This is a rush transcript of ‘Fox News Sunday’ on March 26, 2023. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
SHANNON BREAM, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: I’m Shannon Bream.
The U.S. launches airstrikes in Syria following the death of an American contractor and an attack linked to Iran.
BREAM (voice-over): The Pentagon retaliates against pro-Iranian militants after a deadly drone attack. But the White House says firmly the U.S. does not want conflict with Iran.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The strikes that we took last night were intended to send a very clear message.
BREAM: We’ll sit down exclusively with Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, on projecting U.S. military power without inflaming tensions.
Then, former President Trump holds a 2024 rally in Waco, Texas, blasting news that he could be indicted as soon as this week.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: From the beginning, it’s been one witch hunt and phony investigation after another.
BREAM: We will have a live report outside Trump Tower and we’ll do a deep dive on the potential charges, the impact on 2024, and on the big-picture concerns about what this could mean for a nation already facing major political divisions.
REP. RAUL RUIZ (D-CA): So, you’re telling me what you’re doing, I’m telling you the data shows that you are grossly failing at that effort.
REP. MARIANNETTE MILLER-MEEKS (R-IA): You damn well know that you cannot protect the data and security of this committee or the 150 million users of your app.
BREAM: The CEO of TikTok endures a blistering hearing as members of both parties demand to know what it’s doing with American’s private information. We’ll ask our Sunday panel about safety, privacy and national security concerns when it comes to one of the country’s most popular apps.
Plus, my sit-down with seven-time Grammy winning musician TobyMac on his ground-breaking career and how he turned tragedy into a message of hope for his listeners.
All, right now, on “FOX News Sunday”.
BREAM (on camera): Hello from “FOX News Sunday” in Washington.
We are waking up to news on multiple fronts this, morning.
Last night, former President Donald Trump lashed out at the Manhattan district attorney. He is fuming over a possible indictment that could come as soon as tomorrow.
And U.S. troops in Syria are on high alert right now after the U.S. and pro-Iranian groups traded fire in recent days. The president says U.S. airstrikes are designed for deterrence, but there are new concerns about escalation in a volatile area.
We have much more on those stories coming to you in just minutes, but we begin with the deadly tornado that ripped through the Mississippi Delta late Friday. More than two dozen people have died and Governor Tate Reeves has declared a state of emergency.
Robert Ray of FOX Weather is live in Rolling Fork, Mississippi, one of the hardest hit areas — Robert.
ROBERT RAY, FOX WEATHER CORRESPONDENT: Shannon, good morning, here from Rolling Fork, not far from the Mississippi River. Look at the destruction behind me. It is scenes like this all over this town and the devastation, the terror from this tornado began Friday night about 8:00 p.m. Central. And you see this right now, Shannon, it’s projectiles like this from homes that turn into missiles, wood boards, vehicles on top of homes and people’s livelihoods, destroyed. According to the National Weather service a preliminary rating of an EF-4 tornado. What that means is that those winds were 166 miles per hour or even higher, tremendous devastation as this area has been battered every single week by severe weather since Christmas.
President Biden and other officials are sending in the groups throughout the week, the Federal Emergency Management is on the ground already. NGOs and other aid groups, including volunteers from surrounding states are here trying to help people with provisions, water and places for them to have shelter.
This town of just under 2,000 people in complete devastation, catastrophic as the folks here are trying to pick up the pieces here on this Sunday, 25 people have lost their lives in the state of Alabama, one person in Mississippi, and this terror and trauma will just continue in the days ahead, but federal government promising they will be here to help the folks — Shannon.
BREAM: Robert Ray in Mississippi — Robert, thank you very much.
Now, back to coverage of the U.S. military strikes in Syria. Iran’s proxy forces launched three more attacks Friday and Saturday, targeting U.S. forces. Another American soldier was wounded, bringing the total to one American contractor killed and seven others wounded. But there were no new attacks last night.
In a moment, I’ll ask Texas Congressman Michael McCaul, chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, about all these tensions overseas, and also the U.S. response. But, first, Lucas Tomlinson reports on the president’s warning to the militant groups.
LUCAS TOMLINSON, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Biden traveled to Canada to unveil a new deal with Prime Minister Trudeau, giving both countries the authority to turn away asylum seekers on its shared border.
But attacks by Iran’s proxy forces against some of the 900 U.S. troops in Syria and retaliatory strikes by U.S. Air Force at 15 Strike Eagles dominated Biden’s visit to Ottawa.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The United States does not — does not, emphasize — seek conflict with Iran, but be prepared for us to act forcefully to protect our people.
TOMLINSON: The top general for U.S. forces in the Middle East says his soldiers have been attacked nearly 80 times since Biden took office.
GENERAL MICHAEL KURILLA, CENTCOM: Today, Iran possesses the largest and most diverse missile arsenal in the Middle East.
TOMLINSON: The use of proxy forces part of the ongoing shadow war between the U.S. and Iran for decades.
REPORTER: Is Iran responsible for the death of an American citizen or not?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look, Iran, certainly, again, backs these groups.
TOMLINSON: As the Biden administration tries to pivot away from the Middle East, in recent weeks, China has moved in, brokering a deal between Saudi Arabia and Iran to resume relations.
On Capitol Hill, many lawmakers from both parties want to counter China’s military and economic rise, taking aim at the CEO of the popular app TikTok.
REP. PAUL TONKO (D-NY): Are teenagers in particular shown more distressing content?
SHOU ZI CHEW, TIKTOK CEO: The opposite is true.
TOMLINSON: And questions about ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, headquartered in Beijing.
REP. NEAL DUNN (R-FL): Has ByteDance spied on American citizens?
CHEW: I don’t think that spying is the right way to describe it.
TOMLINSON (on camera): Many lawmakers want to see TikTok banned completely nationwide — Shannon.
BREAM: We’ll talk about that. Lucas Tomlinson, reporting from the White House — Lucas, thank you.
Joining us now, Texas Republican Congressman Michael McCaul, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Welcome back to “FOX News Sunday”.
REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL (R-TX): Hi, Shannon. Thanks for having me.
BREAM: We already had a lot to talk about, but overnight, we had another addition. We’ve got Vladimir Putin now saying that they’re going to position nukes in Belarus.
We’re for now saying it doesn’t change our posture. But what does it say to you?
MCCAUL: That the tensions are rising. I think there’s a saber-rattling on the part of Putin to basically try to frighten with the operations going on.
Here’s why — the way I see it, Shannon, is since President Biden has come into office, he’s projected weakness. And when you projected weakness, you invite aggression and war.
When you project strength like Reagan talked about, you — you invite peace. And so, what we’re seeing, you saw peace on Iran getting aggressive, and now Putin now invading Ukraine. And Chairman Xi in China threatening Taiwan and the Pacific.
All these things are happening at the same time, and it’s not by accident. It’s by design, and it’s a weak foreign policy out of fear.
I mean, I think that we are so weak right now — these tactical nukes are disturbing. I think it’s the fact they’re in Belarus, you know, as well.
But, you know, the Japanese prime minister went to Ukraine the other day and said that what happens here in Ukraine will happen in Taiwan and the Far East and the Pacific. So, you know, we have to — this is a very important confrontation right now.
BREAM: So, let’s talk about that. Let’s talk about this in the context of Ukraine, on Xi meeting with Putin, and all of the other things that are interconnected here.
There are lawmakers out there now saying, including Josh Hawley, GOP senator, saying they’ve got questions. We’re outspending relative to NATO and our European allies when it comes to what’s happening there, and he warns that the Chinese fully understand our resources are tied up in Ukraine. If that happens, we can’t use them if there’s an invasion of Taiwan.
“New York Times” citing one study reporting this, if a large scale war broke out with China, within about a week, the United States would run out of so-called long-range anti-ship missiles.
So, last time you were here, you said you did think we could actually be in military conflict with China by 2025.
So, with that in mind, the resources, military aid, what are your concerns on those two fronts?
MCCAUL: Our defense industrial base is not up to speed. Now, the weapons we’re putting into Ukraine are old weapons, more land-based, and what we sent to Taiwan are going to be sea — maritime based and they are new weapons.
I think the concern, though, is I signed off on foreign military sales to Taiwan three years ago that have yet to go into the country. And I’m getting ready to travel over there. That’s a concern. There’s no deterrence.
I think what’s happening in Ukraine will provide a deterrence with what happens with Taiwan. But they are not prepared. There’s no deterrence there for war.
BREAM: But if Chinese knows that, how much does that cripple us in the idea of deterrence?
MCCAUL: What’s more — I think what’s more disturbing to me is this alliance between Putin and Xi. And they just met again saying next 100 years will be greatest years, and they’re talking about putting in lethal weapons from China into Ukraine, into the fight, you know, with Russia.
This is an unholy alliance. And they’re buying weapons from Iran and North Korea. They’re all tied together in this thing. It’s a geopolitical — it’s a fight between tyranny and oppression versus democracy and freedom and the West.
And you can’t — you can’t dissect the two. They are tied together. What happens in Ukraine directly affects Taiwan and the Pacific, and we need to deter on both sides. My argument is this administration has wholly failed in that deterrence.
BREAM: So, China, it’s not just that they — you know, the meeting with Putin this week, obviously, that’s disturbing, but they are brokering deals between the Saudis, the Iranians. Brazil’s president, until it was delayed for illness, had a trip planned to meet with him in Beijing, as well.
Are we losing — is the U.S. losing our positioning on the world stage, where China is courting people out there and very willing to do it very publicly?
MCCAUL: We’re losing our prestige. We’re not leading, you know, in front. We’re leading from behind. We talked about during Obama years, right? And you had ISIS rearing its ugly head.
Because of this weakness, our aggressors, foreign nation adversaries are on the march. They are getting aggressive against our interest in the United States because of his weakness. And I know that President Trump, at least when he was in office, you know, they feared him.
BREAM: But what about those who said that he created a chaotic situation that when Biden came back in, it was going to be a smoother, calmer foreign policy, that President Trump had pulled out of key agreements, and he had created chaos, and under him, as critics say, that we lost respect around the world?
MCCAUL: Fear provides deterrence and unpredictability as well, I would say with Trump.
I would say with Biden, because of this projection of weakness — and I go back to Afghanistan, we may have time to talk about this week. When Afghanistan imploded, that is the turning point. That is when Putin looked and not a question of if but when, Putin looked at Ukraine and Xi is looking at Taiwan, that’s when everything changed.
Afghanistan was a turning point. It was a disaster. We left Americans behind. Afghanistan partners behind.
And then we have heard testimony about the sniper there that had the suicide bomber on his sights but wasn’t given authority to take out the suicide bomber that would have saved 13 servicemen and women. That’s a tragedy and that is a beginning of when things start to go downhill.
BREAM: I want to ask you about this because you asked Secretary Blinken this week about this dissent cable. You said it came from embassy employees who were worried about the strategy — the pull-out strategy there in Afghanistan. You have asked numerous times for, you’ve been asking for it for years.
Here’s what he said this week about why you haven’t gotten it so far.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JAMAAL BOWMAN (D-NY): Let’s not be racist towards China and express our —
ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: By our regulations, these cables may only be shared with senior officials in the department, and again, that’s to protect the integrity of the process, to make sure we don’t have a chilling effect on those who might want to come forward, knowing that they will have their identities protected and that they can do so, again, without fear of favor.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BREAM: So, he says that’s the justification for why you haven’t gotten it. You told him you would subpoena him if you don’t get it by the end of business on Monday. What do you think is in the cable and do you think you’re going to get to see it?
MCCAUL: It’s extraordinary. You have 23 embassy employees dissenting to the policy of secretary of state and the White House. We want to know and the American people deserve to know and the veterans and the Gold Star mothers deserve to know what were in those dissenting cables, what was so important that these 23 employees were reaching out at the highest levels, saying we disagree with your policy.
I think — I don’t care about his internal policies. I care about the veterans and Gold Star mothers and like Marine Sergeant Vargas-Andrews had his arm blown up, his leg, who had the suicide bomber in his sights and wasn’t given permission to engage. That’s what I care about.
And that’s why if they don’t deliver by Monday, close of business, I will serve that subpoena.
BREAM: Okay. I want to make sure we get back to the other gentleman we’re hearing from there. It was Congressman Jamaal Bowman. This is on the issue of TikTok, a very heated hearing this week. But he says just going after TikTok is potentially racist.
Here’s what he says.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOWMAN: Let’s not be racist towards China and express our xenophobia when it comes to TikTok because American companies have done tremendous harm to American people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BREAM: So he says that this is a somehow xenophobic motivation to go after China and TikTok, when we have American companies, he says here, are creating privacy concerns in the same ways.
MCCAUL: Well, we’re racist, but the Chinese are not, I don’t understand this logic, blame America first.
I mean, the fact is, you know, every national security official in this administration has said that it is a national security threat.
And you know what? We banned it in the Congress, right? So, if we banned it in the Congress, that’s too dangerous for us to have, why in the world is it safe enough for children to have?
It is a backdoor into your iPhone. It’s a spy balloon into your phone. It can collect your data. It can message to you.
I’ve — I’ve marked up a bill out of my committee, at a constitutional framework to ban TikTok and I think Congress is going to move forward on this. One thing you saw from the hearings in a bipartisan way that both sides of the aisle were standing together saying this is a threat to our children and we need to stop it.
BREAM: To that point, there are going to be several American companies who are heavily invested or actually producing in China meeting in Beijing this week. That includes people like, according to “The Wall Street Journal”, Tim Cook from Apple.
At what point do American companies who benefit off of being there have an obligation to speak out against things that are in conflict with our interests, I mean, things that are happening with our young people and kids through some of these products?
MCCAUL: It’s profit versus national security. I deal with this all the time.
Are we going to export technology, Shannon, that go into the hypersonic weapon, you know, that was built down on the backbone of American technology? The spy balloon had American components in it.
Is it — is it right for us to make profits exporting technology to Chinese that then they put in their war machine that they could turn against us, say, in Taiwan and the Pacific?
I don’t think so. I think we have to appeal to sense of patriotism in this case. And I think national security outweighs profit incentive.
BREAM: All right. We didn’t even get to Syria, but our time is up.
Chairman, thank you for coming back. Always good to have you.
MCCAUL: Thanks for having me, Shannon.
BREAM: All right. Up next, former President Donald Trump held a campaign rally last night in Texas, railing against reports that he could be indicted in the coming days. We’ve got a comprehensive conversation on what the legal battle could mean for Trump and for the rest of the country. Our legal experts join us next.
BREAM: Former President Trump could be indicted as soon as tomorrow. The Manhattan district attorney is investigating whether Trump violated campaign finance laws in a hush money scheme.
Now, there are plenty skeptics of that possible move across the legal and political spectrums. Trump himself slammed the investigation last night at a campaign rally.
In a moment, we will bring in FOX News senior political analyst Brit Hume, George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley, and former South Carolina congressman and long-time prosecutor Trey Gowdy, and author of “Start, Stay or Lead: The Art of Decision Making”.
All right. Gentlemen, stand by.
First, Bryan Llenas is live in New York City with more on the former president’s comments last night.
BRYAN LLENAS, FOX NEWS NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Shannon, we expect the jury to meet tomorrow. We also expect them to hear from one final witness who will testify in front of them before they decide on whether to indict former President Trump.
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is said to be investigating whether Trump violated campaign finance law by allegedly making hush-money payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels in 2016. Sources tell FOX News there is, quote, major dissension in the D.A.’s office over the potential, quote, weakness of the case. D.A. Bragg is under intense political pressure to drop the prosecution, Republicans calling it a political witch hunt.
On Truth Social, Trump warned an indictment could bring, quote, potential death and destruction, Trump also posted a photo of himself holding a baseball bat next to Bragg’s head, amid security concerns on Friday, a death threat was mailed to the D.A.’s office.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY): A twice impeached former president’s rhetoric is reckless, reprehensible and irresponsible. It’s dangerous and if he keeps it up, he’s going to get someone killed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LLENAS: Trump has been fundraising off news of possible indictment and on Saturday held a 2024 presidential campaign rally in Waco, Texas.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: When this election is over, I will be the president of the United States.
You will be vindicated and proud and the thugs and criminals who are corrupting our justice system will be defeated, discredited and totally disgraced.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LLENAS: Democrats are expressing concern Bragg’s investigation could undermine three other Trump investigations deemed more significant. The Mar-a-Lago classified documents, Georgia election interference, and lastly, of course, the January 6 probe — Shannon.
BREAM: Bryan Llenas, live in Manhattan, thank you, Bryan.
So, let’s discuss with Brit Hume, Trey Gowdy and Jonathan Turley.
Gentlemen, I want to start by playing a little bit more of what the president had to say last night about this potential prosecution.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The innocence of people makes no difference whatsoever to these radical left maniacs. It is worse actually in my opinion, hard to believe anything could be worse than this, but I think it’s worse than ballot stuffing or media manipulation by the FBI working together with Twitter, Facebook and the rest.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BREAM: Professor, I’ll start with you. He talked about this idea of prosecutorial discretion and this being a tool in the tool box against him. So, talk to us about that discretion that prosecutors have?
JONATHAN TURLEY, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY LAW PROFESSOR: Well, they have discretion but they don’t have discretion to create their own laws. And what is being done is something that most of us consider really beyond the pail, that is Bragg is taking a New York misdemeanor, which, by the way, has expired, only a two-year statute of limitations, and he’s potentially boot strapping that into a felony.
But he intends, according to reports, to prove a federal crime that Department of Justice itself declined to prosecute. Now that effort, he’s losing already the court of public opinion. A poll came out showing roughly 60 percent of people viewed this as politically motivated. But he’s playing to a jury pool in New York.
And the likelihood of finding a Trump supporter in the New York jury pool is about the same as finding a triceratops. I mean, it’s not that likely. But he also has judges in New York who I think are going to look askance at this, and say, wait, you’re a state prosecutor and you’re going to prove a federal crime?
I think he’s got a rough road ahead. But what he has done is handed Trump proof positive of his long narrative. This is a political prosecution.
BREAM: So, Brit, I want to bring you into that point, because “The New York post” editorial board wrote about this and they say they agree that this is a political prosecution, says Trump has every right to be upset. But rather than seek his vindication in the courtroom or even just make an impassioned speech, Trump wants to inspire a mob time and time again. Trump’s responses have been unhinged, indicative and self-defeating.
So, Brit, it sounds here like the professor thinks like many people do. They view this case doesn’t happen or it falls apart or there is indictment without conviction.
Is the president stepping on a potential victory himself with the reaction to it?
BRIT HUME, FOX ENWS CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: I think so, Shannon, and, you know, it’s been widely speculated that this prosecution by Alvin Bragg on the theory that he’s espousing here or seems to be will help Trump politically.
I have my doubts. That issue has to be looked at in two ways. One is, what effect might it have on his chances on getting the Republican nomination. And my guess, it won’t have that much effect.
But when you turn to the question of whether he could be elected president again, you have to ask this question, would this prosecution motivate a single voter who did not vote for him in 2020 to vote for him in 2024? And I think the answer to that is pretty clear.
I don’t — I don’t see a single voter who refused to vote for Trump four years ago or three years ago turning in his favor now after he’s been indicted and might be indicted for further investigations of the kind outlined by Bryan Llenas.
BREAM: Yeah. And a lot of this is about perception.
So, Kimberley Strassel has a piece on “The Wall Street Journal” that says this: If Mr. Alvin Bragg acts, the precedent will be set. America will officially become a country like Bolivia or the Philippines where prosecutors of one political party arrest leaders of a rival political party.
Trey, I’ll bring you in here. Is that overstating it? I mean, we know the feds looked at this case and they decided to drop it. But this district attorney thinks, at least by the reports we’re getting, that it’s worthwhile to pursue.
TREY GOWDY, “SUNDAY NIGHT IN AMERICA W/ TREY GOWDY” HOST: Well, I think it’s New York, but it’s also Georgia. And, yeah, I do think Kimberley is right. I think our justice system is at a really, really dangerous point. I mean, anyone who doesn’t think we can find a red state prosecutor or attorney general to go after a Democrat, the justice system, she wears a blindfold for a reason, Shannon. She’s not supposed to care about your political orthodoxy or your race or your gender.
This is, by far, weakest of the cases upon which President Trump is under investigation, by far is factually weak, it’s legally weak. You got statute of limitations problems. You’ve got witness credibility problems.
And yet, for political expediency, Alvin Bragg has finally found a crime he thinks is worth pursuing — not resisting arrest, not shoplifting, not drug offenses, but he thinks paying hush money. He doesn’t think prostitution should be illegal, but paying for silence. So, we are at a dangerous point.
Last point, you know, the president runs risk of doing what they said not to do in the count of Monte Cristo. Do not commit a crime for which you now serve the sentence.
He’s in a good spot, legally and factually in New York. Do not blow it by talking about death and destruction and holding a baseball bat.
BREAM: Well, we have this question now about who this other witness the grand jury may be hearing from. And we know what they did here from last week, and that was Robert Costello and attorney who said he worked with Michael Cohen. Michael Cohen said he wasn’t represented by him, but he gave a different, you know, set of events.
He said that Cohen was lying then and he’s lying now. This is what FoxNews.com is reporting. It says two familiar sources told Fox News digital on Wednesday that the grand jury was cancelled amid, quote, major dissension within the district attorney’s office. One source claimed the district attorney is having trouble convincing the grand jury on potential charges due to the quote weakness of the case.
So, Professor, how much do you think Robert Costello’s testimony may have impacted them? He went in there and said, you can’t trust Michael Cohen, he’s giving you a conflicting information. You’ve seen six e-mails. I’ve got more than 300 others that are relevant. Do you think the jurors now have additional questions?
TURLEY: Well, it’s really telling, isn’t it, because grand juries don’t normally rake prosecutors over the coal in order to get an indictment. You have them at hello when you walk in as a prosecutor. So, if he’s having trouble, it is indicative how weak this case is.
The most damaging aspect for Costello may not simply be as a former counsel to Cohen. He says that he’s lying. He said he brought 300 e-mails with him and said these contradict what Cohen says.
The jury might not have seen those emails and the most damaging thing you can do in a grand jury is that if the grand jury believes that they are only seeing part of this picture. But the dissent within the office I think is equally important. It is a weak case.
We can talk about Georgia, I think that’s fairly weak, but it’s more conventional. I think there’s a greater threat in Mar-a-Lago. That’s a well-trod ground for prosecutors, But New York is political prosecution and I think you have to call it. And I think a lot of prosecutors may be getting sticker shock on this one and saying this is too costly to our office.
BREAM: So, we now have the House GOP going back and forth with Alvin Bragg’s office. They are saying, we’re going to have you testify. You’ve got to come here. We’ve got questions about how you’re running your office. Alvin Bragg’s office firing back, you don’t have any jurisdiction here. We are sovereign and we’re not going to show up for anything. Another letter back and forth last night.
But “The Wall Street Journal” editorial board says this, the House GOP takes Alvin Bragg’s bait. They’ve got a warning. They say: House Republicans are hurting their own cause. It’s one thing to denounce Mr. Bragg’s prosecution as weak and unjust. It’s another to look like defending Mr. Trump is the new majority’s main preoccupation.
So, Brit, what about that political point?
HUME: Well, I think it’s fair to view this effort by the House committee as an attempt to say (ph) or to please the Trump base. I think, you know, it might be wise for them to stay out of it.
The case is faltering and you have to ask this question, Shannon: Why on earth was Mr. Costello allowed to testify? Normally, when a — when a grand jury is on verge of indicting someone and prosecutor is running the show, they don’t usually invite witnesses that are damaging to their cause to come and testify, which this prosecutor did, which has raised the question, among many, as to whether he is trying to find a way out of this and allow this testimony to go forward for that reason, which, again, suggests that what the House committee is doing is probably unnecessary from the legal point of view and foolish from a political point view.
BREAM: Trey, a quick final word from you.
GOWDY: Well, it’s just not going to work I mean the power to subpoena is only as good as the power to enforce that subpoena. It’s never going to be enforced. There are a thousand reasons to criticize Alvin Bragg, but he’s not going to come before Congress and justify himself.
BREAM: All right, Brit, Trey, Jonathan, thank you all very much.
So, there’s new reporting this week on President Biden’s assessment of his own vice president, and some of the comments aren’t so rosy. Up next, we’ll ask our Sunday panel about the strategy behind the unflattering leak and the impact on 2024.
BREAM: Donald Trump refusing to let up on his attacks on one of his possible 2024 GOP rivals. The former president lashing out at Florida Governor Ron DeSantis at his rally in Texas last night, calling him overrated.
It’s time now to see what our group thinks, our Sunday group. Bloomberg TV Washington correspondent Annmarie Hordern, Democratic strategist Lis Smith, “The Daily Caller” editorial director Vince Coglianese, and townhall.com political editor Guy Benson.
OK, welcome, everybody. We’ll get to that about Mr. DeSantis. But he also, last night, was talking about this prosecution he calls a persecution out of New York.
Guy, what happens this week?
GUY BENSON, TOWNHALL.COM POLITICAL EDITOR, “THE GUY BENSON SHOW” HOST AND FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Man, your guess is as good as mine. I was pretty convinced early last week that this indictment was coming. They had gone all the way down this path. They’d taken some of the slings and arrows along the way and seemed determined, Bragg and his team, to do this. But then we had these weird delays and it got punted into another week and these rumors swirling about how maybe the grand jury was sort of going wobbly and they lost some of the plot here on this and maybe they have a problem in Bragg’s office.
And the thing is, and I think this is crucial, it is not just conservatives and Trump supporters who are attacking Bragg and this case, it’s a lot of other people from across the spectrum and I think maybe some Democrats are getting nervous about whether or not this is in their interest.
So, my guess is, Alvin Bragg is getting a lot of incoming from a lot of different sources. And perhaps, perhaps, perhaps this thing is derailing. We’ll see.
BREAM: We’ll see. OK, so I thought he would spend a lot more time talking about that last night than he did. He it on it a couple of times but he spent plenty of time talking about Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. Here’s a sampling.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I did rallies for Ron that were massive rallies, and they were very successful. So we got him the nomination. We then got him the election.
Remember one thing, Florida has been tremendously successful for many years, long before this guy became governor.
In fact, probably as or more successful than it is now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BREAM: Annmarie, I’m guessing that the governor would take issue with that. The president continues to poll well ahead of Ron DeSantis, who’s not officially in the race, but clearly he’s on the president’s radar.
ANNMARIE HORDERN, BLOOMBERG TV WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Yes, clearly the former president going after Governor DeSantis means that this is where he sees potentially his biggest fight into making sure he can be the candidate for 2024. What is also interesting is what you mentioned in the polls, the recent poll — polling shows that Republicans want their nominee to be the former president. Now, that’s actually a change. In February, in this Monmouth poll, it was actually tied 33 percent to 33 percent. And in December, Governor DeSantis actually was leading the former president.
But now it looks like the former president is by large leading the party and also the indictment potential, it’s actually helping him. And it’s also going to mean probably a lot more campaign dollars for the former president. Remember in August, when the FBI was about to go into Mar-a- Lago, campaign wise he was bringing in like $180,000 a day. Then it went to a million. So all of this actually helps the former president. All eyes are on him because of potential indictment in New York.
BREAM: OK, but do, Lis, Democrats want this to happen to the former president? Do they like all of this happening because they think he’s going to be the easier one to take out versus a Ron DeSantis, a Nikki Haley or someone else?
LIS SMITH, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, to Guy’s point earlier, you know, there have been mixed reactions on this from Democrats. And I don’t know a single Democrat in the White House, on The Hill, who thinks that an Alvin Bragg indictment of Donald Trump would be a silver bullet, because let’s be real, this attack is largely baked in against Donald Trump. People know that he paid hush money to a porn star to cover up an extra marital affair.
BREAM: Which he denies.
SMITH: And — which he denies. And either they are OK with it or they’re not. So, I don’t know how much this is going to move the needle with voters and what Democrats are looking for is to see if there are going to be future indictments.
But what I would say is this, we make a mistake sometimes as Democrats by thinking that there’s going to be some divine intervention that is going to help us beat Donald Trump. And if he is the nominee, it’s going to have to be a fight on the issues.
BREAM: OK. So, we’re still trying to figure out who is going to be the nominee on the other side because we’re waiting to hear if President Biden is going to announce his re-election bid. In the meantime, AP has this headline, Biden approval dips near lowest point. It says the president notched an approval rating of 38 percent in the newest polling, 45 percent approved back in February, 41 percent in January. That’s not where he wants to be, probably, in making this decision.
VINCE COGLIANESE, “THE DAILY CALLER” EDITORIAL DIRECTOR, “THE VINCE COGLIANESE SHOW” HOST: No, of course not, but it’s really not surprising. I mean he starts a presidency with a $1.9 trillion spending package that stimulated inflation. Both economists on the left and the right agreed. We’ve had out of control costs ever since. A border that remains out of control. We have infighting within his administration about that status. A city called East Palestine, Ohio, that was covered in a toxic cloud following a train derailment. An administration that wasn’t attentive to their needs. And now a banking crisis that’s ensuing. Who’s going to look at all of this and say, man, this is better than we were four years ago? Nobody’s going to say that. So that’s why you see it reflected in this polling.
The only shocking thing about this poll is, this isn’t the lowest he’s been. He’s been lower before. But the reality is, that he’s getting very bad marks. And Democrats are in a position where they don’t know what to do. Joe Biden is, I guess, the only guy that they can put forward?
BREAM: Well, Reuters gets to this, and kind of his thinking on this re- election. According to their sources, about the vice president, it says, Democratic sources say Biden has frustration about some of her work. He is also convinced that neither Harris nor any other Democratic hopefuls would be able to beat former President Donald Trump if he is the Republican nominee, a factor that has influenced Biden’s inclination to run again.
So, Lis, I come back to you. What do Democrats do? What’s the plan? What’s the plan B or C?
SMITH: Well, I don’t think we need a plan B or plan C. Joe Biden is going to be the nominee. And I would caution everyone not to read too much in the polls right now because look back to 2022. The trend lines were worse for Joe Biden, as you were saying, than they are right now. People were predicting a red wave. You know, that Democrats would get wiped out. And, instead, he had the best mid-term performance for any incumbent Democratic president in 60 years.
And why is that? Because elections are not referendum. They are choices. And 2024 will be a choice between Joe Biden, who’s been able to deliver on infrastructure improvements, allowing Medicare to negotiate for lower —
BREAM: He’s definitely running?
SMITH: Yes, he’s definitely going to run. And Republicans have got to find a way to get out of fighting all these culture wars and espousing all these conspiracy theories otherwise they will continue to hemorrhage suburban and moderate voters.
BREAM: We’ll talk about some of that coming up, but a quick word from you, Guy, we’ve got to go.
BENSON: The president’s approval rating is terrible. The vice president’s approval rating is worse. He’s 80. And most Democrats in polls don’t want him to run again. But it’s full steam ahead. It’s a pretty peculiar moment in our politics.
BREAM: All right, panel, stick around because we’re going to talk about some more culture war issues, as Lis mentioned, coming up.
Up next, a heated Capitol Hill showdown over how much information parents should have about what’s happening inside their kid’s schools. That’s next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY), HOUSE MINORITY LEADERS: Today, extreme MAGA Republicans passed a bill that puts politics over parents and will ban books, censure libraries and bully children.
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): This says the parent can now know what’s being taught in the school. This is now saying the parents can now look at the reading material. It’s now saying the parents can now see what the money is being spent on a school board.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BREAM: House Democrats and Republicans feuding over the ideas behind a parents bill of rights. It passed the House. It’s probably dead on arrival in the Senate.
We’re back now with the panel.
All right, Vince, hearing those two descriptions, they sound like two different bills.
COGLIANESE: Totally. Totally different. And it’s interesting the left is very critical of so-called book bans. They’re the same party that moved to ban “To Kill a Mockingbird.” It’s the same ideology that’s been feeding the effort to censor Roll Doll’s (ph) books and RL Stein’s (ph) books now. The whole thing is so crazy.
And the reality here is that the federal government, taxpayers spent 8 percent of all of the spending on public schools nationwide. And as a result, you have kind of a say in how those operate. And that includes transparency. So, the Republicans said, this is really basic. If your child can’t read by third grade, the school has to tell you. That’s so important that a child read by third grade. If the teachers have a curriculum, they need to post it, make it available to the parents. And teachers need to meet with their – with the parents at least twice a year. These a very simple expectations. All parents are for it. The idea that you could demonize this bill, I think it’s outrageous because it’s a perfectly good bill and it’s the kind of thing that Americans would expect Congress to do with their money.
BREAM: Well, Annmarie, the man who runs the Senate, Chuck Schumer, has says it’s Orwellian and it’s dead on arrival essentially there. So, is this just kind of a PR optics game by House GOP?
HORDERN: A hundred percent. It is a messaging bill because it has no life after getting passed in the House, because this was passed by House Republicans.
I think what really you need to think about is going into 2024, why the Republicans want to make this a talking point. When you look at Pew research, 50 percent of Republicans say students and how the parents are involved in education is one of their top priority. And just close to where he’s sitting right now, Glenn Youngkin, this is how he was able to win the governorship. At the last minute he really started focusing on education. And then he won independent voters and suburban households. Very much so suburban women.
So, Republicans really view this as way to potentially drive this message home to win 2024.
BREAM: So this is what “The Hill” says about what’s actually in the bill. The measure would require schools to publish their curriculum publicly, mandate that parents be allowed to meet with their children’s teachers and make schools give information to parents when violence occurs on school grounds.
So, Lis, why didn’t any of the Democrats want to vote for that?
SMITH: Look, so I work in communications, I work in branding, and I’ve got to say, kudos to the people who wrote this bill because it sounds completely innocuous. Like, who would be against parental engagement? Who would be against safer schools? But if you scratch beneath the surface, you see that this is an attempt to bring the culture war to the last place that they should be, which is America’s classroom.
BENSON: It’s a defense – it’s a defense against the culture war. That’s the only (INAUDIBLE).
SMITH: Well, no and – well, just let me finish. And why do I – why do I say that? Democrats in Congress said this looks a lot like state efforts that led to book bans, to censorship of important topics. So, let’s introduce a few common sense amendments. They introduced an amendment to prevent book banning. Republicans rejected it. They introduced amendments to prevent censorship of women’s history, black history, of the Holocaust, the Holocaust. Republicans rejected those.
BREAM: I don’t think anybody’s saying, don’t teach the Holocaust?
SMITH: Well, but then why – tell me this, why –
BREAM: No, but that –
SMITH: But why would they reject preventing censorship of that?
BREAM: Well, sometimes they call these poison pills. I mean, Guy, you know how this works. I mean sometimes they will add things to a bill making (INAUDIBLE) –
BENSON: Right, almost like a messaging – a messaging amendment, if you will, to a messaging bill.
SMITH: But – but one – but one quick counter to that is, they did allow amendments from Lauren Boebert that would require schools to report to the community if a trans girl used a women’s bathroom. So they were allowing amendments. And the fact that they’re allowing amendments like that and not ones that would prevent banning of books suggests to me that this is just a culture war in sheep’s clothing.
COGLIANESE: Biological boys have been using girls rooms. And to vote on like a Holocaust bill, that is dignifying a lie. It’s not something that’s even happening.
SMITH: Well, no, it is – we have seen censorship of the Holocaust in schools across the country.
BREAM: All right, got –
SMITH: And schools that want to teach both sides of the Holocaust, as if there are both sides. We have seen that.
BENSON: What? I mean – I mean that’s crazy town and I don’t think anyone supports that. And, look, the majority party often allows votes from their party on amendments and denies it to the minority. That’s what happens in the House all the time.
The culture wars are in school, unfortunately, and the aggressors in the culture wars, over and over again, are the left. And teachers’ unions and other people who have agendas. Some – what Republicans are saying is, hey, if they’re going to be shoving this stuff at kids, we want to notice this and have a say on this and push back a little bit against it. And I’m glad, Shannon, that you actually read “The Hill’s” description of the bill. Every single House Democrat voted against that measure. And it seems like what the Republicans will argue is, Democrats view engage and inform parents as a problem. The Republicans view it the other way. And they would be very happy to have that debate.
BREAM: Well, and this comes at the same time that we have this House from – this interim report from the House Judiciary Committee, the weaponization of government, that select subcommittee, about the FBI tracking parents and investigating them. It says, none of the school board related investigations have resulted in federal charges – arrests or charges, highlighting the political motives behind the attorney general’s actions. The administration’s goal seems to have been silencing the critics of its radical education policies.
Annmarie, that’s the interim report, but it’s Republicans doing what they said they were going to do, which is to go after and investigate these (INAUDIBLE).
HORDERN: Yes, exactly. And I also think we should take note of what the FBI director said on Fox News, which is that they only go after and look at this stuff if there’s actually physical threats against people. But what they do not do at all is block parent’s amendment right of freedom of speech and showing up to these school boards. But this, obviously, goes back to 2021 when you had the school board go to the president and say we need federal help on this.
BREAM: All right, I know you’re itching, Vince, but we’ve got to go to commercial or we’re not going to make it.
Panel, thank you very much. We’ll see you next Sunday.
Up next, he turned his biggest heartbreak into music that’s comforting others as they walk through deep suffering. My conversation with Grammy- award winner TobyMac, next.
BREAM: In the mid-90s our next guest was a founding member of DC Talk, a rap, rock and hip-hop trio that became one of the most influential and groundbreaking groups in Christian music. These days, singer/songwriter TobyMac is a solo act and seven-time Grammy winner, selling out arenas across the country. But this latest tour is bittersweet, promoting an album born out of a tragic loss that threatened to shake his faith.
TOBYMAC, SINGER/SONGWRITER (singing): You’re the only rock that I will build my life on. Through it all you remain. The sun goes up. The sun comes down.
MAC (on camera): I think that the way my songs connect with people because I write them about what I’m going through. And my theory is that I’m not that different from everybody out there.
BREAM (voice over): TobyMac is no stranger to tackling tough subjects in his music. Right now he’s performing on faith-infused lyrics on his annual Hits Deep tour, featuring songs he wrote while dealing with the devastating grief of losing his oldest son.
MAC: I remember driving to my first writing session. And I’m like, am I really going to – am I really going to walk in this room, a writing session with the guys, and act like everything’s normal when it’s so far from that?
BREAM: In 2019, his 21-year-old son Truett died of accidental overdose.
MAC: My heart is – is shattered. Like, how could I act – how can I do what I did before? It felt – it felt really strange to me and it felt so sad.
MAC (singing): Ain’t no doubt about you. Everywhere that I go —
BREAM: He channeled that grief into new songs to help his millions of listeners find hope in the midst of their own suffering.
MAC (singing): You’re the goodness in my life.
MAC (on camera): The guys were so gentle with me. I ended up writing a song that they called “Faithfully,” and it just talks about, you know, when my world broke into pieces, you were there faithfully. When I cried out to you, Jesus, you made a way for me. So, I wrote it about that, but it was very, very, very dear song to my heart about how God is kind to me in the hardest place and the deepest valley.
BREAM (on camera): Have you heard from other people? I’ve got to imagine they’ve been so touched by this music?
MAC: Yes. I’ve heard from a lot of people that have lost – lost loved ones. You know, I wouldn’t want to be the guy that wrote that song that met them where they were, but I’m that guy. And, you know, God is going to use everything. I believe that.
MAC: You know this is my hometown, right?
BREAM (voice over): TobyMac was born Toby McKeehan, and grew up just outside of the nation’s capital, in Fairfax, Virginia. He shot to fame as a member of DC Talk, a Christian rap trio, formed with two classmates while studying at Liberty University. Now, at 58, his performances are still high octane.
BREAM (on camera): Do you ever feel the wear and tear of doing these shows the way you do them?
MAC: You know, I love doing them. You know, we’re on our 13th show tonight. I’m going to be in my hometown that I grew up in, came to shows here. I plan on leaving every ounce of anything on that stage tonight.
BREAM: You’re warmed up.
MAC: Yes, I’m warmed up.
Give it up for the DiverseCity band.
BREAM (voice over): Each night he takes the stage with the musicians and singers who make up his DiverseCity band, spreading their message of God’s goodness.
BREAM (on camera): How do you go about writing music and songs? You’ve got a way with words. But how does all of that come together?
MAC: It’s — a lot of different ways. But typically it starts here. I love to write around people. I love human relationship. I think we’re more beautiful as a human race when all our colors are represented and when – and when we’re welcoming to each other. A lot of times I’ll write, you know, a hook of a song before I walk in the studio. Many, many times. I remember writing, “Help is On the Way.” I walked in to the guy’s studio and I’m like, you know, maybe midnight or midday, they have early —
MAC (singing): Never late. We going to stand by what he claimed. I lift him up like the same. Help is on the way.
BREAM: OK, so, long-term, what do you want your legacy to be?
MAC (on camera): Interestingly enough, backstage matters to me as much or almost more than on stage. Not just my life at home. Of course that matters to me. Backstage matters to me. What happens in these halls of an arena, what happens at catering, what happens at tour (ph) church. If there’s not community and love, praying for each other going on backstage, then if we take the stage, aren’t we just hypocrites? We want people to experience a night where they’re fully entertained, but a night also where they’re reminded that God loves them.
MAC (singing): All of the ground is sinking sand.
BREAM: TobyMac is back on the road this week for his “Hits Deep” tour with stops in Arizona and Texas.
And a quick note, my podcast, “Livin’ the Bream” is freshly out this morning. This week, Fox News contributor Pastor Robert Jeffress join me to talk about the story of Job and the importance of deep friendship in the midst of suffering. It’s just one of the stories in my brand new book, “Love Stories of the Bible Speak,” currently available for pre-order and finally out this Tuesday. You can download and subscribe to my podcast by heading to foxnewspodcast.com or wherever you like to get your podcasts.
That is it for us today. Thank you for joining us. I’m Shannon Bream. Have a great week. We’ll see you right here next FOX NEWS SUNDAY.
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