Political fallout from diplomatic dustup over progressive 'Squad' members confrontation with Israel

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," August 16, 2019. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


REP. RASHIDA TLAIB, D-MICH.: We see Israel is a democracy, is a democratic country, but it's very obvious that they're trying to limit what I'm able to do when I get there. My goal is to see my grandmother. Again, she's in her 90s. This could be my last chance to see her.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If she comes, she's welcome.



BASSAM TLAIB, UNCLE: We are with Rashida in rejecting this decision. We consider it the right decision.


JON SCOTT, HOST: So that's the controversy of the week, whether or not Rashida Tlaib should be allowed to visit her aging grandmother in the West Bank.

Let's bring in our panel, Charles Hurt, opinion editor for "The Washington Times," Leslie Marshall, Democratic strategist, and Byron York, chief political correspondent for the "Washington Examiner."

Before we get to the discussion, the occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is just out with a tweet about all of this. Let's get to the news that. Donald Trump writes, "Israel was respectful and nice to Representative Rashida Tlaib, allowing her permission to visit her grandmother. As soon as she was granted permission, she grandstanded and loudly proclaimed she would not visit Israel. Could this possibly have been a setup? Israel acted appropriately." Charlie, that sound encapsulates the whole chain of events. She wanted to go, she was blocked, then Israel said you can go, and she said no, I'm not going to go. So is this about politics or about a family visit?

CHARLES HURT, OPINION EDITOR, "WASHINGTON TIMES": Clearly, it's about politics, because if it was about her aging grandmother, she would have taken Israel up on the offer. Israel has a right to determine who comes into their country and who doesn't come into the country. What I find most interesting about this is the fact that Congresswoman Omar and Tlaib seem to agree that Israel has the right to determine who comes into their country and who doesn't come into their country, because they agreed to stick by the directive of the government there. I would like them to then turn to our government and acknowledge that we, too, have a right to determine who comes into our country and who doesn't come into our country. I think that would be a very nice turnabout from those two Congresswomen.

SCOTT: I want to read the tweet that Rashida Tlaib put out, and then follow that with one from the Israeli interior minister. She wrote, "Silencing me and treating me like a criminal is not what she wants," meaning her grandmother, "not what she wants for me. It would kill a piece of me. I've decided that visiting my grandmother under these oppressive conditions stands against everything I believe in, fighting against racism, oppression, and injustice."

And then from the Israeli interior minister, the person who ultimately approved her visit, he writes "Representative Tlaib just tweeted she won't be coming to Israel. Just yesterday she sent me a letter asking to visit her 90-year-old grandmother, saying it might be my last chance to meet her." He goes on to write "I approved her request as a gesture of goodwill on a humanitarian basis, but it was just a provocative request aimed at bashing the state of Israel. Apparently her hate for Israel overcomes her love for her grandmother." And that's where he left it.

If she really wants to see her aging grandmother, Leslie, why not take Israel up on the offer, go visit her, and then come back and talk politics when she gets back?

LESLIE MARSHALL, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Because there are a couple of things here. First of all, originally, Israel said it was OK for them to go. The president got involved, and then all of a sudden, they can't go. They weren't there just to see her grandmother. Obviously Representative Ilhan Omar does not have a relationship to this woman.

And I think after discussing it, not only with her family, but when she had the pushback from the Palestinian community which is, you shouldn't be the puppet, and this is one of the problems and complaints of Palestinians is that they feel so oppressed that Israel has to have a say over every move, their comings and goings. This is an elected U.S. congresswoman. Her district is part of our 300 million-plus people that pay $3 billion plus a year to Israel. I remember back when there was apartheid, Jesse Jackson was refused entrance to South Africa. Israel is supposed to be a beacon of freedom, and freedom means allowing you to say it even if you don't like it.

Her not seeing her grandmother I think is right at this point because that wasn't the only reason for her visit, first of all. And second of all, the Palestinian community is looking to her to fight on their behalf.

SCOTT: The U.S. is also a beacon of freedom, and it has banned government leaders from various countries from coming to this country.

MARSHALL: Ahmadinejad spoke at Columbia University after enticing his crowd to burn American flags and talking against the United States, talking against Israel, saying that they did not have the right to exist, and applauding puppets of our presidents being burned. And yet he was allowed entrance to the country and spoke at Columbia University.

BRYON YORK, CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, "WASHINGTON EXAMINER": And another administration might not have let him in, either.

SCOTT: Are there any winners here.

YORK: I think in this case, I think the last 24 hours have shown that Rashida Tlaib was not acting in good faith here. I think it was pretty clear her rejection of Israel's offer to come and visit her grandmother was politicized language, racism, oppression, in justice. I think it was pretty clear.

On the other hand, before that, I do think this is a place where there are legitimately two sides on this. Israel did pass a law a couple of years ago allowing it to keep out advocates of BDS, boycott, divestiture, and sanction. And so they exercised this law.

On the other hand, from Israel's point of view, it's not a great idea to keep out a sitting member of the U.S. Congress, and in this case they did particularly irritate Democrats who just happen to control the House of Representatives. Not a great idea on their part. There really were two sides, I think, especially before we found out that Rashida Tlaib was really not acting in good faith.

SCOTT: Does President Trump elevate her and the squad when he gets involved in these Twitter wars with members of Congress, or is he trying to portray the entire Democratic Party as holding the squad's beliefs?

HURT: Both. There's no doubt that he seeks to elevate them and elevate this whole -- I think for most people the whole fight, it's just so stupid. And the congresswomen are, as you point out, making this more about politics. Who uses their ancient grandmother as a political pawn in a fight like this? It's absolutely ridiculous. And of course, President Trump likes to elevate these people. He elevates them because that's what he wants to run against. And by portraying the entire Democratic Party as being sort of with them as the face of it, it helps his chances.

SCOTT: They could have gone with that Congressional delegation that recently visited Israel, more than 40 members.

MARSHALL: Absolutely. But this goes beyond that, it goes beyond politics. You have to remember, you're talking about two Muslim women. When there is such a spread of Islamophobia worldwide, and one of them happens to be a Palestinian American. When you have anger in the Palestinian territories about the building and the settlements, and that there's still no peace and still no two-state solution, which both of these women and many Democrats support. By the way, AIPAC and others, AIPAC very pro-Israel, has actually supported the congresswomen and felt Israel was wrong in their decision.

HURT: But they did that for the political atmosphere -- the theatrics of that.

MARSHALL: They did that because it was wrong. There's right and wrong. They're two sitting congressional members. If I were a BDS supporter and wanted to enter Israel and they said no, I don't have a problem with that. Being that they're congresswomen, I do.

YORK: But she also before the trip announced that she would be part of a delegation to Palestine, it was vey clear the political point she was trying to make going there.

SCOTT: As we wrap this up, there is yet another tweet from the commander in chief. President Trump writes, "representative Tlaib wrote a letter to Israeli officials desperately wanting to visit her grandmother. Permission was quickly granted, whereupon Tlaib obnoxiously turned the approval down, a complete setup. The only real winner here is Tlaib's grandmother. She doesn't have to see her now."

And with that, we'll get ready to go to the Friday lightning round.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT: I don't want to say if they can be trusted or not. We brought the number of soldiers down very substantially. They are coming down. We are talking to them. But we've been there 19 years. We're not really -- let's put it this way, we're more policemen than anything else. And that's not for our soldiers. We could win the war in Afghanistan in less a week. But I'm not looking to kill 10 million people, and I'm not talking nuclear.


SCOTT: The president is reportedly meeting with his national security team at his New Jersey vacation residence to talk about a peace plan with the Taliban. We are back with our panel, Byron York, Leslie Marshall, and Charlie Hurt. Can the president, can we trust the Taliban, Leslie?

MARSHALL: Absolutely not. The Taliban is going to renounce Al Qaeda, not do any recruiting, not do any fundraising. Remember, this deal has no talk about attacking the civilians, Afghan individuals, the military or the government, who, by the way, we are completely circumventing in having these discussions. And I thought we don't negotiate with terrorists. If we believe the Taliban is going to keep their word on this, we might as well believe there's a little fairy --

SCOTT: America's longest war.

YORK: We're in the 18th year, and the president promised to get the United States out of these endless wars. You can almost see him looking at the calendar saying, oh, boy, it's already August, 2019. Next year is an election. I need keep this promise.

SCOTT: Let's turn to a game we call Candidate Casino. We give the panel interests $100 in imaginary chips, and they get to place their bets on the candidates that they think are going to come away with the nomination. Charlie, let's go to your first. Who do you like?

HURT: I put $75 on Joe Biden because I still think that the rest of the field has gone over the cliff to the left, and then $25 on a mystery candidate that comes along who doesn't say all of the stupid things that Joe Biden says but is also not as crazy as the rest of the field.

SCOTT: Leslie?

MARSHALL: We're kind of close, $65 on Joe Biden because I think he's still going to pull it off. But Elizabeth Warren has been doing quite well, comes out with plans, she is smoking in the polls, very strong in the debates, so she gets my other $35 out the $100.

SCOTT: Byron?

YORK: I am not as bullish on Joe Biden. I just don't think he's going to make it. I give him an even chance, Biden $30, Elizabeth Warren $30, Kamala Harris $30. Give the rest of the field $10, there's no chance that they're going to make it.

SCOTT: Beto O'Rourke doesn't make it for you?


YORK: I'm sorry.

HURT: He can have a forth and fifth relaunch.

SCOTT: That could be. All right, and when we come back, we're going to be -- oh, I'm sorry. We want to get our winners and losers of the week also. Charlie, again, to your first.

HURT: My winner is Bibi Netanyahu for establishing what most of the world knows, which is every country can determine who comes into their country and who doesn't. Loser of the week, "New York Times." They had a town newsroom, townhall this week that got tape recorded and leaked to the press. And the editor basically acknowledged that they are being bullied by Twitter and bullied by their readers who are upset that Mueller didn't take out Donald Trump. And so they're moving their entire operations from all Russia to Donald Trump is a racist.

SCOTT: Leslie?

MARSHALL: I'm going to do the loser first, then my winner. Loser are Republicans that aren't listening to the will of their constituents on gun control. They want universal background checks, they want a ban on assault weapons, and they want people who have mental illness not to able to easily access guns.

My winner is Greenland, because Greenland is not selling their nation to our president. And my question to the president would be, was Mexico going to pay for that as well?

SCOTT: He is the practitioner of the art of the deal. We'll see on that one. Byron?

YORK: Speak of the devil, my loser is Beto O'Rourke. As his fellow Texas Karl Rove calls him, Robert Francis O'Rourke has had not one but two campaign resets, and he is at two percent in the latest FOX News national poll. And in the Monmouth poll of Iowa, less than one percent.

My winner is Dale Earnhardt Junior. It is hard to call somebody a winner when they've been in the plane crash. But if you look at the crash that took place in Tennessee yesterday, it's incredible good fortune that everyone came out OK. The pilots, Earnhardt, his wife, his 15-month-old daughter and his dog. So very, very glad to see that.

SCOTT: I'm a little surprised none of you chose Elizabeth Warren as a winner this week. In the FOX News polling she is, of the top tier candidates, she's the one who is up.

MARSHALL: I gave her my $35 on the casino table.


SCOTT: That's not bad, but when you give $65 to Joe Biden, that's not exactly a load of confidence.

When we come back, "Notable Quotables."


SCOTT: Finally tonight, "Notable Quotables."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shots fired, shots fired. We need swat asap.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Somebody upstairs was watching over these cops today.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Netanyahu is behaving like a typical dictatorship in the sense that they cannot dissent.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think Israel has a right to decide who can come into their country just like we do.

TRUMP: The Hong Kong thing is a very tough situation. But I'm sure it will work out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're backing away a little. We are going to take care of Christmas.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm ending my campaign for president.

TRUMP: You have no choice but to vote for me because your 401(k)s, down the tubes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, read it and weep. If you were long in this market, you were whipped and killed by this market.

TRUMP: Listen, China, could you do us a favor? We need help.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The opposite of Donald Trump is an Asian man who likes math, and that's this guy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think for Epstein, it's just all about Epstein. He never cared about any of these victims.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are things that Steve King said that I do not believe the party of Lincoln would stand for.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you think America stands for?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, of course, that poem was referring back to people coming from Europe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Leave our health care system alone.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't want you to mess with it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One thing you ought to know is that dish soap and hand soap are pretty much the same things.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, I-VT, D-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Cardi's nails and mine are just a little bit different.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For a minute we were behaving like decent human beings.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody thought we could change the world, and we sure tried for a long time.


SCOTT: And thanks for watching “Special Report.” This weekend Dana Perino is hosting "Fox News Sunday" and will speak with White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow. And what an economic week it has been. Check your local listings for air time.

I'm Jon Scott in Washington. I'll see you again tomorrow night on "The Fox Report."

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