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Face the Nation transcript January 22, 2017: Conway, Graham, Sanders

JOHN DICKERSON, CBS HOST: Today on FACE THE NATION: The 45th president takes office, but events from the last 48 hours show a very divided America.




DICKERSON: Friday’s inaugural festivities followed the traditional pomp and pageantry.

But along with the cheers and change came chaos and confrontation, as the new president delivered a blunt condemnation of politicians of both parties gathered to celebrate his inauguration and gave a bleak assessment of America.


TRUMP: This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.


DICKERSON: It is a new tone for a new president, and a new era for Washington.

On day one, President Trump visited the Central Intelligence Agency to mend fences.


TRUMP: I love you. I respect you. There is nobody I respect more.


DICKERSON: But outside the White House, and around the country, there was no love lost as hundreds of thousands of women marched to protest the new administration.

We will talk about all of this with counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, and Democratic Senator Bernie Sanders.

Plus, we will have lots of political analysis.

It is all coming up on FACE THE NATION. Good morning, and welcome to FACE THE NATION. I am John Dickerson.

We begin with a closer look at yesterday’s marches. In the nation’s capital, hundreds of thousands turned out for the Women’s March on Washington. Organizers estimate that over four million rallied against the Trump administration in some 670 sister marches in cities across the country and around the world.

Women marched in American cities, including Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and even Anchorage, Alaska. And people turned out to protest all over the world from Bulgaria to New Zealand, with the biggest crowds obviously in the major capitals.

Counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway is outside of her new office building, the White House.

Good morning, Kellyanne.


DICKERSON: Donald Trump had a strong reception at his inauguration and then yesterday there were those marches. He has credited himself with hearing the people, and that’s why he was elected. So what is he hearing when he sees those protesters marching?

CONWAY: He heard a lot of what we heard on the campaign trail, John. I mean, I think they missed a tremendous opportunity yesterday to really engage America’s women and men on the issues that President Obama has legacy left behind.

Why do we have 16 million women living in poverty? Why do we have millions of women and their children without access to health care, even though we have had the Affordable Care Act for seven years now? Why are so many people struggling to find well-paying jobs in this country? And why do they feel unsafe in their own communities?

And that’s something that this president really wants to help solve. You had profanity-laced, vulgar comments coming from celebrities. Donald Trump in his inaugural address talked about the forgotten man and forgotten woman. And now these forgotten celebrities came to Washington to deliver really negative messages.

DICKERSON: We have been hearing the beeping of a moving van in the background there. Everybody knows this is real.

But here is my question, Kellyanne. He is now the president of the whole country.

CONWAY: That’s right.

DICKERSON: So, I understand his views about the Obama administration, but he is the guy in the big office now. He is the president. Does he look at those opponents the way FDR did, wear their scorn as a badge of honor, or does he do the same way Nixon did, when he went down to the Mall and met with the Vietnam protesters, talked to those young kids?

What does he hear? What does he hear from people who don’t support him?

CONWAY: He hears and sees a country that is divided. He didn’t divide the -- Donald Trump didn’t the country, but as president he has a great opportunity to help heal and unify it.

And, John, President Trump took a country really big steps forward in that regard in his inaugural address. It was uplifting. It was unifying. He did reach across and try to engage people who did not vote for him, who maybe disagreed with him politically and otherwise, to really come together.

And he actually earlier in the week met with Martin Luther King Jr.’s son, Martin Luther King III, in New York, where they had an incredibly constructive and honest conversation about unifying and healing the country.

If you listen to President Trump in his inaugural address, he talked about unifying and being aspirational and uplifting, and then the very next day, you have people being very negative to him. But he has reached across. He is going to be a president for all Americans.

DICKERSON: Let me ask you what he has actually done. Obviously, there is some dispute about whether it was an uplifting speech.

But I want to ask you about what he has actually done that affects real Americans. He took an executive action on the Affordable Care Act.

For the 20 million or so who get their insurance that way, what is that going to mean to them?

CONWAY: Well, for the 20 million who rely upon the Affordable Care Act in some form, they will not be without coverage during this transition time.

But, John, let’s talk about the millions who have already lost their health care, lost their insurance plans, lost their doctors. That devastation has been terrible for many Americans and their families.

And what he wants to do in replacing Obamacare with a more patient-centered, free market solution is to make sure these people have coverage. Lots of folks got caught in that trap and that gap. And he wants to make sure that through his plan you can buy insurance across state lines, you have health savings accounts, we block Medicaid grant to states.

DICKERSON: Let me ask you this, Kellyanne, a couple -- first things. One, the number of health insurance, according to Gallup, only 11 percent is uninsured in America. That’s the lowest in the last eight years.

Is the standard for Donald Trump’s health reforms, that anybody anywhere who loses their health insurance, that that will be seen as a failure of his health insurance plan?

And I still don’t know, if I am on the Affordable Care Act, what that executive order, the action he has now taken -- should people be -- what should they think?

CONWAY: Well, they should think that it is a great big step toward replacing Obamacare with a plan that works for more Americans. It truly makes it affordable and accessible.

You know, there are other Americans, based on your statistics there, John, who can’t use their health care because their premiums have skyrocketed so dramatically in places like Arizona by 113 percent, in Pennsylvania 53 percent.

And so people who actually count as having health care actually can’t access it, because they can’t afford the premiums and the deductible.


CONWAY: So we want to make it easier for them.

We hear from small business owners and families every single day that this is a crushing burden for them.

DICKERSON: Let me ask you. Yesterday, the White House press secretary went out and gave a press conference.

Why doesn’t -- why didn’t he talk about this, which, as you point out, it is such an important issue, millions of Americans hanging to find out what their health care system is going to be like? Isn’t that more important than the question of crowd size, which is what Sean Spicer was talking about?

CONWAY: Well, our press secretary, Sean Spicer, will be addressing Americans on any number of issues, including the ones I have just said on your show, John.

Yesterday, it is just disappointing to get into this argument about crowd control. Nielsen says 31 million people witnessed Donald Trump’s inauguration on the television. We know many other millions of Americans are watching events like this on different screens and their telephones and their computers.

And we know there was a prediction of rain, a big rain-out that probably deterred many people from coming. But all that said, there were hundred of thousands of people here. We all saw it. I think -- I’m into the things that we can quantify. And that does go to everything from the 2,600 counties he won, 31 of 50 states, and the millions who are in need that he’s going to help.


DICKERSON: But that is in the past.

I guess what -- he is now doing things that affect real people, their real lives, no more rhetoric. This is real stuff. So, why on a day, when you could talk -- when you can talk about a thing that the new president has done, the White House chooses to spend its political capital and its time on something that is quite petty, relative to the big changes he is going to make in American health care?

CONWAY: I think it is a symbol for how we are covered and treated by many in the press, John. And that is unfortunate.

Look what happened the day before, the very day before. We invited the press in to cover President Obama (sic) sign executive orders in the Oval Office. And what happened immediately?

A false report. I am sorry. This is very important. A false report was issued by the press pooler, and it went out to 3,000 and some outlets, 3,000 stories, and it was false, that there was a removal of Martin Luther King Jr.’s bust in the Oval Office.

That is just false. It was sitting right there. I was in the room. You can’t have false reports like that and expect us to not wonder why we are covered and treated so differently and unfairly.


DICKERSON: But it just seems that it is a question of proportion.

The president himself went to the CIA and thanked all the people there, said he was behind them 1000 percent, but then went off and talked about crowd size. Aren’t there more important things to talk about at the CIA for the new president of a nation of 320 million people?

CONWAY: Well, he did talk about important things. And, frankly, he went to the -- him going to the CIA at all shows -- represents how serious he is about having a very productive and constructive relationship with our intelligence community.

We had over 1,000 requests for folks to attend that. We can only accommodate 300 or 400. He really backs -- John, why did President Trump plan on going to the CIA in the first place? He wanted to witness the swearing-in of his new CIA director, Mike Pompeo, top of his class at West Point and Harvard.

He is going to be a great CIA intelligence and CIA director. But why couldn’t he witness his swearing-in yesterday? Oh, because the Democratic Senate won’t confirm him. President Trump has nominated 21 of 21 Cabinet positions. Only two, two were confirmed by a time he took office. We can’t have a government that way. We need bipartisanship up on Capitol Hill and the Democrats allowing him to get his nominees through, so that we can start the peaceful transition of power.


DICKERSON: All right, Democrats say Mike Pompeo is likely to be confirmed next week.

CONWAY: Let’s get it done.

DICKERSON: Kellyanne Conway, thanks for being with us.

CONWAY: Thank you, John.

DICKERSON: Joining us now is South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham.

Senator, good to have you in the studio.



DICKERSON: I want to read you a line from President Trump’s inaugural address.

He said that: “Politicians have reaped the rewards of government, while the people have borne the cost.” he says: “The establishment protected itself and not the country.”

That seems like a shot at both Republicans and Democrats who were to applaud his inauguration. Did you all take it that way?

GRAHAM: Well, that is what got him elected president.

Here is the way I see the country in January 2017. We are divided about how to move forward as a nation, but we’re united that the institutions of government and the private sector no longer serve us well.

I am in the Congress. I get that most Americans believe the body I work in doesn’t serve the nation well. A lot of people, from Bernie people to Trump people, believe the private sector is rigged against them.

So, here is my promise to this president and to the country. To the extent that I can restore trust by working with you and to the institutions that most people think are failing, I will do it. I have been trying my best to work with Democrats to solve hard problems.

But if you are in my business and your business, and you don’t get that most people in the country believe institutions don’t serve them, we are all missing the point of Trump’s election.

DICKERSON: Absolutely.

But there is a difference between the institutions don’t serve them and the people. He said the politicians have been basically feathering their nests, at the expense of the country.

I mean, that is corruption. That is venality.

GRAHAM: You want to look at my tax returns, you can. You want to look at my financial disclosures, you can.

I think to realize Donald Trump’s victory, you need to understand that we are united in one area, that the country’s institutions are not serving the public well.

DICKERSON: Let me ask you about another line from his speech. Donald Trump said every country has the right to pursue their national interests. What do you think about that?

GRAHAM: With caveats.

Russia’s national interest under Putin is to reconstruct the Russian empire, to gobble up territories formerly under Russian control. The ayatollah’s national interest is to radicalize the Shia populations in the Mideast and undermine Sunni Arab states.

The leader of North Korea’s national interest is to build an ICBM that can hit our homeland to make sure that his regime never falls by, you know, holding us hostage. I think China’s national interests is take land owned by others by force.

So, to the president, Putin’s national interest destabilize Europe. The ayatollah’s national interest will lead us into a war between the Sunnis and Shias like you have never seen. So there is a caveat to that.

And to the president, if America first is a throwback to the ‘20s and ‘30s isolationism, when it was first used as a phrase, the world will deteriorate even quicker. If it is a new way of Ronald Reagan peace through strength, I would like to work with you.

I don’t know what America first means.

DICKERSON: He also talked about cutting foreign aid.


Here is what I would tell him. Talk to General Mattis. General Mattis...

DICKERSON: Secretary of defense.


He is a four-star general, and here is what he said at an event I attended: “If you cut the State Department’s budget, then you need to buy me more bullets.”

This was a four-star Marine Corps general. You want to destroy radical Islam, Mr. President, you will never do it by taking soft power off the table? You cannot kill enough terrorists, you cannot drop enough bombs.

Our goal at Americans is to provide security by partnering with people in the region. But building a small schoolhouse for a poor young girl in Afghanistan, Syria or Iraq will do more damage to radical Islam than any bomb you could drop. So please don’t take soft power off the table.

DICKERSON: Does Secretary of State Tillerson understand the point you just made, and will you vote for him?

GRAHAM: This is why I am voting for him.


GRAHAM: In my office visit, he said that, when America doesn’t lead, other people will, and the vacuum is always filled by bad actors.

He said that we have to have a foreign policy that engages the world. We need to lead from the front.

The foreign aid budget is 1 percent of the total federal spending. You could wipe it all out, not move the debt needle. Most of our foreign aid to a single country goes to Israel. I’m begging this president to understand that, if we don’t help others over there, we are always going to be endangered here.

The Marshall Plan worked after World War II.

DICKERSON: I called him Secretary of State Tillerson. Of course, he’s not yet.

GRAHAM: I’m voting for him.

DICKERSON: That’s why you are voting for him and that’s why that is news.

Let me ask you about the Russian sanctions that you would like to impose.

GRAHAM: Right.

DICKERSON: Where is that? And do you think it will get out of the Congress to the president?

GRAHAM: I think, if there were a vote tomorrow on additional sanctions against Russia, it would get over 75 votes in the Senate.

DICKERSON: Seventy-five votes in the Senate. And that, of course, is to punish Russia for meddling in the election.

GRAHAM: I think there is bipartisan belief that the Russians interfered in our election.

I don’t believed they change the outcome, but Putin is trying to break the back of democracies all over the world. My hope is that his team, his national security team, which I like a lot, President Trump’s team, will convince him that, if you forgive Putin and forget about what he did, that screams weakness to Putin.

Beware of the teddy bear, President Trump. Putin will change his tone, he will be cajoling, but he still has the same interests at heart. If we don’t punish Russia for what he did in our election, then Iran and a China could come into the next election. People are watching us. Don’t be weak when it comes to Russia.

It didn’t work on Obama’s watch and it won’t work on your watch.

DICKERSON: And your point is weakness not only sends a signal of weakness to Putin, but everyone else.

How many Republican senators do you think will vote for the sanctions that President Trump doesn’t want?

GRAHAM: I hope most of them will, because I think all of them believe that Russia interfered in our elections.

And the Baltic states, Georgia and the Ukraine, who live in the shadow of Russian expansionism and threats and domination, we need to send a signal to these countries that we are going to stand up to Russia.

So, this idea of forgiving existing -- existing sanctions is an invitation to more aggression by Russia.

DICKERSON: Do you think he will veto the bill that you’re...


GRAHAM: This will be the biggest conflict potentially between the Congress and the president.

Another conflict is going to be infrastructure. I am for more infrastructure spending. So is Bernie. But I am a conservative Republican. It must be paid for. There will be some Republicans that say, it is not the role of the federal government to rebuild the inner cities.

I am willing to rebuild rural America and the inner cities. I just want it paid for. So President Trump has got to get his party in the game. And the way to do it is pay for any infrastructure increases.

DICKERSON: In 10 seconds, defense spending, too, a conflict there maybe.

GRAHAM: I will build up the military, because we are in danger, but I will not do it at the expense of the CIA, the FBI, and the State Department’s budget. If you take soft power off the table, then you have two options left, use military power exclusively or retreat. I cannot stress to you how important it is that we have more tools in the toolbox than just military power and retreat.

DICKERSON: All right, Senator Graham, thanks so much for being with us.

GRAHAM: Thank you.

DICKERSON: And we want to go now to Burlington, Vermont, and Senator Bernie Sanders.

Welcome, Senator.

The president responded this morning to the protesters who were marching yesterday against him and said basically the election is over, why didn’t you vote in the election? It doesn’t sound like he is listening to those voices.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: Well, I have the feeling the vast majority of the people who protested did vote.

As you know, Mr. Trump lost the popular vote by almost three million votes. But I think the point that yesterday, which was extraordinary, John, not just all over this country -- in Montpelier, Vermont, where I was, we had one of the largest rallies in the history of the state.

All over the world, what people were saying to Mr. Trump, women are not going backward. They are not going to become second-class citizens. Listen to the needs of women. Listen to the needs of the immigrant community. Listen to the needs of workers. Listen to what is going on with regard to climate change. Modify your positions. Let’s work together to try to save this planet and protect the middle class.

DICKERSON: I wonder what you made, Senator, of the president’s inaugural address.

A lot of the people I talked to said there are things in that speech that Bernie Sanders would like, that the president’s message about sort of punching the establishment in the nose was something that should delight a lot of liberals too who are just as fed up with the institutions in Washington. What did you make of it?

SANDERS: Well, I found it somewhat amusing that Mr. Trump, President Trump, was punching the establishment, but right behind him, John, sitting in the VIP sections were billionaire after billionaire after billionaire, some of the most powerful people in this country , who over the last 10, 20 years have become much, much richer, while the middle class has shrunk.

So, I find it somewhat amusing that you are attacking the establishment when the establishment is sitting right behind you and when billionaires of large corporations are funding many of your inaugural events.

Now, if Mr. Trump is serious about standing up for working families, then he is not going to throw 20 million working people off of health insurance. He is not going to cut Medicare and Medicaid.

In fact, to my mind, the best thing that Mr. Trump could do right now today is to send out a tweet and tell the American people that during the campaign, when he said over and over and over again that he would not cut Social Security, cut Medicare, cut Medicaid, tell the American people that he was not lying, that he is going to keep his word, and that they do not have to live in anxiety.

DICKERSON: All right, Senator, I want to follow up on that question on Obamacare and those issues.

But we need to take a short break right now.

We will be back in one minute with more from Senator Bernie Sanders. Stay with us.


DICKERSON: And we are back with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.

Senator, you were talking about Donald Trump should reiterate that he will not meddle with Social Security and Medicare.

Reince Priebus, his chief of staff, has reiterated that. Tom Price, in your questioning, I believe, said that he wouldn’t, answered your question about that. Do you not believe them or...

SANDERS: Well, John, what does meddle mean?

The truth is that, right now, the chairman of the Subcommittee on Social Security, the Republican chairman of that committee, is working on legislation that would devastate Medicare or devastate Social Security.

Paul Ryan has for years believed in moving, privatizing Medicare and moving it to a voucher program. They’re moving aggressively, Republicans are, to make major cuts in Medicaid.

What Trump -- meddling is not the word. The word we have to hear right now is that he will keep his campaign promise, no cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

I have got to tell you something. I talked to a psychologist last night who told me that some of her patients are already in increased anxiety. What happens if they lose their Medicaid? What is going to happen to them?

So, Mr. Trump, President Trump, can reassure the American people that he will keep by keeping his campaign promises.

DICKERSON: I guess the question of cutting then gets everybody into a big debate about what is a cut and what isn’t a cut. But let me ask you about that -- the Affordable Care Act and the executive action the president has taken. What do you make of it in terms of the health of that bill or that program?

SANDERS: Well, look, it is clear that the Republicans want to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

The American people are very divided on the positives and the negatives of the Affordable Care Act. But very few people, John, think that you simply end the Affordable Care Act, you do away with the protection that people have for preexisting conditions and go back to a time when, if somebody has cancer, they could not get health insurance, where you take young people off of their parents’ health insurance, where you do away with the caps.

People don’t want to see that. And it seems to me and to the American people you just cannot repeal the Affordable Care Act without a replacement. Republicans have had eight years to come up with a replacement. I have not seen that yet.

DICKERSON: Let me ask you about scenarios where you might be able to work with the president, and especially given the speech he gave in his inauguration.

On infrastructure, next week, they are going to do -- spend a couple of days, I have been told, on trade. On drug pricing, he sounds exactly like you in terms of...


DICKERSON: Can you do anything to reach out and why not grab the moment?

SANDERS: That’s right. You are absolutely right.

We are going to introduce legislation that will substantially lower prescription drug costs in this country because the pharmaceutical industry has been ripping off the American people right and left. Outrageous.

I would hope very much that President Trump will work with us in terms of having Medicare negotiate prices with the drug companies, in terms of allowing Americans and pharmacists to buy lower-cost prescription drugs from abroad.

If he wants to come on board and work with us, that would be great. In terms of infrastructure, clearly, he is right when he says that our infrastructure is crumbling. We can create up to 13 million decent-paying jobs by rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure. We’re going to have legislation in that will do just that. I hope that he will work with us.

DICKERSON: All right.

SANDERS: We also understand that our trade policies are a disaster. Let’s see if we can work together on that as well.

DICKERSON: All right, Senator Sanders, thanks for being with us.

The test will be whether Democrats allow Democratic senators to work with him. We will talk about that when you’re on next time. Thanks for being with us.

And we will be back in a moment.


DICKERSON: If you can’t watch us live, FACE THE NATION is now available on CBS All Access, as well as our Web site, Plus, we are available on video on demand on your cable system.


DICKERSON: Some of our CBS stations are leaving us now, but, for most of you, we will be right back with a lot more FACE THE NATION.

Our panel is up next. And we will also take a look at the events of the last two days.

Stay with us.


DICKERSON: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION. I’m John Dickerson.

Joining us now for some analysis, Lanhee Chen, who was a policy director for the Romney campaign and is now a fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, CBS News contributor Frank Luntz, Susan Page is the Washington bureau chief at “USA Today,” Jeffrey Goldberg is editor in chief at “The Atlantic.”

Frank, I want to start with you. Were -- what we’ve seen over the last two days, is that the tableau of America, the cheers for Trump and then the marches against him? Is that where we are in politics?

FRANK LUNTZ, CBS NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: There are three attributes that matter more than anything else in American life, respect, civility and tolerance. And we’re not seeing much of that from anyone right now. When Donald Trump delivered his speech, he had some very powerful lines and talked about the people getting their government back. And that’s to be applauded. But there was no respect for the previous president or any of the presidents. There was no respect for people who were up there on the podium. And the next day -- I got attacked the next day, not even at the rally, by someone who called me a fascist and I won’t use the language because I don’t want to get fired. But we now believe that we can say and do anything to anyone at any time. We have lost that sense of decency. And, frankly, I don’t know how we’re going to get it back.

DICKERSON: I want to talk about the speech in a minute. But, Susan, what was the purpose of the march yesterday? Was it just, we don’t like Donald Trump? Was there more to it?

SUSAN PAGE, “USA TODAY”: You know, I think something -- we use the word “unprecedented” too much to talk about Donald Trump, but I do think something extraordinary has happened. And on Friday, we saw a new grassroots movement take over the White House and the Republican Party. And on Saturday, we saw an entirely separate grassroots movement rise up against that. And these are two -- millions of Americans on each sides who don’t just disagree on -- on policy, they think the other side is fundamentally attacking what makes their country great. They have clashing visions of what the nation ought to be. And this is going to, I think, play out in a big way over the next four years.

DICKERSON: Jeffrey, what Susan talks about is a populist movement on both sides that we’ve seen all across the world, La Pen in France --


DICKERSON: In -- in Great Britain with Brexit. What’s your -- do you see a big -- I mean is this now global?

GOLDBERG: Well, it -- it certainly is global. I mean you have -- you have populists rising across Europe. I -- I think you’re also going to see concerted effort by Trump people to help those people rise. And -- and so you’re going to have an echoing effect. And this, obviously, goes into the -- the Trump affection, let’s call it, for Vladimir Putin, this idea of a strong man who will solve your problems. He is attracted to people in the populist movement across the world who affect that kind of posture toward democracy and toward -- toward the idea of, I alone can fix your problems. That’s where we’re heading.

DICKERSON: Lanhee, I want to talk a little bit about the speech and the vision that Donald Trump laid out. One-half or one portion of people, the Trump supporters, say he was, in this speech, which some people have called dark, telling it like it is, diagnosing America with clear eyes. And then the other half has a view that when you are that dark, you make bad policy as a result because you -- you get everybody too scared. What’s your view of the political dynamic right now?

LANHEE CHEN, HOOVER INSTITUTION: The lens through which you see Donald Trump is the lens through which you saw that speech. And I think it is the case that there are some who believe that the country is in a very dark place. And I think those are the people primarily who went out and supported Donald Trump.

The policy part of this is very interesting, though, because, on the other hand in the speech, you have things that a Democrats could have argued for, bigger infrastructure spending, anti-free trade, but then the actual policy the administration has engaged in so far has been deeply conservative. It’s been an executive order to freeze regulation, and an executive order to reinforce that Obamacare real is the policy of the administration. But more than that, policy that may gut the Affordable Care Act at an executive level. So it’s really interesting how we’re being buffeted from one side to the other by the speech and then by the action of the administration.

DICKERSON: Right. Right.

PAGE: But, you know, it was interesting, two words he didn’t use in that speech, “Republican” and “Democratic.” And there was not -- there was some -- some thought the policies he outlined that could not have been much comfort to the members -- the Republican members of Congress sitting behind him. And, in fact, he indicted really the political establishment of both parties.

GOLDBERG: The -- you know, the interesting thing about this, I was -- obviously Democrats were made uncomfortable by many aspects of that speech, but the Republican members of Congress sitting up there, those who are ideological Republicans, when you start promising bridges and tunnels and highways and -- and airports and don’t seem to care or articulate at least how you’re going to pay for that, that has a lot of people, I think, very upset and worried as well.

LUNTZ: And no one knows what to expect. The fact is, there isn’t a Republican member of Congress who knows exactly what Donald Trump is going to do on healthcare, what he’s going to do on the budget, what he’s going to do on taxes --

GOLDBERG: But you’re assuming that Donald Trump knows also.

LUNTZ: But -- but there’s -- or the administration. But we’ve never had a situation -- and we don’t even know how the public is going to react to any of this.


LUNTZ: I’ve never seen a situation -- I’ve been doing this for 25 years -- where there’s more doubt and more people are wrong on more things. It’s dangerous to do a show like this because within 24 hours each one of us will be proven wrong on something.

DICKERSON: Well, that never stopped us before.

GOLDBERG: Yes, yes, really.

DICKERSON: Let me ask -- well, Lanhee, say what you were going to say, but let me add this to it, which is, was that a conservative speech? Was that a Republican speech? Give us a label that helps us understand it if you can.

CHEN: I think -- I think -- I -- I -- I don’t think we can label it. I think that’s part of what people are having difficulty with is that, you know, it used to be the case that you could expect a Republican president to get up there and give a certain kind of speech. That was not the speech you would expect.

GOLDBERG: I think we can label it. We can label it a dystopian -- the first dystopian inaugural in history.

CHEN: Well -- I --

GOLDBERG: A dark vision of America that very few presidents, very few politicians ever articulate.

LUNTZ: But this is how people feel. We’ve never had as many people --

CHEN: Right.

LUNTZ: Who believe the country is heading in the wrong direction. We’ve never had as many people who don’t trust the media, don’t trust the politicians, don’t trust economics, don’t trust business. There’s a reason why two-thirds of young people now believe that socialism is a better solution for American economics than capitalism. It’s because they’ve lost (INAUDIBLE).

CHEN: But, John, to return to your point, I think it would be interesting to see the first fault line between the Republican majority in the Congress and the president. Is it going to be over the Affordable Care Act? Is it going to be over infrastructure? Is it going to be over tax reform? Because right now it seems the posture that many Republican members of Congress are taking is, we’re going to wait and see, but we’re going to be supportive. (INAUDIBLE) --

GOLDBERG: I think it might be over Russia.

CHEN: Or it could be over Russia the week, absolutely.

PAGE: Right.


GOLDBERG: Absolutely. Yes, absolutely.

LUNTZ: We’ve gotten some indication on that.

PAGE: Because that’s what they -- Lindsey Graham was -- was suggesting in your interview, that the first big fight that divides Republicans in Congress and in the Senate from the White House is going to be whether to toughen sanctions on Russia or even a debate over if the new president moves to ease sanctions against Russia.

DICKERSON: Jeffrey, what do you -- Lindsey Graham seemed to think he’s got a lot of Republicans on board with him on that -- on the Russian sanctions. It’s -- do you think that’s right?

GOLDBERG: Look, what -- the -- the one thing about Donald Trump that a lot of Republicans in the Senate don’t understand -- simply don’t understand is his affection or however you want to call it for the Kremlin, right? I mean you -- until today, I mean, one of the sort of hallmarks of being a Republican is doubting Russia’s intentions, whether it’s a czar or a communist leader or the current plutocrat, the current autocrat who’s in charge. So I think he’s putting a lot of Republicans in a very unpleasant situation because they are -- every cell in their body says we have to doubt Putin and combat him. And he might very well come in and say, no, no, no, we’re resetting this to the point where we’re going to reduce sanctions and there are a lot of Republicans who want to put sanctions on.

DICKERSON: Let me step back. We’re going to go back to foreign policy and these domestic issues in a second. But, Frank, let me ask you about the -- the -- the speech itself. Why -- why bother -- people are saying there wasn’t an outreach and there wasn’t a -- why -- does -- can you run a presidency with just the people who brung you, which looks like what he’s thinking about doing?

LUNTZ: For the short-term, yes. But when the battles start and you have to get 60 votes in the Senate, then there is no way to run an explicitly and strictly Republican effort. and I’m focused now on healthcare, because that’s the number one issue for a lot of Americans, and there is no way that you can -- you can repeal it with 51 votes, but you can’t replace it under 60.


Susan, you mentioned before the speech that Richard Nixon was a template, perhaps, for President Trump. And I went back and looked at that. There was a dark part of that speech, but he started it with a lot of light and one -- just one line from it. “We cannot learn from one another until we stop shouting at one another, until we speak quietly enough so that our words can be heard as well as our voices.” That’s the piece that was missing from Donald Trump’s.

PAGE: That’s right, in previous presidents in their inaugurals have said things are bad. Ronald Reagan said things were bad. You know, presidents have taken over at times of greater national crisis than we face now, but they haven’t been quite so unrelenting about it. I was surprised he didn’t begin by acknowledging what President Obama has achieved as president. He thanked him for the transition effort, but he didn’t say, for instance, you took over at a time of financial crisis and steered (INAUDIBLE). He didn’t acknowledge the presidents on stage, the Democrat he defeated, Hillary Clinton. He acknowledged her later at the congressional --

GOLDBERG: Who came. Who, in an act of unity, came, right.

PAGE: Yes. So he didn’t -- it’s -- it’s not only that he was dark, that’s happened before. It’s that he didn’t seem gracious to his foes. He didn’t reach out to the people who did not vote for him.

CHEN: But (INAUDIBLE) -- but I think that’s part of the psychology, though, of what the administration is trying do, because for people who supported Donald Trump, you cannot be against Barack Obama enough. And for him to have done more, for him to have acknowledged more I think would have put him in a very difficult position with his supporters. It wasn’t the case that that was a speech for his supporters, but also a speech for people who didn’t support him as well to say, look, if you expected me to change, that’s not going to happen.

DICKERSON: What -- what about this, Frank? Here’s a theory, shoot it down quickly if you will, this was a speech to his supporters and he’s locked in tight with them, with the full well knowledge of knowing that Washington’s going to eat away at things, but in this big public moments he wants to show, I am with you, that is what is in my heart and all the things you may hear down the line about him capitulating and trimming his sails on a thing here and there to get legislation through, that won’t be remembered. What will be remembered is he stood up there, in that moment, and spoke loud and proud about the things they love about him.

LUNTZ: And he did. But that’s not how you govern the country. You’re not presidents of 46 percent of America. You’re president of 100 percent. And in the green room before we came on, we were talking about our expectations for the future. I’m clearly the darkest person on this panel because I think we’re going to remember this weekend for a long time to come as not the end, not the campaign being over, but this is the beginning of the most tempestuous, if that’s the right word, than most, in my mind, awful conflict between left and right, between men and women, between young and old. I think we are --


LUNTZ: We are breaking apart. Since 1968 when we lost some incredibly good people in this country, that’s 50 years. I saw those signs in the parade, and they were so horrific and they are eight, nine, ten year-olds who are being taught to hate the other side. And that’s the problem, when you teach young people to hate, you can’t get it out of their system.

GOLDBERG: You know, John, there’s -- you brought up Richard Nixon and I was -- you’re contrasting Nixon and Trump. Nixon didn’t live in the social media age and -- and -- and imagine Richard Nixon, by the way, with a Twitter account. That would have been something.

DICKERSON: Right. Yes.

GOLDBERG: But I don’t -- I -- I think to add on to what Frank’s saying, I don’t know if the climate, I don’t know if technology is allowing people to see past their own hatred.

LUNTZ: It’s not. That’s encouraging it.

DICKERSON: Let’s -- all right, let’s -- let’s take a pause here. We’re going to take a short break and we’ll be right back with more from our panel.


DICKERSON: And we’re back with our panel.

Susan, I want to ask you, if I’m a Republican and I heard Donald Trump say that the politicians had reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost and that the establishment protected itself but not the citizens of our country, and I’m on that stage, a, how seriously do I take that as a shot as me, and, b, do I worry in this this negotiation back and forth that he might turn his Twitter account against me, a Republican who needs the votes of his coalition?

PAGE: You bet. I mean I think it -- and I think not just Republicans should be nervous about that, Democrats as well. You know, we talked about these two rising populist movements. The fact is, that statement is something that both of them would have agreed with, that the politics as usual is not working for us, the -- we the citizens, and we want some change. Now they have -- they want to go in very different directions, but they would agree that current thing -- that current politics, not working for them. Let’s change it.

DICKERSON: Lanhee, what do you make of the executive action taken on the Affordable Care Act and the kind of way the dismantling is going forward?

CHEN: I think potentially it’s quite broad or potentially it could be only symbolic. It really depends on what they decide to do with it. I think it will be interesting to see if the Trump administration uses executive authority on Obamacare to take it apart in the same way the Obama administration used executive authority to implement the law because that’s really what it’s going to be. The Trump administration, for example, says, we’re not going to enforce the individual mandate. Well, that will -- that will be very, very significant in its impact on the individual marketplace, and that potentially could drive insurers out unless they’re ready to come in behind with another executive action to stabilize the market. So it will be interesting to see how they use it.

DICKERSON: Right, use the measures that Barack Obama used to put in place to undo it.

CHEN: Correct. And -- and the broad interpretation of the law.

DICKERSON: Frank, let me ask you this question. You mentioned doubt. Nobody knows which way the wind is blowing. Talk about that doubt in terms of the public and changing the Affordable Care Act. There are the polls that show people want to see a replacement and not just a repeal. What the political lines as this -- as -- as Donald Trump and Republicans try and take apart the Affordable Care Act?

LUNTZ: Three lines, actually. The Republicans want it repealed and they don’t care what comes next. I mean, yes, they do want something there, but the first thing is, get rid of it and get rid of it within the first 100 days. The independents want repeal and replace, a repeal and repair basically, which is -- and these words matter. And you’re going to see people arguing over it, which is get rid of it but as quickly as you can put something in that continues the preexisting conditions and kids --


LUNTZ: And the kids being on their parents plan, and then change the mandate and the cost. And democrats want to know that everyone is going to be protected, particularly the affordability of it. So make no mistake, if they can show -- if Republicans can show that the cost of healthcare will come down for most Americans, they will be acting in the way that the American people want. That’s what they have to prove.

DICKERSON: Tough thing to -- tough thing to prove.

LUNTZ: They have to. They don’t have a choice.

DICKERSON: Jeffrey, yesterday President Trump made a visit to the CIA to thank and give his support and what did you make of the visit?

GOLDBERG: I thought it was bizarre and inappropriate and somewhat dangerous. Bizarre because he was having what was essentially a campaign rally, campaign style rally or discourse, right by the CIA’s wall of honor, memorial wall, which is akin for the intelligence committee to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier for the armed forces. So it was just a very -- that was a very strange thing, an inappropriate thing to do.

On substance, what was -- what was disturbing was, he was criticizing or condemning the free press of the United States in front of a group of intelligence officers, in front of this -- in front of the CIA. That is something that is without -- sorry to use the word again -- but somewhat unprecedented and it reminded me, someone who’s covered the Middle East -- it reminded me of a discourse that you hear in places like Turkey or sometimes in -- in Egypt where -- where the strong man is trying to undermine the institutions of civil society, the institutions of democracy.

LUNTZ: But does --

GOLDBERG: I’m not saying that you shouldn’t criticize the press, but -- but in -- in front of government employees, and not only government employees but intelligence service employees. That struck me as -- as a dangerous precedent.

LUNTZ: But do they treat him honestly, do they treat him fairly?

GOLDBERG: Does the press treat him fairly?

LUNTZ: Yes, does the press treat Donald Trump fairly?

GOLDBERG: Look, there’s no one press. I think the so-called mainstream press holds him accountable for his statements and fact checks him and often, as we saw yesterday with Sean Spicer, they don’t like being fact checked, especially when they have their facts wrong and the press has their facts correct.

DICKERSON: What did -- Susan, what did you make of Sean Spicer coming to the podium? There were a lot -- you know, as I pointed out, there was this executive action on the Affordable Care Act. There was real news to talk about, but he, instead, got into a fight with the press about the crowd size and the way it was reported.

PAGE: You know, I think this is -- we’ve talked about some of the tests for President Trump going forward. There’s some tests here for the press as well in coverage of the new president, because we have a role in accountability and providing context and fact checking. And you saw kind of the -- some of the dangers ahead with Sean Spicer attacking the press for accurately reporting on an issue of crowd size. Talk about something we shouldn’t be concerned about is the size of the crowds on The Mall. But saying basically you can’t believe the press. You can’t believe the photos that the press shows that demonstrate that the crowds were smaller than they were for President Obama’s first inauguration. So I thought that was -- I think there are some challenges here for the press and I thought it was a tough start for the press secretary to come out, say things weren’t -- say accurate reporting was untrue and then leave without taking questions.

DICKERSON: Lanhee, let me ask you about overseas and the -- and the inaugural address and what Lindsey Graham was talking about. There seems, again to Frank’s point, doubt, uncertainty about whether the Reagan vision of promoting freedom as a good that is in America’s national security interests is still part of American policy under -- under Donald Trump. What did you -- what do you think?

CHEN: Well, the inaugural address laid out a very different framework for foreign policy. I mean America first has meaning for people that goes back many, many years, and it does suggest a very different orientation. Now, for the rest of the world, I think there’s a little bit of, you know, they’re trying to figure out what’s going on as much as we are as Americans. But -- but I think for them the implications are far more significant. If you go to Korea or you go to Japan or you go to Israel or you go to the United Kingdom or any of our western European allies, or -- or our allies in the rest of the world, there are questions about where America is going to stand. And I think the inaugural address really kind of put people on notice that this is going to be a different framework we’re operating in. So I absolutely think we’re in a different time, in a different place (INAUDIBLE).

GOLDBERG: We -- we have treated relationships with some of the countries you just talk about, which suggests that America is not first in Washington’s view. That -- that Washington, post-World War II, when we became the global leader, that we decided that the defense of other countries was also worth our time, money and even blood. And -- and so this is the revolutionary aspect of what Donald Trump was saying. He was saying, calling into question whether we’re going to rise to the defense of free peoples.

DICKERSON: I was also struck, Frank, that the -- that the president talked about how America had disappeared over the horizon against other countries. And there has been a long debate about American exceptionalism and whether presidents are sufficiently exceptional and praising America. That seems like not a -- you wouldn’t put that in the American exceptionalism hymn that we’re disappearing over the horizon.

LUNTZ: No, I -- I really think the country’s in trouble. If we don’t trust the people who give us our news, if we get our news to affirm us rather than to inform us, then we’re not going to collect any information. If we don’t listen to others and allow our opinions to change over time, then the democracy weakens. And if our electoral process, if we’re telling lies to the people in an effort to get elected, and we don’t hear the accountability, then where are we headed from here both nationally and internationally? We are losing the respect of the global community. We have lost the respect of Americans here. There’s a sense that our democratic system and the institutions have failed us. And I see nothing in the last 48 hours to indicate that any of this is going to be addressed in the coming weeks or months.

DICKERSON: Susan, Secretary Graham -- sorry, Senator Graham, I’ve given him an elevation there. Senator Graham seems to be pushing forward on this Russia sanctions bill which sets up a foreign policy -- not just, you know, debate, but real things. What -- what do you think will happen? Mitch McConnell’s got to put a bill in front of the president the president doesn’t seem to like.

PAGE: Well, we -- we don’t know that that will happen. Senator -- you know, Senator Graham said, if the vote were tomorrow he’d get 75 votes in the Senate because the vote’s not tomorrow and President Trump has some ability to lobby Republicans in the Senate as well. But I do think this could be an early flash point between the Congress, especially in the Senate, and -- and the new White House because there is a consensus, there is a Republican consensus among Republicans and Democrats in the Senate that Russia is not our friend, that Vladimir Putin is not a model that we should be following. So this could be -- this could emerge as -- as something kind of defining in the relationship, especially on foreign policy, between the president and the White House -- between the White House and the Congress.

DICKERSON: And, Jeffrey, what’s your -- what do you make of Mr. Tillerson, Rex Tillerson, and his possible nomination to -- or, sorry, being confirmed as secretary of state?

GOLDBERG: Well, it seems more likely now that Senator Graham told you that he was going to vote for him. That’s one thing.

DICKERSON: And McCain says he will as well.

GOLDBERG: And McCain says he will as well. Rex Tillerson is in that category that people, at least insiders, believe is one of the grownups who’s going to play a responsible role, along with Jim Mattis, in making sure that the United States fills its commitments overseas. There are obvious questions about putting the head of Exxon in the -- the head of the State department, but he seems to have emerged as one of the more credible figures to -- to be nominated by Donald Trump so far.

DICKERSON: All right, we’re going to have to end it there. Of course, Senator Marco Rubio, his vote is still outstanding. That will be a real question since he’s on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Thanks to all of you for being here. Thanks to all of you for watching and we will be back in a moment.


DICKERSON: Finally today, with all of the drama and emotion and division surrounding the events of the last two days, we leave you with the images of American citizens showing their loyalty to their country.

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