This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," April 3, 2019. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: Social norms have begun to change, they've shifted, and the boundaries of protected personal space have be reset. I shake hands. I hug people. I grab men and women by the shoulders and say, you can do this. And whether they're women, men, young, old, that's just the way I've always been. I will be more mindful and respectful of people's personal space.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT: Our former vice president, I was going to call him, I don't know him well. I think going to say welcome to the world, Joe.
I wish him luck. I do wish him luck.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRET BAIER, HOST: Former Vice President Joe Biden tweeting out a video addressing these accusations, allegations of inappropriate touching from now four different women's who have come out to tell their story, not alleging sexual assault, but saying they felt extremely uncomfortable with what they call inappropriate touching with the former vice president.
He tweeted out that video with the tweet "Social norms are changing. I understand that, and I've heard what these women are saying. Politics to me has always been about making connections, but I will be more mindful about respecting personal space in the future. That is my responsibility and I will meet it."
With that we'll start there with our panel, Charles Hurt, opinion editor for "The Washington Times," Jeff Mason, White House Correspondent for Reuters, and Matthew Continetti, editor in chief of the "Washington Free Beacon." Matthew, also in this video is the best indication yet that Joe Biden is jumping into this race.
MATTHEW CONTINETTI, EDITOR IN CHIEF, "WASHINGTON FREE BEACON": What a race already. Look, you can make a human connection without sniffing somebody's hair. And I think that is Joe Biden's problem. The video highlighted all of his weaknesses. His voice seemed frail. The production values were poor. He wasn't framed very well. He was very pale. And he confesses that social norms have passed him by, which means he's out of date, which is exactly what Democrats are worried about him entering the race. This is another bad moment for Biden in several weeks of bad news. It makes me wonder whether he actually will pull the trigger and enter the race.
BAIER: I saw other people on Twitter and social media after the video came out, Jeff, Ari Fleischer and others saying they thought it was authentic and thought it was just pure Biden trying to address what obviously had built up over a few days of him not addressing it.
JEFF MASON, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, REUTERS: For sure. I think it was authentic Biden. You could tell he wasn't reading from a script. He seemed to be just speaking a little bit about the topic and wanting to address it. It shows to me, number one, that they didn't think that the statements over the last few days were enough. He felt that was insufficient. It also showed that he didn't feel he needs to apologize, because he didn't use that word.
I do think it is important to note, though, you also played a clip from President Trump, if those two men end up running against each other, Biden's issue compared to Trump's, President Trump's issues with women are completely different. And President Trump has been quoted or videotaped saying he likes to grab women. So it's not exactly a strength for where the president is coming from either.
BAIER: Right, he has denied those accusations from different women throughout the campaign, but you're right. The "Access Hollywood" tape came out before the election.
MASON: But it is a weakness for Biden. There's no question that's why they are addressing it.
BAIER: Charlie, what is interesting to me is we heard all throughout the last administration how tight President Obama and Vice President Biden were as partners in this administration, and yet we have yet to hear from President Obama or the former first lady, Michelle Obama, who is now a number one bestselling author, in defense of Biden, which I think it strange, don't you?
CHARLES HURT, OPINION EDITOR, "WASHINGTON TIMES": It is strange, and it's actually also the strange the number of topics that we have not heard from President Obama on that have been in the news in the last couple of months. But, yes, it is strange. I guess I've always wondered about how much of the talk about how close they were was a little bit maybe overstated by them trying to cover up, perhaps, differences between the two of them.
But it is sort of interesting to sit back and look at the Democratic Party that is built on identity politics and this game about Republican war, supposed war on women. And to look at the somewhere between 50 and 60 percent of Democratic voters, primary voters now, can be evenly divided between the two oldest, whitest candidates in Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden.
And I think that is a weakness. The problem is you have got people like Biden and Bernie who have been here for decades. And they haven't done anything to fix things. And I think if Donald Trump is running against either one of those things, even as incumbent, that gives him a tremendous advantage.
BAIER: Here is the part of the video where he talks about what is coming up, and also, Senator Chris Coons talking about his expectation about Biden.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: I expect to be talking about a whole lot of issues, and I'll always be direct with you.
SEN. CHRISTOPHER COONS, D-DEL.: And I know that he's optimistic that he'll still make a strong and ultimately successful run for the presidency. I'm certain he is prepared to run for president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: Taking a while, but he's saying I am going to talk about a lot of issues with you in coming days.
CONTINETTI: Now is the time to talk about them. I'm thinking about George W. Bush in 1999. We all knew he was going to run for president. He was preparing a run for president. The announcement was formal. He spent months ahead of that former announcement bringing experts to the ranch, giving big policy speeches at noted think tanks, laying out markers for an agenda for his eventual campaign.
What has Joe Biden done? He's issued this iPhone video. He's speculated in "The New York Times" that maybe he will pick Stacey Abrams to be the vice president, which she then rejects and says I'm not running for number two. They float in "The New York Times" that they're worried that he won't be able to raise enough money to compete with Bernie and Beto, and now apparently the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, is money powerhouse in this Democratic primary.
I think Biden has wasted his time in the run-up to an announcement, and he has serious policy work to do if he actually does get into this race.
BAIER: Jeff, as you look at -- go ahead.
MASON: Just respectfully, though, George W. Bush at the time had been a governor. Vice President Biden served eight years as Vice President of the United States. So in terms of policy, he didn't need --
CONTINETTI: What are Joe Biden's policy? Is he behind Medicare for all? Does he support a new tax plan? Has he come out in favor of what type of judges? Has he announced a position on reparations? I'd like to know.
BAIER: He definitely hasn't weighed in on the issues on the campaign trail now that are obviously getting a lot of attention.
MASON: That's right. My point was just that he doesn't probably need briefings right now about foreign policy the way that George W. Bush did at that time before he was candidate.
CONTINETTI: It would help.
BAIER: Here is the Quinnipiac poll, as you take a look at it. Biden still leads even though he's not in the race, and Bernie Sanders has a massive money haul and getting the most attention. Beto O'Rourke listed his money out there today. It seems like the ones in, Bernie Sanders is essentially leading in money and attention, but the South Bend mayor, Pete Buttigieg, is getting a lot of attention, too.
MASON: Yes, he is getting a lot of attention. It's really remarkable given that he came from nowhere, really, in the race. I think it's also important to say, though, at this point, it's early. It doesn't seem like it's early because everyone is ramping up, but you don't necessarily want to be the frontrunner in April of 2019. You want to be the frontrunner in January or February of 2020.
BAIER: Yes. I will talk about Tim Pawlenty, Scott Walker, these are all people who we thought were going to do it.
Next up, Democrats go after the full, unredacted Mueller report, plus more talk about the border.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JERROLD NADLER, D-N.Y., HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: The Constitution charges Congress with holding of the president accountable for alleged official misconduct. That job requires us to evaluate the evidence for ourselves.
REP. DOUG COLLINS, R-GA: The attorney general's entire mandate is to enforce the law, and he is expressly forbidden from providing grand jury outside the department in very limited, narrow exceptions. Congress is not one of the exceptions, and the chairman knows it.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF, D-CALIF., CHAIRMAN, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: I think the Justice Department would be wise to not resist transparency. The American people want this overwhelmingly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: The Judiciary Committee voting today to authorize subpoenas to get the full unredacted Mueller report. However, the attorney general is still working and Congress said to be working with him. When this all happens, we don't know. We are back with the panel. This report, the redacted version that Barr is working with Special Counsel Mueller on, could come out as soon as next week.
HURT: And it will come out. It's going to come out. And this arguing over what is reductive and what's not rejected is sort of ridiculous, and that's why what we saw today. These are show votes. This is an attempt to keep this whole issue in the news. And when we start talking about the grand jury documents and other supporting documents, whether that stuff gets revealed, all of that is going to be settled in the courts anyway. It's not going to be settled by Congress. They just want to put people on the record and try to continue the politics game going.
But still, at the end of the date, it is a conviction in search of a crime on the part of Democrats, and I think the Democrats are overstating how much American people actually really -- I always want everything to come out just no matter what, but I do think that they are overstating how much regular the American people really care about all this.
BAIER: When polled it doesn't even really show up on the list, but obviously there's interest in it up on Capitol Hill. Jerry Nadler, Democratic chairman, pushes back on the times for the Clinton, the Starr Report, where he, as congressman, said you shouldn't put out everything. He said it's apples and oranges because that was already established. But now he's calling for everything unredacted.
MASON: In this case they are worried that they are not get the details that they want, and so is putting the tools into his toolbox in case they don't get as much as they have been requesting.
But I think there is a risk for Democrats of overplaying that hand. I think there is some Mueller fatigue. And you will see, whether it's worth the fighting over, hey, the report didn't come out today versus in a week when the A.G. has said it's going to come then is one thing. Fighting over, are you giving us enough or redacting too much to hide something, that's another.
BAIER: Right. Meantime, the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee just said in the past few minutes that he is now officially requesting President Trump's taxes for the past six years, sending a letter forward to that. You heard the president saying, no bueno on that.
CONTINETTI: This is a Democratic strategy of death by 1,000 cuts. You have the 81 subpoenas or whatever it was from a few weeks ago. Now you have the subpoenas of the Mueller report. You have the request for tax documents. It is kind of like a Gulliver's Travels strategy where all the Lilliputians want to tie down Donald Trump and distract his administration. And you do slow cuts to his credibility in the public.
This is the role of the Democrats in Congress as they see it. And you wonder whether there will be blowback because they are not actually spending enough time in the public's view, perhaps, addressing public policy issues.
BAIER: Democrats refute that, saying they can walk and chew gum, but we will see if there's any blowback. Here is the secretary of Homeland Security and the president on the border issue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KIRSTJEN NIELSEN, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: This is at the very top of our list at DHS. We have announced today that we are now treating this like a massive cat five hurricane disaster.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT: I really wanted to close it. But now Mexico is saying no, no, no -- the first time in decades -- we will not let anybody get through. And they have apprehended over 1,000 people today at the southern border, their southern border. And they are bringing it back into the country. I said why the hell didn't somebody do that in the first place?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: The president meeting with senior U.S. military advisers now at the White House. He is requesting more troops. There were 5,000 there now. He is not requesting 5,000 more, but he's requesting troops to be added to the 5,000 on the border. What about this?
HURT: So I talked to the president last night, yesterday afternoon, and he is very optimistic about all of this.
BAIER: Hold on, rewind, what was that?
HURT: I had an interview with him.
BAIER: OK. You buried the lead.
HURT: But he feels very confident about going into 2020 largely because of this issue, because he is sitting here fighting a battle to stop human smuggling at the border. To stop opioids and other drugs from coming across the border. And we can quibble about whether or not, what is the best way of doing that. But the fact that that is his position, and he's going up against Democrats who are opposing him on it, that is a pretty good position to be in.
BAIER: We'll see. Panel, I ran out of time with that cabinet room live shot, but thank you.
When we come back, a birthday bash for a real hero.
BAIER: Finally tonight, a school celebrates one of its own.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: Pike County Elementary School in Georgia organized a special birthday for janitor Haze Mabry, who was also an Army veteran. He turned 80 last week. Students and staff lined the halls to cheer Mabry as he walked through the school. Nearly 800 students coming out to show Mabry their appreciation for his hard work. Cards, even some hugs there in the hallway. Mabry has worked at that school for 13 years. That's a pretty cool birthday.
That's it for the “Special Report.” Fair, balanced, and still unafraid. "The Story", hosted by Martha MacCallum starts right now. And I will see you tomorrow in Kansas City.
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