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Rejecting Russia Connection; Behind Closed Doors; Power Of The Purse; Middle East Tensions; Trapped In Iran; Opting Out; President Obama

January 15, 2019

xfdiw FOX-SPECIAL-REPORT-WI-00

<Show: FOX SPECIAL REPORT WITH BRET BAIER>

<Date: January 14, 2019>

<Time: 18:00>

<Tran: 011401cb.254>

<Type: Show>

<Head: Rejecting Russia Connection; Behind Closed Doors; Power Of The

Purse; Middle East Tensions; Trapped In Iran; Opting Out; President Obama

Comments That New Blood Is Needed In Democratic Leadership; Representative

Tulsi Gabbard Announces 2020 Presidential Bid; Government Shutdown

Continues Over Border Wall Funding; Reporting Indicates Further Ties

Between Trump Campaign And Russia; Democratic 2020 Presidential Candidate

Field Taking Shape - Part 2>

<Sect: News; Domestic>

<Byline: Bret Baier, John Roberts, Catherine Herridge, Brit Hume, Rich

Edson, Jennifer Griffin, William La Jeunesse; Kristin Fisher, Howard Kurtz>

<Guest: Chris Stirewalt, Mo Elleithee, Ben Domenech>

<Spec: Government; World Affairs; Espionage; Law Enforcement; Congress;

Middle East; Terrorism; Prison; Insurance; Politics; Immigration>

JULIAN CASTRO, (D) U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is time for new leadership, because it’s time for new energy.

FISHER: Senator Elizabeth Warren hasn’t officially announced she is running, but she sure sounded like it during a stop in New Hampshire on Saturday.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN, (D) MASSACHUSETTS: We need to make the systemic change in this country.

(APPLAUSE)

FISHER: But the biggest fish in this ever-growing Democratic sea would be former vice president Joe Biden.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A lot of people say Biden is doing OK, but he was always a one percent guy. He was a one percent guy. He ran two or three times. He never got above one percent.

FISHER: Buzz is building that Biden is about to enter the race, even though just last week his old boss seemed to signal that Biden may not have his full support by saying to the Democratic Party “We have a deficit of leadership, and we need new blood.”

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FISHER: And that new blood could be someone like Beto O’Rourke who met with Mr. Obama in November. But don’t forget about Senator Bernie Sanders. Politico is reporting that he just locked down his digital team from 2016, and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is expected to form and exploratory committee in the coming days. Bret?

BAIER: Kristin, thank you. More on this with the panel.

The 2020 campaign is already setting new standards when it comes to intimacy and social media. Tonight FOX News media analyst and host of FOX’s “Media Buzz” Howard Kurtz looks at just how far the transparency and sales job may go.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HOWARD KURTZ, FOX NEWS MEDIA ANALYST: President Trump is the acknowledged master of making news with Twitter taunts, but the hot commodity these days is online videos, not of boring speeches, but of candidates doing everyday things. Beto O’Rourke, the failed Texas Senate candidate weighing a White House run, uses Instagram.

REP. BETO O’ROURKE, (D) TEXAS: I’m here at the dentist, and we’re continue our series on the people of the border.

KURTZ: Yes, they talked about the border, but much mockery ensued with commentator Ben Shapiro tweeting his own dental moment, “Who wore it better?”

Another likely 2020 candidate, Senator Kamala Harris, is seen groving here declaring herself pro dancing. When Elizabeth Warren announced her presidential exploratory committee, she wanted to show her comfort with a cold one.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN, (D) MASSACHUSETTS: Hold on a sec. I’m going to get me a beer.

My husband Bruce is now in here.

KURTZ: The president tweeted about her, quote, beer catastrophe, saying “If Pocahontas,” as he calls the senator, “had done the video with her husband dressed full Indian garb it would have been a smash!”

But the 2020 contenders are way behind Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the 29- year-old Democratic congresswoman with 4 million Instagram and Twitter followers who watch her cook.

REP. ALEXANDRA OCASIO-CORTEZ, (D) NEW YORK: Here you go. Here’s the final product. We have some of our mac and cheese.

(MUSIC)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you think about Ocasio-Cortez?

TRUMP: Who cares?

KURTZ: The Congresswoman responded with an emoji, “We got under his skin.”

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KURTZ: For politicians determined to seem real and authentic, not stiff and scripted, they can appear pretty hip when the videos work, or they can look decidedly uncool. Bret?

BAIER: When they don’t. Howie, thanks.

President Trump insists he has never worked for the Russians, and he’s insulted by the insinuation. Plus, is there an end in sight to the partial shutdown? We’ll get reaction from the panel when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don’t know if we’re closer to the deal. This should be the easiest deal that I’ve ever seen. We are talking about border security. Who could be against it?

SEN. TIM KAINE, (D) VIRGINIA: What we don’t want to do is waste taxpayer money on a vanity project that’s ineffective.

SEN. MARK WARNER, (D-VA), SENATE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Border security ought to be driven by the experts, not by the political whims of a campaign promise where Trump said the wall was going to be built and was going to be paid form by Mexico.

TRUMP: It is common sense. What we are talking about is common sense.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAIER: That is where we are. We’ll start with the partial government shutdown, day 24, longest ever in U.S. history. The president tweeting out today, “I’ve been waiting all weekend. Democrats must get to work now. Border must be secured. Nancy and crying Chuck can end the shutdown in 15 minutes. At this point it has become their, and the Democrats, fault.”

At home, a lot of people polled don’t think that way, at least according to ABC/“Washington Post” poll. Trump and Republicans responsible for the shutdown, 53 percent, Democrats, 29 percent. There you see both equally at 13 percent.

That is where we will start with the panel. Let’s bring the men, Chris Stirewalt, politics editor here at FOX News, Mo Elleithee, executive director of the Georgetown Institute of Politics, and Ben Domenech, publisher of “The Federalist.” OK, Moe, you heard Tim Kaine and Mark Warner putting the onus on not spending taxpayer money for something that doesn’t work on the border. Could Democrats get to a place that says here’s this lump of money to the border patrol, you decide what to do with it as far as security?

MO ELLEITHEE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, GEORGETOWN INSTITUTE OF POLITICS: I think Democrats have been pretty clear so far that they are not going going to play with these federal workers at the negotiating trick. They want the government opened and then they will talk about it. The Democrats have been clear that they want a holistic approach to border security, a holistic approach to immigration reform, but they don’t want to leave these federal workers in the lurch. And so far at least in the PR wars, the American people are siding with them on this.

BAIER: Ben?

BEN DOMENECH, PUBLISHER, “THE FEDERALIST”: I think this question about who is to blame for the shutdown is the wrong question to be asking. It’s the question that D.C. is asking. You listen to that comment from Tim Kaine about the money. This is not about the money. This is about sending a message a message in this case by the president to his base that, yes, I am after two years of not dealing with this promise, the biggest promise that I made going to deal with this, and the message from Democratic leadership to their base that they’re going to show up in Washington and have their first act be to bend over to this president on his signature issue.

I think the president needs to lean more into the argument about what the Democrats position really is, which is that they believe this wall is immoral because they now believe that borders are immoral, or at least a significant portion of their base does. Put them into that position and lean into that argument more, because I think this internal conversation wisdom question about who is blame for the shutdown, he is not going to win that.

BAIER: To this point, Nancy Pelosi obviously use that ward, “immoral.” You’ve seen now Beto O’Rourke saying that it’s racist, that the wall itself, comes from a racist place. That seems like a pushback point, especially for those border state residents.

CHRIS STIREWALT, FOX NEWS POLITICAL EDITOR: Especially with the Democrats junketeering to the beach in Puerto Rico. It would seem like it is a tailor-made moment, readymade for a coherent Republican response here. But we do not get a coherent Republican response. And I think to Ben’s point, there are great avenues that Republicans could be following to keep the pressure on Democrats, but they do not. We hear the same thing over and over again. There is a crisis of the border. There is a crisis of the border. Everybody agrees, but we’re still talking about the same thing. Democrats at $1.6 billion, Republicans are at $5.7 billion, and no one has budged in either direction. The Republicans haven’t come down and the Democrats haven’t gone up, and here we sit.

BAIER: Here’s Lindsey Graham over the weekend, the president’s response.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: If the legislative path is closed come, and every day that goes by it seems to be more closed rather than more open, then the only thing left for the president is the emergency declaration, and I suggested to him before you pull that trigger, see if you can have a short term CR to see if we can get there.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I did reject it, yes. I’m not interested. I want to get it solved. I don’t want to just delay it. I want to get it solved.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAIER: So what is the path? Is there a point, how do we get from here to there? Does anybody know?

ELLEITHEE: I don’t think anybody knows yet. But I think at some point this is going to be untenable. This is already the longest shutdown in American history. You’ve got people who are now getting zero on their paystubs. People aren’t able to pay their rent.

And it is not just the federal workers. It’s on the contractors. We’re seeing these lines at airports. If that starts to become institutionalized, there is going to be a pressure point from which I think this -- even this president will not be able to come back from.

DOMENECH: There is no incentive for his to shift off of this at this moment. It’s going to take a lot more time and I think a lot more pain before you have any really willingness on the part of either side here to budge given how much this is central to their message.

BAIER: You said it doesn’t matter who is to blame, but is there a point where you think it tips, and people say, hey, where is the deal?

DOMENECH: I think that there is going to be a moment when that happens, but I think we are a long way off from it.

BAIER: I want to quickly get to this Russia story. The president vigorously pushing back today on these stories about the FBI opening this investigation, saying I never worked for Russia. What about this?

STIREWALT: Can I say just how sick I am of these stories? So “The New York Times” story was interesting, revelatory thing. “The Washington Post” was an interesting, revelatory thing. It gets treated all out of boundaries on all sides. Of course the take from -- no offense to Peter Baker, but I think it was the lead of his story that when Judge Jeanine asked Donald Trump, do you work for the Russians, that he didn’t give her a straight answer. I don’t think that was ambiguous. I think he’s been very clear that he is innocent here and he didn’t do the things wrong.

I think we have so much Mueller expectation, everybody is so ready for Mueller that any fish that swims by everybody says is the great white shark. I think we have got to continue to pace ourselves and breathe a little bit here.

BAIER: Here’s Jonathan Karl on ABC over this weekend about all of this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JONATHAN KARL, ABC NEWS: People who were closest to what Mueller has been doing, interacted with the Special Counsel, cautioned me that this report is almost certain to be anti-climatic, that if you look at what the FBI was investigating in that “New York Times” report, look with what they were investigating, Mueller did not go anywhere with that investigation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAIER: Mo?

ELLEITHEE: Only Bob Mueller knows what Bob Mueller has. And only Bob Mueller knows when we are all going to find out.

I think the past couple of -- the past week we’ve seen more than just a couple of fish. I think these have been pretty big fish. But at the end of the day we won’t know until we see it. And I think we should give him all the space he needs to put together a comprehensive report.

BAIER: And there is no indication that they are not going to do that.

DOMENECH: After years of this we have no evidence that the president treasonously colluded with the Russian government to obtain his election. We do have a mountain of evidence that the FBI and the DOJ had a number of people who acted inappropriately, to start investigations that they spun up because of the president’s politics, because of how he regarded Russia. Imagine if we had the FBI investigating President Obama after his comments to Medvedev about his flexibility after the coming election.

ELLEITHEE: In fairness --

DOMENECH: It is completely out of line, and it should be something that should arouse a lot more concern on the parts of the people who want us to trust these institutions, who believe these institutions need to be trusted in order for us to move forward.

ELLEITHEE: In fairness, we have seen the president’s then campaign manager, evidence the he had some pretty interesting and remarkable relationships with the Russians. And we --

DOMENECH: The idea that Paul Manafort is a bad guy is not interesting at this table.

ELLEITHEE: But it’s much more than him being a bad guy. The question is, is there evidence that the president’s campaign colluded with the Russians? There may be evidence right there. All I’m saying is we won’t know everything until the full report is done, and the efforts by some to silence it, saying it has taken too long -- let him have as much time as he needs.

BAIER: But my point is the administration is not saying that. They’re not silencing it. They’re letting it go. Bill Barr, who is up tomorrow, says let it go. And he’s the A.G. nominee.

OK, we say a lot of that at the same time.

(LAUGHTER)

BAIER: Next up, new blood versus old blood in 2020.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN, (D) MASSACHUSETTS: Here I am talking about running for the president of United States.

JULIAN CASTRO, (D) U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am a candidate for president of United States of America.

(APPLAUSE)

REP. TULSI GABBARD, (D) HAWAII: I have decided to run and will be making a former announcement within the next week.

JOHN DELANEY, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We’ve spent a lot of time in Iowa. We’ve done 21 trips there, 12 to New Hampshire. And I think my message, which is about bringing this terribly divided nation back together.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, (I) VERMONT: I have got to make sure that there is that grassroot support. And that’s what we’re ascertaining. If there is, I’ll run. If there isn’t, I won’t.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A lot of people say Biden is doing OK, but he was always a one percenter. We’ll see what happens with him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAIER: The field is starting to take shape. Democratic candidates, there are potentially a lot of them, really a cast of thousands as we get ready to hear all of their decisions, whether they are running or not. Meantime the president is taking to Twitter to basically troll them. “Best line in the Elizabeth Warren beer catastrophe is to her husband, “Thank you for being here. I’m glad you were here.” It’s their house, he is supposed to be there!” The president tweeting about that video from Elizabeth Warren. We are back with the panel. Thoughts early on this race as it is forming?

DOMENECH: The comedian in chief in the White House I think is going to be offering his color commentary throughout this entire process. It’s going to be fascinating to see that play out. I view the real contest here as being between -- all the Democrats are going to be anti-Trump. The question is whether they’re also going to be anti-Trump voter, anti appealing to Trump voters, which I view to be kind of the key divide right now that is taking shape in the field. Do you try to win back some of those Trump voting people in the middle of the country? Or do you write them off and not care about them?

One of the most interesting developments, I think, is the entrance of Tulsi Gabbard into this race. She is a younger, more telegenic version of Bernie Sanders. I don’t know if she is going to end up taking away significant support from him. He does seem committed to continuing to run. But again, it’s the question of, do you even try to appeal to those working-class voters, or do you just write them off?

BAIER: Mo, was there a signal being sent by President Obama, former President Obama, saying they need new blood in the Democratic Party? If anything, that is a pretty stark message to Joe Biden.

ELLEITHEE: Look, I think there is no question that the Democratic Party writ large needs to embrace this new generation of up and comers and elevate them. Does that mean it needs to be at the top of the ticket? I don’t know. The voters are going to decide that, the Democratic primary voters are going to decide that. I think it’s interesting that there’s going to be a number of different fissures that I think emerge throughout the course of this primary. There’s going to be an urban versus rural fissure. There’s going to be a generational divide. There’s going to be obviously a gender divide. There is going to be generational.

So there’s going to be all sorts of different things. Ben’s right, all of them are going to be unified in their opposition to the president, but what is the proactive message that they are each going to offer I think it actually going to will be bigger than any of those divides.

STIREWALT: CBS reporting Kirsten Gillibrand coming out tomorrow on “The Late Show” on CBS. It is crowding up right now. But now is also the phase where you get grifters, weirdos, people who are looking to raise their visibility. You’ve got no chance, maybe you’re running for vice president. Get in early. You can get a bunch of interviews, you can get some airtime, you can get seen, and then when it doesn’t turn out, nobody will ever remember, it will be fine. So now’s the time.

BAIER: Over/under 20 candidates in.

STIREWALT: We’ll go over 20 for a period of time, but I think we’ll retreat back under 20 pretty quickly.

ELLEITHEE: I think that’s about right.

DOMENECH: I think yes, the same as Chris.

BAIER: All right, Chris is always right. Just go with him.

(LAUGHTER)

BAIER: When we come back, a White House spread worth of national champions.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BAIER: Finally tonight, happening right now inside the White House White House, President Trump with a special celebration for the college football champions.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We went out and we ordered American fast food, paid for by me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAIER: The Clemson Tigers paying a visit to the White House right now. They won of course the national championship football game against Alabama last week. President Trump pulled out all the stops in the midst of this partial government shutdown, saying he could have had them salads for them to eat, but he decided that the training table menu tonight, McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King, and pizza, as you heard, all paid for by the president. And those guys looked pretty happy. Thank guy is looking for another Big Mac right there.

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.

END

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