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FOX "Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace" Transcript: Obama's Second Term


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WALLACE: Just four days after President Obama's triumphant second inaugural a federal court handed the White House a major setback.

Here to discuss it all are two congressional leaders; from Illinois, Dick Durbin, the number two Democrat in the Senate; and, Bob Corker, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Senators, welcome back to "Fox News Sunday."


CORKER: Yes, sir.

WALLACE: Well, a federal appeals court ruled Friday that President Obama violated the Constitution when he made three invalid appointments to the National Labor Relations Board.

Senator Corker, you and 41 of your Senate colleagues joined in support of the lawsuit. What do you think this ruling says about presidential overreach, both in these appointments, and, also, in all of the executive actions he has been taking recently?

SEN. BOB CORKER, R - TN: Well, it was a huge victory for anybody who believes in balance of power and the Constitution. And I could not have been more excited and came up off the floor when I saw that that had happened and hopefully the Supreme Court will uphold it.

But, there is no question that what happened with the NLRB and Richard Cordray, the Consumer Financial Protection head, that was abusive. And, thankfully, the district court here in Washington struck it down and, hopefully, the Supreme Court will uphold it.

WALLACE: Abusive in what way?

CORKER: My gosh, I mean, these people never had a hearing. So -- I mean, they came forth, they never had a hearing and he confirmed them. I mean, it was just -- or he appointed them. So, it was one of the most abusive cases ever.

Obviously, this ruling is very far-reaching and actually knocks down decades of action by presidents, as far as common practice goes. But I'm very thankful that it came forth and, hopefully, we can get back to more of a balance of power.

Through the years, executive branch, obviously, has been gaining tremendous power.

WALLACE: Do you think -- and I'm going to bring in Senator Durbin in a second. Do you think this invalidates the more than 300 rulings made by the NLRB in the last year with the three invalid appointments? And what about the action taken by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, is all of that out the window?

CORKER: Could well do it. In each case, someone might have to challenge the rulings to make them invalid. But, certainly that's what we said at the time, Chris -- was these people were going to be working in banks, and the rulings they come forth with will be challenged. That's turned out to be the case.

And, thankfully, for our country, there will be a balance of power here.

WALLACE: Senator Durbin, I don't have to remind you, the Democrats came up with the idea in 2007 of these pro forma sessions, gavel in every three days for 30 seconds so that there wouldn't be a recess and, therefore, you couldn't have recess appointments. President Bush did not challenge that. President Obama did. And that's why the lawsuit was filed.

Was that presidential overreach?

SEN. DICK DURBIN, D - IL: Let's step into this a little more. And ask why did we reach this point? Why did the president believe these recess appointments were so critical?

And I think even Bob would concede, we reached that point because we couldn't go through the orderly process of reviewing nominees, and literally voting them up or down. There was a question about how often they could be brought to the floor, how long they would languish on the calendar. What secret hold would apply? Whether or not there would be a vote.

And in its frustration, this administration said, we were elected to govern and whether it's a National Labor Relations Board or whatever, they wanted to put people in place to govern.

I hope what happened Thursday night, Chris, is going to change this. We had a bipartisan, strong bipartisan vote for some rules changes, and included in those rules changes were changes in the way we treat nominees, not only for the courts but for these agencies.

Let's have a day in court for each one of them, and let's have a hearing and let's have a vote.

WALLACE: But, Senator -- Senator, and I want to move on to another subject but briefly, I understand the president's frustration. That doesn't mean he can just rewrite the Constitution.

DURBIN: Listen, I worked in the congressional branch, the legislative branch of our government, and I certainly didn't hold up our team, model, whatever it happens to be, whoever the president happens to be, but I want to put it into perspective. We have seen this president denied the opportunity to make appointments over and over and over again because one senator happens to hate a particular agency or a particular person.

For goodness sakes, in fairness, give them a hearing, give them the vote, let's get on with it.

WALLACE: Do you want to respond to that?

CORKER: We'll I think we did something very good Thursday night in that we didn't blow the Senate up.

But I would just say, in the case of the NLRB nominees, there was never a hearing. So in that case, it was incredibly abusive. And again, I'm glad the court has struck this down and, hopefully, we'll get back to regular order and doing things the way we should be in the United States Senate.

WALLACE: All right. Let's turn to the president's inaugural, his agenda for a second term. I think it's fair to say that it's a pretty liberal agenda.

Here's what he said during his address.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The commitments we make to each other through Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security, these things do not sap our initiative, they strengthen us.


They do not make us a nation of takers, they free us to take the risks that make this country great.


WALLACE: Senator Durbin, the president said that he rejected the -- that Americans must choose between caring for our seniors, and investing in the new generation, but the question I have is, who on Capitol Hill, which Republicans are saying that they don't intend to care for our seniors?

DURBIN: Do you recall the last campaign? When a man named Mitt Romney talked about the 47 percent of people who were takers? Those who were living off of the government? And those are the ones who will support the Democrats?

That approach was soundly rejected, even by many Republicans.

And what I heard the president say was programs like Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid, critically important for our future, and, we need to have a bipartisan commitment to make them work.

Now, Bob and I have been in a lot of meetings talking about deficit reduction. I think we need reform in these programs, and it means they'll live onto serve future generation. That's the message I took from the president.

WALLACE: All right. Senator Corker, I'd like you to respond to that. I also like you to comments that House Speaker Boehner spoke about the president's attitude towards the Republican Party. Let's watch.


REP. JOHN BOEHNER, R - OH, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We're expecting over the next 22 months to be the focus of this administration as they attempt to annihilate the Republican Party. And, let me just say, I do believe that is their goal, to just shove us into the dustbin of history.


WALLACE: Senator Corker, do Republicans want to gut Social Security and Medicare? Does President Obama want to destroy the Republican Party?

CORKER: Obviously, Republicans want to make sure these entitlement programs are here for future generations. Right now, for every dollar we spend on the young people, we are spending $4 on seniors. Right now, in Medicare, the average person pays for 1/3 of the cost of the Medicare program.

Now, Dick Durbin, for what it's worth, has been one of those people that is willing to sit down and solve that problem. And I congratulate him on that.

As far as the president's goal of annihilating the Republican Party, I will say that I was glad to see that the House was unified behind something recently as it relates to the fiscal issues, and I think that is a backstop to that.

The fact is that one thing the president didn't mention in his speech was the major fiscal issue that our nation faces. It was everything but that. And, to me, that was disheartening. It is the one issue that, before anything else, we need to put in the rearview mirror to make our country stronger.

WALLACE: Senator Durbin, you are a member of a bipartisan group of senators which plans to release a blueprint this week for immigration reform. A couple of questions: are you talking about a comprehensive package or a piecemeal approach? And will it include a path to citizenship for the 11 million illegals who are already in this country?

DURBIN: Let me tell you, Chris, the answer to both questions is yes. And I can tell you that sitting in these meetings, with three Democrats and three Republicans, working on this immigration issue has been as encouraging as that rules vote on Thursday night. We are trying to work our way through some very difficult issues.

But, we are committed to a comprehensive approach to finally, in this country, have an immigration law we can live with. We have virtually been going maybe 25 years without a clear statement about immigration policy. That's unacceptable in this nation of immigrants.

And we are also saying that we're putting into high priority the unification of families, to make sure that families have a chance to come together. I'm glad the DREAM Act is also an integral part of -- something I've worked on more than 12 years.

WALLACE: Senator Corker, from what you've heard -- and I know you are not a member of this group -- could you accept a plan with a path to citizenship for the 11 million illegals already here, if it's tied to benchmarks on border security and enforcement?

CORKER: Well, I do like the things that Marco Rubio has been laying out. And I did talk to one of the members on the other -- my side of the aisle working with Dick Durbin and he was very optimistic last night at a dinner I attended.

So, again, the details matter. I think right now, they are at the talking point stage and this needs to be reduced to legislation. The last time this blew up was when it was reduced to legislation, so it's my hope we will come up with a bipartisan solution. I do think that enforcement has to be a big part of it.

But, again I like many of the principles that Marco Rubio has been laying out, and I think he's a member of this group and I look forward to seeing what they produce.

WALLACE: Finally, you are both members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee which heard from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about the Benghazi terror attack. And here's the moment that got the most attention. Take a look.


HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: We have four dead Americans.

SEN. RON JOHNSON, R - WI: I understand.

CLINTON: Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night and decide they go kill some Americans? What difference, at this point, does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can, to prevent it from ever happening again, Senator.


WALLACE: Senator Durbin, doesn't it make a difference? Isn't it important to find out whether or not the administration was telling the truth in the days after the attack?

DURBIN: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has done an extraordinary job for this country and it will be recognized by history. And this was one of her finer moments.

Step back, Chris, and take a look. Four brave Americans died. She called for an independent investigation. They called for dramatic changes. She said I accept full responsibility and we're going to move forward to make those changes so that all Americans working around the world to represent us are in a safer place.

You know, we know what happened here. In the six or eight weeks before the election, this became a red flare of an issue. But now, now that that's passed, what we are going to do, through Secretary Clinton's leadership and I hope soon Secretary Kerry's leadership, is to make sure it never happens again. That's the critical mission.

WALLACE: Senator Corker, is it important for folks to know? Does it make a difference, to use the phrase of secretary Clinton, whether the administration was telling the truth to the American people in the days after Benghazi?

CORKER: Well, to her credit, the deception around the Benghazi issue did not come from the state department. And no doubt, emanated from Susan Rice on this program and others that Sunday morning, on the 15th. And continued through this White House --

WALLACE: Well, she didn't do it by herself, if you believe --

CORKER: Well, my point is, is that it was more of a White House political operative deception that was carried out. Not from the State Department.

I do think that Senator Johnson and Secretary Clinton were talking past each other. I understand the point she was making. Certainly, I understand the emotions of the American people who feel like they have been misled. And, in fact, Americans were misled in the beginning about what happened around Benghazi.

WALLACE: Senator Corker, Senator Durbin, we're going to have to leave it there. Thank you both so much for coming in. Always good to talk with both of you.

CORKER: Thank you.

DURBIN: Thanks, Chris.

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