how isis brutalizes people, they established control of populations and resources and is a growing threat to all civilized people. we are growing operations with our partners to defeat isis and reestablish control of that territory, control of those populations, protect those populations, allow refugees to come back and allow the resources. chris: it's two separate tracks at the same time or does isis have to happen first before we and the international community
move to depose assad? lt. gen. mcmaster: i think as you saw with the strike, there has to be a degree of simultaneous activity as well as sequencing of the defeat of isis first. what you have in syria is a destructive cycle of violence perpetuated by isis obviously and also by this regime and their iranian and russian sponsors. what we have to be able to do is work together with our allies and partners to help resolve this conflict. and the resolution of the conflict will entail each of the elements you are talking about, the defeet of isis, and it has to be a significant change in the nature of the assad regime. chris: let me ask you a question that may clarify this. syrian war planes are using that same base that you and the u.s. forces get hit thursday night and they are reportedly again
bombing that same town in northern syria. but only this time with conventional weapons, not chemical. the question is, if assad continues killing babies with conventional weapons, not chemical, will this president stop that or will president trump say he's going to do nothing, stand aside? lt. gen. mcmaster: what's important to remember is our objective, our objective was to deter the continued use because it's been a pattern of use of chemical weapons by the assad regime in his mass murderer attacks against civilians. we are prepared to do more two days ago. what's significant about this strike is not that it was meant to take out the syrian regime's ability to commit mass murder of its own people, but to send a strong signal to assad and his
sponsors that the united states cannot stand idly by while he's murdering innocent civilians. the significant thing about this -- chris: he's continuing the mass murder. the question is if he's using conventional weapons isesident p him from using conventional weapons to slaughter innocent civilians?lt. gen. mcmaster: wis president we have someone who understands and is helping us provide him with an assessment. the president has in response to a mass murder attack acted decisively. and if they are using that airfield again, that's not the objective to take out that airfield forever. the objective was to send a strong political message to assad. this is very significant. this is the first time that the
united states has acted directly against the assad regime. that should be a strong message to assad and to his sponsors who are enabling his campaign of mass murder against his own civilians. chris: there is the possibility president trump will act against president assad if he goes against civilians no matter what weapon he uses? lt. gen. mcmaster: the president will make whatever decision he thinks will in the best interest of the american people. it will be our job to provide him with options as to how we see this conflict evolve in this period of time before us. after the strike. and what we are doing now is working with our partners and allies. everyone except russia and iran who were somehow thinking it is okay to be allied with this murderous regime. we are working with our partners
to magnify the efforts of this strike ultimately resolving this civil war. defeating isisen and bringing peace and security back to this region. chris: you mentioned russia. russia has sent a warship into the mediterranean. and over the weekend, the prime minister of russia, medvedev wrote, the u.s. is quote on the verge of a military clash with russia. what are we prepared to do if russia defense its interests in syria? lt. gen. mcmaster: this is part of the problem in syria, russia's sponsorship for his murderous re real. thi -- murderous regime. so russia could be part of the solution.
right now i think everyone in the world sees russia as part of the problem. chris: was russia involved in the chemical attack? lt. gen. mcmaster: what we should do is ask russia how could it be if you have advisors at that airfield that you didn't know the syrian air force was preparing an executing a mass murder attack with chemical weapons. i think we ought to ask them that question. chris: president trump talked during the campaign and since about trying to establish an alliance with vladimir putin. and he indicated that there was some kind of moral equivalence between the two nations. here he is. >> will i get along with him? i have no idea. >> putin is a killer. >> we have a lot of killers. you think our country is so innocent? chris: what is our relationship with russia and putin today?
lt. gen. mcmaster: today it could be whatever the russians want it to be? do they want it to be a relationship of competition and potential conflict? or a relationship in which we can find areas of cooperation that are in our mutual interests? how is it in anyone's interest that this conflict in syria and catastrophe in the middle east continues? they can be part of the solution or continue a sophisticated campaign of subject version against western interest and a campaign of subject versio -- od intervention. that's what we'll be exploring with the russian leadership this week. the president is determined to do everything he can to advance american interests. if that entails working with others to come to solutions in the world that enhance our security, the president will do
that. it's up to the russian leadership to reevaluate, what are they doing in the middle east? chris: this all overshadows the fact that the missile strike happened in the midst of a summit between president trump and chinese president xi. during dinner the president told president xi about the attack. did president xi give any indication he takes president trump's statement more seriously than if china doesn't act to stop nort north korea's nuclear program he will. and we learned a u.s. strike force is on it way to the korean peninsula. why? mac require many a privilege to be part of this national security team. it's extraordinary the degree of
activity that went on this week and nobody broke a sweat over it. we have extraordinarily competent people in positions to provide the president with options and an amazing military to execute flawlessly. i think it was surprising to the guests here about how no one was even stressed out or anything about the need to conduct this operation in the wake this murderous -- attack. the up it was successful because it met the first objective to allow the president and premiere xi to build a relationship to identify areas of cooperation and advance our mutual and american interests in particular. chris: i have to ask you lightning round questions and answers. why the carrier strike force to the korean peninsula mac require's prudent --
lt. gen. mcmaster: it's prudent to do it. this is a rogue regime that is a president xi and president trump agreg it's unacceptable. what must happen is the denuclearization of the korean peninsula. the president asked us to give him a full range of options to remove that threat. chris: you have got china, syria and russia. but a lot of people in washington are talking about relations inside the white house. welcome to d.c. politics. why did you push for steve bannon to be taken off the principal's committee of the national security council. lt. gen. mcmaster: what the president was doing is making clear he's going to have those permanent membersth for every
official meeting of the national security council to be those who will give him their advice on the long-term interests of the american people. so really, though, the president can get advice from anyone he wants. and he does that. he asks a broad range of people he trusts and steve bannon is one of them, about policy decisions and about the risks and opportunities involved with each of these. none of that has changed. chris: do you think it was appropriate to have a political advisor in that role? lt. gen. mcmaster: what is appropriate to have whoever the president wants in that role. and steve bannon provides the president with advice on a broad range of issues and will continue to do so. chris were general mcmaster thank you. we cover candidate a long range of issues. thank you for your time, sir. lt. gen. mcmaster: thanks, chris, it was a pleasure to be with you.
clear plan for how to proceed in syria? ben: not at all. what we saw was a reaction to the use of chemical what he phones that's of us supported. but we did not see a coherent policy on how to deal with the civil war and also deal with isis. chris: there were mixed messages from the administration. haley is talking about depotion assad, tillerson talking about taking out isis first. do you have a clear sense of what the administration policy is? john: i think it's to send a message to assad and the russians and the north koreans that there is a new man in charge our foreign policy. i applaud him for enforcing the
red line president obama drew and didn't enforce. but we need to work with the president to deal with this lack of strategy in syria. we haven't had one for six years in the obama administration and 600,000 people have died and millions displaced. we need to work with the white house and come up with one that has bipartisan support. chris: senators supported this strike under these specific circumstances. but there was concern from both sides of the aisle is whether president obama gets more deeply involved, whether he needs authorization from congress to do so. here us democratic leader chuck schumer. >> it is now, however, incumbent upon the trump administration to couple with a co-thernt strategy and consult with congress before implementing it.
chris: is schumer right? does the white house need approval from congress if it's going to get more deeply involved in syria? john: under the war resolutions act, it is required. and i think it also makes good sense. before we commit our military and our men and women in uniform to any sort of conflict, they deserve the support of congress on a bipartisan basis as well as the support of the american people. that's why that consultation and advice is so important. chris: president obama and now president trump both authorized widespread use of force across the middle east based on an approval given by congress right after 9/11. this is 15 years later. does that cover moving against the assad regime or does the president need new approval.
when president obama went to congress back in 2013 to enforce the red line it was clear congress wasn't going to approve it. do you think if the president went to congress now, democrats and republicans would pass resolutions supporting the use of force to depose bashar al-assad? >> in regards to the 2001 authorization, it's been interpreted by the obama administration and the trump administration to cover the use of force against isis in syria. many of us disagree with that and we think we shouldn't be using the 9/11 resolution for that purpose. in regards to going against assad's syria, there is no authority to use force. the president has some inherent article 2 powers. but it's incumbent upon him to consult with congress and if there is going to be a use of
force on a continuing basis, he needs the authorization. chris: do you think the house and senate, democrats and republicans would authorize use of force? ben: it depends on whether the plan can get support of congress and how the force will be used to implement that strategy. chris: there was another big story this week, that was the senate republicans invoking the "nuclear option," changing the rules of the senate, to confirm neil gorsuch as the next justice to the supreme court. here was that moment in the senate. >> the nomination of neil m. gorsuch of colorado to be an associate justice of the supreme court of the united states is confirmed. chris: senator cornyn. there has been enough about why this happened and merrick garland. i want to talk about the impact of this going forward.
doesn't this insure the next time a president get an opening, if his party controls the senate, he will appoint someone more ideologically to the extreme wing of his base because he doesn't have to worry about getting bipartisan support and reaching out to the other party. >> this is a restoration of the status quo before the george w. bush administration when there was no such thing as filibustering. clarence thomas got 52 votes when he was confirmed. but i think there is no danger of that happening. what it means is when we elect a president, we know they will be the ones who get to nominate judges, and they will have to get support for that.
at least 51 votes. but judge gorsuch got 54 votes and he deserved it. chris: i want to ask you about the strategy here. some democrats said maybe we shouldn't filibuster gorsuch because thought was the fact that we haven't done it will lead president trump to nominate if there is another opening someone more moderate. have you made a strategic mistake in the sense president trump knows i can nominate almost anyone i want and get a majority of the senate and they will get through. ben: john cornyn is my friend but we disagree on this issue. i think damage has been done to the senate as an institution which is important for our country. chris: but the democrats created some of the damage with the filibuster. ben: democrats and republicans have blame here.
we should change our rules by bipartisan. we shouldn't change our rules to accomplish a purpose. merrick filibuster when he didn't even get a hearing or vote in the united states senate by less than a majority of u.s. senators holding him up. we have seen this go back to president obama's first term when the republicans said we aren't going to confirm any more coast appeals for the district court. chris: and you invoked the "nuclear option." ben: we did. but we have seen more of this under president obama than we have in history. both sides have blame here. chris: when you get back from this two-week recess you are taking, you will have less than one week to pass a spending bill. if you fail to do so, the government is going to shut down. senator cardin, if the white
house insists as they are about including funding for building that wall along the southern border, for having sharp domestic spending cuts to offset a defense spending increase, will you block that even if it means a government shutdown? ben: i'm not sure the president has a majority of united states senate that support funding law. so i think the senate will carry out it will and hopefully provide no taxpayer money to building a wall. chris: if it's a choice between putting money in for the wall and having those domestic spending cuts, would you go for a shutdown? ben: i don't want he see a government shutdown, but we have to look at the trade-offs. i can't answer that a vacuum until i see everything in the bill. chris: senator cornyn, are those
issues i just mentioned worth shutting down the government? john: this is a test for snore chuck schumer and the admin -- for senator chuck schumer and the administration. i'm confident we'll come up with something everyone can live with. chris: next up, we'll bring in our sunday group to discuss the *'s military strike, the gorsuch vote and drama inside the white house. what would you like to ask the panel about the decision to hit syria? what does it mean for the president's foreign policy? we may use your question on the here's something we bet you didn't know. nearly half of all cancers can be prevented.
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>> when you kill innocent children, innocent babies, babies, little babies, with a sceptical gas that is so lethal people were shocked to hear what gas it was. that crosses many, many lines beyond a red line. many, many lines. chris: president trump explaining a sudden change in his policy toward the assad regime one day before ordering a strike on a syrian air base. bill chris col, juan williams, mo ekleithee of the institute of politics and public service, and lisa boothe. you heard general mcmaster the national security advisor at the top of the show. are you satisfied this
administration has a clear strategy going forward in syria in and particularly the question i asked. is this just about chemical weapons or is the president prepared to act if there is by conventional means the slaughter of civilians. bill: they haven't worked it all out. but if they had not acted now, we would be in even worse shape. so let them work out the strategy. i have a lot of confidence in h.r. mcmaster. if the trump administration end up non-dissously -- that's my standard for the trump administration -- i'm hopeful it does. the replace many of mike flynn with h.r. mcmaster is a good strategy.
there was a crisis and they handled it competently. the meetings, diplomacy and military stuff coordinated. keeping it secret. that was impressive. if you thought the trump white house was a chaotic place, h.r. mcmaster has the fashion security side of it under control. chris: on the issue of what the missile strike means for foreign policy. was this truly a clear enough signal to world leaders that america is back in charge? juan, how do you answer michael? juan: it's got to send some kind of message, especially with north korea. but if you look around the world, there are a lot of hotpots and a lot of reasons for the u.s. to exercise moral
authority. president trump said if it's not about u.s. national security interests, it's no business of the united states. and he encouraged president obama, don't get involved with syria. there is no doctrine. i looked forward to your interview with mcmaster because i wanted to understand. there is none. he doesn't say, you know what, conventional weapons are continuing to kill people in syria and we find this abhorrent and we'll stop it. he's not clear what the next step is. chris: let's turn to the other big story. that was republicans in the senate invoking the "nuclear option" in order to confirm neil gorsuch to the supreme court. here are the senate's two leaders. >> i believe it will make this body a more partisan place. it will make the cooling saucer of the senate considerably hotter.
>> all my democratic friend will take this moment to reflect and perhaps consider a turning point in their outlook going forward. chris: i want to talk with you about where the senate goes from here particularly with supreme court nominations. it seems to me, it will be true of the next democratic president when he has a democratic majority. doesn't this increase the likelihood when a president is in that situation, he will appoint somebody who is more to the extreme, more in line with his base because he doesn't have to reach out to the other side because they know there is not going to be a filibuster. lisa: you have to look back going back to 2003 prior to miguel estrada. then you go to 2006 with president obama leading the filibuster attempt against justice alito.
then the democratic party in 2013 changed the rules. chris: this goes back and forth. but my point is going forward, there was a self-limiting factor. maybe we better reach out to the other side. lisa: potentially. but i don't think necessarily the onus is on the republican party. we are seeing politics as a whole getting increasingly partisan. going back to 2003, you didn't see the filibuster being used in a partisan manner. i don't know if this is fundamentally changing the world where you go back to 2003 where you see a party using it. chris: there may be an original sin here but not one party -- lisa: to answer your question, sure, but that's happening regardless of what happened in the senate. that is the direction that party politics is heading.