Krauthammer on Russian Involvement in Syria

Fox News Contributor and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer said Tuesday on “Special Report with Bret Baier” that Russia’s continued support of the Assad regime in Syria is “not an affection for Assad or Syria, but because as a result of their involvement, they now have a naval base in the warm water Mediterranean, they have active, very powerful airbase in Syria. They have a presence in the Middle East. They are the power.”

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrived in Moscow on Tuesday as tensions have flared between the United States and Russia over American airstrikes on a Syrian airbase in retaliation for last week’s chemical weapons attack in Idlib province. The Kremlin has denied suggestions that the Syrian government led by President Bashar al Assad may have been behind the attack.

On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin went so far as to suggest that Assad was being framed for the chemical weapons attack, saying “"We have intelligence from various sources that similar provocations are being prepared in other regions of Syria, including southern suburbs of Damascus, where they are planning to plant chemicals and blame the Syrian government for using them."

Before arriving in Moscow, Secretary Tillerson reaffirmed the need for regime change in Syria, and criticized Russia for failing to live up to its  obligation in Russian government brokered a deal to remove chemical weapons from Syria saying “ I hope that what the Russian Government concludes is that they have aligned themselves with an unreliable partner in Bashar al-Assad….The Assad regime, the Iranians and Hezbollah -  is that a long term alliance that serves Russia's interests?”

Krauthammer noted that it may be foolish for an American Secretary of State to lecture Russia on its own best interests: “They have displaced the united states, and their entire foreign policy under Putin is to recover the glory and the territory and the influence of the old Soviet Union one piece at a time and it does that by taking away from the United States. It's a zero sum game.

“So, the idea that we're going to persuade them it's not in your interest to stay with Iran and Hezbollah and Assad, who are we to say, of course it's in the Russian interest, they have succeeded in doing it and unless we show them a reason to abandon it, they are not going to leave. “

North Korean Nuclear Threat

By Jake Smith

In 80 days of the Trump Administration, the regime of North Korea leader Kim Jong-Un has launched about half a dozen missiles. In response to the latest test, the USS Carl Vinson has navigated from its destination in Australia to the waters off of the Korean Peninsula.

“Carl Vinson Strike Group, including Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2, Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108) and USS Michael Murphy (DDG 112), and Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain (CG 57), will operate in the Western Pacific rather than executing previously planned port visits to Australia,” according to a release by Admiral Harry Harris, Commander United States Pacific Command.

President Donald Trump has called on Chinese President Xi Jinping to assist in diminishing the threat from North Korea. Trump on Tuesday said North Korea “is looking for trouble” and has vowed to “solve the problem without” China.

“I explained to the President of China that a trade deal with the U.S. will be far better for them if they solve the North Korean problem,” Trump tweeted hinting that a favorable US-China trade agreement could emerge if cooperation between the two powers to de-escalate the North Korean threat is successful.

China has responded by placing a total of 150,000 troops along the Chinese-North Korean border, signaling Chinese officials are attempting to deter a strike against the regime similar to the Syrian airstrike committed last week by the US, according to reports.

This all comes after President Trump’s exclusive interview the Financial Times last month where he said, “China has great influence over North Korea. And China will either decide to help us with North Korea, or they won’t,” Trump said. “And if they do, that will be very good for China. And if they don’t, it won’t be good for anyone. If China is not going to solve North Korea, we will. That is all I am telling you.”

"Our revolutionary strong army is keenly watching every move by enemy elements with our nuclear sight focused on the U.S. invasionary bases not only in South Korea and the Pacific operation theater but also in the U.S. mainland," North Korea’s official Rodong Sinmun newspaper said to the country in response to the USS Carl Vinson.

Hwang Kyo-ahn, South Korea’s acting President, has warned Pyongyang will “wage greater provocations such as a nuclear test timed with various anniversaries.” The next nuclear test could happen as soon as April 15, the anniversary of the communist country’s founding according to reports by The Wall Street Journal. 

Krauthammer: Syria strikes represent “a neck snapping about face” on policy

Charles Krauthammer told viewers Friday on “Special Report with Bret Baier” that Thursday’s US missile strikes on Syria represent “a sort of neck snapping about face” when it comes to foreign policy.

“It’s a warning to Assad and the Russians and the Iranians. You no longer have a free hand. You’re going to pay a price. Next time it’ll be a bigger price. All of that is important,” Krauthammer said.

He added that President Trump’s reaction to Syrian President Bashar al Assad’s apparent chemical weapons attack on civilians came more rapidly than when the Obama administration was in office.

“Remember when he came up with the policy on Afghanistan? It took something like eight months,” Krauthammer noted. “This is about 48 hours and America strikes. So I think that is the most important message.”


Neil Gorsuch is expected to be confirmed by the Senate on Friday to become the 113th justice on the Supreme Court. Here is a look at what happens next:

From Bill Mears, Fox News Producer

With the Senate vote, would Gorsuch now officially become a justice?

No, the final step in the confirmation process involves President Trump issuing a written commission to his nominee, who then must take two oaths of office before assuming his official duties.

What is the wording of the oaths?

The Constitutional Oath is required of all federal employees. That includes members of Congress, and top executive branch and judicial officers. State legislators, governors, and judges take a similar oath to uphold and support the U.S. Constitution. The President has a separately worded oath, specifically written in the Constitution. Here is the oath Gorsuch will take:

"I, _________, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God."

The second, Judicial Oath, is mandated in the Judiciary Act of 1789, which reads, "the justices of the Supreme Court, and the district judges, before they proceed to execute the duties of their respective offices" must take this affirmation. Now, every federal judge takes this oath, including those in appeals, magistrate, and bankruptcy courts. This oath has been revised over the years. The current version passed by Congress in 1990 took out the phrase "according to the best of my abilities and understanding, agreeably to the Constitution," and replaced it with "under the Constitution."

"I, _________, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon me as _________ under the Constitution and laws of the United States. So help me God."

Who administers the oaths of office?

The Chief Justice of the United States (that's his official title) traditionally administers the oaths, but almost any federal, state, or local officer can perform the duty, including clerks of court. The law makes no special mandate. In 1789, Justice James Wilson was sworn in by the mayor of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where the high court first sat. Thurgood Marshall, the nation's first African-American justice, took the Constitutional Oath in 1967 from Associate Justice Hugo Black, an Alabaman. Marshall later took the Judicial Oath in the courtroom, from the clerk of court.

Are there any special traditions surrounding the ceremonies?

Some swear-in ceremonies are private, some public. Some happen inside the court's building on Capitol Hill, some at the White House. We should know shortly the timing and location of Gorsuch's oaths.  Often, a public reception hosted by the President is held days later at the White House, attended by family and friends.

Chief Justice John Roberts is expected to swear in Gorsuch. The current Chief took his oaths at the White House, with Justice John Paul Stevens doing the honors. Current Justices Clarence Thomas and Ruth Bader Ginsburg were also sworn in with nationally televised White House ceremonies, as was Antonin Scalia, whom Gorsuch will replace on the bench.

Justices Anthony Kennedy and Samuel Alito took their initial oaths at the court. Justice Stephen Breyer, interestingly, first took his oaths in rural Vermont in early August, where Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who did the honors, had a vacation home. That was so Breyer could begin his judicial duties immediately while the court was still in recess. The oaths were retaken for posterity in a public ceremony at the White House nine days later.

One special tradition involves the historic chair used by Chief Justice John Marshall, who served from 1801 to 1835. Every justice since Lewis Powell and Rehnquist in 1972 has sat in that chair before taking their oaths or at a subsequent investiture ceremony. In a rare twist, both men took office that same day, but by tradition, Powell gained all-important seniority because he was older than then-Associate Justice Rehnquist by 17 years.

Does the president have to attend any of the official or ceremonial swear-ins?

No, but it has become a recent tradition. For the first 150 years, there was almost no presidential involvement. The first swear-in ceremony at the White House was in 1940, when President Franklin Roosevelt invited Justice Frank Murphy. Every president since has attended an oath ceremony for at least one of his appointees. And every current member of the court except Sotomayor has had an oath ceremony at the White House. Several of these were symbolic, since the justices may have already been sworn in officially earlier, so they could begin their work right away.

There sure are a lot of ceremonies surrounding the court. Is that it for Gorsuch?

Not for an institution built on tradition and ceremony. While most new justices will have already begun their judicial duties, a separate investiture is often held, where colleagues formally welcome him to the bench. This is pure ritual, and is not required. The "special sitting" as they call it, is held in the courtroom, often several days or weeks after the official oaths are taken. The new justice sits in the Marshall Chair just off the bench and the chief justice reads a proclamation. Gorsuch would then walk up to the bench, shake his colleagues' hands, and then take his seat on the far right end of the long dais. Presidents Clinton, Bush 43, and Obama have all attended at least one investiture ceremony at the court. President Truman was the first to attend an investiture of his nominee, for Justice Harold Burton in 1945. Gorsuch's  investiture has not yet been scheduled.

One other informal ceremony familiar to many viewers is the traditional walk down the exterior, marble-columned Supreme Court steps by the chief justice and the new justice.  That usually happens after an investiture or court oath ceremony. The newest court member smiles for the cameras, but rarely says anything beyond a simple "hello" or "thank you."

Any other interesting tidbits?

In 1981, Sandra Day O'Connor became the first woman on the high court. President Reagan, who made the historic appointment, attended the private oath ceremony at the court. It was also the first time such a private ceremony was photographed.

Scalia in 1986 took his two oaths from two different chief justices. At the White House, the retiring Warren Burger first administered the Constitutional Oath to Rehnquist -- his replacement -- then to Scalia. Later that day in a special sitting of the court, Burger delivered the separate Judicial Oath to Rehnquist, who then, in his first act as the new chief justice, did the same to the first Italian-American on the high court.

The soon-to-be justice traditionally places his left hand on a Bible and raises his right hand during the oaths. The spouse of the nominee usually holds the Bible. Bachelor David Souter in 1990 relied on the teenage daughter of his good friend Thomas Rath to handle the job. Sotomayor's mother, Celina, did the same for her in 2009. Using the holy book is not necessary, according the court curator's office. A copy of the Constitution, another religious text, or no document at all can be used.

The first justice to be fully vested as a member of the court was Justice James Wilson in 1789.

It is customary for the justice, judge, or official who administers the oaths to sign the back of the accompanying paper commission, issued by the president and certifying the nominee was duly confirmed by the Senate. The commission in past years was often read out loud at the oath or investiture ceremonies.


Ingraham: “Highly unusual” for Rice to unmask individuals

Laura Ingraham said on “Special Report with Bret Baier” Tuesday that an intelligence source told her “it would be highly unusual for a political person at the National Security Council to request the unmasking of individuals in these types of reports.” Multiple sources have told Fox News that Susan Rice, former national security adviser under then-President Barack Obama, requested to unmask the names of Trump transition officials caught up in surveillance.

“Usually this type of information is pursued by the investigative body,” added Ingraham. “It’s not by the political apparatus of the president and then if it looks like what happened that these reports were widely then distributed to underlings including unmasked names there’s really no reason to ever do that except for a political reason.”

The unmasked names of people associated with Donald Trump were sent to all those at the National Security Council, some at the Defense Department, then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and then-CIA Director John Brennan – essentially, the officials at the top, including former Rice deputy Ben Rhodes.

“I presume there was no imminent threat of a terrorist attack in the United States and if that had been the case then she would then have given that information to the investigative bodies that would have been in charge of dealing with that but that’s not what Susan Rice seems to have done,” continued Ingraham. “At the very least she has a lot of questions to answer.”

Steve Hayes on Investigation into Russian Election Meddling "the Process doesn't look good"

The Weekly Standard’s Steve Hayes said Thursday  on “Special Report with Bret Baier” that the process of uncovering any Russian meddling in the U.S election "doesn't look good"

He added that there are questions about the process,  "did this come from the white house, was it presented to chairman Nunes who then took it public and to the president and made a big deal about it.  Was there an effort to spin this story to create some PR pushback for President Trump."  Hayes added that we questions surround the previous administrations involvement into the intelligence gathering.   "It's certainly the case that Chairman Nunes and those who are familiar with the material that he's seen believe there was real wrong doing."

The Senate intelligence committee opened its first public hearing on Russian meddling in the 2016 election but Hayes said that if we see "this unmasking and the tasking for the unmasking has come from the white house or the NSC, the Obama administration, then I think that raises additional questions."

Congress Battles To Avoid Government Shutdown

By Jake Smith

As Republicans in Congress and the President are licking their wounds from a defeat on repealing and replacing Obamacare, a government shutdown is looming over Congress.

April 28 is the day, non-essential federal government offices close their doors due to lack of funding for the upcoming fiscal year. Both parties in the House and Senate are negotiating a spending package that will prevent those offices from closing.

President Trump has asked Congress to cut $18 billion in domestic discretionary spending while requesting $30 billion in extra defense funding and $3 billion for border defense, $1.5 billion of that for the border wall. Although, Democrats have vowed to oppose any legislation that will fund the US-Mexico border wall.

President Trump is unlikely to get the funding for his border wall, because Republicans lack the Senate votes to silent a Democratic filibuster, meaning any government funding bill will have to be a bipartisan effort.

Funding the government will be the first major legislation the Republicans and Democrats are attempting after Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) was forced to pull the American Health Care Act – the Republican Obamacare replacement plan – from the House floor on Friday.

Ryan told reporters Tuesday the Republican leadership will not use the government funding bill to defund Planned Parenthood. “We think reconciliation is the tool, because that gets it into law,” Ryan suggesting using a separate bill to defund the organization. This may come as a surprise to more conservative members of the Republican Party who would want to use government funding to defund Planned Parenthood.

 “It would put the lives of the men and women serving in the military in greater danger because they can't train, and, therefore, they are not ready to fight,” Senator John McCain (R-AZ) told Arizona Republicans over the prospects of a government shutdown, “And we are fighting, as you know.”

Any spending bill would only keep the doors open through September 30, the federal government’s end of fiscal year 2017.

House and Senate Appropriation Committee members anticipate they will have a bill ready the week of April 24, days before the shutdown.


Krauthammer on Obamacare Repeal and Replacement: “I don't think there's a reason why it has to be pronounced dead.”

Fox News Contributor and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer said Tuesday on “Special Report with Bret Baier” that despite last week’s failure to get a vote on the American Health Care Act, the House Republican alternative to the Affordable Care Act, a renewed Republican effort for health care legislation is still possible noting: “I don't think there's a reason why it has to be pronounced dead. The president had an ultimatum, he decided he was going to stick to it, he decided that as a result he would not be involved. That's fine. But, it's still, I think an open question whether the republicans in the house and the senate can negotiate among themselves.”

House Republicans held their first conference meeting since last Friday’s decision to pull the American Health Care Act after divisions among the conference – particularly lack of support within the conservative House Freedom Caucus and the moderate Tuesday Group- showed the legislation could not pass the House. After the meeting, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) said “some of those that are within the "no" camp expressed the willingness to work to getting to yes and making this work" signaling that he hasn’t given up hope of undertaking new health care legislation.”

Ryan added “I don’t want us to become a factionalized majority. I want us to become a unified majority, and that means we're going to sit down and talk things out until we get there and that's exactly what we're doing. And we saw good overtures from those members from different parts of our conference to get there.”

Krauthammer noted that despite the divisions within the House Republican Conference over the AHCA, there are still methods to find a path forward on a unified GOP solution on health care: “They were not that far apart…I've been advocating this other alternative where you abandon the restrictions that are imposed by the reconciliation process. Meaning, you stuff the bill with all the kinds of stuff you were going to add later, stuff that would appeal to the Freedom Caucus, and you put that in the bill and you toss it over to the Senate.


“And if Senate Democrats want to filibuster, fine. So I think there are several options, I don't think they are that far apart, I think it's perfectly reasonable that they couldn't negotiate a deal among themselves, and I do think that in the fall when Obamacare's problems are going to really become, come to the surface again, spiking premiums and deductibles and it gets worse every year, there might be, there will be less nostalgia for Obamacare than you have found in the current debate."

Krauthammer: Another Republican opportunity for healthcare legislation is right around the corner

Syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer told "Special Report with Bret Baier" viewers that the Republican sponsored healthcare legislation may be dead right now, but another opportunity to revitalize it is just around the corner. 

Because Krauthammer explained that in the Fall, Americans will see the Affordable Health Care implode even more. 

He said, new premiums are "going to be much higher, they'll be fewer choices, far more insurers are going to be withdrawing  from exchanges and they are going to be in a state of collapse."  

The columnist pointed out that while those higher premiums might be good news for Republicans, the defeat of their legislation last week did do some damage to their party clout.  "It's not just a promise betrayed," Krauthammer said, "it's a complete inability to govern."

But Krauthammer showed viewers just how Republicans need to get back on track with any new healthcare legislation.  He said, "put everything in the bill including what's called the "phase three" stuff that was supposed to come later.  The stuff that the conservatives want that everybody really wants -including tort reform, including stripping out the coverage requirements which are largely irrational - put all that in the bill."

By doing that, Krauthammer said, the pressure will be on Democrats to explain why healthcare is failing.  "It'll be the Democrats that have to filibuster," Krauthammer explained, "and let the country watch them deny them a reform of a collapsing system."

Tax Reform Next On The Trump Agenda

By Jake Smith

After a bruising defeat on the Republican effort to repeal and replace Obamacare, the White House and Congressional Republicans set their sights on the first revitalization of tax reform in three decades.

"I would say that we will probably start going very, very strongly for the big tax cuts and tax reform. That will be next," President Donald Trump told reporters in the Oval Office after the decision to pull the healthcare bill from the House floor.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan encouraged President Trump to address healthcare first, if passed it would make tax reform easier. "Yes, this does make tax reform more difficult. But it does not, in any way, make it impossible. We will proceed with tax reform," Ryan told reporters last Friday.

The administration’s plan is to “lower rates for Americans in every tax bracket, simplify the tax code, and reduce the U.S. corporate tax rate.”

Cutting the effective corporate tax rate to 20 percent, down from 35 percent, has been proposed by the White House to boost economic growth to four percent GDP growth per year.

President Trump has yet to commit to the border adjustment tax propelled by House Republicans, which would raise more than $1 trillion from taxing imports and exports.

Trump may not see the same fight from the House Freedom Caucus as he did during healthcare. “Does it have to be fully offset? My personal response is no,” House Freedom Caucus chairman Mark Meadows of North Carolina said on Sunday suggesting he is open to cut taxes even if it raises the deficit.

 “We’re driving the train on this,” Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters on Monday concerning the White House’s involvement in the tax cuts efforts. Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin has estimated a bill for tax reform will be ready around August. 



Coming Up

Bret Baier sits down with Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin to discuss improvements in the department

Tonight's All-Star Panel

  • Mollie Hemingway @MZHemingway
  • AB Stoddard @RealClearNews
  • Charles Krauthammer @krauthammer

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