This is a rush transcript from “Special Report," September 10, 2020. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Took the wind out of it, that was good. Thanks, Jesse.
Good evening, welcome to Washington. I'm Bret Baier.
Breaking tonight, President Trump says he did not lie to the American people about the coronavirus. That statement coming one day after the president acknowledged he underplayed the seriousness of the operate to avoid panic after saying as much at the beginning of the crisis on tape to author Bob Woodward.
We will hear more from the president, from former Vice President Joe Biden and the top media managers for both campaigns a little bit later.
We begin tonight though with this breaking story, Microsoft is declaring the same Russians who tried to disrupt the 2016 presidential race in the U.S. are at it again, but they're not alone. Other countries are taking part in trying to sow digital chaos in the election. The Intel Community has been saying this, but tonight's story comes from a company, Microsoft.
Correspondent Gillian Turner has our top story tonight. Good evening, Gillian.
GILLIAN TURNER, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Gillian. So, breaking this evening, Microsoft is disclosing a massive hacking effort directed at the U.S. presidential 2020 campaign. The company says that for months since March. China Iran -- China-Iran, excuse me, as well as Russia have been targeting both the Trump and the Biden campaigns, as well as hundreds of people and organizations and groups that work with those campaigns.
Now, the company claims they're finding makes clear that foreign activity groups have stepped up their efforts targeting the 2020 election.
Microsoft believes the Russian military backpacking group called Fancy Bear now infamous for attacks on the DNC and Clinton campaigns back in 2016 is more capable than ever and it started using what's known as brute force cyber attacks.
They say Chinese hackers targeted Biden's campaign and at least one former Trump administration official while Iran focus more exclusively on the Trump campaign.
Microsoft didn't disclose the total number of attacks that have occurred but claimed there were thousands of targets between March and June, including both candidates, campaign staff, campaign consultants, U.S. and Europe policy groups, as well as think tanks.
Now, key senators like Ben Sasse say it's well known that China prefers Biden to win in 2020 while Russia prefers a second term for President Trump.
An official from the office of the director of National Intelligence tells Fox News this evening, they welcome Microsoft's assistance and will continue partnering with them to combat foreign efforts.
The revelations come at a sensitive moment amid an investigation prompted by a whistleblower complaint which claims the Trump administration is suppressing intelligence about Russian election interference, something the White House denied to Bret Baier just last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT O'BRIEN, U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: We sanction more Russians than any administration in history. But I'll tell you one thing that -- you know, China is a serious threat to our elections. Iran is a serious threat to the free and fair elections here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TURNER: Tonight, the acting secretary of Homeland Security, that's Chad Wolf, is affirming the validity of Microsoft's new reporting. He says, all these threats are known to the U.S. government and DHS has been warning American voters about them for some months.
He also goes on to say that he supports, and the entire department supports and applauds Microsoft's efforts to help keep the 20 election -- 2020 election safe and that the government will work with them hand in glove going forward, Bret.
BAIER: Gillian, thank you. We'll follow this.
Another breaking story, we learned a few moments ago, a panel of federal judges has blocked President Trump's July directive to exclude people who are in the United States illegally from being counted in the 2020 census. That decision means the Census Bureau must count illegal immigrants when turning over figures used to calculate how many congressional seats each state gets. The administration will likely appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Also breaking tonight, President Trump is on his way to Michigan. You're looking there live. Another battleground state that will help decide who wins the November election.
Back here in Washington, the fallout continues over the president's admission, he downplayed the dangers of the coronavirus outbreak. Now, he's insisting he did not lie. The fact that was he says to avoid panic.
We will talk with the top media people from the Trump and Biden campaign shortly. But first, we check in with chief White House correspondent John Roberts on the North Lawn. Good evening, John.
JOHN ROBERTS, FOX NEWS CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Bret, good evening to you. President Trump said earlier this afternoon he decided to speak with Bob Woodward for his new book because he thought it would be "Interested". And while the president said today, he doesn't know if the book is good or bad, he has already described it as a political hit job.
ROBERTS: At his daily called White House Press Conference, President Trump today reacting angrily to suggestions he lied to the American people about coronavirus.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I didn't lie, what I said is we have to be calm; we can't be panicked.
ROBERTS: In the new Bob Woodward book Rage, Woodward says President Trump told him in February the coronavirus was worse than the flu, then told him the following month, he was playing down the severity of the virus so as not to cause a panic.
TRUMP: Outwardly, I said, it's a very serious problem. And it's always a serious problem, that doesn't mean I'm going to jump up and down in the air and start saying people are going to die, people are going to die. No, I'm not going to do that.
ROBERTS: The president also putting the onus back on Woodward saying, if he was so concerned about what the president was saying, why did he wait six months to put it in a book rather than reporting on it back in March?
TRUMP: If he thought that was a bad statement, he would have reported it because he thinks that -- you know, you don't want to have anybody that is going to suffer medically because of some fact.
ROBERTS: Democrats kept up the drumbeat of criticism today, Nancy Pelosi claiming the president's public posture cost American lives.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): The president knew. He'd been saying for a long time, the whole thing was a hoax. His delay denial and distortion of what was happening has caused many deaths.
ROBERTS: But at the same time Woodward was having his conversations with President Trump, Democrats were also playing down the threat from the virus.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There is no reason to panic.
PELOSI: Come to Chinatown. Here we are. We're again careful, safe.
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's not a time to panic about coronavirus but coronavirus is a serious public health challenge.
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): We don't even think it's going to be as bad as it was in other countries.
MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D-NY), NEW YORK CITY: For the vast majority of New Yorkers, life is going on pretty normally right now and we want to encourage that.
ROBERTS: The president's response to coronavirus is just one controversial moment in the book. Another did the president revealed the existence of a top secret nuclear weapon to Woodward.
Woodward quotes the president as saying, I have built a nuclear weapon system that nobody's ever had in this country before. We have stuff you haven't even seen or heard about. We have stuff that Putin and Xi have never heard about before.
Woodward also asks the president if people who grew up in white privilege have a responsibility to do more to understand the pain and anger African Americans feel in the wake of police killings.
BOB WOODWARD, REPORTER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": No, you really drank the Kool-Aid, didn't you? Just listen to you. Wow. No, I don't feel that at all.
ROBERTS: On his way to Michigan tonight, President Trump stopped the (INAUDIBLE) Sanders to talk briefly to the press pool where he appeared to confirm that the United States does have nuclear weapons that people don't know about but he refused to elaborate.
The president will try to change the subject back to comparing and contrasting himself and his policies with those of Joe Biden at a political rally in Freeland just north of Saginaw Michigan, Bret.
BAIER: John, thank you.
A coronavirus relief bill offered by Senate Republican leadership shut down by Senate Democrats in a procedural vote. The Democratic filibuster prevented that from going forward. The vote was 52 to 47, did not meet the 60-vote threshold needed to proceed. More on that with panel in a bit.
Joe Biden continuing to hammer President Trump over his coronavirus response. Correspondent Peter Doocy has that part of the story tonight from Wilmington, Delaware.
PETER DOOCY, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Joe Biden believes when it comes to the president's pandemic response inaction has consequences.
BIDEN: Kick him out of office is the consequence.
DOOCY: And Biden believes Trump's inaction goes beyond just political malpractice.
BIDEN: He didn't do a damn thing, think about it. Think about what he did not do and he's almost criminal.
DOOCY: The Biden campaign is now saying President Trump is the reason they still hosted packed rallies until mid-March.
BILL RUSSO, BIDEN CAMPAIGN DEPUTY-COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Maybe if the president of the United States hadn't been lying about the extent of the crisis that we were facing, we would have had different information to make different decisions.
DOOCY: That's even though Biden claims to have known how severe things would be months earlier.
BIDEN: I all the way back to January warned them this pandemic was coming. I talked about what we needed to do.
DOOCY: Today, Biden took a break from the campaign trail as Kamala Harris courted African-American voters in Florida.
SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: We're going to be here today for a bunch of meetings, but I'm going to call on you all, you truly are the future of our country.
DOOCY: Florida is in focus for the Democratic ticket as Biden plans to visit Tuesday. But another state maybe more important, Michigan.
BIDEN: And so, this comes from the gut for me and I'm going to be coming back. I'm going to be back in the state at least two or three more times because it's a must win state.
DOOCY: Relatively early in the pandemic, Joe Biden tried to size up President Trump's response with this. "Donald Trump either read his daily briefings and ignored the warnings or didn't read them at all. Either way, it's a complete an unjustifiable dereliction of duty".
Now, the Bob Woodward's recordings prove there were early briefings, Biden is changing his tune about Trump.
BIDEN: He saw the reports. He knew them in detail. At least we know he can read. I mean, think about it.
DOOCY: Joe Biden also repeated his belief, the virus is not Trump's fault, but the deaths are. He did not have any public appearances today but in the last 24 hours, his posture concerning COVID has been more about what Trump didn't do just after Super Tuesday and less about what Biden would do after his own inauguration day if elected, Bret.
BAIER: Peter Doocy, thanks. We are talking this evening with the top media representatives for each of the presidential candidates.
First up tonight, TJ Ducklo national press secretary for the Biden campaign. TJ, thanks for being on.
TJ DUCKLO, NATIONAL PRESS SECRETARY FOR THE BIDEN CAMPAIGN: Hi, Bret, thanks for having me.
BAIER: You heard Peter's piece; I want to start with what the former vice president specifically would have done at the end of January? Had he received the briefing that we know now the president received January 28th?
DUCKLO: Sure. Well, Bret, we know that -- you know, here we are in the United States of America. We are four percent of the world's population. We are 20 percent of the COVID cases. We are 25 percent of the COVID deaths. And we now know from Bob Woodward's reporting as you just covered, that this president knowingly and willfully lied about the dangerousness of the threat that face this country.
We know from Columbia University, had this president taking action just a few weeks earlier, we would have tens of thousands of lives that would have been saved.
You know, while the president was out there calling it a hoax while he was saying that the virus would magically disappear, he knew. He knew, Bret. He knew that how dangerous the threat that we are facing was.
Joe Biden -- Joe Biden from the very beginning in March has put out very clear plans about what he would do to get our --
BAIER: Correct, but we're talking about in January because here his two top advisers, two of them that are -- he listens too closely, Ron Klain and Zeke Emanuel on January 28th and January 30th.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you ban Chinese travelers from arriving in the United States?
RON KLAIN, CHIEF OF STAFF TO THE VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I wouldn't, I think that's premature.
DR. ZEKE EMANUEL, CHAIR, DEPARTMENT OF MEDICAL ETHICS AND HEALTH POLICY: Everyone in America should take a very big breath slow down and stop panicking and being his --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: And it goes on. I mean, they continue to make comments that masks are not necessary at the moment, this is overreaction that goes into February and early March.
So, understanding that those of the people he listens to and Joe Biden has said he wouldn't have closed the travel from China. What specifically would the former vice president have done?
DUCKLO: Well, let's get a few things straight. The vice president was not against the travel ban, first of all.
Second of all, let's remember an important --
BAIER: He wasn't?
DUCKLO: Bret, let's remember an important distinction, Donald Trump was the president of the United States. It was on Donald Trump to --
BAIER: I'm asking you if Joe Biden was the president of the United States, if he was.
DUCKLO: It was on Donald Trump to take action to actually protect the American people.
BAIER: He closed the travel to China.
DUCKLO: Joe Biden wrote an op-ed in USA Today in January warning that the threat was coming. Joe Biden said in February that Donald Trump should get people on the ground in China. What did -- what did Donald Trump do? Donald Trump was praising China. Donald Trump was praising President Xi's response, saying that they had it under control, when clearly he knew as we now know from Bob Woodward, they did not have it under control.
He should have been protecting the American people. He should have been putting real plans in place to act and confront this incredibly dangerous threat.
BAIER: I understand. Let me just clarify, your saying that Joe Biden was for closing down travel from China when the president did it?
DUCKLO: Joe Biden has been clear. And I can send you the fact checks if they're helpful, Bret. Joe Biden has been clear that he was not against that travel ban at the time.
BAIER: But he was for it?
DUCKLO: Joe Biden has been clear about this, Bret. Again, I can send -- I can send you the fact checks if they're helpful. This has been fact checked into oblivion.
BAIER: OK, I'm just asking the question. You're saying yes, he was for the China travel ban when the president implemented it to 48 hours after receiving that briefing?
DUCKLO: The important thing about the travel ban --
BAIER: Yes or no? Yes or no, TJ?
DUCKLO: Bret, I know that you all like to cite the travel ban. I know the president like to cite the travel ban.
BAIER: No, no, no, the president does, that's why I'm bringing it up. Obviously, it's going to be in the debate.
DUCKLO: Bret, hold on, the important thing to know about the travel ban is that even after the president implemented that travel ban, tens -- or says that he implemented it, tens of thousands of people came in and out of the country.
BAIER: OK, I'm going to take it that you're not going to answer that question. You're going to send me some fact checks.
DUCKLO: What was Donald Trump doing, Bret? He was -- he was ignoring the virus. He was praising China.
BAIER: Let's continue the fact check.
DUCKLO: Go ahead.
BAIER: Let's continue the fact check. Here's what Doctor Fauci said when asked if there was a discrepancy with what the president said privately and what the president said publicly.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: I may not be tuned into the right thing that they're talking about, but I didn't really see any discrepancies between what he told us and what we told him and what he ultimately came out publicly and said.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: So, is Doctor Fauci wrong?
DUCKLO: Bret, I know that it's -- you all are working overtime to try to find excuses for this president. We know from the president's own words; he knew how serious this threat was. He did not implement the necessary steps to get testing to where we needed. To get contact tracing to where we needed. To actually mobilize PPE and get that around to hospitals around the country.
This president failed the American people when we needed it most.
BAIER: OK, I'm just asking you specific questions about what's happening over the past couple of days. Joe Biden has said, and you mentioned it, that if President Trump had acted two weeks earlier, 54,000 lives would have been saved in March and April.
But if President acted two weeks earlier and shut everything down, Super Tuesday primaries would have been affected, wouldn't they? And making it harder for Biden to catch Bernie Sanders to become the nominee.
You are not calling; he was not calling for the stop of the Super Tuesday primaries.
DUCKLO: Well, again, Bret, I will remind you of the distinction I made earlier which is that, Donald Trump is the president.
BAIER: I know, but had he acted, your guy might not be the nominee, correct?
DUCKLO: I understand that it's my -- it might be useful to like engage in hypotheticals like that you are doing. Donald Trump was the president, he had the information, he lied about it. It's quite simply that simple.
BAIER: OK, let me a move on. You had interview today, the former vice president did, he told Jake Tapper that he would raise corporate taxes on day one in office regardless of the unemployment rate what it was at the time.
One, is that good politics and two, how would he do that?
DUCKLO: Well, look, I think the vice president has been clear that he's going to stand up for the middle class. That he's going to be there for working families and that he is going to prioritize them in everything he does.
As you know, Bret, you all have covered, the vice president rolled out his plan for an economic recovery in July, how we're going to build back this country not just to where we for before the coronavirus but to build back better.
He's laid out his entire vision for that economic recovery over the course of July. Investing in manufacturing. Investing in our care givers. Investing in a clean energy economy. It's -- you know, it's something that we talk often about because that's one of the jobs of the president, is to get Americans back to work in the middle of this -- of this economic crisis as well as this pandemic.
BAIER: There will be a lot of time to go into specifics. I wanted to ask you about NAFTA and what he said about all of that today because it's important in a lot of states, but I want to keep it fair on time. End with this, has Joe Biden ever used a teleprompter during local interviews or to answer Q&A with supporters?
DUCKLO: Bret, we are not going to engage -- this is -- this is straight from the Trump campaign.
BAIER: Well, yes, they're using it.
DUCKLO: And what it does -- and what it does, Bret, is it's trying to distract the American people.
BAIER: I'm just -- they're using it, they talk about it every day, can you say yes or no?
DUCKLO: That's -- they talk about it every day, Bret, because they don't have a coherent strategy --
BAIER: Will you have an answer, yes or no?
DUCKLO: Bret, they talk about it every day because they don't have a coherent argument for why Donald Trump deserves reelection, deserves four more years. We know that he lied to the American people, we know that he has not showed leadership during this crisis and they are desperate to throw anything they can against the wall to try to distract from that fact.
BAIER: I understand, but you can't answer the question?
DUCKLO: Bret, I am not going to allow --
DUCKLO: -- the Trump campaign to funnel their questions through Fox News and get me to respond to that.
BAIER: Well, TJ, we appreciate your time and thank you for coming on.
DUCKLO: Thanks, Bret.
BAIER: Next up this evening Tim Murtaugh, director of communications from the Trump campaign. First of all, you just heard what was said. They're coming hard after the president for what he said to Bob Woodward and what he said on the record.
TIM MURTAUGH, DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: Well, Bret, I mean, what you heard there from TJ Ducklo is that he couldn't articulate an answer to your question of, what would Joe Biden have done differently?
And we know without a quit -- without question that President Trump's move to restrict travel from China save thousands of American lives, Doctor Fauci says so. All medical experts say so and we know that Joe Biden would not have done that. He called it hysterical xenophobia and fear mongering.
And what you have now with the -- in the wake of the excerpts from the Bob Woodward book is that, I think what's happening, what's got everybody all excited is that's all packaged up and it says Bob Woodward's name on the cover. But in fact, the things that are contained in there are the same things that President Trump was saying publicly. He views it as part of his job as president of the United States.
BAIER: That's not true. It's not true. When he was saying publicly that the virus would go from 15 to zero, and then it was magically going to wash away. That is not the same thing he's telling Bob Woodward that it's a deadly virus that travels over the air and it's really serious and I like to downplay it. He was not saying the same things publicly as he was privately to Bob Woodward.
MURTAUGH: It was public knowledge at the time. The Washington Post and others and it was discussed in coronavirus briefings. Everyone knew that it was transmitted through things like coughing and sneezing.
BAIER: OK, but what you just said was whether what you're saying privately and publicly is the same, it's not.
MURTAUGH: Doctor Fauci says it is the same. You just played the sound bite from him. Doctor Fauci said he (INAUDIBLE) difference between what the president was discussing privately versus what he was saying publicly, you just played the sound bite from Doctor Fauci.
BAIER: With Fauci, not Bob Woodward. I want to move on. Let me -- let me just --
MURTAUGH: The question is was the president being straight with the American people and he was.
BAIER: OK, Democrats --
MURTAUGH: Every step of the way, the president was straight with the American people, there was no question of that.
BAIER: Democrats are jumping on the fact that they think there is a disparity here that he says he didn't want to cause panic. And yet, when he talks about trouble in the suburbs where he talks about uprisings by Antifa and the fact that when he says Joe Biden, if he gets elected, it's going to destroy all these places that he is talking about panic.
MURTAUGH: Well, Bret, I don't think that anybody who watches the evening news for example over the last 100 plus days out of Portland and see cities burning to the ground. I don't think calling attention to that is inciting panic.
I think who is causing the concern are the left-wing agitators, these are Joe Biden aligned protesters who are burning down American cities. President Trump is just calling attention to what in fact has actually happened. And the fact that Joe Biden has been too weak to call out the fact that these Antifa thugs are aligned with his campaign and with the anti-police wing of the Democrat Party.
Joe Biden's too weak to stand up to them because they're in control of his party, they're in control of his campaign and he doesn't dare speak out against them. So, Americans can see for themselves on at home, on T.V. every night, is just what the president is seeing and drawing attention to.
BAIER: Tim, you know, I know there's a push back by the president and others in the campaign about polls. You are trailing in the average of polls in the key battleground states and I know there's all kinds of talk about the polls. But this is one thing you can't dispute, and that is absentee ballot requests.
In Florida, Democrats have 2,029,000 roughly, Republicans 1,300,000. No party affiliation 828,000.
In North Carolina absentee requests, Democrats 379,000, Republicans 122. Are you trailing in that effort? I got to (INAUDIBLE) quick. I have to hit a break.
MURTAUGH: We're working very hard. Our GOTV does is working on things all the way from absentee balloting, all the way up to Election Day. There are also polls that show that a lot of Trump supporters plan to vote in-person on Election Day.
We're fighting for every single vote and we know for example that this is the reason why we wanted to have the debates earlier so that people can actually see the two candidates side by side before people start voting. They have ballots in their hands in North Carolina now.
BAIER: The computer's going to cut us off, Tim. You're always welcome back. Thank you very much for the time.
MURTAUGH: Thanks Bret.
BAIER: We'll be back after this.
BAIER: The Justice Department has charged 57 people since May with trying to steal more than $175 million from the Paycheck Protection Program designed to help Americans during the coronavirus pandemic. Officials say they've identified 500 individuals who may have defrauded the $660 billion program.
We had a rough day on Wall Street today, the Dow dropped 406, the S&P 500 lost 60, the NASDAQ finished down 222.
Breaking tonight, thousands of homes are being threatened tonight by a wildfire in Northern California. Thousands more people are being affected by fires up and down the West Coast. Have you seen these images out there with the orange skies?
Correspondent Jeff Paul shows us tonight from Monrovia, California.
JEFF PAUL, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Months of tinder dry conditions added to days of high winds and hot temperatures creating a perfect fire storm across the west.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely the most intense one that I've been at.
PAUL: More than 90 major fires are burning in 13 states, scorching an area the size of the state of Connecticut according to the National Fire Information Center.
California is one of the hardest hit with a record breaking three million acres burned and nearly 4,000 homes in buildings lost so far. A 12-year old boy and his grandmother are among the latest deaths.
The flames are spreading so fast, it really doesn't give people much time to get out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was so fast; it sounds like a jet plane. You know, I was -- it was fire, 360 degrees around me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Someplace in that pile there, I had my mother's rings, tore my heart up.
PAUL: The fires also taking a toll in Washington state where more than 100 homes are gone. And a 1-year old boy died has his family trying to flee the flames.
After touring the damage, the state's governor linked the relentless fires to climate change.
GOV. JAY INSLE (D-WA): This is the result of catastrophically danger climatic systems which have left us exposed to these horrendous fires.
PAUL: And in Oregon, more than 35 fires are burning with at least five small towns destroyed. Resources across the west are stretched thin.
HILARY FRANZ, WASHINGTON COMMISSIONER, PUBLIC LANDS: I have men and women who are doing everything possible to get these fires contained under very, very difficult condition with very lean teams.
PAUL: And it's not just flames from the fire that are devastating, huge plumes of smoke are creating poor air quality levels, as well as grounding firefighting aircraft from completing missions because pilots simply cannot see, Bret.
BAIER: Jeff Paul live in Monrovia. Jeff, thank you.
Up next, are you ready for some football? And NFL season unlike any other begins tonight. We'll look at the challenges ahead. But yes, we're ready.
First, here's some -- what some Fox affiliates around the country are covering tonight.
Fix 2 in Detroit as more than half million Michigan workers who provide essential services during the COVID-19 pandemic have the opportunity to go to college without paying tuition. Funding for the program draws in $24 million investment from the governor's education emergency relief fund, which is part of the CARES Act.
And this is a live look at Salt Lake City from Fox 13. One of the big stories there tonight, six western states that rely on the Colorado River to sustain cities and farms are criticizing a plan to build an underground pipeline that would transport billions of gallons of water through the desert to Southwest Utah. The states are urging the federal government to halt the approval process for this river project.
That's tonight's live look outside the Beltway from SPECIAL REPORT, we'll be right back.
BAIER: Tonight the National Football League kicks off what is going to a most unusual season. The games resume amid a worldwide pandemic, of course, and that will keep most fans from attending in person, and during a national focus on racial issues. The league is also dealing with open hostility from the president and his supporters, but it's going forward tonight. Here's correspondent Kevin Corke.
KEVIN CORKE, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Like so much else in 2020, the NFL season, kicking off tonight, will be unlike anything we've ever seen before. And the empty or near empty stadiums that will greet the games aren't the half of it. This season will be shaped as much by the summer's unrest as it is by the COVID-19 pandemic. Out are cheerleaders, mascots, and sideline reporters. In are end zones with the words "It takes all of us," and End racism," and very likely widespread kneeling during the National Anthem.
ROGER GOODELL, NFL COMMISSIONER: We're not here to make political statements. We're here to help make our communities better.
TROY AIKMAN, FOX SPORTS NFL ANALYST: We could all learn, we could all learn a lot, certainly Washington could, from the way teams are able to come together and put aside their differences and work towards a common goal.
CORKE: The goal, not just football, says Aikman, but unity, an ambitious endeavor coming at perhaps in the country's most disharmonious period since 1861.
DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They can protest in other ways. They shouldn't protest our flag or our country.
CORKE: Of course, it's far more than just personal for President Trump. It's also political. In fact, he's made no secret of his disdain for athletes who use the anthem to protest, recently tweeting that it's "a sign of great disrespect for our country and our flag." "Goodbye, NFL. I'm gone," tweeted the president's son Eric this week.
Still, recent polling suggests that's the Trumps' posture on protests is out of step with a growing number of Americans. Asked if athletes should use their platform to express views on national issues, 62 percent of those responding told "The Washington Post" they should, 56 percent said it was appropriate for players to kneel during the anthem to protest racial inequality, 42 percent said it's not.
CORKE: The defending Super Bowl champions Kansas City Chiefs, who are set to take on the Houston Texans in front of a relatively sparse, COVID limited crowd at Arrowhead Stadium, Bret. We're told that capacity will be roughly around 22 percent, Bret.
BAIER: I'll be watching. Kevin, thanks.
CORKE: You bet.
BAIER: Let's take a closer look at the journalists' issues surrounding the Woodward book and what the president talked about today, criticizing the author's decision to sit on some of the revelations until he was ready to publish, revelations about what the president said. Here is FOX News media analyst and Host of FOX's "Media Buzz," Howard Kurtz.
HOWARD KURTZ, FOX NEWS MEDIA ANALYST: Bob Woodward became famous relying on the Watergate source Deep Throat, but the key source in his new book "Rage" is on the record and on tape, which is why yesterday's excerpt sparked a media furor.
BOB WOODWARD, JOURNALIST: You went through a pivot on this to, oh, my God, the gravity is almost inexplicable and unexplainable.
KURTZ: Much of the media is flatly accusing the president of lying about the severity of the coronavirus that he confided to Woodward in early February. Other pundits are backing the president's account that he was trying to avoid a panic.
CARL BERNSTEIN, JOURNALIST: It is a dereliction of duty recorded as no other presidential dereliction of duty has been, even more so than the Nixon tapes.
LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS HOST: You would think that these so called journalists in the media might have realized that the president wouldn't talk on the record with Woodward about something he was trying to hide.
KURTZ: Though media accusation dominated today's briefing?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why did you lie to the American people, and why should we trust what you have to say now?
DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That's a terrible question, and the phraseology. I didn't lie. The way you phrased that is such a disgrace. It's a disgrace to ABC television network.
KURTZ: The president tweeted today if Woodward thought their conversations "were so bad or dangerous, why didn't he immediately report them in an effort to save lives?" "The Washington Post" reporter told his paper he needed time to verify Trump's account and put it in context. A "Times" review calls the portion of Trump "immediately recognizable to anyone paying even the minimal amount of attention. Trump refused to cooperate with Woodward's last book, but this time he was calling the author at night for some of their 18 interviews, the book quoting him as telling his wife Melania it will probably be atrocious, but that's OK.
The president has been hit with a series of hostile books, by his convicted lawyer Michael Cohen, ex-aide John Bolton, fired FBI agent Peter Strzok, his niece, Mary Trump. One difference, Woodward had cooperation from Jared Kushner and other top aides.
KURTZ: Is the back, as the president charges, a political hit job? The last sentence breaks with Woodward's usual just the facts approach, declaring that Trump is the wrong man for the job. But it's also packed with lengthy presidential quotes so readers can make up their own mind. Bret?
BAIER: Howie, thanks.
Long awaited peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government begin Saturday in Qatar. The terrorist group and Qatar's foreign ministry made that announcement today. The talks were laid out in a peace deal brokered by the U.S. The secretary of state is heading there, and he'll be there on hand.
Up next, two politicians undefeated in their home state of Colorado slug it out for the Senate seat.
BAIER: This starts a series of reports about Senate races around the country, and we're going to bounce all around. The Senate race in Colorado shaping up as a heavyweight battle. Both contenders are undefeated in their state going in. Senior correspondent Alicia Acuna handicaps the contest tonight from Denver.
ALICIA ACUNA, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Neither Republican Senator Cory Gardner nor former Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper has ever lost a Colorado race.
SEN. CORY GARDNER, (R-CO): I cross party lines to get things done.
ACUNA: Democrats have had their eye on Gardner since his upset victory in 2014.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hickenlooper knows now is the time for action, not vacation.
ACUNA: Hickenlooper finished two terms in the governor's office with high approval ratings, popularity that did not translate to the presidential trail. At the time he brushed off the idea of challenging Gardner, telling "Politico," quote, "I'm not cut out to be a senator." Race rankings have strongly favored the Democrat in this highly independent state.
JOHN FRANK, "COLORADO SUN": The trick with unaffiliates here in Colorado is they're the largest voting bloc, and how they go each election is very much dependent on the national mood, on the current political mood.
ACUNA: Both candidates have hurdles. An ethics commissioner found Hickenlooper violated a gift ban while governor. And his lack of media interviews has led to a familiar retort by Gardner.
GARDNER: John Hickenlooper won't leave the basement.
ACUNA: Hickenlooper's communications director said in an e-mail to FOX News "the hiding claim is absolutely false," but declined to make him available.
FRANK: For Hickenlooper, what you see is he's campaigning in a bubble of sorts.
ACUNA: Democrats are hoping Gardner's relationship with the president will spell doom.
TED TRIMPA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Cory has a new election fashion accessory, and that's an ankle bracelet that's called Trump.
ACUNA: Hillary Clinton beat Trump here in 2016, but Gardner believes his ticket will outperform expectations when you consider the last three presidential elections.
GARDNER: Donald Trump did better than Mitt Romney or John McCain. And so that's why I think Colorado continues to be that independent state that it has always been.
ACUNA: Colorado mails every registered vote a ballot, a process that's been questioned nationally. This state has done it securely for multiple cycles so it's considered a nonissue. Bret?
BAIER: Alicia, thank you.
When we return, the panel on the president's news conference, reaction to the Woodward book, what we heard from the media managers from both campaigns -- that was something -- next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I didn't lie. What I said is we have to be calm. We can't be panicked.
I put the ban on China. So obviously outwardly I said it's a very serious problem. And it's always a serious problem. That doesn't mean I'm going to jump up and down in the air and start saying people are going to die, people are going to die. No.
JOE BIDEN, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's disgusting. And that's why we have no confidence in his leadership.
He waved a white flag. He walked away. He didn't do a damn thing. Think about it. Think about what he did not do. And it's almost criminal.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: I didn't really see any discrepancies between what he told us and what we told him and what he ultimately came out publicly and said.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: All of this, the fallout from the Bob Woodward book, what the president said today at his news conference. Let's bring in our panel, Charles Hurt, opinion editor for "The Washington Times," Julie Pace is the Washington Bureau Chief for the Associated Press, and Guy Benson, political editor at https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=http-3A__Townhall.com&d=DwICAg&c=cnx1hdOQtepEQkpermZGwQ&r=tgDLkJy54PfJyWJwul3dKe54qGxqO7b7d5vjo7RcZds&m=XCQJakhtxd6-cDoS2NqJbGtUX6PD-JcJ1DtfqKMtMR4&s=iHNpjGne0mvEU-5CA7QtxPVJLruqh3q6C-MWYj-aaok&e= , host of "The Guy Benson Show" on FOX News Radio.
Julie, it's obviously interesting to hear both sides talk about it. We know what we know as far as what was said on those tapes to Bob Woodward and what was said publicly. The president is saying now that that was about not instilling panic in the country.
JULIE PACE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, ASSOCIATED PRESS: I think one of the things that undercuts the president's argument when he talks about wanting to be a calming figure is that there's very little evidence over the last few years that Trump has wanted to be a calming figure. If you even look at where he wants to push this campaign, talking about law and order, talking about crime, he's actually trying to instill fear. He's actually trying to make people scared. And so it runs counter to a lot of what we've just seen from him publicly over the last couple of years.
I do think more broadly the president does not want to be talking about the pandemic during the next eight weeks. He wants to be talking about that as though it's something in the past. The Biden campaign would really like to fight out this campaign squarely on this question of do you believe that president handled this in the right way or not, and they believe that the Woodward book has given them an opening to push that conversation and that campaign line forward.
BAIER: Clearly that's their goal, the Biden campaign. Not to relive this, but here's the two campaigns from earlier.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
T.J. DUCKLO, BIDEN FOR PRESIDENT NATIONAL PRESS SECRETARY: The vice president was not against the travel ban, first of all. Second of all, let's remember --
BAIER: He wasn't?
DUCKLO: Bret, let's remember an important distinction. Donald Trump was the president of the United States. It was on Donald Trump --
BAIER: I'm asking you if Joe Biden was the president of the United States, if he was --
DUCKLO: It was on Donald Trump to take action to actually protect the American people.
BAIER: And he closed the travel to China.
DUCKLO: Joe Biden wrote an op-ed in "USA Today" in January warning that the threat was coming.
TIM MURTAUGH: The things that are contained in there are the same things that president was saying publicly. He views it as part of his job of president of the United States --
BAIER: That's not true. It's not true.
MURTAUGH: Yes, it is.
BAIER: When was saying publicly that the virus would go from 15 to zero and that it was magically going to wash away, that is not the same thing he's telling Bob Woodward, that it's a deadly virus that travels over the air --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: I was trying to get answers, Charlie.
CHARLES HURT, OPINION EDITOR, "WASHINGTON TIMES": Yes, indeed, you were.
I actually think that the president actually doesn't mind talking about the pandemic because basically I think the election, voters are going to have two takeaways regarding the pandemic going into the election. The first is who did what, when. And I think that the president has a very good argument here for saying that he did a lot of the things right. Obviously, no response is going to be perfect. It's a pandemic. It is sort of amusing in Washington to watch people attack the president for not being presidential, and then when he tries to act presidential and try to calm people down and not create hysterics, he then gets killed for that. I do understand why the president doesn't walk out and say oh, my gosh, we have got a pandemic. Everything is on fire.
The second thing -- and then, of course, don't forget, at that time what was going on in Congress was you had Democrats shutting down an entire branch of the federal government to pursue impeachment of the president even though they knew it wasn't going to go anywhere. And I think that is actually a pretty good argument the president can make going into the election.
The second thing is, where do we go from here. And you have Vice President Biden talking about having a federal mandate requiring facemasks and wanting to shut down the economy again and hand everything over to scientists. That's one option. And then you have the president's option, which is something very different. And voters will decide.
BAIER: I think it's important to get the timeline right at the beginning if you're going full bore criticizing.
Guy, I want to talk about that vote today in the Senate. The Senate, the Republicans call a targeted bill, Democrats call a skinny basketball. Either way it went down to a filibuster that many Democrats actually oppose, the filibuster. But it went down to a filibuster, Democrats blocking it. How does that play politically now that this bill, it seems like there's not a negotiation happening?
GUY BENSON, POLITICAL EDITOR: Yes, first of all, Bret, to one of your earlier interview, I want to assure that I'm not reading from a teleprompter during this interview. I can't answer that question if you were to ask it to me directly.
To your question here about the filibuster, I think it is rich, as you point out, Democrats in the Senate are openly discussing getting rid of the filibuster should they win back power. Barack Obama, who was an enthusiastic participant in filibusters as a senator, now has called it a remnant of Jim Crow. But I guess it's a good remnant for now because the Democrats are using it to thwart Republicans.
I think the Democrats have made a calculation here, which is the media by and large is on their side. They want Donald Trump to lose. And any outrageous behavior or indefensible behavior from the Democratic Party will be barely covered or swept under the rug. This was every single Senate Democrat announcing to the country, if people are paying attention, they refuse to even get onto a bill, which means they wouldn't even debate or amend a bill on coronavirus relief. That doesn't mean they have to vote for or against it. They even have another chance to block it down the line. This was just a full-blown piece of obstruction to not even discuss this very important issue.
And Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer came out and declared victory and sort of high-fiving over this failure. I think there are a lot of hurting Americans that might not be thrilled with that.
BAIER: The Democrats' argument right now is that it's not big enough. But $300 billion isn't zero. Panel, thank you.
When we come back, a whole new meaning to garbage time.
BAIER: Finally, tonight, reasons to celebrate. Most people really dread taking out the trash on garbage pickup day, but one little boy loves it so much in Tampa. Marlon admires garbage trucks that his local truck operator arranged a drive-by parade of garbage trucks for his fourth birthday. Marlon even got to sit in one of the trucks and honk the horn on his special day. Good for you.
After spending nearly six months in the intensive care unit fighting the coronavirus, Rabbi Yehuda Dukes was released into rehab. Dukes spent four long months on a ventilator at NYU hospital, never stopped fighting. Cheering staff greeted him as he left ICU. Congratulations.
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