'Fox News Sunday' on July 11, 2021
This is a rush transcript of "Fox News Sunday" on July 11, 2021. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: I'm Chris Wallace.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott leaving the pushback to President Biden's
policies and calling a special session filled with hot button GOP
WALLACE (voice-over): From changing voting laws to border security,
abortion, and critical race theory, lawmakers in Austin are meeting to
tackle it all. We'll discuss what's on their agenda and what's not. Plus, a
possible election challenge from a Hollywood heavyweight.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott, only on "FOX News Sunday".
JOSEPH R. BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're ending America's
WALLACE: President Biden moves up the deadline for U.S. troops to pull out
of Afghanistan, even as the Taliban advances. We'll ask Pentagon Press
Secretary John Kirby what it means for America's national security.
Plus, sharp reaction from the administration's door-to-door vaccine drive.
REP. RONNY JACKSON (R-TX): This is still an experimental vaccine being
used under emergency use authorization. It's none of their business who's
had it and who hasn't had it.
WALLACE: We'll ask our Sunday panel about the controversy as the delta
All, right now, on "FOX News Sunday".
WALLACE (on camera): And hello again from FOX News in Washington.
Well, there's an old-fashioned political showdown in Texas right now that
could shake next year's midterm campaign across the country. The battle
geared up in May when Democrats fled the state capital to block new voting
laws the GOP wanted to pass.
Now, the governor is called state legislatures back into a special session
to deal with that and other issues like the border wall, transgender
students sports, and critical race theory.
In a moment, we'll have an exclusive in every with the governor of Texas,
But, first, let's bring in Casey Stegall in Dallas with a look at what all
the fighting is about -- Casey.
CASEY STEGALL, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Chris, good morning to you.
The agenda is a mix of both unfinished business and a few new items, but
they are all measures that appeal, no doubt, to conservative voters.
STEGALL (voice-over): Efforts by Republicans to pass so-called "election
security measures" died with a late-night Democrat walkout at the end of
the regular session.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A quorum is apparently not present.
STEGALL: They are now redoubled as House Bill 3 and Senate bill 1
introduced after the gavel on Thursday. The voting rights advocates
critical of the election reform bill say the efforts and plans to redraw
congressional districts will effectively disenfranchise low income Texans
and voters of color. Texas Democrats are promising not to back down.
NICOLE COLLIER (D), TEXAS STATE REPRESENTATIVE: We're defiant. We will
defy the push to suppress our votes.
STEGALL: Also on the agenda, border security. The governor meeting this
weekend with border sheriffs to get updates on the security effort.
GOV. GREGG ABBOTT (R), TEXAS: They have incredible needs that have to be
met if they're going to be able to handle this massive influx.
STEGALL: Governor Abbott is up for reelection next year and faces two
Last week, actor Matthew McConaughey teased a possible centrist run for the
STEGALL (on camera): Republicans no doubt are banking on a victory during
this special session, with also hopes to energize the voting base and the
conservative voters ahead of next year's midterms -- Chris.
WALLACE: Casey Stegall reporting from Dallas -- Casey, thank you.
And joining us now, Texas Governor Greg Abbott.
Governor, welcome back to "FOX News Sunday."
Joining us now, Texas Governor Greg Abbott.
Governor, welcome back to "FOX News Sunday".
ABBOTT: My pleasure. Thank you, Chris.
WALLACE: Let's start with the voting bill that Casey was talking about.
That became the big issue when Democrats were successfully able to block it
in a regular session. Here is the -- a Democratic state legislator. Take a
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GINA HINOJOSA (D), TEXAS STATE REPRESENTATIVE: We do not have a voter
fraud problem in the state of Texas. Our secretary of state testified that
elections in Texas were safe and secure. The 2020 election was safe and
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: The Texas attorney general's office spent 22,000 man-hours
looking for evidence of voter fraud in the 2020 election and they
apparently came up with 16 cases -- 16 -- of people filing false addresses
on their voter registration.
So, my question, Governor, is, is this a problem in search of a solution?
ABBOTT: Absolutely not, Chris. Remember this, and that was before that I
was governor, I was the attorney general of Texas and I prosecuted voter
fraud cases in the entire state and my successor, Ken Paxton, has been
prosecuting voter fraud across the state, including the most recent arrests
and indictments just taken place this past Friday.
However, I have to disagree with the statement that was just made as well
as the public perception because I'm going to give you the words of a
federal district judge appointed by Barack Obama and the federal district
judge said that voter fraud occurs, quote, "in abundance" as it involves
On top of that, Barack Obama and the Biden demonstration, when they were in
office, they came down to the state of Texas to send an FBI team as well as
a U.S. attorney to investigate and to prosecute a voter fraud scheme where
cocaine was being used to buy absentee ballots.
I will tell you this also, Chris, and that is even Democrats in the Texas
House of Representatives, they agree that as it concerns mail-in ballots,
that is an area where improving the mail-in ballot system is a way to
achieve greater election integrity, so what Texas is doing is we're making
it easier to vote by adding more hours of early voting then we had in
current law, but also making it harder to cheat with regard to mail-in
WALLACE: Well, Governor, let me ask you, though, about two other things
that the GOP bills would do. I want to put them up on the screen. They
would ban 24-hour voting and they would ban drive-through voting. Now,
there was no allegation of any fraud in either of those. Harris County, the
Houston area, employed both of those and more than half of the voters who
showed up were people of color. So, you say you want to make it easier to
vote, that's going to make it harder to vote and the question is why make
it harder for some Texans to vote unless the point is to suppress voting by
people of color?
ABBOTT: So you mentioned a couple of things that need to be responded to.
One, you mentioned how Harris County did this and it was Harris County --
for your viewers, Harris County is where Houston, Texas, is located. Now,
let's go back to Article 1, Section 4 of the United States Constitution
where it says in there that it is the states, not counties that have the
authority to regulate elections.
And despite that constitutional mandate, this past election, Harris County,
a county, tried to create its own election system that had never been used
in the state of Texas. It was not used in the other parts of the state of
Texas, and so what the state of Texas is doing --
WALLACE: But, Governor, why not -- why not let it go on?
WALLACE: Governor, I guess the question is if 24-hour voting worked, why
not continue it?
ABBOTT: Well, first, I can tell -- I'm going to answer questions
specifically, but you need to go back to elections before now because the
same allegations were made when Texas passed a voter ID law, and everyone
said the exact same thing, this is going to disenfranchise people of color,
it will reduce voting. And the fact of the matter is, after we passed voter
ID, we increasingly saw every election cycle, more people go voted, they
did not make it harder to go vote. It was easier to go vote.
And the same thing applies here and that is with 24-hour voting, one thing
that we want to make sure that we have is integrity in the ballot box
system and we need to have poll watchers and monitors and, candidly, it's
hard even for a county to get people to be watching the polls 24 hours a
day. We are providing more hours per day for voting to make sure that
anybody of any type of background, any type of working situation, is going
to have the opportunity to go vote.
With regard to the drive-thru voting -- listen, this violates the
fundamentals of the way voting and for integrity has always bee achieved
and that is the sanctity of the ballot box. Now, if you do drive-thru
voting, are you going to have people in the car with you and it could be
somebody from your employer, or somebody else, who may have some coercive
effect on the way that you would cast your ballot which is contrary to, you
go into the ballot box alone and no one there watching over your shoulder
so that your -- the way you vote, only you will know what that vote will
be. And to allow other people to pile into a car with you, it will alter
In addition to, it would violate state law because in state law, we have
prohibitions on electioneering close to where people cast their votes. If
you're doing drive-thru voting, this is going to be electioneering. It
could be on the bumper sticker in the car right in front of you.
We do still, however, Chris, provide what's called curbside voting for
those who qualify for curbside voting, that continues to be in place.
The bottom line, Chris, is Harris County, under the Constitution, is not
allowed to come up with their own rules. What Texas is doing where, by
adding more hours, we're making it easier for people (ph) to go vote.
One last point, Chris, and that is if you look at the hours of voting that
Texas provides, it is far more hours of voting than exists in the state
where our current president voted in where they had exactly zero hours of
early voting. It's far easier to vote in the state of Texas than it is in
Delaware and yet nobody is claiming that there is some type of voter
suppression taking place in Delaware.
WALLACE: Governor, let me ask you about the special session in general
because some Democrats say -- and this is the word they use -- that you are
using it to pander to Trump supporter's on the far right of the Republican
I want to put up some of the key agenda items: voting reform, as we talked
about. Border security, social media censorship, transgender student
athletes, critical race theory, abortion.
And your critics point out that what isn't on the agenda for the special
session is the electrical grid in Texas, which broke down during the deep
freeze last winter. A hundred -- more than 150 people were killed, more
than 4 million Texans lost their power during that.
And the question is, why wouldn't you address an issue like that that
affects people's everyday lives?
ABBOTT: So, you raised two issues and let me answer both of them. One is
if you look at all these issues that are on the special session agenda.
These aren't new items. All of these items were up on the agenda during the
regular session. They got close to the finish line and the only reason why
they didn't get across the finish line is because, as you pointed out
earlier, the Democrats decided to abandon their job and walk off the job,
did not give us the time to get those other items across the finish line.
So, all we're trying to do is to continue to achieve exactly what we were
trying to achieve during the regular session.
I need to point out to you, Chris, exactly why the power grid is not on the
special session, and that is because during the regular session, there were
robust laws that were passed by the Texas legislature that provide all the
changes that are needed to make sure that we will have an effective power
I must point out, Chris, one very important thing that most people do not
know, and that is, what was the main cause of the power grid failure in the
wintertime, and it's nothing what anybody knows. The main cause of the
power grid failure of the state of Texas actually was a failure by the
power generators in Texas to file a simple document with ERCOT, the
Electric Reliability Council of Texas.
WALLACE: All right.
ABBOTT: And let me -- Chris, I need to explain this very quickly, and that
is in Texas, like in many other states, whenever there's going to be a
temporary shutdown of power in a state, there are certain areas that are
exempt from being shut down, such as hospitals, such as downtowns, such as
police stations. In Texas before the winter storm took place, power
generators and power transmission entities, they were not subject to not
being shut down. When ERCOT shut them down in the winter storm, they froze.
Had ERCOT not shut them down, this would have been a four-hour event as
opposed to a four-day event.
Now, what is required --
WALLACE: Governor, I've got limited time -- sir, I've got limited time.
And the question -- no, sir, the question I have is the power grid isn't
fixed. You talked about it being fixed by the legislature, but you had over
a thousand unplanned outages in June and ERCOT, the agency regulating is
already asking people in Texas to voluntarily conserve energy because it's
been in danger of being overloaded. So you haven't solved the problem.
ABBOTT: Real quickly, Chris, well, what happened in June did not have
enough time for all the changes that were made during the regular session
to go into effect. (VIDEO GAP) problem whatsoever what happened in June,
there were mechanical repairs that needed to be made to about 15 percent of
the natural gas and --
ABBOTT: -- coal-fired power plants. And during those repairs, there was no
blackouts, no rolling blackouts or anything like that. Just for a few hours
a day, calls for conservation.
WALLACE: Sir --
ABBOTT: Here's the important point, Chris, and that is turned out that
during the summertime, there were exactly zero people who lost power in the
summertime showing that the power grid does work very effectively.
WALLACE: All right, one last question. You've got 30 seconds to answer it.
You're up for reelection next year and you may face a real high-profile
challenger. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY, ACTOR: Something I'm trying to look in the eye and
give honest consideration. What an awesome privilege and awesome
responsibility and awesome position of sacrifice and service, something to
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Governor, how seriously do you take Matthew McConaughey as a
ABBOTT: It doesn't matter what the name is, I take everybody very
seriously, and it shows -- I will tell you two things, and that is if you
look at my polling numbers, they are very, very strong. In addition to
that, I have $55 million in the bank already, and I'm a very aggressive
So I will have the resources and the backing of a lot of people across the
state of Texas to ensure that whoever decides to run against me, we will be
able to win.
WALLACE: Governor Abbott, thank you. Thanks for your time. I got to say,
some of your fellow Republican governors stick to friendly venues as life
preservers. I appreciate you coming on and being willing to answer all of
our questions, sir.
ABBOTT: Thank you, Chris.
WALLACE: Up next, we'll bring in our Sunday group to discuss the new Biden
push to go door-to-door to promote vaccinations. Why has that set off some
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: We need to go community by community, neighborhood by neighborhood,
and oftentimes door-to-door literally knocking on doors to get help for the
remaining people protected from the virus.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: President Biden laying out a new push to get Americans vaccinated
as the effort in this country has plateaued.
And it's time now for our Sunday group.
Marc Short, former chief of staff to Vice President Pence. Julie Pace,
Washington bureau chief for "The Associated Press", and Charles Lane from
"The Washington Post."
Julie, let me start with you. I think it's fair to say that President
Biden's door-to-door comments started quite a controversy about his effort
to get more people vaccinated. How frustrated is the White House by the
fact that a third of all Americans are, it seems, pretty resolute in
refusing to get vaccinations? And do they have a real plan to deal with
JULIE PACE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS: I think this
has become one of the biggest frustrations for the Biden White House. You
know, they went into this vaccination campaign always expecting that there
was going to be some group of Americans that was going to be hesitant or
resistant to getting a vaccine but they thought that they would be able to
overcome that hesitancy with more information and with proof that
vaccinations are working. And what they found is that it's really hard to
get that number to budge and that number is larger than I think they
And so, you've seen this effort to start to lean into the idea of really
personal messaging. Biden floating the idea of essentially a door-to-door
campaign, and I think they were then additionally frustrated by the
blowback to that because it did get a bit misconstrued, the idea that these
are people who are going to be coming with clipboards to check off whether
you are vaccinated or not, that there was some sort of government survey,
which is not really what they're talking about, they're talking but
essentially trying to take trusted people and communities to make the pitch
to people who are hesitant at this point, and they do think that that kind
of personal interaction is the best way to get past some of the
misinformation, frankly, that a lot of people are holding on to, to avoid
WALLACE: Marc, how do you feel about this idea of community -- to
community door-to-door intervention, and you know, they say these aren't
government officials. They are just volunteers because their community has
a stake in people get in vaccinated. How do you feel about that effort?
MARC SHORT, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO MIKE PENCE: Well, Chris, I think
that's really a medical miracle that we have three vaccines within the
first year and I think it's an incredible accomplishment, frankly, that 70
percent of Americans have at least had one dose of the vaccination. I think
at this point, there really isn't a lack of information or a lack of
access. The people who are choosing to not get vaccinated are doing so for
their own reasons.
And so, I think at some point Americans expect the right to make your own
choice on health, and I think that probably better resources could be
expended, perhaps, sending people down to the southern border where they
seems to be a greater influx of COVID coming across with the free access
than trying to send community organizers to people's households.
WALLACE: I got to commend you on that pivot, Marc, that was very well
Chuck, let me ask you about this, because there's a fine line here. On the
one hand, I think the government does have an interest in making sure that
people are vaccinated or trying to at least give them that option. But on
the other end, you do run the risk of looking like big brother. And we saw
that when HHS Secretary Becerra was asked about whether or not the govern -
- it's the government's business who's been vaccinated.
And here was his answer this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
XAVIER BECERRA, HHS SECRETARY: It is absolutely the government's business,
it is taxpayer's business if we have to continue to spend money to try to
keep people from contracting COVID and helping reopen the economy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Chuck, Becerra -- the blowback was so fierce, Becerra had to put
out a statement about, is it government's business, saying no, the
government is not going to set up a database from this door-to-door thing
and try to say, here's who's been vaccinated and here's who's not been
vaccinated. This is delicate.
CHARLES LANE, THE WASHINGTON POST: Sure, it's delicate and you get the
feeling that the unvaccinated and the White House are sort of talking past
each other. If you look at the data about who is unvaccinated, they are
people who tend to be more in rural America and small-town America than in
the big cities of the coasts.
And by nature, those people are little bit more distrusting of government,
so I think the Biden the administration, with the best of intentions, and
with no real threat to anyone's privacy, messaged this very poorly. I'm
also struck by the fact that the government seems to not want to try to
give people incentives, you know, monetary and other incentives to take the
There's a very interesting piece of poll data from Kaiser Family
Foundation, a quarter of the unvaccinated say that they would go and get it
if that got them into a lottery for a million dollars. So I sort of think
this calls for some creative thinking to get that last few people --
there's about a 20 percent hard-core that's never going to do it, but maybe
another five or 10 percent would be persuadable, maybe with some more
WALLACE: And in fact as we know, some states like Ohio have set up those
lotteries and incentives.
Julie, I want to turn to another big issue that I was discussing with
Governor Abbott and that is this question of new voting laws, voting
restrictions. The president met with civil rights leaders this week and,
you know, when you've got these red states like Texas imposing the
restrictions, when you've got the Democrats in Congress with their big
reform bill which seems, at least for now, to be dead and you have the
Supreme Court, which just in its final week of its session upheld two laws
in Arizona about voting restrictions.
How -- let me put it this way, does the Biden White House have a plan as to
how they're going to deal with this pullback on voting in the country?
PACE: Well, I think what you're going to start to see over the next couple
of weeks is a pivot from Democrats in the White House to move away from the
focus on this big sprawling piece of voting legislation that, you're right,
is pretty much dead in the water on the Hill right now and a focus more on
restoration of pieces of the Voting Rights Act.
Now, that is difficult even though it is more narrow than the bigger piece
of legislation in one of the things that Democrats are keeping in mind as
they try to pursue that legislation is that this is almost certainly going
to end up back in the Supreme Court. So, they're trying to craft this
legislation in a way that could address them of the concerns we've seen
from some of the more conservative justices, including in the Arizona case
that we just got the ruling out a few weeks ago.
But this is going to be a bit of a slog through the summer to try to get
that voting rights legislation passed. If they do, you could fully expect
that to end up in the courts.
WALLACE: And quickly, Marc, we got less than a minute left. I mean,
there's no real reason to think that would pass muster in the Senate
either, wouldn't it? Are you going to get 10 Republicans to go into the
John Lewis Voting Act?
SHORT: No, of course not, Chris. I think that unfortunately there's a
false dichotomy right now in the nation where it's like if you're
supportive of these election reforms, that somehow you're accused of
believing there was widespread fraud and it was stolen, or otherwise,
you're like Major League Baseball, which requires a photo ID to pick up a
ticket at Will Call, but says if your state imposes voter ID and a
presidential election then you're racist and if we're going to move in all-
star game from Georgia to Colorado.
I think is a lot of people who fall somewhere in between, which is to say
there was not widespread fraud but because of all the problems of COVID,
you had states making unilateral decisions from unelected people who are
extending voting days or allowing ballot harvesting and as Governor Abbott
said in your last segment, that belongs to state legislatures to make those
decisions for each state and the people can vote them out if they don't
like the changes they make. But that's the appropriate process in the
democratic system that we have.
WALLACE: All right, panel, we have to take a break here. We'll see you a
little later in the program.
Up next, we go live to Afghanistan as U.S. forces pull out and the Taliban
makes gains. And we'll speak with a top Pentagon official about the end of
the U.S. mission.
WALLACE: Coming up, President Biden defends his decision to pull U.S.
troops out of America's longest war.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: The United States did what we want to do in Afghanistan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: We'll ask a top Pentagon official what it means for our national
CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: After 20 years, 2,400 American military
deaths and $4 trillion, U.S. troops are leaving Afghanistan. And they're
leaving behind a fractured Afghan government, a surging enemy, and an
In a moment, we'll speak with Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby about
what it means for U.S. national security.
But, first, let's turn to Greg Palkot in Kabul with the latest on the
situation on the ground there.
GREG PALKOT, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Chris, we have been back on the
ground here in Afghanistan for three days now and there has been no let-up
in fighting. New reports today of clashes between the Taliban and Afghan
government forces in a very important southern Afghan city of Kandahar.
Diplomats said to be evacuating as the trouble spreads nationwide.
PALKOT: The Taliban on the move, seizing district after district across
Afghanistan this past week, gaining control of stretches of the country's
borders, including key crossings. The Afghan military often giving up
without a fight. Militants displaying commandeered U.S. weaponry.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): It is clear to you and to all the
world that the Taliban has the control of 85 percent of Afghanistan's
PALKOT: That claim denied by the Afghan government as it said over the
weekend it was taking back some overrun territory and announcing high
Taliban death tolls, also unconfirmed.
What is sure is the bulk of U.S. troops have departed. The hasty exit
including from the main Bagram base, triggering the Taliban conquests,
including a renewed threat to the rights of girls and women under a
passable Taliban rule, people tell us they're afraid.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In our country, everybody, every second, every minute we
are in the fear -- we live in fear.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is something that happened suddenly in Afghanistan
because of the withdrawal of the U.S. troops.
PALKOT (on camera): People want to get out of Afghanistan now?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Afghanistan, yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's hard to live here.
PALKOT: By the way, we were out at that huge Bagram Air Base today. We
spoke to Afghan soldiers there. And they told us they were surprised and
unprepared for the speed and the manner of the U.S. troops exit from that
base. Unsettling times all around.
WALLACE: Greg Palkot reporting from Kabul.
Greg, thanks for that.
And joining us now from the Pentagon, Press Secretary John Kirby.
John, the U.S. has spent almost two decades training up the Afghan military
and the police. We've spent over $88 billion over that time training them
up. Why are they failing so miserably in repelling the Taliban?
JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: Well, you're right, Chris, they have
much more capacity than they've ever had before, much more capability. And
they've got an air force, a very capable air force helping defend their
troops on the ground. They've got very sophisticated special forces who
have been in the fight, and they're brave fighters.
So this is a moment of leadership. And I -- you heard the president talk
about that the other day. It's their right and responsibility now to defend
their citizens and their country. And I think when we look back, whatever
the outcomes are, Chris, we're going to look back and we're going to be
able to say that it came down to leadership, civilian leadership and
military leadership in the field.
Now, the one thing that we can assure our Afghan partners is, while we
aren't going to been the ground with them going forward, we are not walking
away from this relationship. We're going to continue to support them from a
financial perspective, logistical perspective and certainly air craft
maintenance. We're not walking away from this relationship.
WALLACE: Yes, but -- but, John, your talk about how well set up the Afghan
military is. They're giving up huge swaths of the country. The Taliban now
say that they control 85 percent of the country. I know you dispute that.
But the Long War Journal, which tracks this kind of thing, estimates that
13 million Afghans now live in areas controlled by the Taliban, 10 million
in areas controlled by the government --
WALLACE: And 9 million in contested areas. And as you just heard Greg
Palkot report, the Taliban is now fighting for control of the second
largest city in the country, Kandahar, and people are fleeing the country.
Are you surprised that the Taliban is making these kinds of sweeping
advances so quickly?
KIRBY: We're certainly watching with deep concern, Chris, the deteriorating
security situation and the violence, which is, of course, way too high, and
the advances and the momentum that the Taliban seems to have right now.
I mean we're not -- we're not unmindful of that, Chris. We're -- we're
watching it and monitoring it, which is why we are, again, working with our
Afghan partners to encourage them to use the capacity and the capability
that we know they have. And we know that they know how to defend their
country. This is a time for them to step up and to do exactly that.
WALLACE: The big question from the U.S. point of view is, if the Taliban
ends up taking over the country, which is certainly a possibility, will
that increase the terror threat to the U.S. homeland?
Here is Republican Congressman Michael Waltz.
Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MICHAEL WALTZ (R-FL): Al Qaeda will come roaring back in the wake of
an Afghanistan -- of a Taliban take over, much like ISIS did when Obama
pulled out of Iraq. And we saw what happened there with attacks across the
Middle East, Europe, and the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: John, President Biden talks and talked just this last week about
our being able to -- to blunt the terror threat from, quote, over the
horizon, which means from not in country in Afghanistan.
WALLACE: But our closest military bases to Afghanistan are more than a
thousand miles away. Are we really going to rely on that to protect the
U.S. homeland from increased terror threats if terror groups find new safe
havens in Afghanistan?
KIRBY: We always want to find additional options, Chris. That's why we're
working with neighboring countries that are closer to Afghanistan to see
what the possibilities are. And we're doing that as briskly and as
energetically as we can to find additional options.
That said, Chris, and you know this, we have sophisticated and -- and
robust, over the horizon capabilities even without that.
Obviously, closing down space and time would certainly make it easier and
faster for us to deal with any kind of threat emanating out of Afghanistan
towards the homeland, but we have the ability to do it even from afar, even
from those bases in the Middle East, an aircraft carrier that's off in the
Indian Ocean, we can do that. And we've proven that we can done that, even
in recent years, in places like Libya. It's not like we haven't done this
before or that there's a -- a scrap of earth that we can't reach if we
absolutely need to.
WALLACE: But -- but in fairness, when you talk about Libya, we think of
Benghazi and the fact that when that embassy was under attack -- though I
understand we're not talking about that, we're talking about them hatching
plots, it took hours for U.S. resources --
WALLACE: To get to Benghazi --
WALLACE: And -- and by the time they got there it was too late.
Let me -- let me move on to another subject.
There's also the question that I think a lot of Americans ask about the
millions of girls in Afghanistan, and women, the girls in schools, the
women leading full lives. What happens if the Taliban takes over and puts
all of those girls and women back under sharia law, puts the women back
under the burqa? Are we really in effect saying that's not our problem?
KIRBY: I think -- I think the progress of women and girls in Afghanistan is
the world's problem. It's everybody's problem. We, obviously, share the
concerns over the progress they've made and the progress they still have
yet to make. That's why we continue to call for a negotiated political
solution to the end of this war that is Afghan-led, that the Afghan people
have a voice in saying and it's not imposed on them outside the country.
It's got to be Afghan-led in a peaceful, negotiated sentiment so that that
kind of progress can continue.
The other thing I'd say, Chris, is that we -- the president's made clear,
we're going to keep a diplomatic presence in Kabul. That means keeping
diplomats at it. That means continuing the programs and the initiatives
that we continue to espouse for women and girls, for literacy, for
education, for advancement, and for reform. We're still going to be
committed to those programs going forward.
WALLACE: But -- but diplomacy and peace negotiations, if the U.S. is out,
we have lost, and, more importantly, the Afghan government has lost any
leverage with the Taliban.
KIRBY: You had this argument that somehow if you have boots on the ground
all of a sudden you have all this leverage has not panned -- that hasn't
exactly panned out the last five, ten, 15 years, Chris, when we had
100,000 troops on the ground. So the idea that if you have boots on the
ground all of a sudden that gives you leverage has not exactly been the
historical record so far.
What -- what we do have is a lot of diplomatic leverage and we're using
that. We are still involved in trying to broker forward a negotiated
settlement in Afghanistan. And nothing has changed about our commitment to
that. And the rest of the international community also needs to stay
committed to that kind of an outcome so that it's Afghan-let's so that this
kind of progress doesn't fall by the wayside.
WALLACE: I -- I want to talk quickly about two other subjects with you.
President Biden talked to Vladimir Putin on Friday --
WALLACE: About continued cyberattacks from that country on the U.S. A
senior official afterwards, on a readout of the call, said that the -- the
U.S. will, quote, take any necessary action to defend our infrastructure.
What kind of measures is the Pentagon's cyber command prepared to take to
defend the U.S.?
KIRBY: Chris, I think you could understand the last thing I'm going to do
on national TV is talk about cyber operations in any great detail.
What -- what I can tell you is that we -- our job is to provide options to
the -- to the president. Options in the cyber realm. Options outside the
cyber realm. And just because you have -- you face a cyberattack doesn't
mean that that's how you -- you necessarily respond in kind. There's a -- a
whole range of tools at the president's disposal. Some of those tools
reside here at the Pentagon and at cyber command, and we're going to be
prepared and ready to tee up those options for him whenever he might need
WALLACE: And would it be fair to say that the president has at his disposal
a -- a wide set of cyber options from the Pentagon if he decides to go in
KIRBY: That is very fair to say, yes, sir.
Let's finally turn to Haiti.
The -- Haiti's government asked the U.S. to send troops there to deal with
the chaos in the country. Is the Pentagon prepared to send U.S. forces
there, first of all, to deal with the situation, and, secondly, now that
we've had the assassination of Haiti's president, is the situation there
and the disarray, is that a matter of U.S. national security?
KIRBY: Well, Chris, as for your first question, we are aware of the request
by the Haitian government. We're analyzing it, just like we would any other
request for assistance here at the Pentagon. It's going through a review.
I'm not going to get ahead of that process.
And -- and today an interagency team, largely from the Department of
Homeland Security and the FBI, are heading down to Haiti right now to see
what we can do to help them in the investigative process. And I think
that's really where our energies are best applied right now in helping them
get their arms around investigating this incident and figuring out who's
culpable, who's responsible and how best to hold them accountable going
forward. That's where our focus is right now.
WALLACE: And -- and -- and, real quickly, is what's going on in Haiti, is
that a matter of U.S. national security?
KIRBY: I think we are watching the situation very closely, Chris. I don't
know that we're at a point now where we can say definitively that our
national security is being put at risk by what's happening there. But,
clearly, we -- we value our Haitian partners. We -- we -- we value
stability and security in that country. And that's why we want to send a
team down there today to -- to help them get their arms around exactly what
happened and what's the best way forward.
WALLACE: John, thank you.
KIRBY: Thank you.
WALLACE: Thanks for sharing part of your weekend with us. Always good to
talk with you, sir.
KIRBY: You too, sir, thank you.
WALLACE: Up next, we'll ask the panel what happens if the Taliban take over
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will not send another
generation of Americans to war in Afghanistan with no reasonable
expectation of achieving a different outcome.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: President Biden standing his ground on pulling U.S. troops out of
Afghanistan as the Taliban make dramatic advances across that country.
And we're back now with the panel.
Marc, President Biden is ordering this pullout, but President Trump, former
President Trump, was planning to do the same thing if he were reelected.
And, in fact, he had wanted to get all troops out by May 1st.
As you look at what's happening in Afghanistan now, any second thoughts
about this policy of total withdrawal?
MARC SHORT, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO MIKE PENCE: Well, Chris, I think that
President Trump was right to initiate it and I actually think that
President Biden is correct to complete the withdrawal.
I think that Americans, men and women in uniform, should not be police
keepers across the globe, nor should we be involved in nation building.
Having said that, I do know that, at the end, the intelligence community
came to the Trump administration and said, if we could at least keep a hub
at -- at a base their because we've had so many effective counterterrorism
covert operations with special forces and that would not require 100,000
troops, it would require enough troops to fortify a base.
And if you look at Afghanistan, strategically located between Iran and
China, having that base to -- continue to do covert operations I think
would be beneficial to America.
So I support the withdrawal of the majority of the troops. I think it's the
right policy that the Biden administration is completing. I think it's
unfortunate, though, that the intelligence community was -- was not
successful in getting their wish to maintain some -- some base of troops
there to allow us to continue to do counterterrorism operations.
WALLACE: Do -- do you have any reason to believe that President Trump would
have kept a counterterrorism force there?
SHORT: No, I don't -- I don't think that at the time that their arguments
made their way with President Trump either. I think he was anxious to
withdraw all troops and -- and I think that that's unfortunate. I think it
would have been good -- better to have had a base for the intelligence
community to continue to do covert operations.
WALLACE: Chuck, the president, President Biden, was categorical this week
that whatever happens in Afghanistan, ultimately it's -- it's their
Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's up to the people of
Afghanistan to decide on what government they want, not us to impose the
government on them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Chuck, the -- the flaw in that reasoning, of course, and you heard
it also from John Kirby, is the Afghan people may not get to decide their
government because it maybe won't be the U.S. that imposes it on them, it
will be the Taliban.
CHARLES LANE, "THE WASHINGTON POST": The way they're going to decide who's
the government in Afghanistan is probably through war. And that's on the
way. And that's why in that very good report we heard from Kabul from Greg,
so many people in that city were expressing fear about what's coming next.
It's absolutely true that this would have been Donald Trump's problem too -
- or his policy too, but it's now happening on Joe Biden's watch and it's
happening in some haste and I would say some unseemly haste. It's almost
like a bugout rather than a phased withdrawal.
And I think we all need to be concern, in addition to the humanitarian
impact this will have on Afghanistan itself, on the prestige and the
perceived power of the United States. I think one reason the Taliban is
being so aggressive is they are going to try to create the spectacle of
humiliating defeat similar to Vietnam in 1974, '75 for the United States,
not just to take back Afghanistan, but to create a spectacle in the world
that the United States is a weakens empire and a paper tiger.
And if that happens, and I hope it doesn't, it will be happening on Joe
Biden's watch and better -- for better or worse, he will own it.
WALLACE: I want to turn to the other big foreign policy story this week,
and that is the continued cyberattacks on the U.S. emanating from Russia.
It got serious enough that President Biden spoke to Russian President Putin
for an hour this week and then had this readout.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The United States expects, when
a ransomware operations is coming from his soil, we expect them to act if
we give them enough information to act on who that is.
REPORTER: You said, three weeks ago, there would be consequences. Will
there be, sir?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Julie, the president keeps saying to Putin, don't do it, don't do
it, and then it happens again and he repeats, don't do it.
Do they have a plan here as to how to deal with it?
JULIE PACE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, "THE ASSOCIATED PRESS": Yes, you know,
this feels very similar to the arguments that we were hearing from the
Obama White House in the final month of that administration where there was
a similar message being delivered, largely privately at that point because
we were in the -- in the 2016 campaign, but the message was, we know you're
doing this, we know this is emanating from Russia and you need to stop, and
yet here we are several years later and this is still happening.
So I think, no, you know, the U.S. has not figured out at this point how to
get Russia to change its behavior or how to get Putin to crack down on some
of these bad actors within his country.
I do think that there is a pretty aggressive discussion happening within
the administration right now. John Kirby alluded to this. A lot of this is
going to be classified. A lot of this is going to be -- is -- the response
is going to be carried out in ways that we're not always going to see or
know publicly. But until we see a change in behavior emanating from Russia,
I think the answer to this has to be that, no, there is not an effective
plan at the moment.
WALLACE: Marc, there's a danger when you keep setting redlines and the
difference between what Obama was doing and what Biden was doing was Biden
made those red lines very public at the summit in Geneva. There's a danger
to setting red lines and then not enforcing them.
SHORT: Sure, Chris.
I think that previously the Obama administration often prosecuted
cyberattacks, like the DOJ investigation and a crime.
One thing that's been, I think, less reported is President Trump gave a lot
more latitude to our military and to our intelligence communities to
respond in kind to cyberattacks and to be aggressive with it. And I think
it deterred foreign actors who were looking to -- to -- to attack the
I don't know whether the Biden administration has relapsed to a previous
policy that's pursuing it more as a criminal investigation, as to whether
they're giving the same latitude to our military with cyberattacks. But I -
- I do know -- I do believe that we have the -- an extreme capability to
cripple other countries who conduct these attacks on us. And whether or not
our military is giving latitude to use them, I don't know right now.
WALLACE: Chuck, I've got about 30 seconds left.
If these cyberattacks continue, and they continued after the warning in
Geneva, now Putin's gotten another warning. If they continue, how much
runway does Joe Biden have left before he has to act?
LANE: I think he's got less runway now then he had before. And I think
Putin is loving this situation because this is a perfect way to harass the
United States and cause a perception of weakness by the president without -
- with deniability for Moscow and no cost to Putin.
WALLACE: Well, and that, of course, was the question, at some point, will
there be a cost to Putin?
Panel, thank you. See you next Sunday.
Up next, our "Power Player of the Week," cellist Yo-Yo Ma spreading hope
through his magical music.
WALLACE: He's been a major figure in American music for decades. But as we
told you this winter, he found a new way to reach us during the pandemic.
Here's our "Power Player of the Week."
YO-YO MA, CELLIST: Since you can't be touched, you can't be caressed, the
music is the caress, is -- is that piece of humanity that is missing from
your aloneness and when you need it the most.
WALLACE (voice over): World-famous cellist Yo-Yo Ma on the role music can
play in the time of COVID. Despite quarantines and social distancing, Ma
has found ways to bring people closer together.
MA: This is a moment for invention. The thing that we then need to look at
is the delivery system.
WALLACE: And deliver he has. Ma began a project called Songs of Comfort,
where he posts video on social media playing his cello.
MA: One of my colleagues said, you know, maybe we could do what we usually
do in times of stress and disasters. How about if we do songs of comfort
and hope? I said, done.
WALLACE: Ma's videos have gotten almost 45 million views and he's invited
other artists to post their own songs of comfort, like James Taylor.
JAMES TAYLOR, MUSICIAN (singing): Trying not to try to hard. It's just a
MA: I think we're all trying to figure out ways to find ways to help.
WALLACE: Music has always been a passion for Ma. Born in Paris, then raised
in New York City, he was a child prodigy, playing for President Kennedy at
Over the years he's performed on a variety of stages, from Carnegie Hall to
"Sesame Street" to President Obama's first inauguration.
WALLACE (on camera): How difficult was it not to be in front of an
audience, on a stage, for all these months?
MA: It was not difficult for me because I think I was constantly in touch
with people. Music actually does play a part in helping.
WALLACE (voice over): And so Ma played songs of comfort for us and for you.
WALLACE (on camera): What a gift.
MA: Thank you so much, Chris.
WALLACE: Thank you.
WALLACE: You can hear more of Yo-Yo Ma's music on his album, "Songs of
Comfort and Hope."
Now this program note. Join me on Fox Nation as we mark what would have
been Nancy Reagan's 100th birthday. Our special "Nancy Reagan: An American
Story" is available to stream right now.
And that's it for today. Have a great week and we'll see you next FOX NEWS
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