John Bolton on push to rid North Korea of nuclear weapons

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This is a rush transcript from “Fox News Sunday,” April 29, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS HOST: I’m Chris Wallace.

The leaders of North and South Korea pledge to rid the Korean peninsula of nuclear weapons. Now, can President Trump seal the deal?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It’s going to be a very important meeting, the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula of North Korea. The de-nuke! De-nuke!

WALLACE: We’ll discuss what comes next for Kim Jong-un and President Trump.

TRUMP: I’ll look forward to our meeting. It should be quite something.

WALLACE: With John Bolton, in his first Sunday show appearance as White House national security adviser.

Then, the president’s new lawyer meets with Robert Mueller as a Senate panel moves to protect special counsel. We’ll ask Democrat Chris Coons about this bipartisan bill and whether it will make it to the full Senate for a vote.

Plus, trouble for the Trump cabinet. His nominee to lead the V.A. withdraws while his EPA chief gets grilled over ethics.

SCOTT PRUITT, EPA ADMINISTRATOR: Facts are facts, and fiction is fiction. The lie doesn’t become truth just because it appears on the front page of a the newspaper.

WALLACE: We’ll ask our Sunday panel about the president’s promise to drain the swamp.

And our Power Player of the Week, we meet a leader of the arms race for ideas in Washington.

KAY COLES JAMES, PRESIDENT, THE HERITAGE FOUNDATION: The guiding mission of this institution is to be that true north for the conservative movement.

WALLACE: All right now on “Fox News Sunday”.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WALLACE: And hello again from Fox News in Washington.

This week’s historic summit between the leaders of North and South Korea has set the stage for a face-to-face meeting between President Trump and Kim Jong-un. It will be the first time the leaders of the U.S. and North Korea have ever met. And central to the agenda, trying to get Kim to abandon his nuclear weapons program.

Joining us now, John Bolton in his first Sunday show interview as the president’s national security advisor. Ambassador, welcome back to “Fox News Sunday.”

JOHN BOLTON, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Glad to be here.

WALLACE: Let’s start with the Trump-Kim summit. Is it going to happen, when, and where?

BOLTON: Well, I think it is going to happen. The dates and the places are still under discussion. I think the president is eager to do it as soon as possible, but we still need to work out the precise parameters.

WALLACE: Well, you say he’s going to do it as soon as possible. Is the U.S. side ready to sit down and talk?

BOLTON: We will be when we do sit down. I think it’s something that the president has thought a good deal about already and I think people around the world have already given him credit for establishing the preconditions for this to happen in the first place. President Moon of South Korea for example has been very clear that but for the pressure, the economic pressure, the political military pressure that President Trump has put on North Korea, we would not be where we are today.

WALLACE: Given how apparently while the meeting between Kim and the South Korean president went on Friday, what could stop a Trump-Kim summit from happening?

BOLTON: Well, we need to agree on a place and that remains an issue, but if, in fact, Kim has made a strategic decision to give up his entire nuclear weapons program, then I think deciding on the place and the date should be fairly easy.

WALLACE: OK. So, let’s talk about your position, the U.S. position going in, what the U.S. wants from Kim. Will President Trump insist that Kim give up, ship out, all of his nuclear weapons, all of his nuclear fuel, all of his ballistic missiles, before the U.S. makes any concessions?

BOLTON: Yes, I think that’s what denuclearization means. We have very much in mind the Libya model from 2003, 2004. There are obviously differences. The Libyan program was much smaller, but that was basically the agreement that we made.

And so, we want to test North Korea in this first meeting for evidence that they have made that strategic decision, and we have — we have history to give us some assistance on it. And at 1992, the joint North-South denuclearization agreement had North Korea pledging to give up any aspect of nuclear weapons and to give up uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing. Now, we got other things to talk about as well — ballistic missiles, chemical and biological weapons, the American hostages, the Japanese abductees.

But starting on the nuclear side with what North Korea agreed to more than a quarter of a century ago was a pretty good place to start.

WALLACE: But just to pin this down, North Korea has to give up basically it’s a whole program before the U.S. begins to relieve economic sanctions?

BOLTON: Yes. I think that the maximum pressure campaign that the Trump administration has put on North Korea has, along with the political military pressure, has brought us to this point. I mentioned President Moon before. Just this past week, President Macron of France, Chancellor Merkel of Germany, Prime Minister Abe of Japan, the week before that, this morning, the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull of Australia, have all acknowledged we are at this point because of American pressure. Relieving that pressure isn’t going to make negotiation easier, it could make it harder.

WALLACE: What kind of time frame for North Korea to give up its weapons? How quickly what they have to do it? And is there any possibility that the U.S. would accept North Korea as a nuclear power and allow them to keep some of their infrastructure?

BOLTON: I don’t see how that’s possible. Again, the North Koreans have already agreed to this. They agreed to it in 1992 with South Korea and they have pledged similar things since then.

Now, it’s also the case that they’ve lied about it and broken their commitments, just one reason there’s nobody in the Trump administration starry-eyed about what may happen here. But by demonstrating they’ve made a strategic decision to give up nuclear weapons, it would be possible to move quickly. Again, the Libya case demonstrates this.

WALLACE: Well, when you say quickly, we are talking by the end of the year?

BOLTON: Well, it’s a matter first finding out just how much there is to dismantle. I mean, it’s not possible to go to this meeting with a set of screwdrivers and think we are going to take it apart beginning the day after the meeting. And therefore, the full, complete, total disclosure of everything related to their nuclear weapons program with full international verification, and I think following Libya, verification by American and other inspectors is — could be very important here.

WALLACE: Now, the joint statement from the two Koreas on Friday called for — and I want to put it up on the screen — a nuclear-free Korean peninsula and some people have suggested the North Koreans will give up everything they’ve got. But in return, the U.S. would agree that we are not going to allow any nuclear-armed airplanes or nuclear-armed ships on the Korean peninsula.

Is that acceptable?

BOLTON: Well, we certainly haven’t made that commitment. And again, I’m looking at the Panmunjom declaration as they call it in the context of a series of earlier North-South Korean agreements. And again, looking at the 1992 joint declaration, when they said nuclear-free, they meant with respect to the two Koreas.

WALLACE: So, you don’t view this as involving any kind of commitment from the U.S.?

BOLTON: I don’t think it binds the United States, no.

WALLACE: After the summit on Friday, President Trump tweeted this: Korean War to end. The United States and all of its great people should be very proud of what is now taking place in Korea.

I don’t have to remind you, Mr. Ambassador, that up to this point, Kim has said some stuff, but he has given up precisely nothing. Any concern that President Trump is getting carried away?

BOLTON: Not at all. As I said, there’s nobody starry eyed around here. And we’ve all been called a number of things, naive is not usually one of them. I think the president sees the is a potential here for a historic agreement — a breakthrough that nobody could have imagined even a few months ago. That potential is there.

But as he says repeatedly, the potential for no deal at all is also there. And we’re not going to know until we actually have the meeting and see what Kim Jong-un is prepared to do. It certainly the case that the mere words aren’t going to sway anybody.

WALLACE: Now, it certainly the case that you have never had any illusions about the Kim regime. I suspect you expected me to do what I’m about to do. Here are some of your greatest hits.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOLTON: I think the only diplomatic option left is to end the regime in North Korea by effectively having the South take it over.

Here’s an all-purpose insult that you can use, I’ll apply it to the North Koreans. Question: how do you know when the North Korean regime is lying? Answer: when their lips are moving.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: Now, I’ve got to tell folks that when we were playing those, Ambassador Bolton had a smile on your face. Who should we believe, that John Bolton or this one?

BOLTON: Well, you know, I’ll give you the same answer I gave to Martha MacCallum the day the president tweeted my nomination when I didn’t even know I had been relieved of my duties at Fox News. You know, I have said and written a lot of things over the years. I stand by every one of them.

But I was a freelancer back then. I had the luxury of voicing my own opinion. That’s not my job now. I’m simply an advisor. The decision-maker here is the president and I don’t think really there’s anything to be served by going back to those golden oldies and comparing them to what the president’s position is now.

My advice to him, you know, I give in private. He makes the decisions. That’s how it works.

WALLACE: Now, Kim told the South Koreans Friday that South Koreans are now saying is that he would give all his weapons up if the U.S. promises not to invade. Is that the kind of a guarantee that we would be willing to make?

BOLTON: Look, this is part of a discussion that remains to be had. We’ve heard similar things from North Korea before. That’s why I think that while we should be optimistic in pursuing the opportunity, we should be skeptical of rhetoric until we see some concrete evidence.

WALLACE: Well, I’m not going to pull one of your old bytes now, I’m going to pull one of President Trump’s from this week. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Kim Jong-un was — he really has been very open and I think very honorable from everything we’re seeing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: Kim Jong-un, open and honorable?

BOLTON: I think the president is focused on doing everything he can to make this meeting a success. It’s somewhat different than what he said before but I think he’s saying, look, if you are going to come with a real strategic determination to give up nuclear weapons, we’re going to have a very serious conversation.

WALLACE: OK. Let’s turn to Iran were President Trump has a May 12th deadline to decide whether or not to re-impose sanctions on the regime in Tehran and to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal. The administration is talking with our European allies about a plan to stay in the deal, but to add agreements that would limit Iran’s ballistic missiles, sanction regional aggression and end the sunset clause when Iran can start to break out and restart its nuclear program in 2025.

Would President Trump accept that? Stay in the deal if you have those kinds of strengthening add-ons?

BOLTON: Well, let me start by underlying he has made no decision on the nuclear deal, whether to stay in or get out. He is certainly considering the framework, the four pillars that President Macron laid out in their meeting last week — the Iran nuclear situation now, the situation in the future, Iran’s ballistic missiles and regional peace and security. And that, I think, is something that’s of interest to the president and worth pursuing.

But in terms specifically of a nuclear deal, there’s no decision on that yet.

WALLACE: But I guess what I’m asking is: does he feel that the deal itself is fatally flawed, or does he think that if you address some of the other concerns like ballistic missiles, like the sunset clause, like their regional actions as a bad actor around the world, that he — you could fix the deal?

BOLTON: Well, the question —

WALLACE: Is it fixable is really a question?

BOLTON: He certainly said very negative things about the deal, which — which implied that these other steps wouldn’t really address that concern, but, look, it’s possible in the discussions with our European allies that we’ll be able to see some possibility there. He’ll make the decision when it’s appropriate to make a decision, and that will be up until May 12th.

WALLACE: Finally, and we have been colleagues and always gotten along, but you know, I don’t have to tell you, you’re a controversial figure here in Washington and I want to talk briefly about that. Former Secretary of State Powell’s chief of staff said of you, publicly: he’s an absolutely brutal manager, treats people like dirt.

Since you came in three weeks ago, at least four top officials in the National Security Council have either been pushed out or left.

How do you plead to the charge, doesn’t play well with others? And in your new role, as you say, you’re not a free actor now, you’re a member of staff, are you changing your ways, either softening your views, or softening the way you conduct business?

BOLTON: Well, it’s also possible that the news media have that wrong and that people who disagreed with me in the past have a certain view of my conduct that I don’t agree with. I’ll let others speak to it. I have my views, I expressed my views, I try and manage fairly. I have made some changes in the staff of the National Security Council. I think that’s perfectly appropriate, change and continuity are two key elements in any organization and we’ll try going forward to get the right people there.

But I think much of this mischaracterization was addressed back in my confirmation process for U.N. ambassador in 2005. I invite all of those interested to read the report of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

WALLACE: Do you think you get a bad rap?

BOLTON: I think that’s almost inherent in Washington today. We’ve seen even last night at the White House correspondents, which I was happy not to attend, just reprehensible behavior by somebody addressing the gathering, and sadly, it’s par for the course in Washington today.

WALLACE: I have to say I’m glad I didn’t attend either.

(LAUGHTER)

WALLACE: Ambassador Bolton, thank you. Thanks for sharing your time with us. Please come back, sir.

BOLTON: Will do.

WALLACE: Up next, Democratic Senator Chris Coons on the president’s dramatic foreign policy moves. And the senator’s effort to protect special counsel Robert Mueller from potentially being fired.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WALLACE: As President Trump prepares for a summit with Kim Jong-un and negotiates with European leaders about the future of the Iran nuclear deal, we want to get a different perspective.

Joining us now Democratic Senator Chris Coons, one of the leading voices on the Foreign Relations Committee.

And, Senator, welcome back to “Fox News Sunday.”

SEN. CHRIS COONS, D-DEL., FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: Thanks, Chris. Great to be here.

WALLACE: You have been very critical of President Trump for some of his threatening of North Korea over the last year or so. Here you were last summer when the president talked about raining fire and fury on the Kim regime.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COONS: I don’t frankly think blustery rhetoric is what’s called for at this time. We shouldn’t as a superpower make threats we are not fully prepared to follow through on immediately.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: Looking back now, was President Trump right and were you wrong? And did his unconventional style of threats and insults and especially the maximum pressure of his economic sanctions, did that get us to the place we are right now where Kim is at the table?

COONS: Well, we’ve been here three times before, as you know, under previous administrations of both parties. Kim Jong-un, his father, his grandfather, the regime that rolls North Korea has done a “two steps forward, one step back” strategy where they make progress in their nuclear weapons program or missile program and then agree to come to the table and negotiate denuclearization, which doesn’t come true.

I’ll give President Trump credit for having helped create this opening through the sanctions regime he’s helped put together and put in place. And I was encouraged by what I heard from Ambassador Bolton, a determination to not lighten up on North Korea until there are verifiable and irreversible changes to their nuclear weapons program. There’s going to be a lot of hard work ahead. A summit isn’t a strategy, but having an upcoming summit with an opening where the supreme leader of North Korea has already made a number of encouraging offers. I think it’s a terrific opportunity.

WALLACE: So, I want to pick up on the quite hard line that Ambassador Bolton just took, which in effect was, you’ve got to give up everything before we give up anything. Do you think that’s practical? And do you think that’s the way to go?

COONS: My hunch is we’re going to have to take several confidence-building steps on both sides, but for us to back off the sanctions against North Korea without a process in place for a verifiable and irreversible change to the nuclear weapons program would be a mistake.

WALLACE: And what about when Kim talks about a denuclearization of the entire peninsula and the possibility that that means that we would keep nukes in the form of either planes or ships off the peninsula, is that something you can live with?

COONS: That’s not something that I would embrace, but I think there’s a lot of players here that need to be included and consulted — the South Korean government, the Japanese government. These are countries that are vital allies of ours in the regions that have been directly threatened by Kim Jong-un as well as the United States. But to be clear, one of the things Kim Jong-un has been saying recently is that I’ve developed this nuclear weapons capability to defend my country, my regime, from an aggressive United States.

I do think we can and should repeat our commitment to not seek regime change as long as they are also making positive steps towards finding an end to the Korean conflict, restoring relations with South Korea and making progress and negotiations with the United States.

WALLACE: I want to turn to Iran because you’ve also criticized President Trump for threatening to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal, but the cause of this threat, President Macron this week, Chancellor Merkel came to Washington to plead with him to make what I was just discussing with John Bolton, these kinds of side deals on issues, the nuclear deal doesn’t cover, again, is Mr. Trump’s hard-line and in the case of Iran. Is that also working?

COONS: I think this is a terrific opportunity for President Trump, who made his reputation as a builder, to build on the Iran nuclear deal and to deal with, as you just said, the areas that were not fully resolved through the Iran nuclear deal — the ballistic missile program, their support for terrorism in the region, their terrible human rights record.

The Iranian regime is a dangerous threatening regime and if President Trump can successfully lead an effort with our European allies to rein in order or to end their ballistic missiles program, to put — to change the outcome of the current Iranian deal so that there isn’t a sunset clause, I think these will be positive things that I would support.

WALLACE: The president fired back Friday at Iran’s threat to pull out of the nuclear deal if these added sanctions, these added threats, are put on the deal.

Here was President Trump’s response.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They restart their nuclear program. They will have bigger problems than they have ever had before.

They will not be doing nuclear weapons that I can tell you. OK? They’re not going to be doing nuclear weapons. You can bank on it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: Given how successful President Trump seems to have been with his threats, at least so far.

COONS: So far.

WALLACE: So far.

COONS: So far.

WALLACE: Do you have any problems with that?

COONS: I think making it clear to Iran that it continues to be our position that we will not allow them to develop nuclear weapons is completely appropriate. Iran has threatened both our vital ally Israel and our European allies and the United States — as has Kim Jong-un of North Korea — and drawing a clear line that we will not tolerate a nuclear-capable Iran I think is completely appropriate.

But it’s my hope that the president will pursue the wiser path of continuing to get the advantages we are certain currently getting out of the Iran nuclear deal. Don’t take my word for it. His own secretary of defense, Jim Mattis, has said the same thing. The Republican chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee has said the same. Even folks who oppose the Iran nuclear deal today see that we get more benefits by staying in it than by tearing it out.

WALLACE: I’m just curious because this must be an interesting time for you and a lot of other Democrats who’ve been very critical of this president when it comes to foreign policy and at least for now, and it’s a preliminary stage, nothing has been decided with Kim, nothing has happened specifically with Iran, but it does seem to be working.

COONS: If it works, I will be the first to cheer on the president because, frankly, although we are political opponents, we have different values and we come out politics and public service in different ways, I want the United States to succeed. So, if President Trump’s strategy succeeds with North Korea, succeeds with Iran, that’s in our country’s best interest.

WALLACE: Let’s turn to the special counsel’s Russia investigation. You were one of four senators, two Democrats, two Republicans, who sponsored a bill the Senate Judiciary Committee passed this week by a wide margin to protect the special counsel if President Trump were to move to fire him. Why do you think that’s necessary?

COONS: Well, I think it’s necessary because President Trump himself keeps tweeting or saying things that suggest he hasn’t fully given up the idea of possibly firing Robert Mueller. He called in to “Fox & Friends” just last Thursday. He’s issued a whole series of tweets saying this is a witch hunt, that it’s an attack on him and on democracy, it shouldn’t be allowed to go on.

And so, as long as he is making these threatening statements, and as long as it’s not clear why the Republican leadership in both the House and Senate who say Robert Mueller should be left alone, should be unmolested, should be able to complete his investigation, they said they have confidence that President Trump won’t fire Robert Mueller. I have no confidence, and obviously my colleagues, both Republican and Democrat, on the Judiciary Committee looked at this bill, which is an ounce of prevention, as my mom used to say, will worth a pound of cure, they looked at it and said, this is a modest and reasonable step to make it just a little bit harder for the president to abruptly and without cause fire Robert Mueller.

This would be of the best interest of the country and of the president frankly.

WALLACE: I want to pick up on that because Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, as you point out, has said flatly he’s not going to let the full Senate vote on this bill, which was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee this week. Let’s take a look at the senator.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, R-KY, MAJORITY LEADER: I’m the one who decides what we — what we take to the floor. That’s my responsibility as the majority leader. We’ll not be having this on the floor of the Senate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: One, why do you think McConnell is refusing to bring up the bill, and two, is there anything you can do about it?

COONS: Well, folks at this bill would never get a hearing, it got a hearing. They said they’d never get a market, it got a market. They said they’d never get through the Judiciary Committee, it got through by a bipartisan 14-7 vote. As long as President Trump continues to say and do things that I’m sure his attorneys would prefer he didn’t, to threaten — to take action against the Department of Justice or Robert Mueller, I think the pressure to bring this to the floor will build.

If it were put on the floor this coming week, I think we’d get 60 votes for it. So, frankly, it’s my hope that the majority leader will change his mind.

WALLACE: And why do you think his mind at this point is no bill, no vote?

COONS: I think as the majority leader, he continues to say, it would be disastrous for the president to interfere with the investigation, but I have confidence he won’t. I don’t know what that confidence is based on. This bill would be a responsible, small measure to prevent some constitutional crisis. Frankly, I’ll say to the Mr. President — if you’re, Mr. President, saying that you would sign this bill is the single boldest thing you could do to shut up the critics who say there is a risk you might fire Robert Mueller.

WALLACE: Senator Coons, thank you. Thanks for coming in today, always good to talk with you, sir.

COONS: Thank you.

WALLACE: Up next, we’ll bring in our Sunday group to discuss James Comey, the Mueller investigation and another bumpy week for the Trump team.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WALLACE: Coming up, the world awaits a summit between President Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong-un.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: It’s taken a long time, many, many decades, to get here. Let’s see what happens.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: We’ll ask our Sunday panel if President Trump can get Kim to give up his nuclear weapons, next on “Fox News Sunday”.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: I don’t consider what I did with Mr. Richman a leak. I told him about an unclassified conversation with the president.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Do you remember Jon Lovitz (ph)? Do you remember? The liar. Well, Comey’s worse. Comey’s a liar and a leaker.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: Former FBI Director James Comey and President Trump at a campaign-style rally last night, continuing their war of words over who’s telling the American people the truth.

And it’s time now for our Sunday group.

Former Trump campaign senior advisor Jason Miller, Mo Elleithee of Georgetown University’s Institute of Politics and Public Service, Fox News analyst Marie Harf, and Rich Lowry of The National Review.

Rich, as the Comey book tour rolls on, who do you think is winning the battle for public opinion, the former FBI director or President Trump?

RICH LOWRY, NATIONAL REVIEW: Well, I think Comey’s obviously winning the battle for book sales. But I view this a little bit like the Michael Wolf phenomenon where he sold books hand over fist, but in the course of his book tour, his reputation took a dent. And I think that’s true of Comey. It’s clear he’s a wiley (ph), a manipulative operative and careerist. Not the worst thing to be in Washington, and there are a lot of them, but it makes the sanctimony really hard to take. And this kind of private definition he has of what constitutes leaking, that clearly is tailored to explicate him from his own leaking, I also really hard to take.

WALLACE: Mo, let me pick up. Your sense of how James Comey is doing. There were — there were two things he said in the interview with Bret Baier this week. One, it, frankly, almost Clintonian, what’s a leak, and the other is that he claims he didn’t know the Democrats had paid for the — for the dossier, even when he was — into 2017.

MO ELLEITHEE, GEORGETOWN INSTITUTE OF POLITICS AND PUBLIC SERVICE: Yes, I mean, I — I agree with Rich on this. I think if he —

CUOMO: You agree about?

ELLEITHEE: Well, I agree that his — that it’s raising a lot of questions about him, the more this book tour goes on. But at the end of the day, to your question about public opinion, at the — if you love Donald Trump, you’re — he’s going to be winning the — the war of public opinion here. If you hate Donald Trump, Comey is probably winning the war in here.

CUOMO: So no minds are changed?

ELLEITHEE: So I don’t think anyone’s mind is getting change. And, more importantly, Bob Mueller’s investigation goes on undeterred.

WALLACE: Well, I want to pick up on that with you because the president once again made it clear this week that his patients with the Mueller investigation is running out.

Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I’m very disappointed in my Justice Department. But because of the fact that it’s going on, and I think you’ll understand this, I have decided that I won’t be involved. I may change my mind at some point because what’s going on is a disgrace. It’s an absolute disgrace.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: At this point do you think the president may still pull the plug on the Mueller investigation, or do you think that the real likelihood of that is receding?

ELLEITHEE: I don’t know, all right, and that’s the problem here is that we don’t know. He’s given no real indication that everyone should just feel confident that it’s going to continue. But, you know, I — I would hope that he takes the advice of the Democrats and the Republicans on The Hill that he should keep his hands off and just let this thing play out. And if he — if he has nothing to worry about, he should want it to play out.

WALLACE: Jason, it certainly isn’t helpful for the president to say, well, I may change my mind.

JASON MILLER, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN SENIOR ADVISER: Well, I think this investigation is imploding under the weight of there being absolutely nothing there. I mean the fact that we’re a year and a half —

WALLACE: Well, well, wait, we don’t know that.

MILLER: Well, there — nothing has been proven. We’re over a year and a half into this thing and there’s absolutely nothing —

WALLACE: We don’t — we don’t know.

MILLER: But nothing in Washington.

WALLACE: Jason —

MILLER: Chris, in Washington.

WALLACE: We don’t —

MILLER: Where everything is —

WALLACE: I’m talking about the Mueller investigation.

MILLER: Right.

WALLACE: We have no idea what he’s finding.

MILLER: But there is — if —

WALLACE: I’m not saying that he’s finding anything, but we don’t know the —

MILLER: If there would have been something on collusion, that would have leaked out. That would have gotten out so long ago. There is nothing to (INAUDIBLE) —

WALLACE: So, wait, wait. So you’re now saying, because there isn’t a leak — I mean I thought you condemned leaks?

MILLER: No, a leak is terrible.

WALLACE: Which is it, are leaks good or bad?

MILLER: No, leaks are terrible, but you know that the — if there was a way to hurt President Trump, it would have leaked out and that would have been out there. There’s been no evidence, after a year and a half plus of searching, of any collusion. There’s been nothing that’s been proven to that point.

Comey has gone from the quintessential g-man (ph) to basically just another political hack. I mean this is very clearly a politically driven operation.

WALLACE: I’m talk about Mueller now, not Comey.

MILLER: Right. And so far there’s been nothing untoward about the president or his activity or anything that has been put forward. So I think that most of the people around the country are taking a look at this and saying, you know what, the president’s probably right, this is a witch hunt and it needs to get wrapped up.

WALLACE: So if there’s nothing that’s been found, why not let Mueller finish his investigation?

MILLER: Well, and I think ultimately that’s what will happen. I think that the legal team that the president has now assembled with Rudy Giuliani and also with Marty and Jane Raskin, I think is a very good team. And I think the advice that they’re going to give him is smart and I that he should listen to them. And I think hopefully this will be wrapped up soon.

WALLACE: All right. I want to continue with you because we had a troubling case this week of Admiral Ronny Jackson, the president’s personal doctor, who dropped out as the nominee to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs after a volley of allegations from Democratic Senator Jon Tester.

Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JON TESTER, D-MONTANA SENATOR: Getting to the bottom of these accusations is critically important. And there should be no — there should be no stone unturned.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Tester started throwing out things that he’s heard. Well, I know things about Tester that I could say too. And if I said them, he’d never be elected again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: Jason, not only were none of the allegations verified, but perhaps the most explosive one that Tester raised that Jackson had gotten drunk at a Secret Service going away party and had crashed his car was specifically denied. Will Republicans now go after Tester, who’s up for re-election this year?

MILLER: Absolutely. And I think a lot of Republican strategist that you talked to a week or so ago probably would have said that Tester is one of the strongest of the so-called vulnerable Democrats that are up. But I think there’s going to be a newfound focus put on him.

But what Senator Tester did with making those personal attacks against Ronny Jackson, who, by all accounts, is a very honorable person, I think really was very despicable. I think that Senator Tester will be in the crosshairs now for this election. And really this is what happens in the swamp. If it can’t be on the merits, they go to the personal attacks.

WALLACE: Marie, what struck me about this case is that there was plenty of — of smoke about Admiral Jackson, a lot of it supplied by Jon Tester, but no fire at all. There were — there was not a single verified allegation and yet he still was forced out.

MARIE HARF, FORMER STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: Here’s the challenge. Over 20 current and former service members came to Jon Tester as a senator and said, these are our concerns. You’re right, Jon Tester had not verified them, but these weren’t his allegations. These were people who served with Ronny Jackson. He, Senator Tester, worked with the Republican Committee chair to postpone the hearing because the Republicans were so concerned about the severity of these.

And I take it back to the way Ronny Jackson was announced. If the White House had gone through a vetting process, like most White Houses do, some of these, if not all, would have surfaced, they would have been able to run them down if, in fact, they’re not true and they would have been able to head off these allegations instead of pulling the nomination back at a time when they really need a head of the VA.

So Tester was put in a tough position. These weren’t his allegations. People came to him with them. And as a senator, it’s his duty to bring them forward. He has voted for every one of Trump’s VA nominees. The president has signed eight bills that Jon Tester has put forward on the VA. This is a guy who’s fought for veterans.

LOWRY: But you don’t — you don’t bring them forward without doing any real due diligence on them. Sure, check them out.

HARF: So what should he have done?

LOWRY: He shouldn’t have aired unverified allegations. He should have done some investigation. He should have checked in with the Secret Service, that’s now batted down some of these more lurid allegations.

And, look, I — think Jackson should have been duty-bound to defend himself if these allegations were untrue, and a number of them seem to be. But I think the problem with the nomination, it was on such tenuous ground to begin with —

HARF: Right.

LOWRY: Just the slightest little additional weight on the scale —

HARF: Right.

LOWRY: Made it indefensible.

WALLACE: All right, panel, I’m glad we settled that.

We have to take a break here. Up next, more on the president’s moves this week on North Korea and Iran.

Plus, what would you like to ask the panel about the risks and rewards of a Trump-Kim summit? Just go to Facebook or Twitter, @foxnewssunday, and we may use your question on the air.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KIM JONG-UN, NORTH KOREA LEADER: We will make sure that the agreement we have reached, which the people of the Korean peninsula and the world are watching, does not fulfill the unfortunate history of unfulfilled promises.

TRUMP: One of the fake news groups this morning, they were saying, what do you think President Trump had to do with it? I’ll tell you what, like how about everything.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: I think he was probably funnier than the comedian at the White House Correspondents Dinner.

North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un pledging this time agreements he makes with South Korean leaders won’t fall apart and President Trump taking credit for bringing Kim to the table.

And we’re back now with the panel.

Well, we asked you for questions for the panel and ever since we got this one, I have been excited about asking Marie Harf —

HARF: I know.

WALLACE: Spokeswoman for the John Kerry State Department, the question we got on Facebook from Mark Bellman who asks, will Trump win the Nobel Peace Prize if he successfully negotiates the denuclearization of North Korea? If not, why not? I should point out, at that rally last night, people were chanting “Nobel, Nobel.”

Marie, how do you answer Mark?

HARF: I have no idea. But this isn’t about Donald Trump, at the end of the day. The U.S. plays a key role. But this is really about North and South Korea. And you’ve seen, with a new South Korean president, the South Koreans really step up and take the initiative.

You know, this isn’t about taking victory laps. And I know that at a campaign rally it can seem like the thing to chant, although I’ve never heard that at a campaign rally before in my — or campaign-style rally in my life. But we’ll see what happens here. This is not all about the U.S. And we need to remain tempered in our expectations about what will come out of this.

WALLACE: I understand all of that, but you’re — you’re really not going to give Donald Trump credit for the fact that Kim, under pressure, under military pressure, under economic pressure, has come to the table?

HARF: I will — yes, I will absolutely give the administration credit for ramping up the pressure and for getting us to where we are today, and for being willing to sit down and talk and invest in diplomacy. Absolutely.

But we also have to remember, the North Koreans have before agreed to denuclearize. They have agreed to end the Korean War. And every time those things have been agreed to, they have fallen apart. So we have to be very prudent as we go into these talks about not giving up too much, not letting the pressure up because we’ve heard this game before and it’s never ended the way we want it.

WALLACE: Jason, I understand that there is some warranted I told you so’s from Trump supporters like yourself as Kim comes to the negotiating table. But is there a danger — and I — I pointed out to Ambassador Bolton, the Korean War is ended, is there a danger of Trump getting swept up in summit hype?

MILLER: Well, I think the comments that you’ve seen from the president have been pretty clear eyed about this, about recognizing that we still have a long ways to go.

But to answer the question that Marie danced around a little bit, I would go to give President Trump a Nobel Peace Prize. I’m sure that comes as a total shock to everybody.

WALLACE: I was going to say, you’re on the Nobel Peace Prize committee.

HARF: Yes.

MILLER: Well, it — someone’s got to start the ball rolling and so I’ll go —

HARF: And you’re going to take that this morning.

MILLER: Get — yes, I’ll help the president out here this morning.

But I think, based on what we’ve already seen so far with the steps that they’ve taken towards ending the war, I mean even moving into the same time zone. These might seem like small things to us, but these are pretty big. And also, as we saw this morning from Ambassador Bolton, with his comments, that the U.S. isn’t going to just, you know, listen to the lip service, that we are going to make sure that concrete steps are taken.

So I think the administration is taking a very strong approach on this. But let’s be clear about the bigger thing going that’s going on here, is what President Trump has done is he has proven wrong all of the foreign policy so-called experts who wanted Hillary Clinton to win, who — they have basically have gotten us into all these foreign policy messes. If we had taken these strong approaches with regards to economic sanctions, with regards to military threats and being tough, and we started doing that back during Clinton, we wouldn’t have been in this mess in the first place.

WALLACE: All right, let’s turn to Iran, because, again, you have to say that President Trump seems to be bending the world to his will here.

Here is French President Macron this week addressing Congress on the need to toughen the Iran nuclear deal.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

EMMANUEL MACRON, PRESIDENT OF FRANCE: It is true to say that this agreement may not address all concerns and very important concerns. This is true.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: Mo, that’s what President Trump has been saying all along. And this week both Macron and Merkel seem to agree with him that, yes, the — standing by itself, the Iran deal is not enough and that you need some strengthening provisions.

ELLEITHEE: I don’t — and Marie can correct me if I’m wrong, I can’t remember anyone every saying that the Iran deal was perfect. I think a lot of people, even in the Obama administration, said, yes, this thing isn’t exactly where it needs to be. But this is an important step forward. And that anyone would be open to it being strengthened. What you see now are American allies like French —

WALLACE: Then why didn’t the — excuse me, why didn’t the U.S., Kerry and Obama, strengthen it in their remaining time in office?

ELLEITHEE: Well, I think they went about as far as they could go at the time. And — and now you see our allies, like France and Germany, really worried that the United States is going to pull out, begging for us to try to, you know, stay in it. And if it — if we don’t, talking about trying to figure out some — some new deal without us.

And this is what worries me about the Trump administration’s foreign policy, is that time and time again, whether we’re talking about trade or whether we’re talking about the Iran deal, we are leaving our allies out there to have to figure out how to move forward in the world without us. And that — that worries me.

LOWRY: I think Trump has moved very usefully beyond the Obama legacy. So the Obama position, basically, oh, we can’t enforce the red line, it’s too complicated, it’s too hard. Well, it wasn’t.

We need a policy of strategic patients, which was Obama’s policy with North Korea, which basically means waiting around for the North Koreans to develop a nuclear tipped ICBM that can threaten the continental United States. And Trump’s like, no, I’m not going to accept that. I’m going to try to shake something loose.

And now, with Iran, this deal was a boon to the Iranians. It gave them enormous economic benefits. They’ve spread their influence even further in the Middle East to the — the border of Israel, where you have ongoing conflict now. And a lot of the nuclear provisions will expire in ten years. That’s a wonderful deal for the Iranians. It’s not a good deal for us. And I think he’s right to try to shake something else loose there as well.

WALLACE: Marie, as someone who was involved in the negotiations under Secretary Kerry, with Iran, I mean, the president is pointing out a lot of things that he says were wrong — was wrong with the deal that your secretary negotiated, that we gave them all the benefits upfront, that — that we didn’t control their bad acting in the world, we didn’t control their ballistic missile program, there was this sunset clause. He’s basically saying, you made a bad deal and he’s fixing it.

HARF: Well, he’s not fixing it. He’s threatening to blow it up without something to replace it with. And so —

WALLACE: No, that’s not — well, that’s not —

HARF: Well —

WALLACE: Well, wait a minute, that’s not true.

HARF: He has some principles —

WALLACE: He’s — he’s at least talking about adding these provisions. We’re not sure what he’s going to do by May 12th.

HARF: Exactly. He has some principles. But, look, on the nuclear side, we did not give them all the benefits upfront. With their nuclear program today, under the transparency, monitoring and verification, with what they have, they cannot make a nuclear weapon. If you’re concerned about sunset, if you’re concerned about 10 years, 15 years, 20 years, fine, I’ll take that as a — as a — as a criticism. Work to make it longer. Don’t make it shorter by pulling out of it now.

So I actually think Macron was very smart this week in saying the nuclear deal was very good in a lot of ways. Let’s not just throw that out. Let’s work to strengthen the other pieces of it.

LOWRY: But the point is — the point is, he would not be as motivated to try to do that if Trump wasn’t pressuring and threatening to pull out of the deal.

HARF: Sure. But there’s a fine line between pressure and being irresponsible. And if — we’ll see what happens on May 12th because if Donald Trump walks away from this deal and we lose all of the transparency and monitoring and verification, if the Iranians go back to enriching uranium, that will be on President Trump. And I think, if you’re going —

WALLACE: All right, but let me — all right — but —

HARF: If you’re going to pull out of something, you have to replace it with something better.

WALLACE: But you —

HARF: And we don’t have that.

WALLACE: You presented one possibility, which is that he pulls out of the deal. What if he agrees with the Europeans and they do add these toughening sanctions, solving what a lot of people think were holes in the original deal that John Kerry negotiated? What then?

HARF: Great. Great. I would absolutely support it. If we can get the Iranians to agree to longer timelines from the 10, 15, 20, 25 —

WALLACE: Well, well, wait, no, no, they’re not talking about asking the Iranians to agree to it. We’re saying — at least that’s what — no, that’s what the Europeans —

HARF: Right.

WALLACE: And — and President Trump are saying, this isn’t a treaty and that the Europeans and the U.S. can unilaterally say, you do this, we’ll impose sanctions. You do this, we’ll impose sanctions.

HARF: So that’s not how diplomacy works. When you’re negotiating, both sides have to agree to a tough decision. And — and, look, the Europeans rightly agree with us that we want to address ballistic missiles. Let’s do that in a separate agreement.

The — the joint comprehensive plan of action that addressed the nuclear programs has a lot of stuff in it that nonproliferation experts agree is good. It’s not perfect, but why would discard all of that?

LOWRY: But it constrains —

WALLACE: Go ahead — go ahead, Rich.

LOWRY: But it constrains our ability to sanction Iranians for other behavior. And part —

HARF: Not true. That’s not true, Rich.

LOWRY: And part of the strategic point of this —

HARF: That’s not true.

LOWRY: And the salesmanship was that it would moderate Iranian behavior.

HARF: Also not true.

LOWRY: If anything, Iran behavior has become more extreme.

MILLER: Right, they’re —

HARF: That’s not — that’s not true. That was never our argument. Our argument was actually, this deal is more necessary if the Iranian regime doesn’t change.

LOWRY: Iran is funding Hezbollah. Iran is funding Hamas.

HARF: Yes.

MILLER: This is doing absolutely nothing to stop them from developing their nuclear weapons program. It’s slowing them down a little bit. But their — Iran’s goal is the full destruction of Israel. That is — that is the full goal here. And I think that if we — if — the only thing that we’re trying to do is slow them down a little bit on their nuclear capabilities. And I think we’re completely shortsighted here. You have to look at this from what’s been done (ph).

WALLACE: All right, I — I — I know you’re dying to answer. We will have this conversation during the commercial.

Thank you, panel. See you next Sunday.

Up next, our “Power Player of the Week.” What’s behind the thinking at one of Washington’s most powerful think tanks?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WALLACE: As Republicans and Democrats clash over ideas, both sides are supported by private organizations that supply data and research. In this intellectual arms race, there is no bigger figure than our “Power Player of the Week.”

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KAY COLES JAMES, PRESIDENT, THE HERITAGE FOUNDATION: Operating in this town, it’s more about people and people’s lives and it’s not simply about policy and babbles (ph) and fighting ideological wars.

WALLACE (voice over): Kay Coles James is talking about the real-life consequences of policy struggles in Washington and her role since January as president of the Heritage Foundation, one of D.C.’s top think tanks.

JAMES: The guiding mission of this institution is to be that true north for the conservative movement.

WALLACE: Founded in 1973, Heritage has been on the cutting edge of conservative thought and Republican policy.

WALLACE: (on camera): Has Heritage struggled to find a role in Donald Trump’s Washington?

JAMES: Absolutely not. There is no struggle. One of the things that I love about being the president of The Heritage Foundation is, I don’t have to navigate, I just have to stand.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Great for the American people. Thank you well.

WALLACE (voice over): Heritage played a big role in the tax cut bill the president signed last year, but they don’t always get their way.

WALLACE (on camera): President Trump has been embracing tariffs. That’s hardly a conservative idea.

JAMES: I would agree.

WALLACE (voice over): James grew up in public housing in southern Virginia. Her mom was on welfare.

JAMES: My definition of a conservative is someone who has the audacity to believe what their grandmother taught them.

WALLACE (on camera): Such as?

JAMES: Not relying on government, or anyone else by the way, to clear the path for you.

WALLACE (voice over): She was in junior high in the early ’60s when she was chosen to help integrate her school.

JAMES: We had to walk past dogs and angry parents and shouting people and it was a very traumatic period. And I’ve been a fighter all my life.

WALLACE: James served in Republican administrations from Reagan to Bush father and son. She was on the Trump transition team but says she was blocked from working for him.

JAMES: I don’t like keeping the Omarosa story alive, but I am told that she and, you know, the chief of staff, Priebus at the time, just didn’t think it was a good idea.

WALLACE: But James has done just fine, running a think tank with almost 300 staffers and a budget of $70 million.

Besides policy, she says her role now is to grow the conservative movement.

JAMES: You don’t have to be painted with an angry white male image.

WALLACE: But does she think it’s just image that has led African-Americans to give Republicans between 4 percent and 8 percent of their votes in the last three presidential elections?

JAMES: The first thing you do with any Republican candidate, any candidate, is find whatever evidence you can, big or small, and paint them as a racist.

WALLACE: And James intends to change people’s perceptions.

JAMES: It’s important to reach out to women. It’s important to reach out to minority groups with our message. I’m not talking conservative light, I’m talking about true north conservative values that all of us can relate to.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WALLACE: James says her target audience is, wait for it, Bernie Sanders voters. They want the same things conservative wants, she says, but without the unintended consequences of misguided compassion.

And that’s it for today. Have a great week and we’ll see you next “Fox News Sunday.”

END

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