Did President Trump get his debate strategy right against Biden?

This is a rush transcript from “Special Report" September 30, 2020. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Hello, Greg, ending withfoul words, thank you.

Good evening, welcome to Washington. I'm Bret Baier. 

Breaking tonight, chaotic, dispiriting, rough, sad those are just some of the reactions from lawmakers from both sides of the aisle this evening to last night's debate between President Trump and Joe Biden. It was a no- holds-barred verbal free-for-all filled with interruptions, insults, innuendo.

Tonight, President Trump and his team are defending his hyper aggressive performance as one of the great debates ever. While the Biden camp is hawking t-shirts featuring theformer vice president shot at President Trump last night. Reading, will you shut up, man.

Let's begin tonight's coverage with Chief White House Correspondent, John Roberts live in the North Lawn. Good evening, John.

JOHN ROBERTS, FOX NEWS CHANNEL CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Bret, good evening to you. President Trump said today that he was getting good reviews for his debate performance last night despite the fact that one of his debate coaches, the former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said the president was too hot. And a question that the president feel that last night on racial unrest and white supremacism in the United States was still echoing today.


ROBERTS: Leaving the White House for campaign events inMinnesota this afternoon, President Trump claimed he knew nothing about the right-wing group Proud Boys he referenced in last night's debate.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't know who the Proud Boys are. I mean, you have to give me a definition because I really don't know who they are. I can only say they have to stand down, let law enforcement do their work. I don't know who Proud Boys are, but whoever they are, they have to stand down.

ROBERTS: President Trump was widely criticized for this moment in the debate when Chris Wallace asked him about racial unrest in the nation.

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS CHANNEL ANCHOR: Are you willing tonight to condemn white supremacists and militia groups?

TRUMP: I'm willing to do anything. I want to see peace.

WALLACE: Well, then do it, sir. 


TRUMP: If you want to call them -- what do you want to call them? Give me a name. Give me a name, go ahead. 

WALLACE: White supremacist.

TRUMP: Who would you like me to condemn?

WALLACE: White supremacist and right-wing militia.

TRUMP: Proud Boys, stand back and standby. But I'll tell you what, I'll tell you what. Somebody's got to do something about Antifa and the left because this is not a right-wing problem.

ROBERTS: The Proud Boys were thrilled that they got mentioned. Immediately incorporating what the president said into their logo, also selling t- shirts that say, stand by.

Asked again today whether he denounces white supremacy, the president was much more forceful.

TRUMP: I've always denounced any form, any form -- any form of any of that, you have to denounce.

ROBERTS: And as he did last night, President Trump continuing today to go after Joe Biden for failing to denounce Antifa.

TRUMP: Joe Biden has to say something about Antifa, it's not a philosophy. 
These are people that hit people over the head with baseball bats. He's got to come out and he's got to be strong. And he's got to condemn Antifa and it's very important that he does that.

ROBERTS: Last night's debate was widely panned as a hot mess. Far more an airing of grievances and name calling that a substantive debate on policy. 
Leading the Commission on Presidential Debates to announce that it will make some changes for the next two presidential debates.

In a statement, the CPD saying, last night's debate made clear that additional structure should be added to theformat of the remaining debates to ensure a more orderly discussion of the issues.

The Trump campaign taking issue with the Commission. In astatement, communications director Tim Murtaugh saying, they're only doing this because their guy got pummeled last night. President Trump was the dominant force and now Joe Biden is trying to work the refs. They shouldn't be moving the goalposts and changing the rules in the middle of thegame.


ROBERTS: President Trump also getting pushed back on his claim last night that the sheriff in Portland, Oregon had endorsed him. Mike Reese tweeting quote, "in tonight's presidential debate, the president said Portland sheriff's supports him. As the Multnomah County Sheriff I have never supported Donald Trump and will never support him. 

Though it should be noted there are plenty of other police officials and law enforcement organizations that have thrown their full support behind the president, Bret.

BAIER: John Roberts live in the North Lawn. John, thanks.

Joe Biden followed up the debate with a whistle-stop train event in Ohio and Pennsylvania. He's picking up where he left off in his criticism of the president. Correspondent Peter Doocy shows us tonight from Latrobe, Pennsylvania.


PETER DOOCY, FOX NEWS CHANNEL CORRESPONDENT: Joe Biden does not think President Trump should be proud of his 2020 debate debut.

BIDEN: I think he's just a national embarrassment.

DOOCY: Speaker Pelosi claims she called it.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): I never thought that he would -- that anybody should reduce themselves to being on thestage with him because we know what his behavior was going to be like.

DOOCY: But Biden says he'll be back, and he's got some suggestions for the Commission on Presidential Debates about how to cut down on the cross talk.

BIDEN: Questions gets asked to Trump. He has themicrophone. He has two minutes to answer the question, no one else has a microphone.

DOOCY: One question Biden still won't answer, what's he going to do if progressives ever pressure him to expand theSupreme Court and packed the seats with liberals.

BIDEN: Make sure you, in fact, let people know, your Senators. I'm not going to answer the question.

DOOCY: The president, accused Biden of being controlled by more progressive members of the party.

TRUMP: They're going to dominate you, Joe, you know that.

BIDEN: I am the Democratic Party right now.

DOOCY: Today, he tried to keep the peace with those progressives.

BIDEN: The Green New Deal that the president keeps trying to talk about, it's not a bad deal but it's not the plan I have. That's the Biden green deal, that's what it's about. 

DOOCY: Biden's running mate believes the president's debate answers contained hints of racism.

-- you know, people talk about is a dog whistling? Dog whistling through a bullhorn is what he's doing.

DOOCY: A big part of the Biden pitch is to restore decency to the White House, but he addressed the current president using sharp adjectives.

BIDEN: He just -- he's the racist.

Well, it's hard to get any word in with this clown. Will you shut up, man?

DOOCY: Today, Biden returned to his roots, the rails and seven stops in two states.

BIDEN: They tell me I've logged more than 2,100,000 miles an Amtrak.

DOOCY: A train station and the debate stage had something in common, sometimes it's hard to get a word in.

BIDEN: And here comes the train.


DOOCY: Any minute we expect to see Joe Biden here inLatrobe, Pennsylvania. 
He took the motorcade to go tour a union facility, but this iswhere he's going to meet back up with that train that has two engines backup just in case. And a conductor who's been with Amtrak for 46 years, the man's name is Don Lewis. And he's making his last ride tonight before retirement, Bret.

BAIER: Congratulations don. Peter, thank you.

Pennsylvania's top state elections officials say it appears an election workers decision to throw out nine military ballots in Wilkes-Barre amounted to a mistake and not intentional fraud.

Democratic Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar says theelections office in Luzerne County is getting training on handling mailed-in ballots. At least seven of the discarded ballots were marked for President Trump.

The Commerce Department says the gross domestic product fell at an annual rate of 31.4 percent in the April to June quarter. However, economists predict the economy will expand at at least a 30 percent rate in the current quarter as businesses have reopened and millions of people have gone back to work.

Wall Street had a big day due in part to news of restarting negotiations on another coronavirus stimulus bill, more on that in a second. The Dow gained 329, the S&P 500 finished ahead 28, the NASDAQ was up 82.

Let's go get reaction and analysis of the debate last night from Pollster Frank Luntz. Frank, thanks for being here. I know you talk to a bunch of folks last night after the debate. Tell us who they were and what they said.

FRANK LUNTZ, POLLSTER: It's the first time that this has ever been done in political history. We brought 15 people together via Zoom from all the swing states, undecided voters from the states that really matter. And we sat them down for about an hour and 10 minutes and asked them what they thought of the different candidates. There's a lot of disappointment. A lot of frustration.

The candidates who think that they actually started through the frustration of the voters, they didn't. And I bought foryou two sound bites that I think will be helpful in illustrating what they thought.

First, let's go to Luke who had something to say about Donald Trump.


LUKE, WISCONSIN VOTER: He's annoying and it's like nails on a chalkboard but him acting that way doesn't necessarily impact my bottom line. What I care about is the economy and I care about law and order.


LUNTZ: And the fact is that they didn't hear enough about the economy, that they really wanted to know what theTrump proposals were. They wanted to know what their ideas were to bring peace of mind and quiet to the streets.

And the participants almost to a number tell that the two candidates were too bitter towards each other, too vicious towards each other and they didn't get what they were coming for.

And there's one person there, Kimberly, who was particularly angry about what she heard and what she saw. Let's listen.

KIMBERLY, OHIO VOTER: Nobody really talked about -- you know, how they're actually going to help the American public. They're still talking about corporations. They're still talking about the best thing but they're not talking about putting dollars in the pockets of the American people, so I'm still undecided.


LUNTZ: And that's what happened, Bret. By the time they were done, four people have shifted towards Biden, three people have shifted towards Trump and everybody else was still undecided. It was not a successful evening for thecandidates, and it was a disastrous meeting for American democracy.

BAIER: Well, quickly Frank, what do you think each candidate needs to do to step it up the next time around? You know, take it from the Trump perspective, take it from the Biden perspective.

LUNTZ: Well, the Trump perspective is more important because he's behind and he doesn't want to hear this but he's losing right now. And so, he has to change thedynamics, which means putting pressure on Biden from apolicy perspective, not from a personal perspective. You're not going to bring Joe Biden down for his persona, you have to challenge his policies.

And for Joe Biden, he basically has to do exactly the same thing that he's done now. But look straight into the camera and say, really, is this as close it gets? Is this the next four years? Biden making direct contact with the American people is his strongest strategy right now.

BAIER: Well, Frank, we appreciate it. We're going to have theback. We love hearing from voters around the country, thanks a lot.

Also joining us tonight, Jason Miller, a senior adviser to theTrump campaign. 

Jason, you just heard that, the fallout from the debate, there was a lot of angst about it but you just heard those independent voters kind of split on how it fell. Was theeffort to go after expanding the base, getting to independent and suburban voters and do you think thepresident did that?

JASON MILLER, A SENIOR ADVISER, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: Well, Bret, thank you for having me on. I think the president really last night was the dominant force. I think it was ahistoric victory for the president. This is the first time in themodern presidential era where the incumbent president won the first debate and that's what President Trump did last night.

When you talk about the two most important issues in front of folks, and that's being COVID recovery and economic recovery, President Trump was the only candidate to actually score any points on those issues.

Now, as Frank pointed out with his -- I guess was kind of like the Hollywood squares Zoom addition of a focus group, thewoman Kimberly who brought up the point about, how do we put more money into people's pockets. 
This is where President Trump and his pledge to create 10 million new jobs in the first 10 months of next year, it's critical. You saw his platinum plan, his contract with Black America that he rolled out last week and 500 billion in new capital into the black community to make sure we create three million new jobs for Black America. These are thepolicies that as we go ahead into this next debate even (INAUDIBLE) President Trump talk about quite a bit and continue to push because he has the policies as opposed to Joe Biden's -- excuse me, 47-year record of failure.

BAIER: Well, I got -- I just talked to a -- you know, never Trump supporters who were just not sure about how this played and were a little exasperated, wanted to hear more about what they consider the president's success is and thought that he was maybe a little over heated.

One of the people who said that was one of the people who worked with the president behind closed doors preparing for this debate, Chris Christie. 
Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was that the debate you prepared for? 

CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), FORMER GOVERNOR OF NEW JERSEY: No, on the Trump side, it was too hot.

I mean, you know, listen, you come in and decide you want to be aggressive and I think it was the right thing to be aggressive but that was too hot. 
With all that heat, as you said before you lose the light. That potentially can be fixed.


BAIER: What about that?

MILLER: I couldn't disagree more. I think President Trump again was the dominant force last night. I thought he came out laid out clear vision of where he wants to go. And look, he called out Joe Biden for his shortcomings as a candidate. The fact that he is too weak to lead America. 
The fact the he said the Green New Deal was going to pay for itself, Antifa is just an idea.

I mean, this is nonsense. These are the kinds of things that will get people hurt. We saw a bunch of the anti-vax rhetoric from Joe Biden. Joe Biden is too weak. He's too fragile. He's not prepared to lead the country.

And you know what, Americans have the right to hear that. President Trump again was the one who is pointing out saying here's what he's going to go and do. And if Joe Biden is too weak to defend himself, it doesn't matter if it's theDebate Commission, it doesn't matter if it's a moderator. Joe Biden doesn't have his liberal allies on the stage to defend him.

BAIER: We saw the president come out and kind of deal withthose Proud Boy remarks and the question about that and denouncing that group today. He didn't do it effectively at the debate last night and some lawmakers had an issue withthat. Take a listen.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Well, how many times does he have to say it? If the question is would you denounce it and the answer is yes, he did that.

SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-SC): I think he misspoke, I think he should correct it. 
If he doesn't correct it, I guess he didn't misspeak. 


BAIER: So, did he misspeak? Did he have to clean it up today? You know, you have this group now with t-shirts that say stand back but stand by.

MILLER: Yes, and Bret, I don't know how President Trump could be any more clearly. He denounces all forms of racism, all forms of violence whether it be from the left, whether it be from the right. He has said this over and over and over again.

And in fact, not only did he say it last night when Chris Wallace asked him the question, do you denounce these groups. He said, sure. Actually, he said sure several times. 

The president today said he want these groups to get back, let law enforcement do what they need to.

But here's -- Bret, this is the critical point. The media has to quit being hypocrites on this issue. The fact that Joe Biden does not get called out for speaking at the funeral for a -- I guess he's a grand wizard, a grand dragon of the KKK. Thefact that he supported racist policies for years, even his running mate, Kamala Harris, said his policies were racist. That he was powering around the segregationist.

When is Joe Biden going to have to denounce the KKK? Since he showed up and spoke at the funeral of one of their grand Cyclops, why doesn't Joe Biden have to do that?

So, President Trump has made it very clear, denounces these groups last Friday, he condemned to the KKK, and said that they should be considered as terrorists. Same thing with theAntifa.

And again, this is a sideshow because Joe Biden got his rear end kick last night, and the media wants to change thesubject.

BAIER: OK. The Biden folks, obviously, have a different take. As you can imagine, we invited them here. Jason, thanks forthe time.

MILLER: Thank you.

BAIER: Up next, the former head of the FBI faces tough questions on Capitol Hill.


BAIER: Former FBI Director James Comey, admits there were embarrassing and sloppy mistakes in his words in theapplications to the FISA court for surveillance warrants on aformer Trump campaign aide.

Comey face very tough questioning today from the Senate Judiciary Committee. Chief congressional correspondent Mike Emanuel shows us tonight.


MIKE EMANUEL, FOX NEWS CHANNEL CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Former FBI Director James Comey continued to claim he was unaware of major issues with surveillance warrants used eavesdrop on aformer Trump campaign aide, wrongly suspected of being aRussian agent.

Republican chairman Lindsey Graham was skeptical while addressing explosive new allegations in a letter from thedirector of national intelligence.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): You've got a letter now from Ratcliffe, saying that there was a -- they intercepted information about an effort in July, where Hillary Clinton approved a -- an effort to link Trump to Russia or the mob.

JAMES COMEY, FORMER DIRECTOR, FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION: I can't answer that. I've read Mr. Ratcliffe's letter, which frankly I have trouble understanding.

EMANUEL: Comey admitted, Justice Department watchdog, Michael Horowitz's findings on the FBI's actions were problematic.

COMEY: It's sloppy, it's -- I'm run out of words. There's no indication that people were doing bad things on purpose, but that doesn't make it any less concerning and embarrassing.

EMANUEL: Illinois Democrat Senator Dick Durbin, took aim at President Trump's finances.

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL): Are there serious risks when someone with hundreds of millions of dollars in debt -- personal debt, has access as the president does to all of thecountries classified and sensitive information?

COMEY: It's a serious concern when anyone seeking, or witha clearance has that kind of financial vulnerability.

EMANUEL: Comey, followed Durbin's lead, alleging Mr. Trump was already compromised.

COMEY: I don't know whether the Russians have something over President Trump, but it's difficult to explain his conduct, his statements in any other way.

EMANUEL: That hit a nerve with Utah Republican Senator Mike Lee.

SEN. MIKE LEE (R-UT): How can you now as a private citizen and former FBI director show up and then speculate freely, or regarding any alleged ties between President Putin and President Trump?

EMANUEL: Comey, said the Justice Department inspector general agreed with him. There was a legitimate basis to launch the Russia probe in 2016. 
Republican lawmakers have rallied behind President Trump, who has repeatedly claimed being a victim of biased federal law enforcement.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): Law enforcement should not be used as a political weapon, and that is the legacy you've left.


EMANUEL: Comey deflected direct criticism of his leadership by blaming the complexity of the FISA process. Bret.

BAIER: More on this with the panel. Mike, thanks.

Up next, New York eases up on restaurants just as coronavirus infections there get worse. We'll bring you there. First, here is what some of our Fox affiliates around thecountry are covering tonight.

Fox 5 in Las Vegas as a judge approves a total of $800 million in payouts from casino company, MGM Resorts International, and its insurers to more than 4,400 relatives and victims of the Las Vegas strip shooting.

It settles dozens of lawsuits on the eve of the third anniversary of the shooting that killed 58 people and injured more than 850 at an open-air concert near the Mandalay Bay Resort.

Fox 2 in St. Louis, says city attorneys declined to prosecute nine people charged with trespassing on the private property of a gun-wielding couple who pointed weapons at them during a protest. Meanwhile, that couple faces one felony count of unlawful use of a weapon.

And this is a live look at Indianapolis from Fox 59. The big story there tonight. What is believed to be a meteor, lights up the morning sky across Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana? TheAmerican Meteor Society, says it received more than 200 reports of bright -- a bright fireball over eastern Ohio.

An official with the group, says the object was most likely arandom meteor, not associated with any known shower.

That's tonight's live look, "OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY" from SPECIAL REPORT. 
We'll be right back.


BAIER: New York City is relaxing some restrictions on restaurants, and also dealing with its highest infection number -- numbers in months.

Also tonight, the coronavirus forces the first schedule change of the NFL season. Correspondent Jonathan Serrie has tonight's coronavirus wrap up from Atlanta.


JONATHAN SERRIE, FOX NEWS CHANNEL CORRESPONDENT: The NFL is postponing Sunday's Steelers-Titans game after a fourth player with Tennessee testedpositive for COVID-19. In a memo obtained by ESPN, NFLcommissioner Roger Goodell informs team executives, "Thisis not unexpected. There will be players and staff who will test positive during the season. Each of us has a special responsibility to keep others safe and healthy."

BILL DE BLASIO, MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK: It is so important for everyone to go out and get tested. We need to get a very clear picture of what is happening around the city.

SERRIE: New case increases in nine New York neighborhoods have driven the city's test positivity rate above three percent for the first time since June. The city allowed restaurants to resume indoor dining today, but limited capacity to 25 percent.

CHRIS PAGE, OWNER, WHITE OAK TAVERN: 25 percent, we won't be able to survive. I'm literally on four weeks right now. We have four weeks to go. 
That's where we're at, we're on our knees.

SERRIE: A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine shows, a potential vaccine developed by pharmaceutical maker, Moderna and the National Institutes of Health, creates a strong immune response in older adults, similar to that in younger age groups.

Tampa International Airport is the first in the nation to offer voluntary
COVID-19 testing to all departing and arriving passengers. And today, Alabama's governor extended her statewide mask mandate through the end of the November election.

GOV. KAY IVEY (R-AL): It's important to have a safe environment for our poll workers, poll watchers, and those of us who would like to vote in person.


SERRIE: Long Beach Middle School on the Mississippi Coast placed all of its students under quarantine today. School officials say 15 students tested positive and more than one-third of the student body was potentially exposed. Bret?

BAIER: Jonathan Serrie in Atlanta. Jonathan, thanks.

There continues to be movement on Capitol Hill tonight towards some kind of compromise measure to get more aid to Americans affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Congressional Correspondent Chad Pergram, tells us where things stand at this hour. Good evening, Chad.

CHAD PERGRAM, FOX NEWS CHANNEL CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Bret. Well, if there was going to be a deal, it was probably going to come this week. The reason, there's going to be tens of thousands of layoffs starting tomorrow, Disney, United Airlines.

This is why the secretary of the Treasury, Steve Mnuchin, came to the Capitol today to meet with Nancy Pelosi. It's thefirst time they have gotten together in weeks.


STEVEN MNUCHIN, TREASURY SECRETARY:  We're going to give it one more serious try to get this done, and I think we're hopeful that we can get something done. I think there's a reasonable compromise here, something that thepresident very much wants to get done and make sure that we help those parts of the economy that still need help. 


PERGRAM:  Pelosi released a revamped $2.2 trillion bill this week. It was an effort to show that the House could pass amore narrow bill. The House approved a staggering $3.4 trillion measure last spring. This bill also addresses concerns from moderate Democrats who demanded another COVID package before the election. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says the House bill is too costly. 


MITCH MCCONNELL, (R-KY) SENATE MAJORITY LEADER:  I think it's safe to say we're far apart. The thought that Senate Republicans would go up to $2.2 trillion is outlandish. 


PERGRAM:  Republicans are making a counter offer to Democrats. Both Mnuchin and Pelosi say they agreed to keep talking, but there are chasms of difference over money for state and local governments, and many Senate Republicans don't want to do anything. 


ED PERLMUTTER, (D-CO) HOUSE RULES COMMITTEE:  TheWhite House and the Senate have been twiddling their thumbs and fiddling while Rome has been burning. And I appreciate Ms. Lowey, I appreciate the Democratic Caucus for trying to get something done when we've got a Senate that just sits on its hands. 


PERGRAM:  Pelosi is going to give them one more day to try to get a deal, otherwise the House of Representatives tomorrow is going to vote on the bill that they put together this week and they're going to dare Republicans to vote no on this. Also, Bret, there is not going to be a government shutdown. The House approved an interim spending bill to fund the government through December 11th last week. TheSenate synced up tonight 84 to 10. Bret?

BAIER:  That's good news. Chad, thanks. 

The stakes are high for Montana's census count. Projections show the state could gain a second seat in the House of Representatives. Montana would also gain millions of federal dollars annually, but one study says ending the census on time today could make Montana and Florida lose seats they might otherwise take from California and Ohio. 

Up next, California's wine country endures another devastating wildfire. We will take you there. 


BAIER:  Kentucky's attorney general says the release of secret grand jury proceedings in the Breonna Taylor killing by police will be delayed until Friday. Daniel Cameron's office filed a motion today asking a court in Louisville for a week's delay to allow the names of witnesses and their personal information, including addresses and phone numbers, to be redacted. Cameron's office says a judge granted a shorter delay, saying the material should be made public this Friday. 

Investigators have arrested and charged a man inconnection with the shooting of two Los Angeles county sheriffs' deputies earlier this month as they sat in a squad car. We brought you that story. Deonte Lee Murray faces attempted murder charges. He was arrested two weeks ago in connection with a separate carjacking. 

Thousands of California's weary wine country residents are confronting yet another devastating wildfire. This one iscalled the Glass fire. It's scorched more than 66 square miles and destroyed about 95 structures so far. Farther north, awildfire burning in rural Shasta County has killed four people, destroying nearly 150 buildings there. Correspondent Matt Finn has the latest tonight from Calistoga. 


MATT FINN, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  In California, more than 17,000 firefighters are battling 26 major wildfires that have burned more than 3.8 million acres. 

LAURA COLGATE, SONOMA COUNTY, CALIFORNIA, RESIDENT:  All these people things were gone. It's just like pure devastation. 

FINN:  California's governor declaring an emergency in three counties and has asked President Trump for a major disaster declaration. In northern California this afternoon, the Shasta County sheriff confirmed the fourth death related to theZogg fire, now at 51,000 acres and just seven percent contained. In California's famed Napa and Sonoma Counties, the Glass fire has burned 48,000 acres and is just two percent contained. 

MLUZ TORRES, NAPA COUNTY, CALIFORNIA, EVACUEE:  It's difficult for me and for my family just to realize that we lost everything. 

FINN:  This year's fires in the Napa region are considered catastrophic. 
Entire vineyards and resorts were gutted by fire. 

ALLAN URIBE, DEER PARK, CALIFORNIA, RESIDENT:  It's been very difficult, hard to see our neighborhood, the school I went to grade school at, be gone. 

FINN:  A wine expert says most of the grapes could be ruined from weeks of smoke. Each vineyard owner faces losses totaling millions. 

MOLLY HODGINS, VITICULTURE AND WINERY EXPERT:  Thedamage is unfortunately invisible. You can't even really taste it until you make the wines. The smoke compounds are actually bound up in the grape skins. 


FINN:  And this area of Napa County remains under an evacuation, so the majority of people are not able to return to their home or property to see if it's still standing. Bret? 

BAIER:  Matt, thank you. 

Up next, the panel on the James Comey testimony up on Capitol Hill and, of course, last night's debate. 

First, beyond our borders tonight. The U.S. bans imports of palm oil from Malaysian company FGV Holdings following an investigation into allegations that company uses forced labor. U.S. Customs and Border Protection says its probe revealed signs of forced labor, such as abuse of thevulnerable, deception, physical and sexual violence, intimidation and threats, and retention of identify documents.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is urging the Vatican to join the U.S. in denouncing violations of religious freedom inChina. Pompeo says the Catholic Church should be at theforefront in the fight to insist on basic human rights inChina. 

And a British zoo separates five foulmouthed parrots whose keepers say were encouraging each other to swear. The birds have revealed a penchant for blue language since joining the Lincolnshire Wildlife Center's colony of
200 gray parrots in August. The zoo's chief executives said no visitors have complained about the parents. Most find it funny. But he says the move is being made for the sake of children. Kennedy beat us to that one on "The Five." 

Just some of the other stories beyond our borders tonight. We'll be right back. 



SEN. MIKE BRAUN, (R-IN):  I'd say it was lively. I'd have needed an adult timeout or two in there. 

SEN. TED CRUZ, (R-TX):  It kind of reminded me of Detroit Pistons basketball in the 90s where there were a lot of hard fouls, there were a lot of missed shots. 

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R-SC):  I thought the president was aggressive, sometimes too much. I hope the next debate people will be able to talk. 

CHRIS CHRISTIE, (R) FORMER NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR:  It was too hot. Listen, you come in and decide you want to be aggressive, and I think that was the right thing to be aggressive, but that was too hot. 


BAIER:  Lawmakers and former governor of New Jersey reacted to the debate last night. 

Meantime the Commission on Presidential Debates putting out a statement today, saying "The Commission sponsors televised debates for the benefit of the American electorate. Last night's debate made clear that additional structure should be added to the format of the remaining debates to ensure a more orderly discussion of the issues. The CPD will carefully be considering the changes that it will adopt and will announce those measures shortly. The Commission isgrateful to Chris Wallace for the professionalism and skill he brought to last night's debate and attends to assure that additional tools to maintain order are in place for theremaining debates." 

So with that, let's bring in our panel, Josh Kraushaar ispolitics editor for "National Journal," Mollie Hemingway, senior editor at "The Federalist," and Bill McGurn, columnist for "The Wall Street Journal." 
Bill, let me start with you. Your reaction to the debate and what the CPD is saying today? 

BILL MCGURN, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR:  I mostly agree with Governor Christie. 
However, I have this difference. I didn't like the interruptions so much because I couldn't hear. I'm not above a raucous debate. The Lincoln- Douglas debates were very, very raucous, and there's a lot of language in them that we couldn't print in our paper today on both sides. It was adifferent format, but it was very robust. 

My only complaint is I couldn't hear sometimes because they're going over each other. If they can figure out that, I like to see two candidates go at it. And frankly, I like theissues to be defined by the candidates. Let Joe Biden ask Donald Trump what he thinks the toughest questions are, and let Donald Trump ask Joe Biden the toughest question he thinks are there for Mr. Biden. So I'm not as offended by it, just as a practical matter I couldn't hear everything. 

BAIER:  Yes, Mollie, I assume that the commission isconsidering some sort of warning and then a mic -- cutting off a mic, maybe some timing changes, but we don't know what the specifics are at this point. 

MOLLIE HEMINGWAY, SENIOR EDITOR, "THE FEDERALIST":  Yes, we don't know, and I think it would be unwise to change rules too much in the middle of the debate. President Trump came out with a statement saying that they want to change the rules because he pummeled Joe Biden, and I think a lot of people are saying that, that Trump pummeled Biden.

And the conventional wisdom is that this is bad because you're trying to reach out to independent voters and you're trying to broaden the base. It's possible that people are reading everything completely wrong, that this election isn't about reaching out to independent voters because there aren't that many of them out there. Instead it's about getting people to vote, getting people on your side to vote. 

And that's where this debate looks very different. Joe Biden failed to make the case for himself. He already has an enthusiasm gap. Meanwhile, Donald Trump came out, he was coming out hard, he was coming out hard on a lot of issues that people care about, whether that's pushing back against the racist critical race theory by explaining that a lot of the wokeness of the moment is teaching people to hate their country, whether he was talking about reopening thecountry and not banning children from school or banning businesses, and whether he was talking about judges, which was a very big issue, 25 percent of his voters in 2016 voted for him because of the Supreme Court, and so reminding people of things like this. 

Debates are good because they show people -- they give people an option, they see the differences. And Donald Trump was hot, but he was also really the dominant character in the debate. And Joe Biden prepared and he actually did pretty well at a lot of points, but he also was alittle bit weak. 

BAIER:  Josh, it's interesting, Mollie may be right, we may be reading it wrong. But for the people who follow this a lot, alot of them said perhaps Donald Trump didn't let Joe Biden step on himself, he didn't left some of those moments get to the point where they would be a problem for the Biden campaign. I'm going to play this soundbite about court packing, which really was never answered. 



DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Are you going to pack the court.

BIDEN:  Make sure you in fact let people know, your senators --

TRUMP:  He doesn't want to answer the question.

BIDEN:  I'm not going to answer the question because --   

TRUMP:  Why won't you answer that question.

BIDEN:  The question is -- the question is --

TRUMP:  You want to put a lot Supreme Court justices, radical left. 

BIDEN:  Will you shut up, man? 

TRUMP:  Listen, who is on your list, Joe?

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR:  Is that an idea that you're willing to think about? 

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS, (D-CA) VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  We are 35 days away from an election that isprobably the most important election of our lifetime. Let's focus on what's happening right now, deal with later later. 

TAPPER:  I will respectfully note that you also declined to answer the question. 


BAIER:  Good for Jake Tapper there, but for both of those candidates, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, to not answer that question, it is a big issue when you're changing the number of the Supreme Court. Anyway, go ahead, Josh. 

JOSH KRAUSHAAR, POLITICAL EDITOR, "NATIONAL JOURNAL":  It's a big issue, and I think it was a big missed opportunity for the president, instead of shouting and interrupting over Joe Biden, he could've really pressed him on the fact that he wasn't answering the fact that he would take a specific position on court packing. It got lost in all thenoise. 

And I disagree somewhat with Mollie that there aren't many undecided voters and that Donald Trump just needs to play to his base. He needs to win his voters from 2016, and not all of them are part of the Trump base. There are a lot inOhio where the debate took place who voted for Obama, and they like Trump, they like his policies, but they don't really feel comfortable with this temperament. So the fact that he was so hot and aggressive throughout the whole debate, that's not what these -- there's not a lot of undecided voters, but there are enough of them out there, that's exactly not what they're looking for as they make up their mind and the final months of the campaign. 

BAIER:  Bill, Romney came out hot and arguably won the first debate hands- down, everybody looking at that debate. Then it seemed like something happened and he cooled off, or was told to dial it back, and didn't seem like he was as engaged. Is there a fear that that would happen here? 

MCGURN:  Yes. I think it's a fear. I think you're absolutely right about Mitt Romney. He came out very, very well in thefirst one, and then didn't follow up, he didn't press his advantage. This is a pattern with sitting presidents. Gerald Ford was a sitting president when he said eastern Europe wasn't dominated by the Soviets during his first debate. Ronald Reagan famously got caught up in not seeming to know that when you launch a missile you can't call it back. My ex-boss, George W. Bush, had a terrible first debate when he was running against John Kerry, and as you say, Barack Obama did. 

I think sometimes presidents that a little complacent, they deal with tough issues, they can kind of handle this. That's why I think the answer to your question is -- what I'm interested in is how are they going to recalibrate? 
What are they going to do for the next debate that they didn't do for this one? 

BAIER:  We should point out the next debate is a town hall format, Steve Scully from C-SPAN moderating that. 

I want to turn to this other story because I guarantee it's not getting a lot of coverage on other networks, and that is theformer FBI director Jim Comey testifying on Capitol Hill. Let's go to sound one. 


JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR:  I don't remember any information reaching me about any investigation of asource of Steele's. 

MIKE LEE, (R-UT) SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE:  You don't seem to know anything about an investigation that you ran. So how can you now as a private citizen and former FBI director show up and then speculate freely regarding any alleged ties between President Putin and President Trump? 

SEN. TED CRUZ, (R-TX):  There only two possibilities -- that you were deliberately corrupt or woefully incompetent. And I believe you are incompetent. 


BAIER:  While we're at it, let's run the second one. This isLindsey Graham.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R-SC):  Knowing then what you know now about all the things that we've come to find, would you have still signed the warrant application against Carter Page in October, January, and April? 

COMEY:  No, I would have wanted a much more complete understanding of what we -- 

GRAHAM:  Thank you. Thank you very much. 


BAIER:  Those answers today, Mollie, were a lot different than the answers he gave me in the interview during his book tour, and they have evolved over time. 

HEMINGWAY:  They have changed. James Comey was struck with a wicked case of the "I don't knows" and "I forgets" today when he was asked questions. He said he didn't know that the dossier's primary source was suspected by his own agency of being a Russian agent. He said he didn't know that the allegation that he loved to talk to people about, that was the one with prostitutes in Moscow, he didn't know that was suspected to be Russian disinformation. 

And he said he doesn't recall, it didn't ring a bell that he was told that Russia new that Hillary Clinton had signed off on an operation to link President Trump with Russia. He said he didn't member that. This is a problem. That last piece of information was declassified yesterday, but he said he was confused about what it meant. I think that might mean that the president should declassify everything related to that allegation so we know exactly what Russia knew or how they figured out that Hillary was running this operation years before James Comey did. He told you he still didn't know that Hillary Clinton had secretly funded the dossier. He admitted today that she had. 

BAIER:  Josh, very quickly, the Director of National Intelligence put out a statement saying that this is not disinformation, he's going to declassify more, but there are people in the intelligence community who are very skeptical of what he put out in that letter to Lindsey Graham yesterday we reported on. 

KRAUSHAAR:  Yes. There's concern whether the Russians manipulated the FBI. 
But politically, the big question is whether U.S. Attorney John Durham releases a report before the election. That would be the big October surprise to watch politically. 

BAIER:  And we are going to watch it closely. We'll see.

When we come back -- thank you, panel -- late-night comics on the debate.


BAIER:  Finally tonight, some uninterrupted reactions from late-night hosts on last night's presidential debate. 


JIMMY KIMMEL, LATE NIGHT TALK SHOW HOST:  Thanks forwatching in the aftermath of WrestleMania in Cleveland tonight. 

I'd call it a nightmare, but at least during a night where you get some sleep. 

STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE LATE SHOW":  Forget fact-checking this debate. 
We couldn't even do any sentence finding. I never thought I'd say this, but I am so looking forward to the vice presidential debate. I feel like I did coming out of "Star Wars Episode One, The Phantom Menace" -- how can we possibly do this two more times? 

JIMMY KIMMEL, LATE NIGHT TALK SHOW HOST:  Tonight's debate made history. It was the first time Americans ever watched something on American TV and wished there were commercials. 

Sitting through that debate felt like getting a COVID test inboth nostrils at once. 

Usually when you see two guys this age arguing, it's about leaves blowing on each other's lawn. 



BAIER:  There you go, instant reaction. 

Thanks for inviting us into your home tonight. That's it forthis SPECIAL REPORT, fair, balanced, and still unafraid. "TheStory" hosted by Martha MacCallum starts right now. 

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