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State of the Union
Interview With Ohio Governor John Kasich; Interview With Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders; Partisan Split on Russia Investigation; Republicans Fail to Deliver on Health Care; "Solution Sunday" Meals. Aired 9-10a ET
Aired March 26, 2017 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Health care fail.
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Yes, I don't know what else to say, other than Obamacare is the law of the land.
BASH: In a major defeat by his own party, President Trump agrees to pull his first major bill in Congress, and blames Democrats.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We had no Democrat support. We had no votes from the Democrats.
BASH: But how will the president respond to members of his own party who turned on him?
TRUMP: We all learned a lot. We learned a lot about loyalty.
BASH: Plus, Democrats take a victory lap.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: It's pretty exciting for us.
BASH: Energized by keeping Obamacare on the books, are they in a stronger place to make a deal with the president? Bernie Sanders joins us with his take.
And partisan investigation? House intelligence leaders split over the Russia investigation, with Democrats pointing fingers at the Republican committee head.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: I think the speaker has to decide, just as well as our own chairman, whether they want a credible investigation being done.
BASH: Is it time for a special prosecutor?
Plus, the best political minds will be here with insights on what happens next.
(END VIDEOTAPE) BASH: Hello. I'm Dana Bash in Washington, in for Jake Tapper.
And the state of our union is dysfunctional.
President Trump is trying to pick up the pieces after the Republican attempt to fulfill a major campaign promise, repealing Obamacare, crumbled. Republican-controlled Washington is in blame game mode, as the president tries to look forward and recapture the momentum he lost after a brutal week.
One member of the House Freedom Caucus told me that the president was not focused enough on the details.
This morning, President Trump went after them, tweeting: "Democrats are smiling in D.C. that the Freedom Caucus, with the help of Club for Growth and Heritage, have saved Planned Parenthood and Obamacare."
Now, conservatives are also blaming House Speaker Paul Ryan for taking them for granted, mismanaging and -- mismanaging and misunderstanding his caucus, while GOP leaders up and down Pennsylvania Avenue say they have had it with conservatives who will not get to yes.
A Republican source says that President Trump spoke to the speaker yesterday for an hour, and the relationship is stronger than ever.
So, what does the president need to get all of this back on track?
Joining me now is the Republican governor of Ohio, John Kasich, who also served in the House for 18 years.
And, Governor, before we get to all that, I want to ask about something that happened in your state last night, a shooting. One person was killed, 14 others were injured when the gunfire broke out at a nightclub in Cincinnati.
Local police tweeted this morning that there was only one reported shooter, but noted that they still are investigating if others were involved.
What's the latest you can tell us, Governor?
GOV. JOHN KASICH (R), OHIO: Well, we don't know a lot more, other than that.
I spoke to the mayor of Cincinnati today, John Cranley. He will be on the scene most of the day. I have spoken to our head of public safety, Dana, and the fact is, you don't want to get -- you don't want to be speculating.
But it appears as though there was one shooter, not terrorism-related. But, as the father of two 17-year-old girls going to be headed to college next year, you know, you see things like this, and you begin to wonder, where is it safe to go?
And, obviously, terrible, a loss of one life and a number of people wounded. We're just going to keep -- keep our eyes on this, and I have offered all -- of course, all the state assistance that is needed in this -- you know, in another terrible tragedy in our country.
BASH: OK. Governor, thank you for that update.
I want to turn now to what happened in this town.
Look, as you know, for seven years, Republicans have been promising to repeal and replace Obamacare. This pledge has helped your party capture the House, the Senate and the White House.
I asked the House speaker about it right after it collapsed. Let's take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: How do you go home to your constituents and send all of your members home to their constituents, saying, you know what, it's not even 100 days into the administration, sorry, folks, we just can't figure it out?
RYAN: Dana, it's a really good question. I wish I had a better answer for you.
I really believe that Obamacare is a law that's collapsing. It's hurting families. It's not working. It was designed in a fundamentally flawed way. We believe this bill is the best way to go. But we just didn't quite get the consensus to get there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: Governor Kasich, has your party just been selling a lie?
KASICH: Well, what I would tell you, Dana, is our party is trying to take on too much as just the party.
You cannot have major changes in major programs affecting things like health care without including Democrats from the very beginning and asking them to be constructive.
Now, earlier in your report, you talked about Democrats sort of gloating. There's no reason to gloat here. This program needs reform. There are parts of it that are in very serious trouble.
And so, Dana, what has to happen, what happened in the old days, you know, when we reformed welfare, when we did the Balanced Budget Act of '97, when we created the child health program, Republicans and Democrats did it together.
And, look, I have been here. I have been exactly where they are. We actually closed the government down during the debate with the Clinton administration over the budget.
But you know what happened? Some of them snuck in to see me, asked me if we could start negotiations quietly. They went to see Senator Domenici. We started it. We created a framework... BASH: But, Governor...
KASICH: ... and, voila, the first time we balanced the budget.
So, they have got to reach out across the aisle. And Democrats have to say, we will work with you to improve and fix this plan for people.
BASH: OK. So -- so, Governor, I'm going to channel your colleagues here in Washington.
And if they were here, they would say to you, Republicans here, the old days are over. That doesn't happen anymore. And Democrats are determined not to work with Republicans. So, how do you...
KASICH: Well, that's pathetic. That's pathetic.
First of all, it's not the old days anymore. If you don't have the old days back from the standpoint of people are Americans before they are Republicans and Democrats, nothing will get done.
And if the Democrats don't want to reach out and be constructive, then call them on it. Talk about the fact that they won't help, because many of them will, if it's put to them.
Look, the exchanges in Obamacare are disintegrating. This is not a situation that is going to do anything other than leave people who are vulnerable in a very bad position. So, this is a time to -- for America to stand up.
And I understand that Donald Trump has said, maybe we should have done this more with Democrats. Right now, off the get-go, it's all partisan. The Democrats did it with Obamacare, and it's not sustainable. And the Republicans tried to do it with just Republicans.
It doesn't work like that in our country. We're not a parliamentary system. And whenever you continue to operate like that, what you pass will never be sustainable. And it will -- the people of this country, particularly the vulnerable, the mentally ill, the drug-addicted, the chronically ill, who will pay the price for politics. It needs to stop.
BASH: What you say makes perfect sense, but, frankly, from the perspective of what we're seeing here in Washington, it sounds -- it sounds utopian.
I have to ask you, conservative members of Congress say -- and they actually say that they believe that your fellow Republicans and you, who accepted federal money to expand Medicaid in your home states, made it impossible for the Republicans to repeal Obamacare here in Washington.
What's your response?
KASICH: Well, there's a way to improve all of this and to save money and to transform the system. And, look, if you're on the extreme, whether you're on the right or
whether you're on the left, you ought to be marginalized. And that's what happens when you bring reasonable Republicans with reasonable Democrats together, and then you begin to see the extremes start to move a little bit to be more constructive.
Right now, when you start with a deck that's only a limited number of cards, then you don't have a big hand to play. Frankly, if Republicans quietly over time will reach out to Democrats, find the constructive ones, you will begin to marginalize the extremes.
And you know what? When people say in my state we should drop 700,000 people, a third of whom are mentally ill or drug-addicted or -- and a quarter of whom are chronically ill, and we should turn our back on them, that's not America. That's not a country that loves all of its citizens. That is really extreme. Frankly, it borders on mean.
BASH: President Trump, his health care bill was basically blocked by conservative members of the so-called Freedom Caucus.
And, Governor, I was told by two sources that when the president -- one of his meetings with them, he was pressed by some about the policy specifics behind closed doors, and the president's response was, "Forget about the little S-H" -- you can fill in the other two letters, Governor.
You have been in negotiations as an executive, as you mentioned, as the chair of a congressional committee. What do you think about that?
KASICH: You know, the president's not supposed to be crossing all the T's and dotting all the I's. That's an excuse.
Look, there are plenty of people around that understood this. And, frankly, I think there was a tug-of-war inside the administration as to what the path forward ought to look like.
I saw the president. You know, I was in the Oval Office. One of the things we talked about was bringing some control to the pharmaceutical companies. The president liked that idea. He called Gary Cohn in. We sat in the Oval Office and talked about this.
BASH: So, you think that he's fine? You think that the notion that he wasn't invested and knowledgeable and involved in the policy enough is not true?
KASICH: Look, he's going to learn from this.
But you can't expect the executive to know everything. And my job, as the governor, you know, the seventh largest state, we have many complicated things. I need to have very good staff. They all need to be on the same page. You can't have them fighting with one another. And we don't.
[09:10:11] That's what -- that -- you know, and, look, I think -- I hope the
president will come to understand that. But I think he's learning a lesson from this.
And the fact is, I think his instincts -- my opinion, my opinion -- his instincts would have been to cut a deal and to bring the Democrats in and get this thing done.
And I still think there's a chance to do this, Dana. They cannot walk away, close their eyes, and lock the door, because the system is not healthy. And Obamacare needs to be significantly reformed. And it can be constructively.
I talked to Senator Portman on Friday. I'm going to be in Washington on Monday with a few meetings with some constructive members. This cannot go away, Dana, because there are too many people's lives that are at stake if we fail to be able to reform this program.
This is serious, serious stuff. And the idea that it's a quaint notion that Republicans and Democrats ought to work together, that's how broken that city is. That is how broken.
Maybe what the president needs to do is, he needs to call everybody out and say, let's grow up and let's serve America.
Governor, before I let you go, I have to point out that you have been keeping a very busy schedule. And you have been keeping up your political profile. There's a new pro-Kasich political organization. You have been traveling the globe. You have got a new book coming out. And the title is your campaign theme, "Two Paths: America Divided or United."
I know you're not going to tell me right now if you're planning to challenge President Trump in 2020.
KASICH: Oh, no, no, no, no, no, no, no.
BASH: No, no, no, you're not going to?
Look, TwoPathsBook.com, for those that want to see what this is all about.
KASICH: Dana, look, I went to Munich to talk about the importance of NATO, at the invitation of John McCain.
KASICH: I weighed into the health care debate because I didn't want to see coverage ripped out of all these people's hands, OK?
My job -- believe me, my job is to be a voice that's constructive. I'm not really interested in running for political office again. I'm interested in being a voice that can help bring the country together again.
And I don't want to be self-righteous or any of this stuff. I'm doing the best I can. That's all I'm...
BASH: So, you're not running for political office again? You're not going to run for president?
KASICH: I don't -- I don't -- I don't see it. I just don't see it.
KASICH: I don't see it, Dana.
I mean, look, I have got other things I have to do. I don't see it. You don't close the door on anything, but I have -- I don't have my eyes on that.
And the reason I have an organization there is so that I can maintain a voice, not just as governor, but, when I'm not governor, I don't intend to go away, I hate to tell you. For those that want me to go away, I'm not going away.
BASH: That's good to hear.
Governor, thank you so much for your time. Appreciate it this morning.
KASICH: Thank you.
BASH: And coming up: The Republican Party failed to keep its promise to repeal Obamacare. Will the Democrats capitalize on their blunder?
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is with me to discuss the party's future next.
BASH: Welcome back.
Republicans control the House, the Senate, and the White House, yet they were still unable to muster enough votes to repeal and replace Obamacare.
On Friday, President Trump publicly took the easy route: blaming Democrats.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I think the losers are Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, because now they own Obamacare. They own it, 100 percent own it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: But might he actually be more inclined now to strike deals with Democrats?
A senior administration official tells me that the president is extremely frustrated with the conservative House Freedom Caucus, who they say moved the goalposts on the president as he tried to negotiate the repeal of Obamacare.
And with the president looking for a win, he needs to build different coalitions. And that may just have to include Democrats.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: If we had bipartisan, I really think we could have a health care bill that would be the ultimate. And I think the Democrats know that also. And some day in the not-too-distant future, that will happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: But the question is, will Democrats actually come to the table?
Joining me now is Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
Senator, thank you so much for joining me.
Now, the president, as you heard, is trying to blame Democrats for the GOP failure to repeal and replace Obamacare. But he also said that he'd be willing to work with you and Democrats in the Senate and House on a solution.
So, given that, and given the fact that you have long said that there are problems with Obamacare, and the president wants to work with you, but obviously doesn't want to go as far as you do, insurance for everyone, do you think that you can take your position and take his position, and you can actually pick up the phone and reach out to him and say, at least let's fix what's happening now?
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: Well, Dana -- Dana, let me just begin by saying this.
The bill that was defeated should have been defeated. It was a disastrous piece of legislation primarily designed to provide $300 billion in tax breaks to the top 2 percent, throwing 24 million people off of health insurance, raising premiums for older workers in a very, very significant way.
It was defeated. The American people wanted it defeated. And I'm glad that we were able to accomplish that.
Now, as you indicated, of course, Obamacare has serious problems. Deductibles are too high. Premiums are too high. The cost of health care is going up at a much faster rate than it should. Ideally, what -- where we should be going is to join the rest of the
industrialized the world and guarantee health care to all people as a right.
SANDERS: And that's why I'm going to introduce a Medicare-for-all single-payer program.
Short term, this is what we can do. John Kasich was talking about chatting with the president about the high cost of prescription drugs. Well, you know what? I have introduced legislation that would allow pharmacists and distributors to buy lower-cost medicine from around the world. The American...
BASH: OK, so let's start -- so, let's start there.
Is that something that you will not just introduce on the Democratic side of the aisle, but actually pick up the phone and call the White House and say, hey, this is something I know the president cares about, too; can we work together?
BASH: You're going to do that?
SANDERS: Well, here -- President -- well, let me right now.
President Trump said a whole lot of stuff on the campaign trail. One of the things he talked about was lowering the cost of prescription drugs. There is wonderful legislation right now in the Senate to do that.
President Trump, come on board. Let's work together. Let's end the absurdity of Americans paying by far the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs, and enormously important that...
BASH: And what about -- what about the idea -- what about the idea of broadly fixing Obamacare? I know you want to have insurance for all.
BASH: And that's what you campaigned on.
BASH: But living in the Republican-led Washington world that you're living in, the idea of at least fixing what exists now, will you also tell your fellow Democrats, stop being intransigent, let's get together, and work with the president to do it?
SANDERS: Oh, well, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa.
Well, Dana, Dana, Dana, these guys, Republicans have the majority.
BASH: Absolutely. But they clearly need...
SANDERS: They did not include -- they did not in...
BASH: I'm with you.
SANDERS: Oh, one second. I mean...
BASH: They didn't include you. They didn't include you. But they need you now, so let's look forward.
So, look, what rational people would do is say, what are the problems? How do we fix it? Are deductibles too high? Of course they are. Are there some parts of the country where people don't have a choice? Yes, that's true.
Let us do, among other things, a public option. Let us give people in every state in this country a public option from which they can choose. Let's talk about lowering the age of Medicare eligibility from 65 to 55. Let's deal with the greed of the pharmaceutical industry.
SANDERS: Those are areas that we can work together on.
BASH: OK. I mean, I just want to say -- want to move on -- that the Democratic-led Senate and White House couldn't even and wouldn't even do a public option.
So -- but I want to move on to a different -- a different issue, which, of course, is Russia, and that has been also enveloping Washington this week.
We learned that the FBI has been investigating the Trump campaign's potential coordination with Russia. They have been doing that since July. And yet it wasn't made public during the election. Back in December, former Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid said that James Comey should be investigated for the way he selectively interfered in the 2016 election.
Do you think Comey should be investigated?
SANDERS: Well, what I think the issue right now is, and what the American people want to know, is what relationship, if any, what kind of collusion, if any, there was between the Trump campaign and Russia.
I think the American people are scratching their head and wondering how it is that you have an authoritarian leader in Russia who gets nothing but very positive statements from the president of the United States.
That is the issue that needs to be investigated. BASH: Right. But, Senator, I'm asking about James Comey.
SANDERS: The answer is, I don't know.
The answer is, where we are right now is that the FBI has got to do a thorough investigation of that issue. And, by the way, we need an independent commission. If the Intelligence Committees are unable to do the right thing, we need to go to an independent commission.
BASH: I want to talk about something else that's on the Senate's plate right now. And that, of course, is the Supreme Court nomination.
Your -- the leader of the party you caucus with, Chuck Schumer, said that the Senate Democrats will filibuster Neil Gorsuch's nomination to the Supreme Court. Republicans are already saying that they're going to go nuclear, which means that the Supreme Court nominees would only need 51 votes, not 60, which is required now, if necessary, and that, if that happens, not only would Gorsuch get on the court, but you are going to be giving President Trump a wide opening to nominate the most conservative person he can if and when another vacancy opens up.
Is that something that concerns you, the long-term implications of the filibuster?
SANDERS: Well, first of all, what concerns me is that, right now, we have a rule that says, appropriately, I think, that for a Supreme Court justice, a lifetime term, one of the most important positions in the United States government, that it should require 60 votes, because that would make it bipartisan.
And I think that that's where we are right now. And I certainly hope that the Republicans do not change the rules in order to push Gorsuch through.
I chatted with Gorsuch for about 45 minutes. And, frankly, it was a very pleasant conversation. But on the most important issues facing our country, the issues of billionaires able to buy elections because of Citizens United, the issue of taking away a woman's right to choose, the issues of voter suppression, I was not impressed by his response.
BASH: But we know...
SANDERS: Right now, you have got Republicans governors all over this country trying to make it harder for poor people to vote. He had nothing significant to say on that.
BASH: We know you're not going to vote -- we know you're not going to vote for Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court. But do you think that the Democrats should actually filibuster his nomination?
SANDERS: What I think is, if he does not get 60 votes, the Republicans owe the American people the obligation of bringing forward somebody who is more moderate, who is not an extremist. BASH: It sounds like a yes. You're for a filibuster.
SANDERS: And that's what the American -- it's not a question of filibuster.
I am for a -- I am for the Republicans obeying the rules that currently exist, and not changing those rules. That's -- and the rules right now, for good reasons, are 60 votes.
BASH: Well, OK. The rules do allow for a filibuster for the Supreme Court nomination, but it certainly doesn't require Democrats to use that.
SANDERS: You're -- you're using the word filibuster.
BASH: Because that's what it is.
SANDERS: All it is, is there will be -- no, it is not.
There will be a vote. If he doesn't get 60 votes, he does not become Supreme Court justice. That's the rule right now. It's not like people are going to be there standing for months and months, bringing down the government.
SANDERS: That is what the current rule is. And I think it's important that it be maintained.
BASH: OK, Senator, thank you so much for your time this morning. I really appreciate it.
SANDERS: Thank you.
BASH: And coming up: A senior administration official tells me that the president was a captive in an internal House Republican fight. President Trump gets schooled in intraparty warfare. How does he govern now?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I'm going to make the great deals.
I am going to make great deals for our country. I mean, what I do is I do deals. I deal. I negotiate by creating leverage. So I can extract a good deal for the United States, for the people!
I make deals, I negotiate. Everybody wants me to negotiate. That's what I'm known as, as a negotiator.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: Well, maybe not on health care, at least not quite yet.
President Trump learned this week that not even his larger than life personality can move his own party when they are stuck and they are very, very divided especially on an issue like this where they have made promises over and over again, to repeal Obamacare. They have done it for seven years.
Joining me now to talk about this is Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, former Republican presidential candidate and Senator Rick Santorum, CNN political commentator Bakari Sellers, and Republican Congressman Lee Zeldin.
And Republican Congressman because you are the Republican in the House where all of this fell apart this week you get to start. "I make deals." What happened?
REP. LEE ZELDIN (R), NEW YORK: The president worked really hard on trying to build a broader coalition and get additional people towards yes on this proposal he was supporting.
I believe he had over half of the conference over to the White House.
ZELDIN: He was making phone calls. The vice president was working it. His team was working on it. And I think that he's going to learn an awful lot from this experience. I mean it's --
BASH: What should he learn from it?
ZELDIN: Well, you know, there's a lot more to do, and as are you talking about tax reform, infrastructure, strengthening our military, taking care of our veterans, going through the appropriations process in a four-year term, you learn lessons early on. I think, maybe, you know, he learned from his first executive order related to the travel restriction where the second one was a better rollout than the first one.
You know -- so you build relationships. You get a better scouting report on -- maybe one member is interested in, you know, a tougher -- a tougher approach where someone else maybe doesn't want to be threatened.
BASH: More than one member. That was the problem.
Senator, I was talking to a senior administration official who said it didn't matter what the policy was. They didn't want to deal. They meaning the House Freedom Caucus and that the White House and the president himself was a captive in an internal house fight. Do you agree with that?
RICK SANTORUM (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No, I don't. I mean, it always comes down to policy. I mean, the idea that the people are just recalcitrant and don't want to do anything for the sake of not doing anything that's just not true.
I mean, the Freedom Caucus had a -- had a -- had a vision of what they wanted to do and they didn't want to keep government -- the federal government in control. I mean, that's really the bottom line. They didn't want the federal government in control.
BASH: So you think they were right to torpedo this?
SANTORUM: Well, you know, I've said for now a couple of months that -- that the approach should have been a more conservative approach which was to basically just turn this all over to the states and get the federal government out of the health care business. I think that's what really what the Freedom Caucus wanted, and I think had the House started there, had Ryan started with a bill that included the study committee and the Freedom Caucus and the conservative bloc which is your biggest bloc of votes then you reach out to the middle to try to move the bill and -- but at least you've got the folks on board to start.
And Paul Ryan took a different approach. He took an approach that no other conservative leader in the House has taken before which is to start more with the middle to try to appeal to moderates and get a bill that can pass the Senate and it just didn't work.
BASH: So, congresswoman, from the Democratic side, you know, it is true that the Democrats, they planted their feet and they said, we are not going to be involved in anything that has to do with repealing Obamacare. Now that that ship has sailed, will Democrats work with Republicans on at least fixing the problems that even you acknowledge are there?
REP. DEBBIE DINGELL (D), MICHIGAN: You know, I said yesterday I'll work with anybody to make it better, but I won't support a bad bill. This was a bad bill. This bill --
BASH: Of course you weren't going to support this but let's look forward.
DINGELL: I think we've got to see what they are willing to talk about. You cannot rip insurance away from people. You cannot force people to pay more and give them less. And at the end they ripped away essential services.
There are things that we can talk about. We need to get -- do away with the Cadillac tax. We need to do something about prescription drugs, negotiate prices for Part D in Medicare. If you're willing to talk about things that don't hurt American people we should be willing to --
BASH: Bakari, is the Democratic base so fired up and so -- they are demanding that Democrats like the congresswoman and all of her colleagues don't talk to a Republican right now. Is that even going to be possible?
BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: That's not the demand. I think that that is --
BASH: A lot of them are. They don't want any kind of help (ph) for (ph) Republicans.
SELLERS: That maybe the perception but one thing that we did see is we saw a House leadership take a step back, House Democratic leadership take a step back and saw the grass roots lead on this movement.
You saw Congress persons getting inundated with phone calls, thousands and thousands of phone calls. I actually applaud Congresswoman Dingell for sitting here and saying that she is willing to work with Donald Trump and the Republicans to fix the Affordable Care Act. We all know that premiums arising and we need to do something about that. We need to focus on the Republican part of the plan where they were going invest $100 billion over nine years to help stabilize the markets.
These are things that we can do together. The Democratic base is appreciative for how far Obamacare has gotten us but they also understand that we have to reform it so we can take it further.
BASH: All right. I want to turn to another event that happened this weekend. Kind of only happens in the Trump years.
The president sent out a tweet, a promo for his friend on "FOX News," Jeanine Pirro, saying, watch the show. Then you turn on the TV, if you did, and here's what Jeanine Pirro said at the beginning of her show.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUDGE JEANINE PIRRO, FOX NEWS HOST: Paul Ryan needs to step down as speaker of the House. The reason, he failed to deliver the votes on his health care bill.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: Again, congressman, since you're the Republican in the House here, I want to ask you, and as I do I just want to say that I am told by a source familiar with the back story that he didn't know, he the president didn't know that she was going to call for him to step down but the fact is that he told his viewers to watch -- somebody called for him to go.
ZELDIN: The president and Speaker Ryan and, you know, the chief of staff, the vice president, I mean, these are really strong relationships that have been building over the course of the days and weeks since the election. So, you know, for -- maybe for the narrative of trying to divide Republicans between them, you know, that might help. I believe that the president wouldn't know that that message would be sent.
BASH: And you're still supportive of the speaker?
ZELDIN: Not only -- not only am I still supportive of the speaker the entire -- many members of the Freedom Caucus just voted for him a couple of months ago.
ZELDIN: And, you know, in order to become the speaker of the House, you have to get the votes on the floor and what we just saw was -- it was almost a unanimous vote a couple months ago.
BASH: Can I just ask you -- because you were in the House for many years.
SANTORUM: I was.
BASH: What's your take on this? And do you think the speaker can stay in his job and move forward?
SANTORUM: Yes. I go back to, you know, Paul Ryan is still learning, and, you know, he tried something different. He tried -- he tried to do a strategy that had not been tried in my opinion successfully before, and he failed at it but that doesn't mean that he isn't going to learn from that, and, you know, it's -- it's always better in the House to start with your base, and that's just the bottom line, and I know that he --
BASH: Do you think he learned that lesson?
SANTORUM: I hope he learned that lesson. You always start -- you start with your strength and then you build from there.
BASH: All right.
BASH: Hold that thought. Hold that thought. Sorry. We have to take a quick break. We have to pay your bills, Bakari.
SELLERS: I got you.
BASH: After the break, Republicans and Democrats get into a public battle about undisclosed intelligence. Can Congress be trusted to conduct a non-partisan investigation? That's next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR: The FBI as part of our counterintelligence mission is investigating the Russian government's efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, and that includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia's efforts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: That was a bombshell announcement from the FBI Director James Comey, and on Friday we learned that former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort and former advisers Roger Stone and Carter Page said that they would speak to the House Intelligence Committee about the Russia controversies. And we're back now with the panel.
Congressman Zeldin, I want to start with you, as a Republican. Do you think in all fairness that the American people had a right to know before they went to the polls that this investigation of the Trump campaign had been under way for months?
ZELDIN: Well, the investigation that was taking place was with regards to -- there were successful hacks into the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Democratic National Committee, John Podesta's e-mails, and, you know, that was the nature --
BASH: No, no, no. The FBI director said explicitly that it was the Trump camp, any possible connection with the Trump campaign and Russia.
ZELDIN: Right, but I'm just saying the focus of -- the reason for the investigation, the focus of that investigation was -- was determining those hacks and whether or not, as you're trying to protect the integrity of Election Day itself and not being table hack into our systems and state board of elections, like that was the purpose for what was going on. That was the focus of it incidentally, as you -- as you are progressing and you start learning more of the facts, the investigation evolves.
SELLERS: Can I help the congressman?
BASH: Go for it.
SELLERS: The answer to the question is yes. The American people deserve to know that there was an investigation going on prior to the election.
ZELDIN: Did you support Comey's letter 11 days before the election?
SELLERS: Oh, I did not support Comey's letter.
ZELDIN: OK. So you just contradicted yourself.
SELLERS: I did not contradict myself. But what's good for the goose is good for the gander.
And so the fact is if you want to come out and say that I've been investigating Anthony Weiner and we found these e-mails on a computer and we're going to go and investigate these e-mails, that's fine but American public also needs to know because you said here, Rick Santorum said here, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Kellyanne Conway and all have touted this line, you should not vote for someone who is under FBI investigation. Well, what did we find out? That the president of the United States currently is under FBI investigation. Take it for what you want.
ZELDIN: What is he under investigation for?
SELLERS: He and his associates and his campaign for collusion with the Russian government in this presidential election.
SANTORUM: We don't know -- first of all, there's no evidence of that, and number, two, Dana, with all due respect...
SANTORUM: ... Comey was not clear as to when the investigation about Trump's potential collusion began.
I think what Lee is saying is that started out not as an investigation of Trump or any potential collusion. We don't know at what point that investigation turned and he was not clear about that and it could have been after the election.
BASH: I want -- I want to ask about something else related to this that happened that was really remarkable on Capitol Hill today.
Congressman Devin Nunes, who is the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, he had to apologize to Democrats and some of his fellow Republicans for sharing surveillance information with the White House and the public before he did so with members of his own intelligence committee. Listen to what John McCain said about that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I'm calling for a select committee or a special committee. No longer does the Congress have credibility to the handle this alone, and I don't say that lightly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANTORUM: He says it lightly all the time so that doesn't surprise me that John McCain --
BASH: Well, what do you think?
SANTORUM: I think -- look, I think it should be done by the -- by the committees in charge. Do I think Devin Nunes made had a good call? No, I don't think he made a good call. I think he should have talked to his committee before he went to the president and I don't think his responsibility is to the president, and so -- but I would say on the other side, Adam Schiff has reminded me of Joe McCarthy.
I mean, these rants about all these -- quote -- "coincidences" of -- and, you know, that have -- if you string together obviously showed that there's a Russian conspiracy here with the Trump campaign are absurd on its face and he is being just as partisan as Devin Nunes is.
DINGELL: I don't think it's partisan when you've got an FBI director saying that there's clearly been Russian interference somehow in our election.
We need to have the facts and Senator McCain is absolutely right. I do believe we need to have an independent commission. I think that what happened last week shows that it's impossible for there not to be political interference in the intelligence committee conducting this investigation. We're in too partisan of an environment and when you're talking about a foreign government like Russia trying to interfere in our election cycles and lord knows what else. We need an independent investigation.
BASH: Congresswoman, did your colleague Adam Schiff go too far when he said this week that the Trump/Russia evidence is more than circumstantial?
DINGELL: I don't think that he did.
I don't have the information that he does because he's not allowed to share with me but I think he is one of the most steadfast even men that I know and he who never say anything that didn't have truth to it. I admire the way that he's conducting this investigation --
SANTORUM: No one else has said that there's any evidence to that. No one else.
DINGELL: Well -- but your guy went rushing to the White House to try to protect him politically.
SANTORUM: No one else on both sides of the aisle, in the Senate, no one else has said that.
ZELDIN: And as Devin Nunes was coming out publicly with evidence and allegations to make the president look bad, then the Democrats would be celebrating. You don't have to come to the committee first. If you want to go to the cameras and saying anything negative at all with regards to the president.
BASH: But do you think -- but do you wish that as chairman of the intelligence committee which historically has been bi-partisan the last vestige of bipartisanship in Washington should he have --
ZELDIN: I agree with -- I agree with everything Rick just said. And, you know, he's absolutely right in his analysis. I just want to point out though...
BASH: Real quick.
ZELDIN: ... how this would have actually played out if Devin was going out with something that makes the president look bad. BASH: OK. Fair enough. Thank you all for --
DINGELL: Undermines the credibility of that committee, period.
BASH: We'll leave it there. Thank you, everybody. Appreciate it.
And after the break, can something as simple as a meal help bridge the racial divide? The answer might surprise you.
BASH: In many homes Sunday dinners aren't just about the food. They're about families spending time together. And two senators we caught up with believe breaking bread can be used for a lot more.
BASH (voice-over): Can the racial divide be bridged with a meal?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can we get another corn bread as well?
BASH: That's the simple idea behind Solution Sundays an initiative started by two senators, Tim Scott of South Carolina and Jim Lankford from Oklahoma.
SEN. JAMES LANKFORD (R), OKLAHOMA: I just started asking people that I ran into, have you ever had a person of another race in your home for dinner. And I had very few people that could answer yes.
BASH (on camera): Have you experienced the issue either maybe with yourself or with your constituents, African-Americans that just have never had a white person in their house?
SEN. TIM SCOTT (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: And vice versa as often as anything else. For me, it's hard to hate (ph) you know -- and it's just so simple.
BASH (voice-over): So these Republicans issued a challenge to their constituents, invite a family of a different race over for a Sunday meal.
LANKFORD: What their continuing telling me is a sense of joy and relief in a transition that they personally experience something around the dinner table.
BASH (on camera): Maybe this is too strong but sort of self-imposed segregation.
SCOTT: Absolutely. And the funny thing is for me it's surprising how many people come back and say they're just like me. What did you expect?
BASH (voice-over): We took a break from Washington's divisiveness to replicate and typical Solution Sunday at Kenny's Barbeque with the group of local religious and community leaders.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Must be something about relationships that are built around eating, around food and we have just desegregated that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It requires us to do this right now. It's like I have to look at you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
BARRY BLACK, SENATE CHAPLAIN: Step outside your comfort zone and invite someone into your circle.
BASH: For Scott, a black Republican from the south, his own unique circumstances have paved the way.
BASH (on camera): You, by definition are --
SCOTT: A unicorn?
BASH: Yes, you are.
BASH: You're a black Republican from South Carolina.
BASH: So you live this every day.
SCOTT: I (INAUDIBLE) understand it, appreciate it from a unique perspective.
BASH (voice-over): Both senators say this initiative is not about politics or legislation.
BASH (on camera): Have you felt the need to do more of this since President Trump has been in the White House?
LANKFORD: His rhetoric is not artful, to say the least. This started for us a year and a half ago or so. I mean, this is -- this is not new for us. It's not new for the nation.
BASH (voice-over): Still in today's political climate, the idea of figuring out differences over a warm meal seem more necessary than ever.
BASH: Thanks so much for watching.
"FAREED ZAKARIA GPS" is next.