Now, a new deadline as the U.S. and Iran attempt to set aside their differences. But will Congress try to sink a bad deal?
BRET BAIER, HOST: I’m Bret Baier, in for Chris Wallace.
World powers race against the clock for an Iran nuclear deal.
JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: If the tough decisions don’t get made, we are absolutely prepared to call an end to this process.
BAIER: Now, a new deadline as the U.S. and Iran attempt to set aside their differences. But will Congress try to sink a bad deal?
We’ll discuss with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. It’s a “Fox News Sunday” exclusive.
Plus, Hillary Clinton faces attacks from presidential candidates on the left and the right.
GOV. BOBBY JINDAL, R-LA., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Give Bernie Sanders credit. At least he’s honest. At least he calls himself a socialist.
BAIER: We sit down with two candidates making a run for the White House. Republican Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, and former Virginia Senator Jim Webb, the latest contender in the Democratic race.
Then, despite stirring up controversy, Donald Trump rises in the polls and leaves open the third-party door.
DONALD TRUMP, R-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Many people have asked me to go independent. I think I’d do very well if I went independent.
BAIER: We’ll ask our Sunday panel whether he could be a spoiler for the GOP.
All, right now, on “Fox News Sunday.”
BAIER: And hello again from Fox News in Washington.
The U.S. and other world powers are working with a new goal of Monday to reach an agreement in the Iran nuclear negotiations. It’s the fourth extension in the marathon talks and now we have word from Vienna a deal could be within reach.
Fox News correspondent Kevin Corke has the latest — Kevin.
KEVIN CORKE, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Bret, the U.S., Iran and those five world powers have given themselves until Monday to reach that deal but there’s reporting as you point out to suggest overnight that a deal could be imminent and announced perhaps as soon as tomorrow.
Secretary of State John Kerry and his team have gone to great lengths to reach a deal despite Iran’s repeated violations of U.N. sanctions and general destabilizing behavior in the Middle East. Now, this final push comes amid accusations from Tehran that the West is trying to change the terms of the deal at the 11th hour.
And, yes, there are still several major sticking points. Among them, Iran would like immediate relief from the U.N. arms embargo that dates back to 2006. It’d also like to limit access to their military sites during possible inspections and perhaps most importantly, they would like to speed up sanctions relief because of the beleaguered economy there.
Now, despite all of the road blocks, Secretary Kerry remains optimistic.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KERRY: Very good meeting, very positive. I think we’re getting to some real decisions. So, I would say, even as we have a few tough things to do, I remain hopeful, hopeful.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CORKE: Now, as you know, Bret, of course, the goal of the deal is to increase the time it would take for Iran to produce enough enriched uranium fuel for a single weapon up from estimate of two to three months to about a year. And if there is a deal, that would limit Iran’s enrichment program for expect at least about a decade and that certainly would be a major development — Bret.
BAIER: Kevin, thank you.
Well, any deal the negotiators strike must go before Congress, which now has 60 days to review it. So what are its prospects on Capitol Hill?
Joining me here in D.C.: Senate Majority Mitch McConnell, who has warned against accepting a weak deal.
Senator, welcome back to “Fox News Sunday.”
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, R-KY., MAJORITY LEADER: Glad to be with you.
BAIER: Let’s star here — what does an acceptable Iran deal look like?
MCCONNELL: Well, look, we already know that it’s going to leave Iran as a threshold nuclear state. We know that. It appears as if the administration’s approach to this was to reach whatever agreement the Iranians are willing to enter into.
So I think it’s going to be a very hard sell if it’s completed in Congress. There was another option here I would like to remind people — rather than spending multiple years trying to get one of the worst regimes in the world to agree to limit their nuclear capabilities, we could ratchet up sanctions even farther because that’s what brought them to the table in the first place.
But the administration chose to do down this path and we’re going to be interested in things like will Iranians reveal their past research and development, what have they done on the past on this subject? Is it verifiable? Will we be able to look at all of their military bases?
And, by the way, even if you’re satisfied on all of that, Bret, there’s all of the other collateral activities and what they’re up to in Syria and Lebanon and Gaza and Yemen —
BAIER: Which is not a part of this.
MCCONNELL: Which is not a part of it. And apparently, the ballistic missile capability, the ability to launch such a weapon to a target is not addressed as well. So, this is going to be a very hard sell for the administration. They’ll have to get at least 34 votes, assuming a resolution of disapproval passes. The president vetoes it. He’ll have to get at least 34 senators to go forward.
BAIER: But you know where the head count is, just looking at what you look at in the Senate. I mean, you say it will be tough. But where will the red line be, for example, for Democrats who have said and expressed concern for — about this potential deal?
MCCONNELL: I think they’re going to have the same concerns I just outlined. And I know there will be a strong pull not to go against the president on something as important as this is to him. But I hope there will be enough Democrats willing to look at this objectively and look at the facts. Is this a good deal? Is this likely to achieve the outcome we had hoped for?
If they can bring themselves to do that and make an objective evaluation of it, I think it’s going to be a very hard sell for the administration.
BAIER: According to a few press reports, the White House had a meeting Monday, a conference call with liberal groups, progressive groups saying — getting ready for this push, saying it will be the president’s number one foreign policy achievement. But at the end, it said, “The White House remains confident that if Congress rejects the deal, the president could veto that action and continue to move forward.”
MCCONNELL: That’s what I was talking about. It would require 34 votes for him to go forward.
BAIER: Right. So, can you see them getting that?
MCCONNELL: Well, I think it’s going to be a hard sell. He knows that the resolution of disapproval is likely to be introduced, is very likely to pass and very likely to get over 60 votes.
If he vetoes that, in order to sustain the veto, he would need 34 votes — which is what I was referring to earlier.
BAIER: Right, right.
MCCONNELL: And I think it’s going to be a hard sell. Hard sell.
BAIER: If it all gets shot down, then what? What’s next?
MCCONNELL: Ratchet up sanctions. That’s what brought them to the table in the first place. That’s why they were hurting. That’s a strategy that I think could have been deployed a couple years ago that could have got us to a better place.
BAIER: There are other foreign policy achievements according to the Obama administration. They’re talking about them. One of them is Cuba.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We don’t have to be imprisoned by the past. When something isn’t working, we can and will change. Americans and Cubans alike are ready to move forward.
I believe it’s time for Congress to do the same. I’ve called on Congress to take steps to lift the embargo that prevents Americans from traveling or doing business in Cuba.
Nobody expects Cuba to be transformed overnight. I believe that American engagement through our embassy, our businesses, and most of all, through our people, is the best way to advance our interests.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: So, Senator, will Congress, will the Senate confirm a U.S. ambassador to Cuba? Will Congress lift the embargo?
MCCONNELL: Let me quote somebody I rarely quote. Former President Jimmy Carter, who said he’d be hard pressed to think of any place in the world where we were in better shape now than we were when President Obama came to office. President Carter got it right.
What the president — this president has been involved in is talking to a lot of countries — talk, talk, talk. And Cuba is a good example. He thinks that simply by engaging with them we get a positive result.
I don’t see any indication that Cubans are going to change their behavior. What are we getting as a result of normalization of relations? I think it — I think we’ll not confirm an ambassador. They make — believe they don’t need that.
There are sanctions that were imposed by Congress I think the administration will have a hard time getting those removed. This is a policy that there is substantial opposition to in Congress.
BAIER: You know conservatives are frustrated that they feel that Congress — even though controlling both chambers — is not pushing back against the Obama administration. It’s had some successes with Obamacare, his — what he calls his legislative achievement, surviving two Supreme Court challenges.
You helped him get the trade agenda across the finish line. Most believe eventually he’s going to get Iran and Cuba through, too, if you ask him.
Is that fair?
MCCONNELL: I wouldn’t count on that. I mean, he can win on Iran on this deal with holding 34 Democrats, because that’s the way the approval process is structured.
But on trade, this is a long standing conservative position. We’re a trading country, free trading country. And Trade Promotion Authority that we work with the president on is not just for him, it’s for the next president, too. It’s a six-year deal. We want the next Republican president to have an opportunity to enter into trade agreements and have them have them considered by Congress.
BAIER: Are there other things on the agenda that you think you can get bipartisan consensus with before the election?
MCCONNELL: Yes, I think so. I think we’re going to be able to do something on cybersecurity. We’re going to do — this coming week, we’re going to pass a rewrite of No Child Left Behind, which conservatives have wanted for a long time and some Democrats as well. Yes, we’re going to be able to accomplish some things.
But all of us need to remember — the president, whoever that is, can veto a measure. He has — it’s a very powerful position. And, therefore, we will not be able to do everything conservatives would like to do.
BAIER: Senator, you mentioned cybersecurity. Hackers broke into the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, stealing background investigation forms, fingerprint records, Social Security numbers for more than 22 million people.
The Washington Post put it in perspective. One in 15 Americans, if all the people called up in OPM hack live together, they would be the third largest state after California and Texas. More people were affected by the hack than are unemployed in American. Six million more Americans got hit by the OPM hack that have signed up for ObamaCare. Fewer people are projected to attend college and graduate school in the U.S. this year than were affected by this hack.
Friday, the director of the office, Katherine Archuleta, resigned after saying she was going to stay on to fix the problem. So, what is your assessment of this problem and how now can the Obama administration protect the data and provide some security for the 22 million people affected?
MCCONNELL: I’m not sure they can. I mean, it’s total incompetence — complete and total incompetence. And resignation of the head of OPM is just the beginning.
This is a total mess. It’s no wonder they had a hard time with the Web site which they launched Obamacare. These cybersecurity issues are enormously significant. What we’re going to do is before August, take a step in the direction of dealing with the problem with information sharing bill that I think will be broadly supported. This is an administrative disaster that the president needs to get a hold of and get straightened out soon.
BAIER: A couple more things. In the wake of all the attention of sanctuary cities, after this murder of 32-year-old Kate Steinle in San Francisco, authorities say, at the hands of an illegal immigrant, five-time deportee — will Congress move on sanctuary city legislation?
MCCONNELL: We should. I think any sanctuary city — for your viewers, that means that these are places where they choose to ignore the law — should not be receiving federal criminal assistance money, period.
BAIER: What do you make of — what do you make of Donald Trump’s success in the polls?
MCCONNELL: Look, I’m not going to get into all of the presidential candidates. We’ve got a bunch of ‘em. At the end of the day, I think we’re going to have a candidate who can win.
BAIER: Here’s a senator — also who happens to be a candidate — focus of criticism you are in his new book, “A Time for Truth.” Texas Senator Ted Cruz, he accuses you and Senate leadership, of trying to dry up his fundraising, planned hit pieces in the press, end up hurting him. He says you said one thing publicly, another privately about the debt ceiling. He accuses you of capitulating to Democrats, to avoid bad headlines, says that, essentially, you’ve been lying. Not a great portrayal.
MCCONNELL: Look, I’m not going to take the bait and get into a discussion about the presidential campaign. We’ve got four senators running for president. A whole lot of other people as well. I think they can all do that without my assistance.
BAIER: So, can a candidate who calls you and other Republicans part of the Washington cartel win the nomination?
MCCONNELL: Well, look, it’s a free country. These candidates can say anything they want to.
BAIER: Senator, thanks for your time.
MCCONNELL: Thank you.
BAIER: This week, former Virginia Senator Jim Webb became the fifth candidate vying for the Democratic presidential nomination, putting an emphasis on his foreign policy chops. So, what kind of challenge does he pose for frontrunner Hillary Clinton? He joins us next, live.
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