This is a rush transcript of ‘Fox News Sunday’ on February 4, 2024. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
SHANNON BREAM, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: I’m Shannon Bream.
America responds after a deadly drone attack on a U.S. base in Jordan a week ago today.
LLOYD AUSTIN, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: The president will not tolerate attacks on American troops, and neither will I.
BREAM (voice-over): The attacks on Iran-backed positions in Iraq and Syria escalating the nation’s involvement in the Middle East, starting shortly after President Biden attended the dignified transfer of the three U.S. soldiers killed on a base in Jordan.
This hour, we’re joined by White House national security spokesman John Kirby and by South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham who says the strikes so far do not go far enough.
Then, new pressure on Senate negotiators to close a deal for fresh aid to Israel and Ukraine, while stemming the flow of migrants illegally crossing the U.S./Mexico border.
And calls grow to deport those accused of attacking police officers in Times Square who were let loose on no bail.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our criminal justice system is upside down. It fails every day.
BREAM: Changing the tune of the blue state’s top leader.
GOV. KATHY HOCHUL (D), NEW YORK: Get them all and send them back.
BREAM: Our Sunday panel addresses the heated election year uproar over illegal immigration.
All, right now, on “FOX News Sunday”.
BREAM (on camera): Hello from FOX News in Washington.
The U.S. has carried out a series of strikes in three countries over the past couple of days. So, let’s get you up to speed.
Friday, U.S. military forces launched retaliatory attacks in Iraq and Syria, landing more than 120 strikes on 85 targets all across the region. That, of course, in response to an Iranian-backed drone attack in Jordan that left three U.S. troops dead. The U.S. attacks are targeting proxy groups across the region. For now, two locations that were hit remain undisclosed.
As you know, Iran has long funded groups in the region, ranging from Hezbollah and Lebanon to the Houthis down in Yemen.
Now since the start of the Israel/Hamas war, U.S. troops in the region have been under fire from Iranian supported militias facing at least 166 attacks in that time.
Leading us to where we are today, with Friday’s retaliatory strikes just the first we believe in a series of large scale attacks.
In a moment, we’ll talk with John Kirby from the White House and Republican Senator Lindsey Graham.
But, first, we turn to Trey Yingst live in Tel Aviv with the latest on the series of U.S. strikes in the Middle East — Trey.
TREY YINGST, FOX NEWS FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: Shannon, good morning. The Middle East remains on the brink of a much broader conflict after the U.S. response to continued attacks from Houthi forces in Yemen and the response to that drone attack last weekend that killed three American soldiers.
YINGST (voice-over): Friday evening, the United States striking back against Iran and its proxies in Iraq and Syria, 85 locations hit with 125 precision munitions, according to U.S. Central Command. The targets: control centers and weapon storage facility, some affiliated directly with the Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds forces, others with Iran-backed militias.
In a statement overnight, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, hinted at further retaliation saying, quote, the president has directed additional actions to hold the IRGC and affiliated militias accountable for their attacks on U.S. and coalition forces. These are will unfold at times and places of our choosing.
The Iraqi government claims 16 people were killed during U.S. strikes against locations in their country and condemn the action as a violation of Iraqi sovereignty.
At a bombed out location along the border between Iraq and Syria, residents expressed frustration with Iran-backed militias hiding among civilian areas.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We urged official bodies to put an end to this military existence inside residential compounds.
YINGST: And this weekend, new reaction to the strikes from Iranian officials in Tehran.
AHMAD VAHIDI, IRANIAN INTERIOR MINISTER (through translator): We naturally condemn any move against the resistance front and we reject and condemn these attacks that will naturally lead to these claims (ph) of the resistance.
YINGST (on camera): The region now waits to see if there will be further American strikes in the Middle East or a response by Iranian proxies — Shannon.
BREAM: Trey Yingst, reporting for us from Tel Aviv, thank you, Trey.
Joining us now, Admiral John Kirby, National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications.
Welcome back. Good to see you, sir.
JOHN KIRBY, COORDINATOR FOR STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS, NSC: Good to see you, Shannon. Thank you.
BREAM: OK. Before the strikes even started on Friday, you knew there were critics who talked about the delay. One week ago today, those three soldiers were lost.
From “The Wall Street Journal” Editorial Board: Militia leaders can’t say they weren’t warned, and if any of them were still around the target areas, they are the world’s dumbest terrorists.
Was it too much of a delay?
KIRBY: Two thoughts there. First, it’s not like we held back any notification that we were going to respond if our troops were attacked. I mean, the president’s been clear. We will respond. So, it’s not as if prior to the attack last weekend, that the militia groups and IRGC and folks in Tehran didn’t know that we were going to take seriously any attack on our troops, on our facilities.
And then with the specific attacks that we — that we struck, targets we struck Friday night, I mean, you want to do this in a deliberate way. You want to do it — you want to carefully select your targets. You want to make sure that all the parameters are in place to have good effects, including factoring in the weather.
I mean, these attacks were using manned aircraft. You want to make sure your pilots can get in and get out safely. So there was a lot of planning that went into that. And, again, the Pentagon believes we have good effect, that we — that we hit what we were aiming at.
BREAM: So, our next guest doesn’t think that there have been tough enough strikes yet. Senator Lindsey Graham has sat on this desk and he said he thinks we need strikes inside Iran, that you have to get their attention with things that really matter to them, like their oil infrastructure.
Strikes on Iran, within Iran, on or off the table?
KIRBY: I’m not on a national television show going to telegraph punches or get in front of the president and his decision-making space. I’m certainly not going to talk about potential future military operations.
What I would say, and this is a really important point, is what you saw on Friday night was just the first round. There will be additional response action taken by the administration against the IRGC and these groups that they’re backing.
BREAM: There were growing calls from some on Capitol Hill that they need, from the White House, you to come to them, to ask for authorization for use of military force. Do you think that will come at some point with this specific set of strikes?
KIRBY: The president is acting consistent with his Article II responsibilities as commander in chief. These are self-defense actions that we’re taking to prevent and to take away capability from these groups from targeting our troops and our facilities.
BREAM: It’s not just Republicans, though. You do have Senator Cardin who chairs the Intel Committee. He says you need to — you guys need to come to him.
KIRBY: We’re confident and comfortable that the president has appropriate authorities to continue to conduct these strikes to protect our people, our ships, our sailors, our troops and our facilities throughout the region.
BREAM: OK. There are critics who say we’re in this position because of the president’s actions. They point to things like easing sanctions on Iran’s oil industry that allow them to rake in tens of billions.
We know money is fungible. How can we say or with any certainty that those funds are not funding these groups that are now taking aim at our soldiers, you know, three lives lost, dozens others injured?
An opinion piece on “The Hill” puts it this way. It says: Any clear-eyed assessment of Biden’s performance in foreign policy — past and present — reveals one consistent thread, which certainly helps explain the dire state of world affairs during his presidency: his unusual commitment to choosing the weakest or least confrontational path.
He’s talked about being worried about igniting something broader in the region, but is this idea of appeasement sending the wrong signal to folks there who only understand brute strength?
KIRBY: Sure. Look, I — it’s hard to look at I think what we’ve been doing over the last three years and say that we, somehow, have been soft on Iran. I mean, more than 500 entities sanctioned, 50 sanctioned regimes. He has bolstered our force presence in the region including at one point having two aircraft carriers there, one in the Mid and one on the — in the Middle East waters. In fact, there’s a carrier still there.
And in terms of the attacks that we’ve suffered over recent months, we — he has increased aggressiveness of our responses to go more directly after the IRGC. And now, you saw what happened on Friday night, and I’m telling you, that’s not the end of it. There will be more.
So, I think we just — obviously come to a different place here on whether or not we’ve been aggressive enough and muscular enough on Iran. Now, you’re right, the president doesn’t want to see a broader conflict in the Middle East and we’re not looking for a war with Iran. And I’ll bet you, the American people don’t want that either.
We’re going to do what we have to do to hold them accountable, and it’s not like, Shannon, there had — there weren’t attacks in the previous administration either, right? After then-President Trump ordered an attack on Qasem Soleimani, the head of the IRGC, attacks on our troops and our facilities spiked pretty dramatically, to the point where in late 2020, the former secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, was actually considering weighing the options of closing our embassy in Baghdad.
So, these groups have been doing this for a while. Let’s see — we got the first round out on Friday. Let’s see where this goes.
BREAM: Let’s talk about Iraq and Syria. You have said Iraq was notified in advance, government officials there knew what was coming. They have since said that they are not happy about what has happened.
“New York Times” reporting this: Syria and Iraq condemning U.S. strikes on Iran-backed militias in their countries saying such attacks only impede the fight against Islamic State terrorists and threaten to drag the region deeper into instability.
Have you heard directly from them since then? They say this is sovereign territory.
KIRBY: I can’t speak for our diplomatic conversations. I’m sure our ambassador in Baghdad has had conversations since — since the weekend. But I’ll let them speak to that.
We’ve got to take seriously the attacks on our troops and our facilities. In this case, in Jordan, three Americans were killed, three troops, three families now are grieving.
The president’s not going to sit back and idly just take that. We’re going to respond. We’re going to respond as aggressively as we need to.
Now, there were appropriate notifications and discussions with the Iraqi government. I’ll leave it at that. But we also want to see the Iraqi government move with more alacrity to help us — to help us rid the threat of these militia groups on Iraqi soil. That should be — they should consider a violation of their sovereignty, that these groups are operating with some manner of impunity on Iraqi soil.
BREAM: Let’s stay in that region and stay in relationships that are a little bit tricky.
“Axios” said this week that the president is, quote, losing patience with Prime Minister Netanyahu. He’s clearly rejected the idea of a Palestinian state. We hear the State Department is working up proposals with respect to that.
It appears that there is some growing daylight between these two world leaders. How would you describe their relationship? When did they last talk?
KIRBY: These are two leaders that have known each other a long, long time, you know, decades here. And the president has said repeatedly he doesn’t always agree with everything that Prime Minister Netanyahu does or says. That’s — that’s still the case and we’re not going to see eye to eye. But the advantage of having alliances and partnerships and long relationships such as the president has had through his many years of public service is that you can have those difficult conversations with a foreign leader and you can make your case.
And I will tell you that — I can’t speak for what the prime minister says publicly. I can just tell you in our conversations with him and his war cabinet, they know that America’s got their back, that we’re going to continue to support them. That’s why the supplemental funding request is so important.
And they also know that we’re going to be concerned about reducing the civilian casualties, getting humanitarian assistance in. Secretary Blinken is on his way to the region right now.
I will say they have been receptive to that advice and counsel and those perspectives that we have shared, they have altered and changed the way they are prosecuting operations, that they’re trying to be careful in —
BREAM: Certainly — certainly not open to two-state solution.
Just quickly the House speaker said yesterday they’re going to put up a stand-alone Israel aid package. Would the White House sign it if it gets there?
KIRBY: We are in good active discussions on the Senate side in a bipartisan way to get —
BREAM: A bigger deal with the border, the Ukraine aid.
KIRBY: — to get the supplemental funding, all the things that the president believes are important, which includes border but also Indo- Pacific, Israel, Ukraine. And if we — if that gets sent to the president’s desk, he will sign that.
BREAM: But would he veto a stand-alone Israel bill if it passed both houses?
KIRBY: The president sees what we’re hearing out of the House as a political ploy. I think he’s focused on, and rightly so, on the terrific work that’s been done on the Senate side, in a truly bipartisan fashion, to try to address all these national security challenges.
BREAM: Yeah, we await the text.
Admiral, thank you.
KIRBY: Yes, ma’am.
BREAM: Always appreciate your time.
KIRBY: Yes, ma’am.
BREAM: All right. Joining us now, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham.
All right. You heard what the admiral had to say. They’re not taking strikes within Iran off the table. You’ve advocated for them for a long time here.
There are those who actually worry about that. They say this is how America — and it’s a line, this quote — “Gets dragged into endless wars.” Retaliations, in which the moment may feel justified by unacceptable attacks of these militias put us on a path, though, toward a war that doesn’t serve our interest, that we cannot afford — and one whose victory we can’t define and whose exit we cannot envision.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): Well, the admiral is a good man. I think he does a good job telling a story that’s hard to tell. Our national security is in free fall.
Morgan Ortagus made a very good point. Look at the record for the last three years. This is a symptom of a greater problem.
We withdrew from Afghanistan. The Taliban took over in 2021. Showing weakness, Putin invades Ukraine in 2022. In 2023, Hamas attacks Israel, killing more Jews than any time since the Holocaust.
2024, we’re having Americans killed by Iranian proxies in the Mideast. They’re pushing us all over the place. Our national security is in free fall.
Here’s what works — hit something they value. Soleimani was killed with a single strike. He was their General Patton and Eisenhower. There was nothing left but a smoldering car and a ring finger.
It worked. They got back in a box.
BREAM: But wait a minute. Just real quickly there, because the admiral noted there were attacks on U.S. interests after that.
GRAHAM: Yeah, but they are in a box. I don’t remember it like this, 160 attacks.
We kill one guy. We got out of the Iranian nuclear agreement. We cut their money off. They were the weakest they’ve been.
Now, they’re the strongest, the most provocative.
Admiral, here’s what we need to do. You need to hit something the ayatollah — the ayatollah values. His leadership team like a Soleimani.
Or take him out of the oil business. If we hit their oil infrastructure, you don’t need manned aircraft. They got four refineries you can see from space. If you knock one of them out, they would stop this. Our American troops are in harm’s way.
If the goal is to deter Iran, you’re failing miserably. If the goal is to protect American troops, you’re not achieving your goal. If you’re convinced Iran we don’t want a wider war, they believe you. Oh, I don’t want a war with you. They got the message. What they’re not afraid of is us. They were afraid of Trump. They’re not afraid of us.
Look what happened in Afghanistan in ’21. Look what happened in Europe in 2022, 2023, Hamas attacks Israel. It is not working. We need to change our policy. People are not afraid of us. This idea of hitting hundreds of targets doesn’t matter. The only Iranian we killed in Syria or Iraq is some dumbass that doesn’t know to get out of the way. We gave them a weak notice. So if there are another round of strikes coming, I hope they really will hurt Iran in their pocketbook or kill their leadership because if you don’t, nothing changes.
BREAM: All right, both you and the admiral have served in uniform. You understand the risks of, you know, getting more broadly involved in these things. Do you think there needs to be a request from the White House for authorizing U.S. military force?
GRAHAM: Absolutely not. The admiral’s dead, right? President Biden has all the authority under Article 2 to protect troops in the field. To those who want to get it approved by Congress, every Commander-in-Chief can protect our troops.
They’re over there to prevent ISIS from coming back. They’re just not on vacation. They’re not hanging out in the mid-east. They’re there to make sure ISIS and Al-Qaeda do not attack us here.
GRAHAM: Iran is trying to drive us out of the mid-east and the response we’re giving is inadequate to the task. They do not believe or fear that we will hit what matters most to them, their oil infrastructure or their leadership.
BREAM: OK. You guys don’t agree on that, but you do agree on the AUMF.
BREAM: OK, so I want to get to this. You have spent a lot of time in the region, obviously. You have met with Prime Minister Netanyahu. Our administration is pushing for talk of a two-state deal, which he clearly does not want to have.
“Reuters” also reporting about conversations that former U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, now the foreign secretary’s had. They spelled out this way. He told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to, quote, “Start talking about the things a Palestinian state can be rather than things it can’t be,” reiterating a British support for a two-state solution. What should our position be?
GRAHAM: I think it is irresponsible and dangerous to unilaterally recognize a Palestinian state until you first achieve peace with Israel. It would be like recognizing the Germans in the middle of the Holocaust.
On October the 7th, there was an attack by Hamas that killed 1,400 Jews. They raped women, put babies in ovens. We will not reward them for that attack. I’ve been working with the administration. They’ve done a very good job of trying to get Saudi and Israel to end the Arab-Israeli conflict.
We need to deal with the Palestinian issue, but nobody in Israel is going to recognize a Palestinian state until there’s first peace with Israel. Nobody in Israel is going to reward this attack. Nobody is going to give the Palestinian state after being slaughtered by Hamas.
So to my friend David Cameron, who I like a bunch, it is a horribly bad idea to talk about a Palestinian state unilaterally granted until there’s first peace and security with Israel. You’ve got it backwards, so nobody in Israel is going to recognize a Palestinian state until Israel first has peace and security, and that’s the way it should be.
BREAM: Well, it’s been centuries, probably millennia, in the wait for that. We’ll see if we get there. Before you go, I want to make sure that we talk about the border, because we’ve been waiting on the deal. We think we’ll get the text on Sunday. Here, as of Sunday morning, we’re still waiting. Now, we’re told that, even though we don’t have a text yet, there will be a move potentially to get this to a vote on the Senate floor before you guys leave for a two-week recess in February.
There are a lot of folks out there who don’t want to see the deal at all. The others who say I’m open, but am I going to vote that quickly?
GRAHAM: Well, the process, the oldest game in town is to bring an important piece of legislation, right, before a holiday or right before a break. So process-wise, we’re not going to deal with this next week. It’s too important.
Substance, I’ve been involved in the negotiations. What they have achieved, as far as I know, we don’t — we haven’t seen it yet, is a real change in asylum. It’s a real change in parole. It’s a real change in exp-dotted removal.
Here’s what Trump said. We do a very good job concerning the laws are so bad. They’re not archaic. They’re incompetent. It’s not that they’re old. They’re just bad. And we can’t get any Democrat vote to change them. That was in 2018.
There are Democrats willing to change the asylum law to make it better, to deal with parole, to enhance exp-dotted removal. Substantively, James Lankford, I think, has done a pretty good job. I’m going to wait and see what the final bill looks like. But on process, there’s no way we’re going to be jammed. We’re not going to take up something this important, pass it right before a two-week break.
On the substance, how people keep an open mind. If you believe, as President Trump does, our laws are broken, well, you’ve got to fix them. H.R. 2 is the gold standard. It passed the House —
BREAM: Will not pass in the Senate.
GRAHAM: OK. Let me explain. You’re dead right, Shannon. That’s why you’re doing this show. You’re so smart. In the House, it involves two Republican votes, did not gain one Democratic vote. We hook H.R. 2 up on the floor of the Senate. We lost Rand Paul. We didn’t pick up one vote. So bringing a bill that fails doesn’t solve a problem.
You know how you solve a problem? You do what Lankford is doing. You sit down with the other side and you negotiate. I appreciate what Senator Lankford’s done. To those who push H.R. 2, it’s not going to happen. So if it doesn’t happen, you’ve got to do something else.
BREAM: Well, you know what they’re going to say in contrast to that. If you put up a Senate bill that won’t pass in the House, it’s also dead on arrival. So we’ll see, but hopefully, we get the tax very soon.
GRAHAM: I hope that Speaker Johnson will look at the substance of it, and we’ll see if it’s worthy of being voted on in the House. But I want to just tell you that Senator Lankford is doing the best he can to fix a problem that’s been around for a long time.
BREAM: No one’s going to get everyone they want.
Senator, good to see you. We’ll only have to believe you once today. Good to have you.
GRAHAM: It’s pretty good.
BREAM: Yeah, for you.
All right, the migrant crisis seemingly out of control across the country. Disturbing video this week showing more than a dozen men attacking police officers. Outside a shelter in New York, all but one quickly released by authorities, they’re back on the streets. We’re going to talk about that with our Sunday panel up next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. KATHY HOCHUL, (D-NY): The bail laws allow for people involved in the physical assault of a police officer to be charged It’s a bail-eligible offense, meaning right now that they should be sitting in Rikers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BREAM: That’s New York Governor Kathy Hochul reacting to the brutal beating of cops by migrants in New York City this past week and criticism that all but one of those men were quickly released.
There’s growing frustration with how the issues of the poorest border and safety here within the U.S. are now colliding. Let’s talk about it with our Sunday group, “Bloomberg” News White House and Politics Editor Mario Parker. Marie Harf, former State Department Spokesperson. “National Review” Editor-in-Chief Rich Lowry and Olivia Beavers, “Politico” Congressional Reporter.
All right, we all saw these videos this week. First of all, the one of the police officers under attack, that shocked a lot of people. But then they were turned quickly to fury when they saw this. Some of these suspects released and basically flipping off America.
Rich, didn’t go well, especially now that we have reports that some of them may be on the run and probably not excited about or intending to return to their March 4th court date.
RICH LOWRY, NATIONAL REVIEW EDITOR IN CHIEF: Yeah, it’s totally infuriating. So what you have is a toxic combination of effectively an open border, limits on how police can fight violent assailants, and these insane bail policies combining to get these cops attacked and then these guys literally let loose and figuratively and literally flipping the country off. So this is a huge problem in our cities and a huge problem for the president.
BREAM: Yeah, Marie, you’re increasingly hearing blue state mayors and governors and others really starting to put pressure on the White House like this is a mess. Our cities, our states are struggling with things that we can’t actually manage. You’ve got Connecticut’s Democrat governor this week saying I will send the Connecticut’s National Guard to the southern border because that’s how bad I think this problem is.
MARIE HARF, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Right. I think this is an issue where Democrats and Republicans understand it’s a problem and both of them are sort of right. We do need law and order in our cities, that is clear. We also need to address the root causes and why some of this violence is happening that can include criminal justice issues, that can include border issues.
You know, it’s amazing to me that we are sitting here talking about immigration. Joe Biden has said he will sign an incredibly tough immigration bill if it comes to his desk it will, you know, reduce wait times drastically for asylum cases to be seen. It will send a lot more resources to the border. It will require closing the border if certain criteria are met and yet Republicans in Congress to help elect Donald Trump are refusing to pass it.
So this is a situation where there’s a bunch of causes here and one of them, the border that Republicans have said they really care about they are refusing to move on it for solely political reasons That is — that is —
BREAM: We’ll see, I mean — the things you outlined, we think we’re in the deal. We don’t know, because we’re still waiting. We’ve been waiting, waiting, waiting for weeks. And some in the house are saying, we’ll give it a shot, but we have to see what the Senate actually serves up before you do that.
Meanwhile in Boston, it’s another city where there are a lot of tensions flaring. There is a community center there. It’s in a predominantly black neighborhood where folks say we have been fighting for years to get this place updated, outfitted, upgraded. It’s not happened. And now it’s being taken to be used for people who are here in this country, came illegally, so that they have what they need. They can be treated like human beings. But there’s a guy in that neighborhood.
I was trying to play some of what he had to say, but literally I would have had to believe every other word. I think you would get his point, Olivia. He’s angry that this is his neighborhood, and what he needed and wanted for so long didn’t come until now for someone else.
OLIVIA BEAVERS, POLITICO CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Certainly. And I think you were seeing some of the quotes, saying, I’ve been a lifelong Democrat, but now I’m starting to reconsider, given that these parks where they felt like their sons were able to play, kept them out of a life of crime.
But one thing that I think you’re going to watch is just how much the migrant and crime issues are going to be colliding in places like New York. If you look, it’s already playing out in places like the New York race to place George Santos, a special election, where they’re saying, they’re trying to bring Tom Suozzi for rolling out the red carpet.
And Tom Suozzi is also trying to separate himself and put distance from the migrant crisis because it’s draining the resources. And there is that friction between people who want to help and want to create a system where these people are seeking asylum and coming into the country, and people who feel like it’s impacting their livelihoods and it’s causing an unfair imbalance in their lives.
BREAM: OK, so — by the way, we’re just getting news that the border text bill as we’ve been told is going to be out today. Whether it’s before this end of the show, I don’t know. What we’re told that it is coming. So to this issue in Boston also this is translating in Chicago by the way where they found time this week to vote on a ceasefire in Gaza, and I’m not sure how that’s going to impact that situation. But with a mayor also says he supports removing police officers from schools. They’ve got a crime epidemic there, but they also have the situation where local residents say again, you know, assets in their own communities either are not being used for them as promised or they’re being used elsewhere. There are several lawsuits as well.
The “Free Press” quotes one resident Cata Truss says this, “All of these people, I have supported every one of them.” Talking about Mayor Brandon Johnson and his allies. She says are you freaking kidding me? There’s a humanitarian crisis in the black community, but every time we have a need in our community, we’re told there are no funds.
Mario, they’re now multiple lawsuits there in Chicago.
MARIO PARKER, WHITE HOUSE & POLITICS EDITOR AT BLOOMBERG NEWS: No absolutely, and that’s my hometown I should mention, of Chicago. I was just there over the holidays. And so I saw some of this stuff firsthand. If we were to take kind of an autopsy of where we are right now in the political cycle, Greg Abbott is probably the most influential person of this election cycle, right?
By taking that tactic of busing migrants up to these cities, he’s created these, he’s exposed some of these fissures within the Democratic Party. You’re seeing some — and just at the time where Biden needs to kind of ramp up this coalition, you’ve got black voters expressing just extreme dismay about some of the policies that are happening and blaming Democrats right now, blaming Democrats and Democratic mayors like Brandon Johnson, et cetera. So it’s really kind of exposing this riff right now, just given some of these long simmering to just kind of tensions between these different communities and constituencies.
So it’s important though to remember, Abbott’s had a big role in kind of highlighting the Democratic divisions on this. But it’s just a small proportion of migrants in cities like New York and Chicago have been bused by Governor Abbott.
The illegal immigrants headed those cities anyway and would be, regardless of what Texas is doing, and in terms of the ultimate responsibility for the crisis at the border, on February 2nd, 2021, a couple days after taking office, Biden repealed, remain in Mexico, and he’s asylum agreements with Northern Triangle countries.
And anyone who knew anything about the border knew that was going to create a disaster, and sure enough, it has. And he didn’t need to do that. No Republican made him do that. He did that of his own volition because he thought anything Trump had done, had to be repealed, even though Trump had created with those policies a secure border.
BREAM: Well, Marie, what about that? Because the President will stay now. I need these tools that are in this new bill that we think is coming together that we hope to see today. But, you know, folks will point out, there were executive orders that were stripped away. I was told at the time the transition teams were warning the Biden team, you guys know what’s going to happen if you do this. Those were decisions he made three years ago.
HARF: There are two problems with Remain in Mexico. The first is that a number of courts have actually ruled that it’s not legal. So there were significant legal challenges to remain in Mexico. The other problem is the Mexican government has to agree to it and has to play an active role in it, which we have no confidence that they will.
It’s not a long-term solution, Shannon. Sure, at the time — and the Biden team has said this, in court filings, it did help reduce the number of migrants coming across the border. It also may be illegal. So it is not a fix. We need systemic fixes here that only Congress can provide. Republicans in Congress have been begging for Democrats to sign something. Joe Biden says he’ll sign it, which, by the way, —
BREAM: How convenient, in an election year? Well, you know he’s upside down in all of his polling on immigration. So listen, there’s motivation on both sides —
BREAM: — to take two very different tax on this.
HARF: But what’s interesting is if Biden were to sign this immigration bill, a lot of progressives don’t like it because it is tougher than any Democrat, certainly in my lifetime, has ever said they would sign.
HARF: Independence love it. Modern Republicans who don’t like Donald Trump love it. So it may be good politically, but it’s good for our security and for the border, and Republicans should get behind it.
BREAM: Well, and everything else, Ukraine, Israel, all of that tied together. So we’ll see if this thing can get across the finish line. But we got to see it first.
OK, panel, don’t go far. Up next, we got a brand-new round of polls as some Democrats are sounding the alarm over President Biden’s flagging support among critical voting blocks. And voters speak out on how a criminal conviction would impact their decision of whether or not to stick with former President Trump.
BREAM: President Biden is traveling to Nevada today to campaign ahead of the state’s primary on Tuesday. It comes as the White House is launching airstrikes in the Middle East following the killing of three soldiers stationed in Jordan by an Iranian-backed proxy.
Fox News Correspondent Lucas Tomlinson live in Vegas tracking the President. Hey, Lucas.
LUCAS TOMLINSON, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Shannon, since Friday, U.S. forces have launched airstrikes in three different countries across the Middle East. The Biden administration claims this conflict is not expanding.
SABRINA SINGH, PENTAGON DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON: We acknowledge that tensions are high in the region, but we don’t — I don’t necessarily agree that we’re in a wider regional conflict. Again, we have seen attacks on our forces in both Iraq and Syria prior to October 17th. We had attacks on our forces earlier in 2023. So I think it’s important to remember, this is nothing new.
LT. GEN. KEITH KELLOGG (RET.), FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Ask the parents of those three young Americans we lost. Ask about all those who strikes have been in American facilities, in American personnel. Of course, it may not be a nuclear war, a full-scale war, but if people don’t consider this a war, then they’ve never put on the uniform.
TOMLINSON: One battle the President wants to win here at home, the potential head-to-head contest with Donald Trump. It would mark the first presidential rematch since 1956 and the first-time presidential incumbents have faced off since 1892.
President Biden spoke in Wilmington before leaving for the West Coast without mentioning Trump by name.
BIDEN: The guy we’re running against, he is not for anything, he’s against everything. No, I mean, it’s the weirdest campaign I’ve ever been engaged in.
TOMLINSON: President Biden’s name was not on the ballot — it was on the ballot for the first time in the 2024 race in South Carolina after skipping Iowa and New Hampshire, states where he finished fourth and fifth respectively four years ago.
Biden did not need to anxiously watch those polls closed last night. He captured more than 96% of the vote in South Carolina, though turnout was far less. Biden arrived in L.A. yesterday for a fundraiser at the home of Hollywood Director George Lucas yesterday.
He arrives here in Las Vegas later today, Shannon, for more campaign events ahead of the Democratic primary on Tuesday. And Donald Trump’s Republican rival appeared last night on Saturday Night Live.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nikki Haley, Joel Osment, we call her. Six cents, remember that one? I see dead people.
NIKKI HALEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yeah, that’s what voters will say if they see you and Joe on the ballot.
TOMLINSON: And for the second straight year, President Biden has declined a traditional Super Bowl interview, a game that will be played right here in Las Vegas next weekend. It will be a rematch of 2020. Shannon?
BREAM: All right, Lucas Tomlinson live in Vegas. Thank you, Lucas.
OK, we’re back now with a panel. Mario, let’s start there. This news broke yesterday that the President is going to skip for the second year in a row, this Super Bowl interview, which has millions of eyeballs. Why not sit down for that?
PARKER: You know, what you’ve seen the White House try to go around the traditional modes of communication to voters right they’re going more towards this niche outlets not some of the traditional just venues to see presidents take an advantage of in the past. And it’s maybe a part probably questionable strategies is given that the White House is struggling to really message with voters and connect with some of its key constituents.
We saw South Carolina for example yesterday the outreach toward black voters and that’s a troubling sign given that the black voters are the bedrock of the party, it kind of shows that hey, you need to figure out how to communicate some of these key constituencies as you start to barrel toward the November general election.
BREAM: Yeah, and we have all kinds of polls this week. Some of them show real trouble for the White House for the president’s re-election. Our Fox News poll in Georgia, if the choice was voting for today, it gives President Trump an eight-point lead in a very important swing state there, Olivia.
BEAVERS: Yeah, that’s I think very devastating. We’ve been seeing swing state polls coming in for months now And they should be raising alarm because and some of the ones that Donald Trump won I think there’s — there’s seven swing states that we’ve really been tracking and now Biden is behind in six of them. But I think that they’re also optimistic that they will be able to sell their economic message, which president Biden just had a very good jobs report and they the fear of recession is going down. Job wages are, you know, beating inflation for the first time after bad inflation.
But it still hasn’t impacted his numbers. So I think that he’s hoping in those states. He’s going to be able to sell those voters and Donald Trump is also recalibrating his message trying to claim that this is an economy that is responding to him being the future president, which you know, I think some of his advisors are saying we don’t think that’s the best act was.
BREAM: Taking credit ahead of time.
BREAM: OK. Well, let’s look to Wisconsin. Another one of our Fox News polls this week. They are in a dead heat there, 47/47. Rich, it’s a — it’s a state that President Biden did win last year around.
LOWRY: Yup, yup. It’s another state —
BREAM: It’s nick and nick.
LOWRY: Now, this day is going to be very close, but you know, this national polling is really extraordinary. Because you look back at 2020, Trump didn’t lead in any polls. I think that maybe there was one where he’s ahead of Biden in 2020.
Every other one he was trailing against Hillary Clinton in 2016. Same story, at least the last couple months before the election. So this is the strongest that Donald Trump has polled ever in his national political career.
And it’s not because he’s hugely personally popular. He’s not. It’s because the enfeebled state of Joe Biden, who is the weakest incumbent president running for reelection since George H.W. Bush or Jimmy Carter.
BREAM: Well, we’ve got conflicting national polls, when you go head-to- head, CNN had one out this week that says 49% of registered voters say they would back Trump if the election between the two were held today, 45% for Biden, 5% say they’d vote for someone else.
Then you go over to Quinnipiac. I mean, these are both very well-respected polling operations. They say Biden holds a lead over Trump, 50 to 44 among registered voters in that hypothetical election matchup.
HARF: Yes, this is going to be a close election. And polls this far out aren’t really predictive of what will happen. I do think they should be concerning to the Biden team in some of these states. But look, Donald Trump has a ceiling, a very hard ceiling of voters, and he’s probably there because Joe Biden right now is getting all the downsides of incumbency and none of the positives, right?
Donald Trump can just run around and say whatever he wants. And Joe Biden’s governing, dealing with war in the Middle East, dealing with an economy. I mean, they’re, you know, Olivia’s right, they’re running on this economy. It is back in many ways better than pre-pandemic. Wages are outpacing inflation. Inflation is down. They feel very good about this. People are starting to feel this. So I think the Biden team has work to do.
This is a close election. The country is very divided. But if I were choosing which side to be on, setting aside my own personal views, I would pick the Biden team. I’d rather be them with Trump’s ceiling, with Biden having a ton of room to run here and enough time to make that economic argument to voters.
BREAM: Well, and the key places that will matter are these swing states. I mean your path to 270 is the whole thing, that’s a whole ballgame.
“Bloomberg” says this that Biden trails Trump in each of seven swing states in our monthly survey lags Trump 42 to 48 across all states in a head-to- head matchup, all of those swing states. The former president’s lead grows to nine percentage points when a third-party candidate is included.
I mean, Mario, that’s another headache for the White House, this idea of a third party really shaking this up.
PARKER: It is. And so when you see a RFK junior or Cornel West there, that is a thorn in the President’s side right now at this point. One of the things that the poll also showed though, as much as Donald Trump has expanded his lead, particularly on the back of the perception of the economy and then immigration as well, is if he’s convicted on one of these court cases, more than half of those swing voters say that they’re not going to vote for him.
Another 25% of the Republicans even say that as well. So for the last eight years or so, we’ve been wondering how much testing a loyalty of the Republican base with Donald Trump, it seems like if there’s a conviction in one of these cases that has propelled him through the primary, that it could get a little bit questionable in general.
BREAM: Yeah, “Washington Post” has more on that from their poll with Monmouth. Now, this is from South Carolina voters, GOP voters down there because they were looking at where clearly President Trump is outpacing Nikki Haley.
But as to who they would vote for if Trump was convicted and still the nominee, 62% of those voters said they would stick with the former president, but 17% say they would go over to Biden and 15% say they would vote for another unnamed candidate.
Olivia, if you get to the convention and you have your nominee and then, and this is a lot of ifs, there is a criminal conviction before then. What do Republicans do? His name is going to be on the ballot and these numbers aren’t good.
BEAVERS: I think you’re going to see a full-out messaging approach trying to undermine whatever the conviction is and say that Donald Trump is unfair and you’ll going to see the rigged campaign argument again.
BREAM: All right. Well, we’ll stand by because there are lots of hoops. We’re going to talk about some of these legal issues coming up next.
Panel, thank you very much.
Because, by the way, the Supreme Court this week takes up the case of whether or not states can ban President Trump from their ballot. Which justices should we be watching? How quickly will we get a decision? Our legal experts are next.
BREAM: The high court set to hear arguments this week as Colorado’s top election official urges the Supreme Court to uphold the state’s move to keep President Trump’s name off their ballot.
Let’s take the case to our legal experts. George Washington University Law Professor Jonathan Turley and Tom Dupree, former principal deputy assistant attorney general.
Welcome back, gentlemen. Always good to see you.
TOM DUPREE, FORMER PRINCIPAL DEPUTY ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: Thank you.
JONATHAN TURLEY, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT AND GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY LAW PROFESSOR: Thank you.
BREAM: I want to start first, though, with word that this — Jack Smith’s special counsel case on the January 6th events involving President Trump has officially has been removed from the calendar. There’s a lot of wrangling going on with issues. But March 4th, Tom, doesn’t look like it’s going to happen.
DUPREE: It’s totally off the calendar, right. And, look, there’s so many legal issues right now percolating. There’s the question of immunity. And so I think the district court basically said it is completely unrealistic to think we can adhere to this March trial date. She’s pushing it back.
My best guess is we’d be looking at late summer maybe at the earliest because even once the D.C. Circuit and even once the Supreme Court have all resolved these immunity issues, there’s still going to need to be months of pre-trial wrangling as each side prepares their cases before this case can ever go to a jury.
BREAM: So, the Supreme Court had said, we’re not going to take it up on an expedite basis. Let’s let the lower courts figure this immunity thing out first. But do you think if it comes back to them on this immunity issue that it – they will decide it right away, or does it get punted to the calendar that starts in October? Do you think they – they settle it this summer?
TURLEY: Well, they clearly have indicated that they don’t have the sense of urgency of Jack Smith. Jack Smith, in all of his filings said, we really need to get this done. And he’s trying to set this before the election. The justices clearly don’t see why this has to be expedited to that degree. So, it’s unclear whether they’re going to make any new effort once it comes back to them.
BREAM: So, this could be kicked even further.
TURLEY: It could.
BREAM: We’ll have to wait and see, like with all of these cases.
OK, so let’s talk about the case that will be argued this week at the Supreme Court. The brief of the Colorado secretary of state, Jena Griswold. Obviously, Colorado kicked President Trump off. They say he was part of an insurrection. Under the 14th Amendment he can’t be on the ballot.
Her brief says this, “just as Colorado cannot be forced to place on its presidential primary ballot a naturalized citizen, a minor, or someone twice elected to the presidency, it also should not be forced to include a candidate found by its court to have violated his oath to support the Constitution by engaging in insurrection.”
How will that land with the justices?
DUPREE: Well, I think it’s a silly argument. There’s a big difference between an age requirement and this. First of all, it depends on your ruling on a series of questions in order to even get Trump disqualified. It’s got to apply to a president, which has been contested. It has to be self-executed, allowing the state to act unilaterally. And then, finally, this has to be an insurrection. I think that they – that those are very tough questions. But I think that the court is unlikely, on the first question, to rule on that. It’s more likely to look at this self-executing question. Because, remember, Chief Justice Roberts feels the burden of being chief justice. He’s going to want to try to eke out as large a majority, if not unanimity, on this question. And the second question probably offers the best chance for that.
BREAM: OK, so there’s a group of former GOP lawmakers from The Hill who also support what Colorado has done because this question of whether or not there was an insurrection, they say this, “by any reasonable, good faith consideration of the events surrounding January 6th necessitates the conclusion that Trump encouraged an armed, violet mob to prevent Congress from taking an essential step in the transition of presidential power. As a result of his actions, Trump is not qualified to serve as president.”
DUPREE: I agree that there is no chance that the Supreme Court actually gets to that question.
DUPREE: I think the likelihood of President Trump losing this case in the Supreme Court is somewhere between zero and zero. To disqualify someone —
BREAM: You heard it here.
DUPREE: Well, right. To disqualify someone who is currently the leading presidential candidate, you need an absolutely clear constitutional basis for doing so. And legal scholars and historians are all over the map on how this procedure works. So, for that reason, I think the Supreme Court is going to be very cautious. They are going to try to achieve unanimity. I don’t think it’s out of the question you actually get a unanimous decision in former President Trump’s favor. But the idea that the Supreme Court would kick him off the ballot and uphold what Colorado has done, I just don’t see that happening.
BREAM: OK, arguments on Thursday. How quickly do you think we get a decision? Days? Weeks? Months?
TURLEY: Well, first of all, this is an argument where we’re going to learn a lot. Everyone’s going to be listening to those three justices on the left and how they – and what question they’re focusing on. But I think that hopefully you’ll hear all of them reflect the same conclusion of many of us, that down this road lies madness. If you can have a single outlier, like Colorado, effectively decide the election because — let’s assume this was California. You could actually have California dictate an election unilaterally by taking –
BREAM: That number of electoral (INAUDIBLE).
TURLEY: That’s right, by — by the mere fact of the electoral votes. And I think the justices will see that, and they’re going to put a quick end to this, I hope.
BREAM: OK. I want to make sure we get to this case. This week several protesters, pro-life demonstrators, at an abortion clinic charged and now convicted on felony charges that could get them more than a decade in jail. Justice Department decided to pursue them. DOJ says this, these defendants knowingly chose to violate laws they disagreed with. But there’s a lot of consternation for folks who are looking around at violent offenders back on the streets and all kinds of things and wondering why the decision to prosecute these people and the fact that they could face more than a decade in jail for singing hymns and for being there at this clinic.
DUPREE: Well, that’s the thing, you want the rule of law to be applied fairly and impartially and in an equal way. And so you see these sort of situations where people who have a conservative view are protesting, they’re put in jail, people who are protesting with a liberal viewpoint go free, not even prosecuted. And I think a lot of people look at this, this juxtaposition, and say, what is going on? Is this really the fair, neutral application of the rule of law?
I mean, look, the fact is, is protest laws should be enforced uniformly regardless of the underlying political viewpoint. And that if you’re going to drop the hammer on people who take a pro-life view and protest the clinics, you have to do the same to people who are protesting from the left, including people who were protesting the White House just a few weeks ago.
BREAM: Well, or — more than a year of people showing up at justices’ private residents and protesting under a federal law that everybody agreed the wording was pretty clear about. And some state statutes as well. I didn’t hear of a single arrest.
TURLEY: Well, I think that what’s going to happen here is there’s going to be renewed interest in looking at the FACE Act dealing with abortion clinics and how it’s written. It said – it has very ambiguous terms there where you may not be actually stopping someone from going into a clinic, but you could actually be arrested because you’re in the vicinity, you’re nearby, you’re singing hymns, you’re make — you’re praying. And the fact that these people are facing a decade in jail shows this lack of consistency in sentencing. And that’s the very heart of a system of fair and equal justice.
BREAM: Well, and we understand their sentencing, I think, is set for July, and it sounds like their legal teams are discussing the appeal to launch after that once they find out. The sentence also could include $260,000 in fines.
So, gentlemen, Thursday, see you at SCOTUS.
BREAM: Thank you very much.
All right, up next, new developments in the Middle East as the U.S. takes aim at Iranian-backed militias. We’ve got an update for you, the latest, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KIRBY, NSC COMMUNICATIONS COORDINATOR: Because what you saw on Friday night was just the first round. There will be additional response actions taken by the administration against the IRGC and these groups that they’re backing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BREAM: That was John Kirby earlier in the show talking about the Biden administration’s strikes against Iranian proxies in the Middle East.
Final update for you on a couple big stories before we go.
The U.S. and U.K. struck 36 Houthi targets in 13 locations in Yemen Saturday, working to degrade the Iran-backed group from continuing to hit global shipping vessels in the Red Sea. Early Sunday morning, U.S. Central Command says it also conducted an additional strike against a Houthi anti- ship cruise missile.
All this comes after Friday’s separate strikes on Iran proxies in Iraq and Syria launched in response to the January 28th drone attack in Jordan that killed three U.S. service members. U.S. B-1 bombers hit 85 targets at seven location, including command and control headquarters, drone and ammunition storage sites and other facilities.
Turning now to the border crisis here at home. Senators are facing a standoff over whether or not they can move legislation aimed at including both a border deal, which would overhaul the asylum system, and funding for foreign aid priorities, like Ukraine and Israel, before a recess scheduled just days from now.
And on the campaign trail, President Biden is headed to Las Vegas ahead of Tuesday’s Democratic primary after winning his party’s South Carolina primary last night with 96 percent of the vote.
Quick note, my podcast, “Livin the Bream” drops this morning. This week I talk with Trey Yingst about the realities of life on the ground in Israel and worries that the war in Gaza will widen in the region. We talk about domestic politics here, domestic politics there, all the complications, as many groups, including Hezbollah, continue to threaten Israel. Could they open up a front in the north?
Well, that is it for today. Thanks for joining us. I’m Shannon Bream. Have a wonderful week. We’ll see you next week for FOX NEWS SUNDAY.
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