This is a rush transcript from “Special Report” September 17, 2020. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Good evening, welcome to Washington. I'm Bret Baier.
Breaking tonight, President Trump is taking election year aim at what he calls a crusade against the American history using toxic propaganda and ideological poison in his words.
The president said during a history event this afternoon at the National Archives here in Washington, American school children are being indoctrinated in propaganda aimed at making them ashamed of their country.
The president will leave the White House shortly for a campaign stop in Wisconsin. If he speaks to reporters along the way, we'll bring it to you here.
In the meantime, chief White House correspondent John Roberts starts us off tonight from the North Lawn. Good evening, John.
JOHN ROBERTS, FOX NEWS CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It's raining out right now, Bret, so the president may not stop before getting on the helicopter. But today, he put the culture wars front and center. His speech in which the president blamed Democrats for not standing up to forces the president says are trying to tear the country apart.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Far left demonstrators have chanted the words America was never great.
ROBERTS: At the National Archives today, President Trump launching a counter offensive to what he called left wing indoctrination of the youngest generations by educators he claims are trying to erase American history.
TRUMP: The left-wing cultural revolution is designed to overthrow the American Revolution.
ROBERTS: President Trump signed a proclamation creating the 1776 commission to promote patriotic education. The president also announcing he'll put the statue of Delaware founding father Caesar Rodney in his proposed Garden of American Heroes. Rodney who cast the deciding vote for independence was a slave owner. His statue in Wilmington was taken down in June.
TRUMP: Today, America will give this founding father this very brave man who was so horribly treated. The place of honor he deserves.
ROBERTS: The White House also continued to push back today against what the CDC director told Congress yesterday about coronavirus when he said wearing a mask is as effective as a vaccine. The White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.
MARK MEADOWS, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: If masks is the panacea for everything, then we can have everybody going back to work if they'll just wear a mask. And I don't know that Doctor Redfield would say that. I can tell you, other doctors don't say that.
ROBERTS: On Twitter, Redfield clarified his statements, tweeting that he believes 100 percent on the importance of a vaccine, but that until one is approved, the best defense we currently have against this virus are the important mitigation efforts of wearing a mask, washing your hands, social distancing and being careful about crowds.
Joe Biden's running mate today gave Redfield her full-throated support.
SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Nobody likes to wear a mask. But it is an extension of love thy neighbor that we do.
ROBERTS: With Congress and the White House at an impasse over another coronavirus relief bill, airline CEOs came to Washington today to plead for an extension to the Paycheck Support Program. American Airlines president saying the situation for thousands of employees is about to get dire.
DOUG PARKER, CEO, AMERICAN AIRLINES: Without action, they're going to -- they're going to be furloughed in October 1st and it's not fair. It's not fair to them, it's not fair to our country.
ROBERTS: The CEOs met with the chief of staff who said the White House would be open to a separate measure for an additional $25 billion in support. Mark Meadows warning the bill would have to be passed by the end of next week.
MEADOWS: We've got tens of thousands of people that are about to be laid off. So, if nothing more, let's go ahead and put that package on the -- on the floor and pass that.
ROBERTS: President Trump and Joe Biden will be battling out all of these issues on the campaign trail tonight. The president with a campaign rally in Mosinee, Wisconsin. Joe Biden has got a town hall in his birthplace of Scranton, Bret.
BAIER: John Roberts live on the North Lawn. John, thanks.
The head of the FBI says Russia is trying to interfere in this fall's election. And Christopher Wray says the Russians are going after President Trump's opponent Joe Biden. He also adds other countries China and Iran also active this year. Chief congressional correspondent Mike Emanuel has specifics. Good evening, Mike.
MIKE EMANUEL, FOX NEWS HOST: Bret, good evening. The FBI director today on Capitol Hill told lawmakers there have been very active efforts by the Russians to influence the 2020 election.
The FBI director and the director of the National Counterterrorism Center appearing at a House hearing focusing on worldwide threats. Christopher Wray testified that Moscow is trying to hurt Joe Biden's election chances.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTOPHER WRAY, DIRECTOR, FBI: An effort to both sow divisiveness and discord and I think the Intelligence Community has assess this publicly to primarily to denigrate Vice President Biden and what the Russians see as kind of an anti-Russian establishment.
EMANUEL: With the election less than seven weeks away, Wray tried to reassure American voters.
WRAY: I think Americans can and should have confidence on our election system and certainly in our democracy. But I worry that people will take on a feeling of futility because of all of the noise and confusion that's generated and that's a very hard problem to combat.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
EMANUEL: President Trump has expressed serious concerns about the possibility of voter fraud with massive mail-in voting. New Jersey Democrat Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman pressed that issue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WRAY: We have not seen a today a coordinated national voter fraud effort in a major election. We have certainly investigated -- we have certainly
(INAUDIBLE) -- if I may finish. We've certainly have investigated voter fraud committed by mail, it's typically been at the local level.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
EMANUEL: Wray tried to reassure lawmakers and the public, the security of the upcoming election is one of the FBI's highest priorities. He says the bureau is working with state and local partners, as well as the private sector to identify and disrupt any threats, Bret.
BAIER: Mike, thank you. We are learning new details tonight about how just
-- how serious the military threat from China is becoming. Lucas Tomlinson reports tonight from the Pentagon.
LUCAS TOMLINSON, FOX NEWS PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: The head of the U.S.
military's nuclear forces with words of warning. It's not just Russia expanding its nuclear arsenal but China too.
ADM. CHARLES A. RICHARD, U.S. STRATEGIC COMMAND: We're on a path by the end of the decade if not sooner that face two peer nuclear capable adversaries.
We've never faced that challenge before in our nation's history.
TOMLINSON: The U.S. has roughly 3,800 nuclear warheads.
RICHARD: China won't tell us how many they have.
TOMLINSON: It's not only Beijing's missiles and growing operations in the South China Sea that concern the Trump administration.
WRAY: The FBI now has over 2,000 counterintelligence investigations related to China.
TOMLINSON: New satellite images show China working on a third aircraft carrier, the other two were Soviet relics. The U.S. Navy has 11 aircraft carriers.
RICHARD: Don't shoot behind the duck, right. It's not where they are, it's where they're going, right? And when China sets its mind to something, they are very impressive in their ability to go accomplishment.
TOMLINSON: Richard says seven years ago, China did not have a Coast Guard.
Today, it has a fleet of 255 ships.
RICHARD: China now has the capability to directly threaten our homeland from a ballistic missile submarine, that's a pretty watershed moment.
TOMLINSON: The Pentagon now says China has the largest media in the world.
CSIS estimates China will have 425 warships by 2030. Defense Secretary Esper says those numbers don't tell the whole story.
MARK ESPER, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: I want to make clear that China cannot match the United States when it comes to naval power. Even if we stop building new ships, it would take the PRC years to close the gap when it comes to our capability on the high seas.
TOMLINSON: Esper criticized House Democrats for pulling $2 billion from the new budget, saying it will do grave damage to America's nuclear arsenal.
TOMLINSON: Esper now wants over 355 ships and billions more to pay for it in addition to replacing those aging nukes, Bret.
BAIER: Lucas TOMLINSON in the Pentagon. Lucas, thanks.
We are awaiting a decision from President Trump on whether to approve a deal between Oracle and the owners of the popular social media app TikTok.
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows says the administration wants to be judicious about ensuring whatever deals in place limits as much as possible Chinese government involvement.
Stocks were off today, the Dow lost 130, the S&P 500 dropped 28, the NASDAQ fell 140.
What was once Hurricane Sally has left behind some significant damage in the South. Correspondent Casey Stegall shows us tonight from Orange Beach, Alabama.
CASEY STEGALL, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: More than 400 high water rescues have been carried out in and around Pensacola, Florida from Hurricane Sally's unrelenting rains and storm surge and the work isn't done yet.
JASON ROGERS, FLORIDA PUBLIC SAFETY DIRECTOR, ESCAMBIA COUNTY: The pace is slowing down but we are still in the life safety rescue mission business right now.
STEGALL: The race is on especially with even more flooding possible in the coming days for parts of the Panhandle.
ERIC GILMORE, FLORIDA EMERGENCY MANAGER, ESCAMBIA COUNTY: We Are not quite out of the woods yet. We still have flooding of our two rivers, the Perdido River and Escambia River. So, the residents along those rivers, please heed this warning that we will see cresting or start rising water later this afternoon.
STEGALL: An uneasy feeling for so many Floridians who already have water inside their homes.
AMY FLAHERTY, FLORIDA RESIDENT: There is three feet of water down there splashing in through the seams of the doors. There was nothing that I could have done.
STEGALL: Portions of Pensacola Bay's brand new three-mile bridge collapsed on Wednesday after a barge mounted construction crane came loose, smashing into the foundation and girders.
While in neighboring Alabama, cleanup and recovery from the Category 2 storm is now well underway.
JERRY HOUSTON, ALABAMA RESIDENT: This room I was in.
In mobile, Jerry Houston says he's lucky to be alive after a tree fell in his bedroom while he was in a different part of his home riding out the storm.
HOUSTON: And there was nothing but pile of threes, wood and lumber right there where I would have been.
STEGALL: Further south in Orange Beach and Gulf shores, Sally's winds blew boats out of marinas and dumped nearly two feet of rain. It also peeled away some walls of this high rise condo complex.
GOV. KAY IVEY (R-AL): Now state is reeling just as our people are hurting.
Your friends and neighbors around the state are thinking of you and praying for you.
STEGALL: At least one person has died in this storm all water related fatality here in Orange Beach. Right now, Sally's rains are battering the Carolinas and Southeast Virginia. Earlier it was Georgia. At this hour,
420,000 people -- 420,000 people or so are without power, Bret.
BAIER: Casey Stegall live in Orange Beach. Casey, thanks.
From water to flames, firefighters battling the west coast wildfires say this year's blazes are some of the worst they have ever seen. They said the fires are taxing the human mechanical and financial resources of the nation's wildfire fighting forces to an extraordinary degree and half of the fire season is yet to come.
Up next, Attorney General Bill Barr unloads on his own Justice Department and the media will explain.
First, here's what some of our Fox Affiliates around the country are covering tonight.
Fox 29 in Philadelphia, as police hunts for suspects after a hail of gunfire, left to men dead and two wounded on a city basketball court.
Officers found the four victims in a park in the city Spring Garden neighborhood last night.
Fox 11 in Los Angeles as crew members on a dive boat that caught fire killing 34 people say they were never instructed on emergency procedures.
National Transportation Safety Board investigators say the cause of that blaze aboard the conception remains undetermined.
And this is a live look at Miami from our affiliate Fox 7. One of big stories there tonight, police officers respond to a report of a monkey on the run near Tampa. Police ended up in a foot pursuit with a monkey named Abu. The officers were eventually able to detain the tiny primate and get him back to his owner.
So, that is tonight's live look outside the Beltway from SPECIAL REPORT.
We'll be right back.
BAIER: Welcome back. We are 47 days from Election Day and now starts the what-if scenarios. You know it takes 270 electoral votes to win the presidency. This is a map where states are essentially blue or red based on where they are, where the polls are. Joe Biden blue obviously, Donald Trump read. It's not decided until Election Day or the days after.
But let's look at the other battleground states in white. If they go to form like traditionally, they do, some place like Texas would go Republican.
Let's say Georgia goes Republican as well. Ohio, where it's very close but it goes to Donald Trump. Iowa Trump is up; we'll give him that as well.
North Carolina, 15 electoral votes. A lot of focus on the state of Pennsylvania. Let's give it to Donald Trump pulling out Pennsylvania.
Take a look at Florida. The Real Clear Politics Average of polls, it's about one point. But let's say Donald Trump wins his home state of Florida,
268 electoral votes at that point.
All right, now, let's look out west. Arizona, 11 electoral votes. This is a very close race. The Senate race there seems like it's leaning towards the Democrat at this point. Let's say Arizona which has been purple goes to Joe Biden. He also picks up Nevada and New Hampshire.
Then, let's go to the Midwest, he wins in Michigan and in Wisconsin. There you have a race, 260 to 260 with Minnesota's 10 electoral votes remaining.
Now, currently, Joe Biden is ahead depending on the poll ahead fairly substantially, but there are some polls that is very tight.
The Trump campaign is focusing on Minnesota. Obviously, if it goes to Joe Biden, he wins. But the political and economic price tag of the violence, the summer racial unrest, and violence. The consequences are being felt tonight in Minneapolis, and that's where Fox Business correspondent Hillary Vaughn is this evening.
CAROL BECKER, BOARD OF ESTIMATE AND TAXATION, MINNEAPOLIS: So, about 10 of us literally stood on the street Wednesday night with nothing, except like big mom energy. Going up to looters and arsonists like you're not going to touch our building.
HILLARY VAUGHN, FOX BUSINESS NETWORK CORRESPONDENT: Months after rioters tore through the Twin Cities, torching businesses, heaps of rubble, concrete and ash sit on sidewalks where storefronts used to be.
GEMECHIS MERGA, OWNER, RONGO'S AUTO REPAIR: No business going on and we disconnected from the customer, that's a big loss.
VAUGHN: Minnesota's governor puts the price tag at half a billion dollars after over 1,500 businesses were targeted by rioters. But insurance payments to help businesses get back on their feet are lagging. So far, $46 million has been paid out, just a fraction of the $229 million claimed.
Getting rid of rubble is a big hurdle. State law requires that property taxes be paid until businesses can clear their lots. But many businesses struggling from a pandemic shutdown, owe thousands in property taxes that they can't afford to pay for a storefront that doesn't exist. Others who have started the process to rebuild aren't sure if they'll reopen right away.
DON BLYLY, OWNER, UNCLE HUGO'S SCIENCE FICTION: I'm also going to wait until after the trial before policeman is done. Because if the mob does not like the decision of the jury, we could have rioting again, and I don't want to be burnt out a second time.
VAUGHN: A few days ago, local principals from schools in Minneapolis lined up outside a mini-mart after a senior in high school was shot dead with a plea to police.
MAURI MELANDER FRIESTLEBEN, PRINCIPAL, NORTH HIGH SCHOOL: You overhear law enforcement in our city right now and they feel like, well, the city council doesn't want us, or, well, you know, the people don't want to switch people. Who? The people who are in my community need and want good law enforcement.
VAUGHN: The issues of rioting and police reform have swing state voters split on whom to support.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm not so much worried about the writing, I'm worried about making sure that I'm trying to pull a candidate that's going to consider the fact that racism is still very prevalent.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Progressives want to allow protesting to go on with no effort to stop the criminal acts. I cannot support that. That's why Trump is picking up steam.
VAUGHN: Other businesses are facing other obstacles after rioters ripped $1 million worth of alcohol from this liquor store. The owner is fighting the city to install security shutters over the windows.
Right now, those are illegal because city officials worry it could make a neighborhood look unsafe. Bret.
BAIER: Hillary Vaughn in Minneapolis. Hillary, thanks.
Really something to see that school principal I posted on Twitter.
Pennsylvania's highest court has given the Democratic Party a series of victories related to November's presidential election. One of today's decisions was in a lawsuit that sought favorable fixes to glitches and gray areas in the mail-in voting law.
The Court granted Democrats request to order a three-day extension of Pennsylvania's Election Day deadline to count mail-in ballots. That's three days after Election Day. It also authorized satellite election offices and drop boxes to head off an avalanche of mail ballots in Philadelphia and its populist suburbs.
Up next, Attorney General Bill Barr urges prosecutors to be more aggressive against rioters.
BAIER: U.S. deaths from the coronavirus are closing in on 200,000. The number of confirmed cases in this country is about 6.7 million, the highest reported total in the world.
New York City has again delayed the start of in-person learning for most of the more than a million students in its public school system. Mayor Bill de Blasio, says the city needs more time to prepare for students to return to classrooms which was met by a lot of criticism, very vocal three days before the start of school.
President Trump is pressuring the Pac-12 Conference to reverse its decision not to play football. Earlier this week, the Big Ten decided to begin play later in the year. And health officials are telling 10 fans who attended last week's Kansas City Chiefs game to quarantine after one fan tested positive for COVID-19.
The Chiefs say they worked with Kansas City health officials to find those fans who were possibly exposed.
Attorney General William Barr is taking considerable heat for some recent comments, he's not backing down though, fact, he's pushing back.
Correspondent Kristin Fisher shows us this evening from the Justice Department.
KRISTIN FISHER, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Attorney General Bill Barr letting it rip Wednesday night, tearing into his own justice department and criticizing career prosecutors for becoming, in his words, head hunters who are consumed with taking down their target.
WILLIAM BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES: In case after case, we've advanced and defended hyper-aggressive extensions of the criminal law. This is wrong and we have to stop doing it.
FISHER: Barr did not specify which cases he was referring to. At the same time, he's also urging prosecutors to be more aggressive in charging rioters and violent protesters.
But criticizing these rank-and-file prosecutors, the attorney general is also defending the job he's done as the nation's top law enforcement official by saying he has every right to overrule them and intervene in investigations.
BARR: Letting the most junior members set the agenda might be a good philosophy for a Montessori preschool, but it is no way to run a federal agency.
FISHER: Democrats are now rallying behind career justice department prosecutors and urging them to speak out.
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT): Now is the time for those professional attorneys, law enforcers, and public servants to stand up to this attorney general because he is so perverting and corrupting the rule of law.
FISHER: Barr also weighed-in Wednesday night on the Black Lives Matter movement.
BARR: They're not interested in black lives, they're interested in -- they're interested in props, a small number of blacks who were killed by police during a conflict with police, usually less than a dozen a year, who they can use as props to achieve a much broader political agenda.
FISHER: Barr also told a columnist to the Chicago Tribune, he knows that as attorney general, he should not get involved in politics. But Barr still said that he believes if Joe Biden wins in November, then the U.S. will find itself, and I quote, "irrevocably committed to a socialist path."
BAIER: Kristin Fisher at the Justice Department. Kristin, thanks.
Former FBI director James Comey will testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on September 30th. Comey who was fired by President Trump in May of 2017 will be a featured witness in the Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham's investigation into the origins of the Justice Department's Russia probe.
Graham says he has also invited special prosecutor Robert Mueller, but he declined.
Up next, we'll take you to the panel. But coming up, we've got the around the -- "BEYOND OUR BORDERS". Colleagues of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, say a bottle of water with a trace of soviet-developed nerve agent was found in his hotel room after he fell ill on a flight to Moscow last month.
Navalny is recovering in a German hospital. Members of his team accused the Kremlin of involving -- involvement in the poisoning, charge's Russian officials vehemently deny.
Four Afghan migrants are charged with arson for the alleged involvement in fires that destroyed most of a large refugee camp on Greece's eastern island of Lesbos. The fire swept through the overcrowded camp, prompting more than 12,000 migrants and refugees to flee.
Japan's new prime minister is expressing support for next year's delayed Tokyo Olympic Games. Yoshihide Suga was elected this week to replace Shinzo Abe, who's retiring because of his health.
Just some of the other stories "BEYOND OUR BORDERS" tonight. We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Critical race theory, "The 1619 Project," and the crusade against American history is toxic propaganda, ideological poison that if not removed, will dissolve the civic bonds that tie us together.
American parents are not going to accept indoctrination in our schools, cancel culture in our work, or the repression of traditional faith, culture, and values in the public square. Not anymore.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: President Trump on this Constitution Day, speaking at the National Archives here in Washington about fighting what he calls a toxic effort to change our history in schools, signing an executive order to protect and start a program for patriotic history.
Let's bring in our panel, Charles Hurt, opinion editor for "The Washington Times," Mara Liasson, national political correspondent for National Public Radio, and Bill McGurn, main street columnist for "The Wall Street Journal." Bill, on this day, the day the U.S. Constitution was signed, 1787, is this a smart move politically?
BILL MCGURN, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: I think he is responding to the currents in the culture. The Constitution is one of the greatest documents in the history of freedom. The Declaration was aspirational, but the Constitution gave us a system to preserve it and has done very well.
And I think what the president was talking about is there is a philosophical assumption now that the United States was born in corruption because of slavery and is forever stained by it. And the danger with that is, one, we have our flaws, but in terms of advancing freedom, there's few parallels. And also, these kinds of things are designed not to encourage a debate over history but to forestall it, because if you question if, then you're considered a racist too.
BAIER: Mara, how does this play in the election?
MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO:
Yes, I'm kind of puzzled by it. This is something that clearly a lot of the president's supporters on the right care about. I think it's a kind of niche issue. If you're talking about reviving civics education or really learning about the Constitution, people should be taught that.
But I would like to know how many schools in America have adopted "The 1619 Project," which is controversial and debated among American historians, as their curriculum. So I think that for an election that is focusing on the pandemic and the recession, this seems to be a little off message. Even though I understand it strikes a chord with his base, I just feel like it's throwing more spaghetti at the wall.
BAIER: Charlie, I guess -- and he made a point of singling out one figure from Delaware whose statue was taken down in Delaware to revive them in a garden of statues, pointedly about Joe Biden, and obviously they think that this touches broader than just the base and maybe the suburbs.
CHARLES HURT, OPINION EDITOR, "WASHINGTON TIMES": Absolutely, Bret. I don't think that this is a niche issue. It may have been at one point, and certainly this is the sort of thing that President Trump's base, this is what got him elected, these are the people that got him elected, the people that most revere the founding documents and things that Bill McGurn just mentioned.
But I think that at this point in our history, I think that this reaches far beyond that niche. I think that it reaches into a lot of suburban folks and a lot of people who are more politically moderate who maybe didn't vote for Trump the first time, and they are looking around and they're seeing cities on fire. They are seeing this culture of hatred towards police. They are seeing all of these things that have made America the unique place, the extraordinary place that it is, being torn down. And this is kind of sweet honey for them, the idea that there's somebody who doesn't care what anybody thinks and is walking out of there and absolutely weathering the accusations that maybe he's racist or something like that because he is celebrating these things that not only make America great, but offer an opportunity for all those people that the rioters claim to care the most about. It offers an opportunity for everybody in this country.
BAIER: And I was referring to Delaware, Caesar Rodney, who was really the deciding vote for independence, had a horseback ride to make that vote. He was, however, a slave owner, which is why the statue is coming down of Delaware.
Speaking of slavery, here is the attorney general sparking a lot of controversy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Putting a national lockdown, stay-at- home orders, is like house arrest. Other than slavery, which was a different kind of restraint, this is the greatest intrusion on civil liberties in American history.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R-SC) SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: People have had to stay at home for long durations. People have been out of work.
It's been difficult, but I wouldn't compare it to slavery.
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL, (D-CT) SENATE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: Comparing pandemic restraints to slavery is a perversion of both history and law. The attorney general of the United States should know better.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: Bill, he did say it was a different kind of restraint, but a big threat on civil rights or civil discourse.
MCGURN: Look, absolutely, I think the attorney general is right. Again, I go back to the responses are not designed to foster debate. They are designed to shut it down. We just had a federal judge rule that some of the restrictions by the governor on COVID were unconstitutional. We've had churches closed with different rules applying to them than to everyone else. These are real issues that should be debated. And the judge in issuing his decision said we should not get used to a new normal wear government by decree, by one person, replaces law and consideration.
Constitutional rights do not disappear in a crisis.
BAIER: Mara, the other thing he's raising eyebrows about, the attorney general, is this, prosecutors to consider charging violent protesters with sedition. "Attorney General Barr told the nation's federal prosecutors to be aggressive when charging violent demonstrators with crimes, including potentially prosecuting them for plotting to overthrow the U.S.
government." Barr wanted that sometimes violent demonstrators Ÿ_" warned, rather, "that sometimes violent demonstrations across the U.S. could worsen as the November presidential election approaches. He encouraged the prosecutors to seek a number of federal charges, including under a rarely used sedition law."
The Justice Department just put out a clarification in which they say it's not rarely used, including Section 2384, which is what they are talking about under a statute. Attorney General Eric Holder and U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade brought charges under this section against nine defendants in 2010. They are saying that it just falls under the broad area of sedition.
LIASSON: Right. Now, look, Bill Barr is in charge of the Justice Department. Part of that speech today was him saying, look, why should I let all these prosecutors, these junior prosecutors, make decisions. I think he compared them to kids in a Montessori school. That's true. He's the top law-enforcement official in the country.
But it's interesting, you've got Barr warring with his own department.
You've got the president yesterday warring with the CDC director and saying he is confused, throwing him under the bus. There's a lot of turmoil inside this administration.
Now, in terms of the Trump administration's push on law and order, wanting to crackdown on demonstrators, that is something they clearly think is going to help them in the suburbs. There's polling that shows that suburban voters who feel unsafe tend to gravitate towards Trump. Suburban voters that feel more safe, they're not really worried about rioters coming to their neighborhood or cul-de-sac, they are more inclined to vote for Biden.
So it's possible that the Trump administration, Bill Barr is pushing this, is on to something that is going to help them in the election.
BAIER: Quickly, the president did talk to reporters before getting in the helicopter, he talked about TikTok, saying that decision is coming soon, whether it's Oracle and another company. And he was asked about, Charlie, the V.P.'s staffer, who is now criticizing the administration, saying that she will vote for Joe Biden. He says "I have no idea who she is. She doesn't know me. Another person who leaves. We have a letter from her, the beautiful going away letter ever. They let her go." So this is what's going to happen is we're going to see a lot of this in the next 47 days.
HURT: And of course, there is a lot of back and forth within the administration, and that's fine, though, because at the end of the day the president is the only person that got elected. He is allowed to make policy whether he's dealing with the CDC director or his attorney general. The president is the one that got elected. Nobody else got elected.
The more alarming thing, though, is about that phone call between A.G. Barr and his attorneys, and the idea that the attorney general of the United States cannot have a phone call with underlings who are lawyers, who have certain rules that they are supposed to abide by, have a conversation about legal strategies without it leaking, I don't think that that says something so much about the administration as it says about the bureaucracy that is in place that is standing and doing everything it can to prevent President Trump from focusing on the priorities that got him elected president of the United States.
BAIER: That's what this say says, unfortunately mention of the possible use of this law has been leaked to the press and was both misrepresented and criticized in the media. It goes on to say the problem with leaks.
We'll leave it there on this. Up next, America's nuclear forces, plus the threat from China.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: We are focused on an increasingly diverse array of threats from our cyber adversaries, from state-sponsored cyber intrusions by nation states like China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea, to sophisticated cyber criminals seeking to exploit technical vulnerabilities, primarily for personal profit.
ADM. CHARLES A. RICHARD, U.S. STRATEGIC COMMAND: I think it is a mistake to consider China some sort of lesser included case relative to Russia.
We're on a path by the end of the decade if not sooner to face two peer nuclear capable adversaries who have to be deterred differently. We have never faced that challenge before in our nation's history.
Both China and Russia are investing considerable resources to advance and expand their nuclear arsenals.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: Admiral saying that a lot of people aren't talking about this, nuclear arsenals, money being spent on them in China and Russia. And then you heard the FBI director, what they are seeing.
We are back with our panel. Bill, the threat from China Is real on a number of different fronts.
MCGURN: Yes, it's very real. And what's different with the old cold war is that China may be a communist nation officially, but it's also a very wealthy nation with a very dynamic economy, and we haven't faced that problem before. And that economy is entwined with ours. So it's very hard to figure out ways to punish China that don't hurt some of our own people.
But, as I think they're saying, the threat is very real. I think China and Russia are both threats, and we have to deal with both of them. You think of World War II, the devastation, and it was two countries, Germany and Japan, and much smaller. And now we have on the European side, Russia, much larger, more powerful than Germany, and you've got China, much larger than Japan. So this is the big challenge of the 21st century.
BAIER: Mara, we have 47 days. How much is China, standing up to China, being tough on China, going to play in this election?
LIASSON: I think this is the most important foreign policy issue, and there is actually surprising consensus on it, bipartisan consensus that the United States has to decouple to a certain extent economically from China, that China is a rising threat. Bill said it's a wealthy country. It's about to be the number one economy in the world. So this isn't like the cold war where you can force Russia to spend itself into bankruptcy. That isn't going to be possible with China.
I think that generally right now voters are not focused on foreign policy, but China is the number one threat. The Trump administration has been trying at least earlier in the campaign to say that Biden was soft on China, but I think there's a surprising amount of agreement between the two parties on how serious this threat is.
BAIER: Not a lot of agreement about Russia, but the FBI director saying this today pretty clearly.
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CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: We certainly have seen very active, very active efforts by the Russians to influence our election in 2020 through what I would call more the malign foreign influence side of things.
I think the intelligence community has assessed this publicly, primarily to denigrate Vice President Biden and what the Russians see as kind of an anti-Russian establishment.
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HURT: Thank goodness the current administration is taking that threat seriously and trying to do something about it, and doing something about it, I don't know, before the election, which is an improvement over the last time.
But indeed, one of the reasons the Chinese economy is so intertwined with the U.S. economy is because for decades now, politicians in America have entwined the two economies willingly, even as China was eating our lunch.
And it was President Trump as the first politician to come along to sound the alarm of the dangers of that.
But I would also say that I do think that voters, probably a surprising number of voters have been for a long time very cognizant of the dangers that are posed by China. They have watched their own factories and their own neighborhoods get unbolted and sent that China. They've seen their jobs disappear to China. And then you have something like this virus that has come from China. All of those things come together in a way that makes people very, very suspicious of China and very wary of all of the deals that our American politicians have gotten us involved in with China. And so in that regard it can be helpful to President Trump in the election.
BAIER: Bill, China obviously also factors in the coronavirus situation and the origins of it and how they handled it. I have not seen Chris Wallace's blueprint about how he's going to moderate and question for this debate, but it is 12 days away, and it is a big moment in this election. How much do you think foreign policy will factor in?
MCGURN: I certainly think China is going to factor in in a big way. As Mara mentioned, Joe Biden is echoing a lot of things on China that the president is saying, that we need to get tough on them. The real question is what you do, what are your levers. Obviously we can sanction them. We can't really stop them in a lot of things. So that is a dilemma.
I think it's not just a matter of just the economy. A lot of people don't like China. They feel they have stolen our jobs, they're stealing our intellectual property, they're cheating in every organization that they belong to. But I think we're going to have to meet them on many, many different levels. You look at the people at our universities that are spying for China now. We just have a lot of fronts on which we're going to have to meet the challenge that they present.
BAIER: Thousands and thousands of investigations according to the FBI director about China counter action, counter threat. Thank you, panel.
When we come back, music matters.
BAIER: Finally, tonight, soothing the soul.
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BAIER: Just over a year ago, James (ph) Wang (ph) took up the guitar so he could one day sing for his child. After a miscarriage, the family went through some tough times. James lost hope, stopped playing. But he was given another chance at fatherhood and music with the birth of his son Johan (ph). James (ph) sang Elvis Presley's "Can't Help Falling in Love" as his son slept in his arms. Pretty cool.
On their 51st anniversary, a couple in Cerrito (ph), California, was treated to their very own violin serenade thanks to their daughter. They danced the night away on their special night right there on the front yard.
Thanks for inviting us into your home tonight. That's it for this SPECIAL REPORT.
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