Sept. 24, 2020 – This is a rush transcript from “Special Report” September 24, 2020. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: We all need selfie cakes. Thank, Juan.
Good evening, welcome to Washington. I’m Bret Baier.
Breaking tonight, President Trump is preparing for a campaign stop in Florida at the top of the hour a short time ago as you look live there in Jacksonville.
Short time ago, we had a healthcare speech in North Carolina. Tonight, we have Fox News polls for the election releasing right now. These are battleground states. Joe Biden continues to lead the president in the battleground states of Ohio and Pennsylvania. The lead is five in Ohio, seven in Pennsylvania. In the state of Nevada, Biden leads the president by 11. This is likely voters in these polls.
The president taking criticism tonight for something he would not say when asked about the American tradition of peaceful transfer of power should he lose the election. Got a lot of coverage, chief White House correspondent John Roberts starts us off tonight from the North Lawn. Good evening, John.
JOHN ROBERTS, FOX NEWS CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good evening to you, Bret. In the Senate taking action late today by unanimous consent, approving a resolution, reaffirming its support for a peaceful transfer of power after the November election. This in response to a firestorm of controversy, President Trump and knighted last night.
ROBERTS: President Trump today doubled down on the assertion he made yesterday that the election results may end up at the Supreme Court.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We want to make sure the election is honest and I’m not sure that it can be. I don’t — I don’t know that it can be with this whole situation, unsolicited ballots. They’re unsolicited; millions being sent to everybody.
ROBERTS: In a White House briefing last evening, the president was asked if he would commit to a peaceful transfer of power.
TRUMP: Well, we’re going to see what happens.
ROBERTS: Democrats leapt on the declaration.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): President Trump, you are not a dictator and America will not permit you to be one.
ROBERTS: Today, the White House backpedaled a bit.
KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president will accept the results of a free and fair election. He will accept the will of the American people.
ROBERTS: This morning, Senator Lindsey Graham said on Fox, that if the result goes to the Supreme Court, he would abide by its ruling.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): If the Supreme Court rules in favor of Joe Biden, I will accept that result.
ROBERTS: With Brian Kilmeade on the radio this morning, President Trump agreed to a point.
TRUMP: Oh, that I would agree with but I think we have a long way before we get there. These ballots are a horror show.
ROBERTS: As he makes a final decision on who to nominate to fill Ruth Bader Ginsburg seat on the Supreme Court, President Trump and the First Lady paid their respects today. Many of the public mourners and attendants taking up the chant of vote him out.
TRUMP: We could hardly hear it from where we were.
ROBERTS: A new Fox News poll of battlegrounds Nevada, Ohio and Pennsylvania finds likely voters trust Joe Biden more to choose the next member of the court.
With the Supreme Court set to hear a challenge to Obamacare on November 10th, President Trump today told the crowd in battleground North Carolina how he would replace the Affordable Care Act. Among the ideas, executive orders to protect people with pre-existing conditions and end surprise medical billing. Also, new Medicare reforms to pay doctors to keep seniors healthy rather than just treat disease.
TRUMP: My plan expands affordable insurance options, reduces the cost of prescription drugs, will end surprise medical billing, increases fairness through price transparency, streamlines bureaucracy accelerates innovation strongly protects Medicare and always protects patients with pre-existing conditions.
ROBERTS: The president also announced today the 33 million Medicare recipients would be getting a card loaded with $200 that they could use to buy prescription drugs. The executive order on preexisting conditions is meant to protect people should the Supreme Court strike down Obamacare but it’s unclear Bret what force of law that executive order would have to force insurance companies to do it.
BAIER: We will ask the HHS secretary just in a bit. John, thank you.
Joe Biden is devoting the day to debate preparation according to his campaign. His first confrontation with President Trump as you know happens next Tuesday. Correspondent Peter Doocy has the story from Wilmington, Delaware.
PETER DOOCY, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Five days before his first face to face meeting with Donald Trump, Joe Biden began serious debate prep.
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Look, I’m (INAUDIBLE) and I’m used to dealing with bullies. I’m not going to bad debater and we’ll see.
DOOCY: The Democratic nominee did not make any public appearances today.
KATE BEDINGFIELD, BIDEN DEPUTY CAMPAIGN MANAGER: I can tell you what he’s not doing today, he’s not trying to eliminate the Affordable Care Act.
DOOCY: As of last week, choreograph mock debates had not started.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have somebody playing President Trump and if so –
BIDEN: Not yet.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.
BIDEN: Not yet.
DOOCY: Instead, for weeks, Biden’s study sessions are focused less on his own words and more on Trump’s.
BIDEN: Well, I began to prepare by going over what the president has said, mobilize he’s —
DOOCY: Fox News battleground polls find that in Ohio, Trump leads with men and white voters as Biden leads with women and non-white voters.
In Nevada, Trump leads with whites and rural voters as Biden leads with Hispanics and voters under 35.
And in Pennsylvania, Trump leads with men and white voters as Biden leads with women and non-white voters.
All this is unfolding as Biden pushes back on the president’s suggestion that there may not be a peaceful transition of power.
BIDEN: What country are we in? I’m being facetious. I said, what country are we in? Look, he says the most irrational things.
DOOCY: What about surprises debate night? Biden thinks he knows what’s coming.
BIDEN: He’s going to want to make it personal. He’s going to want to get in the mosh pit. I’m going to talk about why I want to be president of the United States, what I’m going to do and where he’s failed.
DOOCY: We’ve learned that officials from the Trump campaign and the Biden campaign were in Cleveland today negotiating ground rules about the commission on presidential debates. Both trying to make their side feel more comfortable while on stage, Bret.
BAIER: Peter, thank you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCHUMER: His administration is right now suing in court right now to invalidate the law. Go tell a mother or father whose son or daughter has cancer and they can’t get insurance because they no longer have the protection, that that is hysterical. Shame.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): HHS, what is going on here? We’re talking about lives.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: Well, let’s bring in Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to talk about the president’s healthcare policy. Mr. Secretary, thanks for the time.
ALEX AZAR, U.S. SECRETARY, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES: Good to be with you, Bret. Thanks for having me.
BAIER: You just heard Senator Schumer, Speaker Pelosi. Just moments ago, Speaker Pelosi put out a statement saying that, that the president’s executive order is bogus, it’s not worth the paper it’s signed on and it’s an insult to every family relying on this pre-existing condition health care. What do you say to that?
AZAR: Well, first off, the president today announced a bold plan to deliver better care, more choice and lower costs for the American people.
And let’s talk about pre-existing conditions, the president and his executive order today said it’s the policy of the United States to ensure that people with pre-existing conditions are protected whether under existing law or if there’s any replacement ever passed.
But let’s be clear about the status quo, Bret. Right now, under this glorified Obamacare that many want to talk about that say, protects people with pre-existing conditions. A family of two, age 55 in Missouri making
$70,000 a year will spend $30,000 a year on premiums and $12,000 in deductible. I’m sorry, that’s not the protection against pre-existing conditions, that’s not affordable healthcare, that doesn’t solve their problem. President Trump wants to work with Congress to solve their problems in a real way.
BAIER: So, when you say work with Congress, a GOP plan has been tough to really pin down since the effort to kind of dismantle and throw away Obamacare failed and now it’s obviously in the courts. There really hasn’t been one GOP plan, has there?
AZAR: Well, right now, given that the Democrats control the House, there’s certain limited degrees of freedom in terms of what one realistically can achieve by legislation.
So, what the president’s done over the last 3-1/2 years is revolutionize healthcare in the United States to deliver better care, more choice and lower cost. He has done more in 3-1/2 years to help all 331 million Americans health care than any president in modern history. It’s more than Obamacare.
Obamacare is about 20, 25 million people on individual insurance and in the Medicaid expansion. He’s bringing transparency across the system. Your ownership of your own electronic records. He’s changing health care in a fundamental way that benefits every American, not just the sliver in Obamacare.
BAIER: So, if as expected the president gets his Supreme Court nominee through the Senate confirmation process. If as expected, then that justice sits on the court and rules on this Obamacare case. What does the administration tell the people out there who are concerned that they won’t have Obamacare anymore as they head into the dangers of COVID and flu season, and everything else?
AZAR: Well, I’ll tell you what the president has said which is first and foremost, he’s going to make sure people with preexisting conditions are protected and he’s going to replace it. He’ll work with Congress as constituted at the time of such a thing happens, with Congress at that time to deliver better health care for people.
Obamacare didn’t deliver for them. We can deliver really good quality health care for people, better choice.
Actually, you know, instead of the false promises that Obamacare just basically failed to deliver on of keep your doctor, keep your insurance plan, all those lies that were told. Actually, there were lower cost, more choice, better care.
You know, one of the things we did today, the president did today, for the first time in history, he has now allowed as of today the pathways for importation of lower cost drugs from other countries. No presidents ever done that before.
Every Democrat has always said when they’re been president, oh, I’m going to do that, and they failed to do it. Today, President Trump did that.
Opening pathways for states to import, for individuals to import and for low cost insulin to be re-imported into the United States where it is made.
BAIER: I want to ask you one last question about the vaccine and the process, the FDA — the FDA — the head of the FDA speaking out about that, Dr. Hahn, about the process and the president weighing in about how fast it’s going to take. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. STEPHEN HAHN, COMMISSIONER, FDA: Science will guide our decisions. FDA will not permit any pressure from anyone to change that. I will fight for science Mr. Chairman. I will fight for the integrity of the agency and I will put the interests of the American people before anything else.
TRUMP: I don’t see any reason why it should be delayed further because if they delayed it a week or two weeks or three weeks. You know, that’s a lot of lives you’re talking about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: If the FDA says we have to slow this down. Is the administration OK with that?
AZAR: If science and data and the legal constructs says slowdown, then we slowdown. But here’s what we’re doing, we’re making historic progress with great speed, thanks to Operation Warp Speed. We’ve taken the financial risk away from the process for the drug companies. As a result, we now have four vaccines in phase three clinical trials. We have two public company CEOs for Pfizer and Moderna saying we could see clinical trial results by the end of October.
We literally are making millions of doses of drugs as we speak at commercial size scale so that we can have a hundred million doses of FDA gold standard vaccine by the end of the year.
And we will not compromise on safety and efficacy standards. There are many independent checks, Bret, that are built into the system. An independent data and safety monitoring board decide if we even see data according to pre-specified endpoints. A drug company will then have to review it and consider the data according to their own ethical standards before even submitting an application and then the FDA will call the balls and strikes by career officials according to the safety and efficacy standards that they have published publicly and they’re going to use an independent advisory committee to guide this.
The American people should be reassured any vaccine that is approved by the FDA is going to be safe and effective according to the officials and standards of the Food and Drug Administration.
BAIER: Mr. Secretary, we appreciate your time. We would love to have you back.
AZAR: Thank you, Bret.
BAIER: Louisville police are preparing for another night of violence over a grand jury’s decision to reject homicide charges against the police officers involved in the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor. There has also been strong reaction in other cities across the country. Correspondent Jeff Paul is in Louisville tonight.
JEFF PAUL, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Amid fiery protests in Louisville, a call for shots fired.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Shots fired; shots fired.
PAUL: Two responding police officers down after both were hit by the gunfire.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right there, right there, officer down right there.
PAUL: Major Aubrey Gregory and Officer Robinson Desroches are expected to survive. Investigators say it was this man, 26-year old Larynzo Johnson who fired at officers. He’s now facing multiple charges.
ROBERT SCHROEDER, LOUISVILLE POLICE INTERIM CHIEF: Obviously, this is a tense and stressful time for officers. They’re dealing with the protests activity. It’s been a very emotional time for our officers and our city as we go through the attorney general’s opinion.
PAUL: Authorities saying, in the hours after it was announced, there would be zero indictments directly tied to the death of Breonna Taylor, 127 people were arrested in Louisville were charges including violating the
9:00 p.m. curfew, vandalism and looting.
MAYOR GREG FISCHER (D-KY), LOUISVILLE: What do we do with this pain? There is no one answer, no easy answer to that question but I do know this, violence is not the answer and destruction is not the answer. Public safety and the work for racial equity and justice can and must coexist.
PAUL: Emotions not only running high in Kentucky but all over the country.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Black Lives Matter.
PAUL: Massive crowds organizing in New York and D.C. In Seattle, protesters burning a thin blue line police flag. And scary moments in both Denver and Buffalo as cameras captured drivers plowing into demonstrators.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whoa, whoa!
PAUL: That 9:00 p.m. curfew, once again, in effect tonight. But demonstrators say, it doesn’t matter to them. They’re going to be out here protesting in the name of Breonna Taylor. Bret.
BAIER: Jeff Paul, live in Louisville. Jeff, thanks.
The Justice Department has charged more than 300 individuals with crimes committed under the guise of peaceful demonstrations since the end of May.
The crimes included attempted murder, assaulting a law enforcement officer, arson, and damaging federal property.
A source familiar with the investigation by U.S. Attorney John Durham into the origins of the Russia collusion probe, says the inquiry has absorbed information from a 2017 investigation into the Clinton Foundation.
Now, it is part of the Durham investigation that involve the U.S. attorney for Utah looking into what was called, certain issues regarding the sale of Uranium One and other foundation dealings. He was also supposed to examine the FBI’s handling of the Clinton e-mail probe.
“BREAKING TONIGHT”, we’re getting a look at the documents that will be used the next Tuesday’s hearing on the fight over the dismissal of charges against former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Correspondent David Spunt tells us what’s in those documents tonight. Good evening, David.
DAVID SPUNT, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Bret, good evening to you. Well, former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, continues to sit in legal limbo tonight, waiting to hear his fate. His attorneys want the case to be thrown out, the Department of Justice attorneys want to drop the case, but it’s all up to a judge who wants to hear why specifically, at that specific hearing next Tuesday.
Now, in an effort to help drop the case, the Department of Justice wants to share exculpatory evidence with the public. This is a made public by the first time, its evidence that believes paints a picture that the FBI and DOJ were into ruin Flynn from the beginning.
Messages from FBI analyst made public just late this afternoon, show on August 11th, 2016, one FBI employee with a name redacted wrote, “Doing all this election research, I think some of these guys want a Clinton presidency.”
Another wrote, “They seem to respect that they know what they are going to get.” A response, “Ha, ha, really?” Then, “Instead of a wild card like Trump”, obviously, refer to the president.
Now, Flynn’s fate — excuse me, now heads back to the original trial, Judge Emmet Sullivan, who refused to immediately dismiss it, in the first place.
Flynn pleaded guilty twice to lying to the FBI earlier this year about his contacts with Russia, he withdrew the most recent plea at the beginning of the year.
Now, Bret, Flynn’s team will have a chance to speak to Judge Sullivan.
That’s coming up on Tuesday. All of these documents posted, and we just got them about an hour ago, we’re continuing to look through them. They are posted right now for any of those people watching on Foxnews.com. Bret.
BAIER: All right, check it out there. David, thank you.
Up next, the Pentagon is quietly building up forces in the Middle East.
We’ll tell you why.
First, here is with some of our Fox affiliates around the country are covering tonight. Fox 29 in Philadelphia as a federal prosecutor in Pennsylvania, says his office has launched an investigation into a small number of discarded military mail-in ballots for the upcoming election.
U.S. Attorney David Freed, says his office and the FBI were contacted, Monday, by the district attorney in Luzerne County. Freed, says nine ballots have been recovered, seven were for President Trump, the preference of the other, two balance not yet known.
This is a live look at New York from Fox 5. One of the big stories there
tonight: three Metro-North employees suspended without pay after the discovery of a man cave under Grand Central Terminal. Officials say workers would hang out there.
And investigations found the secret room below Track 114 and behind a locked door was outfitted with a futon couch, large flat-screen television with a streaming device, air conditioning, refrigerator, microwave, workout equipment, and hideaway beds.
That’s tonight’s live look “OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY” from SPECIAL REPORT. We’ll be right back.
BAIER: First-time applications for jobless benefits rose to 870,000 last week. That’s up 4,000 from the week before. Meantime, sales of new homes rose by a very strong, 4.8 percent in August.
Stocks were up on that news. The Dow gained 52. The S&P 500 finished ahead 10. The NASDAQ rose 39 today.
The U.S. is keeping pressure on Iran over the Islamic republic’s nuclear ambitions, and that means preparing in the region, possibly moving forces.
National Security correspondent Jennifer Griffin has the latest tonight from the Pentagon.
JENNIFER GRIFFIN, FOX NEWS NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: For the first time in 2-1/2 years, U.S. warplanes launched bombing raids from an aircraft carrier recently moved to the Persian Gulf to target ISIS in Iraq.
Today, Iran released these images of aerial surveillance of the USS Nimitz, showing they are tracking U.S. moves. The Pentagon has ordered a quiet buildup of forces in the Middle East as tensions mount with Iran. An army mechanized unit has returned to Syria to send a message to Russia, after those forces sideswiped American vehicles, injuring seven U.S. troops. The message, not to test U.S. troops ahead of the U.S. election.
MARK ESPER, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Our commanders have the authorities and resources they need to protect their troops and to prepare for any contingencies.
GRIFFIN: Israel’s defense minister visited the Pentagon this week after the president’s top national security officials announced snapback sanctions and extended an arms embargo on Iran, even though the U.N. Security Council voted 13-2 against joining the U.S.
SEN. BEN CARDIN (D-MD): Tell me how we are stronger when America is alone, rather than having our traditional allies on our side as we combat Iran.
ELLIOTT ABRAMS, U.S. SPECIAL ENVOY TO IRAN: Sometimes, we have to be alone.
We have been alone about 40 times in the United Nations, for example, in defense of Israel.
GRIFFIN: Today, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, announced new sanctions against Iranian judges for executing a champion Iranian wrestler who took part in anti-regime protests.
Iran’s foreign minister said he is not ruling out revenge for the killing of Iranian general, Qasem Soleimani.
MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF, FOREIGN AFFAIRS MINISTER, IRAN: President Trump ordered the assassination of a national hero for Iran and a hero for the region. So, the books are not closed.
GRIFFIN: Today, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps announced it had established a new military base in the Strait of Hormuz as the U.S.
military tries to avoid an October surprise. Bret?
BAIER: Jennifer Griffin at the Pentagon. Jennifer, thank you.
Up next, we’ll examine how the media are covering the Breonna Taylor decision and the subsequent protests.
First, “BEYOND OUR BORDERS” tonight. The U.S., Britain, and Canada prepare sanctions on individuals allegedly involved in human rights violations in Belarus. Those countries have voiced opposition to the recent re-election of President Alexander Lukashenko and the government’s crackdown on subsequent protests.
Authorities in Australia rescue 88 pilot whales and attempt to free 20 others that survived the country’s worst mass stranding. Crews are preparing to remove 380 decomposing carcasses from the shallows of Tasmania state.
Just some of the other stories, “BEYOND OUR BORDERS” tonight. We’ll be right back.
BAIER: Democracy 2020, now Florida election officials say the state’s long- standing Democratic advantage in voter registrations is now less than 185,000. “Politico” reports the president’s Florida campaign has produced a concerted drive to register voters there. This comes as Democrats in the state privately complain about the pressure from the Biden campaign to avoid door-to-door canvassing or holding voter registration drives because of the coronavirus.
Tonight, correspondent Mark Meredith reports from Cincinnati on the door- to-door strategy.
MARK MEREDITH, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Michael Logue is a Trump supporter on a mission.
MICHAEL LOGUE, TRUMP VOLUNTEER: It’s a call to action to vote.
MEREDITH: Logue is one of dozens of volunteers in Ohio going door-to-door trying to convince undecided voters to reelect the president.
LOGUE: You’re targeting those voters that are in the middle of the road.
They have not made up their mind. They’re undecided. You’re wanting to let them know that their vote counts, as it absolutely does.
MEREDITH: Traditionally, both parties rely on door-knocking to motivate voters, but this year with the pandemic lingering, Democrats say they’re focused solely on virtual outreach, like phone calls and emails.
KIRSTIN ALVANITAKIS, OHIO DEMOCRATIC PARTY: We believe very strongly that most folks right now do not want to answer the door. We are 100 percent committed to keeping our volunteers safe.
MEREDITH: As Michael canvasses neighborhoods, he says he takes precautions.
LOGUE: I do a mask and I do what I need to. Mainly I keep my social distancing.
MEREDITH: And voters we met seemed fine with his approach.
LOGUE: Thank you for your vote.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is my first time voting, too.
LOGUE: First time voting?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Never voted in my life.
MEREDITH: With polls tightening in the buckeye state and elsewhere, Republicans hope both direct and digital outreach will make all the difference with swing voters. RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel visited Ohio to thank volunteers in person, reminding them there is no one-size-fits-all approach at pandemic campaigning.
RONNA MCDANIEL, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRWOMAN: We really know that the best way to change a vote and to have that conversation is neighbor to neighbor. So it’s not paid walkers. It’s volunteers walking in their own neighborhoods, talking to people they know.
MEREDITH: Democrats insist their decision not to door-know will show voters they’re putting people’s health over politics. But Logue says he thinks Democrats are making a huge miscalculation and will be surprised how many voters wanted to hear from someone in person.
LOGUE: People are grateful and happy to see you.
MEREDITH: Republicans say they’re not picking houses at random to go out and door-knock. Instead they’re relying on past voter data, targeting specific people to visit, people who may need that extra reminder to get out and vote. Bret?
BAIER: Mark Meredith in Cincinnati. Mark, thanks.
Let’s take a look tonight at the polarized reaction in the media to the Breonna Taylor decision and the subsequent protests. Here’s FOX News media analyst and host of FOX’s “Media Buzz” Howard Kurtz.
HOWARD KURTZ, FOX NEWS MEDIA ANALYST: Reporters quickly hit the streets of Louisville, which turned violent last night when no charges were brought in the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor. And the media outrage spread after Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron said the officers on the raid acted in self-defense when Taylor’s boyfriend opened fired, as he acknowledged the tragedy.
DANIEL CAMERON (R), KENTUCKY ATTORNEY GENERAL: I understand that as a black man. If we simply act on emotion or outrage, there is no justice.
KURTZ: The facts of the case, such as a neighbor’s testimony that it wasn’t a no-knock raid, were often overshadowed in the denunciations by liberal commentators.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a black lives don’t matter ruling, because they said that her life was irrelevant.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: I would say now three different justice systems in this country, one for police officer, one for Americans of color, and one for white Americans.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This usually aggressive gears of prosecution, our system in America that is famously tough, suddenly shifts into reverse if the potential crime is the alleged police killing of black and brown people in America.
KURTZ: Some pundits openly attacked Cameron.
JASON JOHNSON, MORGAN STATE UNIVERSITY: He is sending a sign to white nationalists everywhere, with the tacit consent of the president of United States, you can do this whenever you want, and we won’t jail you, we won’t hold you accountable. Shoot all the black people you want.
KURTZ: ESPN analyst and ex-basketball star Jalen Rose said this during the NBA playoffs.
JALEN ROSE, FORMER NBA PLAYER: It would also be a great day to arrest the cop that murdered Breonna Taylor.
KURTZ: More evenhanded analysts noted the grand jury had charged one officer with recklessly endangering the neighbors by firing bullets that penetrated their apartment. Questioning why that also didn’t apply to the shooting of the unarmed Taylor.
KURTZ: The killing of Breonna Taylor last march, which drew little national attention until the George Floyd protest, has become a searing symbol of racial injustice. But even the most critical commentary needs to acknowledge the facts of the case. Bret?
BAIER: Howie, thanks.
Up next, new FOX polls on the presidential election, plus the president’s speech on health care. We’ll get reaction to it all from the panel. Stay here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My plan expands affordable insurance options, reduces the cost of prescription drugs, will end surprise medical billing, increases fairness through price transparency, streamlines bureaucracy, accelerates innovation, strongly protects Medicare, and always protects patients with preexisting conditions.
ALEX AZAR, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: Right now under this glorified Obamacare that many want to talk about that say protects people with preexisting conditions, a family of two aged 55 in Missouri making
$70,000 a year will spend $30,000 a year on premiums and $12,000 in deductibles. That’s not affordable health care. That doesn’t solve their problem. President Trump wants to work with Congress to solve their problems in a real way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: You can see how health care has become a major issue, Democrats bring it up every day on the trail in some way, shape, or form, as we have new polls out today. We showed you earlier the battleground states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Nevada. There you will see Joe Biden with various levels of lead. This is likely voters in each one of those places. Asked a question about who would be better to handle COVID-19 situation, coronavirus, these three states split even more for Biden over President Trump. Asked the question who is better to handle the economy, it completely flips, and this has President Trump in the Nevada up three, in Ohio up five, and Pennsylvania up four. Just to give you a glimpse into that poll.
Let’s bring in our panel now, Jeff Mason, White House correspondent for “Reuters,” Kimberley Strassel, member of the editorial board at “The Wall Street Journal,” and “Washington Post” columnist Marc Thiessen. Kimberley, let me start with you about this health care pitch, this executive order on preexisting conditions. It seems like the president, the administration is cobbling together all of these things that do make the difference around the edges, but without changing the main pitch on health care without a legislative fix.
KIMBERLEY STRASSEL, WALL STREET JOURNAL: And that goes to those polls you mentioned, Bret, because one of the big vulnerabilities for Republicans over since they failed to repeal Obamacare and come up with a replacement has been health care. Democrats are hitting it very, very hard. It’s a weakness.
The president doesn’t have the House. He doesn’t have the ability, as he did with tax reform, to push something through. So in the meantime, they are attempting to reassure, to suggest that they do have a plan. And I would imagine what you’ll see in the coming days and weeks is a pitch to say, look, if we do well in this election, if you maybe even give us more seats in the House, this is the kind of health care proposal we would be putting forward. It’s overdue, but it should help them some in the end.
JEFF MASON, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, REUTERS: I think it shows that they see it as a vulnerability, and I think it’s also interesting that this is coming when the Supreme Court’s nomination is coming this Saturday, and the Democrats are hitting that hard as the fact that right after the November election, Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act, could be coming up or will be coming up before the Supreme Court.
The president has been promising a health care plan for a long time. They nibble around the edges, as you were saying, with the executive order here, but it is not a legislative solution. And they are doing this at a time when if Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act, were overturned, all of those promises about keeping patients covered for their preexisting conditions, it would go away with that law.
BAIER: Jeff, I want to follow-up with you about this peaceful transition of power. We’ve had now a number of bites at the apple, asking the president a couple times, the White House press secretary, the Senate has moved a piece of legislation that says there will be a peaceful transfer of power, or they’re pushing for it. What do you make of this? Is it too much about a little, or is it a big deal?
MASON: It’s hard to answer that. It is certainly in line with what President Trump has done before, and what he did in 2016. In 2016 when he was running against Hillary Clinton he also questioned whether he would accept the results if he lost. He ended up winning, of course, and he didn’t question the results. He’s now doing the same thing again, and it’s not the first time he has suggested it. He said in an interview, I believe, with Chris Wallace, and then did it again in the press room yesterday.
It’s part of a strategy that this president has employed to preemptively undermine the integrity of the election if it doesn’t end up going his way.
We don’t know what he’ll do. If it ends up being really clear in his direction, I’m sure he will accept the result. If it ends up being really clear in the direction of Joe Biden, it’s just hard to say what he’ll do.
But he’s flagging it as a question mark.
BAIER: Marc, the irony here is that Hillary Clinton didn’t seem like she accepted the results for many, many months afterwards. But your thoughts on that first?
MARC THIESSEN, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: This is a ridiculous controversy because the reality is, is that if there’s a contested election it’s going to go to the Supreme Court just like it did in Bush v Gore, and the Supreme Court is going to decide. And President Trump said today with the Brian Kilmeade on the radio, he was asked if the court rules in Biden’s favor, will you accept it? He said yes, but the problem is mail-in ballots.
And actually mail-in ballots, with the point about mail-in ballots is, they make it actually more likely that it is going to be the Democrats that are questioning the legitimacy of the election, because mail-in ballots are the most unreliable way to vote. And they’ve been pushing their voters to do this. There was an MIT study of the 2008 election that up to 21 failure rate, not because of fraud, just absent any fraud. Let’s say the president was completely wrong on fraud. Failure because people filled them out wrong, they mailed them in wrong, the signature doesn’t match, the voting records don’t match. When you go, you’re much more likely to get those fixed and have a valid ballot.
So Democrats are voting exponentially higher in mail-in than Republican, so what’s going to happen is Republican votes are going to be counted because they are done in person, and the Democratic votes, many of them, up to 21 percent if you believe the MIT study, could be thrown out for being irregular. So that is what is going to happen is it’s going to be the Democrats running and saying this is an illegitimate election and trying to get the courts to count invalid ballots, and it’s going to be a huge fight.
But it’s not going to be Trump that’s doing it.
BAIER: We’ll see. Let’s just play this soundbite, the transition of power now and then. Take a listen, Kimberley.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will you commit to making sure that there is a peaceful transferal of power after the election?
TRUMP: We’re going to have to see what happens. You know that I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you make the same commitment to that you will absolutely, sir, that will you absolutely accept the result of this election?
TRUMP: I will look at it at the time. I’m not looking at anything now. I will look at it at the time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: And in part, Kimberley, that just stirs up everybody.
STRASSEL: It was funny that you mentioned Hillary Clinton, because so far, as far as I know, the one person who has come out and told Joe Biden he should not concede under any circumstances in 2020 is, in fact, Hillary Clinton. So someone might want to ask her this question, too, if she would accept this year’s results.
But look, I think as Mark was saying. This is the president’s way of trying to put focus, as he has been doing for some time, on the mail-in voting problems. And this could get even more complicated. We now have had several states even this week that have extended the deadline for the amount of time in which they will count votes, whether or not they even have postmarks on them. And now people are beginning to operate under these changing rules, and they could change yet again. And some of the cases are destined to go all the way to the Supreme Court. And you could have within weeks of the election changes to the rules of what gets counted.
So I think this is all a lesson. I think the states if they had been smart long ago when COVID became a reality, their legislation would have set rules, made things clear, and made things fair. And instead this is now a litigation run to the end, and there could be a lot of confusion. And I think that’s what the president is alluding to.
BAIER: We shall see. We’ll follow it all.
Stand by, panel. Before the debate kicks off Tuesday, there’s a cool thing.
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Next up, foreign policy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: I will take the first action under this new executive order by sanctioning the Iranian Ministry of Defense and armed forces logistics, and Iran’s defense industries organization and its director.
ELLIOTT ABRAMS, U.S. SPECIAL ENVOY FOR IRAN: The United States will announce sanctions on several Iranian officials and entities, including the judge who sentenced Navid Afkari to death.
MOHAMMAD JAVAD ZARIF, IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: I don’t think it will have any more significant impact on Iran. It had hoped that these sanctions will bring our population to their knees. It didn’t.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: Sanctions against Iran are increasing as tensions mount with Iran.
There’s a buildup of U.S. forces in the Middle East. The USS Nimitz, aircraft carrier, just arriving in the Persian Gulf, training in that area.
We’re back with the panel. Marc, it seems like it’s stepping up here between U.S. and Iran.
THIESSEN: Yes, and it shows the folly of withdrawal and the push for withdrawal. We have 5,200 troops in Iraq, and the president just announced on September 9th that he wants to draw that down to 3,000. That’s not a huge commitment. We have more troops in Italy than we have in Iraq right.
We shouldn’t be withdrawing troops. And the reason is the president has had an amazing amount of success in the Middle East. And the reason is that he has broken the conventional wisdom. We were told that if he withdrew from the Iranian nuclear deal and reimposed sanctions that it would imperil peace in the region. We were told that if he killed Soleimani and enforced his red line against killing American troops by the Iranian regime that it would lead to a cataclysmic war. Didn’t happen. We were told that if he moved the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem and recognized sovereignty over the Golan Heights and marginalized the Palestinians, peach could never happen.
Guess what. We got the first two peace deals in a quarter century. So he’s got a lot of success in the region. Iran is contained, there’s peace breaking out. But you need to have U.S. forces in the region because if we pivot away, Iran is not pivoting away. Iran is staying. And we need to keep them under control.
BAIER: Jeff, there is a problem, obviously. The sanctions are unilateral, they don’t have allies in Europe signing on.
MASON: Indeed, and that goes back to the president’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Iranian agreement, and that, of course, upset a lot of allies who were part of that agreement in Europe and elsewhere, who are still — had been clinging to wanting to hold onto that agreement even after the U.S. pullout.
From an electoral lens, though, it also does provide a contrast for President Trump to use when he’s talking about foreign policies with Vice President Biden. This is not always a really motivating factor for a lot of voters, but the president will be able to point to some wins in the Middle East in the last few weeks, and say that he’s stronger on Iran compared to Biden, using the lens, again, of whether or not that agreement was a good one or not.
BAIER: All right, Kimberley?
STRASSEL: Look, this is also being driven by that regional shift in that area, in that Iran is looking around, it is seeing the sanctions that the United States is putting on it. It’s also seeing these peace deals with Israel, and it’s understanding that its neighbors have understood it’s a hegemonic threat, and they need to deal with it. And so this is a response to that.
BAIER: All right, much more to talk about this in the days ahead. Panel, thank you very much.
When we come back, do we have a tip for you.
BAIER: You’re looking live, Jacksonville, Florida. Air Force One just landing, getting ready for the president’s event there. You’ll see it live here on FOX News in a bit.
Finally, tonight, paying it forward.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All yours.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why would you do such a thing?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They love you, so they wanted to give you a present.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My gosh.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: Carlos Valdez has one request when he orders pizza from Papa John’s in Roy, Utah, that it be delivered by Derlin Newey. You see, the 89-year- old deliveryman has quite the fan base on Valdez’s TikTok, with some asking why he still works. So Valdez raised money on that app and surprised him with a $12,000 tip. Nice job.
Restaurant workers have been hit some of the hardest during the pandemic, obviously. That’s why Keyondra New, started in Instagram page called “TipaServer” soliciting donations to give back to servers.
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