Despite front-runner status, Joe Biden grapples with early campaign controversies
This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," June 21, 2019. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
JASON CHAFFETZ, HOST: Welcome to the special edition of Hannity, "Fighting for America: Confronting the Issues.
I am Jason Chaffetz, in tonight for Sean.
President Trump is showing restraint following the latest provocation by Iran, calling off a retaliatory strike against the rogue regime after their attacks on the U.S. drone in international waters earlier this week.
The president explained his decision to NBC's Chuck Todd. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT: So they came and they said, sir, we are ready to go and would like a decision. And I said I want to know something before you go. How many people will be killed? In this case, Iranians. I said, how many people are going to be killed?
Sir, I'd like to get back to you on that. Great people, these generals. They said, sir, approximately 150.
And I thought about that for a second and I said, you know what, they shut down an unmanned drone, plane, whatever you want to call it, and here we are sitting with 150 dead people that would have taken place probably within a half an hour after I said go ahead. And I didn't like it. I didn't think it was -- I didn't think it was proportionate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHAFFETZ: Here with more with all of this is our own Jennifer Griffin -- Jennifer.
JENNIFER GRIFFIN, CORRESPONDENT: Jason, there's a very different atmosphere here at the Pentagon today. So much so that Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan left the building at 4:00 p.m. today, his last day in the building after his sudden resignation on Tuesday.
Here is what we know happened last night between 7:00 and 8:00 p.m. Eastern. The B-52s have not taken off yet when the stand-down order came. Other fighter jets were in the air we're told.
Navy warships were in possession and ready to strike with Tomahawk missiles just awaiting the go orders.
President Trump explains his change of heart and a tweet. Quote: We were cocked and loaded to retaliate last night on three different sites when I asked, how many will die? One hundred and fifty people, sir, was the answer from a general. Ten minutes before the strike I stopped it, not proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone. I'm in no hurry.
There remains a serious question about what president's mind, and any military strike plan earlier in the day would have been a cop accompanied by a casualty estimate. Those first briefings by the military occurred at 11:00 a.m. at the White House and again at 3:00 p.m., not 10 minutes before the launch.
Iran used it as a propaganda victory. State TV release this video showing what it claims is the wreckage of the large U.S. Navy drone. It's the second time in a week Iranian forces fired on U.S. drones. There is no evidence based on Iranian behavior that these were rogue units that shut down the U.S. drones.
Furthermore, Iran said today it chose not to shoot down the manned U.S. Navy P8 Poseidon surveillance plane with 20 Americans on board to avoid casualties. That spy plane shot this video of the U.S. Global Hawk being shot done.
Tensions are lower today in the Persian Gulf, but the U.S. military we are told still poised to respond if Iran does anything provocative. There are 70,000 U.S. troops in the region and an aircraft carrier strike group -- Jason.
CHAFFETZ: Jennifer, thank you.
Also developing tonight, the Pentagon has released a new map disputing Iran's claims that the U.S. drone was an Iranian airspace. But that's not stopping the radical regime from continuing with its threats and provocations, with a senior official saying Iran will respond to, quote, economic terrorism by all means necessary.
Joining me now for reaction is Fox News military analyst, Colonel David Hunt, along with former CIA intelligence officer and Fox News contributor, Dan Hoffman.
Gentlemen, thank you both for being here tonight and thank you for this service to our country. Your perspective is an important one.
And, Colonel, I want to start with you. What's your reaction to what the president did and in this case, didn't do?
COL. DAVID HUNT, MILITARY ANALYST: Yes, it's a great day when you are not going to war with Iran. That's number one.
I -- all the provocations by Iran since about April have not gone against the U.S. I think it was a very good decision. I also think it sent a definite message to Iran because of the aftermath, that we are talking about the strike packages, et cetera.
People that are carping about this who don't like it, they don't like the fact that the president may not have used the system, the bureaucratic system of the principles groups and deputies. The problem with that, that same system give us Vietnam and 18 years of in Afghanistan and Iraq.
I don't know how anyone can argue that not bombing -- was not -- that was a good decision and proportionate, I expect Iran will continue to play games and I think what we're going to have to do is probably ratcheted up economically with more embargoes.
CHAFFETZ: Now, Dan, no action is an action by the president. What is the message to Iran, and will this de-escalate the situation or does it escalate it with Iran thinking, hey, we can get away with doing more and more of these types of actions?
DAN HOFFMAN, CONTRIBUTOR: Well, you know, at the heart of this is the fact that the administration pulled out of the flawed Iranian nuclear deal and imposed maximum economic sanctions which have driven Iran's economy to the breaking point. And Iran has followed up with nuclear blackmail. They have threatened to enrich uranium to weapons grade levels next month, early next month. If they don't receive sanctions relief, and we've seen this kinetic action in the Persian Gulf.
The question remains that we deterred Iran for continuing to escalate in the Persian Gulf, and that's the open question. I'm sure the president is asking his intelligence community and military is, well, what do we have to do to deter Iran but avoid the risk of escalating this to a war that neither country wants? That's the challenge I think from the policy perspective.
CHAFFETZ: Now, Colonel, they talk about -- the Iranians talk about this economic terrorism, which is really their inability now to send oil on the world market, there's also a cyber component to this. But our presence in the Gulf, our ability to take out Iran and its military in a moment's notice if the president decided to do so, how does the president best leverage that so Iran doesn't get out of control and spins it up more and more?
HUNT: The problem is we have deployed extra soldiers -- a lot soldiers in Qatar or, we put a task force, carrier task force on the sea, and we've got B-52s flying, and what we did -- almost did last night. Iran is a terrorist state. It supports terrorism.
It's very difficult, though. It's four times larger than Iraq. it does have a competent special operations force, but they have also lost two and half million barrels per day and rustling down to 200,000. They're acting like a desperate state with a capability.
I don't want to see us going to fourth war in the Middle East with Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria right now. I do think Iran has to be dealt with. I don't think it would take very much more economically to crush them.
CHAFFETZ: Now, Dan, Jennifer Griffin pointed out in her report, that there was not only the unmanned drone that was shot down, a very expensive drone, but we also had a manned aircraft. Do you think that was part of the president's calculus here that they, Iranians, they didn't shut down the manned aircraft, and probably the president would react differently, would he not, if it was Americans that have actually been killed?
HOFFMAN: Yes, presumably, he would and this is the challenge when we are at a standoff with the country which we have no diplomatic relations. So, we are kind of negotiating our rules of engagement in the Persian Gulf this way. We haven't attacked each other's servicemen and women, or in our case servicemen and women, and Iran has laid off at that. When they attacked us from the Persian Gulf and it's true that they have not attacked U.S. ships and U.S. servicemen and women.
So, Iran is gradually escalating, and they are avoiding what they thought was a tipping point which resulted in us eliminating their regime. We've made that clear. We sent the USS Abraham Lincoln and B-52s to the region. We have a plan to send 120,000 troops to the regime, which no one wants. But that's ultimately how you deter an Iranian miscalculation with that kind of clear level of deterrence.
CHAFFETZ: Very quickly, gentlemen, your perspective, given your history and what you've done for this nation. I have just a minute left.
But, Colonel, what's your message to the tens of thousands of American men and women who are actually in the gulf at this point and their families back home as they watch programs like this?
HUNT: Yes, you're the best in the world and we had a military when I was in, but you're better. We love all of you, and you be safe.
HOFFMAN: You know everyone with whom I served, the U.S. military, intelligence community and State Department, they absolutely appreciated the opportunity to be on the front lines, eliminating threats overseas before they would be visited on our shores.
CHAFFETZ: We do have the biggest, baddest military on the face of the planet, and thank goodness that we do. God bless people like Donald Trump and others who have to make very tough decisions in a very short amount of time and the best interest of the United States.
We can't thank the men and women who have served and we certainly thank you too, gentlemen, for the time that you had in serving our country.
Now, many lawmakers across Capitol Hill are praising the president's measured response. For example, Senator Lindsey Graham tweeted, quote: I appreciate President Trump's desire to be measured and thoughtful when it comes to Iranian provocations, before adding, that nuclear enrichment should be a red line.
Joining me for reaction though, Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz of Florida, Mike Turner from Ohio, and Michael Waltz who is also from Florida.
Gentlemen, thank you so much for joining.
For disclosure, I served with at least of the two of three you in the Congress.
And I want to get your perspective.
And, Congressman Turner, I want to start with you. Your vantage points on the Intelligence Committee I think is also very important one in addition to armed services. There is a very important date that's coming up, which is July 8th, which is the deadline that Iran has put out, they picked a number, therefore you're up to help get out of these Iranian -- these sanctions that are crippling their economy.
Give us your perspective on what's happening in Iran and the pressure that they are now feeling from the economic sanctions.
REP. MIKE TURNER (R-OH): Well, Secretary Pompeo has described his maximum pressure campaign, which, of course, is to try to bring Iran back to the table to renegotiate the JCPOA, the nuclear deal, that this administration stepped out of. Obviously, the goal is that we do not want to have a nuclear Iran.
Iran is feeling the pressure of those sanctions. Our European allies who are in that deal with us are feeling also the pressure, and understanding that this deal needs to be negotiated. Now, some claim that Iran's reaction to that, obviously, at the tanker attacks which are being blamed, and perhaps even this drone attack.
What's interesting and Capitol Hill is trying to restrict the president's action in the time when the president is actually showing restraint. So, this is certainly I think an interesting debate happening in Congress, watching the president as the Democrats claim he is trying to take us to war. He's showing restraint and trying to take us to the bargaining table.
HANNITY: Now, Congressman Waltz, you are a freshman there, your first term in Congress. But your military service gives you an interesting perspective. Following up on what Congressman Turner was talking about, what is the atmosphere? What are Democrats and Republicans alike talking about on Capitol Hill? What are their worries and concerns?
REP. MICHAEL WALTZ, R-FLA.: Jason, I've operated against the Iranians on the ground and dealt with them from previous service in the White House, and I can tell you the underlying premise here is what we have to agree on, and whether it's al Qaeda in Afghanistan, whether it's ISIS in Iraq, whether it's Iranian-backed terrorists all over the region, we have to fight these wars over there. We have to take care of that abroad in places like Damascus, and Tehran and Kabul, or it will follow us home.
This notion that we see on both the right and the left that if we just let them take care of it and bring the troops home and the world will be fine, I think is naive. We have seen that it will follow us into Europe. It will follow into the United States. We have to stay on offense.
And while I absolutely respect to the president's right as commander-in- chief, which all three of us have fought for on the Armed Services Committee, his right to give these green light, go and no-go decisions, we do have to respond. Iran is a regional bully. It will continue to push. It is emboldened by weakness, and it is deterred by strength.
And the president, I fully support in keeping the maximum pressure campaign going. The reason they came to the table for the Iran deal in the first place is the sanctions were working, I think he made it very clear, he's going to drive it back to the table but get a better deal in the long run. And that's absolutely what he needs to do.
CHAFFETZ: Now, Congressman Gaetz, what are you hearing and seeing from your colleagues on the floor of the House? What are their reactions to it? Because not everybody thinks like what Congressman Waltz and Turner just articulated.
REP. MATT GAETZ, R-FLA.: Yes, I have great respect for my fellow Floridian, Michael Waltz. He's an American patriot. But I think what's naive is believing that engaging in endless, unfocused, unconstitutional regime change wars in the Middle East is effective, either in the Middle East or back home.
I mean, you just look at Afghanistan, we are down from having the Afghan government controlling 72 percent of their administrative districts to 56 percent of their administrative districts in the last three years. And you look at the $6 trillion that we've spent in the region and you think that's larger than the market cap of Facebook, Google, and Amazon combined.
I think an American first foreign policy advanced by the president is one that would prioritize getting the gulf cartel out of the southwestern United States before we decide that we will be the policeman of the Gulf of Oman.
And if you've got Japan and Norway not seeking work for vessels owned by folks in their countries being attacked, I don't think it's the job of the United States to avenge foreign vessels or American robots, with the blood of our bravest service members and patriots, Michael Waltz being one of them.
CHAFFETZ: Now, Congressman Turner, I don't think you would necessarily agree with everything that Congressman Gaetz just said, would you?
TURNER: I think, Jason, that when we have this debate, we have to understand that enemy self-select and the most important thing we can do is have the strong military and a president that is not restrained and able to take action. The debate unfortunately in the House of the last two weeks, and the last two weeks the Democrat voted to repeal the 2001 authorization of the use of force that was passed after 9/11 that allowed us to go after al Qaeda and ISIS and continue to tackle those who want to do the United States harm.
And just last week, there was debate about restricting the president's ability to respond to Iran, it would have prevented the president of the United States from responding even if Iran attacked Israel. Now, we have to stand up for our allies. We have to stand up for ourselves, and recognize that enemies self-select and ensure we have a strong military to respond and protect our country.
CHAFFETZ: Congressman Waltz, is a president doing what he supposed to be doing here? How would assess what's happened so far?
WALTZ: Yes, well, I think where all three of us absolutely agree, is maintaining options for the president and not allowing the Democrats to tie his hands for political reasons. He is commander-in-chief; he does get to make those decisions. Congress does have a role in line with the War Powers Act.
But at the end of the day, and in response to my good friend Representative Gaetz, at the end of the day, we have to fight this abroad. I don't want to fight this in the United States. And when half the world terrorist organizations exist in Afghanistan, when ISIS is sending and weaponizing refugees into Europe and the United States, and when Iran is openly seeking to attack Israel and to build a nuclear weapon to attack all of it, it's only in the United States that can lead.
And whenever we withdraw like Obama did out of Iraq, and like Obama did tried to do out of Afghanistan, bad things happen. If we don't lead, then we leave the world open to China and Russia and Islamic extremism. America has to lead. That does not mean we have half a million troops on the ground, there is lot of space between kumbaya world peace and a million soldiers on the ground. And those are the options the Pentagon needs to be representing to the president right now.
CHAFFETZ: So, Congressman Gaetz, from your perspective, is Donald Trump, the president of the United States doing the right thing or do you think he's taking a misstep here along the way?
GAETZ: No, the president has been measured and mindful and effective. The message has been sent to Iran, that only reason these strikes didn't occur is that the president wanted to make sure we give peace a chance. President Trump understands that we get peace through strength but we can also achieve strength through restraint.
I just -- I don't get it. I mean, the Middle East represents 3.5 percent of global GDP and we are obsessed with this area of the world. Meanwhile, China represents 15 percent of global GDP, and they have expanded their empire without firing a single shot, while we've been involved in these endless Middle Eastern wars.
I think we do need to reform the 2001 authorization to use military force because if brave patriots are willing to go fight and die in these wars, I think members of Congress ought to have the guts to vote for them or against them and to make sure we follow the Constitution and the application of military force. But the president has shown his mindful and effective.
CHAFFETZ: Well, the debate will continue but I think it's naive to say China never fired a shot. All you have to do is visit with the Vietnamese and others as I have done in Congress. To suggest --
GAETZ: In the last 20 years --
CHAFFETZ: But in the last 12 months, -- with all due respect if you look harder at what the Chinese are doing, it's a very aggressive thing --
GAETZ: They're not engaged in an endless war --
CHAFFETZ: They are.
CHAFFETZ: Gentlemen, for the other day.
I really do think that the right answer to this is, if provoked, the president of the United States has clear authority, if there's clear and present danger, to take whatever action he needs to. If he's going to take a long time war, then he should go to Congress and he should get that authorization. But that's my perspective, and we'll have to debate this more.
Gentlemen, thank you for your service, thanks for joining us here on this “Hannity” special.
Congressman Devin Nunes sent a letter to the FBI director asking for all of the documents related to the Steele dossier. Catherine Herridge has a report and we'll get reaction from Sara Carter and Gregg Jarrett.
We'll be right back.
CHAFFETZ: Welcome back to this “Hannity” special.
Today, Congressman Devin Nunes sent a request to FBI Director Christopher Wray asking for all documents and communications relating to the Steele dossier.
Catherine Herridge in Washington has more -- Catherine.
CATHERINE HERRIDGE, CORRESPONDENT: Jason, House Intelligence Committee Republicans issued a subpoena nearly two years ago for records about the dossier and its author, former British spy Christopher Steele. In this new letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray, the committee's ranking number now questions when the bureau receives State Department records that undermine the credibility of and showed that he was, quote, keen to see his research about then candidate Trump go public before the 2016 election.
Steele's credibility matters because the FBI gives opposition research funded by the DNC and Clinton campaign to obtain a surveillance warrant for Trump campaign aide Carter Page, which in the end, lasted 11 months.
Congressman Devin Nunes says it's not clear when the FBI got the records from the senior State Department official, documenting their concerns about steel. The letter continues "at a certain point the FBI gained access to memoranda and notes. However the FBI failed to provide these to the committee pursuant to request made as part of its investigation.
The letter was also sent to U.S. Attorney John Durham who is investigating the genesis of the Russia probe. He asked the FBI for a response by the end of next week, Jason.
CHAFFETZ: Catherine, thank you.
Also breaking today, according to reports, Robert Mueller's pit bull, Andrew Weissmann, is looking to capitalize on his time in the special counsel office by writing a book. I doubt we will get the whole truth from a man who's been accused of withholding essentially exculpatory evidence in the past.
Joining us now with reaction is Fox News contributor Sara Carter, author of "The New York Times" best-selling book "The Russia Hoax", it's been number one forever. You need to get and read this book, FOX News legal analyst Gregg Jarrett.
Is there anybody left that hasn't read your book yet?
GREGG JARRETT, LEGAL ANALYST: It's not number one now. It was when it came out in the first several weeks, but --
CHAFFETZ: No, you did a great job. It is thorough, if you want to understand it, it really is one of the best books out there.
But I will start, Gregg, I'm going to start with you, because you are here with us in studio. I want to start with Devin Nunes having to go back and get these documents. The FBI has been slow-walking these things. They've been under a subpoena for a couple of years and they still haven't responded.
JARRETT: The FBI and Department of Justice both have been obstructing justice. You know, I say Christopher Wray is James Comey in a different suit. And Rod Rosenstein, before he left the Department of Justice, was also obstructing lawful subpoenas from Congress. It's outrageous and I'm hoping that with Bill Barr at the helm now, all of this nonsense will stop and that these documents will be turned over.
CHAFFETZ: Now, Sara, I actually -- when I was chairman of the committee, I actually issued some subpoenas that were never responded to from the Department of Justice. There has been a lot of flow walking and we have that but we also have this inspector general report and we do have attorney general in Attorney General Barr.
SARA CARTER, CONTRIBUTOR: That's right. Attorney General William Barr isn't going to hold back here. He said he has promised the American people that he will get to the bottom of this. He wants to know the origination of the FBI's investigation into President Trump, and all of these allegations in which he was conspiring with Russia, which we now know are debunked.
Even more importantly, I think you brought up such a great point, the fact that Andrew Weissmann, and, by the way, Peter Strzok as well, the anti- Trump FBI agent who is famous for all of his text message with his paramour, Lisa Page, the fact that they are writing all of these apparent tell-all books when they worked so hard to withhold information from the American public. Think about the hypocrisy here.
And Christopher Wray has every duty and every obligation to turn these documents over to Devin Nunes. It's very important that we understand what happened at the very beginning of this investigation, because without that information, the American public will not have the answers that it means in order to make their own minds up about what happened with this investigation and the malfeasance that apparently took place with the FBI and Department of Justice.
CHAFFETZ: Well, clearly, they have been slow-walking this, but I don't think Attorney General Barr nor will Mr. Durham, will they put up with any of that. And I love that the president actually went out and put out an official notification so that up Attorney General Barr can't be slow walks by that offices. I'm glad Devin Nunes is on top of it and has a continuity from the past in the previous Congresses as well.
But, Gregg, I've got to ask you also about what's going on with Weissmann, because -- I mean, this guy is a character. There are a 110,000 people that work at the Department of Justice and, Mueller has to pick this guy?
JARRETT: Yes, exactly. You know, all of these guys are now cashing in on their infamy. They are all notorious characters. You know, Comey and McCabe, is the model now. Their self-righteous, nauseating books and I read them. It was difficult to do.
But they spent most of the time just trashing Trump. These are all the people who were investigating Trump and it proves the president's argument that he was never going to be treated fairly and impartially and neutrally by these hyper-partisans.
And Andrew Weissmann is not among the worst of them. He's famous for his abusive tactics as a lawyer, earning reversals and rebukes by judges. This is a guy who conceals evidence, suppresses documents, threatens witnesses, numerous complaints against him, the feckless bars, don't do anything about it. When I say bar, I mean bar associations, not William Barr.
He is exactly the kind of prosecutor that should never be allowed in a court of law.
CHAFFETZ: Now, Sara, I've got a real problem with people who have such high security clearances, higher than members of Congress. People like Brennan and Clapper and Weissmann, you know, and Comey and McCabe. I mean, these are all people at the highest echelons with the highest security clearance and then, they think they can go on television and start talking about the stuff and writing books.
CARTER: Well, this is what I don't understand and what the American people don't understand. Brennan was supposed to have his security clearance revoked. We've heard that he still has his security clearance despite the fact that President Trump ordered his security clearance revoked.
So, what we know is that there has been a lot of slow walking in the bureaucracy. People aren't following through and he goes on television. He makes money on the cable networks. He and Clapper both with high level security clearances access to those secrets and spews anti-Trump, anti- administration hatred. They target the President consistently. It is a national security issue because they call the President treasonous.
They say he's a clear and present danger. They say he's not worthy of office. What happens on an international scale, even on a national scale when you have people, former heads of agencies saying these kinds of things and spouting this kind of rhetoric, it is extremely dangerous, not only for the President himself, but for our country. So, I want answers to that. And I haven't been able to get those answers I haven't been able to find out why they are still retaining those security clearances.
CHAFFETZ: And sir, you bring up a great point because I really don't understand - look, when I left Congress, I immediately lost my security clearance. Why these clowns don't lose theirs the moment and if they want to go back and get it, because as Secretary of State or a new incoming CIA Director or somebody wants to go communicate with them and ask them questions then grant them that limited ability to do that, but they use these security clearances as if they know something the rest of us don't. And then they go out there and spew their lies and their other - their opinions on these talk shows and now in books, Gregg.
JARRETT: Right. And it turned out, Brennan didn't know anything which is typical of John Brennan. You know got to be one of the dumbest CIA directors ever. This is a guy who spent two years, the drumbeat of collusion, absolute evidence, predicting next week will be more indictments and of course, when it didn't happen, he goes on TV and says, well I guess I got some bad information. No kidding. This is the guy who was leading the CIA.
Let me just tell you one quick story about Andrew Weissman. John Dowd, the President's lawyer told me that he advised Mueller that whenever they had conferences together the team of lawyers, Andrew Weissman would not be in the room. He was banished from the room because as Dowd called him, untrustworthy and unethical and Dowd was absolutely right. And Mueller ruined the integrity and the credibility of himself and his own investigation by hiring a guy like Weissman and then instructing Weissman, you hire the team of 19 partisan lawyers which Weissman did.
CHAFFETZ: I have great respect for Mr. Mueller, but for him to pick the people that he picked, I've got to tell you, I still have an ongoing question about that. Sarah, Gregg, thank you so much for joining us tonight.
Coming up next on this “Hannity” special, Rush Limbaugh has a message for Joe Biden. It's over. We have the tape and reaction from Sean Spicer, Charlie Hurt and Austan Goolsbee. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, HOST: Joe Biden, this guy is finished, it's over. And you know how you know it's over, it's nothing to do what a segregation, although I think that's a trigger for it. That said, Fox if ABC News is going after Biden China and Ukraine scandal, it's over. Somebody in the Democrat media complex has decided it's time to take plugs out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHAFFETZ: Welcome back to this Special Edition of “Hannity.” Fighting for America confronting the issues. That was Rush Limbaugh saying that Joe Biden's 2020 campaign is already doomed. Not only has Biden incurred the wrath of Democrats for his comments on segregationists, but now Biden's campaign is facing possible fallout from his son's Hunter's shady business deals in both China and Ukraine. The heat is getting so bad for the campaign that some Democrats want White House hopefuls to cool it on the Biden attacks.
Joining us now to react more is America First Action Senior Advisor, Sean Spicer, Author of the brand-new book Still Winning from one of our favorites Fox News Contributor, Charlie Hurt and former Obama Economic Adviser, Austan Goolsbee. Gentlemen, thank you all for being here. Austan I want to start with you. Look, Joe Biden was elected in 1972 and I was like five years old. He's been around the block, OK. He's been through this, but he seems to be bumbling his way through his announcement. What's going on with Joe?
AUSTAN GOOLSBEE, FORMER OBAMA ECONOMIC ADVISER: Look, you know that Joe Biden has. He is well-liked by the American people, he has very high popularity, higher than the presidents, higher than most of the other Democratic nominees. He also says dumb stuff. There are two different questions. One is, is Joe Biden's tendency to say things that are dumb going to prevent him from getting the Democratic nomination. They might. He needs to have more discipline or he's not going to get the nomination.
The second question that Rush Limbaugh's kind of hinting at that in some way Joe Biden is morally unfit for office that I think when you stack him up against the President who's got paying off porn stars, multiple wives, accused of obstruction of justice, accused of shady deals all around the world, I don't think that there is going to be - if he is the nominee I don't think he's going to have a problem on that front.
CHAFFETZ: A lot of those accusations which proved out to be false after a special prosecutor, but Sean, you've also been around the block, you've been on the receiving end of a lot of reporters and questions and whatnot. How is Uncle Joe doing out on the campaign trail?
SEAN SPICER, AMERICA FIRST ACTION SENIOR ADVISOR: Well look, I think there is a false narrative out there that Joe Biden is some sort of political success and Austan mentioned that he said dumb things, but he's been saying dumb things since he was first elected in the early 1970s. Remember, he has run for President twice and epically failed. Biden right now benefits from eight years - being associated for eight years as Vice President to frankly a popular President within the Democratic Party.
So, he leads because he has name ID in association with President Obama, but he is a flip flopping gaffe machine for 30 plus years and it's not I think right now once the other candidates have an opportunity to go after him on that debate stage coming up and over and over again and he continues to talk and the other scandals come out, he is left on his own and he doesn't have Obama to carry the ticket, he's going to fail epically as he has twice before.
With this narrative that somehow, he is leading in the polls, because he's running a successful campaign or he has been a successful presidential candidate, it's just not proven true through his past efforts.
CHAFFETZ: Now Charlie are Democrats going to go easy on him in the campaign, in the debates and whatnot coming up or do you agree with Rush Limbaugh that this thing is already done, it's over.
CHARLIE HURT, CONTRIBUTOR: I think we've already gotten kind of a taste of it with the attacks that we've seen by Cory Booker and Kamala Harris on Joe Biden for his playing footsie with Democratic segregationist senators and talking about how those were the good old days when they could work together and get things done. You know it's amazing to watch the way the Democrats are going after Biden and what we're also seeing with these news stories where people are going after his son for his obviously very strange and shady dealings with the Chinese and with Ukraine.
What we're seeing is a media that is suddenly being a whole lot more - a whole lot harsher of a Democrat than we're used to seeing with the media and Democrats and I think what we've got now is you've got Democrats in the media who clearly think that Biden is wounded and can't close the deal. Meanwhile, you have Democrats in Congress who are obviously worried about this and they weren't trying to keep them afloat, keep him alive, because they think - they still think that Biden is their best hope for beating Trump.
SPICER: Jason, can I say one quick thing.
CHAFFETZ: Go ahead, Sean.
SPICER: I think that Charlie touched on something that's important. I think by and large Biden has prided himself on being sort of a pragmatist Democrat, right. He has not ever been considered a part of the Far Left and right now people feel that that he is not authentically far progressive socialist left and for a lot of the folks in the media that are enamored with a lot of these folks whether it's Kamala Harris or Pete Buttigieg who are truly left, crazy left wing socialist embracing type Democrats. I think they realize that Biden is not their guy this time. And so, there's actually a motivation to finally attack and pay attention.
CHAFFETZ: Sean, I want to give Austan a chance to react to that because Sean brings up a good point. He is more centrist than some of the radical liberal socialist leftists that I see out there, Bernie Sanders or whatnot. How does he negotiate its way through that, Austan?
GOOLSBEE: He is going to have to find his way in the party. I completely disagree. Other than Bernie Sanders who is a professed by his own admission socialist. It's an inaccurate description to describe the other candidates that way.
CHAFFETZ: Elizabeth Warren, you think Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden have the same policy decisions.
GOOLSBEE: The key issue I think Sean raised and Charlie raised which is Joe Biden's - he can't just ride on coattails and say, hey, I was a Vice President for Barack Obama. He's got to come forward with convincing people that he is going to make a good President. And the election is going to be about the future. He had a tough week. That doesn't mean he's going to lose. Donald Trump had some tough weeks and got took some blows from his rivals and still won the presidency. So, we're going to have to see what the Vice President does.
CHAFFETZ: But the fundamental difference, and Charlie I've got just the 30 seconds here. The fundamental difference is, Donald Trump was winning and running as an outsider. And there is no more of an insider than Joe Biden, right.
HURT: Exactly, and of course the things that Donald Trump said that shocked everybody inside the Beltway. Those were things that everybody outside of the Beltway, they thought that that stuff made sense. When Joe Biden said something that doesn't make sense inside the Beltway. It didn't make sense to anybody else either. It just comes off as goofball and is usually some sort of a gaffe.
CHAFFETZ: Well, that's hard to argue. Gentlemen, thank you so much for joining us here tonight. Really do appreciate all three of you joining us. Straight ahead on this “Hannity” special, there is big news in the Jussie Smollett hate crime hoax. We'll have the latest from Chicago then. Pam Bondi and Emily Compagno will be here for reaction. Stay with us.
CHAFFETZ: Welcome back to this Special Edition of “Hannity,” fighting for America confronting the issues. The Jussie Smollett hate crime hoax is back in the news after a special prosecutor was appointed to review the case. Fox News National Correspondent Matt Finn joins us live from Chicago with the latest, Matt.
MATT FINN, CORRESPONDENT: Congressman, today a veteran judge here in Chicago stated that State's Attorney Kim Foxx went against state law when she recused herself and then appointed her right-hand man to be the "acting state attorney" to prosecute Jussie Smollett. Judge Michael Toomin here says, there is no role of an "acting state attorney" in this state.
And back in February when Kim Foxx recused herself then and there a law requires that a special prosecutor should have been appointed. So, now an independent prosecutor will examine the entire Jussie Smollett case and can bring the same or even new criminal charges against the actor and the special prosecutor will also probe Kim Foxx's decisions. Former Justice Sheila O'Brien submitted a petition requesting the special prosecutor arguing the public deserves the truth.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHIELA O'BRIEN, FORMER JUDGE: Most important thing is that as the judge indicated, the confidence in our judicial system will be restored to all of us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FINN: In a statement Kim Foxx responded in part quote regarding recusal, I follow the advice and counsel of my then Chief Ethics Officer. In any event I respectfully disagree with the court's conclusion that in the absence of any conflict, the appointment of a special prosecutor is required. Kim Foxx can appeal on tonight. The FBI is still reportedly investigating that death threat letter that Chicago Police say, Jussie Smollett sent to himself and the Inspector General here in Cook County is also investigating this case. Congressman.
CHAFFETZ: Matt, thank you very much. Joining me now with reaction is the former Florida Attorney General, Pam Bondi and Fox News Contributor and Attorney, Emily Compagno. Thank you both for being with us. Attorney General Bondi, I don't know how it is in Florida, but this case here it seems like it's simple elementary that you can't just recuse yourself and then appoint your right-hand person or somebody that works for you to then take on the case and that that is somehow arm's length, right?
PAM BONDI, FORMER FLORIDA ATTORNEY GENERAL: Jason, I think Emily and I will tell you that you learn in law school that you can't do that. It's incomprehensible that she thought she could actually get away with this. The word recused means you take yourself off a case, not just yourself but anyone whose paycheck you sign. So, all she had to do was get an outside prosecutor that was her duty and obligation.
And frankly, it's an outrage that it's gone this far. And I'm so glad that judge, former judge got involved in this case because the people of Chicago, the police commissioner, the mayor, everyone, they deserve to have the money reimbursed for this investigation. Jussie Smollett needs to face the charges that were before him and Kim Foxx needs to be off this case if not, prevent it from being a state attorney ever again.
CHAFFETZ: Now, Emily is joining me here in New York. Not only was there a problem according to the judge in making this ruling and appointing the special prosecutor, but can Jussie Smollett, can he actually be charged, is he going to have to go through this whole process again?
EMILY COMPAGNO, CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, he can. In addition to being charged with potentially one or all of the 16 prior charges, others can be charged as well if there is additional malfeasance found. And just like the Attorney General just said, the issue here is that the judge found that Kim Foxx literally as he said, it was in her imagination that she could designate her deputy as acting state's attorney.
And the interesting thing about that is that it rendered invalid in the judge's words everything that stemmed from that. That includes the arrest, the prosecution and the subsequent dropping of charges. So, it basically means that everything that we saw play out, simply doesn't count. And he also ruled that it is not duplicative of the present Inspector General's investigation by the county, which goes against the defense's arguments as well.
CHAFFETZ: Now, General Bondi, this is also going to bring in back in, I should say former - Michelle Obama's former Chief of Staff who was involved in this case. I can't really see through the fog here of how exactly she played a role, but she did play a role and that too should be investigated as well, right? BONDI: Well, Jason nor should you have to even be looking through the fog. This is ridiculous the way the whole thing went down. So, yes Michelle Obama's former Chief of Staff contacts the prosecutor on behalf of the defendant. She should know better as well. And you know there could be potential federal charges as Emily knows against Smollett. I don't think the former Chief of Staff will be prosecuted by any means. But I think Kim Foxx is in big trouble for talking to this person, for continuing to keep her office on the case. And you know Jussie Smollett, the police commissioner, the people of Chicago, they deserve to have this case handled properly. Chicago is we all know ridden with homicides. I mean just their homicides, so many homicides and they have such good police officers in Chicago and of all places in the world to waste their time and take them away from real valuable cases is outrageous.
CHAFFETZ: Now Emily, how do we ultimately - how do they - restoring confidence, Matt Finn's package, I think laid that out real well saying, ultimately you have to restore confidence. You don't have the - mayor doesn't have the confidence, the police chief doesn't have confidence, nobody seems to have confidence in where this is going. Is that going to get us there by doing this special prosecutor?
COMPAGNO: At a minimum hopefully at the conclusion of all these investigations, there will be some faith restored back in that community and in those different agencies. I note the irony that Kim Foxx ran on a platform of ethics and still the Chief Ethics Officer that she subsequently blamed for this debacle. So, a lot has to happen until that faith is restored.
CHAFFETZ: Justice in this country, you have to get it right, it has to be balanced. Thank you both for joining us. More on this Special Edition of “Hannity” after this break. Stay with us.
CHAFFETZ: Welcome back to this “Hannity” special, fighting for America, confronting the issues. We're out of time tonight. Thanks to Sean for letting me guest host, you know we got problems and challenges in this country. The United States of America, it's still the very best country on the face of the planet. Sean will be back here on Monday. Have a great weekend. "The Ingraham Angle" is up next.
Content and Programming Copyright 2019 Fox News Network, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Copyright 2019 ASC Services II Media, LLC. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.