This is a rush transcript of “Fox News Sunday” on September 5, 2021. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: I’m Chris Wallace.
From New Orleans to the Northeast, the death toll from Hurricane Ida rises as the recovery continues.
WALLACE (voice-over): The devastation stretches from the Gulf Coast to the nation’s biggest city. But it’s far from the only disaster striking the U.S. as the West battles drought, heat, and fire.
We’ll talk with FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell about the federal response and the forecast for the future.
JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: No one is saying from the federal government — no one — that the Taliban are good actors.
WALLACE: What happens to those Americans and Afghan allies left behind a week after the final pull out from Kabul?
We’re joined by Congressman Michael McCaul, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Plus, the FDA scrambles to study the benefits of COVID boosters as the Biden administration pushes a deadline to start rolling them out.
We’ll ask Dr. Ashish Jha, one of the nation’s public health experts about criticism the White House is getting ahead of the science.
And President Biden blisters the Supreme Court for refusing to block a new Texas ban on most abortions after six weeks.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The most pernicious thing about the Texas law is it sort of creates a vigilante system.
WALLACE: We’ll ask our Sunday panel what it signals for Roe v. Wade.
All, right now, on “FOX News Sunday.”
WALLACE (on camera): And hello again from FOX News in Washington.
More than 60 people are dead as the country faces a long recovery from Hurricane Ida. The devastation stretching from the Gulf to the Northeast, the storm disabling the power grid across Louisiana and creating miserable conditions for people facing high heat and humidity. And in the Northeast, folks are still digging out from massive flooding.
In the moment, we’ll speak with the person in charge of the federal response, FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell.
But, first, let’s bring in Bryan Llenas on the ground in Mullica Hill, New Jersey — Bryan.
BRYAN LLENAS, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Chris, a powerful EF3 tornado buzz sawed through this community New Jersey destroying dozens of homes. It was one of seven twisters to hit the region spawned by the remnants of Ida, the fifth strongest hurricane to ever hit the U.S.
LLENAS (voice-over): A week after Hurricane Ida made landfall in Louisiana, hundreds of thousands of people are still without power in dangerously hot, 100-degree weather. It would be a month before power is fully restored after the category four storm’s 150 mile-per-hour winds blacked out all of New Orleans while demolishing whole communities.
MICHAEL COBB, LOUISIANA RESIDENT: Utter devastation, like a bomb went off.
LLENAS: Ida brought record-breaking rainfall to the Northeast. New York City issued its first flash flood emergency in its history as water inundated subway stations and submerged Westchester County in 14 feet of water.
In New Jersey, roadways turned to rivers, forcing hundreds of water rescues as walls of water demolished homes and businesses.
GOV. KATHY HOCHUL (D), NEW YORK: People have been warning for decades that the effect of climate change and what it would do to our communities. It’s happening right now. It is not a future threat.
LLENAS: This as wildfires in California have burned three times as much land compared to the same time last year, fueled by severe drought.
LLENAS (on camera): Nearly one in three Americans reportedly lives in a county that has experienced a weather disaster over the last three months.
President Biden will be visiting New York and New Jersey on Tuesday to survey the extensive damage — Chris.
WALLACE: Bryan, thank you.
And joining us now, FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell.
Administrator, one week after Hurricane Ida first made landfall on the Gulf Coast, how many FEMA workers do you still have on the coast and up in the Northeast? And how bad are conditions still?
DEANNE CRISWELL, FEMA ADMINISTRATOR: Good morning, Chris. Thanks so much for having me on today.
We still have well over a thousand responders that are on the ground in Louisiana and several hundred more that have been supporting the events that happened in the Northeast.
Hurricane Ida, she left a devastating path. Not only was it the fifth most powerful hurricane, but it impacted southern Louisiana as a category four for hours. The road to recovery in that part of Louisiana is going to take a very long time. There’s a lot of devastation.
WALLACE: You know, when a massive hurricane — you say a category four — hits the coast, we expect there to be severe damage. I think the surprise is that days later, and more than a thousand miles away that Ida did such devastation in the Northeast, including New York City.
And here is that city’s mayor, Bill de Blasio, talking about that. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK CITY: I think we now understand that every attempt at projection, bluntly, is failing us. Let’s be clear: we’re getting from the very best experts projections that then are made a mockery of in a matter of minutes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Question: why is that? Why are the projections so off?
CRISWELL: You know, we are definitely beginning to see the impacts of climate change. This storm in particular, it intensified so rapidly in the Atlantic or in the Gulf that emergency managers, emergency responders had even a shorter time to warn the public and help get them out of harm’s way.
And we’re also seeing, as this storm and some of the other weather events that we’ve seen, they’re just intensifying very rapidly and dropping a large amount of rain and tornadoes. This is the crisis of our generation, these impacts that we’re seeing from climate change, and we have to act now to try to protect against the future risks that we’re going to face.
WALLACE: I want to put up — or talk about that, and it isn’t just this week and Ida and the areas it hit, I want to put up a list of the extreme weather events we have had across the country this year, exceeding $1 billion in damages, each of them — flooding, extreme cold, tornadoes, severe storms, wildfires and, yes, hurricanes.
Administrator, is this a normal run of disasters that this country faces in a year?
CRISWELL: I think this is going to be our new normal. We saw intense weather events in 2017. Last year was a record number of hurricanes and a record wildfires season. The U.N. had just put out there climate report and they said that this is — the climate crisis that we’re facing and it’s only going to continue to get worse.
WALLACE: I know that you’re not a climate scientist, but let me ask you a question a lot of people ask. How can climate change do all of these things, be responsible for extreme heat and drought but also record cold, flooding, as I say, and wildfires? How could it be responsible for all of those, sometimes what seemed to be directly contradictory weather effects?
CRISWELL: You know, I don’t know how climate impacts it specifically. What I do know is that we are seeing more frequent storms, more intense storms that are intensifying more rapidly. We have to start planning for what the future might hold and do modeling that’s going to help us predict what these future risks are going to be.
WALLACE: Well, let’s pick up on that, because if climate change is going to continue, and if these weather extremes, as they are called, are going to get worse, is FEMA, as it now exists, as the agency that you run, is it equipped to deal with a growing problem?
CRISWELL: The focus that I really want to help FEMA move towards is focusing on reducing the impacts that we’re seeing from these. We will continue to respond to these threats and these events as they happen, but we have to start investing in reducing the impacts that we’re seeing from these.
That’s why this year, President Biden has authorized close to $5 billion to invest in hazard mitigation, to start reducing the impacts that we’re seeing from this increased number of disastrous events.
WALLACE: But — you know, we just showed that the billions of dollars that each of these events have caused — I understand $5 billion even in Washington is real money, but it’s nothing like what you’re going to need to deal with — if we’re going to continue to see these kinds of strings of extreme weather events.
CRISWELL: No, you’re right, Chris, but this is a start. We have to start somewhere and so this money is more than FEMA has ever been able to put out before and we’re going to continue to work on trying to find additional funding. The Building Resilient Infrastructure in Communities Grant Program that was authorized by the Disaster Recovery Resilience Act is going to continue to give us larger amounts of money than we’ve ever had before.
This is a start. We do have a long way to go and a lot of investment that needs to be made.
WALLACE: Well, let’s talk about investment because the Senate passed this
$1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure plan. I have to say, I studied a lot of stuff what’s in it but I didn’t particularly study things that would help in terms of climate change. Are there elements in that bipartisan infrastructure plan that would protect parts of the country from extreme weather?
CRISWELL: To my understanding, there are parts of that plan that are going to also contribute and add additional funding to the mitigation efforts, but the other part of that plan is helping to strengthen our infrastructure in general. We have a very old infrastructure across this country and we need to work on rebuilding that, building it back stronger so it can be more resilient to these future threats.
WALLACE: This is going to get you probably little more political than you want to get, Administrator, but this was passed last month, the infrastructure plan, by the Senate. Now it’s being held up in the House with a debate over another $3 trillion plan.
If climate change and if weather extremes are such a clear and present danger, would you like to see — even if you pass the bill today, it’s going to take a while to get shovels in the ground — would you like to see this infrastructure plan pass sooner rather than later so that you can get going on this?
CRISWELL: Now, the mitigation projects that need to be done, they are going to take time. We do need to start, though, right now, planning for what those projects are going to be and learning where we’re going to invest our money to make sure that we are creating a more resilient infrastructure, more resilient communities.
We’ve already started at FEMA with the $5 billion. This is just going to add additional capacity for us to really focus on the areas that need to be strengthened, because these threats aren’t going to go away and we need to start to reduce those impacts.
WALLACE: Yeah, I want to ask your final question, less as the FEMA administrator and more as somebody who’s dealt with a lot of these issues a long time. You’ve had quite a career. You spent 21 years as a firefighter in Colorado. You spent two years as the emergency management administrator in New York City. You’ve been the FEMA administrator since April.
Is this country prepared for the worsening effects of climate change? Could
— you know, you hear about coastal areas that may be swamped. Could this country be transformed if we don’t get a handle on climate change over the next decade?
CRISWELL: You know, what I would say is it’s an emergency management system. It takes everybody from the local, state, and federal level to make sure that we are working collectively to ensure we’re ready for the disasters that come. So it’s a combination of making sure that we’re ready and we rely on each other to respond to these events, but also working together to invest in reducing the impacts. The only way that we’re going to be able to continue to respond to this large number of weather events that we’re seeing is to start to reduce the impacts that we’re seeing from them.
WALLACE: But simple question: right now, are we ready?
CRISWELL: I believe we’re ready. We have invested a lot of money from the FEMA side into the state and local communities to enhance their preparedness. Our grant programs continue to invest in their capabilities to help them make sure that they are ready to respond.
WALLACE: Administrator Criswell, thank you. Thanks for taking the time to talk with us and we’ll be tracking the ongoing relief efforts. Thank you.
CRISWELL: Thank you, Chris.
WALLACE: Up next, Americans and our local allies stuck in Afghanistan as the Biden administration explores if it can somehow work with the Taliban.
We’ll talk with a key House Republican, Michael McCaul, about that, and the growing terror threat when we come right back.
WALLACE: With U.S. troops gone from Kabul and the Taliban in control, President Biden now faces a new set of challenges, can he get Americans out, and how does he confront the growing terror threat?
Joining us now from Texas, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Michael McCaul.
Congressman, welcome back to “FOX News Sunday”.
REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL (R-TX): Thanks, Chris. Thanks for having me.
WALLACE: On Friday, Secretary of State Blinken, under questioning from reporters, refused to say how many Americans, how many Afghan allies have gotten out of that country since the U.S. pulled all our forces out on Monday.
As the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, do you know the answer to that?
MCCAUL: You know, I’ve been given the answer in the classified space but it’s in the hundreds. We have hundreds of American citizens left behind enemy lines in Afghanistan as I speak. And also, very sadly, the interpreters who worked with our special forces, almost all of them were left behind and were not let in the gates at the airport at HKI to get out.
And that was a promise that the president made. I’ve said all along, this resident has blood on his hands. And, this week, this last week, we had 13 service men and women come home, flag draped coffins at Dover Airbase.
This problem’s going to get worse, not better, and it’s — we have left them behind. That’s the basic creed of the military.
WALLACE: Sir, I asked a slightly different question though than the — than the one you answered. Not how many are still left. Do you know how many of those Americans and how many of those Afghan allies have gotten out of the country since we pulled out on Monday?
MCCAUL: Right. So the — the Americans themselves, probably around the
5,000 range. And the visa card holders, the other —
WALLACE: No, no, no, sir, sir, wait, wait. No, what I’m asking is, since we left the country on Friday, how many Americans have gotten out of Afghanistan? Since we pulled out, how many Afghan allies have gotten out since the Taliban was in complete control of the country?
MCCAUL: I understand. Zero. And, in fact, we have six airplanes at Mazar Sharif Airport, six airplanes with American citizens on them as I speak, also with these interpreters, and the Taliban is holding them hostage for demands right now. They — we — the state has cleared these flights and the Taliban will not let them leave the airport. So, I’m sorry, the answer to your question is zero. And that’s my concern is they’re going to demand more and more, whether it be cash or legitimacy as the government of Afghanistan.
WALLACE: Let me pick up on this because I didn’t know this. You’re saying that there are Americans on airplanes ready to fly out of Afghanistan right now and they’re not being allowed out because Taliban is making demands?
What demands are the Taliban making?
MCCAUL: Well, they are not — they are not clearing the airplanes to depart. They’ve sat at the airport for the last couple of days, these planes, and they’re not allowed to leave. We know the reason why is because the Taliban want something in exchange.
This is really, Chris, turning into a hostage situation where they’re not going to allow American citizens to leave until they get full recognition from the United States of America.
My concern is that Zalmay Khalilzad or special envoy who’s met with the Taliban, they’re in talks right now and I think — I — I worry his recommendation to the administration will be to recognize the Taliban as the official government of the United States, a Taliban organization that is a terrorist organization.
WALLACE: There are also reports that the Taliban is now carrying out mass killings of former Afghan government officials, former Afghan defense forces. Can you shed any light on that?
MCCAUL: Yes. You know, executions are taking place. We’re getting videos coming in, stories and interpret being, you know, blocked by the Taliban.
Remember, they had a perimeter around the airport itself. The interpreters couldn’t get through that perimeter. Most Americans did. Some got blocked by our own U.S. government at the airport. The State Department wholly failed in this evacuation and we had to rely on groups like Operation Task Forces like Pineapple and Dunkirk, who I implore the State Department to work with to help get these Americans and interpreters left behind out.
But the retaliation has been severe, Chris. You have stories of interpreters being taken home to their families and watching, you know, their wives and families being beheaded, executed before they execute the interpreter. This is not a new and improved Taliban. This is the same old Taliban. They’re reverting back to the same brutal practices.
And, you know, there was reports also — I was on the phone last weekend with top officials at DOD and State trying to get 250 orphaned girls, Afghan orphaned girls, from the university –from the music — you know, they’re musicians, out of the country, had visas and our own U.S.
government would not open the gate to let them in. Now they’ve returned and now they’re under — in Taliban’s enslavement. And we know that they marry off young women as young as 12, many times 14 years old. It’s a very sick culture and they treat women like property. I worry about the women left behind as well.
WALLACE: Let me pick up on this, because administration officials continue to say that they believe that they can work with the Taliban, both to get Americans and our Afghan allies out, and also to join together in fighting groups like ISIS-K.
Here is White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We have an enormous amount of leverage, including access to the global marketplace, which is not a small piece of leverage, to the Taliban who are now overseeing large swaths of Afghanistan.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Given that they are now in charge of Afghanistan, should we try to find some way to work with the Taliban, can we some find some way to work with the Taliban?
MCCAUL: Well, I think in many respects, because this administration ignored the warnings of the intelligence community assessments, overrode the top generals, we find ourselves in this very precarious, dangerous situation where the Taliban is now dictating terms to us, where they are dictating the terms of our exit strategy, dictating whether Americans can leave are not or the interpreters. And Mr. Putin himself, you know, stared down our president at the summit and said you cannot build ISR intelligence capabilities in the region.
The problem is, Chris, we are — we’ve gone dark. When Bagram went down, when we turned it over to the Afghan partners , now in Taliban hands, with all the cash and weaponry, when our embassy went down, we went dark. We have no eyes and ears in country and we can’t see Russia, China, and Iran.
This is a major national security threat.
I warned the administration for months to get the Americans out, but also establish this ISR capability, which we have none now. Now we’re left in this very desperate situation, a very bad foreign policy of having to negotiate with the Taliban, which I always — I was always skeptical of having to do.
And, yes, we do have frozen assets. That’s the only leverage we have left because we have no military on the ground and we have no intelligence capability on the ground.
WALLACE: Let — let me — let me pick up on that because the president continues to talk about our, quote, over the horizon ability to combat terrorist, which basically means we can do it from outside of Afghanistan, and he points to the two hits in the last week or so on ISIS-K terrorists.
How do you assess the terror threat from Afghanistan now that the Taliban is completely in control, and how do you assess our ability to deal with that terror threat from over the horizon?
MCCAUL: It’s a great question. This over the horizon capability is greatly exaggerated because we don’t have anything near Afghanistan. It’s a landlocked country surrounded by our enemies, Russia, China, Iran, who have now been emboldened by this foreign policy, you know, blunder.
So, you know, how do we — how do we go forward? I think we have to establish that ISR. You know, somewhere over the horizon capability means flying from a gulf, probably countries like Qatar, which would be, you know, anywhere from six to eight hours, having to fly, you know, around Iran, over Pakistan, get refueling. This is not — when I talk to anybody in the military, they tell me this is not adequate for us to have ISR capability.
What we need to see, eyes and ears on the ground to see the threat so that we can respond to the threat and eliminate it. We don’t have that capability anymore. And, Chris, we’re going back to pre-9/11 right now but it’s worse.
MCCAUL: It’s worse because now they’re fully armed with — with our weapons, our helicopters and pallets of our cash.
WALLACE: Congressman McCaul, thank you. Thanks for your time. Pretty chilling conversation. Always good to talk with you, sir.
MCCAUL: You too, Chris. Thanks for having me.
WALLACE: Up next, Biden administration’s plan for COVID-19 booster shots goes under the microscope. We will talk with an independent public health expert, Dr. Ashish Jha. That’s next.
WALLACE: Coming up, the White House tries to stay on top of the delta surge with recommendations soon to change about what it means to be fully vaccinated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFF ZIENTS, WHITE HOUSE COVID-19 TASK FORCE COORDINATOR: It is time to prepare Americans for a booster shot.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: We’ll ask public health expert, Dr. Ashish Jha, about warnings to rethink the rollout.
WALLACE: With the rise of the delta variant, more people are getting vaccinated. Some 14 million Americans received their first COVID-19 shot in August. But a White House plan to start offering a third booster shot to vaccinated Americans faces pushback from top health officials.
Joining us now, the dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health, Dr.
Doctor, welcome back.
DR. ASHISH JHA, DEAN, BROWN UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: Good morning, Chris. Thanks for having me here.
WALLACE: So let’s start with where we are in this last — this most recent delta wave of the COVID pandemic. We are no averaging more than 160,000 new cases a day in this country, more than 1,500 deaths a day, and more than
100,000 people in this country are in hospitals.
But, Doctor, the — the upward curve, the sharp upward curve has flattened out a little bit of new cases, new infections, deaths. Has — the curve has flattened a little bit.
So where are we right now with COVID and the delta wave?
JHA: Yes, so, Chris, as you said, I mean we have an enormous amount of infections across the country, people getting sick, 1,500 Americans dying.
This is all a vaccine preventable disease now, right? So none of this should be happening.
That said, I do think we are peaking, particularly across the American south where I see cases in Florida and Louisiana, Arkansas, starting to turn down. Infection numbers are still rising in the Midwest and Great Plains and the Northeast, but at much slower rates, particularly in states that have high vaccination numbers.
WALLACE: Now having said that, some experts are saying that with all of the Labor Day weekend travel, with kids going back to school, with more and more people resuming their pre-pandemic lives, I was watching college football yesterday and there were stadiums filled with 80,000 people, no masks to be seen, some people say that the delta spike hasn’t even really begun yet.
How likely is that?
JHA: I — I’m more optimistic than that. I don’t think we’re going to see a doubling or tripling of cases from where we are today. Look, we might see a bump in the next week, ten days. We have after every major holiday over the last year and a half, so I would not be surprised. But we have so many more tools now then we’ve ever had before. Certainly vaccines are one of them.
More testing, mask wearing in key places. There’s a lot we can do to prevent that kind of horrible surge that would have happened maybe last year given that when we didn’t have all these tools.
WALLACE: There is quite a debate now — I mentioned it at the beginning of the segment — about whether or not the country needs another full program to give people a third booster shot of vaccine.
Here was President Biden this week on that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Earlier today, our medical experts announced a plan for booster shots to every fully vaccinated American, adult American. You know, this will boost your immune response.
It will increase your protection from COVID-19.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: But — and the president was talking — we are sitting here on September 5th — about starting this program on September 20th.
Doctor, the FDA and the CDC still haven’t approved a full booster program.
It’s become clear that even if they do, that we’re not going to start seeing Moderna boosters on September 20th. And, this week, two top vaccine regulators at the FDA resigned. And according to some sources, part of it was because they felt that we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
President Biden promised that he wasn’t going to let politics, he wasn’t going to get — let the White House get ahead of the science. Is he doing that right now with these boosters?
JHA: Yes, so let’s talk about where the sciences is. And we can — we get science from a lot of places, certainly from the company’s running the trials. We can also look at Israel and their experience. And where the data and the science is, I think pretty clear on a couple of things. One is, it is clear to me that this is probably going to end up being a three shot vaccine package and so the idea of a third shot as part of how you get fully vaccinated is something we’re learning and it’s probably right particularly for vulnerable people.
So there’s no doubt in my mind that people who are in nursing homes, people who are frail elders, people with chronic diseases, people with immunocompromised states, they need to be getting that third shot probably about six month after their second child. That’s where the science and data is.
No doubt we want the FDA to fully approve that. We want the CDC to approve it. We don’t want to get ahead of the process. But the evidence for vulnerable people needing a third shot I think is coming into focus at this point.
WALLACE: Yes, but —
JHA: Whether a young, healthy person needs a third shot, that I’m much less clear about.
Sorry, go ahead.
WALLACE: Yes, I was going to say, the president — well, young, healthy people aren’t coming up on their eight months yet, but a lot of people in their 70s and 60s who didn’t have those problems are coming up and here’s the president basically announcing a program on September 20th, before the FDA or the CDC have approved it, not just for that smaller group you’re talking about.
Does that trouble you at all?
JHA: Yes, I would like the process to be a bit cleaner. I — you know, the way we’ve always done this in American medicine is we have FDA and CDC lead and then the White House follows. I think — what I suspect is happening is the White House is looking at the data from Israel. They’ve got their experts like Dr. Fauci. And basically saying this is where we need to head and beginning to communicate that.
I agree with your point though that it’s absolutely essential that the FDA and CDC also approve any such thing.
WALLACE: Another subject.
As you know, there is a battle in a — in several states about mandates that there — or — or bans on mandates for masking in schools.
How strong is the science that for kids, let’s say up through 18, that masks in schools are important and make a difference?
JHA: Yes, this is unnecessarily political and I don’t really understand why it has become so. What I say about kids and masking is that the evidence clearly leans towards the masking being helpful in preventing infections, precenting spread.
It’s not bomb (ph) proof. The evidence is — is strong but not, I would say, overwhelming. But the bottom line is that it should be part of a broader package. If you just do masking, probably not enough. But if we have testing in schools, if we improve ventilation, we get adults vaccinated, it is absolutely possible to get every child back to school full time safely this fall. We shouldn’t be turning these things into political battles. We should be looking at the data and then driving policy based on that.
WALLACE: I’ve got two question I want to squeeze in, in the last two minutes.
I read a report, actually several reports this week, that cloth masks, which, frankly, are the kinds of masks I usually wear, are not really effective. Is that true?
JHA: Yes, cloth masks, unto themselves, generally not effective. That’s why I think surgical masks are better. There are, of course, higher quality masks. Cloth masks may be ten or 20 percent effective, not great against the delta variant.
WALLACE: So you’re saying this mask I’ve been wearing for a year isn’t really protecting me very much?
JHA: I’m saying that given the delta variant that’s out there, you probably need to upgrade your mask, Chris.
WALLACE: Well, thank you for that and I think a lot of people thank you.
Finally, you know, there is increasing talk about new variants. One of them is the Mu variant that comes from Columbia. How concerned are you about that specifically and how concerned are you just generally that as this continues, we could end up with a variant that defeats the vaccines we’re now getting?
JHA: Yes, what I think people need to know is we’re going to see more variants. And the reason we’re going to see more variances is a global pandemic. And when large outbreaks are happening around the world, we’re going to see more variants. And, of course, the best way to suppress it is to get the world vaccinated.
I am not particularly worried about Mu or Lambda, any of these yet. We’ve got to follow the data. The data so far doesn’t say they’re going to escape our vaccines. Obviously something we are concerned about.
I think our vaccines are going to hold up but we’re going to have to pay attention to the data.
WALLACE: Dr. Jha, thank you. Thanks for joining us. Please come back.
JHA: Thank you.
WALLACE: Up next, we’ll bring in our Sunday group to weigh in on the new debate over a Texas abortion law that could have big implications for Roe v. Wade.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): The bill that I’m about to sign that ensures that the life of every unborn child who has a heartbeat will be saved from the ravages of abortion.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: That was Texas Governor Greg Abbott back in May signing a law that bans abortions after about six weeks, when a fetal heartbeat can be detected, and deputizing private citizens to sue anyone for aiding and abetting the procedure.
And it’s time now for our Sunday group.
Jonah Goldberg of “The Dispatch,” Catherine Lucey, who covers the White House for “The Wall Street Journal,” and former Democratic Congressman Harold Ford.
Jonah, there is quite a debate going on inside conservative circles about the developments this week with the Supreme Court. I think it’s fair to say that pro-life groups are thrilled at the idea that a law banning abortions at about six weeks is in the books, but there are other conservatives concerned about the general precedents beyond abortion, this idea of laws that would deputize private citizens to police various kinds of behavior.
JONAH GOLDBERG, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, “THE DISPATCH” AND FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: I think that’s exactly right. I mean what a lot of people don’t understand is this SBA was essentially designed almost in a lab like a special key to unlock the defenses against lawsuits that affect abortion vis-a-vis Roe v.
Wade. And it could cut out — set up all sorts of troubling precedents if this tactic of sort of going around normal injunctive relief and deputizing citizens becomes more widespread.
The other issue that is causing a dispute among conservatives and pro- lifers is that there are a lot of people who think that the Dobbs decision coming — the Dobbs case coming out of Mississippi, which is already on the docket, which is a traditional frontal assault on Roe, has pretty good chances and this may muddy the waters in all sorts of ways and allows a lot of abortion supporters to essentially work the refs for a very long time against the Supreme Court.
WALLACE: Let’s look — you mentioned the Mississippi case — let’s look at where the Supreme Court stands right now on restricting abortions. Let’s put this up on the screen.
Court precedents right now prohibits states from banning abortions prior to fetal viability, that’s roughly 22-24 weeks into pregnancy. But now you have the Texas law, which is on the books, which bans abortions around six weeks. And, as you mentioned, Jonah, the court will hear a Mississippi case this term to ban abortions after 15 weeks.
Harold, how much trouble is the precedent of Roe v. Wade, which basically protects women’s’ rights to have an abortion — stated women’s rights to have an abortion, at least up until viability, how much trouble is Roe v.
Wade in right now?
HAROLD FORD, JR., FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR, FORMER CONGRESSMAN (D-TN) AND CEO, EMPOWERMENT AND INCLUSION CAPITAL: Well, there are certainly going to be questions. And I think that trouble — we’ll have to see how the court decides. I do think Chief Justice Roberts, whose respect for precedent is not only long-admired by some, but is certainly established.
I think politics of this, unfortunately is just so bad on one side for Democrats and perhaps good on the other. Bad in that there are Democrats fuming still over the way some of the Supreme Court justices were rushed through the system. But the other side, as you have a Virginia governor’s race and you have a speaker of the House where this issue — this issue is going to play prominently.
And as you look at some of the opponents of the Texas law, I would agree with Jonah’s assessment of muddying the waters, even — even those who oppose Roe — which I don’t — but those who oppose Roe have issues with this Texas law. And, again, you’ve already seen it playing out in the Virginia governor’s race with Terry McAuliffe making it clear his support for reproductive rights and trying to highlight his opponent’s maybe desire to do what Governor Abbott has done in Texas if he’s elected.
WALLACE: Let’s talk about the politics because President Biden, this week, as soon as the ruling came out from the court — and, remember, it was not a ruling on the constitutionality of the Texas law, it was a decision not to block the law and part of it may have been because the way it’s written.
Normally you would enjoin an attorney general or a local prosecutor from enforcing the law. Much harder to do one private citizens have been deputized and none of them have enforced the law yet.
But here is how President Biden came out after the Texas abortion law ruling by the court this week. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The most pernicious thing about the Texas law, it sort of creates a vigilante system where people get rewards to go out to — anyway. And it just seems — I know this sounds ridiculous, almost un-American.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Catherine, how does the bidden White House view this case and the ruling by the Supreme Court, both as policy and also as politics?
CATHERINE LUCEY, “THE WALL STREET JOURNAL” : Well, you saw, Chris, certainly strong words there from the president, you know, saying this is un-American. You know, they’re — they’re looking at this in a couple of ways.
In terms of the policy, the White House has said they are conducting a sort of government-wide review on anything they can do in this moment and that involves the Department of Justice, Health and Human Services. They’ve been meeting with, you know, abortion advocates and they are trying to figure out if there’s any next steps they can take from the — from the administration. We’ll have to see what that unfolds. You know, that, obviously, is a complicated process.
In terms of the politics, you know, I’ve heard from the White House and from Democrats, you know, they do see this as a really major issue now going into the midterms next year. They really think this could galvanize women, particularly women in suburban areas, some of those key congressional districts Democrats would need to hold the House. And you’ve seen that, as Harold mentioned, you know, already playing out in races around the country like in Virginia where, you know, Democrat Terry McAuliffe is talking about how, you know, if a Republican is elected, you know, this — this too could happen in Virginia. So they really see this as a strong issue. And I think you’re going to hear a lot more from them on that.
WALLACE: Jonah, you know, I’ve always thought that abortion is an issue that animates the pro-choice — no, the pro-life side more than the pro- choice side as long as the right to an abortion stands. But if the right to an abortion is lost or if it’s severely restricted, I wonder if the politics of this issue doesn’t change dramatically and it animates — if they fear that they’re losing it or they’ve lost it, animates the pro- choice side a lot more.
GOLDBERG: I think it’s a very good question. I don’t think anybody can really appreciate how distorting and influential Roe v. Wade has been for the last 50 years of American politics. It essentially created the pro-life movement. It became the galvanizing principle of the Republican Party in many respects and there are a lot of Republican voters who probably are in favor of some sort of compromise on abortion but feel comfortable voting for Republicans because they think Roe v. Wade is there to stay. If it goes away, that could — that could upset everything.
It’s worth pointing out, though, look at the Democrats in Texas. We heard so much about the voting rights bill coming out of Texas. They — you know, they fled to Washington. They headed (ph) all this press.
This bill was passed in May. Democrats in Texas said nothing about it. And that also points to the fact that black and Hispanic voters, they’re all unified on the issue of voting rights. They’re not all unified on the issue of abortion. Getting rid of Roe wouldn’t end abortion in America but it would completely overturn our political assumptions about American politics.
WALLACE: Harold, I want to pick up on something that Catherine said, that –
– the response from the White House, we’re going to have a whole of government response, we’re going to talk to the various agencies. But in a practical sense, how much can the Biden administration or the very slim Democratic majorities in Congress do? I mean it seems to me the obvious things are either you, one, codify Roe v. Wade, you make it a law of the land, or, two, you expand the court so you have a different set of judges.
But unless you kill the filibuster, you can’t do either of those things.
FORD: You asked a great question, Chris, and I think you answered it pretty well as well. I think that the courts is where this — the Supreme Court is where this matter is going to be — going to be resolved. And then, of course, could catalyze a bunch of — and provoke a lot of discussion politically. Do you try to expand the court? And to your point, do you codify? What seems like the codifying — the codifying effort or path is going to be pursued but it probably fails in the Senate because President Biden is not — is not — has said he is not going to end the filibuster.
So, I think politics has created the problem. Politics will likely give us some solution because if you see a number of Democratic governors elected, re-elected, if you see a number — if you see the House Democratic majority swell and if you see Democrats take control of the Senate with even greater
— with a bigger majority, I think that people will have spoken.
But, immediately, the court will have this decision by this time next year.
We will know if this Mississippi law stands or not.
WALLACE: Thank you, panel. See you next Sunday.
Up next, our “Power Player of the Week,” Admiral William McRaven, the commander of U.S. special forces for some of its more daring operations on what it takes to make a hero.
WALLACE: As the nation marks 20 years since 9/11, and now the end of the war in Afghanistan, many are reflecting on the bravery of the men and women who served there. Everyday Americans who stepped up and became heroes. This week’s “Power Player” is among them. And as we told you this spring, he says heroes live by a code.
ADM. WILLIAM MCRAVEN (RET.), AUTHOR, “THE HERO CODE”: If you look at the textbook definition of a hero, it’s someone we admire for their noble qualities, and I actually think that’s a pretty good definition.
WALLACE (voice over): Admiral William McRaven knows about heroes. He was a Navy SEAL for 37 years, then took command of the U.S. Special Forces that rescued Captain Phillips, capturing Saddam Hussein, and took down Osama bin Laden.
In his new book, “The Hero Code,” McRaven offers a blueprint for finding the hero in each of us.
WALLACE (on camera): Some of the qualities you talk about in “The Hero Code” seem obvious, courage, sacrifice. But I think some may surprise people, like compassion.
MCRAVEN: Yes, I do think when you take a look at compassion — again, these noble virtues are really about, are you making the people around you better.
WALLACE (voice over): McRaven gives an example of an actor who brought compassion right into a meeting of top U.S. brass in Afghanistan.
MCRAVEN: In comes this civilian. And he says, my name is Gary Sinise. And he went on to make this very compassionate and this passionate plea to General Abizaid (ph) to get some C-130s in order to bring the school supplies to the children. And you could see the entire tenor of the room change when you see this compassion come forward. This great, again, noble quality, it really changes everything about, you know, your — your own internal belief in the humanity of man.
WALLACE: McRaven tells of meeting another hero when he was late to brief President Obama and a young airman refused to let him into an area of Bagram Airbase because he wasn’t on her list.
MCRAVEN: And all of a sudden arms are flailing, watches are being tapped.
So, of course, I’m thinking, you know, I’m a three-star admiral, I’ll take care of this. And she looks me in the eye and she says, sir, I have a job to do. You are not on the list of approved people to enter.
Well, about 10 minutes later, you know, we get the word and we passed through. Well, on the way back, we come back through the same gate. I stopped. I get out of the car and I said, airman, do you know that I was 10 minutes late briefing the president of the United States? Yes, sir. And I said, you can come work for me anytime. And then she said something to me.
She said, sir, I was just doing my duty. Doing your duty in life and doing it to the best of your ability is important. It is a noble virtue. It is a noble quality and I think it’s what makes our heroes out there.
WALLACE: Finally, how do we tap into what you say is the hero in all of us?
MCRAVEN: I’m hoping that as people read “The Hero Code,” they will see that these values can be learned. You can learn to be courageous. You can learn to be humble. And I really hope that this younger generation will read this book, they will see that these are learned qualities, because we need them to be our heroes. We need them to move us ahead as a society.
WALLACE: Admiral, thank you.
MCRAVEN: My pleasure, Chris, thanks.
WALLACE: What a remarkable man and what an honor to talk with him.
It’s now been more than ten years since McRaven oversaw the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound. And with all the criticism of how we got out of Afghanistan, it’s worth remembering that getting bin Laden and degrading al Qaeda was the original objective.
As you may have heard by now, I’ve written a new book called “Countdown bin
Laden: The Untold Story of the 247 Day Hunt to Bring the Mastermind of 9/11 to Justice.” It’s the behind-the-scenes account of how America’s intelligence, political and military communities worked so well together to pull it off.
You can preorder “Countdown” now. It comes out this Tuesday, just days before we mark 20 years since 9/11.
And that’s it for today. Have a great week and we’ll see you next FOX NEWS SUNDAY.
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