All-Star Panel: HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to resign

'Special Report' All-Star panel weighs in


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," April 10, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: This is a Fox News alert. The Associated Press reporting for a White House official that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is resigning from the Obama administration. It comes about a week after that rocky enrollment period closed for signups. The administration of course touting that, that they reached that 7 million figure in that Rose Garden ceremony by the president. But you'll remember, of course, all of the issues at the beginning of the rollout of ObamaCare. Sebelius' resignation according to the AP could set the stage for a contentious election year confirmation hearing for whomever the Obama administration nominates. But of course, you'll remember that the Senate has changed the rules for nomination and now needs 50 plus one votes. But again, the news, Associated Press citing White House officials that Kathleen Sebelius will resign. We're calling an audible here with our panel. Let's bring in our panel, Judge Andrew Napolitano, Fox News senior judicial analyst, Juan Williams, columnist with The Hill, and Tucker Carlson, who is host of "Fox & Friends WEEKEND." OK, judge, thoughts? It had been long rumored that she may resign, and then we heard the president in the Rose Garden mention everybody except Kathleen Sebelius.


BAIER: What about this?

NAPOLITANO: You are the quarterback so you're entitled to call an audible, especially when we have breaking news like this.

This is probably good for the president. He probably wants to turn a page. She has symbolized, she has personified the catastrophic disaster that ObamaCare has been both substantively and procedurally in its rollout. I think he would rather someone else was at the helm of HHS. In terms of her performance, I think she was given an impossible task with no precedent. She's a novice at this and probably did the best she could with the awful tools that the administration gave her.

BAIER: Juan, she was insurance commissioner in Kansas. She went on to be governor of Kansas and took this job, if you remember, after Tom Daschle, a former Senate majority leader, had his own problems with taxes. She was the second choice for this position, but she took it on, and then ran into the buzz saw of ObamaCare at the beginning.

JUAN WILLIAMS, SENIOR EDITOR, THE HILL: Well, I think that she is going to be viewed obviously as having had the big trouble. That's what will be remembered especially by critics of ObamaCare. On the other hand, I think there was a fear that if she left it would open the door to an impossible effort at confirming a new secretary, and she stayed on, lots of push by the critics for President Obama to hold somebody accountable for what happened in those first two months. Today you have now 7.5 million, it's been a success. This is a wonderful opportunity for her to step aside without it seeming as if she is being blamed.

Dennis McDonough, the White House chief of staff and others at the White House gave an interview to the New York Times that appeared today, talking about that they didn't think they made a mistake so much in terms of their focus or the policy, but they should have paid more attention to some of the details involved. You notice that Sebelius wasn't part of that group. And I think she's been on the outside and I think that there's the sense that she is being held accountable. Given the good enrollment numbers she's not going to be the whipping boy for people quite so easily.

BAIER: We don't have to say reports anymore. Fox News can confirm that Kathleen Sebelius is resigning as HHS secretary, and Ed Henry writes in right now that we're also confirming that the OMB Director Sylvia Matthews Burwell will be nominated to replace her. So, again, Kathleen Sebelius out as HHS secretary, Sylvia Matthews Burwell, currently the OMB director, is going to be nominated by the Obama administration to replace her at HHS. Tucker?

TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: We will see what happens with that. I think it's too strong to call Kathleen Sebelius a victim of ObamaCare, but she certainly is a casualty of it. She does have talents. She was a politician, daughter of a famous politician. She has great political skills, also an ideologue. Not a technocrat, obviously not a super capable manager, and was given a job for which she was inadequate.

It is not fair to say she was the architect of ObamaCare. She wasn't. Obama was, and Nancy Pelosi, its handmaiden, they got it through. But she had to implement it, and that is her legacy. That will absolutely define her for all time. I don't know what this resignation is really about. It's really hard to know what these resignations are really ever about. But you've got to think there's bitterness on her part. She came in as this popular person. Will she ever disentangle the name Kathleen Sebelius from the debacle that is ObamaCare in its first year? Probably not.

BAIER: So imagine this nomination fight for Burwell and what that is going to entail. Going through the Senate nomination process, even though they need fewer votes, judge, it is still going to be painful for the administration to go through every detail of ObamaCare.

NAPOLITANO: And this is a bad time for the president to have to go through it. He has five to seven vulnerable Democrats in the Senate running for re-election who are going to be tempted not necessarily to go along for the ride and perhaps either to remain silent or neutral or be as curious or inquisitive as Republicans will be at Ms. Burwell will do with the mess she's inheriting. And their eyes are not going to be on the confirmation. Their eyes are going to be on Election Day in November.

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