This is a rush transcript from “Fox News Sunday” December 20, 2020. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: I’m Chris Wallace.
President-elect Biden’s nominees facing scrutiny from both the right and
left, one month from inauguration day.
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT-ELECT: They are people of the highest character,
varied experiences and background.
WALLACE (voice-over): Joe Biden putting together his administration, but
will the Senate vote to confirm his cabinet? Plus, growing pressure for a
special counsel to investigate the president-elect’s son Hunter.
We’ll discuss it all with incoming White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki,
only on “FOX News Sunday.”
And is this the last COVID relief package or will there be more to come in
the new administration?
We’ll talk with a number three Republican in the Senate, John Barrasso.
Plus, the most serious hack ever of the U.S. government and all signs point
to Russia. We’ll ask our Sunday panel what’s at risk and how the U.S.
And our Power Player of the Week, a mission to lay wreaths at Arlington
National cemetery goes on despite COVID.
All, right now, on “FOX News Sunday”.
WALLACE (on camera): And hello again from FOX News in Washington.
It may be Christmas week but the nation’s capital feels under siege these
days. Congress is working through the weekend, still trying to strike a
deal to provide more than $900 billion in COVID relief.
Meanwhile, the pandemic is setting new records every day for infections,
hospitalizations, and deaths. And if that isn’t enough, we’re learning more
each day about a devastating cyberattack of government agencies, apparently
by the Russians.
In a moment, we’ll speak with Jen Psaki, the incoming press secretary in
the Biden White House.
But, first, let’s bring in Mark Meredith with the latest on fast-moving
developments on several fronts — Mark.
MARK MEREDITH, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Chris, lawmakers reached a major —
were able to pass through a major conflict overnight in their effort to
make a deal on the economic stimulus package. A deal on this could happen
as early as this afternoon, this as the government is set to run out of
money yet again tonight.
MEREDITH (voice-over): Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer telling leaders
last night that a deal is very close, now that Republican Senator Pat
Toomey has agreed to drop broad language that would have limited the
Federal Reserve’s powers past the pandemic.
SEN. PAT TOOMEY (R-PA): Fiscal and social policy is the rightful realm of
the people who are accountable to the American people, and that’s us.
MEREDITH: Democrats had accused Toomey of trying to limit President-elect
Biden’s economic options come January.
Meantime at the White House, President Trump continues to keep a low
profile, except on Twitter.
On Saturday, he tweeted: China, not Russia, may be responsible for a
massive cyber attack that hit government and corporate networks. His tweet
contradicting his own secretary of state.
MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: This was a very significant effort, and I
think it’s the case that now can say pretty clearly that it was the
Russians that engaged in this activity.
MEREDITH: Lawmakers from both parties blamed Russia for the hack and are
demanding retaliation but the president appears focused elsewhere. He’s
demanding more investigations into claims of voter fraud and the Biden
MEREDITH (on camera): Attorney General Bill Barr is set to leave his job
on Wednesday. Meantime, there’s been a lot of chatter about the possibility
the president could try to appoint two special counsels, one to investigate
his claims of voter fraud, also Hunter Biden.
So far, Chris, no comment from the White House — Chris.
WALLACE: Mark Meredith reporting from the White House — Mark, thank you.
And joining us now, incoming White House press secretary, Jen Psaki.
Jen, welcome back to “FOX News Sunday”.
JEN PSAKI, INCOMING WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Good morning, Chris.
Great — thanks for having me, Chris. Great to be here.
WALLACE: This week, the incoming White House deputy chief of staff, Jen
O’Malley Dillon, talked about working with Republicans. And here’s what she
said: I’m not saying they’re not a bunch of F-ers. Mitch McConnell is
She later apologized for the words but not the sentiment.
Why does President-elect Biden think he’s going to be able to do business
with such people?
PSAKI: Well, first, Chris, I know everybody is busy around this holiday
season, but I encourage everybody to read the full context of her
interview, and what she really talked about through the course of the
interview was the importance of working together, that compromise is
essential, that we need to listen to one another.
So, you know, of course, I’m sure her mother didn’t like the word she used,
but that’s a sentiment that the president-elect has sent all of us and
we’re expected to work toward that goal.
You know, I don’t think we are naive, Chris, about how hard it may be at
times. There is disagreement in Washington, we all know that. We’ve all
been around this town for some time, but we’re hopeful that because of the
crises we’re facing from the pandemic, to millions of people out of work,
that we’ll be able to make progress. And the deal that we’re seeing come
together is a small sign of evidence of that.
WALLACE: Then, there are the Biden nominees for top positions in the
cabinet, which are drawing fire from both the right and the left.
Here are some examples of that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TOM COTTON (R-AR): It’s so disappointing to see him continue to roll
out these far-left nominees that belied the points he’s made since the
election that he wants to govern and a sense of unity or from the middle.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): If you’re asking me, have we seen the kind of
progressive appointments or nominations that I would like to see, the
answer is not yet.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: When Republicans say there’s no chance they’ll confirm Neera
Tanden as budget director, when some Democrats say they won’t approve a
waiver to let retired General Lloyd Austin serve as defense secretary, does
President-elect Biden, Jen, think that they’re bluffing?
PSAKI: I don’t think President-elect Biden would nominate anyone he didn’t
think was qualified and didn’t think should deserve consideration and
confirmation by the United States Senate.
And, look, we didn’t expect that every nominee would be embraced by every
corner of our political system. That’s simply impossible in the environment
we’re living through. But all these nominees, many of the ones you’ve
mentioned, have already spent time meeting with members, Democrats, many
have met with Republicans. That will continue in January.
And we are hopeful that the Senate will move quickly to confirm nominees
who will be addressing the crises we face, Chris.
We need people leaving these departments to help address the pandemic,
rebuild our place in the world.
I don’t think anyone would question the qualifications of people like Janet
Yellen, Tony Blinken, Ale Mayorkas and many others who the vice president –
– the president-elect has nominated.
WALLACE: After the Electoral College voted this week to make Joe Biden the
president, he said this. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT-ELECT: The flame of democracy was lit in this
nation a long time ago and we now know nothing, not even a pandemic or an
abuse of power can extinguish that flame.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Does the president-elect believed — his use of the phrase abuse
of power, does he believe that President Trump has engaged in an abuse of
power in the way he has contested the selection?
PSAKI: Look, Chris, we’ve had a lot of conversations about this
internally. There’s been dozens of lawsuits, as you know, across the
country that President Trump has tried to overturn the election through.
They’ve all failed.
What our focus at this point is, is on getting the president-elect
inaugurated a month from today, facing the pandemic, getting the pandemic
under control, putting millions of people back to work. It doesn’t take us
to say there have been moments where there haven’t been abuses of power.
Others have certainly said that, but our focus is on doing the work of the
American people, and we’re trying to keep our blinders on with that.
WALLACE: Well, let me ask you about a report in “The New York Times”
today, as recently as Friday, President Trump in the Oval Office discussed
the possibility of seizing voting machines, even discussed the possibility
of invoking martial law.
Your reaction to those reports?
PSAKI: Well, Chris, I’ll leave it to others you will have on your panel
today and others you have as guest to explain what on Earth is happening in
the Oval Office and the White House.
But, you know, as I noted, it’s actually a month from today that President-
elect Joe Biden will take the oath of office and there’s just too much
going on in this country, from thousands of people dying every day of
COVID, to millions of people out of work, to relationships that have long
been frayed over the last four years for us to worry too much about
whatever is happening in the Oval Office.
We know that although he has tried to challenge the results of the
election, they were certified this last week. Leadership of the Republican
Party has acknowledged the outcome of the election. And we started to see
some work together to get nominees confirmed, to get packages in place.
That’s where focus is going to be in the weeks ahead.
WALLACE: You have said several times and it’s exactly right that a month
from today, Joe Biden will be on the west front of the Capitol and take the
oath of office.
Does the president-elect care whether Donald Trump attends the
inauguration? Does he even want him there?
PSAKI: I would say it’s not on the top-ten list or even longer than that,
of his focus or priorities at this point time. Chris, as you know, and
you’ve covered many transitions, I’ve been a part of transitions myself.
This is not a traditional transition, but I will say we have had a great
deal of cooperation from the men and women who have been serving the civil
service at agencies across the government. That’s been encouraging.
They are the heart and soul of the government and how the government
continues year after year after year through Democratic and Republican
presidents. There have been limited, you know, cases of, you know, abrupt
behavior, including at times from the president himself, the president of
the United States himself.
But our focus is, we’re not going to worry about that. Our focus is on
getting the president-elect inaugurated, on pursuing our agenda moving
forward, on getting the pandemic under control, on taking on the herculean
task of distributing the vaccine, which is going to be a big part of our
focus in the first couple of months. And so, we’re not too worried about
who does or does not attend the inauguration.
WALLACE: Stephen Colbert asked President-elect Biden this week about the
investigation of his son, Hunter, and this was the response from Mr. Biden.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: I’m not concerned about any accusations that have been made against
him. It’s used to get to me. I think it’s kind of foul play. But look, it
is what it is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Afterwards, you clarified that when Mr. Biden talked about foul
play, he was talking about politicians, Republicans playing politics with
the attacks on Joe Biden. He wasn’t talking about the investigation itself.
So let me ask you directly, does the President-elect Biden believe that the
investigation of his son Hunter on tax issues, does he believe that’s a
PSAKI: Well, first, Chris, let me say, to the credit of FOX, you reported
the context of the question accurately, which had nothing to do with an
investigation. It was about Hunter being used as a political cudgel in a
partisan way and a question to the president-elect about how he would work
across the aisle and work with Democrats and Republicans to get things
done. So, that was actually the question.
To his credit, through the course of that questioning, he said, regardless
of the attacks on his family at times, he would do what’s right for the
There will be — he’s working and thinking now, no decision has been made,
about who he’s going to nominate to be the attorney general. He’s been
emphatic that that person will oversee an independent department. He’s
looking for someone of the highest level of integrity.
And that person, whomever it is, will be overseeing whatever investigations
are happening at the Department of Justice, and that’s how it should work,
frankly, Chris. So that’s what we will be rely on — relying on moving
WALLACE: Let me — let me pursue that a little bit with you, Jen, because
there is a lot of concern among Republicans as to whether or not President
Biden is going to stop the investigation of his son.
So, a couple of specifics here — does he promise to let David Weiss, who
is the U.S. attorney in Delaware, who is currently conducting the
investigation of Hunter Biden, does he promise to allow him to finish the
job? And what does he think of President Trump possibly appointing a
special counsel to conduct an independent investigation of Hunter Biden?
PSAKI: Well, let me be crystal clear, Chris, and I appreciate you asking
this question. He will not be discussing an investigation of his son with
any attorney general candidates. He will not be discussing it with anyone
he is considering for the role, and he will not be discussing it with the
future attorney general.
It will be up to the purview of a future attorney general and his
administration to determine how to handle any investigation.
As you know, U.S. attorneys are — that’s a personnel decision. We’re far
from there at this point in the process, given we haven’t announced yet an
attorney general, a commerce secretary, a labor secretary, an education
secretary. We have few more to go.
But we’re going to allow the process to work how it should, which is for a
Justice Department to be run independently by the attorney general at the
WALLACE: Finally, there has been some criticism recently from
conservatives, including some conservatives on FOX News, about the fact
that First Lady to-be Jill Biden goes by the title “doctor”.
I wonder, what is the Bidens’ reaction to that given the fact that so many
people over the years — I think of Dr. Henry Kissinger, the Reverend Dr.
Martin Luther King, have gone by the title doctor even though they’re not
medical doctors, and nobody seems to have made a fuss about that?
PSAKI: That’s exactly right, Chris. It’s a bit perplexing to me and I’m
sure to millions Americans, that with thousands of people dying every day
of COVID, millions out of work, that anyone wake up in the morning and
decide that the focus they need to have, the way they contribute to society
that day is to question whether or not Dr. Jill Biden, someone who is still
teaching, who has a PhD in education, should be called a doctor or not.
Of course she should. As anyone who works through that challenging process
of getting a PhD. It’s a really silly, sexist, and absurd conversation
that’s happening a bit in society, and I appreciate you asking me about it.
WALLACE: Jen, thank you. Thanks for your time.
PSAKI: Thank you, Chris.
WALLACE: Please come back and merry Christmas.
Up next, relief for millions —
PSAKI: Merry Christmas to you too and happy holidays.
WALLACE: Thank you.
Up next, relief for millions of struggling Americans and businesses hangs
in the balance as Congress is still negotiating over a COVID relief
package. A member of the Republican Senate leadership, John Barrasso, joins
WALLACE: Lawmakers are still working on a deal to close out negotiations
on a nearly trillion dollar COVID relief package. It would provide more
than $300 billion in aid to small businesses, $300 a week in federal
jobless benefits and $600 in individual stimulus checks.
Joining us now from Capitol Hill, the number three Republican in the
Senate, John Barrasso.
Senator, where do we stand on COVID relief talks? I understand there’s a
lot of parliamentary rigmarole, but what are the chances that all sides
will sign on to an agreement today?
SEN. JOHN BARRASSO (R-WY): This gets done today. No more delays. We’re not
leaving until we have relief of the American people.
People are hurting, people need help and there are two things we need to do
to write this final chapter on coronavirus, and one is to get people
vaccinated. We’re doing that now. Twenty million people will be vaccinated
by the end of this — by New Year’s Eve.
But we need to provide help for the American public, people who have been
struggling, until we get enough people vaccinated that we can fully get the
economy back on track. And that means people back to work and kids back to
school. So direct payment checks to the American people, $600.
For people who are watching, Chris, if they got a check last time, they
will get a check again this time. Adults and children.
For people who are out of work, through no fault of their own, $300 a week
for enhanced unemployment going into next year. And for the small
businesses and the working families all across America, we were going to do
more paycheck protection loans so those small businesses can stay open, so
people can get paychecks all the way through.
This has been a very successful program. Thirteen thousand small businesses
in Wyoming have used this program. It’s a little more specific this time in
that the business has to be fewer than 300 employees and they actually have
to show a loss. But that’s the way we get this disease behind us.
WALLACE: I — I want to just hone down on one point specifically. I know
that you worked out the issue about emergency lending authority to the Fed,
but then just after midnight last night, this morning, President Trump said
he wanted to see the direct payments higher, bigger than the three — $600
to each American who got one last time. I take it you’re not going to go
along with changing that part of the program?
BARRASSO: We need to get this done today. The president is right in that
this is no fault of the American people.
Chris, we should have done this months ago had not Mancy Pelosi play
politics through the fall because of the presidential election. She’s
admitted as much. We’ve had a bill pretty comparable to what we’re going to
pass today and we’ve offered it by Republicans time and time again. The
Democrats beat it down 40 different times. This has been wrong. The delay
has been too long. We need to get it done now for Christmas.
WALLACE: After the Electoral College voted this week to make Joe Biden the
next president of the United States, Senator Mitch McConnell addressed the
issue on the Senate floor.
Here’s what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): The Electoral College has spoken. So today I
want to congratulate President-elect Joe Biden.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: You were asked that same day whether or not Joe Biden is now the
president-elect, and you dismissed it as a gotcha question.
How, Senator, is it a gotcha to ask who is going to be the president one
month from today?
BARRASSO: Well, first, you know how the press is sometimes in the halls of
Congress. If you don’t give a one-word answer, they’re not satisfied. I
talked to them about the fact that the Constitution Article Two Section
One, and the 12th Amendment to the Constitution, and I accept what has
happened in the election and with the Electoral College.
Look, I was one of over 70 percent of the people of Wyoming proud to help
and vote for President Trump. Over 70 million Americans have done that.
He’s done remarkable things. I don’t believe we would have a vaccine today
if it weren’t for President Trump’s determination. And all of us
WALLACE: Senator —
BARRASSO: And so it didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to, but the
Electoral College has now certified the election. We have that
Constitution. And I accept the outcome of the election.
WALLACE: Well, so let me ask you directly, will Joe Biden be the next
president of the United States?
BARRASSO: Yes, he will.
WALLACE: You accept that?
BARRASSO: I do.
WALLACE: OK, that — that wasn’t so hard.
You wrote an article for “The Wall Street Journal” recently in which you
criticized how Democrats delayed confirming members of the Trump cabinet in
the month he came in, in January of 2017. I want to put up on the screen
what you wrote.
Mr. Clinton had 13 out of 14 in January when he came in. Mr. Obama, 11 out
of 15. Senate Democrats made sure Mr. Trump only had three.
Senator, are you going to play the Democrats’ game of delay, what they did
to Donald Trump back in 2017, or can you promise swift confirmation of his
nominees, and are there any of the names you’ve heard so far who you
consider dead on arrival?
BARRASSO: Well, a couple of things. It looks like the Biden cabinet would
be third term of the Obama administration. And that didn’t sit really well
We have a role to advise and consent on these nominees, which is why the
election coming up in Georgia is so critical in the control of the Senate,
and why I want to make sure that Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue get
elected there, because if you don’t — if you want accountability, and not
just a rubber stamp for a Joe Biden cabinet, you need to have people like
me as chairman of the Energy Committee.
So we’ll have hearings, ask the tough questions, but we are not going to
forget what happened with President Trump’s administration and the delayed
process that went through it. The — so it’s not going to be a garden party
if the Republicans are in the majority. These nominees are going to have to
run the gauntlet.
In terms of specific nominees that you ask about. I’m from Wyoming. It’s an
Here’s my concern. With regards to energy, Joe Biden has repeatedly said
that he’s against a lot of exploration for energy, a lot of exporting of
energy. So his nominee for the secretary of energy has said this. She said,
we ought to be doing everything we possibly can to keep fossil fuel energy
in the ground.
The impact of that on our economy, on jobs, it is — it cuts the throat of
my state, our economy, the men and women who work there, the energy that
America needs. It’s going to drive up costs significantly for American
families. So you bet I’m going to ask tough questions.
WALLACE: Finally, President Trump says that he is going to veto the NDAA,
the Defense Authorization Act that funds the Pentagon, funds an Air Force
base in your state of Wyoming, and that includes 26 new measures that would
deal with cyber defense. This, of course, in the — in the wake of this
terrible cyber hack that we’ve — that we’ve had this week.
If the president goes ahead with his promise, and he says he’s going to
veto it, then he would have to, by this Wednesday, will you vote to
override that veto, sir?
BARRASSO: Well, first, I would discourage him from vetoing. I would
encourage him to sign it, especially with this new cyber hack where we were
blindsided. Chris, as a nation, six different agencies have been attacked
in our government. And this has been going on since March.
We need to have a forceful, affective, punishing response so people pay a
price for this, think twice about doing it again. And one of the things
that the president could do in spite of his concerns about the National
Defense Authorization Act is to sign this, let this bill become law. That’s
what my recommendation is to the president so he doesn’t face the situation
of a veto override.
WALLACE: And in 15 seconds, will you personally, if he goes ahead and
vetoes it, as he says he will, will you vote override, sir?
BARRASSO: We need to have this signed into law. I’m encouraging the
president to do that. If it comes to the House and — and to the Senate,
I’m going to be in a position where I’m going to have to make that
decision. It would be much better for the country for the president to sign
WALLACE: Senator Barrasso, thank you. Thanks for joining us. Good luck on
coming up with that deal you promised for today on COVID relief and happy
BARRASSO: We’re going to get it done. Merry Christmas, Chris.
WALLACE: Thank you.
Up next, we’ll bring in our Sunday panel to break down the massive hack of
the U.S. government and what it means for some of the nation’s biggest
WALLACE: Coming up, one of the biggest cyber attacks in history puts the
U.S. government and some of its top secrets in jeopardy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL): It has all the hallmarks and fingerprints of
Vladimir Putin project.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: We’ll ask our Sunday panel how serious is the risk to national
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL): This is nothing short of a virtual invasion by the
Russians into critical accounts of our federal government.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Democratic Senator Dick Durbin assigning
blame directly to Russia for the massive cyber hack of U.S. agencies.
And it’s time now for our Sunday group.
Co-founder of “The Federalist” Ben Domenech, Susan Page of “USA Today,” and
Fox News political analyst Juan Williams.
Well, we are learning more about this massive hack of U.S. government
agencies and also private businesses every day. We now know what we believe
to be the Russians breached the State Department, Treasury, Homeland
Security, Energy, including the agency that maintains our nuclear weapons
stockpile, and the National Institute of Health, plus other departments.
And the attack began as early as last March.
Ben, how serious is this breaching of our — our government computer walls
and is a cyber act of war?
BEN DOMENECH, CO-FOUNDER, “THE FEDERALIST”: Well, first, I think it’s
incredibly serious. Obviously, you can’t underplay that. I will say that
many of these agencies have actually had problems in the past, particularly
the nation’s nuclear labs, that should be concerning to all of us.
As for the act of war language, I think that’s a little irresponsible.
Traditionally, of course, acts of war have included kinetic action, or the
loss of personnel or material. I think that this is something that’s a
little too early to say in that regard.
I’d like to see more of the evidence regarding this attack. What we know
about it. Where it specifically came from in terms of the Russian
government. And I think that that’s something that the American people
should expect after having so many of these intelligence experts come
forward, make serious claims regarding this being an act of war and the
like. I think that we deserve to know a bit more about what went on here.
And particularly why something that started in March has taken this long to
become known by us. I mean was everyone asleep at the wheel? There’s some
serious questions, I think, here that need to be answered. And that needs
to be something that I think is brought to the American people before we
move forward with any kind of response.
WALLACE: Susan, there’s another question a lot of people are asking, which
is why President Trump has been so silent about this attack since word came
Here is Mitt Romney this week on that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): Not to have the White House aggressively speaking
out and protesting and — and taking punitive action is really, really
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Yesterday, the president did speak out to downplay the hack,
tweeting, the cyber hack is far greater in the fake news media than in
actuality. I have been fully briefed and everything is well under control.
Russia, Russia, Russia is the priority chant when anything happens because
lame stream is, for mostly financial reasons, petrified of discussing the
possibility that it may be China. It may!
Susan, how do you explain the president’s response, a direct contradiction
of what his own Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, that he believes it’s
pretty clear now it’s Russia, and people across the government saying this
was a very serious breach?
SUSAN PAGE, “USA TODAY”: Well, Chris, I think one of the continuing
mysteries of the Trump presidency is his attitude towards Russia, his
friendliness to — his unwillingness to hold Russia to account, even to
such egregious actions as we’re seeing now with this cyberattack. I don’t
think we really understand that yet. I hope one day that we will.
But here we find a new president about to take over in one month with the –
– kind of with the same situation that Trump faced when he took over, which
is his biggest foreign policy challenge is going to be figuring out how to
respond to Russian aggression in 2016. It was Russian effort to meddle in
our election. And now this incredible act of aggression against our
government and more with this cyberattack.
I agree with Ben that we need to learn more about what exactly has happened
and why it took so long for the united states to identify this act of
WALLACE: Juan, the fact is that President Trump has basically been out of
sight now for almost a week while there are a lot of things, a lot of very
serious developments going on, not just the cyber hack.
Here is Senator Chris Coons on that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE): President Trump, what is he doing today? Is he
helping respond to the pandemic? Is he helping us pass a bipartisan relief
bill? Is he helping us respond to this Russian attack? No, he’s sending out
tweets about an election that’s been over more than a month and he’s
preparing more pardons.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Juan, what’s going on here?
JUAN WILLIAMS, FOX NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: It’s not a partisan assessment,
Chris. You know, it’s not just Senator Coons. By all accounts, the
president has been preoccupied, busy if you will, tweeting out conspiracy
theories, nursing grudges to explain why he lost the election.
Senator Lindsey Graham, a Trump partisan, has said the president still sees
himself as pursuing every vote, as if the election is still going on. So I
think you have to understand, that’s the president’s mind-set at the
moment, this kind of sulking and grousing.
And I must say, it has helped him in one regard, he’s raised $200 million
plus that he can now carry beyond the White House with him in terms of a
political action committee and the like.
But I think it’s — it’s not a partisan statement to say that his
narcissism has allowed him to look away from the extraordinary amount of
deaths we as Americans have been suffering due to COVID, to look away from
much of the stimulus talks that hopefully are drawing to a close today.
And, of course, to — I mean it’s unbelievable, you know, just to go back
to what Ben and Susan have said, his attitude about what is a very serious
hack into America’s information systems. And that could undermine the
operation of our government.
WALLACE: Let’s find out whether or not it’s partisan.
Ben, is it unfair to ask where President Trump is as the nation faces all
of these challenges, not just the hack, but COVID relief, the explosion of
the pandemic. Is it unfair to ask where the — why the president isn’t
focusing on that more, at least in public?
DOMENECH: Well, I think the president’s response to the pandemic is the
delivery of the vaccine that we’ve seen happen in this past month in a way
that is absolutely unprecedented.
To go back to the hack issue for a minute, as a Bush political appointee, I
was caught up in China’s hack of the Office of Personnel Management in
which they gathered the records and the top-secret interviews related to
approval for that kind of access for millions and millions of Americans who
worked for the government, for the military and the like. What I got in
response to that was a letter from the Obama administration promising that
I would have a credit check run, a free credit check, on my behalf and a
handful of sanctions of Chinese officials. So this whole idea that the
administration — that this administration’s response to this hack is
something that is, you know, in any way kind of held back, it seems to be a
little bit premature given the last experience that we had with a major
foreign power adversary hacking us in a very deep way.
I want to know more about what happened. I want to know who was
responsible. And I do want to see a serious response to it from the
president and this administration and the Biden administration as well
WALLACE: All right, panel, we are going to have to leave it there. But when
we come back, we’ll discuss Joe Biden’s cabinet picks and the heat he is
getting from all sides.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): We need to conclude our talks, draft
legislation, and land this plane.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): I agree with the Republican leader on this. We
need to deliver an outcome and deliver it quickly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: A taste of the debate on the Senate floor yesterday and the
continuing stalemate over providing COVID relief.
And we’re back now with the panel.
Susan, the need for COVID relief is so clear. Let’s take a look at the
latest numbers on the economy. And 885,000 people applied for new
unemployment claims just last week. More than 20 million workers are
collecting unemployment. And retail sales dropped 1.1 percent in November,
a bad start to the holiday season.
Susan, we heard John Barrasso promise us that they’re going to at least
make the deal, even if they don’t pass the bill today. But given how clear
the need is, the fact that the economy seems to be headed downward again,
why has it been so hard for the Senate and the House, Republicans and
Democrats, to pass COVID relief?
PAGE: Yes, what — what took so long? And the deal that they’ve ended up
with is the outlines of a deal that you could have predicted last April and
May in which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell gave up on his demand
for liability protection and Democrats, Nancy Pelosi, and Democrats in the
House, relented on their demand for billions in state and local aid. That
was a deal that you could have predicted months ago. The need for it was
also clear months ago. You know, it seems to be the responsibility goes to
all of them for having taken so long to get to the point that they are now,
to have some kind of deal.
And this — of course, this is not going to be the end of this debate
because we know that President-elect Biden is going to come back with
proposals for additional aid, big packages. Once he takes over, this debate
will be revisited. But I think a lot of Americans would wonder why this
couldn’t have been done earlier at a time when the need has been so clear
for so long.
WALLACE: Juan, I think one reason that you’re seeing progress and perhaps a
deal now is because Nancy Pelosi is willing to settle for a lot less money
because she, knowing that Joe Biden is going to be the president on January
20th, she’s confident that he will come back and ask for — for more money.
A couple of questions, though, about Pelosi. One, did she make a mistake
holding out so long for $2 trillion, even $3 trillion in COVID relief, and
is she making a mistake now in assuming that just because Joe Biden is
going to ask for more money after he becomes president, that the
Republicans in Congress, particularly in the Senate, will go along and
WILLIAMS: Well, you’ve got to have a negotiating partner, Chris, in terms
of the Pelosi strategy.
Remember, President Trump and most of the Republicans, especially in the
Senate, were opposed to added spending. They saw it as maybe going a little
too far after the first spending bill way back. And President Trump
initially joined them and opposed added spending and then changed his tune
and he wanted even more spending than many in — Republican in the Senate
So the president and Mitch McConnell never quite got together on the same
page on this and they have been, you know, to me, the question is, why
haven’t they, given the urgency of the matter, been together to negotiate
with Pelosi? The Treasury secretary was negotiating with Pelosi for a
while, but McConnell, the Senate majority leader, didn’t buy into it and
that left everything kind of in abeyance.
So I think you have to say, at this point, we have a tremendous need for
this help and you have to say it’s been across-the-board in terms of this.
Now, in terms of Pelosi’s strategy with Biden, the hope is that they can
get something done, but there’s no guarantee.
WALLACE: Meanwhile, President-elect Biden continues to staff up his
Here he was just yesterday announcing his nominees for energy and climate
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT-ELECT FOR THE UNITED STATES: Like their fellow cabinet
nominees and appointees, members of our environmental and energy team are
brilliant, they’re qualified, tested and they are barrier-busting.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Ben, what do you make of the Biden team so far? The one he
announced yesterday, the ones he’s announced so far. What does it tell you
about how he intends to govern? And you heard John Barrasso say if the
Republicans control the Senate, it’s not going to be a garden party for
these nominees. What do you think are the chances that — that a couple of
them might get taken down?
DOMENECH: Well, we always see one or two of them get taken down, Chris, and
I’m sure that that will happen again this time. It will be interesting to
see which ones they are. There’s always one that seems to stick out as a
lightning rod and then another one who maybe is a surprise, you know a
little bit of a dark horse candidate to get taken down by, you know, an
I think that what you do see generally with a lot of these choices is that
they are very much people who are close to Biden personally and to his team
and that they are kind of checking identity politics boxes as opposed to
ideology boxes when it comes to pleasing the progressives on Capitol Hill.
And just circling back to the previous issue, I would just note to Juan,
that the framework of this deal was always there. It was there throughout
the summer. Nancy Pelosi made a political bet that it would be better to go
into the election without it. And the ultimate reaction to that bet was
that Donald Trump lost but so did all of her moderates who would have been
supported in many ways by having a deal of this nature go forward. I think
that that was a miscalculation on her part and she wouldn’t have ended up
with such a narrow majority when it comes to actually getting things done.
Essentially, I think the House is going to be ungovernable for the next two
years because of it.
WALLACE: Susan, let me pick up on — on the question of the — of the Biden
team. Lots of criticism from the left. People like Bernie Sanders and
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez that Biden has not paid back a — a sizable
portion of the Democratic Party that helped him get elected in the first
PAGE: Hey, big surprise. Biden beat Bernie Sanders for the nomination with
a centrist message. He then won the White House with a centrist message. So
I think we should not be surprised if — that he — these appointments have
a sort of centrist characteristic.
I kind of agree with — with Ben that they’re — they’re — they’re
remarkably groundbreaking in terms of their diversity of race and ethnicity
and gender, but they are not groundbreaking in terms of ideology. They are
well-established, very experienced people, many of them with history in the
Obama administration and that is the kind of administration that Joe Biden
promised to give us when he won the election. So, no surprises there, I
WALLACE: You know, Juan, I keep thinking back to the campaign, and when
President Trump kept talking about the fact that Joe Biden was going to be
a tool of the left, or to tool of various other interests. What strikes me
about the group that we’ve seen here is, yes, Biden is willing to listen to
all the various interest groups in his party, both political groups and
civil rights groups and, you know, various other groups. But, in the end,
he is basically doing what he wants to do. And, yes, he’s certainly, and I
— I agree with — with Ben and Susan in terms of identity politics,
there’s a real diversity. But it’s pretty — a group with whom, on an
ideological front, a policy front, he seems pretty comfortable.
WILLIAMS: Chris, I think you should go to the racetrack today because
you’ve got a trifecta on the panel here. You have total agreement that, in
fact, Joe Biden is a centrist. He’s a moderate. He was never a Trojan horse
for the far left or a socialist.
WALLACE: You know, that’s one of the nice things about being president, you
get to do what you want to do.
Thank you, panel. See you next Sunday and Merry Christmas to all of you.
Up next, our “Power Player of the Week,” honoring America’s veterans during
this holiday season.
Plus, our annual visit from the Wallace grandkids. And there’s a surprise
WALLACE: It’s a Christmas tradition here to share the story of how one
family has found a way to express the meaning of the holiday season. But
because of COVID, it almost didn’t happen this year.
Arlington National Cemetery announced it would be closed to volunteers, but
the secretary of the Army quickly reversed that decision.
Once again, here’s our “Power Player of the Week.”
MORRILL WORCESTER, FOUNDER, WREATHS ACROSS AMERICA: We wouldn’t have the
opportunities if it wasn’t for the people that fought for us and who gave
their lives for us.
WALLACE (voice over): It’s that plainspoken wisdom that has driven Morrill
Worcester for years on a mission that has touched America’s heart.
Each December, Worcester places wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery, and
thousands of volunteers are there to help him.
WORCESTER: I think a lot of people think like I do, and they just want to –
– you know, they appreciate the veterans and they want to show it.
WALLACE: This story begins back in 1962 when Worcester, then a 12-year-old
paperboy from Maine, won a trip to Washington. What impressed him most was
Arlington, it’s beauty and dignity and those rows and rows of graves.
WORCESTER: Everyone represents a life and a family and a story. They’re not
just tombstones. I mean those are all people.
WALLACE: Thirty years later, in 1992, Worcester was running his own wreath
company in Harrington, Maine. But as Christmas approached, he had a bunch
WORCESTER: These wreathes were real fresh and right just made. And I just
didn’t want to throw them away.
WALLACE: He thought of Arlington and all those graves. When the cemetery
approved, he and a dozen volunteers drove the wreaths down and laid them on
the headstones. And so it continued for years until a few Christmases back
when an Air Force sergeant took this picture, which ended up on the
WORCESTER: It kind of struck a nerve and people e-mailed it to each other
and it really went around the world.
WALLACE: We were there the next year as he and his workers at the Worcester
Wreath Company loaded up 5,265 wreathes. Then they embarked on what
Worcester calls the world’s longest veteran’s parade, a 750 mile journey
that at some points attracted more than 100 vehicles. And when they got to
Arlington, so many people wanted to participate.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The ceremony you are about to witness is an Army Wreath
Laying Ceremony, to be conducted for the Worcester Wreath Company.
WALLACE: For years, Worcester paid for all of this out of his own pocket.
And he started Wreaths Across America, sending hundreds to cemeteries and
war memorials around the country. But he will need help to reach his new
WORCESTER: I think around 2.7 million graves, and that’s a tall order to
decorate 2.7 million graves. So —
WALLACE (on camera): But you’d like to do it, wouldn’t you?
WORCESTER: I really would, yes. Sometime, I don’t know how, but, hey, you
WALLACE: How long are you going to keep doing this?
WORCESTER: I’m going to keep doing it for as long as I work, and then I
know my family is going to continue. So it’ll be here for a long time.
WALLACE: And so, for the 29th year in a row, Morrill Worcester got to keep
his Christmas promise. This month, volunteers placed 1.7 million wreaths on
Veterans graves in more than 2,500 locations, including 257,000 wreaths at
And now another Christmas tradition. Here’s a look from the last few years
of the Wallace grandkids as they keep getting bigger and bigger, and as we
keep getting more of them.
And here they are again. This year, like so many of you, we’re doing a Zoom
get-together. Let me see if I can introduce you to everybody. There are
Sabine (ph) and Libby (ph). There is Jack Wallace (ph). Here are William
and Caroline and James. And there is our newest addition, Teddy, who was
born in August. From our family to yours, have a very merry Christmas.
JACK WALLACE: And we’ll see you next FOX NEWS SUNDAY.
WALLACE: All right, guys, once again with feeling, three, two, one.
ALL: Merry Christmas!
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