Krauthammer on Democrats vowing to delay Trump Cabinet Confirmations: 'Revenge is not a good strategy for the Democrats'

Syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer said Tuesday on "Special Report with Bret Baier"  that if the Democrats want to hold up Trump's Cabinet confirmations as payback "they will suffer from that for 8 years."  Democrats are vowing to give Trump's picks the "Garland Treatment" after Obama's pick for the Supreme court, Merrick Garland, was held up.

Krauthammer warned the democrats of the optics of playing politics.  "Revenge is not a good strategy for democrats.  The one thing they don't want to be tagged with immediately is obstructionism."  Krauthammer added "this is going to look like naked partisanship and obstruction for its own sake."

When President Barack Obama entered the oval office congress approved 8 of his cabinet members without delay.  Krauthammer said "if these guys are going to stand around and do procedural stuff that you just show on television is going to look ridiculous."  While Krauthammer understands why you would hold up someone if you think they are extreme or unqualified, he told democrats  they shouldn't do it for revenge.  

Krauthammer on Trump’s conversation with Taiwan: ‘The Chinese are extremely sensitive’

Syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer said Friday on “Special Report with Bret Baier” that a telephone conversation between President-elect Trump and the Taiwanese president was not only politically incorrect, but it could have consequences for the United States’ relationship with China.

“The Chinese are extremely sensitive about these nuances in diplomacy. They've been at it for four thousand years, and the rules were laid down by Kissinger and Nixon when they made the opening, and it was that we'd be allies of Taiwan, but we would have to observe certain rules… that Taiwan is part of China,” Krauthammer said, adding, “Once you have communications with the president of the U.S. direct with the president of Taiwan, then you are impinging on that.”

Krauthammer went on to say that the Chinese can exert power when they feel they’re being wronged.

“The Chinese, when they get upset, can do things. Like take over an island here or there, or tear up an agreement, or start threatening, or do other things that could cause a crisis. I don't think that this is going to cause one, but when he ascends to office, Trump is going to have to be briefed on stuff like this,” he said, concluding that a diplomatic misstep, particularly in the Middle East could cause a “real rupture.”

Goldberg: Enormous Moral Hazard in Trump Carrier Deal

Jonah Goldberg told viewers Wednesday on “Special Report with Bret Baier” that president-elect Donald Trump reaching a deal with Carrier to keep jobs in Indiana is “brilliant politically.” Donald Trump tweeted Tuesday that he would make an announcement “concerning Carrier A.C. staying in Indianapolis.” 
Conservative syndicated columnist Jonah Goldberg warned that while convincing Carrier to  keep 1,000 jobs in US is a “big win for Trump politically,” it can also be a “moral hazard.” Goldberg explained that because of president-elect’s actions, “white house now can be baited into these kinds of tax giveaways and corporate welfare” to save few jobs.
Jonah Goldberg declared that despite some drawbacks, Donald Trump’s handling of Carrier is “not all that objectionable.” Goldberg said at the end of the day, Carrier deal is “great politics.”

Cuba: A Proving Ground for New Presidents


By Bret Baier         

           On January 19, 1961, under the threat of a storm that would dump eight inches of snow on Washington D.C., President Dwight Eisenhower held a final transition meeting with his young successor, John F. Kennedy. One day before the inauguration, Eisenhower’s mind was on the looming threats to American security, and Cuba was high on that list.

            Writing about this critical moment in U.S.-Cuban relations in my new book, Three Days in January: Dwight Eisenhower’s Final Mission (out January 10th), I was struck by the parallels between then and now, especially as we grapple with the implications of the death of Fidel Castro. Then, at the height of the Cold War, the threat posed by a Soviet-backed dictator off our southern coast was grave, and the need to formulate the right response in a nuclear age was a grave concern for Eisenhower. On the campaign trail during the 1960 presidential election, Kennedy had been bullish about dealing with and confronting Castro. Now Ike wanted to give him a more measured perspective.

            In a cabinet meeting following their private discussion, Kennedy learned the details of a plan in development under the auspices of the CIA to train Cuban exiles for a potential invasion of Cuba. The aim was to overthrow Castro’s brutal regime. But, Ike stressed, the plan was only in the early stages, and certain conditions would have to occur if it had any chance of success—including the creation of a government in exile and a strong leader who was capable of replacing Castro. Kennedy listened respectfully, but he mostly ignored Ike’s caveats.  Kennedy was impatient with the process Ike favored, which involved extensive debates from national security advisors. He preferred a looser, more shoot-from-the-hip style, and relied on a couple of key men who had his ear.  In the case of Cuba, the absence of sound advice had disastrous consequences.

            Within three months of becoming president, Kennedy approved a poorly planned invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs by a disorganized group of exiles. When he withdrew critical air support, Castro’s forces easily swept in and killed or captured the exiles. It was a complete failure—and Kennedy knew it. “How could I have been so stupid?” he raged.

            In desperation he turned to Eisenhower.  On April 22 he sent a helicopter to bring Ike from his home in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania for a private consult at Camp David.  As the two men strolled along the wooded paths, Kennedy lamented, “No one knows how tough this job is until he’s been in it a few months.”

            Eisenhower smiled wryly. “Mr. President,” he replied softly, “if you will forgive me, I think I mentioned that to you three months ago.” And indeed he had. But Kennedy, bursting with confidence, hadn’t taken him seriously.

            Kennedy’s Bay of Pigs fiasco unleashed the rage of Castro and emboldened the Soviet Union to begin erecting missile sites in Cuba pointed at the United States. The Cuban Missile Crisis, over half a century ago, remains America’s most chilling encounter with an immediate nuclear threat.   

            Once again, Kennedy turned to Ike. In a tape recording of their conversation on file at the JFK Library, one can hear the nervous uncertainty in Kennedy’s voice—and the unruffled calm in Eisenhower’s. Kennedy knew he had to act, even if it meant attacking Cuba and removing the missile sites by force. But he was worried about making a fatal mistake. “What about if the Soviet Union, Khrushchev, announces tomorrow, which I think he will, that if we attack Cuba, that it’s going to be nuclear war, and what’s your judgment as to the chances they’ll fire these things off if we invade Cuba?” he asked Eisenhower.

            Ike, the old warrior who had stared down Hitler as commander of the allied forces in World War II, saw through the bluster of our enemies. “Something may make these people shoot ‘em off,” he said. “I just don't believe this will.”  Reassured, Kennedy went on to negotiate the removal of the missile sites, and did it without having to attack Cuba. But it was a very close call.

            Today, the wounds from the conflicts of 1961 remain exposed and painful. When President Obama opened relations with Cuba in May of this year, six in ten Americans supported normalization. But for many others, especially in South Florida, the atrocities of Castro’s regime cannot so easily be forgotten, and its future commitment to freedom for its people is not so clear.

            In conversations during the transition, Eisenhower told Kennedy that the easy decisions a president faces are handled by staff.  Only the impossible ones fall on the president himself.  President-elect Trump will likely find that to be true as well, and Cuba is a good example. As president he will oversee the beginning of the post-Fidel Castro era, with all the complexity that entails. The decisions he makes early in his term could shape our relationship with the island nation for decades to come. He has already signaled his intention to renegotiate President Obama’s deal and perhaps even terminate it, but no matter what his strategy it will have significant consequences.

            If Eisenhower was advising President-elect Trump today, he would likely suggest, as he did with Kennedy, that the best way to approach such a complex matter was to proceed cautiously, to hold his cards close to his vest, and to strategize in private. In particular, Ike would have advised bringing voices from all sides into the room--those who agreed with the president and those who did not--and letting them engage in a rigorous debate. We don’t know what could have changed if President Kennedy had listened to Ike’s same advice at the time.  More than five decades later, without the looming Soviet nuclear threat, a President Trump has an opportunity to steer a new course in U-S Cuba relations. No matter which path the 45th President chooses, one can bet, it will be different in some way to the path the 44th President has pursued.

Krauthammer on cabinet nominees: “Trump wants to get stuff done”

Charles Krauthammer told viewers Tuesday on “Special Report with Bret Baier” that when it comes to the significance of President-Elect Donald Trump’s choices for cabinet positions, the picks show that “Trump wants to get stuff done.”

“He doesn’t care if he creates an argument for democrats to say ‘you’re hypocritical about Wall Street,’” Krauthammer added. “He cares about results.”

Krauthammer held up Georgia Congressman Tom Price – Trump’s selection for Health and Human Services Secretary - as an example.

“He is the perfect man if you want to dismantle Obamacare,” he said. 

Krauthammer: Trump Not Investigating Clinton’s ‘Right Thing to Do’

After President-elect Donald Trump moved away from his pledge to investigate the Clinton Foundation and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over her email practices Tuesday, Syndicated Columnist Charles Krauthammer lauded Trump’s decision.

“I think it’s right to do,” Krauthammer said on Special Report. “We do not want to see national political opponents putting each other in jail.”

He called the equivalent of pardon.

“Maybe she would be convicted, but that’s not what we want to do,” he stated.

Krauthammer admitted there would be people asking about justice, but said something’s for the country are just more important while comparing it to the pardon of Former President Richard Nixon over Watergate.

“He [Nixon] never was tried, but it was done so the country wouldn’t have to suffer that long national nightmare anymore,” he said. “Which I think many people today who objected at the time recognized.”


Krauthammer on Trump Transition Team: Reading the Trump Tea Leaves is Fruitless’

Syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer said Thursday on “Special Report with Bret Baier” that when it comes to figuring out who will be in the Trump administration "trying to read the tea leaves here is really quit fruitless"  But, he said President-Elect Donald Trump is sending a message.  "The guy's putting together a team.  Let's see who he ends up with.  I think bringing in Romney, whether he gives him a job or not is quit a signal."

Krauthammer went on to say that the criticism of how long it is taking Trump to pick a team is unwarranted.  "I think criticism of the incoming administration has got is, as David Axelrod says, slightly unbalanced.  At the same point they had not made appointments and he said I don't remember being criticized."  Krauthammer added that the press can't seem to take a break when criticizing Donald Trump.   "It's as if parts of the press, who got used to attacking Donald Trump in the campaign are just itching to start those attacks when he takes office and I'm sure there will be reason to criticize him.  Can't take an interregnum of a month or two off.  Their such in the mode that they just have to do it, it's almost reflexive."

Russia launches long-range bombers to strike Syria for first time in a year, US officials

Per Lucas Tomlinson

Russia launched long-range bombers from an air base in southern Russia for the first time in a year to strike targets in Syria, two US officials tell Fox News.

Tu-95 “Bear” and Tu-160 “Blackjack” bombers took off from a Russian airbase in Engels Russia Wednesday and launched cruise missiles into Syria. It is not immediately clear where the missiles were launched from or where they impacted, the officials said.

The last time bombers took off from Engels to conduct strike missions in Syria was in November 2015, according to one official.

Separately, a flight of Russian bombers launched from Murmansk in northern Russia and flew as far south as Portugal before turning around in what US officials described as a “show of force.”   There are reports these bombers were intercepted by NATO jets, but this could not be immediately confirmed.

American defense officials have described these missions as a way for Russia to “show off” its latest military hardware.  While the Tu-95 “Bear” is a relic of the Cold War, the Russians have test fired new types of cruise missiles into Syria this week. 

Earlier this week, Russian Su-33s saw combat for the first time in Syria, striking from an airbase along Syria’s coastline.  The jets initially flew from Russia’s only aircraft carrier now in the eastern Mediterranean.  US officials say Russia’s jets cannot take off with a full combat load of bombs and fuel.  Six Su-33s flew off Admiral Kuznetzov aircraft carrier over the weekend and conducted strikes earlier this week.

Other advanced MiG-29Ks have launched from the carrier, but they were forced to arm at the Russian airbase ashore before carrying out their missions.  These jets have been mostly flying escort for the strike aircraft, according to officials. 

So far, the majority of Russian strikes have been in Hama, Homs, and Idlib Provinces where Syrian rebels, some supported by the United States are fighting regime forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad. 

There are also al-Qaeda fighters on the ground in Idlib fighting the regime as well.  The United States has carried out a number of drone strikes in the past month to eliminate top al-Qaeda leaders there.

TSA Chief: U.S. airline sector remains top target for terrorists + Expects Thanksgiving 2016 to be busiest travel season on record

Per Matt Dean, DOJ Producer

In a wide-ranging interview with Catherine Herridge, the head of the Transportation Security Administration said that U.S. airports, and the travel sector as a whole, continue to be targets of interest for terrorists. 

Administrator Peter Neffenger acknowledged that recent attacks against the airline sector globally - specifically the downing of commercial jetliners over Egypt and Somalia as well as ground attacks on airport terminals in Brussels and Istanbul - drive home the fact that the threat is "very real" and something that needs to be paid attention to. 

In response to these threats, Neffenger said that new layers of security were added inside U.S. airports as well as international airports that serve as a last point of departure before reaching the United States. 

The TSA chief acknowledged that his agency will still limit liquids that are allowed to be brought through security checkpoints given that there is still considerable risk in this area. It is his hope, though, that new technology - specifically the use of CT scanners - will eventually give screeners a better look at any liquids looking to be brought through screening. That new technology will also potentially lead to the traveling public being allowed to keep their shoes on at checkpoints as well. 

If the funding is there, Neffenger said that the traveling public could see these changes come in the next 18-24 months. 

Neffenger said that he expects this Thanksgiving holiday rush to be the busiest ever. TSA is preparing to screen as many as 2.5 million people across the country per day at its peak - the agency expects the Sunday after Thanksgiving to be the busiest day. 

In preparation for the rush, TSA will be deploying additional assets at the busiest airports across the nation. He also noted that passengers at some of the biggest airports, like LAX, will be able to use new automated lanes. 

On the security side, Neffenger added that his agency will deploy VIPR (Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response) Teams to airports and major rail terminals around the country. These teams provide a robust physical law enforcement presence using heavily armed officers and K9s. 

On the issue of threats to non-sterile airport zones - or areas outside those where passengers are screened - Neffenger said that TSA has been engaging with local law enforcement across the nation to beef up and optimize security in these places. Terror attacks on airports in Brussels and Istanbul demonstrated how these areas can serve as soft targets of interest for those looking to harm the traveling public. 

Schlapp: Transition process is ‘a bit chaotic’

Mercedes Schlapp told “Special Report with Bret Baier” viewers Tuesday that the transition between Presidential Administrations is “a bit chaotic.”

“I think what you're learning in this transition, period, is the fact that there's many voices involved, many influencers,” said Schlapp. “There's a lot of strong opinions on where people should go.”

President-Elect Donald Trump is in the process of determining who will fill the top cabinet positions in his Administration. Schlapp believes former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and adviser to Trump throughout his campaign, will have his pick of positions.

“He has been with Trump through good, bad, ugly and so he obviously will be favored to maybe be at the Department of State,” Said Schlapp. “I thought for Giuliani it would make sense for him to move on with either Department of Homeland Security or Attorney General, but obviously, he put that off the table pretty quickly.”



Coming Up

We will continue to follow the latest developments with President-elect Donald Trump's transition team and speculation over top administration and Cabinet posts.

Tonight's All-Star Panel

  • Matthew Continetti @continetti
  • Mercedes Schlapp @mercedesschlapp
  • Susan Page @SusanPage
  • Charles Krauthammer @krauthammer

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