This is a rush transcript from “Special Report” September 15, 2020. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Hey, Dana, thank you.
Good evening, welcome to Washington. I’m Bret Baier. Breaking tonight, we are seven weeks away from Election Day. Seven weeks today, what is sure to be a hard-fought battle with some of the most intense political warfare this country has ever seen, perhaps. It’s another type of war — warfare we begin with tonight, though the literal kind. And what the Trump administration hopes is a major step toward avoiding what the president calls blood in the sand.
Israel has established formal diplomatic relations with two of its Arab neighbors in what is supposed to be the first step towards securing Middle East peace, President Trump promising today more countries are lining up.
Chief White House correspondent John Roberts, starts us off live tonight from the North Lawn. Good evening, John.
JOHN ROBERTS, FOX NEWS CHANNEL CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Bret, good evening to you. Just twice before, U.S. presidents, both of them Democrats have presided over peace agreements between Israel and its Arab neighbors.
So, what happened today counts as a historical foreign policy achievement. But one this time, Democrats barely even paid attention to.
ROBERTS: For the first time in 26 years, the prime minister of Israel sat down with representatives from Arab nations at the White House to formally establish diplomatic ties. Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, today signing the Abraham Accords.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The people of the Middle East will no longer allow hatred of Israel to be fomented as an excuse for radicalism or extremism.
ROBERTS: The path to today’s historic moment began in May of 2017 when President Trump met with the leaders of 54 Arab and Muslim nations. His message then, put aside all differences and work toward the future. A future Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today said could be far different than the past 72 years.
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, PRIME MINISTER OF ISRAEL: This peace will eventually expand to include other Arab states, and ultimately, it can end the Arab- Israeli conflict once and for all.
ROBERTS: The strategy President Trump has deployed differs from previous presidents who pursued peace between Israel and the Palestinians as the first step toward broader Middle East peace.
President Trump hopes to surround the Palestinians by bringing more Arab countries on board. He says he has five more who want to join immediately and drive the Palestinians to the bargaining table.
TRUMP: We’ve taken a very different path. You could say it’s a back door, but I call it a smart door.
ROBERTS: But Bahrain’s foreign minister today cautioned the glue to hold together a lasting peace will be made by Israel and the Palestinians.
ABDULLATIF AL-ZAYANI, FOREIGN MINISTER OF BAHRAIN: A just comprehensive and enduring two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict will be the foundation, the bedrock of such peace.
ROBERTS: And the deal isn’t without its rough edges. President Trump, today said he’d be happy to sell the UAE F-35 jets, the most advanced strike fighter in the world. The idea of that gives Israel heartburn.
DAN GILLERMAN, FORMER ISRAELI AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: I’m not that happy about the F-35s being available to the Emirates. Mainly, because of the proximity of the Emirates to the Iranians, and the threat of that technology maybe finding its way into Iranian hands.
ROBERTS: In a statement, Nancy Pelosi, said Congress, “will be watching and monitoring to ensure that Israel can maintain its qualitative military edge in the region.” The Senate minority leader didn’t even mention the agreement until asked about it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does the president deserve credit for the Abraham Accords that were signed today at the White House.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): Look, normalization of the relations between Israel and other countries is welcome news. But I want to see the details of the agreement.
ROBERTS: President Trump also hopes that by creating new relationships between Israel and its Arab neighbors, it will put pressure on Iran to come to the table and craft a new nuclear weapons agreement. At least, nuclear deal that the president had with Iran, but ripped up, as you remember a couple of years ago.
And the president also had a sharp warning for Iran today amid rumors that Tehran may be targeting U.S. diplomats for assassination. The president saying, if Iran hits the United States, the United States will hit back a thousand times harder. Bret.
BAIER: John Roberts live on the North Lawn. John, thanks.
Let’s talk about what all this means and other issues. Joining us tonight again, national security advisor Robert O’Brien, welcome back to the show.
ROBERT O’BRIEN, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Thank you, Bret. And Bret, just before we start, I want to express some of my condolences and the president’s condolences in the loss of your father. You’ll be in our prayers, you and your family, and want to pass it along to you.
BAIER: Thank you very much, I appreciate it.
Let me ask you about this deal today and what it means big picture for the Middle East?
O’BRIEN: Well, listen, this is the first time in 30 years that we’ve had Arab countries sitting down with Israel and normalizing diplomatic relations. It’s a — it’s a historic day, it’s an exciting day. Up until now, only two countries have done, so, Muslim majority, Arab countries. We’ve had two in a month.
And what they both expressed is that they want to have a warm peace. So, it’s not just a peace treaty that we’re going to lay down our arms; we want to expand commerce, we want to cooperate on technology, we want to work in the COVID virus together. We want to invest in each other’s countries, we want tourism and religious exchanges.
So, this is a real, huge opportunity and the leaders went out of their way to express thanks to President Trump for facilitating this, this breakthrough.
BAIER: The president and the leaders from UAE and Bahrain have said that eventually, they think the Palestinians will somehow get into this deal. So far, publicly, they’re saying something very different. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I think right after our election, the American election, if we win, we’ll have a deal with Iran. I think we’re going to make a deal with Iran.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: The Palestinians, let’s take a listen here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The real conflict is a Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and that’s what needs to be solved. I’m afraid, if I’m right about this military alliance between Israel and Arab countries is being created, I think President Trump is preparing for the confrontation of the century.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: Confrontation of the century, and you heard the president before that talking about a possible deal with Iran after the election. How do you track both of those statements?
O’BRIEN: Well, listen, with respect to Iran, the president was — the one of the reason we had peace breaking out with the Arab and Israeli sides is because the president got out of the terrible JCPOA that gave the Iranians $150 billion in sanctions relief, and put them on path — the pathway to a nuclear weapon.
We’ve gotten out of that, we put maximum pressure on the Iranians. As a result, the Israelis and the Arab countries that have been harassed and molested by Iran for so many years had renewed confidence both in us as a partner but in each other. And so, we’re seeing the direct fruits of — in these peace agreements of the president’s tough action on Iran.
With respect to the Palestinians, the president has come forward with the most comprehensive plan for peace between Israel and Palestine ever. And that vision for Middle East peace that senior advisor Kushner and Secretary Pompeo, myself, and others have been working on throughout the region, gives the Palestinians an opportunity to double their GDP, it calls for a two-state solution.
To the Palestinian impasse, it provides territorial integrity for the Palestinians. It’s a terrific offer for the — terrific first offer for the Palestinians to come to the table. So, we really hope they take advantage of this, this opportunity as peace is breaking out to come to the table with the Israelis to be supported by their Arab brethren, and to reach a peace deal.
And it would be just terrific for their — especially for the young Palestinians. I mean, this is an older government, there’s a lot of corruption in the Palestinian authority. We’d like to see young Palestinians who want a great future and want to participate in technological boom that’s taking place in Israel and across certain parts of the Middle East like UAE. We want them to be part of it and have a great future. The president loves them, and we want to see a great deal.
BAIER: Yes. I just want to get your thoughts on how this changed behind the scenes. You know, at the beginning of the administration, a lot of your critics were saying this was not possible. Then, the embassy moved to Jerusalem was said to cause an explosion on the Arab street. John Kerry said that at the time. Yet, those things didn’t happen, and this did happen. Why?
O’BRIEN: Well, you know, what I’ve said before is the president came into office and he was known as a dealmaker, and he’d written art of the deal. I think he’s going to leave office, hopefully, four years from now, and he’s been known as a peacemaker.
And what he did is he took a radically different approach than the Washington foreign policy establishment would take. He recognized the facts on the ground in Israel and moved our embassy to Israel’s capital, Jerusalem. Everyone knew it was the capital of Israel, every presidential candidate promised to do so, the president kept his promise, he recognized the Golan Heights.
So, we developed a tremendous amount of political capital with Israel. At the same time, we got out of the terrible JCPOA, which had alienated our gulf Arab friends in Saudi Arabia, and the UAE, and Bahrain, and other country, Kuwait, other countries in the gulf.
So, he developed tremendous credibility with the Gulf States, and he used that political capital that he gained with both Israel and with the Gulf States, which many politicians never want to do, but he used that political capital to bring them to the table and to really push for an agreement that would be great for both sides, and today we saw the fruits of it. So, I’m – – I couldn’t be more prouder to serve under President Trump today, which is really a day — a historic day of peace.
BAIER: I want to ask you about a couple of other things. New York Times in the past few minutes had moved — has moved a story which says the U.S. military seeks authority to expand counter-terrorism drone wars in Kenya. Saying that the U.S.-Africa command is pressing for new authorities to carry out drone strikes on al-Shabaab fighters, al-Qaeda linked, in portions of Kenya across from Somalia. Is that true?
O’BRIEN: Well, look, we’ve decimated al-Qaeda across the world. They’re down to just a couple of 100 fighters in Afghanistan, the Pakistanis have helped us deal with al-Qaeda and Pakistan, we’ve taken out numerous leaders in Yemen, and we just took out one of the al-Qaeda affiliate leaders in Mali, in the Sahel in West Africa.
And so, it — as we’re decimating al-Qaeda, but as these threats pop up or these threats emerge, the United States military which defends us every day and keeps us safe from another 9/11 is going to look to see where they pop up, and we’re going to try and put out those brush fires wherever we can.
I’m not going to comment on specific operations, but there has been al- Shabaab as an affiliate of al-Qaeda in Somalia. They had — they have been operating and have attacked civilians in Kenya. So, it’s certainly an area that we’re concerned about and we’d like to defeat them because what we want to do is bring our troops home. And so, that’s what the president’s been doing. We either get peace deals or we defeat the terrorists, and then, we can bring our troops back to the United States.
BAIER: The president in an interview today, said he could have taken out Bashar al-Assad in Syria, but General Jim Mattis, then-defense secretary was against it. Was there a plan to do that?
O’BRIEN: You know, I don’t know what — I wasn’t in the room when General Mattis made those — you know, I supposedly heard that or had that conversation with the president. I think the president is been very tough when it comes to Syria. There was a — there was a caliphate, an ISIS caliphate the size of Great Britain that was spreading across Syria and Iraq when the president took office that had been ignored.
The president, you know, took out that caliphate and then brought justice to al-Baghdadi, the founder of ISIS. And so, we’ve — and while doing all that, we’ve provided a protective screen and protected the Kurds who are in Syria.
So, we’ve done a lot in Syria and it’s a lot to be proud of in Syria. But again, I think I was serving as a hostage envoy when General Mattis relayed those conversations. And again, it’s — he’s got a different approach than I do. I don’t — I don’t talk about my conversations with the president. Apparently, General Mattis has a different view of that.
BAIER: National security advisor Robert O’Brien, thanks for your coming back.
O’BRIEN: Thank you, Bret. Good to be with you.
BAIER: Joe Biden, taking his first trip to crucial battleground state of Florida as the Democratic nominee. He will participate in a Hispanic heritage month in Kissimmee at the bottom of the hour. We’ll have live look in at that a bit later.
First, the by now familiar exchanges about the fitness of the two candidates at the top of the two tickets. Correspondent Peter Doocy has the latest on the campaign tonight from Wilmington, Delaware.
PETER DOOCY, FOX NEWS CHANNEL CORRESPONDENT: Joe Biden argues the president should be disqualified because of his words.
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: President Trump has proven he’s unfit to hold the office of the presidency time and again.
DOOCY: President Trump argues, Joe Biden should be disqualified because of his mind.
TRUMP: Joe is lost. Joe is lost. We can’t have a president that’s mentally lost.
DOOCY: As Joe Biden touched down in Florida, a new Monmouth poll of the state found him leading Trump by five in a high voter turnout model, and by three in a low voter turnout model. Other recent polls show Hispanic voters trending away from Biden and towards Trump.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How are you going to handle the disinformation campaign targeting you?
BIDEN: Pardon me?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Disinformation campaign targeting Latino voters?
BIDEN: Just tell the truth.
DOOCY: Both sides are taking different approaches to campaigning during COVID. The Trump campaign says they’ve knocked on millions of doors. The Biden campaign, zero.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Knock a door and not reaching anyone doesn’t get you much except leaving a piece of lip —
DOOCY: Which today was to veterans. But he did mix up Iraq and Iran.
BIDEN: U.S. troops died in Iran and Afghanistan. 6,000 as of today, 923.
DOOCY: Questions remain about Biden’s use of teleprompters.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What will your administration do to help them give them that chance? Thank you.
BIDEN: Let’s move it up here.
DOOCY: Last week, the campaign deflected questions about what happened there.
TJ DUCKLO, NATIONAL PRESS SECRETARY FOR THE BIDEN CAMPAIGN: Bret, we are not going to engage — this is — this is straight from the Trump campaign’s talking points.
DOOCY: Today, it came up again.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Very clearly, the vice president uses the teleprompter on occasion. You see it as giving a speech.
DOOCY: Seven weeks from today, Democrats hope to elect the Biden-Harris ticket, or is it the other way around?
SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: A Harris administration together with Joe Biden, as the president of the United States.
DOOCY: That slip raised eyebrows. But it was made again today by Biden himself.
BIDEN: Harris-Biden administration is going to re-launch that effort.
DOOCY: There was a time when a Harris-Biden ticket was a possibility. 16 months ago in New Hampshire, she told us that she thought Joe Biden would be a great running mate because as vice president, he proved he knew how to do that job well. But they’ve already filled out a bunch of paperwork, they will appear on ballots this fall as Biden-Harris, not Harris-Biden, despite what you just heard there. Bret.
BAIER: Thanks for the clarification. Peter, thank you.
The sheriff of Los Angeles County is calling out one of the country’s most popular figures and challenging him to step up and help find the person who shot two deputies over the weekend. It’s the latest twist in the dramatic attack and the equally dramatic reaction to it.
National correspondent William La Jeunesse has the story from Los Angeles.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 998, 998. Two deputies shot. Shot in the head. Bleeding, bleeding out. Compton Pax, please.
WILLIAM LA JEUNESSE, FOX NEWS NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That call came just moments after this gunman fired multiple shots at two L.A. deputies, wounding this 31-year-old mother and former librarian shot in the throat, and her 24-year-old male partner. Here, she keeps him conscious with a tourniquet to his arm.
ALEX VILLANUEVA, SHERIFF, LOS ANGELES COUNTY: They’re in a stable condition right now and they just send a long pass to recovery.
LA JEUNESSE: The unprovoked ambush. And later, this anti-police protest outside the hospital angered a city on edge.
KATHRYN BARGER, SUPERVISOR, LOS ANGELES COUNTY: The events of this weekend have made it clear to me that the anti-law enforcement rhetoric expressed by many — to the officials, community leaders, and others, has created a toxic environment amid the time of civil unrest.
RON HERNANDEZ, PRESIDENT, ASSOCIATION FOR LOS ANGELES DEPUTY SHERIFFS: So, the people, the group that came out here, and screamed, we hope you die, that in itself is also pathetic. Maybe not as bad as the guy that actually pulled the trigger, but it’s just as bad.
LA JEUNESSE: Investigators reportedly identified the shooter, a black male age 28 to 30, but are not releasing his name. While the motive is unknown, L.A. County sheriff Alex Villanueva, called out those who he believes helped create an anti-police environment, including L.A. Lakers star LeBron James.
VILLANUEVA: LeBron, he needs to take some ownership of exactly what he said in terms of propagating the idea that people are being hunted everywhere because of the color of their skin. And I think that is just flat off not the case.
LA JEUNESSE: After the shooting in Wisconsin, James said police target blacks and that black men, women, and children are terrified living in America.
A supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement, Villanueva wants James to match the reward money posted here.
VILLANUEVA: This challenge is to LeBron James. I want you to match that, and that double that reward, because I know you care about law enforcement.
LA JEUNESSE: So, the sheriff is getting help from the FBI and the U.S. marshal, and said today, together, they will find the shooter. More than 100,000 pledge now in reward money, no word as a moment to go on a match from LeBron James. Bret.
BAIER: William, thanks.
The FBI says a suspect is in custody tonight after a drive-by shooting outside the federal courthouse in downtown Phoenix left a federal security officer wounded. City police say the officer was taken to a hospital with injuries not believed fortunately to be life threatening.
The city of Louisville will pay $12 million to the mother of Breonna Taylor and install police reforms as part of a settlement of a lawsuit from Taylor’s family. It’s said to be the largest settlement over the death of a black woman at the hands of police. Tamika Palmer says it’s just the beginning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TAMIKA PALMER, MOTHER OF BREONNA TAYLOR: It’s time to move forward with the criminal charges because she deserves that and much more. Her beautiful spirit and personality is working through all of us on the ground. So, please continue to say her name. Breonna Taylor.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: Breonna Taylor’s fatal shooting by police serving a narcotics warrant at her home has sparked months of protests. The lawsuit alleged police used flawed information to obtain a no-knock warrant to enter her apartment in March.
Up next, the latest from the Gulf Coast as Hurricane Sally moves closer.
BAIER: Authorities along the Gulf Coast are shutting down some roadways and residents are clearing out or hunkering down as Hurricane Sally approaches. Correspondent Casey Stegall is in New Orleans tonight.
CASEY STEGALL, FOX NEWS CHANNEL CORRESPONDENT: From Southeast Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle, final preparations are underway across four Gulf Coast states ahead of Hurricane Sally.
KIM BEARDEN, RESIDENT, LOUISIANA: We battened down the hatches, we took the swings down, and pushed the furniture in, and lifted the boat up as high as it would go.
STEGALL: Tens of thousands are under evacuation orders especially in low- lying coastal areas.
TREVOR CLAUNCH, RESIDENT, MISSISSIPPI: We’re going to go inland, we’re going to go to Poplarville, grandparents up there.
STEGALL: Sally is forecasted to make landfall somewhere between Biloxi, Mississippi and Pensacola, Florida on Wednesday.
GREG MICHEL, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, MISSISSIPPI EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY: complacency will kill and this is not the time — people just need to remain vigilant.
STEGALL: The National Hurricane Center, says the highest storm surge will likely impact Alabama up to seven feet in Mobile Bay.
GOV. KAY IVEY (R-AL): My fellow Alabamians, Hurricane Sally is not to be taken for granted. We are looking at record flooding, perhaps, breaking historic levels.
STEGALL: Southern Alabama, Mississippi, and the Florida Panhandle could get 10 to 20 inches of rain up to 30 in some isolated spots. Forecasters say that’s largely because the system is moving so slowly.
JOHN DE BLOCK, WARNING COORDINATION METEOROLOGIST, NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE: Drifting to the north at the speed of a child in a candy shop.
STEGALL: Only adding to the concern well before Sally’s arrival, and the worst of it, flooding has already become a problem in places like Saint Bernard Parish and Slidell, Louisiana, both north and east of New Orleans.
TAGUE RICHARDSON, RESIDENT, LOUISIANA: We’re keeping an eye on it. We have a room to go to if we need to in Baton Rouge.
STEGALL: Resources are being sent into this region from all over the place. Including high rescue water teams and vehicles special equipment. Landfall now projected to happen somewhere between 4:00 and 7:00 a.m. Central Time. Bret.
BAIER: Casey Stegall, live in New Orleans. Casey, thanks.
Up next, the possible breakthrough in the search for coronavirus antibody. We’ll bring it to you.
First, here is what some of our Fox affiliates around the country are covering tonight. Fox 29 in Philadelphia as protesters target police officers, a police station, and adjacent buildings in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Overnight, demonstrators threw bricks, glass, flower planters, and even plastic road barricades.
Black Hills Fox in Rapid City, South Dakota as State Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg, says he realized he struck and killed a man on a rural stretch of highway only after returning to the scene the next day and discovering the body.
The attorney general there, says he thought he had hit a deer while driving home from a Republican fundraiser Saturday night.
And this is a live look at San Francisco from Fox 2, our affiliate there. One of the big stories there tonight. Apple, introducing a cheaper version of its smart watch. It’s the company’s latest attempt to broaden the appeal of its trend setting products, while many consumers are forced to scrimp during the coronavirus pandemic.
That’s tonight’s live look “OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY” from SPECIAL REPORT. We’ll be right back.
BAIER: President Trump, says a coronavirus vaccine will be available within weeks. But it has nothing to do, he says, with the election. This comes as we learn new details about what could be a significant development against the virus. Correspondent Garrett Tenney reports tonight from Chicago.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It’s an exciting and promising advance.
GARRETT TENNEY, FOX NEWS CHANNEL CORRESPONDENT: Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center say they have identified a tiny antibody that can both treat and prevent COVID-19. It led to a new drug called Ab8 which decreased the amount of infections in mice 10-fold and could eventually be used to treat people without any negative side effects.
DR. JOHN MELLORS UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH MEDICINE DEPARTMENT: It’s extremely potent, one of the most potent antibodies that’s been described, and it appears to be safe.
TENNEY: The drug is expected to begin clinical trials early next year, and researchers believe the antibodies could protect a person from infection for weeks and even months, buying valuable time as the world rushes to develop and mass produce a vaccine.
DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It could be four weeks. It could be eight weeks. But we’re going to have it. We’re getting very good results, and it’s really looking good.
TENNEY: Late stage clinical trials are once again underway in the U.K. for a potential vaccine developed by AstraZeneca after recovery of the participant who suffered temporary spinal cord damage due to inflammation.
The Food and Drug Administration is deciding whether to resume trials here in the U.S. even as the National Institutes the Health is investigating the incident. This comes as many Americans say they don’t trust those involved in producing a vaccine. Fewer than one in 10 have a great deal of trust in the FDA or pharmaceutical companies to look out for their interests, according to a new Axios-Ipsos survey. That sentiment is a concern for public health advocates such as Bill and Melinda Gates whose foundation today released a report detailing the devastating impacts of the pandemic worldwide.
MELINDA GATES, BILL AND MELINDA GATES FOUNDATION: A lot of the progress that has been made in the last 20 years in global health and development has really not only stalled but rolled back because of COVID-19.
TENNEY: The CEO of the Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, is warning that even after a vaccine is developed it will likely take four to five years for the entire world to get it. Bret?
BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Garrett Tenney in Chicago. Garrett, thanks.
College football fans are awaiting an announcement from the Big Ten Conference reversing the decision to cancel the season. The president of the University of Nebraska was caught on a hot mic saying there would be an announcement tonight to revive the season. Big Ten university presidents met Sunday amid pressure from parents, players, and coaches.
ESPN reported the Pac 12 could resume in mid to late November, but calls that target date an aggressive one. The other three power five conferences are playing this season.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi says the House will remain in session until housemakers deliver another rounding of COVID-19 relief. But that statement may just be all talk. Congressional correspondent Chad Pergram joins us tonight. Good evening, Chad.
CHAD PERGRAM, FOX NEWS PRODUCER: Good evening, Bret.
BAIER: The Speaker says she is keeping the House around until there is a deal. Is that totally true?
PERGRAM: Not quite. The House of Representatives is already here, and they’re going to be here for at least a couple more weeks. You don’t keep members here, though, unless you have a deal ready to go, especially during a pandemic, and especially about six weeks before the election. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has not budged in her position in weeks here even though she says she wants to negotiate. And this is what is starting to rile a lot of moderate Democrats who say they have to do something on coronavirus ahead of the election. Let’s start with Stephanie Murphy. She is a Democrat represents a swing district in Florida.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. STEPHANIE MURPHY, (D-FL): I think you are seeing a level of anxiety rise within the members for there to be a deal, for there to be progress towards getting a deal done. And hopefully with that increased pressure we will start to see negotiations start anew.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: Chad, the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus put out its own coronavirus plan today. Does it do anything?
PERGRAM: Not really. Mark Meadows, the White House Chief of Staff, he indicated that he thought it was starting point for negotiations but says that this does not align with the White House position. And House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also poo-pooed it.
Again, this is where you have the swing district Democrats who say they have to do something. Abigail Spanberger is a freshman Democrat from southern Virginia. She flipped a district from red to blue and says the bill they passed, the $3 trillion bill back in May, that really didn’t do the trick either. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ABIGAIL SPANBERGER, (D-VA): We don’t have a deal yet. The American people need help. Businesses need help. This isn’t about any one person. This is about the hundreds of thousands of people, the millions of Americans who are in need. And what the House put forth months ago isn’t moving forward, didn’t get us a deal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PERGRAM: It’s unclear right now, Bret, whether any bill can pass the House of Representatives. The only factor that changes this is the election. Back to you.
BAIER: This is why people hate Washington, Chad.
BAIER: Thank you very much.
Stocks were up today. The Dow gained two. The S&P 500 finished ahead 18. The Nasdaq rose 134 today.
Up next, another swing state is taking focus ahead of Election Day, a look at how Florida voters could help decide the winner.
BAIER: Sources tell FOX News the Justice Department has launched a criminal investigation into whether former National Security Advisor John Bolton included classified information in his recent book. Bolton’s lawyer says his client will cooperate but that he did not act improperly or criminally. Here’s what Bolton told me a few weeks ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: There are real questions about what is released here. Are you confident that you’re not going to face any criminal or other liability after this?
JOHN BOLTON, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: I am very confident that there is no classified information in the manuscript. I never intended to put classified information out there.
And the senior national security official responsible for clearing manuscripts and ensuring that there is no classified information did exactly that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: Our sources tell us a federal grand jury has subpoenaed communications records from Bolton’s publisher.
FOX News has also confirmed the Justice Department Inspector General is investigating the sentence reduction recommendation for political consultant and friend of President Trump, Roger Stone. Michael Horowitz is investigating whether political pressure played into the final recommendation of Stone’s sentence of 40 months for lying to Congress and witness tampering. That was a significant change from the original seven to nine year recommendation. Four prosecutors quit the case over the lighter sentence, which was eventually commuted by the president.
The November presidential election could come down to a single state, and perhaps a handful of seniors, independents, and Latinos in Florida. Correspondent Steve Harrigan looks at the possibilities tonight from Tampa.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE HARRIGAN, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Joe Biden arrived in Tampa in the wake of recent polls showing him roughly tied with President Trump for Hispanic voters in Florida, a group 2016 exit polls show Hillary Clinton with 62 percent support. Democratic leaders have publicly expressed concern the Biden campaign is under performing not just with traditionally conservative Cuban Americans but also with Venezuelan and Nicaraguan Americans. Trump’s strength with Hispanic voters in Florida comes despite his harsh rhetoric on immigration. The Republican strategy is blunt — target Biden as a socialist in a state where many people have fled socialist dictators.
DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We don’t want to have a socialist country. Some of you came —
TRUMP: Some of you came from parts of the world where it’s socialist or worse.
HARRIGAN: While he underperforms with Hispanics, Biden is overperforming with Florida’s seniors, accusing the president of mishandling the pandemic and planning deep cuts in Social Security. He is also courting veterans and active duty military, a group that voted overwhelmingly for Trump in 2016.
JOE BIDEN, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Quite frankly makes me very upset the way he gets in front of a camera and crows about how much he has done for veterans and then turns when the camera is off and calls them suckers and losers.
HARRIGAN: A cash infusion for Mike Bloomberg of $100 million will be solely to help Biden in Florida. His priority will be television ads in both Spanish and English.
HARRIGAN: President Trump won Florida by one percentage in 2016. Since 1992, every winner has carried the state. Bret?
BAIER: Steve Harrigan in Tampa. Steve, thanks.
Up next, the panel on the politics and policy on a big day for Middle East peace.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today’s signing sets history on a new course, and there will be other countries very, very soon that will follow these great leaders.
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: For long after the pandemic is gone, the peace we make today will endure.
ABDULLATIF AL-ZAYANI, BAHRAIN FOREIGN MINISTER: We are already witnessing a change in the heart of the Middle East, a change that will send hope around the world.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is now incumbent on us to work urgently and actively to bring about the lasting peace and security our peoples deserve.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: The formal peace deal signings at the White House between Israel and the UAE, and Israel and Bahrain, touted by President Trump. We haven’t seen a signing ceremony like that in almost three decades. What’s it mean big picture?
Let’s bring in our panel and start there, Charles Lane, opinion writer for “The Washington Post,” Mollie Hemingway, senior editor at “The Federalist,” and Steve Hayes, editor of “The Dispatch.” Steve, it’s a significant shift, a geopolitical shift in how to deal with the Middle East, and it is seeing success there.
STEVE HAYES, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. There is no question about it. This is a big deal, and Donald Trump and the Trump administration —
You see the shifting dynamics behind the scenes. The things that have been private, the kinds of discussions in the basement have been taking place in private between Israel and the UAE, between Israel and Bahrain, facilitated by the United States, not exclusively, but certainly helpfully have been taking place for a long time. But it’s a big deal to play this out in the open.
And I expect the president is right we he says that we’ll soon see others follow. We know that Mohammed bin Salman has been making noises in this direction privately certainly for a couple. He’s been hinting at this publicly I think for the same amount of time. And it’s an accomplishment.
I wish the Democrats could get beyond sort of petty partisanship on this, Nancy Pelosi calling this a distraction, the Obama bros shrugging their shoulders and wishing that it hadn’t happened because they invested so heavily in a relationship with Iran. This is really a repudiation of Obama administration’s Iran policy as much as anything else.
BAIER: That’s really the point. Robert O’Brien, National Security Adviser, on Iran specifically earlier in this show, Chuck. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT O’BRIEN, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: With respect to Iran, one of the reason we have peace breaking out with the Arab-Israeli sides is because the president got out of terrible JCPOA that the Israelis and the Arab countries that have been harassed and molested by Iran for so many years had renewed confidence both in us as a partner but in each other. And so we’re seeing the direct fruits in these peace agreements.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: They have essentially turned it on its head. The Obama-Biden thought Iran was the key to the Middle East. The president started his foreign trips in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf states.
CHARLES LANE, OPINION WRITER, “WASHINGTON POST”: In a way Iran still is the key to the Middle East, Bret. The difference is that instead of conciliating Iran, as the previous administration tried to do, the Israelis and the Gulf Arabs want to confront and oppose and form a united front against Iranian.
It really overturns decades of conventional wisdom about Middle East peace making, that the key was a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and then everything else, the recognition from Arab states, would flow from that. This shows that the fundamental schism, conflict in the Middle East is really between Shia and Sunni. These states are all Sunni dominated states who are terrified of Iran, and in effect seeking U.S. and, quietly, Israeli support or protection against that larger threat.
BAIER: Iran has not been a good player in the Middle East for a while, has been funding terrorist organizations all over the region, and this changes that dynamic. The question is whether countries, whether it’s Gulf states or European countries waiting this, are waiting 49 days, Mollie, to see what happens in this election and if President Trump wins again.
MOLLIE HEMINGWAY, SENIOR EDITOR, “THE FEDERALIST”: It’s very interesting that these peace deals are being announced before the election. But it’s so — Americans have been used to the Middle East being a quagmire for 25 years or so. And what we are seeing now, whether it’s withdraw of troops or these peace deals really shows something that Bibi Netanyahu said today, which is that the Trump administration had found a new way toward doing peace, which has been addressed by the other panelists.
But this does strongly refute what we were told about what was possible. We had a foreign policy establishment that said that it was wrong to move the embassy to Jerusalem, that it was wrong to get out of the JCPOA, that Kushner could not broker peace deals. And what we’re seeing really is showing that everything that these people dreamed or thought possible, it’s going very much against them.
And also isolating Iran is showing that the Obama administration played a role, too, by having this bad deal that people could react against.
BAIER: Yes, it was interesting hear General Jack Keane today saying he has not seen Iran back on its heels like this in a long, long time.
Let’s turn now to domestic politics. The Monmouth poll out of Florida, which is why everybody is focused on Florida. Registered voters, 50-45 Joe Biden. This is Monmouth out recently. Highly likely turnout 50-45, low likely turnout 49-46. Florida looks like, Steve, it’s going to be at least one ground zero in a number of key battleground states.
HAYES: Yes, it sure does. And the Trump administration and Trump campaign have been crowing about favorable polling among Latinos in Florida, and I think rightfully so. It’s still a competitive state. I think Joe Biden’s campaign looks at Florida and says we’d love to have Florida if we can get it but we don’t absolutely need it. I think the Trump administration, on the other hand, really needs to get to 270. And that’s why I think you’re seeing an intensified effort there. That’s why you have seen President Trump say like mail-in voting in Florida, they know how to do this down in Florida where he’s been skeptical elsewhere. I think they look at it as a pretty key state to their victory.
BAIER: Yes, and we should point out Joe Biden is down in Florida right now waiting on an event. We could look at that live and I think you will probably see that next hour when it happens. We thought we’d be able to dip in at some point.
Chuck, these Biden events look a lot different than Trump events. The president was on with “FOX AND FRIENDS” today. Here is what he said about Joe Biden.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You look at Biden, he’s reading notes and he’s reading teleprompters all the time and he doesn’t read them well. We can’t have a man who is shot, because you know who is not shot? Putin, President Xi, Kim Jong-un, they’re not shot. They’re world class chess players.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: This is all a set-up, really, to the first debate, which is going to be quite something, moderated by Chris Wallace, our own Chris Wallace, September 29th. But it seems like the president continues to lower the bar, doesn’t he, for Joe Biden?
LANE: Yes, he’s coming right out — he’s coming right up to the edge of saying let’s face it, that Joe Biden is too old and decrepit to be president. And he is creating very low expectations for the debate performance. It could be a strategic mistake.
I strongly agree with Steve that Florida is a state Biden would love but he can win without. Not so much Trump. Trump really has to have it, and I think that’s part of the reason they are kind of promoting the idea that he is gaining on Biden. Polls have been very misleading historically recently in Florida, generally overstating Democratic chances. So I think Biden’s people are going to be nervous when it shows them up by two points because they know that hasn’t been a safe margin in the past for people like Bill Nelson or Andrew Gillum.
BAIER: It clearly wasn’t in 2016 for Hillary Clinton either. Mollie, last word here.
HEMINGWAY: In 2018 that was a wave election for Democrats. They had some of the best results that they’d had in a really long way. Polls showed that they would win both the governor’s and Senate race, and Republicans ended up winning both of those. So I think there is a reason why Democrats seem like they are very nervous about losing Florida, dealing with enthusiasm problems down there that are pretty hard to ignore.
BAIER: Panel, straight ahead, thank you.
When we come back, some timeless moments.
BAIER: Finally tonight, standing the test of time. Ron (ph) Strasburg (ph), who has Alzheimer’s, has been living in a memory care facility in Orlando, Florida. It’s been closed for six months because of the coronavirus. Monday he was reunited with his wife of 54 years. They celebrated with a dance, and we’re told he remembered her right away.
After 75 years of marriage, Roy and Kamila Capps. Are still in love. She met Roy as a U.S. soldier shortly after she was freed from a Czechoslovakian concentration camp during World War II. Family and friends could not celebrate their anniversary in person, so they threw a parade for the happy couple in Farmersville, Texas. Wiping away the tears. Happy anniversary.
Thanks for inviting us into your home tonight. That’s it for the SPECIAL REPORT, fair, balanced, and unafraid. “THE STORY” hosted by Martha MacCallum starts right now.
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