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CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky joined ‘Fox News Sunday’ to discuss the latest on pediatric hospitalizations, arguing the number of children’s cases of COVID-19 is fewer than 3,500.
This is a rush transcript of “Fox News Sunday” on January 9, 2022. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: I’m Bret Baier.
A high-stakes session of the U.S. Supreme Court could decide how far the president can go in enforcing sweeping COVID mandates.
BAIER (voice-over): Two critical cases now in the justice’s hands, one impacting whether millions of doctors, nurses, and medical staff must be fully vaccinated to stay on the job. The other impacting tens of millions of employees of large private businesses.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I’m a grocery guy. I’m not the vaccine police.
BAIER: Both fast track as COVID cases rise, mandated enforcement deadlines loom and the CDC faces mounting criticism over changing guidelines surrounding the pandemic.
We’ll go one-on-one with the agency’s director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, only on “FOX News Sunday.”
Plus, big problems for the nation’s big cities, grappling with spikes in crime and the impact of COVID on schools and businesses.
We’re joined by Miami’s Francis Suarez, a newly elected president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. It’s a “FOX News Sunday” exclusive.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): The Senate must advance legislation to protect our democracy and safeguard the right to vote.
BAIER: Democrats used January 6th to make the case to pass voting rights legislation in Congress to counter moves by Republican state legislatures.
We’ll discuss with House Majority Whip James Clyburn, a close ally of the president and advocate for reform.
And the U.S. puts Russia on notice over Ukraine.
ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We’re prepared to respond forcefully to further Russian aggression.
BAIER: And monitors Russian involvement in deadly protests in neighboring Kazakhstan.
We’ll ask our Sunday panel what it means for upcoming talks in Geneva.
Plus, the international drama over the number one men’s tennis player in the world.
All, right now, on “FOX News Sunday.”
BAIER (on camera): Hello again from FOX News in Washington.
The COVID health emergency facing the nation landed Friday before the nine members of the U.S. Supreme Court. At issue, the authority of the feds to impose vaccine mandates on tens of millions of workers. Orders on enforcement of a pair of Biden demonstration mandates could come soon because one role, by OSHA, is set to go into effect Monday. Questions from the justices reflecting the national divide over COVID vaccines and the latest surge driven by the omicron variant.
In a moment, we’ll talk with the CDC director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, about the rise in cases and what’s next.
But, first, let’s turn to Lucas Tomlinson at the White House on the administration’s response to the virus — Lucas.
LUCAS TOMLINSON, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Bret, any day now, we await those two decisions by the Supreme Court on vaccine mandates. During oral arguments Friday, the justices took different takes on the value of vaccines.
JJUSTICE SONIA SOTOMAYOR, U.S. SUPREME COURT: We know that the best way to prevent spread is for people to get vaccinated.
JUSTICE CLARENCE THOMAS, U.S. SUPREME COURT: As I remember in the filings, the younger workers, the 20-year-olds who are unvaccinated, are actually safer than the older workers who are vaccinated. So there obviously some differences.
TOMLINSON (voice-over): Last week, a record number of COVID cases, more than 1 million in a single day, despite a majority of Americans fully vaccinated.
The OSHA mandate requiring all companies with 100 or more employees to either be vaccinated or undergo weekly testing and wear a mask if unvaccinated was supposed to begin Monday. Enforcement wouldn’t go into effect until February 9th.
Economists worry the surgeon cases could stunt job growth in the coming months.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: America is back to work, and there are more historical accomplishments.
TOMLINSON: But the president optimistic over the latest jobs report. Despite a falling well short of expectations, adding 199,000 jobs. The good news for the White House, unemployment fell to 3.9 percent. This is the administration scrambles to ramp up testing, despite shortages nationwide. Two contracts with industries signed late last week to begin production.
The White House plans to ship half a billion tests directly to Americans via the postal service, which recently asked for a temporary mandate for its 650,000 workers.
The postmaster general says USPS is well-prepared to accept and deliver test kits on the first day the program launches.
TOMLINSON (on camera): The pandemic also affecting the president’s State of the Union Address. President Biden has accepted Nancy Pelosi’s invitation to give it to a joint session of Congress on March 1st, the latest in modern history — Bret.
BAIER: Lucas Tomlinson reporting from the White House — Lucas, thank you.
Joining us now, CDC director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky.
Dr. Walensky, welcome back to “FOX News Sunday”. Good morning.
DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: Good morning, Bret. Good to be with you.
BAIER: You know, we just heard about the U.S. Supreme Court currently deciding the fate of the president’s vaccine mandates.
In the questioning, Justice Sonia Sotomayor made this statement.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SONIA SOTOMAYOR, U.S. SUPREME COURT ASSOCIATE JUSTICE: We have over 100,000 children, which we’ve never had before, in serious condition and many on ventilators.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BAIER: Now, (AUDIO GAP) what we can find from Friday suggest there are fewer than 3,500 current pediatric hospitalizations from COVID-19. Is that true?
WALENSKY: Yeah. But, you know, here’s what I can tell you about our pediatric hospitalizations now. First of all, the vast majority of children who are in the hospital are unvaccinated, and for those children who are not eligible for vaccination, we do know that they are most likely to get sick with COVID if their family members aren’t vaccinated.
So the most important thing we can do for those children to keep them out of the hospital is to vaccinate them and to vaccinate their family members around them.
We also know that —
BAIER: Understood, but the number is not 100,000. It’s roughly 3,500 in hospitals now.
WALENSKY: It — yes, there are — there are — and in fact what I will say is, while pediatric hospitalizations are rising, there are still about 15- fold least than hospitalizations of our older age demographics.
BAIER: Do you have a number of children on ventilators?
WALENSKY: I do not have that off the top of my head, but what I can say is for it — I don’t believe there are any in many of these hospitals who are vaccinated. So, really, the highest risk of being on a ventilator if your child is if you’re unvaccinated.
We also have recent data out just this week that’s demonstrated that dangerous MIS-C syndrome that we are seeing in children, 91 percent protection if you’ve been vaccinated.
BAIER: But the risk of death or serious illness in children is still very small, right?
WALENSKY: Comparatively the risk of death is small, but, of course, you know, children aren’t supposed to die.
WALENSKY: So, you know, if we have a child who’s been — who is sick with COVID-19, we want to make sure that they — we want to protect them, of course.
BAIER: Right. But I’m talking from your data, ages 15 to 24, for example, the risk of death is at 0.001 percent. I guess what I’m getting at in this opening is that the Supreme Court is in the process of dealing with this big issue about mandates. And do you feel responsibility as the CDC director to correct a very big mischaracterization by one of the Supreme Court justices?
WALENSKY: Yeah, here’s what I’ll tell you. I’ll tell you that, right now, 17 — if you’re unvaccinated, you’re 17 times more likely to be in the hospital and 20 times more likely to die than if you’re boosted. And so, what my responsibility is, is to provide guidance and recommendations to protect the American people. Those recommendations strongly recommend vaccination for our children above the age of 5 and boosting for everyone above the age of 18 if they’re eligible.
BAIER: Speaking of statistics, it seems to make a big difference if a person in the hospital is in the hospital for COVID-19 or with COVID-19. It’s been almost a year since you’ve been running the agency.
Do we have that split on numbers?
WALENSKY: You know, what I will say it differs by each variant. So, some variant — first of all, we’re doing screening of many — in many hospitals, of everybody who’s walking in the door. What we are seeing with the omicron variant is that it tends to be milder person by person, but given how large the numbers are that we’re seeing more and more cases come into the hospital.
In some hospitals that we’ve talked to, up to 40 percent of the patients who are coming in with COVID-19 are coming in not because they’re sick with COVID, but because they’re coming in with something else and have had to — COVID or the omicron variant detected.
BAIER: Right. But I guess you know how many of the 836,000 deaths in the U.S. linked to COVID are from COVID or how many are with COVID but they had other comorbidities, do you have that breakdown?
WALENSKY: Yes, of course. With omicron, we are following that very carefully. Our death registry, of course, takes a few weeks to — it takes a few weeks to collect and, of course, omicron has just been with us for a few weeks. But those data will be forthcoming.
BAIER: But, you know, the questioning in the Supreme Court also said that omicron was as deadly as delta. That is not true, right?
WALENSKY: I’m sorry? I didn’t hear you.
BAIER: Omicron is not as deadly as delta, at least by your data right now, right?
WALENSKY: We are starting to see data from other countries that indicate on a person by person basis, it may not be. However, given the volume of cases that we are seeing with omicron, we very well may see death rates rise dramatically.
BAIER: Okay, back to the mandates for a second. People are losing their jobs. More than 220 marine, sailors, airmen, have been kicked out of the military for refusing to get vaccinated. Healthy service members, some of them have circulating antibodies in their blood from past infections, but they’re not the antibodies the government recognizes.
Is that fair?
WALENSKY: You know, I think the thing that’s most disruptive to any business or industry is to have half the workforce out because they’re sick with COVID. We have seen with the omicron variant that prior protection protects you less well than it had with the current — with — then when it had with prior variants.
So having previous infection seems to not protect you as well as — against omicron. Right now, I think the most important thing to do is to protect Americans. We do that by getting them vaccinated and getting them boosted.
BAIER: Yeah, and I know that’s the message, but the omicron variant is infecting the vaccinated. And the vaccinated are transmitting the virus, correct?
WALENSKY: That is true. It’s infecting them at a lower rate and importantly, those people who are vaccinated and infected with omicron are not the ones who are ending up very sick in the hospital. Those are the people who are unvaccinated.
BAIER: Right, but will the CDC take natural immunity seriously, to study its effect on the big picture? For example, why not include recovery from infection as the equivalent of at least one shot the way other countries do?
WALENSKY: You know, we have taken this very seriously. Several months ago, we provided a scientific brief with dozens of studies providing the updated science with this. Of course, that science is ever evolving, as has this — as has this variant. And so, we need to update that science with regard to what we learn about omicron, which so far has demonstrated that prior infection protects you less well.
BAIER: As recently as this past week, President Biden called this a pandemic of the unvaccinated. According to your CDC data, the omicron variant accounts for 95.4 percent of cases, delta is 4.6 percent of cases. Again, the vaccinated are getting this infection. They’re transmitting it to others.
Considering all of that and these percentages, how is it that pandemic of the unvaccinated is a terminology that should be used?
WALENSKY: You know, we do know that people who are vaccinated are still protected about 70 percent against infection, especially if they are boosted. So the people who are ending up in a hospital, the people who are ending up very sick with omicron are the ones who are unvaccinated.
BAIER: Dr. Walensky, you mentioned the confusion about the guidance and over the past year, the most recent example obviously is on isolation and testing, but other guidance is the mask wearing, educators being vaccinated before returning to the classroom.
Before you took this job officially, you emphasize that one of your primary goals was to restore public trust. But in this time, do you think that it’s fair to say that the trust and confidence the public has gone down with the CDC?
WALENSKY: Thank you, Bret.
You know, this is hard. We have ever evolving science with an ever-evolving variant and my job is to provide updated guidance in the context of rapidly rising cases. And that is what we’ve done and I’m here to explain it to the American people and I’m committed to continuing to do so and to continuing to improve.
BAIER: And we appreciate you coming on, we really do. I’m just getting facts out there.
I do want to read this quote from this piece looking at how universities are handling this.
At Georgetown University, fully vaccinated students are randomly tested for COVID every week using a PCR test, which can detect tiny amounts of dead virus. Asymptomatic students who test positive are ordered to a room in a designated building where they spend ten days in confinement. Food is dropped off once a day at the door. Georgetown is still using a 10-day quarantine.
What you say to the major companies and universities who are ignoring your new guidance and sticking to the ten days isolation or quarantine for asymptomatic people?
WALENSKY: Yeah, this is really important and what I would say is that guidance that we put out is for the general public. We — I’m committed to wanting to keep schools open and you want to keep universities open. Many of these universities have kids living in multi-person rooms, so they’re going to have to adapt our guidance for the safety of their congregate settings.
BAIER: Right, but sticking them in a room for ten days, doesn’t that sound extreme to you?
WALENSKY: You know, that is what our guidance was before. If a student were to — and our updated guidance actually says you can leave isolation after five days if you can wear your mask all of the time, including being able to eat meals alone so that you are not infecting others while you eat. That may need to be what’s happening in these congregate settings.
BAIER: Okay, so you would send that message to Georgetown, other universities, other companies that are at ten days?
WALENSKY: No, what I would say is if you’re in a congregate setting, you have to adapt our guidance for that congregate setting. These guidances were meant for the general public.
BAIER: Okay. We had a lot of viewers tweet in about your appearance this morning.
Erica tweets: Please ask Dr. Walensky where the treatment for COVID? Why are they not promoting the more? What is the delay with the new pills that were authorized?
WALENSKY: Yeah, really important question. We now have numerous treatments that we can use against omicron, including our monoclonal antibodies, both for treatment and prevention. Two new antivirals, one from Pfizer, one from Merck.
So, many opportunities now. Remdesivir, to be able to be used in an outpatient basis with three daily infusions. All of those are now being distributed. Many of those are harder to make and take some time to make, but the administration is rapidly scaling up what they are able to purchase and get out to the American people.
BAIER: Last thing, mentioning schools — you know, the situation in Chicago, they still haven’t found a solution with the teachers union there. And it will be closed for a fourth day, Monday.
And they’re not alone. Burbio, which tracks school closures, has found more than 5,000 schools are currently closed for in-person instruction due to COVID.
There’s been a lot of money given to school districts and states across the country after the COVID relief bill. What do you tell them, these school districts?
WALENSKY: Yeah. You know, really importantly, I want to remind people that in the fall of this year, we had a delta surge, and we were able to safely keep our children in school before we had pediatric vaccination. Fast forward to now, we have pediatric vaccination.
Of course, every jurisdiction is going to have to make these decisions locally, but what I will say is the most important thing we can do is get our children vaccinated, get our teachers vaccinated and get our teenagers vaccinated. And then to practice all of those layered mitigation strategies that have been proven to work — masking, ventilation, Test to Stay strategies have saved hundreds of thousands of person days for kids staying in school. All of those things have been proven to work.
BAIER: Dr. Walensky, we always appreciate your time. Great to talk with you.
WALENSKY: Great to be here. Thanks, Bret.
BAIER: Up next, we will talk with Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, new president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, about how big cities are dealing with the pandemic.
BAIER: Mayors of major cities across the country have been on the front lines of the COVID pandemic while dealing with rising crime and disruptions to schools and businesses.
Joining us now, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, elected this week president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
Mayor, welcome to “FOX News Sunday”.
MAYOR FRANCIS SUAREZ, MIAMI, PRESIDENT, U.S. CONFERENCE OF MAYORS: Thank you for having me, Bret.
BAIER: At a press briefing, you and other officials gave this week on COVID, you all said that the hospitalizations involving COVID are now exceeding the peak surge from Delta in Miami. To that point, Miami-Dade has seen more than 237 percent increase in hospitalizations, according to this press briefing, in the last 14 days, and a 111 percent increase in new cases. So simple question, is Florida experiencing the surge in Coronavirus cases and hospitalizations or — or not?
SUAREZ: Well, of course we are. I mean, I think every city across America right now is seeing a surge with the Omicron variant. And the variant seems to be significantly more contagious but also not quite as severe as the Delta variant. So what we are just seeing is a gross number which is significantly higher than with Delta. And so that’s pushing all the other numbers. That pushes hospitalizations. That pushes all the other metrics. So what we’re doing in the city of Miami is, number one, we’re obviously allowing people to get tested and expanding our testing capacities and our vaccination capacities. And we are seeing a correlation between those that are hospitalized and them being not vaccinated.
BAIER: You know, Florida Senator Marco Rubio pushing back a little bit on the hospitalization characterization. He tweeted out: “There is no Omicron hospital surge in Florida. People admitted for non-COVID reasons get tested. If they get positive, they get counted as a COVID patient. The majority of the 5,400 COVID patients in Florida are in the hospital for non-COVID reasons.”
And I guess, Mayor, what do you say to people who accuse Republican elected officials of downplaying the rise and spread of COVID and the hospitalizations?
SUAREZ: Well, what I would say is, you know, we should just look at the facts. I mean, and what Senator Rubio is saying there is a fact, right? It is a fact that there are many cases of people that are coming to the hospital with COVID as opposed to because they have COVID. And I think that is something that you highlighted with the CDC director in your prior segment. There is a differentiation, you know, the fact that there are so many more cases which is what’s driving hospitalizations, and the fact that it’s also not quite as high as it was at the peak. So, you know, there — I think we just have to talk about this on a factual basis and try to depoliticize it as much as possible.
BAIER: Do you think your state’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, has struck the right balance?
SUAREZ: You know, I think that if you look at deaths, the state of Florida has significantly less deaths than, for example, New York, on a per capita basis. So, you know, I think Florida is doing very well. You know, obviously the surge is something that is hitting the entire country. But I think the state of Florida, I think the city of Miami is doing significantly better than other parts of the country. We have a very high vaccination rate. I think we are at about 80 percent in the city of Miami. And so we are — we are dealing with this the very best that we can.
And, listen, you know, many people who are not vaccinated and who are young and healthy are getting it and are now very — there’s a high level of asymptomatic impact and effect, and so they’re not getting severe symptoms.
BAIER: Mm-hmm. But you’ve differed with the governor on the use of masks in general, saying the science of masks supports their use.
SUAREZ: Yes. You know, particularly a few months ago or maybe even closer to a year ago, we — you know, we had a disagreement over masks because I felt that, you know, as a tool, masks are something that we could implement and it could reduce a number of cases without affecting people’s ability to go to work, right? I think the biggest issue was making sure that this did not harm the environment, particularly, you know, at a time where our unemployment rate was skyrocketing. Now in the city of Miami, our unemployment rate is at 3.7 percent, which is almost a percent lower than the entire state of — the rest of the state of Florida. So what we’ve implemented is pro-business policies that could keep people safe and I think using a mask was one of those.
BAIER: As the newly elected head of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, I’d like you to weigh in on the situation in Chicago with the schools there, classes again were canceled Friday. It looks like they’re going to be canceled on Monday. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot blasted the union saying, we’re not going to rob parents of their right and their obligation to tell us if they want testing or not on their children, it’s not going to happen, it’s morally wrong. Now some parents are suing the union. What’s your take on all this?
SUAREZ: Well, you know, in Florida and here in Miami-Dade County, we’ve done everything we can to keep schools open. We feel that, you know, the risk for children is extremely low and we also feel that’s very important for kids to — you know, to have as much normalcy as possible, to be able to be in a social setting with their friends, to get educated. I mean, these are the building blocks of the future for our children in America. And so for me, you know, it’s a tremendous concern when you see schools being closed. I think both Republicans and Democrats, if you hear the CDC director, and even pronouncements from the president, have made every effort to keep school open and want schools open. And so they should be open.
BAIER: let’s turn to crime, Mayor Suarez. There has been a spike in violent crime in several major cities across the country. You’ve noted that homicides in Miami have fallen 25 percent. In a recent tweet you said as president of the U.S. Mayors: “I’m working with America’s mayors to replicate and integrate proven solutions.” What are those solutions? Are they all tied to increasing funding for public safety?
SUAREZ: Well, definitely that’s number one. I think you will see in Miami, we just hired, this particular fiscal year, 30 new police officers./ We increased funding for police while many other cities have talked about or actually decreased funding for police. And we saw dramatic reduction in homicides by 25 percent, and 14 percent in what they call “contact shootings.” So certainly investing in your public safety should be the number one goal. Police officers in America, I think, now have the hardest job in America. They — you know, they have — you know, they have to do the most number of things for the least pay with the most scrutiny of any profession in this country.
And I think we should not only invest in them in terms of the sheer number of them and their pay, but I think we should also invest in technology and giving them the tools as a force multiplier to — you know, to do their job better. And that’s something we’ve done in Miami. We have a gun fire detection system. We have a NIBIN (ph) machine that is a ballistics machine. We have a Cellebrite (ph) machine. So we have a variety of different technologies that allow us to solve crime, that allow our officers to be more effective at doing their job. And we’ve seen the results. And I think it’s something that can be replicated across America. Everybody deserves to be safe.
BAIER: Yes. And, quickly, you’ve been praised by Democrat — Miami-Dade County’s first female mayor. You kind of stay out of ideological battles for the most part. You say that more politicians such start thinking like mayors. Do you have plans for statewide or national office?
SUAREZ: Well, Bret, first of all, you know, being president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors is going to give me a tremendously unique opportunity to set an agenda for America’s mayors. I do believe that America’s cities, which have 85 percent of the population of America and constitute 91 percent of the GDP of this country need to be heading in the right direction. It’s a generational opportunity for our country. And if we get it right, we are going to have generational prosperity. So once, you know, being president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors is over, which is a year- and-a-half from now, I will look at the landscape and decide if I want to serve at a higher level. And it will be hopefully, you know, an opportunity that will be enjoyable and prosperous and something that will be beneficial to the people of this country or this state or my city.
BAIER: OK. We will watch that. Mayor Suarez, thank you for your time.
SUAREZ: Thanks, Bret.
BAIER: Up next, Democrats pointed January 6th as a reason to push election reform on the national level. We’ll ask us House Majority Whip James Clyburn whether it’s worth changing the rules to get it done.
BAIER: Coming up, in the wake of the anniversary of January 6th, Democrats pushed for election reform.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let’s be clear: we must pass voting rights bills that are now before the Senate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: We’ll discuss with voting reform advocate, House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, next.
BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, this week, called on his caucus to do whatever it takes to pass voting rights, even if it means changing Senate rules to get it done without Republican support.
Joining us now from South Carolina, the number three Democrat in the House, Jim Clyburn.
Congressman, welcome back to FOX NEWS SUNDAY.
REP. JIM CLYBURN (D-SC): thank you so much for having me back.
BAIER: You know, you said in a podcast, Congressman, this week, that if you don’t get voting rights done, it will be the beginning of the end of democracy. You also wrote in a column this week about the January 6th attack on the Capitol, comparing it to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, writing, 80 years later, tyranny is threatening America again, this time from a domestic attack.
You know, Vice President Harris, obviously, had a similar construct with Pearl Harbor and 9/11. What do you say to families of World War II veterans who lost somebody at Pearl Harbor or 9/11 families, victims’ families who agree that January 6th was a very bad day and a dark day in our history, but that that comparison is not fair and seems to be being used to pitch voting rights legislation that was drawn up before January 6th?
CLYBURN: I would remind him of the oath that all of us take when we take office, especially the president of the United States. That oath says, against all enemies, foreign and domestic. A recognition of the fact that there will be times in our development when we have to deal with the enemy from within.
So, I would ask those people who say that’s an unfair comparison, why is it then that that construct is sitting there in the oath that all of us take? That is the recognition that there will be times, or could be, when we will have domestic terrorists among us.
BAIER: What about, Congressman, the argument that the U.S. Constitution leaves election laws to the states? Georgia secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, who famously rebuffed President Trump’s prodding for finding additional votes, pointed to Article One, Section Four in writing opposition to HR1, and he wrote that federal legislators have no idea how elections are actually run, saying, quote, as a result, they choose policies that create chaos in elections, administration that can overwhelm county election officials. In doing so, they greet a vicious cycle where they set local election administrators up to fail then demand federal intervention to address the problem they cause. Your thoughts?
CLYBURN: I would say to Mr. Raffensperger that I admire and respect him a whole lot, but he’s off-base here. I am a federal official, but I understand very well how elections are run. Most people who are now serving at the federal level have at one time served in some capacity at the state and local levels as well. So they too have an understanding.
I would also refer him to Federalist Papers, I think it’s 59, where Alexander Hamilton talked very cogently about this and he says there that these federal elections cannot be left up to the states, should not be left up to the states. That’s why states were not allowed to put term limits on federal officials.
So the elections or not solely conducted by the states. That’s why the 1965 Voting Rights Act was necessary and that is why the 50th Amendment to the United States Constitution was a moment, that’s why the 18th Amendment of the United States Constitution was necessary. All because it had to go beyond the states to determine everything about elections.
BAIER: You know, Congressman, it doesn’t seem like they have the numbers in the Senate. And I’ll get a little bit more to that in a second. But there is bipartisan support for a change to the electoral count law — act, rather, that deals specifically with the vice president and Congress on the certification of the election. And you could get a change to that right away. Why not take that?
CLYBURN: Well, that’s — we’ll take that, but that’s not all we need to do. You know, I’m very — I’ve studied the Tillman-Hayes compromise most of my life. And so I know exactly what led to all of that, the 1876 elections. I know South Carolina played a really very critical role in that.
BAIER: Yes, it did, sir.
CLYBURN: So did Florida.
BAIER: And Louisiana.
CLYBURN: But you had Rep. (INAUDIBLE) earlier today. So, I know all of those issues.
And I also know that what is true today was not true then. And, therefore, the kind of changes that we need to make, the kind of modifications that need — we need to make must fit the times. That’s why so many learnered (ph) juries have referred to the Constitution as a lemon (ph) document, which means the Constitution is updated, it’s changed, it’s modified as conditions change and are updated.
CLYBURN: And so that’s what we need to do here.
BAIER: Well, barring —
CLYBURN: Just because he got one little nugget that was true back in 1876 doesn’t mean that that is true in 1976.
You know, today’s Sunday. I grew up in a parsonage. And I’m thinking but 1 Corinthians, THE 13TH chapter here, where Paul sent his son Timothy, when I became a man, I put away childish things.
CLYBURN: This country has matured. This country is not the same country it was over 200 years ago.
BAIER: Baring the —
CLYBURN: And so we, as a people, must mature right along with it.
BAIER: Barring the bipartisan change, if you do that, you say you want the bigger, broader change, obviously. Democrats will likely have to resort to changing the rules in the Senate. And as I said, Senators Manchin and Sinema don’t seem like they’re there yet.
I want to ask you about the filibuster. Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren said this about the filibuster. The filibuster has deep roots in racism and it should not be permitted to serve that function or to create a veto for the minority. In a democracy, it’s majority rules.
You agree with that?
CLYBURN: Well, yes, I do. The majority always determine the outcome of the elections. So, the fact of the matter is, the filibuster will not allow for a majority. You’ve got to have a simple majority in order to get to the majority. That’s the fantasy of this.
Now, the filibuster was put in place — and I know the history of the filibuster. John C. Calhoun, that everybody attributes the filibuster to, but he perfected the filibuster. He wasn’t talking about slavery. He was talking about the banking laws. He didn’t want to have national banking laws. Just what this country would be like today if we did not have national banking laws. And that’s what John C. Calhoun was arguing against.
BAIER: Right. So —
CLYBURN: So, I want us to grow up. I want us to look at this and say, come on, this is a new day.
BAIER: All right.
CLYBURN: These are different circumstances.
BAIER: Yes, Calhoun —
CLYBURN: So the filibuster has been changed time and time again. Back when they were filibustering, when Strom Thurmond set the record in 1957, he had to stand on the floor.
CLYBURN: Today, you can sit down town in a spa (ph) and (INAUDIBLE) the filibuster.
BAIER: That’s right. But the U.S., just what the senator said —
CLYBURN: That’s the change in the filibuster law.
BAIER: Yes, the U.S., technically, obviously, is a constitutional federal Republic.
Democrats, the last time they were in the minority, just the last time, used the filibuster 270 times. And one of them was to block the Justice Act, a police reform bill put forward by a black Republican senator, Tim Scott, from your state.
CLYBURN: Well, you know, you can call a Justice Act, you can call an act anything you what to call it. Now, I don’t know exactly what was contained in that law, but, you know, when you filibuster in order to get time so that people can bring people around to your point of view, that’s one thing. But that is still a policy. That’s not stopping anybody from voting. That’s not a constitutional issue.
I have said that the filibuster ought not be applied to constitutional issues like voting.
CLYBURN: We do not allow the filibuster to get in the way of the full faith and credit of the United States of America because it would jeopardize the future of this country. It’s —
BAIER: Although you could argue that police reform and search and seizure – –
BAIER: And that’s a constitutional issue.
I just want to ask you one more thing because I’m running out of time.
You are the man responsible, as many — as much as anybody for candidate Biden in the primaries, resuscitating his prospects in South Carolina.
Do think President Biden is being well served by his advisors now? Do you think he’s getting good advice?
CLYBURN: Well, you know, I don’t know all of his advisors. And I suspect that there may be some advisors that I will disagree with. But I think that by and large this president is doing a great job. I think this — the rescue act that everybody said he couldn’t get done, he got it done. The infrastructure bill that is now in place, Build Back Better, which should be in place. Restoring people’s faith and confidence in what this country is all about. I believe that Joe Biden is doing exactly what this country needs done. And I would hope that people who want to see an autocracy replace this democracy, they will give up on that pursuit.
BAIER: And you think he runs for re-election?
CLYBURN: I hope he does.
BAIER: Congressman Clyburn —
CLYBURN: I’m older than Joe.
BAIER: Yes. Congressman, thanks.
CLYBURN: So, he’s a young guy compared to me.
BAIER: Congressman Clyburn, thank you for your time on this Sunday morning.
CLYBURN: Thank you very much for having me.
BAIER: Up next, we’ll bring in our Sunday group to discuss growing tensions between the U.S. and Russia.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: I think one lesson in recent history is that once Russians are in your house, it’s sometimes very difficult to get them to leave.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaking about a crackdown on anti-government processors in Kazakhstan, which has already left dozens dead. Kazakhstan is a former Soviet Republic, and its president called in Russian troops to help. Those troops are now shooting to kill and it’s beginning to look like a Russian take over there.
Meantime, Russia is poised to invade neighboring Ukraine. Tens of thousands of Russian troops are amassed along the border there. Russia wants to keep Ukraine out of NATO, wants to expand its influences in the region. The U.S. has threatened serious consequences if Russia invades.
It’s time now for our Sunday group.
Fox News contributor Karl Rove, Fox News correspondent Gillian Turner, and Fox News political analyst Juan Williams.
Gillian, just this morning Secretary of State Blinken said the prospects are not that great for seeing some major movement here in Geneva as the U.S. and Russia sit down on these talks. And given what we’re hearing and what we’re seeing, both in Ukraine, along the border, and in Kazakhstan, what do you make of this?
GILLIAN TURNER, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Bret, the reality is that the U.S. would like nothing better than a stable, predictable relationship with Russia, but Russia, at least under President Putin, has less than zero interest in making this happen. So, the key question for the Biden administration going into this week in the high-stakes talks is, is it smart to continue to broadcast this as our number one policy objective when it’s essentially unachievable? Every Russia expert you talk to will tell you, normalized relations are not in the cards in the near future. And, by the way, every U.S. expert — excuse me, U.S. official you talk to, at least behind closed doors, will say the same thing, this becomes an issue of saying something 17 million times doesn’t make it any more true.
BAIER: Yes, and the question is whether the U.S. would give concessions during these talks in Geneva.
Karl, Vladimir Putin seems always to have his vision on the old Soviet regime, which is why these — these actions in these two countries are — are kind of eyebrow-raising. But why should Americans sitting on the couch at home care about this?
KARL ROVE, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, because the U.S. will — the European alliance is a key cornerstone of stability and peace in the world, and it’s important to us economically. And to surrender countries like Ukraine and Poland and the Baltics and eastern and central Europe to Russian domination would be a grave mistake. It would simply embolden Putin and act against the interest of the United States and diminish our standing in the world and the standing of our allies.
So, we have vital interests in Europe and the idea that we would — those interests would be well served by turning Europe back into — eastern and central Europe back into part of the Russian empire is ridiculous.
BAIER: The secretary of state, Juan, said this morning that he can’t say whether it’s likely are not that Russia will go into Ukraine and that they’re committed to dialogue and diplomacy. But it seems like Putin is pretty aggressive in the face of what have been very significant threats, at least financially, with sanctions from President Biden.
JUAN WILLIAMS, FOX NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: That’s right. So I think the primary accomplishment of the Biden administration so far on this issue is molding the U.S. and European allies into a united front against this chest-pounding effort to, you know, reimagine the former Soviet Union by Vladimir Putin.
Right now you have the potential for sanctions that would punish Russia substantially in terms of removing them from the international financial system in terms of potentially recreating or expanding NATO to the non- Europeans — the west — eastern European countries that are not aligned at the moment.
And then, of course, you had the critical issue of Nordstrom, the national gas pipeline that would go from Russia to Germany. I think Germany has been reluctant to shut that down but now you have President Biden working with Olaf Scholz, the new German chancellor, saying, you know what, we have to look at this seriously and look at if there are alternative sources for natural gas to get to Germany. That’s a major, major shift in thinking among the Germans and a critical sanction, critical punishment potentially for the Russians.
BAIER: Yes, Gillian, in the meantime, Kazakhstan, there’s actual fighting going on there. It’s a country of about 20 million people. About four times the size of Texas. It’s the second largest oil producer in the ex-Soviet states.
So what’s the significance of Kazakhstan’s action with Russian troops going in and could this Ukraine standoff on the border the kind of a head fake for Russia to do some action inside Kazakhstan?
TURNER: Well, the reasons you just laid out, the fact that Kazakhstan is a relatively oil rich nation are some of the reasons why Putin is interested in the first place.
But what happened this week, Bret, inside the country is remarkable because the president there essentially flip sides, seemingly overnight. He had been a sort of stand-up, low-key bureaucrat who people saw plodding along into the future. He had allied himself with the former regime there, not Putin. Now, he’s teamed up with Putin against the protesters, the rioters inside his own country. It shows essentially that Putin’s wish to kind of remake the world or that region of the world in the image of the Cold War is still alive and well.
A lot of leaders of these former satellite states will team up with Putin if they deem that it’s sort of politically expedient for them to do so. The threat of Putin remaking that part of the world is alive and well.
BAIER: Another international incident, less scale perhaps, but still serious. You have the number one tennis player in the world, Karl, Novak Djokovic, cannot get into Australia. He’s in Melbourne, in a hotel somewhere. He was denied Wednesday entry by federal border authorities because of his — he couldn’t prove his exemption to the Covid-19 vaccination requirements, and there’s a question about not only this year, but for three years, whether he gets in. It’s strict in Australia.
ROVE: Yes, the Australian state of Victoria said, come on down, play tennis, but the national government, the prime minister of Australia said, no, we’re going to — we’re going to enforce the rules and you’re not allowed in.
So, we’ve got to standoff — we’re not the only country in which there are disputes apparently between the state and federal governments. And Australia seems to be in the midst of one now.
BAIER: And, Juan, last thing, what did you make of the CDC director and her words today?
WILLIAMS: Well, I thought that was a very important interview. You know, I thought you were really tough with her in terms of, you know, what did Sonia Sotomayor say on the Supreme Court, is that right, you know, because it’s so important, these decisions coming down.
But the critical point I made — she made, I should say, is that she said, you know, thank you, Bret, for asking this question about whether the American people have more or less confidence two years — in the CDC, two years into this pandemic? And she said thanks for that question because she said, look, it’s an evolving issue. The science is evolving, the crisis is evolving and I’m trying my best.
And on that level, you know, I guess that’s the best she could do. But, you know, people do have questions about the extent to which we should quarantine, whether or not a negative test is required. There’s no question about the efficacy of the vaccine itself, about masking, social distancing. You know, we still have — I think last week it was like, you know, three quarters of a million people, you know, getting sick with this Covid.
So, this is an ongoing pandemic. But she did the best she could with tough questions.
BAIER: All right, panel, stand by, if you would. We have to take a break here. when we return, two major announcements for Republicans in their quest to regain the Senate in 2022.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): This is their Christmas, January 6th, OK? They are going to take this and milk this for anything they could to try to be able to smear anyone who ever supported Donald Trump.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis saying Democrats labeling Republicans as extremists will backfire them if they — if they continue to use January 6th to campaign between now and November.
We’re back with the panel.
Karl, this week you wrote this op-ed. It was pretty blistering in some way, saying Republicans have a heavy burden one year after January 6th. There can be no soft-peddling what happened and no absolution for those who planned, encourage, and aided the attempt to overthrow our democracy.
But you continued to mention Democrats, saying they should be, quote, resisting their leadership’s petty habit of aggravating partisan fault lines by indiscriminately condemning all who came to Washington that day.
The president gives this scathing speech, points directly at former President Trump. Can a speech like that, in your opinion, as we look to this election year, move Republicans or independents in any way to help the administration or Democrats?
ROVE: No, I thought it was tone-deaf. That was a day to herald the institutions of our government that worked on January 6th, not to engage in a deeply personal attack at Donald J. Trump. The purpose of that was to set up the 2024 election.
Look, Republicans have to acknowledge that what happened on January 6th was atrocious and that the people who invaded the Capitol, assaulted 140 police officers, made threats against the lives of the leadership of our Congress and attempted to disrupt a constitutionally mandated statutorily required joint session of Congress to receive the Electoral College votes, that every one of those people ought to be identified, prosecuted and found guilty, punished. But let’s be careful with the high partisanship.
Jim Clyburn, whom you had on earlier, let’s just remember, in 2005, he was one of the 31 members of the House of Representatives who made outrageous claims about the 2004 election, including the electronic flipping of votes in Ohio and voted not to certify the election of George W. Bush to a second term. And he’s the third ranking Democrat in the House.
ROVE: So, we found a way to get over these, in some instances, but Republicans have got to start by acknowledging what happened on January 6th.
BAIER: Juan, I’ve got to make it quick, but is voting rights where Democrats hand their hat even though they don’t have the votes in the Senate?
WILLIAMS: Yes, they’ve got to do something there. I think that, you know, for — I think President Biden gave a great speech this week. I don’t think it’s any question about that. I think it had impact on Democrat and independent and Republicans who care about democracy. Hats off to Karl for speaking the truth in his column.
But, you know, voting rights as a major issue for the Biden base. It energizes people. I don’t know that they have the votes, but they’ve got to make a serious effort here to stop efforts at voter suppression by some Republican state legislations.
BAIER: Yes. Last thing. Number two Republican in the Senate, John Thune, announcing his plans to run for re-election. He’s been viewed as a potential successor to Mitch McConnell and Senator Ron Johnson announcing he is going to run, which is going to mean Republican prospects for winning back the Senate in November.
Gillian, I’ll get you next time.
Panel, thank you. And we’ll see you next week. Thank you very much.
That’s it for us today. I’ll see you tomorrow for “SPECIAL REPORT” at 6:00 p.m. Eastern on Fox News Channel.
Have a great week. We’ll see you next FOX NEWS SUNDAY.
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