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How should US respond to Boko Haram? Will select committee get to the bottom of Benghazi?
Written by Chris Wallace / Published May 11, 2014 / Fox News Sunday
Special Guests: Amb. John Campbell, Shiza Shahid, Rep. Trey Gowdy, Rep. Xavier Becerra, Geno Auriemma
This is a rush transcript from "Fox News Sunday," May 11, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
CHRIS WALLACE, ANCHOR: I'm Chris Wallace.
An international effort to bring hundreds of Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by Islamic extremists.
WALLACE: Protesters take to the streets. And the Internet to express outrage over the abduction. As the world rallies, what should the U.S. do? And what is Boko Haram?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's no question we're racing against the clock. They've been gone for a long time.
WALLACE: We'll sit down with the former U.S. ambassador to Nigeria, John Campbell, and the co-founder of the Malala Fund, Shiza Shahid.
Then, House Republicans name members of the select committee to investigate Benghazi. But will Democrats participate?
REP. TREY GOWDY, R-S.C.: I want to talk to everyone who has firsthand knowledge of what happened that night. And I want access to every document.
HOUSE MINORITY LEADER NANCY PELOSI, D-CALIF.: This is a stunt. This is a political stunt.
WALLACE: We'll talk with the chair of the committee, Congressman Trey Gowdy, and the head of the House Democratic Caucus, Xavier Becerra. It's a "Fox News Sunday" exclusive.
And with Republicans investigating Benghazi and citing IRS official Lois Lerner for contempt, Democrats dismiss it as conspiracy week. Our Sunday panel discusses which side has the better argument.
Plus, our Power Player of the Week. Geno Auriemma has led UConn's women's basketball team to nine national championships. Now, he's talking to Pentagon officials about leadership.
GENO AURIEMMA, UCONN COACH: We're doing the same thing they're doing, except the stakes for us are just winning and losing a game.
All, right now, on "Fox News Sunday."
WALLACE: And hello again from Fox News in Washington.
As we celebrate Mother's Day, it remains a time of heartbreak for hundreds of mothers in Nigeria, whose daughters have been kidnapped by Islamist militants. First lady Michelle Obama spoke out in this week's presidential address.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: In these girls, about a rack and I see our own daughters. We see their hopes and their dreams. And we can only imagine the anguish their parents are feeling right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: More than 250 girls are still missing.
Let's get the latest now from Fox News national security correspondent Jennifer Griffin -- Jennifer.
JENNIFER GRIFFIN, FOX NEWS NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Chris, six unarmed U.S. military personnel are now on the ground in Nigeria, part of a group of 16 U.S. personnel. They've been sent to try to pinpoint where the kidnapped schoolgirls are being held by the Islamic fighters known as Boko Haram. There are rising demands that the U.S. and others do more to help the mothers and families of these young girls.
And now, the Pentagon is discussing the possibility of moving surveillance and reconnaissance assets towards Nigeria, possibly drones. A senior U.S. official tells me they are waiting for Nigeria to formally make the request. However, there is still no talk of sending armed U.S. troops to assist the search.
Outrage ensued three weeks after the kidnapping when this video appeared this week from the leader of Boko Haram laughing as he boasted about converting the Christian girls in the group to Islam, threatening to sell the girls into slavery. The U.S. placed a $7 million bounty on him last year, and in November, designated Boko Haram a foreign terror organization after the State Department resisted request to do so for several years.
The group's name means "Western education is a sin." The first lady tweeted this picture demanding the girls' return.
The Nigerian president who did not speak publicly about the kidnapped girls or call for a security meeting to mount a search for more than two weeks finally spoke.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOODLUCK JONATHAN, NIGERIAN PRESIDENT: (INAUDIBLE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRIFFIN: Perhaps the most explosive revelation since the kidnapping on April 15th is that the Nigerian military was warned four hours before it occurred and did not use its security forces to try to stop it -- Chris.
WALLACE: Jennifer, thank you.
For more, we're joined by the CEO and co-founder of a Malala Fund, Shiza Shahid, who's in New York. And here in studio, former U.S. ambassador to Nigeria, John Campbell.
President Obama talked about the limits of what he can do to try to rescue these schoolgirls. Let's watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I have this remarkable title right now, president of the United States. And, yet, there are times in which I want to reach out and save those kids and -- having to think through what levers, what power do we have at any given moment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Ambassador Campbell, realistically, what can the U.S. and also what can the government of Nigeria do to try to save those hundreds of schoolgirls?
JOHN CAMPBELL, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO NIGERIA: The U.S. can provide technical assistance, particularly intelligence, intelligence sharing. It can also provide expertise in things like negotiation strategies if and when that becomes something which is feasible.
However, for the U.S. to do anything requires the request and acquiescence of the Nigerian government. Nigeria is a sovereign country. And we can operate in Nigeria only at the behest of the government.
WALLACE: And why -- because this came up in Jennifer's report, why has Nigeria been so reluctant to take action for itself and to ask for international help?
CAMPBELL: Nigeria traditionally views itself as the giant of Africa as indeed it is in terms of population. It is a proud country that for a long time has played an extraordinarily positive role in conflict resolution in West Africa.
In other words, the Nigerian -- Nigerians look to help, not be helped. So, this is a different set of circumstances for Nigeria.
WALLACE: Let me bring up one more question. What does this terrorist group Boko Haram want? Is this all about a prisoner swap for some of their members who are in Nigerian jails or is this simply about terrorizing the Nigerian people and undercutting the central government?
CAMPBELL: What Boko Haram's rhetoric says is it wants to destroy the Nigerian state. It wants to destroy the Nigerian state because the state is secular. It wants to destroy Western education because it sees Western education as promoting secularism and shaping the Nigerian state.
WALLACE: Ms. Shahid, you run the Malala Fund named after your good friend Malala Yousufzai, who was subject to a terrible attack in Pakistan -- a schoolgirl who was speaking for girls' rights.
Why are these terrorists -- these Islamist groups so frustrated, so threatened by the power of women?
SHIZA SHAHID, CEO & CO-FOUNDER, MALALA FUND: Chris, it's unfortunately a tactic that we've seen deployed by extreme groups again and again as means of intimidation, of control, of terrorizing families, of terrorizing entire populations. And it really stems from the wider ideology of groups like Boko Haram and the Taliban which attacked Malala, of course. That is fear of progress, fear of liberal and progressive thinking, and fear of women in particular being empowered.
In the Swat Valley, we saw this as a gradual progression where first children were asked to be segregated, then they demanded some changes in the curriculum and then moved towards actual destruction of schools. And in Nigeria, it's been an even swifter and more horrifying attack with the kidnapping of almost 300 schoolgirls.
WALLACE: Let me ask you about the actions of the Malala Fund, because you're now donating all the money you (INAUDIBLE) to Nigerian women's groups and you are calling for urgent action to try to save these girls. Would you like to see President Obama and the U.S. use all military assets to launch a rescue mission?
SHAHID: Well, I think it's promising that the Nigerian president has accepted the offers of support from the U.S. and from the United Kingdom and that these teams are now on the ground. It's unfortunate that it took three weeks for this cooperation to come about. And given that it is Mother's Day, we are hopeful that things will move quickly from here on.
It's also been incredibly promising to see the power of social media in this case, almost 900,000 signatures on the petition Change.org calling for the release of these girls, and 2 million impressions on Twitter with the hashtag, #bringbackourgirls. It really compelled the Nigerian government and international community to move on this issue.
We have to stay hopeful and, you know, the Malala Fund is pushing and a variety of groups are pushing to see these girls return safely and to see longer term investments in the security and education of Nigeria.
WALLACE: Former Secretary of State Clinton spoke out this week about the kidnappings. Here she is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY CLINTON: The government of Nigeria needs to get serious about protecting all of its citizens, girls and women, as well as boys and men, and ensuring that every child has the right and opportunity to go to school in security and safety.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: But, Ambassador Campbell, Secretary Clinton has come under fire this week because of the fact that back in 2011 she rejected calls by the FBI and intelligence community to designate Boko Haram as a foreign terrorist organization. As a Bush appointee to the ambassador, do you think that's fair the criticism of Secretary Clinton?
CAMPBELL: No, I don't think it's fair. And along with good many other Nigerian experts at the time, we all opposed designation.
We opposed designation because we don't think that the legislation actually fits the situation in Nigeria. The Boko Haram movement is highly diffuse. It's not a centralized organization. It has important grassroots, elements to it.
The legislation has to do essentially with issues like getting visas to come to the U.S. or movement of money from the U.S. to Nigeria, neither of which is relevant. What the legislation also does, however, is it inhibits the possibility of future contact between either private citizens or public personalities with Boko Haram, and at some future points, that may reduce the options that we have in terms of negotiation.
WALLACE: Ms. Shahid, you know, that's, of course the problem here. This is obviously a horrific event. How do you reconcile your call for justice and fighting and dealing with groups like Boko Haram or the Taliban in Pakistan with all of these complications and diplomatic considerations?
SHAHID: Well, I think there's things that we know have to be done -- in particular, bolstering local organizations and civil society inside Nigeria. We've known for a long time that Nigeria's local education situation is appalling. One out of every six children are out of school and are inside Nigeria and the state of protection for girls and women remains incredibly shocking.
So, whether we move on certain diplomatic fronts is important but in addition what is important is that all ordinary people or aid institutions invest in building Nigeria as a country, as an economy and in the next generation through schools and through education.
WALLACE: Ambassador Campbell, we have a minute left. First of all, do you think the 200, 250 girls are all in one group? Do you think they've been split up? What are the realistic chance that's we'll ever be able to save them?
CAMPBELL: We, of course, have no hard information on that. But I think it's highly likely that they have been split up. And given the fact that national borders in that part of Africa are essentially lines on a piece paper drown by the British and French, I think we have to anticipate that some are in Cameroon, some are in probably Niger, perhaps some as far as Chad, as well as some in Nigeria.
WALLACE: Do you think we'll ever get them back?
CAMPBELL: I think the question is how many do we get back? We're talking about a very large number of people. The Nigerian media reports that two of the girls already have been killed by snake bite.
WALLACE: So, it's a bleak situation?
CAMPBELL: It's a bleak situation.
WALLACE: Ms. Shahid, Ambassador Campbell, we want to thank you both so much for coming in today. We will stay on top of this story.
CAMPBELL: Thank you.
SHAHID: Thank you.
WALLACE: Do you think the U.S. should do more to try to rescue the Nigerian schoolgirls? Join the conversation on Facebook with other FNS viewers.
Up next, House Republicans set up a select committee to investigate Benghazi. The Democrats are divided about whether to participate. We'll talk with the chair of the new panel as well as the head of the House Democratic Caucus.
WALLACE: House Speaker John Boehner has named seven Republicans to a select committee to investigate the Benghazi terror attack. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi calls it a political stunt and is still considering whether her party will participate.
The new chair of the select committee, congressman and former prosecutor, Trey Gowdy, joins us from South Carolina. And here in Washington, Congressman Xavier Becerra, head of the House Democratic Caucus.
Congressman Gowdy, you have been talking this week about how you're going to run this committee, and one comment has raised some eyebrows. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOWDY: If the administration is slow-walking document production, I can't end the trial simply because the defense won't cooperate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Congressman, do you see this investigation as a trial? And do you see the White House as the defense?
GOWDY: No, sir, and I would hasten that -- first of all, happy Mother's Day you to and Mr. Becerra.
I would also hasten to add that trials are both criminal and civil for 16 years I spoke in trial metaphors and perhaps I need to get out of that habit. What I simply meant is, when you ask me how long something's going to last, I need to know how cooperative the other side is going to be. So, to the extent that I said any indication to anyone that I view someone as the defense, what I meant by that is if you can tell me how cooperative the other side is going to be, I can give you a better idea of how long something's going to last.
WALLACE: Congressman Becerra, you have been talking about the committee as a kangaroo court, your words. First of all, how do you know that before it even begins meeting? And do you really believe that all the questions about Benghazi have been answered?
HOUSE DEMOCRATIC CAUCUS CHAIRMAN XAVIER BECERRA, D-CALIF.: Well, what leads us to believe it could be a kangaroo court or a smokescreen from having to deal with the real issues Americans want to deal with like job creation and so forth, is that we've done these investigations some seven times, five of the investigations coming out of five of the House Republican committees.
And so, we've done this over 18 months. We've spent millions of dollars. And we see what happens when you have a short trial.
WALLACE: Let me ask you a question, do you believe that all the questions about the Benghazi have been answered?
BECERRA: I have not heard any new questions raised that have not been answered.
WALLACE: Let me ask you a question and maybe you can answer it for me. Where was the president? And what did he do the night of the attack?
BECERRA: I believe the president was at the White House and he was in communication with some of the folks with his administration in and around time of the attacks.
WALLACE: Do you -- do you know, Congressman Gowdy, where the president was and what he was doing during the seven hours of the attack?
GOWDY: No, sir, I do not. Nor do I know what communication if any he had with Secretary of State Clinton, nor can I tell you why we were still in Benghazi despite the fact that there was an escalation in violence in the months leading up, nor do I know whether or not the president called any of our allies in the region and said, can you get any assets to Benghazi? We're under attack.
I have more questions than answers despite the fact that committees of Congress have looked at this attack for 19 months now.
WALLACE: Congressman Becerra, can you answer the specific questions that you just heard from Congressman Gowdy?
BECERRA: Sure. And by the way, I also want to say happy Mother's Day to all the mothers out there. But, Trey, you served on one of the committees that did this investigation. You're a great prosecutor. You should have asked those questions or you could have asked those questions. I bet you did ask those questions.
And so, the issue, Chris, is, are we going over and over and over? And now are we setting up a process that's not only going to be a fair, balanced or open approach to this, but also is appearing to be a smokescreen so they can raise campaign funds, because right now, we know the Republicans are raising campaign funds off of this Benghazi investigation that they're calling for. And so, it's very distressing --
WALLACE: We're going to get to the campaign funds in a moment. But what about this argument, Congressman Gowdy, you had the opportunity to ask those questions before?
GOWDY: Well, first of all, thank you, Mr. Becerra, for overstating my career as a prosecutor.
Secondly, I don't have access to intel. I don't have access to sources and methods. I don't have access -- I have never interviewed Susan Rice about anything. I have never an opportunity to ask the secretary of state questions about the lead-up to Benghazi and why we were still there.
One of the problems with the existing committee structure is they are stovepipe -- they are fragmented. We can't cross jurisdictional boundaries, which is why I asked for a select committee over a year ago, so that we can tear the barriers down and we can have access to all the information, and we're not stovepipe or fragmented according to which committee we're on.
WALLACE: All right. I have another question and maybe the biggest question at this point is whether or not Democrats participate in this process?
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was making some demands this week. Let's put them up on the screen.
Democrats must sign off on subpoenas. They must be allowed to participate and witness interviews and Republicans must not selectively release testimony.
Congressman Becerra, I have a simple question, you are saying if you get satisfactory answers to those, that Democrats will participate? And if you don't, that you won't?
BECERRA: We've participated in all the other seven investigations. If it's a fair, open and balanced process, absolutely. But we don't want to see reckless, irresponsible handling of an affair that took the lives of four brave Americans.
WALLACE: So, I just want to -- you're saying that if you are satisfied with the ground rules, you're declaring that the Democrats will appoint members to this committee? BECERRA: I believe so. We've always said that we're ready to participate. We have an oversight responsibility in Congress. What we don't want to see is reckless and irresponsible use of Congress and taxpayer money to do these witch hunts.
WALLACE: Congressman Gowdy, is it unreasonable for Democrats to demand some say in how the committee is run?
GOWDY: No, sir. And if you talk to the ranking members of the two subcommittees that I have presided, Zoe Lofgren and Eleanor Holmes Norton, they will tell you I don't run my committees the way that Democrats are fearful of.
I want a process, Chris, that at the end of it, you are welcomed to draw different conclusions from the facts. But I want everyone to say, it was fair. It was exhaustive and we know more than we did when it started.
So, on two of those three points, I think reasonable minds can agree. On the first point though, Chris, imagine you and I starting an investigation and the first thing you ask for is the ability to deny or veto subpoenas going to witnesses. How can it be a pursuit of the truth?
BECERRA: We've never asked for that, Trey. What we're simply saying is, make it a process where we can't be excluded from the interview of witnesses, where we can't be excluded when a decision is made to subpoena a witness. Make it so that we're all in the room when we're reviewing the documents that are supposed to be evidence.
What we don't want to be is excluded. We don't want the American public to be shutout. Fair, balanced and open --
WALLACE: Go ahead, Congressman.
GOWDY: How does it benefit me, Xavier, when I said from day one, I want this to transcend politics and I want it to inspire trust in you and our citizens? How does it benefit me to do any of the things you just listed? I haven't done it in the first three years that I'm in Congress.
WALLACE: I'm going to declare a victory here and say that the Democrats are going to participate. This week --
BECERRA: Based on a fair, balanced and open process.
WALLACE: I love the fact that you're adopting the Fox News slogan.
BECERRA: We call it the Fox standard, OK?
WALLACE: The Fox standard? You could do worse.
This week, Hillary Clinton said Benghazi has been thoroughly investigated, but then she added this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: Some choose not to be satisfied and choose to continue to move forward. That's their choice. And I do not believe there is any reason for it to continue in this way but they get to call the shots in the Congress.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Congressman Gowdy, what specifically do you want to learn from Secretary Clinton and how do you answer charges that one of the major goals of this committee is to hurt Hillary Clinton's chances for 2016?
GOWDY: Chris, I have no friends to reward and no foes to punish. We're going to go wherever the facts take us.
Facts are neither Republican nor Democrat. They are facts. And if we overplay our hand or if we engage in a process that is not fair, according to the American people, we will be punished as we should be for that.
WALLACE: So tell me the single biggest question you want to ask Secretary Clinton?
GOWDY: Why were we still in Benghazi? The British ambassador was almost assassinated. Our facility was attacked twice. There were multiple episodes of violence. We were the last flag flying in Benghazi and I would like to know why.
WALLACE: The Pew Research Center did a poll recently, I want to put results up on the screen because when asked, what single thing they have the most negative view of in Hillary Clinton's career people said Benghazi, even more than the Monica Lewinsky scandal.
Congressman Becerra, people still have a lot of questions about Hillary Clinton's role.
BECERRA: Chris, so the year and a half that was spent by seven different committees didn't answer that? Of course it did.
WALLACE: Wait. Wait. You keep pointing to that.
We didn't find out -- and they have subpoenaed all the State Department documents -- excuse me, sir -- they had subpoenaed all the State Department documents, and it took until last week for the administration finally to release the Ben Rhodes e-mail in which two days before Susan Rice appeared on this show, he was suggesting that she'd say that it was because of the video, not because of a policy failure.
BECERRA: You got juiced (ph). You know that that email shows nothing new. It simply -- WALLACE: I don't agree with that. I think it shows something dramatically new. It shows that despite what the White House -- it shows despite what the White House has been saying for the last year and a half, it shows that inside the White House, they were telling Susan Rice what to say.
BECERRA: Chris, every time you get a witness or someone that comes to talk you to here, they're always going to try to prepare for that conversation with you.
WALLACE: That's not what Jay Carney had said for 20 months.
BECERRA: That e-mail had nothing that is inconsistent with what the CIA and our security personnel were telling us at the time. It's exactly the same.
But if I can make one quick point -- I love what Trey just said. I hope Trey is going to stay true to what he just said. The rules, however, will determine if this is a fair process, not what Trey says. It's whether the rules or the conduct of the hearing will provide for a fair, open and balanced process.
WALLACE: All right. You brought up an earlier point, I want to finish with that with Congressman Gowdy.
You say this is not political, that this is just about fact- finding. But as Congressman Becerra brought up, just this week, the National Republican Congressional Committee, which is the committee that supports GOP House candidates sent thought fund-raiser. "House Republicans will make sure that no one will get away from Gowdy and the select committee and then will you automatically add your name today to join us and become a Benghazi watchdog?"
This is a fund-raiser coming out from the NRCC. Congressman Gowdy, isn't this exactly the problem, the danger, the risk that you overstep your bounds? The GOP, not you personally, you overreach and you make this political and as Congressman Becerra mentioned, you end up like going on a political hunt instead of dealing with issues that people deal with their daily lives like ObamaCare and jobs?
GOWDY: Yes, which is exactly why I said I will never and have never sent out any fund-raising literature trying to raise money in the grief and tragedy of four dead Americans. I have asked my colleagues to follow suit.
But my friends and colleague Tommy Cotton from Arkansas did a magnificent job on the House floor of pointing out the duplicity and hypocrisy of Democrats all of a sudden concluding that certain things are above politics. They raise money on Sandy Hook. They raise money on Katrina. They raise money on Iraq and Afghanistan.
So, for me, I will not raise money on Benghazi just like I never raised money using crime victims when I was a prosecutor and I've asked my colleagues to follow suit. But it would be helpful, it would be helpful if our colleagues on other side of the aisle did not have selective amnesia when it comes to what's appropriate to raise money off of and what is not.
WALLACE: All right. We're going to have to leave it there.
Congressman Gowdy, Congressman Becerra, thank you both so much. Thanks for joining us today.
BECERRA: Thank you.
GOWDY: Thank you.
WALLACE: From Benghazi to the IRS, Republicans are pursuing administration scandals. But democrats dismiss it as conspiracy week. Our Sunday group weighs in.
Plus, what would you like to as the panel about accusations of politics on both sides of the Benghazi investigation? Just go to Facebook or Twitter @FoxNewsSunday, and we may use your question on the air.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOUSE SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER, R-OHIO: They've not told the truth about Benghazi. They've not told the truth about the IRS. They've not told the truth about "Fast and Furious." Now only one would have to guess if they're not willing to tell the American people the truth, it must not be very pretty.
PELOSI: I think it's pretty clear, their focus on the Affordable Care Act has run its course. It's run its course. Now they have to find something else to talk about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: House Speaker John Boehner and Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi debating this week whether alleged administration scandals are real or phony. And it's time now for our Sunday group. Brit Hume, Fox News senior political analyst, Julie Pace who covers the White House for the Associated Press, syndicated columnist George Will, author of the new book "A Nice Little Place on the North Side" about Wrigley Field at 100. And Fox News political analyst Juan Williams. Well, we asked you for questions for the panel. And we got two on Facebook that we want to put up. First of all, Tom Johnson asks, "How can Republicans conduct these investigations so they are not written off as more Washington antics? And Donna Marie Sikes writes, "I want to know what the Democrats are afraid of finding out." Brit, they were writing about Benghazi. But how would you answer both of them when it comes to both Benghazi and also the pursuit of the IRS investigation?
BRIT HUME, FOX NEWS SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think that the answer to the first question is that it is a tall order to try to keep this inquiry from being written off as just political antics. Trey Gowdy displays the right spirit and the right attitude. He is articulate. I think he'll be a more effective chairman than those who have conducted these prior inquiries have been. But there is some things that he doesn't have that normally are present in these situations. There is no tail wind afforded by a red hot media climate on this issue. There has been a little bit more media -- mainstream media buy in on this story lately, but not very much. And that has always been present in the past and when these investigations have worked because it required the politicians in both parties to participate and not simply obstruct. My guess is that Democrats in this case will feel utterly free, as you can - and you could pick this up from Nancy Pelosi's comments, to kind of dismiss this and really not contribute. And that will add to the sense that this is a political circus. So, I think it's a tall order.
WALLACE: Julie, you covered the White House. And I'm curious, how do top officials there regard what the Democrats are calling conspiracy week, the appointment of the select committee, the voting by the House of Lois Lerner, the IRS official in contempt. Do they see these as serious threats or do they think that Republicans have been distracted from better issues, more effective issues for them like ObamaCare?
JULIE PACE, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS: Well, I don't think that they write them off completely, especially in the midterm election year. Any time you have something that in the atmosphere, that is not about jobs or any of the other issues that they want to be talking about, it's going to be a distraction for them. But they certainly think that Republicans have a lot of risk involved with focusing on both of these issues. You know, when you look at polling of the top issues that Americans are focused on in the midterm elections, neither the IRS or Benghazi tends to rate as a top issue. So, they think that Republicans have a risk of overreaching. But to get to one of the questions that was posed on Facebook about what are Democrats worried about coming out of this that is something that Democrats are talking about. If there is nothing to hide, maybe we should at least have a seat at the table in this Benghazi committee just to make sure that we're represented and to show that we feel like we have nothing to hide.
WALLACE: George, is Nancy Pelosi right? Has ObamaCare run its course and Republicans are looking for something else to talk about?
GEORGE WILL, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: No. ObamaCare has served its political function for Republicans, in mobilizing the base for what will be a mobilization election. Furthermore, late summer, probably, we'll begin to get the rate increases that will come from the various state insurance directors and it will have new lease on life. So, I don't think this has anything to do with that. This has to do with the fact that Republicans think something was terribly wrong at and around that compound that night. My hope is that they pull the focus back and ask what were we doing in Libya in the first place and what was in my judgment an unconstitutional, not to mention, illegal intervention, and furthermore, the American people could usefully be instructed as to whether or not General Lovell was right when he testified ...
WALLACE: He's the deputy head of intelligence for AFRICOM, U.S. Forces in Africa.
WILL: He strongly indicated that in his judgment more could have been done militarily while the attack was under way at the compound. Americans, perhaps, need to answer that and the military needs to weigh in on what it can do with its F-16s and the compound under attack in an urban neighborhood.
WALLACE: Juan, Democrats say, and I want to -- this is a point that George was making, that this is just Republicans trying to gin up their face. But even if that is true in a midterm election, which is really about turnout, as many more - many fewer people vote if a midterm than in a presidential election, isn't that still an effective strategy?
JUAN WILLIAMS, FOX NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: Yeah, I mean and it's an important strategy right now for Republicans. This week a lot of the Tea Party really was evidence in decline. Tom Tillis, one in the North Carolina, Republican primary, who was the non-Tea Party candidate, that's being reflected now across the country. I think you see the Tea Party in decline. There was a poll this week show Tea Party support nationally down, and principally down among Republicans. But the Tea Party is the energizing base of the Republican vote. And in order to get that vote, you have got to go to the talk show audiences. You have got to give them some red meat. And the red meat in this case is another -- this will be the 14th Benghazi investigation. Not to disagree with George about the importance of finding out why we were in Libya, what was going on at the compound that night, but none of that is the genesis of this probe. The genesis is, oh, there was an email we hadn't seen that said the White House -- one White House official wanted to project the videos more aggressively and Secretary Rice with talking points. That's all politics. Yeah, you want to make the president look good. And, yes, in fact, there were protests in Egypt, Tunisia and elsewhere caused by the video. So this has been -- it's a total farce this thing. It's a political farce. And intended to stir the Republican base and turnout for this election.
WALLACE: All right. I know that there are several people on this panel are champing at the bit to get to follow that. But I want to turn back to the kidnapping, the terrible kidnapping of these Nigerian schoolgirls in the little bit of time we have left in this segment. Because this week Michelle Obama and Malala Yousafzai joined the Bring Back Our Girls movement. More than 2 million people have now tweeted the hash tag. And George, I'm just curious. Because I'm not saying I was that familiar with this phenomenon. It's even got a name, #activism. And I'm curious what you make of it. Do you think that this is significant and helpful? And can make progress? Or do you think it's really about helping the people who tweet the hash tag feel better about themselves?
WILL: Exactly that. It's an exercise in self-esteem. I do not know how adults stand there facing a camera and say, bring back our girls. Are these barbarians in the wild of Nigeria are supposed to check their Twitter accounts and say, oh, Michelle Obama is very crossed with us, we better change our behavior.
WALLACE: It's trending on Twitter.
WILL: Power is the ability to achieve intended effects. And this is not intended to have any effect on the real world. It's a little bit like environmentalism has become. But the incandescent light bulb becomes the enemy. It has no effect whatever on the planet, but it makes people feel good about themselves.
PACE: I do think that you have to take this for what it is. I don't think anyone is saying that by standing there and taking a picture of yourself holding a sign that you're going to get these girls back. But you have to remember, this is something that had really not been talked about, not even by the Nigerian government itself before this started to really take hold on social media. Now, what it has done is put more pressure on the Nigerian government to accept some international assistance and to raise questions about, you know, why they hadn't done that previously. So, standing there holding a sign does not bring the girls back but it could ratchet up the pressure that could lead to some more international assistance.
WALLACE: All right. We have to take a break here, but when we come back, Pro-Russian separatists hold a referendum today on independence for eastern Ukraine. We'll have a live report and hear again from our panel.
WALLACE: Heading to the polls in eastern Ukraine as pro-Russian separatists hold a referendum on independence for the region. Let's get the latest now from Fox News senior foreign affairs correspondent Greg Palkot live in Donetsk. Greg?
GREG PALKOT, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Chris, our audience (ph) continue in this controversial referendum here in eastern Ukraine. Local officials tell us that the turnout is colossal. Kiev and the State Department is branding the vote illegal. Here's a little bit of what we saw.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PALKOT: The ballots for this referendum vote on self-rule in the region are marked in private over there and then brought over to these transparent ballot boxes where we can get an early unofficial exit poll. The "Da"s or yes, have it.
In fact, there are a lot of irregular aspects to this poll based on old electoral rolls, if you are not on the list, you can vote anyway. Besides, there are no international observers around. Plus, the wording on the ballot is vague - yes -- could mean anything from greater autonomy to breaking away from Kiev to joining up with Russia. Those not agreeing seem to be staying away. Those showing up were pretty vocal with us. All that's done, of course, in an atmosphere of violence, security at the poll stations was visible and it was pretty heavy handed nearby. Government buildings were occupied by those pro- Russian militants. Well, the day went mostly peacefully, there were clashes reported between Ukrainian military and rebels and there were some threats at polling stations. We should expect the first results from this vote later tonight and then we'll look for reaction, especially from Russia. Vladimir Putin has been keeping a pretty careful distance from this vote in the last couple of days. Chris?
WALLACE: Greg Palkot reporting from eastern Ukraine. Greg, thanks for that. And we're back now with the panel. Well, I think it's fair to say that Russian President Putin has been playing a very complicated game this week. He said he wanted to delay today's vote, but the separatists went ahead with it. He said he was pulling Russian forces back from the border of Ukraine. But then there is no sign from NATO that he did. And what you're watching now is he made a surprise visit to Crimea to celebrate the annexation of that region of Ukraine by Russia. Brit, what is Putin's strategy in all of this?
HUME: His strategy is to pull into Russia's orbit as much of Ukraine as he can and as much as he wants. And so far nothing that the United States and its allies have done seems to have deterred him even in the slightest bit. He's holding all the high cards at the moment. He can take his time. He can react to the outcome of this referendum however he pleases. He can be patient. He can pause. And then he can move. But I think the direction is clear and I don't think that the disagreements among allies about what to do about it are anything, but an advantage for him. And he's - the moment he's in the cat bird seat and it falls to President Obama to try to pull some kind of coalition together to put something together that would deter him. It hasn't happened yet.
WALLACE: Well, President Obama is now threatening sanctions against the entire sectors of the Russian economy, not only if Russia invades, but also if they disrupt the May 25th - separate- May 25th elections for president in that country. Julie, at the White House, do they see Putin, you know, talking about pulling troops back, saying, let's put off today's vote? Do they see him blinking at all or do they think this was just a pretext? And is there any possibility that they'll impose sanctions before the 25th?
PACE: The sector sanctions or on more individuals?
WALLACE: You tell us.
PACE: I think sector sanctions, you're very unlikely to see those before the May 25TH election. It's very possible that you could see more sanctions on individuals or companies if there were to be some other type of provocative action before the 25TH election. In terms of Putin's thinking, I think at the White House, they don't think that he necessarily has a firm strategy. That he is actually making decisions almost day to day, week to week as this unfolds. In Europe, you see some officials who actually feel relatively -- they are interested in what Putin said last week. They think that saying that he was pulling the troops back even though we have no evidence of that and saying that these referendum today should be delayed with positive sign, the White House doesn't necessarily view it as that. So there may be a further split between the U.S. and Europe, at least in terms of the signals they're getting from Putin. WALLACE: You know, you talk about the fact that there is maybe no strategy. But before Putin went to Crimea on Friday, there was a massive display. And take a look at this, of Russia's military might in Moscow's Red Square to celebrate the victory over Nazi Germany. It keeps getting bigger. That demonstration under Putin. George, is there a strategy here? And is it - that Putin wants to rebuild greater Russia?
WILL: Sure, he has a strategy and he's adjusting his tactics as he goes along as you do in any other war. And this is a war. This week president of France and chancellor of Germany demanded that he pulled back the Russian troops. Putin amiably answered, oh, I've already done that. Now our intelligence indicates he's done no such thing. But that's an indication of the fact that he is gaining not just people and territory and trying to sow discord and chaos in a substantial portion of the Ukraine so that he can then say after two weeks from today the presidential election didn't count because there is so much disorder. But beyond that, he is learning information, what he's learning is that Europe remains a geographic expression, not a political expression. And that he really has nothing to fear from the European Union.
WALLACE: So, Juan, what if anything can Putin - rather President Obama and the Europeans do and whatever they do, will it be enough to stop Putin or at least get him to change his behavior?
WILLIAMS: Well, I think it comes down to a military scenario. And what we've seen in the months now that this thing has been playing out is that the needle has not moved with regard to the willingness of the Americans or the Europeans to become militarily involved in that situation. So what we're down to is sanctions. And, yes, I think you can anticipate, I think Angela Merkel of Germany, Hollande of France, (INAUDIBLE) in Germany, they said yes, they are willing now to go forward with more sanctions even if they cut into the European economy. I think that was good news. But the larger issue is about the military and about weaponry. Should the U.S., for example, according to senator McCain, Senator Graham be sending weapons in to help the Ukrainians? And the European response to that is we're trying to get weapons out of there and we don't want to get into a fight with the Russians where, you know, American or European weapons are going in. They cut off supplies and then that triggers a military confrontation. At the moment, we're really talking about if the Russians go beyond the Ukrainians and attack any of the NATO allies. That is a commitment that the Europeans and U.S. would have for military action.
WALLACE: Brit, I want to talk about the sanctions issue. Because critics - and I think an increasing number of them are saying instead of using sanctions as punishment for actions that Putin already takes, should you get out ahead of them and use sanctions as a deterrent to try to stop him from taking action. We always say well, if you do this, we'll respond. How about the idea of going ahead and imposing sanctions to try to prevent him from ...
HUME: The way we've been operating so far hasn't worked very well, has it? So once you accept that, then the question is well, how else to do it and the way to do it would be to do the sanctions as a deterrent. What I'm -- what I sense is that they just don't want to provoke the bear, the Russian bear and because the European dependence, economic dependence on its trade with Russia is such that the Europeans are really not willing and they couldn't sell it to their publics and all that. This is where somebody needs to step up and lead. And President Obama, I don't think has done that. But the way to go would be to -- I think Russia is responsive to sanctions.
WALLACE: Julie, we've got - let me - we've got 30 seconds left. Any chance that the Obama administration may change and become more proactive?
PACE: There certainly are some people in the White House who have some views on this that they think that we should do this ahead of time, punish Putin before he acts. So far the president has not taken that advice, though.
WALLACE: And what do you think is the reason that he -- and what is the calculation?
PACE: Well, again, he wants to move in coordination with the Europeans. So, he feels like if he moves on his own it doesn't have as much of an impact anyway.
WALLACE: All right, thank you, panel. See you next week. Up next, our "Power Player of the Week." The Pentagon calls on a legendary college coach to talk teamwork.
WALLACE: For 29 years, he's been the gold standard in women's college basketball. But the other day the coach of the University of Connecticut Huskies took his message to an unusual forum. Here is our Power Player of the Week.
GENO AURIEMMA, UCONN WOMEN'S BASKETBALL HEAD COACH: We recruit our players out of high school. They're 18-year-olds. A lot of the young men and women who are in the military are of that age when they first start out.
WALLACE: Geno Auriemma was at the Pentagon this week along with other college coaches for a strategy seminar, the idea to share techniques with military officers for how to assemble a winning team.
AURIEMMA: General Dempsey loves to say that we never had a home game. And he's right. He said the military, the U.S. military's goal is to make sure we never play a home game.
When I first started coaching, I thought that I could control all of the actions of all the players to get the desired result. And I realize now the only thing you can control is how well you train your players to handle that moment.
One of the things I've seen recently, it was attributed to a Navy SEAL. And the comment was under pressure, you don't rise to the occasion. You sink to the level of your training.
WALLACE: Auriemma says one key is instead of practicing set plays all the time, his team practices how to play.
AURIEMMA: I'm going to give them just enough information and then say figure it out. Because once you learn to figure things out, then no matter what happens down the road, you'll figure it out.
WALLACE (on camera): Obviously, there are differences as well as similarities, do you think these ideas can be helpful to the military?
AURIEMMA: What they can learn from us is we're doing the same thing they're doing except the stakes for us is just winning and losing a game. We really appreciate that they're trying to do the same thing. But it's life and death on their end, not just winning a game.
WALLACE (voice over): Auriemma is the most successful coach in the history of women's college basketball, which generates its own burdens.
(on camera): Nine national titles, five perfect seasons. How do you create that kind of extraordinary winning culture?
AURIEMMA: We tell kids, look, you go to another school. It's OK to lose. Here, if you go to Connecticut and you lose one game, right away there is this buzz.
WALLACE: At UConn, it's almost you have to be perfect or you fail. How do you get them to deal with that kind of pressure? That's different than just being winning. That's being perfect.
AURIEMMA: I came across a great quote recently and it said perfection is the enemy of reality. But along the way, hey, as long as, you know what I say, Chris? As long as they're keeping score, we may as well try to win, right?
WALLACE: UConn's men's basketball team also won the national championship this year. That's the second time the Huskies have held both titles at the same time. The only school ever to do so. And that's it for today. Have a great week. To all the moms out there, especially mine, happy Mother's Day. We'll see you next "Fox News Sunday."
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The countdown is on. We'll be joined by Clinton Campaign Manager Robby Mook about their plans for the final week.
Sunday: With three weeks to go and with early voting underway, we’ll have an exclusive debate between former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a Trump supporter, and Congressman Xavier Becerra, a Clinton backer, about the race.