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This is a rush transcript of “Fox News Sunday” on April 10, 2022. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
DANA PERINO, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: I’m Dana Perino.
Russia attacks civilians trying to flee war, and here in Washington, COVID hits the heart of government.
PERINO (voice-over): Russian forces shell an evacuation point, leaving thousands dead and more wounded, as the U.N. suspends Russia from its Human Rights Council and the West plans more sanctions.
Plus, from the House speaker, to the Senate come to the cabinet, and even the West Wing, COVID is whipping through Washington.
KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This nomination is confirmed.
PERINO: And a milestone for the high court as Congress confirms a history- making nominee.
But lawmakers now head home with key priorities still up in the air.
We’ll discuss with White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki.
Then, Republicans try to link the end of COVID-era protections on the border to Democrats calls for new COVID spending while Republican border state governors threatened to bus migrants to the steps of the U.S. Capitol.
GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R), TEXAS: Let’s continue the ride all the way to Washington, D.C.
JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think it’s pretty clear this is a publicity stunt.
PERINO: We’ll sit down with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on immigration, midterms, and what he’ll do if Republicans take the Senate.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): We need to make sure we have fully electable candidates nominated.
PERINO: Then, we’ll ask our Sunday panel about vulnerable Senate Democrats pushing back on Biden’s border plan.
Just year after frightening rollover crash, Tiger tees up as American tunes in.
All, right now, on “FOX News Sunday.”
PERINO (on camera): And hello again from FOX News.
Changes to Russia’s military strategy in Ukraine have the West preparing for even heavier fighting in the weeks and months ahead. This as the president faces headwinds on issues like inflation, high energy prices, and the border that are complicating the environment for Democrats ahead of the midterms.
In a moment, we’ll speak live with White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki.
But we begin with team coverage this morning, Jeff Paul is live in Lviv, Ukraine, where Russia is intensifying pressure in the east and south.
But first, Lucas Tomlinson live at the White House with a look at the challenges facing President Biden.
Good morning, Lucas.
LUCAS TOMLINSON, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Dana, President Biden signed bills to end normal trade relations with Russia, to ban Russian oil imports not long after a Russian missile strike killed 50 people at a train station in eastern Ukraine.
KATE BEDINGFIELD, WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: For every Russian tank in Ukraine, there are ten U.S.-provided antitank systems in the country.
TOMLINSON (voice-over): The White House defending its strategy to help Ukraine as leaders their beg for more weapons from the U.S. and NATO.
At home, the administration facing backlash over plans to drop the Trump era public health measure known as Title 42, which bars migrants from entering the country during the pandemic. Moderate summit Democrats cosponsoring a bill to delay lifting a measure while asking the White House to submit a plan to deal with the border surge.
SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): I don’t think Section 42 should be removed until we have secured borders, period.
TOMLINSON: The scale back of some health protocols coming as COVID strikes D.C. Lawmakers and cabinet members testing positive, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who was in close proximity to the president.
PSAKI: Like anyone else, the president may at some point test positive for COVID.
TOMLINSON: The White House celebrate in one major win this week as Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson became the first Black woman confirmed as a Supreme Court justice.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: People of every generation, of every race, of every background, felt this moment and they feel it now.
JUDGE KETANJI BROWN JACKSON, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE DESIGNATE: I am just the very lucky first inheritor of the dream of liberty and justice for all.
TOMLINSON: President Biden plans to visit Iowa on Tuesday, his first visit there since the 2020 election, of course, a critical state in 2024 — Dana.
PERINO: Indeed, it is. Lucas Tomlinson reporting from the White House. Lucas, thank you.
Now, let’s turn to Jeff Paul. He’s live in Lviv, Ukraine, with an update from that country.
Good morning, Jeff.
JEFF PAUL, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Dana. The capital city here in Ukraine is now liberated but the devastation left behind by Russian forces and now the intensified fighting we are seeing in the east is seemingly sending this work into a new phase.
PAUL (voice-over): They are the sounds of panic, fear, and death. Missile strikes hitting a train station in Kramatorsk, Ukraine, packed with thousands fleeing the war.
OLEKSANDR KACHURA, UKRAINIAN RESIDENT: It was chaos, a crush, people running in different directions.
PAUL: Ukrainian officials say the Russian attack killed more than 50. Among the dead, five children.
IRYNA VENEDIKTOVA, UKRAINE PROSECUTOR GENERAL: They just kill civilians to scare them. Did not let them, don’t let them, for evacuation, to evacuate themselves and their families.
PAUL: Ukrainian forces say the strike is not only further evidence of war crimes on top of the scattered civilian bodies recently discovered in Bucha, but, of Russia’s focus on the don box, where the fighting is only getting worse.
Russia’s strikingly admitting the war is taking a severe toll on its troops.
DMITRY PESKOV, KREMLIN SPOKESPERSON: Yes, we have — we have significant losses of troops and it’s a huge tragedy for us.
PAUL: As a result, Putin appears to be calling on Captain General Alexander Dvornikov for a refocused offensive in the east.
Saturday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy welcomed a visit from U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
The two discussed a new package of financial and military aid, a topic President Zelenskyy continues to hammer as he pleads to world leaders for help.
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: Any delay to supply these weapons to Ukraine, regardless of any excuses, might mean only one thing, that such politicians want to help Russian authorities more than us.
PAUL: Now, Zelenskyy also spoke with “60 Minutes” this week.
Meanwhile, Western intelligence officials say the day to keep in mind is May 9th. They believe Vladimir Putin will want to declare some sort of victory in Ukraine then, a date that coincides with Russia’s victory over Nazi Germany during World War II — Dana.
PERINO: Jeff Paul reporting from Ukraine — Jeff, thank you.
And joining us now is White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki.
Welcome back to “FOX News Sunday”. It’s really great to have you. Appreciate you getting up on a Sunday morning. I know how busy your job is.
We have news now that —
JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Thank you, Dana. Great to be here.
PERINO: We know that Vladimir Putin is going to reposition. He’s regrouping.
He’s — now, he has a new general. This is the general who was in charge of Russia’s part of the Syria war. He is brutal.
We know that there is sheer destruction of cities and towns. That civilians are being killed at will.
If this conflict is changing, and if we’re looking at a May 9th sort of victorious announcement from Putin, is it the president’s position still that Putin must lose this war? And if so, will the president try to get Zelenskyy what he says he needs?
PSAKI: Well, let me first say that you’re absolutely right, Dana. The reports we’re seeing of a change in military leadership and putting a general in charge who was responsible for the brutality and the atrocities we saw in Syria shows that there’s going to be a continuation of what we’ve already seen on the ground in Ukraine and that’s what we are expecting.
I will tell you that what we are doing from the United States, from our military, is we are assessing, reviewing every single day the requests from the Ukrainian military and Ukrainian leadership. Just this week, our national security advisor, our secretary — and our chairman of the Joint Chiefs had a two-hour call with their counterparts to go through, item by item, exactly what the Ukrainians were requesting, what they wanted.
If we can’t meet what they need, we’re working with our allies and partners, as we did with the S300 and the backfilling of that with the Patriot battery this week. We’re going to continue to do that so we can equip them on the battlefield and continue the success we’ve seen today.
PERINO: I’m imagining that you probably had interaction with Dmitry Peskov. That’s the spokesperson from Russia who is just saying that they’ve suffered military losses. You probably — either you’re dealt with him when you were in the Obama administration, at the State Department, or as White House press secretary.
I thought that was very interesting. We have not heard them say that or admit that. Do you — what you make of that?
PSAKI: I agree. Dana, we agree that that was interesting. Rarely do they acknowledge from the Russian leadership any elements of weakness or any elements of defeat.
And while we need to continue to stay at it and getting Ukrainians exactly what they need, the military equipment they need, rallying the world to do that as this war continues, it is also significant that the Ukrainians have essentially won the battle of Kyiv.
They’ve protected their city and that is because of their bravery, their courage, but it is also because of the supplies, the military equipment, everything — we’ve expedited $1.7 billion worth from the United States, and a commitment and dedication of the American people to this war.
So — but yes, it was significant, we noted that. For a government that is known for their use of propaganda, I’ve been a victim of that myself — the acknowledgments of weakness here, the acknowledgment of losses is certainly a reflection of the power and the courage of the Ukrainian people and leaders.
PERINO: And perhaps something that they’re actually now trying to — that news is reaching back into Russia.
But speaking of Russia, they are at the table as part of the negotiations with the Iran — Iranians, and working as the Biden administration works on reviving that deal. But President Biden has called Vladimir Putin a war criminal and Russia would stand to gain billions if they were to hold this uranium.
Can this continue? Can Russia continued to be at the table for these Iran negotiations?
PSAKI: Well, Dana, here’s how we look at it, and you know this from your many past experiences — diplomacy, foreign affairs, it’s complicated. And this is an example of that.
We believe, and I think most of the global community believes that preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon is in our national interest and our global interest.
The president is only going to agree to a deal if it is a good deal. But we have dealing with the experiment of President Trump pulling out of the deal, and what we’ve seen is a lack of visibility. Iran has made great progress in being able to move towards acquiring a nuclear weapon. That’s not in our interest.
Russia has been a member of the P5+1. They have been an implementing — played an implementation role. That’s what we’re talking about and what’s been under discussion in these negotiations.
We don’t know that we will come to an agreement, though. It’s ongoing and we’re still considering it.
PERINO: The Iranian parliament this morning said that it would need a written guarantee approved by Congress that the USA will not exit the deal if it is revived.
Would President Biden agree to that and could that even pass this Congress?
PSAKI: Well, I think if we get to a point where there is a deal that the president feels is in our national security interests, we will, of course, address and determine what needs to go through Congress. But there are — there are some final components that are being negotiated in the deal.
We’re not quite there yet. There’s more than one, and I’m not going to prejudge those or negotiate from here at this point.
PERINO: All right.
And we talk (ph) this week, of course, there’s bipartisan pushback against that deal.
But let’s move to the economy. The White House touting a very low unemployment number, at 3.6 percent. That’s quite remarkable.
But Larry Summers, the former treasury secretary, says that we are dangerously behind the curve, at the Fed at least, and he writes that: Over the past 75 years, every time inflation has exceeded 4 percent and unemployment has been below 5 percent, the U.S. economy has gone into recession within two years. Today, inflation is north of 6 percent and unemployment is south of 4 percent.
Deutsch Bank this week was the first big Wall Street firm to come out and say we should prepare for a recession in 2023.
Is the White House preparing for a recession?
PSAKI: Well, we’re going to constantly monitor our economic data, but what our economic feels and what the U.S. government economic team feels is that the economy has a very strong basis. Our recovery has been incredible strong on most measures. We created more jobs last year than any year in American history. The unemployment rate was 3.6 percent the last time it was measured just a few weeks ago.
We also know though that costs are too high, that’s how people across the country, of course, experience inflation, and we need to take steps to address that, and there are steps the president has been taking, from fixing the family glitch to make sure people have lower cost of health care, to even extending the student loan pause, to make sure that even as our economy is continuing to recover, we’re reducing costs.
So we’re going to continue to address that, but we feel our economy has a strong basis right now. And we’ll continue to monitor. It’s very important for the government to do exactly that.
PERINO: Speaking of student loans, on December 11th of last year, you had said that getting loan rate payment back on track was the goal. Let’s listen here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PSAKI: We’re still assessing the impact of the omicron variant. But a smooth transition back into repayment is a high priority for the administration.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PERINO: So, setting aside any questions about moral hazard, the economy is — we’ve got a lot of jobs open, wages are up, they are able to figure out a way to get to 3.6 percent unemployment.
What changed between then and now?
PSAKI: Well, this is something that the Department of Education continues to assess. We continue to assess from a policy level.
And while the basics of the economy, all that data you mentioned and I’ve been talking about, Dana, is very strong, we also know and acknowledge that costs are too high for families across the country and that’s something we need to redouble, continue to focus our efforts on.
And certainly, while there isn’t — it isn’t everybody in the country who has student loans, a lot of people do, and this is a period of time where the president, the Department of Education made the decision to continue the pause repayments, and we’ll continue to assess as we get closer to the next deadline in August.
PERINO: Do you think that if you hold student loan debt right now, that you will ever have to make a payment during the Biden administration?
PSAKI: I suspect that sometime you will, but again, we are going to continue to assess every month, every few months on where things stand, both looking, of course, at COVID, but also economic data and where we need to continue to help give the American people some breathing room.
PERINO: So, speaking of COVID. So, COVID is being used as one of the reasons to continue allowing student loan borrowers to not have to pay, but then when you go to the border and Title 42, which was the pandemic era from — that President Trump put it that said you can be expelled from the country if you come from a COVID area.
So, now, the administration is saying that part of it — that part is over, so we can lift that, and the Department of Homeland Security says that you could see up to 18,000 migrants a day.
And if you think back to last September when the Haitian migrants were there, that was about 15,000, 18,000 people. And that was just one situation.
The vulnerable Democrats that Lucas Tomlinson mentioned, they’re concerned because they say that their — they don’t see a plan from the administration on this. Do you think the Title 42 will actually get lifted?
PSAKI: Well, first, Title 42 is not an immigration plan or an immigration authority. No one in the administration thinks that. It’s an authority given to the CDC actually by Congress to make a determination about whether it should still stay in place.
We agree that the immigration system is broken. It should be addressed and we should do more to fix it.
And Democrats, moderate, wherever they fall in the party, Republicans of any flavor want to work with us on that, we’d love to do that. That’s why the president put forward a plan, an immigration reform plan on his first day in office.
I can’t make a prediction of where Congress is going to vote, but what is important right now is they are using this to hold hostage funding for COVID — COVID funding that we need in order to buy pills to help immunocompromised, to help those to ensure we can reboot our uninsured program, to make sure we have testing capacity. That’s what they are doing.
Let’s have debates. Let’s have discussions. Let’s have people come down to the White House, talk about immigration. We all want to fix it.
But we need this COVID funding, and it’s really a huge disappointed to us that the Congress is left for two weeks without passing this into law.
PERINO: Well, I think it does also so that they just feel strongly about the border as well, so that will continue.
Speaking of COVID, in about eight days, the CDC is supposed to release information — or release a decision on whether Americans will continue to have to wear masks on airlines.
Does the president have a view? Does he want to see Americans be able to lift those masks off their faces as they try to travel and get back to some normalcy?
PSAKI: Well, the president is going to wait and see with the CDC recommends, and as you said, we don’t have too much more time to way for that. So, we’ll — we’ll learn more in the coming days.
PERINO: All right. Well, I’m going to be paying attention to that.
Also this week — you know, I worked on two Supreme Court nominations myself. I know they are very rewarding, especially when they result in a way that this one did. This was a significant accomplishment for President Biden. Ketanji Brown Jackson is now going to be a Supreme Court justice.
Take a listen to one of the segments of her speech that was very touching.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUDGE KETANJI BROWN JACKSON, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE DESIGNATE: In the poetic words of Dr. Maya Angelou, I do so now while bringing the gifts my ancestors gave.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
I — I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PERINO: Can you give us any — you know, peel back the curtain? What was it like with her and President Biden behind the scenes?
PSAKI: It was — as you know, Dana, from working on these in the past, it was a very emotional day in the White House, a joyful day. And there are so many days in the White House, no matter who you work for, that are exhausting and heartbreaking and challenging because there aren’t easy answers to hard problems sometimes.
But this was an incredibly joyful day, a day we celebrated, a day many of us were ugly crying on the White House South Lawn, just celebrating this remarkable woman who is making history, but she is also so qualified to serve on the Supreme Court. So it was really a day I will remember for a long time to come.
PERINO: And she will take over after Breyer finishes up this summer.
Jen, thank you. Thank you for the time this morning.
PSAKI: Thank you. Great being with you.
PERINO: And up next, we’ll bring in our Sunday group on the impact of the war on Ukraine here in the U.S., including the economic fallout hurting you here at home.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: We want to see Mr. Putin and the Russian army lose this invasion, lose this fight inside Ukraine. It is Ukrainian territory, Ukrainian sovereignty. It’s Ukrainian cities and lives that are being destroyed. And obviously, we want to see that end and we want to see Ukraine whole again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PERINO: Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby on where the U.S. draws the line in terms of success in the war on Ukraine.
And it’s time now for our Sunday panel. FOX News senior political analyst Brit Hume, “Associated Press” executive editor Julie Pace, and former Democratic Congressman Harold Ford Jr.
Wonderful to have you all here.
Brit, yesterday, Boris Johnson, prime minister of the U.K., went to Kyiv and walked around the city with Volodymyr Zelenskyy. It was a remarkable moment and we are at a real pivotal point here. You heard that Jeff Paul was mentioning today that Putin is regrouping, he has a new general in mind, and he wants to announce some sort of victory by May 9th. That’s what the intelligence suggests.
Jen Psaki just said the United States is doing every thing that it can. Do you think that it seems that way?
BRIT HUME, FOX NEWS SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: No, I don’t think we’re doing everything we can. We’ve done a lot of the right things if our purpose is to hold off Russia and Ukraine, but the question now becomes with people now talking, as you heard John Kirby do there, about Ukraine winning this war outright. You know, for a long time may be the brave can hold the Russians off and the whole thing will end in some kind of a deal which Putin will get some of what he wants and Ukraine will have, you know, whatever is left of its country and so on.
Now, the thought is in — coming out of many mouths is outright Ukrainian victory. That will take a lot and I think it unquestionably will take more in the way of weaponry and other assistance to come out of the West, and the United States has done a lot, and it’s by far the most powerful military in the Western alliance.
But I think if Ukraine is going to win, we are going to need to do more. And the question arises whether the Biden administration will be willing to do that or is their fear of a direct conflict with Russia such that we will continue to hold back on some things, certain kinds of large weaponry, airplanes, and so forth.
PERINO: Harold, you’ve spoken passionately as many people on FOX News about the horrible images that we are seeing as we find out the reality of what Putin’s forces were doing on the ground, including the killing of those civilians, including many children, and these train station just the other day.
Now that we are at this pivotal point, what do you think the Democrats will try to do to try to push forward on this? Because you have a situation where the president, he wants to be decisive, he wants to be the leader of the free world, but Zelenskyy says I’m out here by myself, I don’t have enough help.
HAROLD FORD, JR., FORMER CONGRESSMAN (D-TN): Well, first off, happy Sunday, happy Palm Sunday.
I think Brit has this about right. I think the White House has to consider the consequences of escalation here and I think we should be doing more. Let me say that upfront.
I think a part of that doing more has to analyze this in the two elements or baskets that it should. One is the atrocity — the atrocities there, and there’s no doubt our unity amongst our NATO alliance is strong and should be — should be applauded, but it’s not stopping atrocities.
The question is, is President Biden as well as some of our European leaders and allies, they are willing to go to say, for instance, Saudi Arabia and sit with MBS and say, there’s no neutrality on Ukraine. We have to think about how we help provide more energy products so we’re not funding Russia’s efforts here in Ukraine.
And then finally, I think we, in America, have to think long and hard, and I’m a believer we should — we should produce as many energy products as we possibly can. One of the legacies of the 9/11 was that we weaned ourselves off of dependence on oil products from across the globe. We’d have to be willing, going forward, in the intermediate and long-term, to help Western Europe to the same thing.
But in the meantime, Brit is right. Are the American people ready to escalate? I think the administration probably would be, but are the American people ready to shoulder and accept the consequences, which could be worse than what we are seeing right now, can certainly see American casualties as well. I don’t know the answer to that, Dana.
PERINO: Julie, what you’re hearing about the potential for continued economic fallout? Americans are hurting from inflation, rising costs of energy, gas and groceries going up at a record pace.
JULIE PACE, ASSOCIATED PRESS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Absolutely. This is something that’s being felt both in the United States and also in Europe. You know, we have an election underway in France right now, today, the first round of that French election, which could be one of the first tests of how Western citizens are going to respond to a lot of the economic pain that they are feeling, which in some instances — not all — but in some instances is a direct result of some of the actions that the U.S. and Western European countries have taken to try to hold Russia to account.
And I think it is this real question, and ongoing question as we see more images of atrocities coming out of Ukraine perpetrated by the Russians, how will Western nations, Western citizens, balance their outrage over that with their feeling of economic pain, how much economic pain are they willing to sustain in order to punish Russia for what they are seen.
And I think that’s a balance that could change in the coming months. It’s certainly one that Europeans are watching, France in particular right now, as I said. But obviously, American politicians, Democrats most acutely, in the next couple months leading up to the midterms.
PERINO: Brit, we’re watching right now, you could not ask for a better lesson learned in advance about, you know, how national security and energy policy go policy go hand-in-hand. Do you think President Biden will get to a place where he will figure out a way to buck the progressives and move forward to allow us to drill more here at home?
HUME: Well, I think he and his party are pretty much enthralled to the Green Movement and his energy policies to date have reflected that, and they have obviously — are restraining the potential of American energy production, which would be at this point I think it’s fair to say — I think Harold would agree with me, has said as much, that we need more of everything.
We need more of all the renewables and we also need more fossil fuel production, certainly for now and for the near future. And I don’t think the president is ready to go there, they will blame the oil companies for not producing enough and so on. We’ve heard that many times before, and they blame the oil companies for higher gas prices and all the rest of it.
But the best way to get gas prices down is to throw open the regulatory barriers and let the United States energy industry go, which it certainly can, and we would reclaim the energy independence we had just a few years ago, and we would also, Dana, importantly, enable us to furnish Western Europe and the countries over there now dependent on Russian energy with energy from this country that could make up the difference as they cut off the flow of Russian energy in their country, and thus — and thereby cut off the flow of Western funds into Vladimir Putin’s war chest.
PERINO: It makes sense to me. We’ll see if it makes sense to them going forward.
Thanks, panel. We have to take a break. We’ll see you back here this hour though.
When we come back, Senate Minority Mitch McConnell and Republicans strategy as the parties look to resonate and win with voters.
PERINO: We are closing in on a long primary season where we expect record- breaking fund-raising and spending as Americans face issues like inflation, high gas prices, and the threat that drawn-out conflict in Ukraine will have around the globe.
Joining us now from Kentucky, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Mr. Leader, welcome back to FOX NEWS SUNDAY.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): Good morning, Dana.
PERINO: Great to have you.
President Putin is going to regroup. He has a new general, the one from the war in Syria, that he’s going to put in charge. Apparently wants to announce something on May 9th. You have Zelenskyy vowing to continue to fight, but saying that he needs more.
The will on behalf of the Ukrainians to fight has been impressive. Do you think that President Biden’s will matches that?
MCCONNELL: Here’s the problem, Secretary Austin was repeatedly asked at a hearing last week, what is our goal there? And he could never state what I think is clearly our goal in Ukraine. We want the Ukrainians to win, to win, to defeat the Russians, the Russians to withdraw from the country, and that ought be our goal. I think administration has gotten better, but they’ve had to be pushed every step of the way to get more aggressive sooner. They are stepping up their game, but principally because of bipartisan pressure from Congress on the administration to do more, quicker.
So, I think they’re getting better, but they still don’t understand the goal. The goal is for Ukraine to win.
PERINO: And with every day the atrocities just become more stark and chilling. David Ignatius wrote this week that if the Ukrainians are determined to repel the invaders, the United States has a moral duty to do what it can to help them succeed.
Beyond that, and what you’ve just said, how important is it for China to see Putin lose here?
MCCONNELL: Well, you know, China has a choice. They can observe what’s going on, and I’m sure they are, and chose to be with the civilized world, or they can go in the direction of the Russians. I’m hopeful the Chinese will look at these challenges the Russians have experienced trying to invade another country, internalize that, and maybe make a decision they’re better off to operate around the world within the framework of the civilized world who don’t invade other countries.
PERINO: National security is energy security. We were just talking about this with the panel.
What can you do to try to push the Biden administration to try to help us get back to more independence when it comes to her own energy?
MCCONNELL: It’s really ridiculous. I mean the administration wants everybody else to produce more except us. They want us to be green, and so they’re going after our allies in the — in the Middle East, asking them to up production.
Look, we were energy independent as late as 2019. We can be energy independent again. The administration needs to take the shackles off of domestic production. We can meet our own needs, and we can export and help the Europeans as they wean themselves away from Russian oil and gas, which I think clearly now they realize is the best and safest path forward.
Putin’s invasion has done a lot to unify NATO and get the attention of NATO. And it’s also noteworthy that the secretary general of NATO has pointed out, we’re going to beef up the troops along the eastern border of NATO, the frontline countries. This has been a good lesson of the importance of NATO once again. I think some people have kind of lost sight of that over the years.
PERINO: Let’s go back over then to our country and the southern border.
There’s been a lot of talk about Title 42. This was — basically allowed the federal government to expel migrants that were trying to cross illegally, to say, no, you have to go back because of the pandemic. It’s likely this is going to go away. And, at the end of May, the Department of Homeland Security is suggesting we could see up to 18,000 migrants try to cross per day.
The Border Patrol is already completely overwhelmed. They even have those mounted police — mounted Border Patrol that were being investigated for whipping migrants. Do you know that they are still on desk duty? They do not actually get to go out and do the job that they need to do.
So, how do you see this impact of Title 42 lifting, both from a policy perspective and then, of course, I know there’s politics as well?
MCCONNELL: Yes, I mean, it’s an outrageous decision to eliminate Title 42. It will produce a gusher far beyond the open border we already have, produce a gusher of additional people coming in. Totally inconsistent, by the way, with them asking us for $10 billion for vaccines and therapeutics. And what we said in the Senate was — not just we, the Republicans, but five or six Democrats as well, let us offer an amendment to guarantee that Title 42 stays in place and we would be happy to go ahead and pass the Covid relief package, which, by the way, is paid for by repurchasing some of the $2 trillion the Democrats dumped on the economy last year, which Larry Summers has pointed out is the principal reason that we’re having 40 year high inflation.
PERINO: And Larry Summers also pointing out that we could be heading into a recession because we have low unemployment, below 4 percent. We were just talking to Jen Psaki about that. In the middle of all of this, with wages up, unemployment down, the administration has extended again student loan borrowers, they don’t have to pay again. So, this was supposed to be because of the pandemic. And here you have Bernie Sanders — that — this is — the extension is not even good enough for him. He tweeted this, cancel student debt. All of it. And that was followed by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez saying, I don’t think those folks understand a panic and disorder it causes people to get so close to these deadlines just to extending the uncertainty. It doesn’t have the effect people think it does. We should cancel them.
Where do you think this is going, sir?
MCCONNELL: Look, I think in this country it’s important to remind people that we ought to pay our debts. We ought to pay our debt. And with regard to extending the moratorium, quoting Larry Summers again, he said it’s exactly the wrong thing to do in the middle of this overheated economy, producing this rampant inflation.
This administration just can’t seem to get their act together on the economy. That’s why the American people are so down on the president. The economy, the precipitous withdrawal from Afghanistan, the domestic energy issue we’ve already been discussing, crime, problems in public education, this administration has really got its hands full and I think they’re headed toward a pretty good beating in the fall election.
PERINO: I wanted to ask you about the midterms next anyway, so you have a great way of transitioning, sir.
So, inflation, gas, and groceries, this is on everybody’s minds.
What would be different for Americans if Republicans win back the majorities in the House and Senate this year?
MCCONNELL: Well, our agenda next year, if we’re fortunate enough to be in the majority, will be focused on exactly what you and I have been talking about, crime, education, beefing up the defense of our country. The president’s request for the Defense Department, in this year’s request, doesn’t even keep up with inflation. We’ve got a war going on in Ukraine. We’ve got big power competition with the Russians and the Chinese. We need to meet the demands of the international situation.
So all of those will be on our agenda. We will not have the presidency for two more years. Obviously, we will have to work with the administration to see what we can agree on. But we want to turn the president — let me put it this way, Biden ran as a moderate. If I’m the majority leader in the Senate, and Kevin McCarthy’s the speaker of the House, we’ll make sure Joe Biden is a moderate.
PERINO: Speaking of Joe Biden, once again transitioning for me.
Mark Penn, a Democratic pollster, we asked him this week what he thought about the president ‘s poll numbers and why they were down. You’ve known the president for decades. Listen to this and I’ll get your response on the other side.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK PENN, FORMER PRESIDENT CLINTON POLLSTER: He did have this image of being a kind of a likable Uncle Joe, you know, ice cream Joe, kind of friendly. And I think he’s lost that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PERINO: Do you think he’s lost it?
MCCONNELL: Well, I think his policies have — have not worked. Beginning with the precipitous and ill-advised withdrawal from Afghanistan, which became kind of a metaphor for the incompetence that’s been on full display during this administration. None of the policies they’ve pursued have worked out well. The $2 trillion they dumped on the economy last year against the advice of economists like Larry Summers produced the 40-year wave of inflation. Everybody’s seeing that when they fill up their automobiles when they go to the grocery store. Their policies have produced a virtually open border. The previous administration did a good job at the border. They reversed all those policies that we’ve been paying the price for that. We have a crime wave in the country and their continued to promote policies that, in my view, are pretty much soft on crime.
PERINO: To be clear, when I said has he lost it, I was referring to likability is what Mark Penn said that he had lost likeability. So, we’ll see how that goes.
MCCONNELL: Yes, I —
PERINO: Do you have a thought on that?
MCCONNELL: Yes, I — I like the president personally. It’s — it’s pretty clear to me that personality is, in my view, not what’s driving his unpopularity. I think it’s the policies they’ve been pursuing.
Last night there was an endorsement from former President Trump in the Pennsylvania’s Senate Republican race. Dr. Mehmet Oz got that endorsement over Dave McCormick, who had been trying to get it.
Do you think that will affect that race?
MCCONNELL: Well, we’ll see. I think we’ve got a good choice of candidates in Pennsylvania. I think we’re in a good position to — to win that race regardless of who the nominee is. And I guess we’ll find out in the next few weeks how much this endorsement made a difference.
PERINO: And then, finally, sir, we are in a — we are in spring. It is a time for hope and renewal as Passover and Easter will be observed next weekend. In the latest NBC poll, 71 percent of people said they feel like the country is on the wrong track. So, that’s got to be made up of — that’s a bipartisan agreement there that the country is on the wrong track. I’m sure you’re often asked this question, which is, you know, do you have hope for the country? Do you think that there is a way for us to get through all the things that we’re going through and continue to thrive and be the leader of the free world?
MCCONNELL: Absolutely. Look, this is the greatest country in the world. We have these rough spots. And we’ve had them for 200 years. We always found a way to correct when we’re on the wrong path and move in a different direction. So there’s no reason to be pessimistic about America’s future. We are the most important country in the world, the freest country in the world, and let’s remember that this Easter. We have a lot to be grateful for and thankful that we are in this wonderful, wonderful country.
PERINO: A wonderful note to end it on.
Senator McConnell, thank you for your time. It’s always good to talk to you.
MCCONNELL: Thank you, Dana.
PERINO: Up next, our Sunday group returns to discuss the biggest issues in the midterms, and former President Obama has a message for Democrats.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Mr. President, what to say to Democrats worried about the midterm? What do you tell Democrats worried about the midterms?
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: We’ve got a story to tell, and you just go to tell it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PERINO: That’s former President Obama telling Democrats to make their case in the midterms despite the headwinds from the current president’s poor poll numbers.
And we’re back now with the panel.
What do you think about that advice, Brit, as the Democrats — we’re told this week not just by Obama, but by Hillary Clinton as well, that we have a great story, we have great compliments, we just don’t communicate well enough?
BRIT HUME, FOX NEWS SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I don’t think that’s really the problem. I think they do have a story to tell. I mean, after all, the economy is growing strongly, the market’s holding, jobs are being created in — in — in large numbers, or at least restored in large numbers after the — the Covid lockdowns. So, you know, there’s a story to tell.
The problem is that economic gains are pretty hard to explain to people as great news when whatever wage gains they may have and whatever wages they are earning are being gobbled up by inflation, which is, you know, like a prairie fire. It affects everybody. Nobody likes it. And the administration — and it’s happened — really it’s just blown up during the course of — of this presidency. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a political party get itself in more trouble in less time than the Democrats under Biden have been in this past year.
PERINO: Well, Julie, focus groups of Democrats this week revealed a very dispirited base. In midterms you need to turn out your base and they’re not happy. And there was this story in — I believe it was in Politico reporting that the middle class is saying inflation is crushing us. Does the White House have any policy tools, besides what Jen Psaki just said about, you know, fixing the glitch in health care. I mean I don’t think that’s going to cut it for families that are worried about the gas and grocery bill.
JULIE PACE, ASSOCIATED PRESS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: No, I mean it’s hard to see how between now and November you have a significant change in the trajectory that we’re seeing when it comes to inflation. And that is one of those things that for a White House, anyone White House, you know, it is very hard to overcome that, even with strong messaging. You know, how people feel when they go to fill up their car with gas, how they feel when they go to the grocery store. You know, it’s really hard to put some messaging that can change that reality. And so I think Democrats face a significant challenge, Biden faces a significant challenge when it comes to trying to show other points, you know, for what his administration has done. How do you say, look over here when people are saying I — but I feel this way every time I go to, you know, pull out my credit card. And, again, I think Democrats are looking to try to change some of their messaging, but I think the reality of that is going to be quite difficult in the next few months.
PERINO: Harold Ford, Jr., do you think there’s anything that they can actually practically do to change the trajectory of their midterms?
HAROLD FORD, JR., FORMER CONGRESSMAN (D-TN) AND EMPOWERMENT AND INCLUSION CAPITAL CEO: Well, I think probably one or two things, but I agree largely with what’s already been said. I think about the kind of people that should be elected. And I listened to Senator McConnell carefully. He really didn’t have an answer on how to address inflation if Republicans retain control. But he’s right, the messaging for Democrats is not — is not strong.
They’ve got a story to tell. They should tell every bit of what Brit said. But I’m looking for candidates who can tell and explained to the country in a compelling way how we will position and how we will push America back to the strength and role we’ve always played militarily and economically. How do we think about America over the next 20 years?
Democrats — and I am one — I hope we retain and built perhaps majorities. But even Republicans who win, I hope that’s what they’re doing.
I would also look at repurposing some of the money from over the last two years to maybe helping middle class families all across the country. If I were the president, I’d convene governors and mayors to the White House in small groups saying, here’s what we’re thinking what doing. How best can we do it? And there’s certainly money to be done. Put Republicans and Democrats in the House and the Senate on the mark to try to be able to help everyday families get through what will likely be a long summer and I hope not a long winter. But if we think about our energy challenges at inflation challenges, it could very well be that.
PERINO: And there has to be more that can be done to prevent fraud. $500 billion in fraud from Covid money, that is an outrage and taxpayers are right to be mad about it.
Brit, this week several media outlets finally started reporting on Hunter Biden’s laptop. The story is continuing. There is a grand jury in Delaware. You have the White House fielding questions about this regularly.
What do you think about the possibility that there is fire where all of this smoke is coming?
HUME: Well, obviously, we had influence peddling going on. That’s what Hunter Biden’s activities made clear. A lot of influence peddling is not critical, but it’s not really proper or ethical either. And the whole notion that Joe Biden was unaware of what his son was doing when, for example, he traveled aboard Air Force Two into China, what you think happened there on the airplane together and Biden says to Hunter, oh, fancy meeting you here? Obviously, he knew what was going on over there. He had to. I mean it makes — nothing else makes sense.
And this is a story that, you know, it’s potentially a big political scandal but it is obviously, no matter what, and media scandal. I mean the refusal of the media to follow up on this story when it would have made a real difference back in 2020 when it first broke is something that will mark the reputations of the media organizations who participated in suppressing that story forever I think.
PERINO: Julie, I — obviously this is a story that, you know, the White House gets asked about it. They’re very disciplined to be able to say, you know, that — you know, call the Justice Department, call Hunter Biden’s lawyers, but what are you hearing about any anxiety that they feel that this story could continue through — I’m not saying it’s hurting the president, but that has real potential to?
PACE: Well, the fact that there’s an ongoing investigation means that, you know, one, it is an ongoing story, and, two, it creates uncertainty. You know, is this going to be a situation where what Hunter Biden did was unethical or is it going to be a situation where what he did was criminal. And that kind of uncertainty hanging over a White House at any point, certainly in a midterm election year, you know, is never what you want to be watching for.
So, you know, the White House will continue to try to keep deflecting. But at some point we will come to a resolution and having a president’s son, you know, be at the center of that investigation, again, creates a level of complication that I don’t think any White House would want to be dealing with at this point.
PERINO: We have a couple of minutes left, and I’d love to just ask you the question that I attached Mitch McConnell at the end there. Harold Ford, Jr., starting with you, with 71 percent of Americans saying that the country is on the wrong track, people feeling pessimistic, we are in a season of hope and renewal and I know that you have a pretty optimistic point of view. How would you ask people to rethink their feelings about this right now, or is it impossible because of inflation or concerns about war?
FORD: Well, I think the concerns about war certainly are prevalent on so many minds. And I applaud the media — media deserves to be criticized for some of the things we’ve just talked about, but I give the media a lot of credit for reminding Americans day in and day out what’s at stake in Ukraine.
You know, every — every White House deals with complications and deals with these kind of pressures. But, as you know, Dana, I’m one that firmly believes that tomorrow can always be better if we work — all strive towards doing it. Our great colleague, Bret Baier, has a book on grant where he talks about every day you’ve got to fight for what’s right and fight for our union. Even if we disagree, we should all be aiming towards a common end. And that’s what I celebrate on this Palm Sunday when I look forward to this holy week, praying on and celebrating as well.
PERINO: You answered that so well. I’m just going to asks Brit a final question about that big story over the week about Tiger Woods’ return to the Masters.
HUME: A truly remarkable achievement. Even, obviously, he’s out of the — out of the running, I think, to win the tournament, far out of the running. But the mere fact that he made the cut and is still in the tournament on Saturday, when it was in doubt as to whether he could even play as recently as a week or so ago is really quite an extraordinary thing that he did that. I mean what perseverance, what courage. He’s obviously in pain and some of his — some of his shot-making on the first two days of the tournament was just remarkable.
PERINO: A quick last word to you, Julie.
PACE: Well, I will be watching the Masters today, cheering on Tiger. Great to see a comeback story.
PERINO: It is a really great story and he is a remarkable person, as are all of you.
Thank you so much, panel. We will see you next Sunday.
Up next, a final word on the week ahead.
PERINO: And it’s — that is it for today. I’m Dana Perino. I’ll see you for “AMERICA’S NEWSROOM” tomorrow and weekdays at 9:00 a.m., and for “The Five” at 5:00 p.m. Eastern on Fox News Channel. And just in time for graduation, my book, “Everything Will Be Okay,” is now available in paperback. So I hope you check that out.
Have a great week, everyone. We will see you next FOX NEWS SUNDAY.
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