This Week: Chris sits down for an exclusive interview with White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus.
Search for Flight 370 enters a new phase; will Crimea vote further inflame US tensions with Russia?
Written by Chris Wallace / Published March 16, 2014 / Fox News Sunday
Special Guests: Rep. Michael McCaul, Peter Goelz, Sen. Robert Menendez, Sen. Bob Corker, Marcee Craighill
This is a rush transcript from "Fox News Sunday," March 16, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
CHRIS WALLACE, ANCHOR: I'm Chris Wallace.
More than a week after that Malaysia Airlines flight vanishes, it's now turned in to a criminal investigation.
WALLACE: As the search moves hundreds of miles to the west, there's confusion over data pings from the plane. And investigators look into the possibility of sabotage, or hijacking. We'll have a live report on late-breaking developments and talk with the chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, Michael McCaul and Peter Goelz, a former top official at the National Transportation Safety Board.
Then, Crimea votes on whether to split off from Ukraine, in what President Obama calls a slap-dash referendum.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We reject its legitimacy. It is contrary to international law.
SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY: We believe that a decision to move forward by Russia to ratify that vote would, in fact, be a back door annexation of Crimea.
WALLACE: Will today's vote for tough sanctions on Russia and start a new Cold War? We'll ask the leaders of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Chairman Robert Menendez, and top Republican Bob Corker.
Plus, a special election in Florida gives the GOP its first big win of 2014. Can Republicans continue to ride the anti-ObamaCare wave through November? Our Sunday panel weighs in.
And our Power Player of the Week with a behind-the-scenes look at the special room where American and foreign leaders negotiate.
MARCEE CRAIGHILL: The collection now includes 5,000 objects, valued at more than $100 million.
WALLACE: All, right now, on "Fox News Sunday."
WALLACE: And hello again from Fox News in Washington.
It's day nine in the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. And we have blanket coverage, including the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.
Malaysian officials now say the plane's disappearance was deliberate, not an accident. The focus of the investigation is on the aircraft's two pilots. And Malaysia's prime minister says the last satellite communication with the plane came almost seven hours after the flight went dark.
Chief Washington correspondent James Rosen has the late-breaking developments -- James.
JAMES ROSEN, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Chris, good morning. While the search zone for the missing airliner widens, the probe into what happened is narrowing, with Malaysian authorities saying this morning their investigation has entered a new phase. The plane's pilots are drawing increased scrutiny now that Malaysian officials have disclosed that the communications system for the Boeing 777 were intentionally shut off in successive fashion 14 minutes apart.
Police on Saturday searched the homes of the two co-pilots, and took a special interest in the flight simulator installed in the home of the captain, 53-year-old Zaharie Ahmad Shah who had logged more than 18,000 hours in the air, and showed off the simulator in his YouTube video.
The turning off of the plane's data reporting system and its transponder, which transmits location and altitude, coupled with the known movements of the aircraft, which some have likened to evasive tactics, have led authorities to frame the disappearance of Flight 370, not as a catastrophic systems failure but as the result of intentional conduct by someone who knew well the plane's intricacies and capabilities.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NAJIB RAZAK, MALAYSIAN PRIME MINISTER: Up until the plane had reached the military radar coverage, these movements are consistent with deliberate actions by someone on the plane.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROSEN: Twenty-five countries are now said to be involved in the search for the plane, or for its wreckage. The U.S. Navy's guided missile destroyer USS Kidd is scouring the Indian Ocean while the Navy's Poseidon plane, a maritime patrol aircraft, is flying over the Bay of Bengal.
In all, the search zone now encompasses a 5,000 mile area -- Chris.
WALLACE: James, thank you.
For more, we want to bring in the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Texas Congressman Michael McCaul. And here in studio, Peter Goelz, former managing director of the National Transportation Safety Board.
Chairman McCaul, what is your latest information on what happened to Flight 370 and where it is now?
REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL, R-TEXAS: Well, there's still a lot of mystery behind this. One thing we do know, this was not an accident. It was an intentional, deliberate act, to bring down this airplane. And the question is who is behind that.
There are a lot of warning signs along the way. The fact the transponder was turned off, the flight pattern changed abruptly. We had two Iranians with stolen passports that were not checked with Interpol, which we would have done in this country. One-way tickets bought with cash that the hijackers were known for doing.
So, there are a lot of these questions raised, but I think one thing is very clear, Chris, is that this was an intentional, deliberate act that unfortunately probably killed 239 people.
WALLACE: As we said, they're now focusing on the crew and the passengers. Any evidence that you have heard, excuse me, so far from your intelligence sources, that the pilots would have had any interest in trying to sabotage this flight, or any information that any of the passengers would have had the technical expertise to take over the plane and do all the things that apparently were done?
MCCAUL: Well, we don't have any evidence this was terrorist related, although you can't rule that out at this point in time. My understanding is the Malaysian authorities now have searched the homes of both the pilot and the co-pilot, for information that could lead us to determine why this was done. I think all the evidence, though, Chris, is pointing towards the cockpit, towards the pilot and the co- pilot.
The motivation and intent as a former federal prosecutor, I'm always concerned about, is unclear at this point in time.
WALLACE: All right. Let me bring in Mr. Goelz.
We're now told that the transponders and the data flow in the cockpit were turned off separately, not at the same time, but separately, one, how much training do you need to do that? And what about media reports that, in fact, some of this was done before the pilot signed off, said, "All right, good night" to Malaysian air traffic controllers?
PETER GOELZ, FORMER MANAGING DIRECTOR, NTSB: Well, I think that final point that the signoff came after the physical actions of turning off the transponder, is absolutely critical. It shows that someone in the flight deck, someone with training, was able to do both functions, and that in between the two, he signaled all -- the crew signaled, "All right, good night."
I mean, that is damning evidence that indicates something was going on in the flight deck.
WALLACE: Now, you were saying to me before we went on the air, and you've been involved in some of these investigations, that in addition to whatever they may be able to find on the ground, that they may do some analysis of these communications between the cockpit, and the ground?
GOELZ: Sure. You're going to look at -- you're going to go back and look at every transmission that is taking place between the aircraft, and the controllers. And do analysis. Even as far as stress analysis to see if there's anything different about this flight and their communications from normal flights. And we did that in the accident at Egypt Air where the pilot did commit suicide.
WALLACE: Yes, let me just briefly set this up as I can. Egypt Air Flight 990 crashed in 1999, off the coast of New England, and it was later determined by the NTSB, and you were leading the investigation, that it was pilot suicide.
Tell us what you did there, and how you think that might apply here?
GOELZ: Well, the difference was, we had five different sets of radar monitoring Egypt Air. We were able to recover the data recorder, and the voice recorder, nine days after the accident.
As soon as we had that information, coupled with the radar data, we knew what happened. And it was clear that the pilot, the co-pilot, had deceived the captain to get out of the cockpit, shut the door, put the plane into a fatal dive and then fought with the captain to continue the suicide mission.
WALLACE: Then the question, if, in fact, it is one of the pilots, the question becomes why, Chairman McCaul? And there has been speculation that this plane may have landed somewhere with the hope that it could be used at some point later as a weapon, perhaps loaded with explosives. How seriously -- as the chairman of House Homeland Security, how seriously are security officials taking that scenario?
MCCAUL: Well, we're concerned with that. I know there are two routes that it could have possibly taken. One would be toward the north towards Kazakhstan which would be close to Afghanistan, Pakistan.
I think that would be unlikely, because our radar system, detection systems, would have picked that up had it gone that route. I think the intelligence community and homeland security believe that possibly more likely went the southern route, which would be towards Australia, Indonesia. Now, two scenarios are here. One is that the plane ran out of fuel and landed in the ocean, and it's, you know, that's a bad scenario.
The other one is it landed in a country like Indonesia, where it could be used later on as a cruise missile, as the 9/11 hijackers did. That's something we have to use our imagination in these situations.
We don't have all the information before us. But we have to look at all these possibilities, whether it'd be towards Kazakhstan, which I do think our radar detection systems would have picked that up. Or to the south towards Indonesia, which is, you know, a friendly country to the terrorists, and used the land there and used later, in a plot to -- to blow up an airplane.
WALLACE: Having said all of that, what do you think is the probability that that was the point of this? That it was a terror act, to try to land the plane and use it as a weapon?
MCCAUL: I think from all the information I've been briefed on from, you know, high levels within Homeland Security, National Counterterrorism Center, intelligence community, that something was going on with the pilot. I think this all leads towards the cockpit, with the pilot himself, and co-pilot.
I still am concerned about these Iranians on board, and the stolen passports and the fact that Interpol checks were not made with them. I know there have been interviews with the families and the individual involved getting them the tickets. But it's way too early, Chris, to, you know, to be -- I think the jury is still very much out on this strange mystery tragedy.
WALLACE: I want to go back, and, Bob, if you could put up the graphic that shows that arc, and the reason that there is an arc, all the way from Kazakhstan in the north down to Australia, just off Australia in the south, is because the satellites can only measure how far the plane was away from it. It's not measuring, you know, where it is on that plot.
So it knows that somewhere on that line, but it doesn't know where it is on that line, I guess one of the questions, Mr. Goelz, is, let's assume that the point of this was pilot takeover and like flight 990 suicide, why not just put it in the drink right away? Why fly it or six or seven hours?
GOELZ: Well, you know, aviation -- commercial aviation cannot stand a vacuum. We need to find out what happened here. Air France 447, which crashed in the South Atlantic, they searched for two years until they found that. And we've done it on other accident investigations and terrorist acts.
The pilots may have wished to go to the most remote section of the Indian Ocean, where it's 12,000 feet deep, to make the mystery complete. And the reality is, you know, we have this arc. We have a ping coming out of the aircraft. Because Malaysian Airlines was not subscribed to a more expansive service, all we got was, I'm ready to send data, I'm ready to receive data, do you have any. No response. Satellite moves on.
WALLACE: You were saying that you believe now that the prime search area is in the southern part of that arc off the west coast of Australia?
GOELZ: Yes. And I think the U.S. experts, both the FAA, and the NTSB on the ground, agree with that, that they're diverting U.S. assets to that area.
WALLACE: Now, given what a remote area that is, given the fact that we're in day nine, what are the chances they're going to find anything?
GOELZ: It's going to be very, very difficult. But as I say, a vacuum is unacceptable. The search is going to continue until some resolution is found, whether it takes months or years.
WALLACE: Mr. Goelz, Chairman McCaul, thank you both so much for coming in today. Of course we will stay on top of this story. Thank you, both, gentlemen.
GOELZ: Thank you.
WALLACE: Up next, Crimea votes on whether to break away from Ukraine and join Russia. Are we headed for a new Cold War? We're joined by the leaders of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
And be sure to tell us what you think on Facebook about the Malaysian plane mystery, along with other "FNS" viewers.
WALLACE: Russian troops have now moved across the Crimean border, seizing a village six miles farther in the Ukraine. Meanwhile, inside Crimea, they're voting today whether to split off from Ukraine. And while the outcome is certain, they will approve that step, the question is, what happens next?
Fox senior foreign affairs correspondent Amy Kellogg is live in Ukraine's capital of Kiev with the latest -- Amy.
AMY KELLOGG, FOX NEWS SENIOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Chris.
Well, Kiev is calling the seizure of that gas distribution plant just outside Crimea a military invasion. While Crimea's pro-Russian government says the troops involved were simply self-defense forces, locals. But given that helicopters were involved in this operation, there's very little doubt that this was just a further push by Russia into the region, more facts on the ground.
Now, the referendum voting is taking place in the absence of election observers in Crimea, but with 22,000 Russian troops watching. The result is expected to be a vote to join Russia.
Now to be fair, it's clear that many people in Crimea actually do want to be part of Russia. But with the level of intimidation that's been reported there, it may be impossible to ever know how many are OK with what has happened. Russia is citing violence, meanwhile, in other parts of Ukraine like Kharkiv, where two people were killed in clashes Friday night, as possible grounds for going in to, quote, "protect Russian-speaking populations in certain eastern regions next."
Senator John McCain, visiting Kiev this weekend, said that would be a game changer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, R-ARIZ., FOREIGN RELATION COMMITTEE: What I think it will be a breach of such enormous consequence that the United States of America and our European allies will be contemplating action that we have not ever in our relations with Russia.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KELLOGG: Now, McCain and the other seven U.S. senators here in Ukraine are worried about the fate of the 15,000 Ukrainian soldiers, either holed up or locked inside their bases in Crimea. And finally, Chris, Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov did have a further conversation yesterday, apparently without results. This as the U.S. and European nations think very hard this weekend about further sanctions for Russia, possibly as early as next week, depending on how things play out here in the next 24 hours -- Chris.
WALLACE: Amy Kellogg reporting from Kiev. Amy, thanks for that.
We turn now to the leaders of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. From New Jersey, Chairman Robert Menendez. And from Tennessee, the top Republican, Bob Corker.
Well, gentlemen, now we not only have the Crimean referendum, where voters will certainly vote to break away from Ukraine. We now also have this incursion across the Crimean border, six miles further in to Ukraine.
Senator Menendez, how far do you expect Vladimir Putin to go?
SEN. ROBERT MENENDEZ, D-N.J.: Well, President Putin has started a game of Russian roulette and I think that the United States and the west have to be very clear in their response, because, he will calculate about how far he can go. So that means they're having very robust sanctions ready to go, starting with the Crimea vote and moving onward depending upon Russia's continued actions after the Crimea vote.
WALLACE: Senator Corker, we'll get to the sanctions in a moment. But in addition to the steps that we've already talked about, the Russians have thousands, some say tens of thousands of troops massed along the border of eastern Ukraine in Russian territory. What do you expect Putin to do there?
SEN. BOB CORKER, R-TENN.: Well, as was mentioned I think that will be a major game changer, and hopefully that's not going to take place. I think it's a show of intimidation, but the fact is, that we do have to show resolve. I think we're -- the European community has stepped up, and made commitments to do some things that they have never done before. The sanctions that we passed out of the foreign relations committee the other day are very biting, one of a kind.
We've never done this before where economic extortion and corruption are a part of those.
And I think this is a major -- this will be a major miscalculation on behalf of Putin if you were to move in to eastern Ukraine. I don't think that's going to happen. But, look, he's taken steps in the past where he's miscalculated, and again, I think us, and Europe, are showing tremendous resolve in countering this, and certainly it would be an economic -- huge economic problem for him if he were to do this.
WALLACE: Let me bring in Senator Menendez, because assuming, and I think it's almost certain, that if Crimea does vote to break away, do you expect those economic sanctions. I'm talking particularly about freezing the assets of specific Russian and Ukrainian leaders who are involved in this. Do you expect them to be imposed in the next day or so, even before Russia decides whether to annex Crimea?
MENENDEZ: Well, I think that the question will be, what does Russia do in response? And having those sanctions ready, whether it be against the defense minister, the federal security service, the secretary of the Security Council, possibly the executives of Gazprom, and Rosneft, which are there oil and gas companies, send a very clear message.
Now, if Russia doesn't act in the Duma, their congress, to go ahead and accept annexation, that's one thing. But if they move towards that goal, then I think ultimately, the sanctions need to be enforced, along with our European allies, because that will have the biggest bite.
WALLACE: Let me bring you in on this question of diplomacy, and also the question of resolve, Senator Corker. On Friday, after six hours of talks between Secretary of State Kerry, and Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov ended without agreement, Kerry talked about sanctions. And then he said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KERRY: We hope President Putin will recognize that none of what we're saying is meant as a threat, it's not meant as a -- you know, in a personal way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Senator Corker, not a threat. Not meant in a personal way.
The invasion of Crimea started over two weeks ago. And you talk about resolve. But really, there has been no action taken against the Russians up to this point, and here you have Secretary Kerry saying that personal, not a threat.
Is the U.S. sending a message of resolve or weakness?
CORKER: Well, look, there's no question that I think our administration has created an air of permissiveness, and it's those kind of comments, you know, Secretary Kerry and Lavrov exchanging gifts, and it just -- I think that it's those comments that caused Putin to question what our resolve is.
But I do think, again, as Senator Menendez mentioned, if Russia takes a step, defending the popular vote is what we think that is Crimea votes to associate, to become a part of Russia, and then the Duma does the things necessary to make that happen, we have to show long-term commitment to this, not some short-term, but long-term commitment. And no question, it will affect Europe. It's going to affect the United States.
But without that, without that, Putin will continue to do this. He did it in -- he did it in Georgia a few years ago. He's moved in to Crimea. And he will move in to other places, unless we show that long-term resolve.
So I do think the comment that Secretary Kerry made is not helpful. And again it shows a wishy-washiness that we do not, as a nation, at this point, need to show. We have commitments, and you know this. The Bucharest memorandum said that we will protect the sovereignty of Ukraine.
And our nation, along with Europe, the U.K. signed this also, we need to protect Ukraine. They gave up their nuclear weapons, and what does that say to nuclear proliferation? So this is a very important time for us. It's a defining moment for us, and for Europe, and we need to be strong, we need to do it over the long term.
WALLACE: Senator Menendez, are we headed for a new Cold War with Russia?
MENENDEZ: Well, I -- you know, it need not be that way. But by the same token, you know, from my own perspective, Putin only understands strength. He's an admirer of Peter the Great, because means that Peter was great because he had his mind to the Russian Empire.
And so, ultimately, what we do here, along with our European allies, has consequences as we move toward for the Ukraine, has consequences for other eastern European countries. Some of which are now part of NATO, some of which are not. But we're contemplated to be part of NATO.
And also, Chris, beyond the Ukraine and Eastern Europe, is the message that we send globally. The Chinese are watching and saying, let's see what the West does, because ultimately, we've got territory in the South China Sea that we believe is ours.
WALLACE: Senator Menendez --
MENENDEZ: And so, others are going to look at that.
WALLACE: I hate to interrupt but we are running out of time and I want to ask you specifically about the message we're sending. Your committee overwhelmingly passed a bill this week on Wednesday that would impose new sanctions on Russia, as well as give aid to Ukraine. But it wasn't passed among other reasons because there's a dispute with the House and with some Senate Republicans about reforms to the IMF and whether or not the IRS regulations about tax exempt organizations and political activities should be delayed.
I don't want to get into the details of that. I think what the really question is, really, in the middle of an international crisis, the Congress is going to get involved in all those inside politics?
MENENDEZ: Chris, really, the IMF reform if you want to really help the Ukraine is necessary. That's why we had a 14-3 bipartisan vote in the committee. That's why many senators, Senator McCain, Senator Corker, and others, I believe are ready to vote on the floor with us to move that package, because you need to stabilize the Ukraine economically, as part of the solution to the security threat. And only the IMF --
WALLACE: But if that holds up action, Senator Menendez, is that -- is that wise?
MENENDEZ: I'm sorry?
WALLACE: If that holds up action, is that wise, sir?
MENENDEZ: Well, listen, you know, you can just send a billion dollars of loan guarantee which is significant but at the end of the day, the House of Representatives did not even pass any sanctions which we have in our legislation, which we believe are biding. So, you can either have a fig leaf or something robust and meaningful as the Senate Foreign Relations Committee did. That's what's necessary to help the Ukraine and the Ukrainian prime minister made that case to us when he was visiting.
WALLACE: Senator Menendez, Senator Corker, we want to thank you both so much for coming in today. Thank you, gentlemen.
MENENDEZ: Thank you.
CORKER: Thank you.
WALLACE: Our Sunday panel joins the discussion over this new standoff between east and west. Plus, what would you like to ask the panel? Just go to Facebook, or Twitter @FoxNewsSunday, and we may use your question on the air.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: The United States and Europe stand united, not only in its message about Ukrainian sovereignty, but also that there will be consequences if, in fact, that sovereignty continues to be violated.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: President Obama ratcheting up the rhetoric over how the West will respond if Russia goes ahead with plans to annex Crimea. And it's time now for our Sunday group. Syndicated columnist George Will. Judy Woodruff, co-anchor of the PBS "News Hour." GOP mastermind Karl Rove and Fox News political analyst Ron Williams. Well, while the president and his team, and you saw it right there, keep threatening, Vladimir Putin keeps tightening his grip on Crimea, with the referendum today, and also with the massing of troops along the border with eastern Ukraine. George, how far does Putin intend to go here?
GEORGE WILL, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: It's unclear. But I would be surprised, given his temperament and his actions so far, that he wanted to stop where he is with Crimea, and (INAUDIBLE) the referendum. When Lavrov met with John Kerry, it was clear he had no latitude to negotiate. He's not interested in an off ramp. There are reports now of the Russians bussing Russians into eastern -- into western Ukraine, to agitate and stir things up. So ...
WALLACE: And the significance of that, of course, is that Putin's rationale is, I got to go in to protect my country, and my ethnic countrymen.
WILL: Yes. Hillary Clinton got in a lot of trouble for saying, correctly, that this is just what Hitler did with the Sudeten Germans, and then with the Germans in the Polish city of Danzig. So, we've seen this movie before. We are really thrown back probably on economic sanctions. And the effect of those is unclear. Fox News contributor James Carville says that if he comes back in another life he wants to come back as the bond market, because he can intimidate anyone. Clearly economic forces can be effective. Clearly they can also be ineffective. We've had since what -- 1960 an embargo against Cuba and it has not had any discernible effect on changing the regime.
WALLACE: Speaking of sanctions, perhaps, the most important development this week is that German Chancellor Angela Merkel who had been seeming to hang back when it came to economic sanctions now seems all on board with the idea of tough economic sanctions against Russia, in a speech to the German parliament this week, Merkel said this, "If Russia continues on its course of the past few weeks, it will not only be a catastrophe for Ukraine, no, this would also cause massive damage to Russia economically and politically." Judy let me ask you the question I was asking the two senators before, are we headed for a new Cold War?
JUDY WOODRUFF, CO-ANCHOR, PBS NEWSHOUR: Well, it has been jarring to see this reversion to what we thought of Cold War, or even pre-Cold War scenario with tanks moving down country roads, with people disappearing, who were critical of the regime, either in Ukraine, or in Moscow, but, I think what's happening now, is no one knows for sure what Putin's going to do. The Germans, though, have calculated that this is different. This is not Georgia from several years ago. This is Ukraine. This is a country on the doorstep of Eastern Europe, and the Germans have to lead Europe in moving not just the E.U., but frankly in strengthening the United States and standing up. And that's what we're watching for. Are they going to put sanctions on starting right away after this vote? Because every expectation is the vote is to secede. WALLACE: Well, and you mention Georgia, rather. Back in 2008 Russia moved and took away two provinces of Georgia. There was criticism of President Bush at that time but, in fact, he did take some steps and may have prevented Putin from taking over all of Georgia. Karl, as someone who wasn't there in 2008, but who was in that White House earlier, when President Obama, and the E.U., are threatening the sanctions, I mean, what do they need to do to stop Putin? And what do you make of the fact that the Ukrainian prime minister came to Washington this week and asked for weapons, and instead he got rations, military rations?
KARL ROVE, FORMER BUSH WHITE HOUSE ADVISER: Well, I think the 2008 experience is instructive here because Lavrov told then-Secretary of State Condi Rice that their goal was Tbilisi and replacement of the Georgian government of Shalikashvili (sic) was, you know, an assets of public state. And what the United States did was it sent warships to -- to the Black Sea, it took the combat troops that Georgia had in Afghanistan, and airlifted them back, sending a very strong message to Putin that you're going to be facing combat trained, combat experienced, Georgian forces, and not only that, but the United States government is willing to give logistical support to get them there, and this stopped them at -- with the two enclaves and they did not make a move at Tbilisi. We need similar strong movement now.
WALLACE: Such as?
ROVE: Well, for one thing we should not be saying to the Ukrainians, don't bother us about weapons. The question ought to be what kind of assistance do you need and we should be willing to provide it. But it shouldn't be military only. If we have specific sanctions that are being authorized, let's go after specific individuals. Let's have a plan, a strategy to ramp those up, if something happens in Crimea today, there ought to be an action relatively soon, if they take further steps there ought to be continuing reactions. But we don't seem to have a strategy and a plan. And let's be honest, you know, election results are going to have an impact on this. If they annex the Crimea, which is, I think, a given, this removes a million residents of the Ukraine that have provided the margin of victory for Yanukovych, the pro-Moscow prime minister in his last election. There will be no democratically elected government of Ukraine, which is going to be pro-Moscow after Crimea is taken out of the electoral equation inside the Ukraine. This is going to make for more instability, not less. Because Putin knows this, as well. And that's why he's going to try and grab increasing chance of Ukraine to turn it into either a complete -- you know, complete dependent puppet state or to grab enough of it that whatever is left in the western Ukraine, the anti-Russian, the Ukrainian-speaking people, are going to be cowed by Moscow's behavior.
WALLACE: We asked you for questions, so we got this on Facebook from Robert Fahit. He writes, is Ukraine Syria deja vu? Nothing good came out of Syria with Obama red line and executive orders. One, how do you answer, Robert? And a general question, couldn't Barack Obama have found a way to handle this better?
JUAN WILLIAMS, FOX NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think Robert's on to something here because it's very much like Syria. But I think it's the sense to me is that it's like Syria in that there are no good options, Robert. You know, it's very hard to see where we go or how we form this policy in such a way as to stop the Russian incursion. You don't start fights that you don't think you can't win. And in this case, the United States has no interest in any kind of military intervention. So, Karl and others, the critics have said, in terms of President Obama, you know what, you should send in advisers, you should send in weapons, if necessary. But you know, if you start sending in advisers, and then those advisers become caught up in some kind of conflict, the United States has an obligations to defend its people and that would take us in to a military conflict. And I don't think the American people, war weary at this point after Iraq and Afghanistan, have the appetite for that kind of conflict. With regard to the sanctions, I think what Chris Wallace said is on Target. The big news this week was that Germany said they're willing to get on board with the sanctions. But don't forget, Russia is the third biggest oil producer in the world. They can continue to do business with China. So Putin has some outs here. Even as you see the European Union and the United States to cooperate on sanctions.
WALLACE: Let me just say, Putin doesn't seem to be looking for outs. While we're on the air I'm just looking at the wires, and the Kremlin has released a statement in Putin's name, Putin concerned over escalation of tensions, he says, caused by radical groups in south and southeastern regions of Ukraine. Talking about, you know, the pro- Ukrainian forces that he says he needs to protect the ethnic Russians against. And also, Putin says Russia will respect the choice of people in Crimea in referendum. A statement from the Kremlin. So, no indication that Putin has any interest in the so-called diplomatic offering. All right, panel. We have to take a break here. When we come back, Republican David Jolly wins a special congressional election in Florida, seen as a critical test for ObamaCare. Is it a sign of things to come in the November midterm?
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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE JOHN BOEHNER, R-OHIO: I stood here after losing some special elections, I tried to put lipstick on a pig, but it was still a pig.
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: In 2010, when House Democrats would go on to lose 63 seats and control of the chamber in the fall, they won every single competitive special election. So ...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a good sign.
CARNEY: No, I think it's a single race. It's a single race.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: White House Spokesman Jay Carney putting the best face on that Democratic defeat in this week's special congressional election in Florida, while House Speaker Boehner replied the proverbial lipstick to a pig. And we're back now with the panel. Well, in Florida's 13th congressional district on Tuesday Republican David Jolly beat Democrat Alex Sink. There have been plenty of times when a special election has gone one way and then in November the midterms go the other way. So, George, how much should we make of this vote?
WILL: Well, I think you can tell what the democrats really think about this by the fact that their response was, we have to market ObamaCare better. Now, this, facing the magic of marketing is rather touching. But in the late '50s the Ford motor company put its considerable marketing experience behind the Edsel and it was still an Edsel. People didn't want it. So, I think the Democrats have actually said that this is their problem. The Democrats have also been stressing the Koch Brothers as the sort of deus ex machina explanation of everything. The New York Times reports ...
WALLACE: Charles and David Koch, the multibillionaires who have been pouring a lot of money into conservative races.
WILL: Yes. Yes. And The New York Times reports this morning that the number of dollars that they spent in Florida '13 was zero.
WALLACE: So much for that?
Well, there were a few noteworthy aspects to this election. One of them is that Republicans had a 13-point edge in turnout in Florida 13, even though in terms of registration the two parties are pretty evenly split in that district and the other is, one of the big issues was ObamaCare. So, Judy, how much of a bellwether is it?
WOODRUFF: Well the Democrats are worried. I mean they thought they were going to win this district, the president won it in both elections. Alex Sink was considered the stronger candidate. And yes, the conventional wisdom, the wisdom is that it was ObamaCare. But what the Democrats are really worried about, Chris, is turnout. I mean they did -- there was a Republican registration advantage, but Democrats got their voters out in 2008 and 2012. They're not get -- they didn't get the voters out in this special election. The former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe said this week this is a screaming siren warning to Democrats that turnout is going to be a much bigger problem than they have even anticipated. They have to -- they are worried about that. The excitement, the enthusiasm, is on the part of Republicans, whether it's to kill ObamaCare, or against the president. You don't see that kind of enthusiasm on the part of Democrats.
WALLACE: Now, let's talk about November. Because the conventional wisdom is that the Republicans are going to be able to hold on to the House. The question is the Senate. They need a net pickup. Net pickup of six seats to take over the Senate. And we've asked our resident expert Karl Rove, how Republicans get to a net of six? You've got two sets of contests. First, would you think are the surer Republican pickups.
ROVE: Montana, South Dakota and West Virginia, these are all states that were run by John McCain and Mitt Romney. The incumbents are retiring. These are in essence open seats, so in Montana ...
WALLACE: Let me just point out. Democratic senators who are retiring. So open seats.
ROVE: And the Republicans have terrific candidates in each and every one of them, showing more capital in West Virginia, Larry (sic) Rounds, former governor in South Dakota, Congressman Steve Daines in Montana, and the Republicans lead in the public polling by between 14 and 20 points. And they are likely to hold onto these leads.
WALLACE: OK, and then -- these are a little bit here. There are four other seats currently held by Democrats, all of whom are seeking re-election. But you say are the prime targets. If you give you those three then you've got to pick up three of these four.
ROVE: Well, in each of these four races there's a Democratic incumbent that's being challenged by a Republican who is not as well known. Yet in the public polling these races range from the Republican behind by one, to the Republican up by four or five. And that's with Republicans not as well known. Again, all of these states carried by John McCain and -- excuse me carried by Mitt Romney, the closest one was North Carolina with two points, but that the other three are by double digits. Republicans in all of these races are competitive and if they get better known, they stand a good chance of winning. But this isn't the only part of the field. There are seven other seats in play, Colorado, Michigan and New Hampshire where the Republican nominee is already likely known and then Virginia, Minnesota, Iowa and Oregon where the Republicans still have a primary convention to go through. In every one of these states, the president's job approval is in the 40s or 30s, and Republicans have a ...
WALLACE: And the part of the idea is that because it's such a wide chess board the Democrats can't just focus on those seven, that they've got to, for instance, Scott Brown, our former colleague has just gotten into the race or appears to be getting into the race in New Hampshire, and that means Democrats, whether they hold onto it or not, are going to have to spend money there.
ROVE: Well, and remember, in 2010 Republicans picked up six seats. Which is the necessity, a net of six seats like this time. Only two of those were picked up in red states won by John McCain in 2008. Incumbent Democrat knocked off in Arkansas and a Democrat seat -- picked up in North Dakota, open seat. But the Republicans picked up open seats in Indiana, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Illinois, either knocked off Democratic incumbents or picked up an open seat in states carried by Obama, and then retained three -- excuse me four Republican seats in Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, and Iowa, that were states that .... WALLACE: This is the original -- I'm asking what time it is, and I'm hearing how they built, bottom line, and I want to bring in one, do Republicans get a net pick up of six?
ROVE: I think so. With 14 seats in play on the Democratic side and a couple of seats in play potentially on the Republican side. I think it's highly likely that Republicans pick up a majority.
WALLACE: OK, I want to get to the second part of that, which you just sort of slipped in at the end because while the Republicans are playing offense in all of these places, there are a couple of places at least, a couple of states where they're playing defense where they have seats that could be in trouble. And let me put those up on the screen. There's an open seat in Georgia, where the Republican incumbent Saxby Chambliss is retiring, it's up for grabs. Sam Nunn's daughter Michelle Nunn is a very credible Democratic candidate there and believe it or not, in Kentucky, the Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is in a tough race. So, Juan, what do you make of that?
WILLIAMS: Well, I mean, this is what Karl just said to you is so true. I think this landscape right now favors the Republicans strongly. I will say this that if Karl and I had been sitting here in 2012 we would have also said it looks like Republicans are going to take the majority of the Senate. It turned out, they imploded and, in fact, Democrats picked up two seats. Why was that? Bad candidates selected by the Republicans. And in the Georgia seat that you've just highlighted, Chris, that's exactly the dynamic that you have in place right now. You have three congressmen, all Republicans obviously, running in the primary. And one of them, Paul Brown is the Tea Party guy and he has said some very controversial things like, you know, evolution is straight lie, straight from the pit of hell and stuff like that. That's likely to turn off independents and Democrats. Makes him a very difficult candidate for Republicans to run against Michelle Nunn, who has the advantage of name recognition from her father, former Senator Sam Nunn.
WALLACE: So, let me bring in Karl, again, if I can, because you have been very concentrated on exactly this point. You, quite frankly, and other members of the GOP establishment and the idea is to try to make sure that you get the strongest possible candidate winning the Republican primary, some would say that means feeding the Tea Party candidate, so that you have a good candidate for the general election. How is that going?
WILLIAMS: I think it's going very well. First of all, it's not about beating the Tea Party again. And it's about keeping us from having Todd Akin and Paul Brown for example. It's not these are Tea Party candidates, there are other Tea Party supporters -- Tea Party members supporting other candidates. It's that he went out and said Todd Akin was right. So, we've got to avoid situations like that. And if you take a look at the Republicans candidates, whether it's Tom Cotton in Arkansas whom all the groups are supporting or Dan Sullivan in Alaska who this week won the Club for Growth endorsement or Bill Cassidy in Louisiana or Tom Phillips in North Carolina, we have a very good cast of characters that are running, and much better than we had in 2012. WALLACE: We have - wait, wait, wait. I just want to ask, bring Judy in because we have less than a minute left here. Is Mr. Rove involved in some irrational exuberance here?
WOODRUFF: The one thing I would say that's working against this being a wave election where Republicans just sweep all of these difficult seats for Democrats, is that like the last two off-year elections, '06, and 2010, the Republican brand name is unpopular out there. There's a Wall Street Journal poll out this week, Republicans 26 to 45, negative. That's seven or eight points worse than it was in December. It doesn't mean that it's positive, but it's not a good sign.
WILLIAMS: Yeah, that's not been reflective in the head-to-head numbers.
WALLACE: All right, I'm glad to see that we're not really paying that much attention to November six months out. Thank you, panel. See you next week. Up next, our Power Player of the Week. We take you behind the scenes to see some of the remarkable rooms where U.S. and foreign diplomats do their business.
WALLACE: One of the joys of this job is to find special places in Washington I never knew about, and then be able to share them with you. Which brings us to our Power Player of the Week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARCEE CRAIGHILL: These rooms are really one of the best-kept secrets in Washington. It is a national treasure.
WALLACE: Marcee Craighill is curator of the diplomatic reception rooms on the top two floors of the State Department. A remarkable recreation of American architecture from 1740 to 1840, filled with priceless pieces of our heritage.
CRAIGHILL: There are 42 rooms that have been architecturally transformed, and the collection now includes 5,000 objects, valued at more than $100 million.
WALLACE: Of that $100 million collection, how much of it has been paid for by taxpayers?
WALLACE: But it's not a museum. The secretary of state and other top officials use the rooms. 700 times last year. A lunch for the Turkish prime minister in the Benjamin franklin dining room. Negotiating with Chinese officials in the Thomas Jefferson reception room.
CRAIGHILL: These rooms are used for diplomacy and for the work of the State Department.
WALLACE (on camera): And do you think the setting helps?
WALLACE (voice over): When the building opened in 1961, the two floors were sparsely furnished with wall-to-wall carpeting, and acoustic tile ceilings.
CRAIGHILL: They were used for state luncheons and state events.
WALLACE (on camera): But they were basic government ...
CRAIGHILL: Just one step removed from a convention center.
WALLACE (voice over): Officials began what turned into a 25- year, $18 million project, to transform the rooms into what you see today. Craighill gave us a tour.
(on camera): We are now coming in to the John Quincy Adams state reception room. This is a room, again, with architecture inspired by Philadelphia at the time of the Continental Congress. It's an opportunity for entertaining with some extraordinary pieces in this collection. For example, Paul Revere silver, including this wonderful coffee pot that was made for John and Abigail Adams, and used at the White House.
(voice over): There are other treasures. Like this desk from the apartment of the British commissioner in Paris in 1783.
CRAIGHILL: It was on this desk that they signed the treaty that ended the American Revolutionary War, gave us our independence. But as you look there, you see the signature and the ring signing the ceiling by John Hartley, who was the commissioner, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and John Jay.
WALLACE: Part of the story of these rooms is the generosity of Americans who gave these objects to the government. Like this desk from 1765.
CRAIGHILL: It's really one of the most valuable pieces in our collection, because we know who made it. He signed his name.
WALLACE (on camera): But the reporter, I've got to ask, how valuable?
CRAIGHILL: Well, we have it insured for $5 million.
WALLACE (voice over): Craighill has worked here since 2000. She became curator seven years ago.
CRAIGHILL: I work to protect the collection, to enhance the collection, and to share the collections.
WALLACE: All that takes work. Because when the rooms aren't in use, there are public tours. 90,000 people visited last year.
CRAIGHILL: The inspiration, and the joy that people feel in our history, it is something that is very inspiring to me. The opportunities I have to share the collection with Americans as well as with foreign visitors.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: To learn more about the diplomatic reception rooms, including how you can see them the next time you're in Washington, please go to our home page at foxnewssunday.com, where we have a link. And that's it for today. Have a great week. And we'll see you next "Fox News Sunday."
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