This is a rush transcript from “Special Report” October 14, 2020. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Hi, Dana, thank you. Good evening, welcome to Washington. I’m Bret Baier.
Breaking tonight, we are following two major stories. There are serious questions for Joe Biden this evening following the publication of e-mails allegedly belonging to his son Hunter that contradict or seem to the nominee’s insistence the two never discussed business dealings with Ukraine. There are concerns about the authenticity and how this hard drive makes it to the FBI.
But as we look into that, two social media giants are hitting pause on the potential viral story until fact checkers weigh in and that’s creating its own uproar. We’ll look into that as well.
But we begin with the confirmation hearings for U.S. Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett. She took questions today concerning whether a president could legally pardon himself and whether her involvement in the disputed election of 2000 disqualifies her to rule on a similar matter should it occur this year. But much of the inquiry had harsh political overtones.
Fox News chief legal correspondent, anchor of “FOX NEWS @ NIGHT”, Shannon Bream has highlights tonight from the confirmation hearing room. Good evening, Shannon.
SHANNON BREAM, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Good evening, Bret. Well, day two of questioning was marked by some technical problems and some delays but we also got a look at Professor Barrett today. She was of course fielding a question time and time again from senators today which she also spent time breaking down some complex legal issues and asking some questions of her own.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): She’s going to the court. Seat at the table is waiting on you.
BREAM: Republicans sounding confident, but for Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett, it might have felt like Groundhog Day.
In day two of questioning by members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, she repeatedly faced the same accusations Democrats leveled on day one, that the president is fast tracking her nomination in order to see her on the Supreme Court in time to strike down the Affordable Care Act and hand him the 2020 election.
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-WI): You, Justice Kavanaugh and Chief Justice Roberts who worked on behalf of the Republican Party in matters related to the Bush v. Gore case, do you think that that’s a coincidence?
JUDGE AMY CONEY BARRETT, SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: Are all these questions you’re suggesting that I have animus or that I cut a deal with the president and I was very clear yesterday that that isn’t what happened.
SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE): The larger challenge here is not what you said about your views on cases, but what the president who has nominated you has said about his goals and his objectives for your service on the court.
BARRETT: I assure you I have my own mind.
BREAM: And today, she used it to explain the concept of severability which is the key to the Affordable Care Act case the Supreme Court will hear November 10th, can the individual mandate fall and the rest of the law survive?
BARRETT: A few pictures severability being like a Jenga game, it’s kind of if you pull one out, can you pull it out while it all stands or if you pull two out, will it still stand?
BREAM: Barrett said today that the nomination process has been “excruciating”, knowing that she would be mocked.
BARRETT: For me to say, you know, I’m not willing to undertake it even though I think this is something important would be, you know, a little cowardly. And, you know, I wouldn’t be answering a call to serve my country in a way that I was asked.
BREAM: So, twice today the hearing was shut down when the audio went out.
Normally, that would just be an inconvenience in this room but today it’s different in the age of the pandemic because some senators wanted to Skype in or do this remotely through Zoom including Senator Kamala Harris, so they had to continue.
There was worry that a delay here would actually delay the entire process.
This is on a tight time — tight timeline and schedule, so Republicans say they’re determined to get this nominee seated before the election.
All of the public questioning of her is now done. They’re in a private session going over her FBI background check but they’ll be back here at
9:00 a.m. tomorrow with witnesses both for and against Judge Barrett, Bret.
BAIER: Shannon Bream on the Hill. Shannon, thanks.
The election cycle tradition of an October surprise possibly being fulfilled tonight by the allegation that Joe Biden may have had a meeting he has vehemently denied. The Biden campaign still denies it tonight, but e-mails allegedly from his son Hunter Biden say the meeting was at least being set up this about Hunter Biden and a powerful Ukrainian businessman.
Looking into this story, but we have Fox team coverage tonight Howard Kurtz tells us how social media is dealing with what many are saying censoring this story. But first, senior political correspondent Mike Emanuel has the specifics. What do we know, Mike?
MIKE EMANUEL, FOX NEWS CHANNEL HOST: Well, Bret. Good evening. An explosive story at a critical stage in this presidential campaign newly released e- mails allegedly from Joe Biden’s son Hunter’s computer leading to Capitol Hill investigators starting a probe.
EMANUEL: The Senate Homeland Security Committee is now investigating a hard drive brought forward by a whistleblower.
An attorney for Rudy Giuliani tells Fox News a computer repairman came forward with a laptop and hard drive that he says belonged to Hunter Biden.
He claims that it was dropped off at a shop and never picked up.
Fox has told it had an estimated 40,000 e-mails, 1,000 text messages and salacious photos and videos of the former vice president’s son.
Now, Senate investigators are working with the whistle blower to confirm the information. He is legally blind, uses a monocle to do his job and cannot confirm it was Hunter who dropped off the laptop.
SHOP OWNER: I saw stuff. And I was concerned. I was concerned that somebody might want to come looking for this stuff eventually. And I wanted it out of my shop.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the stuff were images? Or the stuff were, was text?
SHOP OWNER: A little bit of both.
EMANUEL: Fox News has obtained in April 17th, 2015 e-mail, a source tells Fox it came from the computer in question is from Vadym Pozharskyi, a senior official from the Ukrainian energy firm Burisma.
He thanks Hunter Biden for inviting him to Washington and “giving an opportunity to meet your father and spent some time together” when Joe Biden was vice president.
The Biden campaign says it has reviewed Joe Biden’s official schedules from the time, and no meeting ever took place, but this has been a very sensitive subject.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think it was wrong for him to take that position knowing that it was really because that company wanted access to you?
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, that’s not true. You’re saying things you do not know what you’re talking about. No one said that. Who said that? Who said that?
EMANUEL: There’s also a May 12, 2014 e-mail from Pozharskyi that mentions the Hunter Biden “We urgently need your advice on how you could use your influence to convey a message/signal etcetera to stop what we consider to be politically motivated actions.
At the time, Hunter Biden was reportedly being paid up to $50,000 per month by Burisma, while his father the vice president was the point man for the Obama administration on Ukraine.
BIDEN: I have never spoken to my son about his overseas business dealings.
EMANUEL: Less than a year after that alleged 2014 meeting where Hunter evidently introduced Pozharskyi to his father, a Ukrainian prosecutor was fired, something Joe Biden bragged about in 2018.
BIDEN: (INAUDIBLE) I said, we’re leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money. Well, son of a bitch. He got fired.
EMANUEL: The Trump campaign notes the Biden campaign does not dispute the authenticity of the e-mails. Fox has reached out to Pozharskyi to ask if these are his e-mails and we have not gotten a response, Bret.
BAIER: Mike, so we know the owner turns it over to the FBI. Do we know the providence of that, how it happened, when it happens?
EMANUEL: We understand that it’s been in the FBI’s possession since December 2019. It’s not entirely clear how this ended up getting to an attorney with ties to Rudy Giuliani. The FBI is not talking about its possession of it. It turned us over to the U.S. attorney’s office in Delaware which would not confirm or deny that an investigation was under way.
We understand that there’s some concern about whether the FBI had kept it, whether they had fully scrub it or what and so. A guy kept a copy of it and then passed it on to Rudy Giuliani’s camp and thus it is ended up in public domain at least part of it.
BAIER: 20 days from an election. Mike, thank you.
More to this, the social media reaction to the story really has been fascinating today and also highly controversial. Here’s Fox News media analyst, host of Fox’s “MEDIA BUZZ” Howard Kurtz. Howie, this is quite something.
HOWARD KURTZ, FOX NEWS CHANNEL MEDIA ANALYST: It is indeed, Bret. The details of today’s New York Post story may be in dispute, but one thing is not, two social media giants don’t want you to see it. After the tabloid disclosed e-mails indicating a meeting between Biden’s father and that energy executive in Ukraine, Facebook said it would limit the stories distribution while an outside fact checker reviewed it, which is done “If we have signals that a piece of content is false.”
Now, Twitter is resorting to outright censorship blocking its users from sharing the Post’s piece, even through direct messages.
The Post saying late today, the Twitter is now locked its account by arguing that the paper has violated its rules against sharing hacked material, that’s a quote.
Now, this will fuel criticism by President Trump and many others that Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter — excuse me, Twitter chief Jack Dorsey have acknowledged that their companies are accused of being biased against the right.
Some top reporters who challenged the document obtained by Rudy Giuliani as Mike mentioned, are taking heat from the left.
New York Times’ Maggie Haberman said the sketchy story left unclear when Giuliani obtained the document.
Politico’s Jake Sherman added, yes, and how did Rudy get it?
Liberal Times columnist Michelle Goldberg responded, you’re really going to help Giuliani and Steve Bannon wonder this bull through the news cycle.
Senator Ted Cruz today accused Twitter of an obvious and transparent attempt to influence the election and of hypocrisy for allowing shoddy or stories about other politicians.
A top producer for MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell tweeted, no one should link to or share the New York Post report, but such efforts may be backfiring bringing even more attention to this story, Bret.
BAIER: OK, Howie, thank you.
Now, the reaction from the Biden campaign. Correspondent Peter Doocy has the latest tonight from Wilmington, Delaware.
PETER DOOCY, FOX NEWS CHANNEL CORRESPONDENT: Joe Biden brought a story about his son Hunter on the campaign trail this week.
BIDEN: The reason I went home is the same reason why all you do, or try to, and that is that to be there in the evening when my kids went to bed. In the morning, my son Beau, my son Hunter and my daughter Ashley.
DOOCY: He defended Hunter on the debate stage.
BIDEN: My son like a lot of people, like a lot of people you know at home had a drug problem. He’s overtaken it, he’s fixed it, he’s worked on it and I’m proud of him.
DOOCY: And now his campaign claims they can’t find any evidence to support reporting that Hunter introduced his dad then vice president to a Ukrainian business partner.
“We’ve reviewed Joe Biden’s official schedules from the time and no meeting as alleged by the New York Post ever took place.”
The campaign also insists previous investigations about wrongdoing cleared Biden whose focus at a fundraiser today was on a phone call, telling donors “Just got off the phone with Warren Buffett and talking about how we’re in a position unlike we were 50, 70, 80 years ago to lead the whole damn world in a way that no one else can.”
For months, Biden has favored virtual or small socially distanced events while calling out large Trump rallies.
BIDEN: So reckless.
DOOCY: COVID-19 cases have been linked to multiple Trump vents and now, a Biden event as well. At least, one COVID-19 case has reportedly been traced to a stop Biden made at the end of last month in Minnesota.
BIDEN: Hello Minnesota, it’s good to be back.
DOOCY: As Biden’s running mate Kamala Harris attends Supreme Court confirmation hearings, Biden says, Amy Coney Barrett shouldn’t be confirmed but that she “Seems like a decent person.” And despite Biden’s big lead over Trump in the polls.
BIDEN: Well, you know, I’m one of those superstitious guys, it isn’t over till it’s over.
DOOCY: It’s a day closer to being over but Biden is not in a battleground state, instead he’s here at home in Delaware. He is going to deliver pre- taped remarks to a Muslims Making Change event this evening and of course, he did attend that virtual fundraiser with 37 donors, Bret.
BAIER: Peter Doocy in Wilmington. Peter, thanks.
President Trump is once again spending the dinner hour on the road tonight making campaign stop in Des Moines, Iowa. He’s scheduled to be — to speak as to as many as 10,000 people at the top of the hour. The Hunter Biden story I’m sure would come up.
Chief White House correspondent John Roberts joins us now. Good evening, John. We can bet that that’s probably going to be in the repertoire tonight.
JOHN ROBERTS, FOX NEWS CHANNEL CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I would think so. You know, Bret, you and I both been aboard Air Force One and we both know that they serve good food aboard that aircraft, so it’s not the worst place to spend yet another dinner hour. But the president keeping up an intensive schedule in these last three weeks of the campaign and he’s got something new to chew over with voters tonight.
ROBERTS: As the president left for a rally in Iowa tonight, his campaign and White House officials pumping up reports in the New York Post about Hunter Biden’s e-mails that suggest Hunter introduced his father Joe Biden to Ukrainian energy executive and colleague on the board of Burisma.
ALYSSA FARAH, WHITE HOUSE STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Well, listen, Vice President Biden’s got some serious questions to answer and I hope that the media will actually press him on this.
ROBERTS: This afternoon, the report was partially censored by Facebook and Twitter. Missouri Senator Josh Hawley, a member of the Homeland Security Committee, tweeting, “This is amazing. Now, Twitter joins Facebook in censoring the New York Post reporting on Biden. You almost get the idea, big tech wants to buy this election.”
The president expected to talk more about it in Iowa though making attacks on Hunter Biden stick to his father Joe has proven difficult.
President Trump is also expected to praise his pick for the Supreme Court tonight. The president very happy with what he has seen so far in confirmation hearings.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And Amy is doing a fantastic job. Amy I think is doing an incredible job.
ROBERTS: President Trump hoping a swift confirmation will energize his base to come out and vote.
The RealClearPolitics polling average showing the race neck and neck in Iowa, a state the president won by nearly 10 points in 2016.
In Johnstown, Pennsylvania last night, President Trump looking to turn around his fortunes with suburban women, appealing to them with his message of law and order.
TRUMP: I ask you to do me a favor. Suburban women, will you please like me?
Remember? Please, please. I saved your damn neighborhood, OK?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald J. Trump.
ROBERTS: The president today focusing on getting America back to work, speaking to a group of economic clubs, insisting that despite trials of two coronavirus vaccines temporarily being put on hold, the nation is still on track for mass inoculation.
TRUMP: We’re on track to deliver at least 100 million doses of a vaccine before the end of the year with hundreds of millions more to quickly follow.
ROBERTS: The president warning of a dramatic decline in economic growth if he is defeated in November.
TRUMP: The choice facing America is simple. It’s the choice between historic prosperity under my pro-American policies, or very crippling poverty and a steep depression under the radical left, and that’s what you’ll have, it’s a depression.
ROBERTS: Polls continue to show that voters trust President Trump more than they do Joe Biden to handle the economy. The president is going to need that trust if he hopes to win reelection.
In an interview that will air very soon on CBS News, Dr. Anthony Fauci, saying it will likely not be until April that a coronavirus vaccine is widely available. So, that means that the economy will probably not go into a full recovery until some months from now.
And Bret, just going through the experts of the president’s speech that he will give in Des Moines, nothing specific about Hunter Biden in the excerpts, though expect the president probably will go there tonight.
BAIER: John Roberts, live on the North Lawn. John, thanks.
First Lady Melania Trump, says her 14-year-old son, Barron, has tested positive for coronavirus but has no symptoms. Officials initially said he had tested negative after both of his parents tested positive earlier this month.
The first lady says subsequent testing showed Barron has also come down with COVID-19. She says her latest test came back negative. Late today, President Trump was asked about all of this, he said his son Barron is just fine.
Up next, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee on today’s hearings and the other big news of the day. First, here is what some of our Fox affiliates around the country are covering tonight.
Fox 2 in Saint Louis as the husband-and-wife charged with felonies for waving guns at protesters marching on their private street, plead not guilty. Mark and Patricia McCloskey were indicted by a grand jury last week on charges of unlawful use of a weapon and tampering with evidence.
Fox 29 in Philadelphia, city officials reach an agreement to close a homeless encampment that has occupied the Benjamin Franklin Parkway since June 10th. An estimated 150 people have agreed to leave their tents by the end of the week.
And this is a live look at San Francisco from our affiliate out there, Fox 2, the big story there tonight. Pacific Gas & Electric warns more than
54,000 customers in 24 countries that they may lose their electricity starting tonight — that means counties.
The nation’s largest utility is expected to make a decision on whether to implement preemptive electricity cuts to prevent fires during extremely high fire conditions featuring heat, bone-dry humidity, and high winds.
That’s tonight’s live look “OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY” from SPECIAL REPORT. We’ll be right back.
BAIER: Joining us now to talk about today’s big stories, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, interviewing Judge Amy Coney Barrett today and yesterday, John Kennedy, Republican Senator from Louisiana. Senator, thanks for being here.
SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R-LA): You bet, Bret.
BAIER: First, I want to ask you about the judge, how you think it has gone, how she has kind of survived some of the tough questions on the Democratic side, and where you think this is right now?
KENNEDY: Well, after about 20 hours of testimony, I think any fair-minded person would have to conclude that Judge Barrett is eminently qualified.
She is a very impressive intellect. She has integrity, she has a wonderful judicial temperament, and she has a very studied, disciplined judicial philosophy.
Now, I happen to agree with it. But even if you don’t agree with her judicial philosophy, it’s not some frivolous belief she spent a lot of time thinking and writing about it, and she’ll be a great addition to United States Supreme Court.
BAIER: This is the vice presidential nominee, Senator Kamala Harris, talking about this process. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Sadly, my Senate Republican colleagues are doing, I believe, great harm with this illegitimate process. And if they are successful, it has the potential to do great damage. And I believe that damages to the people of our country and to the United States Supreme Court.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: You know, I asked Senator Tillis this last night. I think everyone believes that if Democrats were in the same position that they would move forward to fill the vacancies. But what would Republicans do in this same position on the side the Democrats are now if it was a President Obama filling the seat, 20 days before an election?
KENNEDY: Well, if you — if you look at the history, here is what I think it shows. When the Democrats are in control, and by that, I mean they have control of the presidency and the Senate. And there’s a vacancy on the United States Supreme Court, they feel the vacancy. They do what they think is right and that means to them filling the vacancy.
I think you can say the same thing about the Republicans. I think that’s what our founders intended. The provisions of the constitution about vacancies on the United States Supreme Court are unaffected by the electoral Cabinet.
When there’s a vacancy, if the president chooses to fill it and nominate someone, then the Senate advises and consents. And that’s all we’re doing.
We’re following the Constitution.
BAIER: All right, Senator, I want to ask you about this other story that’s breaking. The New York Post, I’m sure you’ve read it about these e-mails allegedly from Hunter Biden’s computer that talk about a meeting with Joe Biden, and what the company expects Hunter Biden to do for it.
There’s other stuff on that computer as well. We can’t get to the providence of how it gets to the FBI and how it gets to Rudy Giuliani through an attorney, we’re trying to dig into this, and a lot to learn.
But Twitter and Facebook have prevented people from linking to it. I want to get your take on the story and about the social media reaction to it.
KENNEDY: Three points, Bret. Number one, these accusations are as serious as four heart attacks and a stroke. Now, we’re talking about a major party nominee to — for president of the United States of America with an election right around the corner. And every single solitary responsible news organization, needs to be investigating the veracity of these allegations and these e-mails.
Number two, the New York Post is a responsible reputable news organization.
It is subject to the libel laws and the defamation laws of our country. If social media is playing favorites here, and trying to pick winners and losers, and discriminating against the New York Post because it doesn’t like the article, that is wrong. If that’s what’s going on.
Number three, while we’re trying to figure this out, here’s what we do know, and it’s important. President Obama put Vice President Biden in charge of the America’s foreign affairs with two countries: Ukraine and China. And in both cases, his son, Mr. Hunter Biden, walked away with millions of dollars of contracts.
I’m not accusing anybody of anything. But I’m telling you this, this is the message it sent to the rest of the world. The foreign policy of the United States of America can be bought like a sack of potatoes. And that’s a disservice to America and to the world.
BAIER: Were this close to an election we’re trying to get to the authenticity of these e-mails, the Biden campaign said, the meeting didn’t happen by their calendar. They haven’t pushed back on the authenticity of the computer. But do you have problems, Senator, that the Treasury Department called the man that was meeting with Rudy Giuliani an active Russian agent for more than a decade? Do you — do you have problems with the story, 20 days from an election as we are looking into the authenticity of all of this?
KENNEDY: Well, here, I think many people have questions right now, Bret. We want to get this right. It’s important that we get this right. But there’s an answer. Every responsible news organization in America, and frankly, the world needs to be investigating the veracity of these accusations and those e-mails. This is important and we need to get this right. And that’s why we have the First Amendment. And while we have a free and fair — supposedly fair media.
BAIER: Senator Kennedy, we appreciate your time. We promise you, we’re in the process of digging as well.
KENNEDY: Thank you, Bret.
Up next, the dispute over whether President Trump has ordered the Justice Department to release its findings on what he calls the Russia hoax.
BAIER: The Trump administration is welcoming the release of two U.S.
citizens from Iran backed Houthi fighters in Yemen. First reported by “The Wall Street Journal,” Sandra Loli and Mikael Gidada were freed in exchange for the return of more than 200 militants in Yemen, the remains of another American also being repatriated.
If President Trump wins reelection, he might be in the market for a new attorney general. That is the word on the street. Correspondent David Spunt is with us tonight from the Justice Department. Good evening, David. What are they saying about that?
DAVID SPUNT, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Bret, good evening. Quite a story, a senior administration official tells FOX News they are defending Attorney General Bill Barr after President Trump criticized him in an interview airing on “Newsmax” this evening. The president said reportedly he is, quote, “not happy” and he has no comment when asked if he would keep Attorney General Bill Barr for a second term.
I want to read this statement from this administration official to FOX News. It says, quote, “The great irony in the president’s remarks is he is only a position to complain because Bill Barr saved his presidency and everyone knows it.” The president, upset with the Justice Department in recent weeks, put out a tweet last week, quote, “I have fully authorized the total declassification of any and all documents pertaining to the single greatest political crime in American history, the Russia Hoax.
Likewise, the Hillary Clinton email scandal. No reductions!”
But this week attorneys with the Justice Department in a court filing said hold on, the declassification of information were not in order to the Department of Justice to declassify materials in this case. I’m told they will declassify on an as-need basis.
But Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, he says he is on a mission to declassify and release some emails from his predecessor, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. And Bret, he says this is not political. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: We’ll continue to do the right thing.
We’ll make sure that all these emails get to the right place and we will do everything we can to make sure that the American people get a chance to see as much as we can equitably produce.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SPUNT: Bret, Secretary of State Pompeo says that he is not on any timetable to release any emails, but he will do so until he is no longer secretary of state. Bret?
BAIER: Within 20 days, we think.
We also understand the Department of Justice may have come up dry in this investigation into unmasking?
SPUNT: Yes, “The Washington Post,” Bret, reporting that this unmasking investigation is not yielding any charges, and there will be no report.
This is something President Trump has talked about extensively. We first reported on this unmasking back in May. We reported that several Obama era officials at top levels requested to reveal the name or unmask someone in a report that turned out to be former national security advisor Michael Flynn. Attorney General Bill Barr farmed out the investigation into the U.S. attorney in west Texas, John Bash. Bash left the Department of Justice last week. The DOJ is declining to comment on that investigation.
And Bret, more news from the Department of Justice tonight. Just a few hours ago the Senate intelligence committee released some transcripts of FBI interviews with former DOJ employee Bruce Ohr. He was involved as what was called the back channel for the Steele dossier. We are told that in those notes, Ohr let people know at DOJ, the FBI and the Hillary Clinton campaign some of the contents of that Steele dossier. And we also found out that Bruce Ohr left the department. He quit two weeks ago. Bret?
BAIER: It’s like drinking from a fire hose here, David. But we don’t think that there’s any summary or anything from John Durham coming out in the next 20 days?
SPUNT: At this point, we have heard for a year-and-a-half, almost a year- and-a-half, that this John Durham investigation would be wrapping up. I was told by a source it would be wrapping up by the end of summer. I said when is that going to be. They said summer ends September 21st. There was not report there.
The latest we are getting from several sources over here at the Justice Department, it does not appear that this is going to come before the election. After all, as you said, the election just three weeks away. Of course, things could always change, but at this point it doesn’t look like it. Bret?
BAIER: OK, David Spunt at the Department of Justice. David, thank you.
Up next, the latest on coronavirus relief negotiations on Capitol Hill.
First, beyond our borders tonight. As talks between Great Britain and the European Union over a post Brexit trade agreement remain unsettled, an EU summit begins Thursday. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that date as a deadline for a deal.
And the first of its kind clergy sex abuse trial begins in the Vatican’s Criminal Tribunal. A priest accused of molesting an altar boy, another priest accused of covering it up. The scandal is considered particularly grave because the abuse allegedly occurred within Vatican City itself.
Just some of the stories beyond our borders tonight. We’ll be right back.
BAIER: The Dow lost 166 today, the S&P 500 was off 23, the Nasdaq dropped 95.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she had a productive discussion with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin about a new coronavirus relief package.
Congressional Correspondent Chad Pergram live on Capitol Hill with what that means. What is productive? Chad, good evening.
CHAD PERGRAM, FOX NEWS PRODUCER: Hey there, Bret, good evening. Well, it probably is in the eye of the beholder on that front here. There are a lot of Democrats who are pressuring House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to get some sort of deal, and she is being defensive about it. Listen.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Even members of your own caucus, Madam Speaker, want to accept this deal, $1.8 trillion. Congress Ro Khanna, for example —
REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D-CA) HOUSE SPEAKER: I don’t know why you’re always an apologist, and many of your colleagues, apologists for the Republican position. Ro Khanna, that’s nice. That isn’t what we are going to do, and nobody is waiting until February. I want this very much now because people need help now.
PERGRAM: Pelosi and Mnuchin talked again today for an hour, they will speak again tomorrow. They’ve been talking almost daily since mid- September, but chasms remain.
STEVEN MNUCHIN, TREASURY SECRETARY: Getting something done before the election and executing on that would be difficult just given where we are in the level of details, but we are going to continue to work through these issues.
PERGRAM: President Trump this week implored lawmakers to, quote, go big or go home on a coronavirus bill. Now, that was a 180 for the president. He had canceled coronavirus negotiations. He urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to focus only on confirming Amy Coney Barrett. But then McConnell announced the Senate would consider a thin $500 billion coronavirus bill next week. Democrats are confused.
SEN. DICK DURBIN, (D-IL) SENATE MINORITY WHIP: It would sure be great if the president and Senator McConnell were speaking to one another and had a common approach. What I hear from Senator McConnell is, once again, take a little piece and be satisfied. And what I hear from the president is just the opposite. Can the two of them sit down and agree, wouldn’t that be a breakthrough?
PERGRAM: Pelosi is reluctant to deal. The reason — she only wants to go through this process once. Going through it twice is a lot harder. Bret?
BAIER: OK, we’ll follow it. Chad, thank you.
Up next, the panel rejoins me — joins me for the first time, to look at day three of the Barrett confirmation hearings and also this breaking news about that “New York Post” story.
BAIER: You’re looking live, Des Moines, Iowa, Air Force One getting ready to land there. The president will hold an event in which we are just hearing that he will change his speech about adding this Hunter Biden story that’s in “The New York Post.” Among other things about Joe Biden, the president will say, quote, “He lied to you over and over and over because he is trying to cover up a massive pay for play scandal at the heart of his vice presidency.” This is about a “New York Post” story, you can see the cover of the story about emails that they say they recovered from a computer, a man who had a computer shop who he says Hunter Biden comes into the shop with the computer, leaves it. It is a long, sordid, and, frankly, sketchy tale about how this all comes to be. Here is the owner of that computer shop talking about how it gets to the FBI.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, JOURNALIST: Do you think it was wrong for him to take that position, knowing that it was because that company wanted access to you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why did you flag the FBI?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fear, a lot of fear.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And then again, “The New York Post” said that you then later handed over the copy to the Giuliani attorney.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If that’s what it says.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any thought Giuliani could provide some type of publicity or cover for you? Or —
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have no comment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: OK, the first sound bite you heard was Savannah Guthrie. We’ll get to that in a bit, with Joe Biden. We are here with our panel, Charlie Hurt, Marc Thiessen, A.B. Stoddard. OK, where are we on this? We are trying to figure out the authenticity of this story, we are trying to figure out the authenticity of the emails. The Biden campaign put out a statement saying that the meeting between this Burisma official and Vice President Biden never happened according to their calendar. They didn’t get into the authenticity of the emails.
Charlie, what do you think about this 20 days from an election?
CHARLES HURT, OPINION EDITOR, “WASHINGTON TIMES”: Well, I guess it’s maybe another example of 2020. It is definitely strange. And yes, there are parts of this story that seem a little bit sketchy, but not nearly as sketchy as the idea that the son of the vice president would get $50,000 a month from a Ukrainian gas company and not do something for them on their behalf using his connections to the White House.
There are lots and lots of questions that need to be answered here, but the only wrong answer to this is to not try to get to the bottom of it. And the idea that you have social media companies wanting to censor this stuff, not only is it completely idiotic and a violation of everything that we believe in about free speech and open debate, robust debate, in an election, I also think it won’t work because you’re not holding back interesting, curious information like this by squelching certain Twitter or Facebook users.
BAIER: Here’s what Senator Kennedy said about all of that just moments ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN KENNEDY, (R-LA): These accusations are as serious as four heart attacks and stroke. Every responsible news organization in America and, frankly, the world needs to be investigating the veracity of these accusations and those emails.
This is important, and we need to get this right. And that’s why we have the First Amendment and why we have a free and fair, supposedly fair, media.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: A.B., your thoughts on this? We’re in a world where obviously Russia tried to interfere in the 2016 election. The Treasury Department, as I mentioned to Senator Kennedy, identified someone that was interacting with Rudy Giuliani who was a Russian agent for years. There is a sensitivity to it, but yet it could be authentic. We are looking into it.
A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, REAL CLEAR POLITICS: Right. Well, there were a lot of warnings given by our own government to Rudy Giuliani as well as Senator Ron Johnson, who has been investigating Burisma and Hunter Biden about their sources and about the fact that they are dealing with people who are conduits for Russian disinformation in that current campaign against Joe Biden in the 2020 election.
That aside, if this were to be true, it is not a pay-to-play scandal, and it is not a heart attacks and stroke and a big pile like Senator Kennedy described because “The New York Post” got it wrong about Vice President Biden. He was behind an international coalition to get rid of a prosecutor general who was not investigating corruption in Ukraine, in many companies, including Burisma. Had that happened, it would have been a problem for Burisma, and therefore Hunter Biden.
Part of the group supporting that coalition included Republicans like Senator Ron Johnson, and it’s documented from 2016 that he was behind it.
“The New York Post” reported that incorrectly in the piece. What you played that clip from Savannah Guthrie, what this arrangement was about was absolute influence peddling, nepotism that is completely legal and that our government permits.
BAIER: Let me just play that soundbite. I think we can recue that, the Savannah Guthrie soundbite, and then we’ll hear the Joe Biden stuff, and then I will show this email that, again, we are trying to get to the authenticity of it. Take a listen to Savannah Guthrie’s interview.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, JOURNALIST: Do you think it was wrong for him to take that position, knowing that it was really because that company wanted access to you?
JOE BIDEN, (D) PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: That’s not true. You’re saying things you do not know what you’re talking about. No one said that. Who said that?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: All right, so in one of these emails, Hunter and Vadym Pozharskyi says “We urgently need your advice on how you could use her influence to convey a message, a signal to stop what we consider politically motivated actions.” Again, the company trying to use Hunter Biden.
STODDARD: That’s likely why he was paid a bunch of money every month, but it is important to remember that all of this, although it is incredibly wrong, is legal. Jared Kushner and Ivanka made $350 million —
BAIER: Marc, let me get you to weigh in.
STODDARD: — in this administration while working inside the White House on staff.
MARC THIESSEN, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: Here’s the problem with A.B.’s analysis, which is this does touch on Joe Biden, because Joe Biden was told by Amos Hochstein, by his own son that he was working for Burisma.
He knew that his son was making money off of his name.
And we just heard during the Coney Barrett hearings all the Senate Democrats say you have to recuse yourself on Obamacare and you have to recuse yourself in the election because of an appearance of a conflict of interest. What about Joe Biden? He had at least the appearance of a conflict of interest because his son was making millions of dollars from Burisma that was fighting this prosecutor. So even if he did nothing wrong, he had the appearance of a conflict of interest, and Democrats are complete hypocrites on this.
BAIER: The time is running out, Marc, but the headline from your interview with President Trump.
THIESSEN: It is a fascinating interview, a side of President Trump you don’t see. And the really most interesting part is he talked about, something I’m never see him talk about, how he plans to unite the country if he wins reelection, because there’s 56 percent of the country says they are better off now than they were four years ago, which is during a pandemic. He thinks that if he can win reelection, the Democrats are going to come around to start working with him, and he talks about how he can do that.
BAIER: All right, panel, sorry we ran out of time. Thank you.
When we come back, something to agree about at the Amy Coney Barrett hearings.
BAIER: I’m was going to play a soundbite from Judge Barrett saying she needed to a glass —
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