'Your World' on Ukraine war, NATO and Russia

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This is a rush transcript of "Your World with Neil Cavuto" on March 23, 2022. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: All right, thank you, Martha, very much.

We are waiting for the arrival of the president of the United States in Brussels, this as he is trying to bolster confidence and show a force of unity among NATO nations, NATO itself, to bolster the Ukrainians' defense against possible chemical, even nuclear weapons, believe it or not. That issue has been raised yet again.

The Russian foreign minister is already warning NATO about sending even peacekeepers into Ukraine, that that will lead to a direct confrontation that Western powers, he says, probably do not want.

Meanwhile, the Kremlin itself is still not ruling out the use of nuclear weapons. And that has the president of the United States quite concerned, to put it mildly, that maybe we need more troops among NATO nations, and specifically more American troops, on NATO nations that border the Ukraine.

We will be exploring all of this momentarily with the prime minister of Slovenia, who will be in Brussels and will be there with the president of the United States. And, of course, he has visited, along with the leaders of the Czech Republic and Poland, and gone to Kyiv, the capital, to show how much NATO is behind President Zelenskyy.

No indications that the president of the United States is planning a trip there, but anything is possible. His read on what's at stake for this important gathering of NATO and Western nation leaders in a moment.

In the meantime, let's get the read from Mark Meredith at the Pentagon. We are going to be going to be him shortly, I should say.

But, in the meantime, I do want to go to Jeff Paul in Lviv, Ukraine -- Jeff.

JEFF PAUL, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Neil, it's been about a month since this invasion started.

And Russia has yet to capture certain key areas, especially like the capital city here in Ukraine of Kyiv. In fact, here in Western Ukraine, where we're at, in Lviv, it's become a bit of a safe haven for people who are trying to escape the nonstop bombardment and shelling of different cities up and down the Ukrainian coasts, like Mariupol.

You have that city there where 100,000 people, we're told by government officials, right now are without some key essentials like food and water. Food supplies are low. And the Ukrainian government says, when humanitarian convoys and rescue workers arrive, they're being shelled at, at times.

In one case, the Ukrainian government says Russian forces seized a group of 15 aid workers and drivers from a humanitarian convoy. Now, a senior U.S. defense official says about seven Russian ships right now are in the Sea of Azov, and they're adding to the nonstop shelling of Mariupol.

Those who have managed to escape that city describe a place with simply nothing left.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): The people in Mariupol, they don't have a chance to be heard, and they are in need of help. People don't have water. They drink water that's not even the water you would use for technical purposes. There's no one you can ask for help.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: Intense shelling and gunfire continue in Kyiv, where black smoke can be seen rising from just outside the city.

Russian forces have attempted to surround the city, hoping to take the capital. But their efforts have been cut off. Ukrainian forces are not only defending key regions, but in some cases are now taking an offensive posture, where they retook a suburb, Makariv.

But the devastation of the hard-hit spots of Kyiv are so widespread, it's making it difficult for rescue crews to respond to a near endless number of calls.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SVITLANA VOLOGDA, FIRE SERVICE SPOKESPERSON (through translator): The moment when we arrived to the area, we had five fires, and you can hear that the fighting continues. If we're talking about numbers of requests for firefighters to respond, it's the largest one since the start of the war.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PAUL: Now, with Russian forces essentially stalled, the attention now turns to, what will Moscow do next?

Some now speculating that Vladimir Putin will bring in outside forces to help in his invasion of Ukraine. And if you talk to people here in Lviv, they look to their neighbor to the north in Belarus to see when and if they will get involved in this conflict -- Neil.

CAVUTO: All right, thank you very much, Jeff Paul. Be safe, my friend.

In the meantime, it really comes down to this. This whole gathering of Western leaders and then the most prominent NATO members, all the NATO members, comes down to how to make Ukraine continue to defend itself.

The devil's in the details, of course, the commitment of troops especially on borderline nations or those that border Ukraine.

Peter Doocy, traveling with the president, joins us from Brussels -- Peter.

PETER DOOCY, FOX NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: And, Neil, as the president prepares to land here in Belgium at some point during your show today, the leader, the NATO leader that he plans to meet with first tomorrow is warning the world about Russia's nuclear saber-rattling.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY-GENERAL: Tomorrow, I expect allies will agree to provide additional support, including cybersecurity assistance, as well as equipment, to help Ukraine protect against chemical, biological and radiological and nuclear threats.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DOOCY: We're told there are going to be more sanctions on Russia and lawmakers. And U.S. officials are teasing a Friday announcement that could address Putin's cash flow. And that would be right now the billions of dollars he continues to make while leaders here in Europe are buying Russian oil.

Officials are also saying they plan to address the role China is playing in aiding Russia's invasion, even though they don't have evidence that they have provided Russia with military equipment yet.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: What would you like to say to European partners?

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm going to say that to their face. I'm going to say -- all I have to say, I'm going to save when I get there.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DOOCY: While the president was in the air, the secretary of state, Tony Blinken, came out to say the United States has reviewed intelligence and determined Russia has committed war crimes in Ukraine.

That is something we expect to be a topic of discussion in Brussels for the next few days. We also, just while that sound bite was playing, got word the president's plane, Air Force One, is wheels down here in Brussels -- Neil.

CAVUTO: Peter, thank you very much for that.

As the president marks his arrival in Brussels for these important talks, with a follow-up mission to Poland, it's a good time to talk to someone who has a great deal personally at stake and his country at stake with what happens there. He visited that country, along with the leaders of the Czech Republic and Poland.

Janez Jansa is the prime minister of Slovenia, kind enough to join us now.

Mr. Prime Minister, thank you for being with us. It's good to have you.

JANEZ JANSA, SLOVENIAN PRIME MINISTER: Good afternoon.

CAVUTO: Let me ask you, sir.

You were in Kyiv last week with the leaders of the Czech Republic and Poland. Do you think President Biden should go to Ukraine as well?

JANSA: Well, he -- if he goes, he would be certainly -- certainly very welcome.

But it's a different risk than we took, frankly speaking, despite I don't believe that something could happen to him, because Russia is not what they want to project from the Kremlin. It's not superpower which is able to take Ukraine and then next countries.

Of course, those countries are defended. And Ukraine is defend -- defending itself. And we have to do everything to help them.

CAVUTO: Do you believe that it is necessary to build up more troops, whether they're American or otherwise, along bordering countries, NATO countries, yourself included?

JANSA: I think it's necessary. It's a strong message. And I think we should do this even earlier.

If we would be more bold half-a-year ago, I think that maybe we could prevent this aggression. Of course, it's easy to be clever after everything. But we know such type of the army. We know no such type of the regime.

We escaped from similar situation 30 years ago. So, don't trust any word which is coming from Moscow.

CAVUTO: So, when NATO leaders talk about boosting troop support, Prime Minister, obviously, that would include American troops. And we have heard a great deal about more American troops in Poland.

Do you know or do you recommend that there should be American troops in some of the other countries talked about, including the Czech Republic, and certainly Slovenia?

JANSA: Actually, if they come to Slovenia, they are welcome.

But I think this is not political decision. It's military decision. They have to tell us or they have to decide where to put such troops. And our countries which are members of NATO are here a possible location.

But it's a military decision, not political. Political decision we took is to show strength and our determination to trigger U.N. Article 5 if any centimeter of the territory of any member of the NATO is endangered.

I don't think this will happen because, actually, Russia is not able to do it. So the focus is on Ukraine. And, currently, we are to do everything we can to help them with defensive and offensive weapons to be able to defend themselves.

Ukraine does not need troops. They have enough soldiers. Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians came home to defend their country. But, of course, there is supremacy in the air. And there is supremacy of the harder on the Russian side. So, on harder level, they are much stronger. On softer level, they are -- they are weaker. And this is why Ukraine will prevail.

But it's -- of course, it's also on time. Every day, when this aggression is going on, hundreds are dying. There is Mariupol suffering. There are 300,000 people there. It's something -- what we are seeing there, like it was Sarajevo 2.5 decades ago.

So, we really know how they feel. We have to do everything to put pressure on Russia to stop this war, to come to the negotiation -- negotiation table. And we also think that we have to show Ukrainians that they are not abandoned. This is why Slovenia is sending our diplomats back to Kyiv, because, if you want to -- well, to let diplomacy to have its say, they ought to be on the ground, not across the border.

CAVUTO: You know, as you know, President Zelenskyy wants air support. He thinks he needs that, and, without it, it's going to be very, very difficult.

President Biden, who has arrived in Brussels a few minutes ago, has said that that would lead to World War III. What do you think of that?

JANSA: Well, if we -- we could make some comparisons with historical events.

The question is, when the World War II started, in Munich or when they attacked Poland? So it's -- the real question is how to prevent Russia to prevail in Ukraine, because this is exactly stopping the next huge war.

And I don't think that we realize the current situation, because Ukraine defends itself. They don't -- actually, they don't need NATO troops on their ground, maybe even not NATO planes on their sky. But they need modern equipment to be able to defend themselves.

And the moment when they're able to do it, this is the moment when the real peace negotiations can start.

CAVUTO: Do you think, Prime Minister, when Vladimir Putin threatens actions if there -- if there is policing of the airspace over Ukraine, that, given the difficulties he's had now for the past month of this war in Ukraine, he wouldn't expand this to other countries, particularly NATO countries, because he just doesn't have the wherewithal to do it, that he might threaten that, but it would never come to that?

JANSA: Yes, I not only think, I'm sure that they are not strong enough to really threaten any of NATO member country, if NATO is united. And, currently, it's more united than it has been or we have been since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

So, tomorrow's meeting will be one of the most important in last decades. But, of course, I will repeat that the focus is now on Ukraine. Ukraine is largest European country regarding territory. Ukraine is the fourth -- the fourth richest country on the world -- in the world regarding natural resources.

And if Russia is taking this, they think, well, for a few years, then it's very questionable who is next. If you go now to Moldova or to Georgia, they're asking themselves see if they are next. So, situation is really critical, and time -- repeating time.

We have to do everything to strengthen the Ukraine, and, at the same time, everything to weaken the Russia. And this last thing is about sanctions. But we all know that never in history sanctions really stopped the war immediately. This is something which is working on middle- or long-term.

So the war will be stopped in Ukraine when Ukraine's -- Ukrainians will be strong enough to stop the Russian tanks and planes.

CAVUTO: You don't sound like a man who's intimidated by Vladimir Putin.

Compared to a month ago, has -- have you gotten even less concerned about Putin and the threat he could have on your country?

JANSA: Well, my country declared independence since June 1991. And we were immediately attacked by the Yugoslav communist army, which was at that time fifth strongest army in Europe. They said they will crush us within two days. But we won within 10 days. And we got no help from anybody at the time.

So, we know -- we know such type of the army. We know the ideology of the army. We know the hardware and the software of such army. And we really know what's the reality and what's the propaganda. Don't -- don't judge the strength of the army only by the number of tanks, planes, and heavy guns.

The most important things are people, are men or women prepared to fight. And when you're speaking about the softer, Ukraine, Ukrainians are prevailing. This is the moment when the Ukrainian nation -- the moment of the rebirth of the Ukrainian nation. We know difficult history of these brave people.

And, well, they will prevail. The question is how a large part of the country will be taken by Russian aggression on the east or on the south. Kyiv is the out of the reach. And Western Ukraine is out of the reach.

I only -- also think that Odessa, which is most probably next target, is out of the reach for Russians, of course, if we gave enough help to the Ukrainians.

CAVUTO: Prime Minister, you talk about not being intimidated about Russia and Vladimir Putin, this on the same day we learned from Russia's foreign minister, warning NATO about sending peacekeepers to Ukraine in particular, that that would be grounds for direct confrontation.

What did you think of that?

JANSA: Well, first -- first of all, Ukraine is sovereign country. It's not on Russia to allow who is entering Ukraine.

If anybody is invited to Ukraine, this is the decision of the Ukrainian government, of Ukrainian president, of the people who are elected by the Ukrainian people to govern themselves. It's not on Russia.

If we -- if we somehow agree that Russia has veto power who will enter certain countries, then we are -- we are not coming back only to 20th century; we are coming back to 19th century.

So, it's -- we have to not only tell other people, you should respect the international law. We ourselves should believe and be able to enforce the international law. If we abandon those principles, then, well, how -- well, what kind of world we will give to the next generations? So, it's on us.

And speaking about Ukraine, we have to fix some things we should fixed three decades ago. At that time, we pretended that, with the dismantling of Warsaw Pact, Soviet Union, fall of the Berlin Wall, this is new era, and the transition from the totalitarian system into democracy, free market economy will happen, I don't know, by itself.This is not true.

At that time, we made -- or the West made mistakes. Russia was somehow treated during the Yeltsin years as a colony, as a place of cheap resources. Nobody really focused on the real transition into democratic society.

And last part of Ukrainian population -- of Russian population somehow felt, how to say, offended. The situation was not the same, but partially similar, as in Germany after the First World War and Versailles Treaty. And Putin just used this mood to come to power and to introduce his KGB network everywhere.

So, the KGB network is ruling Russia now. This is not some kind of democracy. It's KGB network which is ruling the Russia and which is trying to influence also its large neighborhood.

CAVUTO: President Biden has arrived in Brussels, as we have been discussing, Prime Minister.

And I'm curious what you make of his response to all of this. Do you believe he's been tough enough? Do you think he should be still tougher? Are you open or, when you meet with the president, will you push for still more measures? There's talk of more sanctions, as we discussed in the beginning, sir, more NATO troops, particularly in border -- in border states and countries.

On President Biden, how do you feel he's responding?

JANSA: Well, it's easy for me to judge, because I'm not in his position.

One thing is certain. United States -- we need the United States. Also in Europe, on the European continent, we have neglected military security threats during last decades. Look at our spending for defense matters.

There was some similar trend in United States, but then September 11 happened. And this was a wakeup call for United States. For Europe, this is happening now. And we discussed on lunch with Ukraine government and Ukraine president during our visit last week what they really need.

One thing which is very important, and I will mention it, is that we have promises which -- which are quite, quite large. And then we have delivery, which is not the same. So, we have -- first, we have to fulfill our promises to really deliver to Ukrainians what we promised.

And then we have to abandon this, how to say, ideological dilemma regarding all defensive and offensive weapons, why we are speaking only about defensive weapons and where the real limit is. I think that we need to give them also offensive weapons, with clear limitation that those weapons should be used only on the territory of Ukraine.

And if they are used only on the territory of Ukraine, Russia -- Russia cannot use this as a pretext to say that they are -- they are threatened. And if you know the Russian nuclear strategy, their strategy regarding nuclear deterrence, according to this strategy, they are, how to say, allowed to use their nuclear arsenal when they're threatened, not when the Ukraine is defended.

So, whatever they're saying, those threats with the use of the nuclear weapons are, well, just threats, because crossing this point is much more serious than, well, losing some political and military goals in Ukraine. This is -- this is a question of survival. This is a question of Armageddon.

CAVUTO: You know, forget about whether the president...

(CROSSTALK)

JANSA: I'm very surprised that Russian politicians are using those words very easily.

CAVUTO: No, you're quite right. I apologize for jumping on you, sir.

But nuclear weapons are one thing. And they do repeat it a lot, the Russians.

But do you believe the use of chemical weapons, as some of your colleagues among NATO nations have said, is a game-changer? A number of U.S. senators have said in the United States that it would be a game-changer, that the use of chemical weapons on Russia's part would expand this war and bring NATO into it.

Do you agree with that?

JANSA: Frankly speaking, I don't, because what's -- what's the difference for those people dying now in Mariupol from the tank shells and missiles, if they're dying from those kinds of weapons or if they're dying from some other kinds of weapons?

So, of course, using some weapons which are strictly forbidden regarding to international conventions is different thing. But we all remember what happened in Syria, for instance. We draw red lines, but then, when something happened, nobody really know if those red lines were crossed or not.

And, frankly speaking, I'm not -- I do not believe that Russian military is, to use this word, stupid enough to use chemical weapons, because I don't -- I don't know what military goal could achieve by using it.

But that is different story with threatening the nuclear power plants or chemical factories, which -- which has happened. This is -- if you shell a large chemical plant on the Ukrainian territory, then you could expect the disaster which is overreaching the use of a small amount of chemical weapons.

So I think it's good decision to provide Ukrainians also with the means to defend themselves against such attacks. But I think that the most dangerous thing which is threatening lives of Ukrainians, civilians, children, whole families, whole cities is -- are classical weapons used, is this Russian supremacy in the air.

And we have here to treat with -- we have to deal with the threats which are real, not with the threats which could happen and drawn with some red lines, because all red lines have already been crossed in Ukraine.

CAVUTO: We have officially labeled Vladimir Putin a war criminal, Prime Minister.

Do you agree?

JANSA: Actually, I agree.

When I traveled to Kyiv, when our Ukrainian friends showed us videos and pictures from those cities occupied or shelled, when even you see a hospital, hospitals destroyed, and then when you are listening to the Russian foreign minister speaking, there is -- that there is no war in Ukraine, nobody attacked Ukraine, then what -- what to say?

And I think that the -- if there is no willing -- no will to real -- for real negotiations from the Kremlin side, the destiny for Mr. Putin is the same destiny as was the destiny for former Yugoslav or Serbian President Milosevic, which was tried in The Hague. Of course, speaking about this is, it's -- it seems like, well, some fantasy.

But I think that what's waiting for Mr. Putin in Ukraine, especially if we provide enough help, is a military disaster of historical proportion -- proportions. And this will -- this will, of course, trigger the reactions in Russia.

CAVUTO: Got it.

Finally -- and you have been very kind with us, sir -- I'd be curious what and how you would deal with Vladimir Putin after this whole war ends, and hopefully soon and hopefully without any more of the gruesome things we have been seeing for the past month.

That sanctions that are in effect and that you and your colleagues might add in the days ahead, would and should they stay in effect as long as Vladimir Putin is running Russia, as long as he's the president of Russia? Would you recommend that those sanctions and tough measures continue?

JANSA: Of course, but I don't think this is the main question.

I don't think that we -- we recognize enough how world has changed since February 24, because what's going on, it's influencing everything. We will still see what will happen in Pacific during next years. There is a new division, new wall which was built by not only Mr. Putin, but by Russian aggression.

I don't think that we have to pretend that Mr. Putin alone did it. We -- as I said before, we have neglected years or decades of propaganda, speaking about or crying for lost Soviet empire. We should be warned, at least when they occupied Crimea.

And if the West was so united, as it is, it seems, now after -- after Russian occupation of Crimea, and if the same level of sanctions which are introduced now were introduced 2014, I don't think we would be facing current war in Ukraine.

So, I think that we really have to wake up. We have to say that we will accept the Russia into international community as we know when they are not threatening their neighborhood anymore.

And, frankly speaking, when Soviet Union collapsed, the living standard in all parts of Soviet Union was more or less the same. But look now. Estonia was part of Soviet Union. But, currently, the average salary in Estonia is three -- three times higher than the average salary in Russia.

So, we have to ask Mr. Putin, why -- why is this possible? How is this possible? Russia is one of the richest country regarding natural resources on the world. And these resources are, how to say, going to -- to -- for those people who are buying yachts for 800 million euros or dollars for strengthening the grip of the KGB network. And I think that something we should do 30 years ago is still awaiting us.

But this won't be as easy as it would be at that time. So, I think we are now paying debt to the history.

CAVUTO: No, you mentioned a lot of times where we could have done more, where the Western world should have done more. Hopefully, people are listening now.

Mr. Prime Minister, it was an honor to have you. Thank you for taking the time.

JANSA: Thank you for your interest.

CAVUTO: Janez Jansa, the Slovenian Prime Minister, kind enough to flesh out what his -- his opinions that's echoed by a lot of the NATO leaders, that, this time, they have not only got to mean what they say, but double up on what they are now threatening.

And if that calls for still more NATO troops along particularly these border countries and greater NATO defense spending, so be it. Once burnt, as the prime minister seems to be saying, more than twice shy.

My colleague and friend Bret Baier with us right now.

Bret, his undeniable message to President Biden is, don't lighten up. Don't let the foot off the pedal. Keep exerting the pressure, business and otherwise, on Vladimir Putin. What do you think of that?

BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Yes, as President Biden arrives for this NATO meeting, he's going to meet a very unified NATO, much more unified than it ever has.

The Biden administration can take some credit for that. But there's also some sense that some of these countries -- and you just talked to the Prime Minister from Slovenia -- are wanting to be more aggressive, wanting to say, let's stop going back and forth about what's a defensive weapon and what's an offensive weapon.

Let's make sure Ukraine has whatever they need to fight Russia. Let's make sure that the sanctions are as tough as they can be. I mean, the message that you got from the prime minister there was a message that we're hearing from a lot of NATO countries in that area, in Central and Eastern Europe.

And, sometimes, they're more aggressive than the United States is, in a sense of provocative action against Vladimir Putin.

CAVUTO: Bret, Slovenian prime minister had an interesting take on the chemical weapon threat, real or imagined, on the part of Vladimir Putin, where he seemed to be saying, well, why should that be the catalyst for broader action? Just what he's been doing in Mariupol and some of these other cities is heinous enough.

Now, obviously, taking it to the nuclear level is a whole 'nother matter. But he has not distinguished on the brutality and the measures that Vladimir Putin has already taken, and fully agreeing with the United States labeling him a war criminal.

So there are no gray lines in his eyes.

BAIER: No, and it's pretty cut and dry, and -- when he talks about it, and others are echoing that, Neil.

And I think the biggest thing we're going to get out of this NATO meeting is, what is the threshold? What is the threshold by which NATO can say, all right, that's it, nyet, no more, we can't take this?

And we don't know what that threshold is. But we may be approaching it in some of these cities like Mariupol. The other thing is the concerns about cybersecurity, and what do cyberattacks mean, if a NATO country is attacked by Russia? And we know how vague that is. But is that an attack on one an attack on all?

Those are things that are, I think, going to be ironed out behind the scenes, or at least try to be, in this NATO headquarters meeting.

CAVUTO: Bret, just my impression about what he was saying, not so much about calling Vladimir Putin's bluff, that, if this accelerates or we do anything to agitate the Russians, that this will expand into a world war, that, given the problems that Putin has had in the last month of this in Ukraine, his threats might ring hollow.

He -- his troops and his country is not up to an expanded fight, no matter how angry he's getting. What did you make of that?

BAIER: I think there's a sense on some of these leaders that they're surprised how weak the Russian military has been, how ineffective it has been to take really any city effectively and not hold it, and the fact that the air is not in control completely of the Russians by this point.

This looks like it's heading towards a bloody stalemate. And if NATO in some way, shape or form, in their eyes, can tip the scales towards the Ukrainians at this moment, a moment of vulnerability for the Russians, it sounds like what they're saying is, we should do it now.

CAVUTO: Finally, Bret, we talk about still more sanctions, still more punitive measures against Russia, the Slovenian prime minister kind of echoing what we're hearing out of the leaders of Poland and Czech Republic and other NATO nations, particularly those very -- with a lot on the line here, given their proximity to Ukraine, is that these have to continue, no matter how this ends, as long as Vladimir Putin is in charge of Russia, that they shouldn't let up.

That's getting to be a growing consensus among Western leaders of all sort, that the sooner this tragedy in Ukraine ends, the better, but, but, even if and when it does, Putin is not off the hook, that they want him out, and they want these sanctions in place and other measures that will force him out.

BAIER: I think you're right.

I think that there's a balance here of how much these sanctions affect other parts of the world, specifically Europe, and the economic situation. And there's that balance of looking at that. But, yes, they are putting the pedal to the metal.

We should -- I know you mentioned it earlier, but with the passing of Madeleine Albright, an immigrant from Czechoslovakia when she was 11, the first female secretary of state, somebody who was a real advocate of working behind the scenes on sanctioning bad actors around the world, it's interesting that all of this comes to a head on this day.

She was a force. And she would be somebody who was a voice at this moment. Her passing today gets reaction from Republicans and Democrats. And I just talked to somebody before I got out here, former Deputy Secretary of State Toni Verstandig, who said they would travel the world, and they'd be all over the place, but she'd be trying to get back Monday for her Foreign Service class that she taught at Georgetown University.

So, a unique lady, and it all happens in this envelope in which we're dealing with today.

CAVUTO: All right, Bret, thank you very, very much.

And to that very point, we have gotten a statement from President Barack Obama on the passing of Madeleine Albright. She died at 84 today. She had been suffering from cancer.

"As the first woman to serve as America's top diplomat, Madeleine Albright helped bring peace to the Balkans, paved the way for progress in some of the most unstable corners of the world and was a champion for democratic values. As an immigrant herself, she brought a unique and important perspective to her trailblazing career."

"One of my favorite stories" -- this is again from Barack Obama -- "at a naturalization ceremony, an Ethiopian man came up to Madeleine and said: 'Only in America could a refugee from Africa meet the secretary of state.' She replied: 'Only in America could a refugee from Central Europe become secretary of state. It's because of people like Madeleine that the story of America is ultimately one of hope and upward journey. Michelle and I send our thoughts to the Albright family and everyone who knew and served with this truly remarkable woman."

The latest in the bipartisan praise of the first female secretary of state in the country's history. Hillary Clinton followed in those footsteps some years later.

Madeleine Albright dead at 84.

We will have more after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAVUTO: All right, a lot going on in the world today, especially those ongoing confirmation hearings for Ketanji Brown Jackson.

She had a little bit of heated questioning back and forth today, with Senator Lindsey Graham among them.

Let's get the latest on where things stand was Shannon Bream following all of this quite closely -- Shannon.

SHANNON BREAM, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Neil, yes, some heated moments that involved the nominee, Judge Jackson, but also some of the senators and some fighting amongst themselves.

We want to play a little bit of what happened after Senator Ted Cruz had really pressed Judge Jackson again hard on some of her sentencing decisions with regard to people convicted of having possession of child pornography. He continued to push.

There was a lot of back-and-forth there. Then the chairman of this committee, Dick Durbin, began to feel like it seemed that she was being badgered. So then Cruz and Durbin got into it. Here's a bit of that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. RICHARD DURBIN (D-IL): Senator Coons...

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): Why did you sentence him for half the amount?

DURBIN: You're not recognized, Senator.

Senator Coons.

CRUZ: You don't want her to answer that question?

DURBIN: You wouldn't allow her anyway.

CRUZ: Mr. Chairman, she may answer the question. I have asked her why she sentenced Stewart, an egregious....

DURBIN: You have gone over the time, Senator, by two minutes and a half.

CRUZ: Why she -- because you have interrupted me for two minutes, Mr. Chairman.

Will you allow her to answer the question, or do you not want the American people to hear why, with someone she described as an egregious...

DURBIN: Well, there comes a point, Senator, where you get a little bit...

CRUZ: Chairman Durbin, will you allow her to answer the question?

DURBIN: You won't allow her to...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BREAM: OK.

So, Neil, from there, it got even more spicy. And, eventually, the committee chairman broke out his gavel and started pounding it, trying to shut down Senator Cruz. That went on for quite some time.

Now, listen, there was another exchange that was not quite as heated between Senator Cruz and Judge Jackson, but a very important one, because we have all been watching. There's a big affirmative action case coming to the Supreme Court. They will likely hear it in the fall involving Harvard.

It has to do with Asian students challenging the admissions policies there they say that are working against them. Now, Judge Jackson sits on the board of overseers for Harvard, so there have been a lot of questions about whether she would recuse herself from that case.

Well, Senator Cruz asked her.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CRUZ: You're on the board of overseers of Harvard. If you're confirmed, do you intend to recuse from this lawsuit?

JUDGE KETANJI BROWN JACKSON, SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: That is my plan, Senator.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BREAM: OK, that is my plan. It sounded like a little hint of reservation there. But it's a huge case, Neil, and a lot of folks have been wondering exactly what she would do. But that is her commitment for now.

Questioning will probably continue until about 7:00 or so, maybe a little later tonight -- Neil.

CAVUTO: All right, and we will be going to that momentarily.

But again, Shannon, it's always difficult to gauge where this is going. So far, there have been feisty exchanges, particularly with some of these Republican exchanges, as you said -- or senators, I should say.

I'm wondering if you have seen any speed bumps along the way or that would imperil her nomination. Or how do you see this playing out? I know it's still early in the process. Your thoughts?

BREAM: Yes.

Well, Neil, I think it comes down to numbers. Like our colleague Chad Pergram will always say, it's all about the math. And because Democrats have control of the Senate, I don't think that she is in any danger.

I do think that she still potentially could pick up a couple of GOP votes. Senator Graham is among those who voted for her last year to her current seat on the D.C. circuit court, that appellate court, just one step below the Supreme Court. But they have really gotten into it about her record on a number of these sentencing issues and about abortion as well.

He's been a big proponent of a ban after 20 weeks, arguing that there is fetal pain at that point. He really pressed her on that issue too, so we may see him turn to a no-vote this time around. But even if he does, Democrats, if they stick together, will be able to pass her on to the official title of justice -- Neil.

CAVUTO: All right, Shannon, thank you very, very much for that, Shannon Bream.

We are going to resume the hearings right now and see how she's comporting herself. Back to Judge Jackson and those hearings.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

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