Fox News "Sunday Morning Futures" - Transcript: Interview with Sen. Lindsey Graham



Joining me right now is Republican Senator from South Carolina Lindsey Graham. He's the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He also sits on the Senate Appropriations, Foreign Relations and Budget committees.

Sir, it's always great to see you. Thanks so much for joining us, Mr. Chairman.


BARTIROMO: Assess the situation for us in terms of Afghanistan, what you would like to see the president move is next.


Well, I support the idea of trying to get a peace deal with the Taliban. But here are the conditions. We cannot have any deal that denies the American military the right to stay in Afghanistan to protect us against ISIS and Al Qaeda.

You might get the Taliban at the peace table. You are never going to get Al Qaeda and ISIS at the peace table. They are radical Islamists who want to purify the faith and kill infidels like us.

To those who believe if you leave radical Islam alone, they will leave you alone, remember September the 10th, 2001. We didn't have a soldier, an embassy, a dime of aid going to Afghanistan. The Taliban took over. They were brutal to women. They invited Al Qaeda into Afghanistan as their honored guests, and we got 9/11.

There's -- there's no circumstance I can envision leaving Afghanistan without a counterterrorism force and an intel capability to protect us against another 9/11, because Al Qaeda and ISIS is alive and well in Afghanistan.

BARTIROMO: Well, let me ask you about that, because you have seen the intelligence on this subject.


BARTIROMO: Can you assess how strong they have become in the last several years, based on your intel?

GRAHAM: Well, I would invite every member of the United States Senate and the House to look at the intel assessment as to what would happen to America if we pulled the plug on Afghanistan, if we didn't have a counterterrorism force.

It is ominous to the homeland. Every national security adviser for President Trump is recommending unanimously that, if we do a peace agreement with the Taliban, we must maintain the ability to have a counterterrorism force with intel capability, as long as conditions on the ground warrant.

The idea of leaving at a date certain is a disaster for the United States, because ISIS and Al Qaeda will -- will regenerate. And the intel assessment I just spoke up also has real-time events of where Al Qaeda and ISIS are reaching back to the homeland to try to attack us.

General Keane has an idea about how to end the war with the Taliban. I would recommend the president take a look at that.

The Taliban, you may get them at the peace table. They have got to accept the constitution of Afghanistan. They can't brutalize women. They have got to give up their efforts to overthrow the government. The Afghan people reject the Taliban 80-20. So any deal with -- with the Taliban, you will never get a deal with Al Qaeda and ISIS.

That's why we need some of our troops over there to make sure they never come here again.

Finally, when it comes to radical Islam, you can fight the war in their backyard or ours. You can do it alone with -- or with partners. The Afghan people would be a good partner in fighting Al Qaeda and ISIS. And I think we should leave a residual force.

If we don't, the same thing that happened in Iraq when Obama withdrew will happen in Afghanistan.

BARTIROMO: Yes, you make a good point, fighting it in their backyard, not ours.

I want to ask you about getting back to work. In the next two weeks, you will see Congress come back. And you have got major priorities for the fall.

Let's talk the border for a moment, Senator, because, before you left, your bill passed your committee. Where does it head now?

GRAHAM: Well, I hope Mitch McConnell will take it up.

The one thing I can tell you viewers about our problems at the border, they're never going to get better until we change our laws. You can build a wall, a 2,200-mile wall. It won't matter here.

People from Central America are turning themselves in. They're running to the first Border Patrol agent they can find and claiming asylum. Under our law, Maria, if you put one foot into the United States and ask for asylum, your hearing is three years away, you're entitled to a hearing, and people never show up.

If you bring a small child, we can only hold the child for 20 days. Since we don't want to separate families, we let the entire family go -- 52,000 families have been released along the Rio Grande sector of the border alone, because we don't have the capability to hold families.

And the Flores decision, putting a 20-day limit on holding a minor child, is being abused. So if you don't change the Flores decision, you don't require asylum applications in the home country or Mexico, they will keep coming. They will never stop coming. And we need to change our laws.

And if I were Mitch McConnell, I would make Democrats voted on my bill.

BARTIROMO: So -- so what's the holdup then? We have been talking about this for a long time. We took the whole show to the border.

GRAHAM: The Democratic Party.

BARTIROMO: I understand the issues. I was there. I saw it firsthand.


BARTIROMO: How can your colleagues on the left -- I mean, are you getting any support on the left, by the way, for this bill?


No, these people, they want to go the other way. I want to change the asylum law, so that you have to apply in Central America or Mexico, you don't come to America anymore. And people will stop paying these coyotes and smugglers to get to America if they really realize you can't apply for asylum here, you're sent back to Mexico or your home country.

They will stop bringing small children if we hold the family long enough to adjudicate the claim, send them all back. If they win the claim, they can be released here in the country. Until you stop that, they're going to keep coming.

So what do the Democrats want? They want to decriminalize entry into our country and give people free health care. They could not be more opposite than where we are. So, if I were Mitch McConnell, I would make every Democrat vote on my bill to change our laws on the Flores decision and change asylum, so we can stop the flow from Central America, because it's just a matter of time that a terrorist takes advantage of the loopholes in our laws.

BARTIROMO: And I know that we're seeing a mix of people coming into the country. It's not all Central America. You are watching Middle Easterners come in.


BARTIROMO: Yes, go ahead, sir.

GRAHAM: Can I give you an example?

We -- I went to the border. There were 985 guys in detention in a makeshift tent and jails, and more people than the jail could accommodate. So we set up a tent in the back. Only eight were from Mexico; 62 countries have been -- people have been detained from 62 different countries.


GRAHAM: Syria, Iran. They're advertising in the Mideast, if you come to Guatemala -- Guatemala, it costs you about $30,000 -- they will give you a smuggler to get you the U.S. border.

Then you find the first Border Patrol agent you can find and turn yourself in and seek asylum. They're playing the system.

And to my Democratic colleagues, I will work with you on DACA. I will do some of the things that you want to do. I will invest in Central America to make life better, but you have got to work with us to change our laws. President Trump is right about this.


And you said that. When you came back from the border, you joined us. And you said -- you made a commitment that you would be willing to allocate some aid to Central America to actually get these loopholes fixed.

So this is one piece of business when you come back in September.

What about gun legislation? We have been talking about this more so recently, obviously, after these three deadly shootings. What do you want to see, Senator?

GRAHAM: Well, I -- the president is more determined than ever to get something done that makes sense. We're not going to take people's guns away from them.

I own an AR-15. I lawfully own a gun. If you took my gun away, the bad guys are not going to give up their guns. It's the person with a gun that I'm focused on. We want to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people who are hateful or mentally ill.

The red flag legislation grants to states that have these red flag laws. The president's focused on that. Working with Senator Manchin, we can maybe enhance background checks.

The guy in Philadelphia had been convicted like six or eight times. How the hell did he get a gun to begin with? The guy in El Paso was on these white supremacy hate sites where they radicalize each other. We should shut those sites down.

The guy in Dayton was kicked out of school because he had a rape list, a kill list. He was clearly violent. Why did that guy get a gun to begin with? So we're looking at protective order legislation, red flag legislation, grant programs to help states to hire mental health professionals for the cops to evaluate what cases to go to court, plenty of due process, and do something on background checks.

I hope we act. I believe the president's going to lead us to a solution this time.

BARTIROMO: You know, with the red flag legislation, the red flag bill, I understand the issue, and it is a good effort to make sure to get in front of these things, not allowing guns to be in the hands of wrong people.

GRAHAM: Right.

BARTIROMO: But can that be abused? Can someone abuse that by raising a red flag about someone that actually may not exist?

GRAHAM: Well, yes, you worry about that.

That's why you have due process. The grant program I have with Senator Blumenthal allows the cops to go to court. Family members and neighbors can't, because you don't want family disputes going to court.

Only the police can petition a judge. The judge decides, not the cops.


GRAHAM: You have to prove more likely than not there's an imminent threat of death or bodily harm. Then you have a full-blown hearing seven days later, where the government has to convince the judge by clear and convincing evidence that the person in question is a danger to themselves and others.

There's a cause of action for the gun owner to sue people who accuse them falsely. But here's the problem.


GRAHAM: Forty visits by the cops to Mr. Cruz in Parkland. He was threatening to kill the people in school. He posted the threat, the FBI hot line tip, two tips from neighbors saying this guy's going to blow. They didn't do anything.

The guy had a rape list, a kill list in Dayton. He terrorized the school. People like that shouldn't have guns. And these laws allow the cops to go to judges with plenty of due process.

BARTIROMO: And, by the way, you mentioned Joe Manchin. We're going to speak with Senator Manchin coming up in the program. He is joining me. We will get his will take on that as well.

You said there's no need for the assault ban. You said you have an AR-15, Senator?

GRAHAM: I do. I do.

And Joe Manchin is a great guy to work with. And I think he will probably support what I say. I have got an AR-15. I was a reservist in Afghanistan. Our unit bought -- some guys in the unit bought an AR-15. And we put the seal of the unit on it as a piece of memorabilia for me.

I shoot it on occasion. Sometimes, you may find yourself alone where there are no cops can get to you because of natural disaster. You may need an AR-15, believe it or not, if a mob shows up at your house.

But taking my gun away from me is not going to solve a problem. We want to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people. Mental health issues are where we should be focusing our effort.


GRAHAM: The guy in Philadelphia, how the hell did he get a gun after all these convictions? That's where we need to look at the background check system.

BARTIROMO: All right, let's take a short break.

When we come back, I want to get your take on what really can get done in September with your Democratic colleagues.

Much more to come with Senator Lindsey Graham. We will take a short break, including what the senator, as chairman of the Judiciary Committee, is learning about the investigation of the investigators, plus his thoughts on some 2020 Democratic candidates proposing to expand the number of Supreme Court justices sitting on the bench.

Also ahead, Democratic Senator Joe Manchin on potential gun reform legislation, and Hong Kong tycoon and democracy advocate Jimmy Lai on the largest protest march that city has ever seen in weeks, how more months of mass demonstrations could ultimately impact the deal with China.

Follow me on Twitter @MariaBartiromo, @SundayFutures, or on Instagram @SundayFutures, @MariaBartiromo.

Stay with us. We're looking ahead on "Sunday Morning Futures" right now.


BARTIROMO: Welcome back.

And we're back with Senator Lindsey Graham.

And, Senator, we were just talking about potential gun changes. We know that five -- at least five Democratic senators are threatening a restructuring of the Supreme Court if they don't get their way in these gun cases.

Tell us how you see it.

GRAHAM: Well, this has been a dream of the left for decades, is to increase the number of judges on the court, pack them with liberal judges, so they can do -- the court can do, through the legal system, what they can't do through the ballot box.

The dream of every leftist is to have a liberal court enacting laws from the bench. The dream of every conservative is to have judges who will interpret the law and not make the law.

So when you hear expanding the court, that's code for liberals packing the court. Over my dead body. It's not going to happen.

When they want to do away with the Electoral College, that's telling every rural American that go to hell. That would mean that Los Angeles and New York would decide who's the president. The Electoral College allows rural America to have a say about picking the president.

So they accuse Donald Trump of changing our system. They're the ones that are turning it upside down, because they can't win under the current construct. So this idea of packing the court, it's been a dream of the left forever, and we're not going to let it happen.

BARTIROMO: But -- and I think that's why they really hate Donald Trump so much. They don't like the power that he has in terms of naming Supreme Court justices.

GRAHAM: They hate him. They hate him.

BARTIROMO: It's just extraordinary what you are hearing on the left.

I want to get your take, though, about these new FOX News polls, because we look at the Democratic field, and you have got one socialist beating another. Biden is still in the lead at 31 percent. But look where Elizabeth Warren has come from and is now second, leading, at 20 percent, followed by Bernie Sanders.

What are your thoughts in terms of how well Elizabeth Warren is doing and Bernie Sanders, given their socialist agenda?

GRAHAM: Well, I think all the energy in the Democratic Party is with Bernie and Elizabeth Warren and the Squad.

I think the Squad represents the heart and soul of the Democratic -- modern Democratic Party on domestic policy and foreign policy.

I saw the polls. I have never been more confident of President Trump being reelected than I am right now, because when you get on the stage, whether it's Biden or Warren or Sanders, look at the contrast. They want to basically take your private health care away and give illegal immigrants free health care, taking your private health care away.

They want high taxes. We want low taxes. They are going to gut the military. They're going to pack the court with a bunch of liberals. When it comes to foreign policy, President Trump has destroyed ISIS. He's done everything opposite of Obama. He got out of the Iran nuclear deal, which is a threat to Israel and the world at large.

If the ayatollah ever gets a nuclear weapon, he will use it. So unless he makes some kind of mistake in Afghanistan -- and it's OK to reduce our troop presence. It's OK to want to pay less in Afghanistan. But we need people over there to protect us over here from Al Qaeda and ISIS.

The president is going to clean their clock on the stage. When you compare what he's done with what they're going to do, weak vs. strong foreign policy, high taxes vs. lower taxes, health care taken away from working people to be given to illegal immigrants, he's going to win.

I don't care what these polls say, because the Democratic Party is so much in a left ditch.

BARTIROMO: Yes, it's pretty incredible. I don't know what these polls are -- are saying.


BARTIROMO: I mean, if you look at every single leading Democratic candidate, they are beating Donald Trump in a head-to-head, Joe Biden 50 percent vs. 38 percent, Bernie Sanders 48 percent vs. 39 percent. And the list goes on.

You're not buying this?

GRAHAM: Well, I'm not buying it.

I think President Trump, if he can lead us to a solution on guns where the average American says, that's a good idea, Mr. President, let's keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people, work with Joe Manchin and other people to find enhanced background checks, do some -- do some things for roads and bridges...


GRAHAM: ... reach across the aisle, try to find a solution to our problems that will help him.

But here's the deal. When you compare what he has done and what he will do with what they will do, I -- I will make a prediction on your show. I don't think any Democrat can be president of the United States who openly advocates decriminalizing illegal entry into our country and giving illegal immigrants free health care.

That is so far out of the mainstream. You cannot win with that agenda. And if you take people's private health care away, in the name of Medicare for all, you're going to lose a lot of votes.


Do you think there's going to be a pushback from the Israel situation in terms of Congresswoman Omar and Tlaib?


Well, it's been bipartisan up to now about Israel. Those who want to destroy Israel want to destroy us. Name one radical Islamic group that wants to destroy the state of Israel that doesn't want to destroy America. The ayatollah says death to Israel, death to America.

ISIS and Al Qaeda have pledged to destroy the Jewish state and kill infidels like us. So the policies coming out of the Democratic Party toward Israel are dangerous.


GRAHAM: Tlaib and Omar are openly calling for an economic boycott of the state of Israel, which will destroy the state of Israel.

The reason she's not visiting her grandmother is because she's embraced the destruction of Israel through an economic boycott. She was offered a chance to see her grandmother. She said, all I want to do is see my grandmother. They said yes. Then she pulled the rug out from under the offer.


GRAHAM: So the bottom line here is, they are radical when it comes to Israel.


GRAHAM: They are radical on the economy. They're weak when it comes to fighting terrorism. Donald Trump is going to win this election because he's been a damn good president.


GRAHAM: And what they're trying to do is make America a socialist country. And that's not going to work.

BARTIROMO: Senator, stay with us.

We have got to ask you about the Judiciary and the investigation of the investigators.

Back in a minute.


BARTIROMO: Welcome back.

I'm back with Senator Lindsey Graham, chairman of the Judiciary Committee.

He's vowed a deep dive into the origins of the Russia probe.

Senator, where does this investigation stand?

GRAHAM: Well, you have got three lanes here. You have got what the committee will do, my committee. You have got Mr. Durham, who's looking at criminality. He's the U.S. attorney in Connecticut.

And you have got the Horowitz, the inspector general, report that I think will be coming out in weeks, not days, not months. And I believe the Horowitz report is going to be ugly and damning regarding the Department of Justice handling of the Russian probe.

BARTIROMO: So tell me about that.

I mean, we know that the DOJ is not prosecuting Jim Comey. That was -- we learned that about a month ago. We know that we just got these so-called 302s out of Bruce Ohr. That's the investigation and the interviews of Bruce Ohr with the FBI.

And the I.G. report, we were supposed to get it months ago. How come it's so late?

GRAHAM: Well, every time you turn -- every time you turn around, you find something new.

So, Mr. Horowitz is doing a very in-depth dive about the FISA warrant application, the behavior regarding the counterintelligence operation. He will send his report over to the Department of Justice. They will look at it for classified information.

I'm going to meet with the attorney general next week. I want to declassify as much as possible. I want the American public to hear the story. I want all this information to come out. I don't want people to believe what I say about it. I want them to read themselves how bad it was.

The warrant application to the FISA court, I think was, quite frankly a fraud on the court. I want all the communications out where they were on notice that Christopher Steele hated Trump, that he was an unreliable informant.

I want the information out that the dossier prepared by Steele coming from Russia is unverified to this day. I want the transcripts surrounding interviews with Papadopoulos to be released where it was pretty clear he wasn't working with the Russians.

I want it all out. I want people to see how off the rails this investigation got.


GRAHAM: And I want people to be held accountable. And I am patient. I'm not in a hurry to do it. I want to do it right.

BARTIROMO: Yes, Trey Gowdy said that there are some interviews of Papadopoulos -- or transcripts, rather, conversations with Papadopoulos that are so clear that he had nothing to do with it. But they didn't president that to the FISA court.

You mentioned George Papadopoulos. We had him on the show. And he told me he is intending on testifying in front of your committee.

When do you expect that to take place?

GRAHAM: So what I want to do is get the Horowitz report and have him come testify about it.

And my job will be to make sure this never happens again. Do we need to change the FISA warrant application process to protect against this happening in the future? Do we need to have rules about counterintelligence investigations being opened against politicians?

Do we need to restructure the Department of Justice? These are things that Congress will be looking at. Durham will be looking at criminality. Did somebody violate the law? And Horowitz will be telling us about the good, the bad and the ugly and what should be done internally.

So a guy like Papadopoulos, yes, I would like to call him. I would like for him to tell the world what kind of interactions he had, where he had them. And what did he say about working with the Russians? And is there - - is there verification that he told the informants early on that to work where Russia would be treason and a crime, I would never do that?

If he did say that, and they went ahead anyway, that raises a lot of concerns.

BARTIROMO: Senator, you have done a lot of work on this.

This is my final question on this subject. Who do you think is the mastermind of this? Who -- whose idea was it to insert Donald Trump into Russia meddling?

GRAHAM: You know, I really am very curious about the role the CIA played here.

We know that the FISA warrant application was based on a dossier prepared by Christopher Steele, who was biased against Trump, that was unverified. That's one problem.

But this whole intelligence operation, what role did the CIA play? Who knew about this in the White House? Here's the question. Was President Obama briefed on the fact that they were opening up a counterintelligence investigation against the Trump campaign?

I would like to know that.

BARTIROMO: Uh-huh. And at the time, John Brennan was running the CIA. Are you going to call him to testify?

GRAHAM: We will see.

BARTIROMO: OK. We will leave it there.

From one bully story to another. I got to ask you about China and Hong Kong.



BARTIROMO: We have got these pictures today of where it is 10:30 at night p.m. in Hong Kong right now, and the protesting is continuing. They are fighting China wanting to bring anyone who is arrested back to the Chinese mainland.

What's your take on what's going on? And is this leverage for President Trump as he tries to do a deal with China?

GRAHAM: Well, this is a moment for President Trump to stand up for democracy and freedom.

When the people went out in the streets of Iran, Obama sat on the sidelines and watched them be shot down and never said a word. What are they protesting about? When Hong Kong was turned over to China from Britain, there was an agreement that the Hong Kong system would be left in place.

And this idea of extraditing people back to the mainland China is very threatening to Hong Kong's democracy. That's what they're upset about.

So here's the problem with China. They do not respect the rule of law. They made an agreement about Hong Kong. They're trying to break it. When it comes to disputed territory, instead of arbitration or going to court, they build military islands over the disputed area.

They steal our intellectual property, rather than honoring our intellectual property rights. They manipulate their currency, in violation of IMF rules. They constantly break the law to get their own way.

And this is a chance for President Trump to tell them, I will hold you to the agreement you made with Hong Kong. If you violate this agreement, then you're going to pay a heavy price economically.

BARTIROMO: Well, there's a lot of reports that Chinese officials are saying that America is behind this in Hong Kong

We know that there are there a whole host of broken promises, that China keep breaking promises, whether WTO or all of the long list that you just mentioned.

GRAHAM: Right.

BARTIROMO: Should the U.S. do more to protect and to support these protesters? Real quick.


Yes, I think we should lend our voice to the protests. They're not asking for too much. They're asking for China honor the agreement they made regarding to Hong Kong.

These people are fighting for their freedom, something we take for granted.


GRAHAM: So, at the end of the day, I think the American president needs to speak up, and he needs to put the Chinese communist government on notice that, if you violate the agreement with Hong Kong, then you're going to have a different relationship with the United States.

Congress needs to act.


GRAHAM: They need to stand behind the president. This is a defining moment in his presidency regarding China.

BARTIROMO: Senator, it's great to have you this morning. Thanks so much.

GRAHAM: Thank you.