This is a rush transcript from "Fox News Sunday," August 11, 2019. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
BILL HEMMER, ANCHOR: I'm Bill Hemmer, in for Chris Wallace.
Calls for answers in the apparent suicide of multimillionaire Jeffrey Epstein in his jail cell.
Plus, pressure building on Congress to act on gun control in the wake of back-to-back mass shootings.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT: Well, we'll see where the NRA will be. But we have to have meaningful background checks.
HEMMER: President Trump expresses optimism he can rally Republicans as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell faces calls to act.
We'll discuss what options are on the table after Texas and Ohio with counselor to the president, Kellyanne Conway, only on "FOX News Sunday".
REP. TIM RYAN, D-OH, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Gun violence in our country is a black mark on our politics.
HEMMER: We'll get reaction from Democratic candidate, Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan, who led a gun-control caravan to McConnell's home state.
Plus, we'll talk to Ohio governor, Republican Mike DeWine, about his plan to combat gun violence after the massacre in Dayton.
JOE BIDEN, D-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I will not let this man be reelected president of the United States of America.
HEMMER: Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden ramps up his criticism of President Trump. We'll ask our Sunday panel about Biden's strategy.
All right now on "FOX News Sunday".
HEMMER: And hello again from FOX News in Washington.
It's been a busy August recess so far for the president and for members of Congress. The nation's political leaders facing calls to do something in the wake of last weekend's mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio.
But the politics of gun control are complicated. And the stakes are even higher heading into the election of 2020.
We will get to all of that in a moment when we speak exclusively with White House counselor Kellyanne Conway.
But first, the stunning news of Jeffrey Epstein, the rich and politically- connected financier, found dead in his jail cell this weekend.
Kristin Fisher has the latest on that here in Washington -- Kristin.
KRISTIN FISHER, CORRESPONDENT: Bill, the Department of Justice says Jeffrey Epstein died of an apparent suicide, but several politicians, including President Trump are floating unsubstantiated conspiracy theories that Epstein was killed or at least had help.
FISHER: Just hours after Jeffrey Epstein was found dead inside his New York jail cell, President Trump retweeted a post implying former President Bill Clinton was linked to Epstein's death with the #Clintonbodycount.
The post also referenced the #Trumpbodycount that was trending as well.
The president and former president knew Epstein and had flown on his private planes, but both deny any knowledge of Epstein's alleged international sex trafficking ring involving underage girls. Prosecutors say the case will continue despite Epstein's death while an attorney for Epstein's accuser says his clients are shocked.
SPENCER KUVIN, ATTORNEY REPRESENTING EPSTEIN ACCUSERS: We find it very hard to believe that he would be allowed to commit suicide, especially when he was on suicide watch from just a few days ago.
FISHER: Epstein's death comes less than 24 hours after court documents were unsealed, implicating several powerful men, including former met New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell and Britain's Prince Andrew.
Attorney General Bill Barr says he was appalled by Epstein's death and that it raises serious questions that must be answered.
A furious Republican Senator Ben Sasse told Barr that Epstein, quote, should have been locked in a padded room during unbroken 24-hour constant surveillance. Obviously, heads must roll.
FISHER: The FBI and Justice Department's inspector general are now investigating, but will the public believe whatever those investigations dig up with this many conspiracy theories being floated by people as prominent as the president of the United States? Bill?
HEMMER: What a story. Kristin, thank you, here in Washington.
Joining us now, counselor to the president, Kellyanne Conway.
And, Kellyanne, welcome back to "FOX News Sunday".
KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: Good morning, Bill.
HEMMER: I have a number of issues to get through.
First on Epstein. Can you assure the accusers that their claims will still be pursued?
CONWAY: What I can assure them is that the attorney general took action immediately when he learned of the death of Jeffrey Epstein and there will be -- there is an active investigation. I can't really comment on that any further.
And I think that those victims should have justice and they've been looking for justice for many, many years, and I really can't comment beyond that. I think that this is the ultimate macabre final episode to a man who clearly was an evil monster doing terrible things to young girls.
HEMMER: Why then the president then retweet that Clinton suggestion?
CONWAY: I think the president just wants everything to be investigated as you -- as your reporter just revealed just the day before. There was some unsealed information implicating some people very high up, and I'm not going to repeat their names, you already did that. I'm not seeing anything beyond that, and I won't.
But I will say, Bill, that there's always this rush to -- we need transparency, we need accountability when it involves fictional accusations like collusion with Russia to swing an election. This seems to be very concrete and that Jeffrey Epstein has done some very bad things over a number of years. And so, let's continue to investigate that.
I don't think that somebody's -- on (ph) crimes and accountability for that necessarily perishes with them. We know that the law can allow for many different investigations, maybe there are co-conspirators, maybe there are not. But again, it's an active investigation.
I think everybody should be at least relieved when an attorney general takes the action swiftly as Attorney General Barr did yesterday, and he's disturbed by this death --
HEMMER: OK, let's see where that goes.
CONWAY: -- and let's see where it goes. It's really new. This all happened within the last 24 to 28 hours.
HEMMER: Understood and we should go slow with this.
Just back on the retweet, quickly -- it's clear what he was trying to say, wasn't it?
CONWAY: I think the president just wants everything to be investigated. And, you know, trying to connect the president to this monster from years ago where they are seen dancing in the video versus other people who were actively, I suppose, flying around with this monster on his island, which was known as "pedophilia island", perhaps there's a public interest in knowing more about that.
But, again, this is all speculative and it's not for me to go further than where the DOJ and the FBI are right now. But you do hear different people asking questions and they want to know who else was involved in Epstein's crimes, or even just activities, and -- and I guess that that will be revealed in time.
HEMMER: OK. Let's move to guns in America. What a week it was. The president said this on Friday at the White House.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I think I have a greater influence now over the Senate and over the House. I think we can get something really good done. I think we can have some really meaningful background checks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HEMMER: The first part about that comment where he says, I have greater influence over the House and the Senate, what is his plan to influence, to use that influence now, Kellyanne?
CONWAY: Well, the president has been actively talking to Republicans and Democrats on the matter of background checks and just being able to have meaningful, measurable reforms that don't confiscate law-abiding citizens' firearms without due process, but at the same time, keep those firearms out of people who have a propensity towards violence.
You know, when the president signed into law Fix NICS in March of 2018, that was a big deal because Fix NICS would have prevented -- those stronger background checks and data information sharing between federal and state authorities, would have prevented Sutherland Springs, Charleston, South Carolina, any number of these mass shootings where these people have felony charges, they should not have been able to procure a firearm.
And so, this president signed into law something that was not done by the previous administration.
I know you're going to have Congressman Ryan on later, ask them why no legislation of any import was presented by Speaker Pelosi and the Democrats when President Obama was (INAUDIBLE) -- when they had a veto-proof majority in the Senate. They could have passed things and they did not.
HEMMER: But perhaps we get to that (ph) with Congress, Congressman Ryan (ph).
But just to factor the question about the president, he also said on Friday that Mitch McConnell is, quote, totally on board. Now, in a radio interview on board, Mitch McConnell said this in his hometown.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, R-KY: The president called me this morning about this, he's anxious to get an outcome, and so am I. We'll be front and center as we see what we can come together on and passed.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
HEMMER: What he talked about were background checks and red flags. But yet, Friday, Republican Senator John Barrasso was quoted with reporters saying this. He said: I've got a lot of concerns about the due process component of red flag laws. I don't want to punish law-abiding citizens.
That's the -- that's the number three Republican in the Senate. So then, how was the party on board, Kellyanne?
CONWAY: That's all reconcilable. It's exactly what I just said. We want to make sure that people who should not have firearms don't.
And I think the fact pattern in Dayton, that man's shooter who is now dead, is really very compelling to many Americans, Bill, in that, they say how in to vote for somebody who has a rape list for girls, a kill list for boys, a history in high school where some of his classmates -- schoolmates were afraid to come to school, that then when he becomes an adult, that information does not follow into his record so that he legally procures a firearm?
So, most people look at that right, left, and center and apolitical, look at that and say, how can this happen?
So, I mean, the FBI is very focused on domestic terrorism. They're very focused on mass shooting. They're very focused on information, analytics, technology to help them, but that has to go across federal, state, and local law enforcement so they can share more information.
We can protect people's civil liberties, privacy, constitutional rights and public safety all at the right time, but I predict that this president, President Trump, is the president who will get this done.
HEMMER: OK, he has suggested something --
CONWAY: He will have more meaningful measurable background checks.
HEMMER: He suggested things in the past on background checks and then reversed himself, too, Kellyanne.
CONWAY: No, look, we've got Republican senators publicly saying they are for some type of background checks now. That's Rob Portman of Ohio, Susan Collins of Maine, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Mike Braun of Indiana. You're talking about members of the Republican Senate who have come forward and say, let's take a look at this.
You know that Chairman Graham, Lindsey Graham, and Dick Blumenthal of Connecticut had these "red flag" laws. We had to take a look at what the final product is. We're looking at that.
The Fix NICS violation is being put forward I believe by Toomey-Coons, the Democratic senator of Delaware who's endorsed Joe Biden.
HEMMER: There have been -- there have been many violations too on that. Yes.
CONWAY: You know, this -- this -- well, that's right. But the Fix NICS is important because there actually would have stopped -- it should have stopped some of these mass shooters in the past.
But, you know, this president did what presidents do. He went and he visited the victims. He went and thanked law enforcement and health professionals. He talked to many of the survivors, many of the victims' families.
He and the first lady expressed their condolences. He's tried to heal a nation. He came out Monday morning and in no uncertain unequivocal terms denounced hate, bigotry, racism and yes, white supremacy. And he will continue to do that.
CONWAY: But, you know, when people say, do something, we need to do something that's meaningful that will stop these mass shootings.
HEMMER: Understood and let's see what we get done.
CONWAY: Not something that makes everybody feel better, but what makes us all safer.
HEMMER: Two minutes, two topics. North Korea, the president said he received a letter, a three-page letter from Chairman Kim, said that on Friday, tweeted this on Saturday.
It was a small apology for testing short-range missiles and that this testing would stop when the exercises ended. I look forward to seeing Kim Jong-un in the not-too-distant future.
He's tested missiles five times in two weeks. Why would you entertain the idea of meeting with him?
CONWAY: Because the president has made very clear he would like there to be denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. It was former President Obama who told President-elect Trump, North Korea will be your most vexing, challenging issue. So, this president dove in from the very beginning.
He's met with Kim a few times. He has sanctions going on in Korea. Everything in North Korea, everything stays the same. There are sanctions in place until we see irreversible, verifiable, complete denuclearization, and we don't see that yet.
But some of these short-range missile tests also, I'm informed by our NSC, do not violate the Singapore agreement, and the president has made -- talk about transparency and accountability, tweeted out that after to the South Korea exercises are over, are completed, that he and Kim can get back to the negotiation table. This president has also dangled in front of Kim a more economically prosperous, more free North Korea for his people.
So, that's up to Kim.
CONWAY: And when this president walked away from what he considered to be a bad deal as several months ago, everybody was shocked. How can he do that?
He does that every time he doesn't see a good deal for America, and he didn't see seriousness of purpose there. But he wants to continue to talk to him, talk to President Xi about trade, definitely get a vote on USMCA for that --
HEMMER: There's no meeting on the schedule now, correct? At the moment, there is not? Just --
CONWAY: Not at the moment no, but this will come together fairly quickly when the time is right.
Last thing on the campaign. On Friday, the president said this about Joe Biden.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Joe Biden is not playing with a full deck. This is not somebody you can have as your president. But if he got the nomination, I'd be thrilled.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HEMEMR: Do you believe or does president believe, rather, that Joe Biden will be his opponent?
CONWAY: Well, it's possible. I mean, there still 23 or 24 of them running.
I saw on the latest Quinnipiac Poll released this week that 20 of the Democrats were at least below 1 percent or at 1 percent, and a couple more at 2 percent, including one you're about to have onto your show.
So, I'm just reading the polls and telling you that no matter how much the Democrats are attacking President Obama's vice president, Joe Biden, for being out of touch and for working with segregationists, Democrat senators, for not being able to say a couple of numbers, six numbers to text you, of really -- the only one out there who seems to be propping up Obamacare, which is left 28 million-plus Americans with no health insurance whatsoever, it may be Joe Biden, it may be someone else.
But it doesn't really matter because they are all stuck raising their hands saying they want to give health benefits to illegal immigrants, that they want to have Green New Deals that cost $32 trillion and get rid of airplane travel and cows. They are stuck saying that they want Medicare for All, which is socialized medicine that apart from the monetary cost, the moral cost of making us all wait for care the way those veterans five years ago died waiting for care.
They have to run -- but you think they're going to against Donald Trump? They are running against the Trump economy also. They're running against the Trump deregulation. They're running against the fact that America is now the world's largest net exporter of natural gas and oil. They're running against this big boom in manufacturing and small business ownership.
HEMMER: It sounds like a --
CONWAY: And they can't (ph) do that.
Running against a president who signed into law something President Obama and Joe Biden did not, which was Fix NICS, which actually could stop a lot of these mass shooters.
So, whoever it is, they have to really defend socialism now and government- run things, but Joe Biden is being attacked from within. He's being attacked by Kamala Harris and Cory Booker.
HEMMER: That's what primaries are about.
CONWAY: -- and others because they see him as a serious threat. That's right.
HEMMER: And that's what elections are about too.
Thank you so much for your time. Thank you, allow you to get back to your family on this Sunday.
CONWAY: Thank you, Bill.
HEMMER: Thank you. Kellyanne Conway, with us today.
CONWAY: Thank you, sir.
HEMMER: In a moment, Ohio congressman, Democratic presidential candidate Tim Ryan is back on the campaign trail after the shooting in Dayton. He will join us next exclusively.
Plus, we'll bring in our center group to discuss what can be done about the rise in rhetoric on both sides.
HEMMER: Following the mass shooting in Dayton last week, Ohio congressman and Democratic presidential candidate Tim Ryan took his call for gun control on the road.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RYAN: Is either up or we are getting up!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HEMMER: He led a caravan of into Mitch McConnell's hometown of Louisville, calling on Senate Republicans to take action on gun control measures the House passed earlier this year.
Congressman Ryan joins us today from Charleston, South Carolina, outside the Mother Emanuel AME Church where nine people died in a racially- motivated shooting four years ago.
Sir, welcome back to "FOX News Sunday".
RYAN: Thanks for having me. Yes.
HEMMER: On gun control, Dylann Roof is facing the death penalty for what happened inside the church behind you. In his case, he had a criminal record. He was still able to buy a gun. A mistake in the system allowed him through.
And since then, the FBI has taken responsibility for that mistake. That was human error.
How would you stop someone like Dylann Roof?
RYAN: Well, one of the bills before Mitch McConnell takes -- goes from three days to 10 days, that if you are not properly vetted you would get the gun anyway. And so, this -- after three days, and our bill says we are going to get it to ten days.
The other bill is a comprehensive universal background check that 90 percent of the American people support. I think almost 70 to 80 percent of hunters and sportsmen support and that would make sure there's a background check if you get a gun at a gun show, if there's a person-to-person sale, that that should require a background check.
So this is a pretty popular thing. I wish everything and Washington, D.C., had 90 percent support of the American people. This does. It's common sense when you see what happened in Dayton and El Paso, the tragedies, the lives that have been lost and ruined, quite frankly, and the heartbreak. We can do something that 90 percent of American people agree upon.
HEMMER: You mentioned, you mentioned background checks several times here. In a moment, we're going to talk with the Ohio governor back in your home state. He's a Republican. He has several proposals on gun control.
But the NRA said the following: The inconvenient truth is this, the proposals being discussed by many would not have prevented the horrific tragedies in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio. Worse, they would make millions of law-abiding Americans less safe and less able to defend themselves and their loved ones, end quote.
Here's what we learned this past week. A background check did not prevent the killers from buying a gun in either case. And on that point, the NRA is correct.
RYAN: The NRA -- their suggestion is we do nothing, we do nothing.
We know that mass shootings happen primarily in the United States, at least at this level. There's mental illness in other countries. There is video games other countries. How do we take some modest steps to start getting these guns out of the hands of people?
It's not just the mass shootings, it's the day-to-day killings. A hundred a day, 30-some-thousand a year in the United States. Women, 52 a month through domestic violence are victims of gun violence. I mean, this has got to stop.
And for the NRA to just not even be part of the solution and want to sit down and talk. Look, I take my son hunting at least once a year, our son, and we go duck hunting. In Ohio, we have a huge sportsman's tradition and culture. I appreciate that.
I would never want to take someone's hunting rifle from them. I would never take someone's ability to defend their own home away from them.
This is about getting these weapons of war that were designed to kill a lot of people really quickly. This kid in Dayton, nine people, almost 30 injured in less than 30 seconds. You can't ask for a better response time.
And he had 100 magazine drum, 100-round magazine drum that was in his car. That doesn't belong on the streets of the United States. And I say that as someone who goes hunting. These are two separate conversations.
HEMMER: But specifically, on the background law, it would not have prevented them from acquiring the gun and whether it's the law or the gun, it's something we can debate. But I want to talk about the political rhetoric.
RYAN: It would prevent -- it would prevent a lot. It would prevent a lot.
RYAN: It would prevent a lot of gun violence.
HEMMER: You have said the president is a racist. Several other candidates have leveled a similar charge. This was the scene outside Mitch McConnell's house this past week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is (EXPLETIVE DELETED) house. He is in there nursing his little broken arm. It should have broken his raggedy wrinkled neck. Just stab the mother (EXPLETIVE DELETED) in the heart.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HEMMER: Some of these comments could be considered death threats. What is your responsibility for bringing down the temperature?
RYAN: I'll tell you, there should be zero tolerance for that kind of rhetoric. There's no place in that in the United States of America. I took that caravan, we went to Louisville, we did not go to Mitch McConnell's house. I think that is -- that is -- I quite frankly think going to people's homes is out-of-bounds.
You keep it -- you keep it civil. You keep it in the public discourse. That should not be condoned. I do not condone it and I think we do need to lower the temperature.
My only point was, and I've said this, that the white supremacists think that Donald Trump is a white supremacist. So don't take a political candidate's comments, because people don't really take a lot of credibility with what anybody says.
I would just say when you look at this kid in El Paso, you know, he was saying similar things that President Trump has said about the invasion and all of this. And all I'm saying is sometimes that the rhetoric does get so hot around immigrants, othering people, making people not feel a part of the United States, not part of the country.
Look, these are complicated issues. Let's deal with them. But to incite and say go back to the country that you came from, that's not appropriate either. The president is a cultural figure.
HEMMER: But in the political -- in a political sense, Joaquin Castro, Democrat from Texas, he is trying to shame to Trump donors on social media, you know that story. His twin brother is running to be the nominee.
The point is, members of your own party are contributing to all of this.
RYAN: Bill, I'm just going to say this. I'm so sick of the left and right and left and right and back and forth. I'm trying to project a campaign for president that is about new and better.
We are locked in these same arguments that we've been having. I believe we need to call out racist activity when we hear it and words when we hear it. There are ethical lines that we should not cross. I think the president hasn't done a good job at all of setting a tone of bringing people together.
He's the first one that torched the joint on Twitter and start a fight. I mean, even the supporters of him say this. Like, he can't do that.
If this country needs to heal and I'm looking for new and better, not left or right, and we've got to get out of this left-right divide. It's been going on since Vietnam and quite frankly it's going on my whole life. I'm 46 is old.
I'm ready for America to come together and heal around issues where 90 percent of us agree, like on this gun issue.
HEMMER: On that --
RYAN: The social and emotional learning in school, and all these other things. We can come together on some of this.
HEMMER: On that point about the campaign, let's talk about that. Now, you're in South Carolina to campaign. It would appear your campaign is in trouble. Here are the nine candidates who have qualified for the next debate in early September, and you're not one of them. The deadline is about two weeks away.
Sir, have you reached the end for 2020?
RYAN: No, we have not. We literally have the best week of the campaign. I've had the best fund-raising week right after the debate. I have the best fund-raising day the day after the debate.
We are continuing -- we had a great showing yesterday at the Iowa state fair. We are continuing to build volunteers and low dollar donors. Look, my name recognition isn't like that from someone from a big state or a really big city.
So I'm pushing a campaign, as I said, about not left or right, but new and better. I'm talking about bringing manufacturing back and start building things like electric vehicles and solar were China right now is cleaning our clock. They control 60 percent of the electric vehicle market, 60 percent of the solar panel market.
I'm going to have a chief manufacturing officer that moves us down that road, and that's resonating with people, Bill, and I just need to continue to go and build my name recognition. Anybody that wants to help my campaign and wants to get out of this left-right divide and get into a new and better, go to TimRyanforAmerica.com, send me ten bucks. We're just going to continue to build this thing out.
RYAN: But I'm nowhere close to being done.
HEMMER: You've got some work to do but I know you realize that. But thank you for your time today in Charleston, South Carolina.
RYAN: Yes, we do.
HEMMER: Tim Ryan, thank you.
RYAN: Thanks, Bill.
HEMMER: Time now for our Sunday group.
Charles Hurt of "The Washington Times," former DNC chair Donna Brazile, Howard Kurtz, host of "Media Buzz", and Kristen Soltis Anderson of the "Washington Examiner."
A great group, happy Sunday to all of you.
DONNA BRAZILE, FORMER DNC CHAIR: Good morning to you.
HEMMER: Let's get back to the rhetoric for a moment here. Here was a sample from the last week with several Democratic candidates on the stump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: It's both clear language and in code, this president has fanned the flames of white supremacy in this nation.
PETE BUTTIGIEG, D-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There is no national security when we don't have racial justice, let alone when we have a president who is coddling white nationalists.
SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND, D-N.Y., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What he's done is spew hate and division his entire presidency. The incidence of hate crimes have risen all across the country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HEMMER: So, this was just in the last few days. By my count, Charlie, he's been called a white supremacist, or racist, and a white nationalist.
CHARLIE HURT, THE WASHINGTON TIMES: You know, Tim Ryan rightly says that he wants to bring the country together, and one of the truths after a horrific series of events like we've been through, as terrible as they are, people are kind of united. They are 100 percent or at least 99 percent united in agony over what we have witnessed.
And the idea that -- Donald Trump didn't start this. The idea that Democrats are going to come out of the gate here after events like these and accuse -- and claimed that somehow the president is responsible for this, that the actions of clearly deranged, disturbed people are somehow the fault of the president of the United States, it's just beyond the pale.
And, you know, is there any sort of situation that these people aren't willing to exploit for their political gain? The idea that President Trump is somehow a racist because he highlights the problem that there is -- that we have a true problem at the southern border, illegal immigration is a concern for people across the country, both Democrats and Republicans, and the idea that somehow all of that equates to Donald Trump being the inspiration for a mass murder? Oh, my goodness, we've lost our minds.
HEMMER: On that point, Donna, Tim Ryan said he's sick of it, but he also -- he called the president a racist.
BRAZILE: You know, I grew up in the segregated south, at a time when the country didn't come together around race, but we forced the country to have a conversation through the civil rights movement.
I'm bothered by the rhetoric for several reasons. One, I'm disturbed that we never get a chance to talk about the real reasons behind whether it's domestic terrorism, whether it's, you know, a kid who -- I -- get a gun and go shoot up innocent people.
Here's what I believe we should do. We should take responsibility for our words, our tweets, our actions. But at a time when we're trying to heal, on the second anniversary of Charlottesville, we should leave behind the rhetoric and start looking at ways that we can come together and solve these problems. These are real problems and we need leadership.
HEMMER: I'm not -- I'm not sure how many people are listening to that call, but it is a noble one.
HOWARD KURTZ, HOST, "#MEDIABUZZ": We have seen an absolute climate change were Democrats, and some in the media, not only feel free to call President Trump a white supremacist, but to say that he is condoning and inciting violence. Now, it is fair game to criticized the president's sometimes divisive rhetoric, but a giant leap to say that he is somehow responsible for the actions of a crazed gunman.
So he gives a speech this week and he explicitly condemns white supremacist and the reaction in some corner is, oh, he didn't really mean to, oh, he was just reading someone else's words. And so it seems to be, Bill, that, again, I'm not saying the president bears no responsibility for this climate, but we are at a point now where these Democratic denunciations of some of the language you just played, it becomes so constant and so over- the-top that I think it's becoming just noise.
KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON, ECHELON INSIGHTS: Well, and every time Democrats are spending time talking about, is the president of white supremacist or not, they're not talking about issues like health care. They're not talking about the sorts of issues that really help to get Democrats big victories in the 2018 midterms It's -- it's having this debate over what type of definition you want to place or the terrible word you want to call the president.
Now, what I think is -- is also an important opportunity for the president is, when you look at polls, a majority of Americans do not think President Trump is a white supremacist. But, troublingly, a majority do not think he opposes white nationalism. A lot of Americans responded to that poll question with, they don't know, they don't think he has an opinion. And even though the president comes out and he does make remarks where he says, I condemn white nationalism, clearly there's a large portion of America that is still sort of ambivalent on this question where he stands. An opportunity here for him to make more and clearer statements saying, these Democrats have absolutely got it wrong.
BRAZILE: It's --
HEMMER: Donna, I -- I want to get back to the point that you were just making about, is it the mood in America? I'm not so sure how you frame it. But this was the scene in Times Square in New York City this past week on Tuesday night.
So there was panic. And this was caused by the backfire of a motorcycle. Several people were injured. The gunfire was not real, but clearly the panic was.
When you consider the attitude of the country, do you find us to be a nation on edge?
BRAZILE: Oh, no question. The anxiety is everywhere. It's in your church. It's in your workplace. It's going to the mall. It's going to the theater. We keep hearing the mass shooting. We keep hearing that we've got to ban video games, we've got to deal with mental health, we've got red flag laws, and yet nothing changed. Nothing changes.
You know, one of the reasons why I love to see people protest peacefully, non-violently, is because sometimes they get heard by politicians. And this week we saw the governor of Ohio get shouted down when they said, do something, do something, and a few days later, he heard the cries of the people and he began to do something. That's what people -- they want us to do something.
HEMMER: That did happen. We'll shot it in a moment. In fairness to him, he's been on this issues for years. You're going to hear from him in just a moment here.
BRAZILE: Of course. I've known him for a long time.
HEMMER: But, Charlie, there was this scene at "USA Today," just right down the road, false alarm. There was a sign that fell over in a shopping mall in Utah and people scattered and police were called. To her points --
HURT: Yes. And I think that's one of the reasons why the conversation about doing something about guns worries people, because at a time when people feel uneasy across the country, the last thing they want to be talking about is disarming themselves or having their own rights in any way trampled (ph).
You know, Tim Ryan said that, you know, the people opposed to these proposals that he's talking about, their response is, they want to do nothing. Well, that's absolutely not true. You can go around and talk to any gun owner in America and -- and, first of all, they're absolutely devastated by what has happened.
The second thing is, they do want to do something. They want to enforce the laws that we have. If -- if -- and if those laws that we have were enforced, a dirt bag like Dylann Roof never would have gotten a gun. But -- but --
HEMMER: Quickly, Howie. I've got --
KURTZ: You know who wants to do more? President Trump. And he hasn't gotten much credit for reaching out to both parties to try to get some kind of consensus. He could give enough Republicans cover, it's a Nixon goes to China moment, to actually get something passed. We can debate the details, but he has stepped up here. Of course, he has done this before and nothing has happened.
HEMMER: OK, standby one moment, OK. In a moment, I mentioned this, we'll talk to the Republican governor in Ohio. He's proposing several proposals for gun control in his state. Governor Mike DeWine joins us exclusively on his ideas, coming up next.
HEMMER: Coming up, the Republican governor in Ohio proposing mental health and gun control legislation after the shooting in Dayton.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. MIKE DEWINE, R-OH: Everything I've proposed I'm dead serious about and everything I proposed I think we can get passed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HEMMER: We'll talk to Governor Mike DeWine next on “Fox News Sunday.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DEWINE: We pray for you. And this great crowd represents this great community.
CROWD: Do something! Do something!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HEMMER: That's a crowd at a vigil for shooting victims in Dayton last Sunday night calling on the Republican governor, Mike DeWine, to do something about gun violence. Now Governor DeWine has announced a plan to do that.
Joining us now in Columbus, Ohio, his home state, Governor DeWine in this exclusive interview.
And, sir, thank you for your time on this Sunday.
DEWINE: Thank you, Bill.
HEMMER: Let's see how much we can move through over the next seven minutes or so on gun control.
You've been aggressive on the issue for decades. Part of your proposal deals with the so-called red flag laws.
I want to play for you and our audience an interview from this past week with the ex-girlfriend of the killer in Dayton, Ohio. Just listen to what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ADELIA JOHNSON, SHOOTER'S EX-GIRLFRIEND: I wasn't entirely surprised that he did something bad. That he ended up in the news. I just didn't think it would be for this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HEMMER: As you know, she went on to say a lot more. And I'm using her comments as an example. Based on what you're proposing, how would you take that comment, get a judge's order, and then take the killer's gun away before he strikes, governor?
DEWINE: Well, what we propose we don't call a red flag or what we call it is a personal protection order. And we use that term because it has built into it constitutional protections. You can't take someone's gun unless there's a judge that makes that determination.
But what the -- our law would say is if -- if someone is a threat to themselves or a threat to others, then you can go into court, the family can -- it's usually the family, frankly, that reports it, or the police can go in.
And I know, Bill, there's been a lot of emphasis on mental health care. But the truth is that 93 percent of the people who have a severe mental health problem are not violent at all. In some cases, it would be a mental health issue. But our law would also say someone who has a propensity for violence, for example. Someone who is a chronic alcoholic. So there's a number of different things that could trigger it. The court would have to determine that person is a menace to themselves or to society. And it would make a difference. It will save lives.
HEMMER: And one that point -- yes, I want to get back to mental health in a moment. I think you make a very interesting point.
But you statehouse is run by Republicans. You know what the arguments are. They argue your ideas are open to abuse. You've got a lack of due process, especially what we just laid out right there, that you make people guilty before innocent. How do you prevent that?
DEWINE: You're prevent it, Bill, by the way we've written the law. The previous governor tried what they called a red flag law. It did not have the procedure, it did not have the due process. We develop this particular bill in consultation with a number of our Second Amendment friends. They have always told me, look, we know there's some people that we need to separate them from their guns temporarily or maybe longer than that, but we're really worried about due process. We're worried about a neighbor getting mad at the neighbor and coming over and calling the police and the police go confiscate the guns.
So we put this together with them. It has due process in it. You have to go to court. A judge has to make that determination.
HEMMER: Many a suggestions center on mental health and they focus on that. One of your ideas is to free up space in psychiatric hospitals. As a country, we've moved away from that. Do you think that was a mistake?
DEWINE: Well, we're not going to turn back the clock, Bill. And I don't know whether we should or not. But we have to be realistic about this.
We have a problem in Ohio. I don't know whether it's unique to Ohio are not. But in our state-run psychiatric hospitals, they are taken up primarily by people who are charged with misdemeanors, people who are not violent, and they are sent by court order to these psychiatric hospitals to actually teach them how to talk and listen to their own defense lawyer.
Our proposal says, look, let's don't clog our psychiatric hospitals up with this. Let's get people in there who really need the help and who are being denied the ability to go in and -- now, and let's -- let's do this teaching of these individuals that courts are ordering, let's do this in the community. We can do it that way.
So our proposal will really open our psychiatric hospitals up to the people who really need it.
HEMMER: I picked two examples, and, honestly, I could pick a dozen. Parkland, Florida, 2018, 17 dead, the killer described as a walking red flag. No action taken. Sutherland Spring, Texas, 2017, 26 dead. The killer had a criminal record there. The record was not updated, bought a gun, Air Force took responsibility after the fact.
One case involves a red flag. Another involves human error.
Your state went for Donald Trump by eight points and he talked this week about making meaningful background checks. He said that repeatedly.
Well, the killer in Dayton, Ohio, passed a background check and he still murdered nine people.
So, governor, what are we up against?
DEWINE: Well, I -- Bill, I don't think that we can look at every case and say, OK, what do we have do for this case. We have to look at all of them together, just -- just as you did. We've got to do a better -- we've got to do better in reaching people at a very, very young age. We have, in the budget that was just passed by the general assembly, and I congratulate them for giving us the money that we need. We have the ability now to arm our schools, give our schools the ability to have better counseling, more mental health.
Virtually every one of these cases, as you said, somebody has looked up a long time ago and said, hey, this guy is giving all the signs, anti-social behavior, this guy is a menace and we need to be able to do something. The schools need the tools. We are now giving them the tools to do that.
DEWINE: We are also doing something else. We're going to be monitoring and are monitoring social media to pick up -- pick up these things when we see key words that indicate that person is simply going to be a menace and may eventually, you know, commit this violence.
HEMMER: Well, last point here, when we talk about laws and guns.
In the last 12 months, Texas, they've passed several laws related to gun violence. Most of them dealt with schools and school safety. Not one would have prevented the killer in El Paso from owning a gun.
Is this about laws, or is it about guns?
DEWINE: It's about a lot of different things. It's about people speaking up. One of the things that we're going to do after we get this legislation passed, and I believe we're going to get it passed, is, we're going to broadcast this information. Look, if you see a problem, speak up, get some help so that individual, notify the police, notify the mental health people or whoever need to be notified. Speak up.
In the case of the guy in Bellbrook (ph), Ohio, that committed these atrocities in Dayton, there were warnings long, long time ago that should have been -- should have been heated. We have provisions in our budget to make -- to make a difference.
Look, I can't guarantee what we've proposed will eliminate every mass shooting. But what I can say is that every one of our proposals, we can get bipartisan support, Democrats and Republican. We need to bring Ohio together. We are doing that. And we can get these things passed. And they will, each one of them, come in each one of them, save lives.
HEMMER: Governor, thank you for your time.
DEWINE: Thanks, Bill.
HEMMER: Mike DeWine back there in Columbus. Our thoughts are with everyone back there in Ohio. Thank you, sir.
In a moment, Joe Biden had a rocky week on the campaign trail. Will his repeated gaffes impact his race for the presidency? We'll bring back our Sunday panel when they return on this when we continue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: Poor kids are just as bright and just as talented as white kids -- wealthy kids, black kids, Asian kids. No, I really mean it. But think how we think about it.
TRUMP: Joe Biden has truly lost his fastball, that I can tell you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HEMMER: Joe Biden committing a gaffe during a town hall in Iowa over this past week. President Trump then critiquing, rather, the frontrunner's performance on the trail.
That was earlier in the week. Then this was from Saturday in Iowa.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: Those kids from Parkland came up to see me when I was vice president and they went into the -- and some -- some of you covered it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HEMMER: Well, the problem was, Parkland, the shooting in Florida, happened two years after he had left office.
Back with the panel now to discuss this.
And, Kristen, what do you think we learned about the Biden campaign this week?
ANDERSON: Well, the number one thing that Democrats care about this election is electability. They want to know that whoever they choose to be their party's nominee is going to be able to defeat Donald Trump come November 2020. And Joe Biden, for the most part, I mean he has stayed pretty stable in the polls. The last Fox News poll had him at 33 percent among Democrats, over twice the support of anyone else in the field.
But the types of gaffes you've begun seeing the former vice president commit on the campaign trail are a little different in nature than what he sort of used to do. His gaffes in the past have been that sometimes he says things in artfully. It happens.
But if he doesn't necessarily have the stamina to stick through and go all the way to next November, Democrats now may be looking at him and going, we may like you, Uncle Joe, but maybe it's time for -- to turn the page.
HEMMER: Donna, you want to take a swing at that?
BRAZILE: Well, I'm not going to take a swing at it. I'm going to sit back and watch this because I think the vice president made a -- he made a gaffe. No question about it. But he quickly got back on his feet and corrected himself.
I don't know how many more he will make over the next several months before voters go to the polls. But here's what I do know. People know Joe Biden. This is already baked in the candidate. But I do believe that some of the other Democrats will start taking advantage of these gaffes and say, you know what, do you want this guy to go up against Donald Trump or you -- or you want me. I'm the fresh face, et cetera.
HEMMER: You wonder when they're going to pull that out of their quiver.
There was one more this past week when this happened in Iowa also.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: We choose unity over division. We choose science over fiction. We choose truth over facts.
QUESTION: Are you able to, you think, go through a whole campaign with this kind of scrutiny?
BIDEN: Yes, I have to. It's a legitimate scrutiny. Fire away.
QUESTION: Mr. Biden, they say the gaffes dim your electability.
BIDEN: Well, that will be determined pretty soon, won't it?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HEMMER: Well, you heard the question there, are you able to endure this in the long run?
HURT: Yes, you know, having -- you know, the guy's been around forever. He's been in Washington for, what, you know, 45 years. And those of us who have covered him know that this is kind -- he's always been sort of a gaffe machine. He -- and the only way -- and he's run for president numerous times and, of course, the only way he ever got -- the closest he got to the White House was because Barack Obama needed him.
But the problem, I think, for -- for Democrats is -- And Kristin is exactly right, at the end of the day, they want -- they just want somebody electable. And when -- when -- when voters operate on -- with that in mind, they often unintentionally make a terrible mistake. They try to figure out sort of in their heads who would be the best person to go up against Donald Trump. And I could see them, at the last minute, doing just what Democrats did in 2004 with John Kerry, what Republicans did in 2012 with Mitt Romney, they vote with their brain and they say, oh, well, Biden fits all of these parts, so let's go with him.
The problem is that the gaffes that Biden make -- Biden says things that are just absolutely categorically stupid. They think that that's like what Trump does. But it's not like what Trump does. What Trump does is he says things you're not supposed to say but that everybody agrees with.
HEMMER: I'm hearing Kurtz smirk (ph) twice during that.
KURTZ: Well, Joe Biden was making gaffes back when he was chairman of Senate Judiciary and I covered him then. And this was a bad one, the one about the white students.
But it seems to me that the reason they get so much attention is because he's 76 and it plays into the notion that he has lost a few steps and is -- is he having problems -- President Trump loves to stoke that.
But here's the thing, Bill, the left wing of the Democratic Party, and many in the media, have been trying to bury Biden since before he got in his campaign. He's going to implode on day one. He's never going to survive that bad debate and all of that. And the reason that he is still out front in this race --
HEMMER: A commanding lead.
KURTZ: Yes. And the reason -- despite all the pundit predictions is that he is where most of the Democratic rank and file are, which is a moderate liberal who is not for open borders, who is not for blowing up private health insurance. And I think for a lot of the people in the sort of Twitter, media, political, industrial complex, he is not liberal enough, but that may actually be also his strength.
HEMMER: You know, Kristen, you wonder, with the commanding lead, maybe that holds, maybe it doesn't. But what does it say about the rest of the field, the strength of the other candidates?
ANDERSON: Well, it has been fascinating to me that really very few of the serious candidates, those polling above 1 percent, have tried to challenge Joe Biden for this more moderate lane of the party. In these debates you see Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders fighting over who's the furthest left. And you even see someone like Mayor Pete, Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, who I think could have been an interesting person to kind of challenge Joe Biden for some of those more heartland, moderate Democrats, really sort of avoiding opportunities to do so. The rest of the Democratic field is not taking Joe Biden on, on that turf.
HEMMER: OK, so this has come up twice now in his conversation. Who does it first?
BRAZILE: It's already being done. I mean there's no question that --
HEMMER: They're going after him and President Obama.
BRAZILE: Yes, they're going after him. But you -- but -- but -- and, you know what, that is a huge mistake. Joe Biden -- the Joe Biden I've known for over 30 years is -- is deeply respected within the Democratic Party. He's likable. People know him. They respect him. And they know that he's a strong fighter. He may not have every, you know, left jab, right, or whatever, but you know what, we know what's in his heart, and that's why people love him.
HEMMER: All right.
I just have a few seconds for this, Howie, but I'm just wondering, the state of play for Jeffrey Epstein and that story quickly. What do you think that is?
KURTZ: It is stunning. And I have no sympathy for this predator. The federal prison officials allowed this guy to apparently commit suicide despite the previous attempt. And we need to investigate and find out more.
I think all of us in this business should avoid the speculation and the conspiracy theories until we know more.
HEMMER: OK, let's leave it there.
Thank you, Howie.
Thank you, Charlie, Kristin, Donna. Have a great Sunday. We'll see you next week, panel.
In a moment, a final word.
HEMMER: And for continuing coverage of all the major stories that we have covered this past hour, keep it on this station and the Fox News Channel as well, where I will see you tomorrow morning on "America's Newsroom."
That's it for today. Have a great weekend and a wonderful Sunday. And we will see you next “Fox News Sunday.”
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