‘Fox News Sunday’ on February 13, 2022 – Fox News

This is a rush transcript of “Fox News Sunday” on February 13, 2022. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


Americans in Ukraine told to leave now as fears rise of a full-scale Russian invasion.


JAKE SULLIVAN, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: If you stay, you are assuming risk with no guarantee that there will be any opportunity to leave.

SMITH (voice-over): As Russian troops conduct military exercises along Ukraine’s border, the White House warning President Putin could order an attack even before the end of the Olympics.

SULLIVAN: The president will not be putting the lives of our men and women in uniform at risk by sending them into a war zone to rescue people who could have left now but chose not to.

SMITH: We’ll ask Pentagon Secretary John Kirby about the new intelligence and the U.S. military response.

And the standoff shining a light on global energy landscape and driving up the price of oil and gas. We’ll discuss with Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy, a member of the Senate Energy Committee.

Plus, record high inflation squeezes America’s households and Democrats pivot on the pandemic.

GOV. PHIL MURPHY (D), NEW JERSEY: We have to learn how to live with COVID.

GOV. KATHY HOCHUL (D), NEW YORK: And it is time to adopt.

SMITH: Democratic governors break with the Biden administration and the CDC citing a downturn of cases after the initial omicron surge.

But is the push about following the science or politics? And will this change in response spark another round of school mask battles? We’ll ask Colorado Governor Jared Polis about the approach in his state, only on “FOX News Sunday”.

Then, a pandemic protest cripples trade between the U.S. and Canada, snarling auto production, manufacturing, and the food supply. We’ll ask our Sunday panel about the fallout for the fragile supply chain.

And it’s a quarterback match up as the Bengals face the Rams this Super Bowl Sunday. Jim Gray breaks down what to watch in tonight’s big game.

All, right now, on “FOX News Sunday”.


SMITH (on camera): And hello again from FOX News in Washington.

Stark warnings from the White House as the chill from a potential Cold War hangs over Eastern Europe. The U.S. and Western allies working to deter a full-fledged invasion of Ukraine by Russia — one that could happen at any moment.

In response, the White House ordering 3,000 more U.S. troops to Poland and telling Americans still in Ukraine to leave before it’s too late.

In a moment, we’ll discuss the situation with Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby.

We begin with FOX team coverage. Trey Yingst on the ground in Ukraine and his conversation with the Ukrainian president.

But first, Rich Edson at the White House — Rich.

RICH EDSON, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Sandra, the United States is telling Americans in Ukraine it is past time to leave the country as President Biden warns Russian President Vladimir Putin of swift and severe consequences if Russia invades Ukraine.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNTIED STATES: The cost to Russia both in terms of reputational cost and economic cost would be profound.

EDSON (voice-over): The Russian troops have effectively surrounded Ukraine as American officials warned any invasion of Ukraine could come at any time, even before the Olympics end next week.

SULLIVAN: Now, we can’t pinpoint the day at this point and we can’t pinpoint the hour.

EDSON: The White House says President Biden spoke with Vladimir Putin for about one hour Saturday. But officials say the conversation offered no fundamental change in the dynamics, and the State Department is evacuating most of the U.S. embassy staff still in Ukraine.

ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: We’re continuing to draw down our embassy. We’ve also been very clear that any American citizens who remain in Ukraine should leave now.

EDSON: A senior defense official says the U.S. is sending 3,000 additional soldiers to Poland, joining 1,700 already dispatched there. The goal, to reassure NATO allies and deter any potential aggression against NATO’s eastern flank.

The White House has stressed no American troops will fight in Ukraine. Russia has complained about its security with any NATO expansion. Russia already invaded Ukraine in 2014 and seized Crimea. It also attacked neighboring Georgia in 2008.


EDSON (on camera): Senior administration officials say that the U.S. is committed to de-escalation but also says the White House is clear-eyed about what’s going on here, especially given Russia’s massive military buildup — Sandra.

SMITH: Rich Edson reporting from the White House for us — Rich, thank you.

Now, let’s turn to Trey Yingst live in Kyiv for us.

Hi, Trey.


A Russian invasion of Ukraine could be just hours away according to Western intelligence. Both countries today continue military exercises.


YINGST (voice-over): Russian forces conduct live tank drills near the border of Ukraine. They’re part of a massive troop buildup that American intelligence officials believe could invade at any moment.

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: The truth, that we have different information. And now, the best friend for our enemies that is panic in our country.

YINGST: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy downplayed the threat of invasion when asked by Fox News, but he has troops doing military exercises much like the Russians.

We’re less than 15 miles from the border of Crimea right now where the Ukrainian national guard and local police are conducting military exercises.

On Saturday, several thousand people marched through the streets of Kyiv, singing the Ukrainian national anthem, holding signs reading Putin is a war criminal.

But despite the looming shadow of war, life in the capital city of 3 million people mostly continues as normal. There is no panic buying. No stockpiles.

MARIANNA MUKHA, KYIV RESIDENT: We live normally like before. We do not make any preparations for anything extraordinary. We know it may happen, but we hope it will not.


YINGST (on camera): The disconnect here is difficult to describe. People behind me in the capital of Kyiv are having lunch and cafes will just a few hundred miles away, there are Russian tanks stage along the border and conducting drills — Sandra.

SMITH: All right. Trey Yingst reporting from Kyiv for us — Trey, thank you.

Joining us now, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby.

Admiral, welcome. Thank you for being here.


SMITH: So, there was clearly — as we all witnessed — a tone change on Friday when Jake Sullivan briefed from the White House on the escalating situation on the Ukraine-Russia border.

What specifically has the Pentagon seen in recent days that would suggest Putin could invade Ukraine any day now?

KIRBY: I think Jake talked about this. I mean, it really was a combination of factors.

One, what we’re saying in plain sight, the continued accumulation of Russian military capabilities along that border with Ukraine and in Belarus. He continues to add force capability, well over 100,000 right now, and actually, over the last few days, even more.

And number two, I think a mosaic of intelligence that we’re seeing. Not speaking to it specifically, but — you know, we have good sources of intelligence and they’re telling us that, you know, that things are sort of building now to some crescendo opportunity for Mr. Putin.

SMITH: Are we specifically sharing that intelligence with our Ukrainian counterparts? I mean, it is remarkable to hear Trey Yingst there talk about the cafes filled, the bars and restaurants are packed.

KIRBY: Yeah.

SMITH: And the Ukrainian people are going about their daily lives as normal.

KIRBY: Yeah. Well, what I can tell you is we are absolutely sharing our information and our perspectives with Ukrainian leadership, as well as our NATO allies and our partners in the region. I mean, we’ve been very transparent on what we’re seeing, what are perspectives are, and quite frankly, listening to them about what they’re seeing as well.

SMITH: But specifically on intelligence, multiple new outlets, including German newspapers “Der Spiegel”, Admiral, are reporting that the U.S. Secret Service, the CIA, and Pentagon have received intel of an exceptionally detailed invasion plan scheduled for this Wednesday, just a few days away.

Can you confirm or deny those reports?

KIRBY: No, I’m not in a position to confirm those reports, Sandra. I think you can understand. We want to be careful about publicly talking about intelligence and sources and methods and that kind of thing.

What I can tell you and I point back to what Jake said on Friday is absolutely right. We believe that major military action could happen any day now. And again, these assessments are coming from a variety of sources, and not exclusively just inside intelligence, but also what we’re seeing in plain sight — these more than 100,000 troops now continuing to be arrayed against Ukrainian border.

SMITH: But the Ukrainian president is insisting that they be privy to the intelligence that is leading the United States to believe the situation escalating as quickly as it is.

KIRBY: Sure.

SMITH: So, you said you’re sharing information. Are you sharing with them the specific intelligence that is leading to this? Because many Ukrainians are saying that we are sowing confusion and chaos here as a country.

KIRBY: We’ve been very transparent with Ukrainian leadership about our perspectives and what we’re seeing. I think I’ll leave it at that.

SMITH: OK. One senior national security official who briefed reporters shortly after the president’s phone call yesterday with Vladimir Putin, Admiral, said that there was no fundamental change in the dynamic that has unfolded for several weeks.

So, is that a sign after that phone call yesterday that time is running out for diplomacy?

KIRBY: It’s certainly not a sign that things are moving in the right direction. It’s certainly not a sign that Mr. Putin has any intention to de-escalate the tensions. And it’s certainly not a sign that he is recommitting himself to a diplomatic path forward. So, it doesn’t give us any cause for optimism.

SMITH: That’s said, Germany’s vice chancellor Habeck said today, Admiral, that we may be on the verge of war in Europe, their words. Germany’s chancellor is going to be traveling to Moscow Tuesday, as you well know, to meet with Vladimir Putin.

So, is this a last ditch effort to avoid all-out war in Europe?

KIRBY: I don’t know if I say last ditch, but certainly, we recognize that the time component here seems to be shrinking, and that gives us all cause for concern.

But, again, we’ve said it and we still believe it today, that there is still a time and a space for a diplomatic path forward. We still believe that there’s a way to deescalate the tensions there, find a peaceful way out of this so that a war in Ukraine can be averted. We still believe there’s an opportunity for that, and we welcome these moves by our European allies to try to engage Mr. Putin diplomatically.

SMITH: President Biden had a pretty stark warning to Americans currently in Ukraine, saying that they should leave now and that U.S. troops will not be deployed inside Ukraine to help evacuate them if they stay.

KIRBY: Yeah, that’s exactly right. I mean, this is the time, if you’re an American citizen and you’re in Ukraine, you really should be making your way out. Again, we believe that a major military action could be only days away, could happen any day now, quite frankly.

So, now is not the time to be in Ukraine. You should make plans to leave immediately. And as the president has said, the U.S. troops will not be fighting in Ukraine.

Now, we have added some forcing posture to what is already a very robust force posture in Europe of 80,000 troops. We’ve added some to that to reassure allies and to deter aggressions against the NATO alliance. But there’s no plan, no expectation that those troops are going to be going into Ukraine.

SMITH: This is what the president had to say about this, this week, in a new interview. Listen.


LESTER HOLT, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: What are your plans toward American citizens who are in Ukraine and might be there during an invasion? What scenarios would you put American troops to rescue and get Americans out?

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There’s not. That’s a world war. When Americans and Russians start shooting at one another, we’re in a very different world than we’ve ever been.

HOLT: Not even on behalf of simply evacuating Americans?

BIDEN: No. How do you that? How do you even find them? This is not like I’m that if, in fact, he’s foolish enough to go in, he’s smart enough not to in fact do anything that would negatively impact on American citizens.


SMITH: So, Admiral, outside of a military evacuation, what assistance can Americans expect if they struggle to leave Ukraine?

KIRBY: The State Department has set up information portals on their website and at the embassy there, which is still in Kyiv, to assist Americans with whatever they need, even if it’s financial assistance. I mean, so there’s — the State Department is very much focused on this, willing to assist Americans.

And, Sandra, I would say, you know, this isn’t a new mantra for us. Yes, we are urging them to leave right now, but the State Department has been nothing but transparent over the last several weeks about the plans to leave Ukraine and the need to not go there.

So, there is plenty of time to do and there’s plenty of infrastructure in Ukraine right now to do that. The airports are still running, the railroads are still running, the highways are still open.

So, there’s plenty of opportunities for Americans to leave and they really should take these warnings and these advisories very seriously.

SMITH: Plenty of time also to still impose new sanctions on Russia, which you have been against. The White House has been against. It’s only being used to deter Russia as a consequence if they indeed invade.

Considering diplomacy seems to not to be working at this point, would you be supportive of imposing sanctions preemptively, Admiral?

KIRBY: We’ve talked about this, Sandra. I mean, if it’s a deterrent and you use it before the aggression is made or the transgression is made, then you lose you deterrent effect. You know, if you punish somebody for something that they haven’t done yet, then they might as well just go ahead and do it.

So, we believe there’s a deterrent effect by keeping them in reserve, and we have been very clear with the international community and with Mr. Putin about the severity of economic consequences that he could face.

SMITH: OK. So, imposing sanctions before Putin before were to invade are off the table. Is that clear?

KIRBY: We are — right now, we are not considering a preemptive sanction regime.

SMITH: All right. Admiral, finally, I want to ask you about this “Washington Post” reporting, and they did — they were through a FOIA request able to dig up a 2,000 page report. And they were reporting on these classified documents on Afghanistan, speaking of transparency, that do back U.S. commanders who said that President Biden’s team was indecisive during that crisis, during the evacuation.

KIRBY: Yeah.

SMITH: What is your response to that as the description of that analysis is the calamitous exit from Afghanistan? And it shows in full detail.

KIRBY: Yeah. I think — I think we need to keep these documents in perspective. They’re basically interviewed documents that were meant to assist our investigation into the Abbey Gate bombing which we, of course, unveiled and revealed a couple of weeks ago.

So, that’s what the source of these document’s are. These people are talking to investigators. They didn’t think that these documents were going to become public. They weren’t talking to reporters. They were talking to investigators who are trying to get at a very deadly attack.

And they were talking about, appropriately, what they saw at the airport and what they experienced there in Kabul and in Afghanistan in real time. So, they’re valuable documents that will be used for a much larger after- action review that the Pentagon is conducting right now, which will take not just what was happening at the airport, but what was happening over the course of — you know, since the Doha agreement was signed in February 2020, and a larger strategic level.

I would also add that, you know, here in Washington, we have been planning for evacuation as far back as April. And there was no effort by Washington, certainly not the National Security Council specifically, to slow down that planning, to slow down those prepositioning of forces that we did in the summer, to slow down the actual execution of the evacuation.

So, again, these were documents that assert impressions and perspectives which are very important down at the tactical level in real-time. We need to — we need to conduct a larger, more strategic level after-action review to get at the whole sense of this, and we’re doing that.

SMITH: Good to get your reaction to that.

Admiral Kirby from the Pentagon, appreciate your time this morning, sir. Thank you very much.

KIRBY: My pleasure. Thank you.

SMITH: Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby there, we thank him for joining us.

Energy security, of course, has been at the center of this entire conflict.

And joining us now from a very energy rich state, Louisiana, Senator Bill Cassidy.

Senator, welcome to you and welcome back to Fox News Sunday.

Great to see you.

SEN. BILL CASSIDY (R-LA): Hey, thanks for having me.

SMITH: So you just saw my interview with Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby on the escalating tensions with Russia and Ukraine. What was your takeaway from what you just heard, sir?

CASSIDY: Yes. This is a culmination of the United States kind of de-arming when it comes to energy diplomacy. If — think about it, less than a year ago, under the previous administration, we were not only energy independent, but poised to become the — to have the ability to make the EU energy independent. In less than a year we’ve lost that ability. And so now Russia has the leverage over the EU in terms of energy supply in order to kind of blackmail them into turning a blind eye. You could argue they’re trying not to, but Germany’s response has been quite muted to this apparently pending invasion. I would say that this is a culmination of a failed energy geopolitical policy.

SMITH: Senator, on that note, General Keane (ph) and others have said, well, is it as much leverage as we make it out to be considering that gas is not yet flowing through that Nord Stream 2 pipeline. It’s not currently a revenue source for Vladimir Putin. So is it as much leverage as many are making it out to be, that pipeline?

CASSIDY: There’s still Nord Stream 1 and there’s still liquefied national gas shipments in — in two (ph).

SMITH: Right.

CASSIDY: And, by the way, energy prices are much higher in Europe right now than they traditionally are. And that’s having an impact on the individual’s pocketbook and upon their economy.

So, we’ve already seen a kind of hint of that leverage and it could obviously increase if the Russians decided to further exploit.

SMITH: All right, Senator, the president is strongly encouraging, meanwhile, and you just heard us talk about this a moment ago, encouraging Americans in Ukraine to leave as soon as possible and says that there is no prospect for a U.S. military led evacuation from inside Ukraine.

So, should the U.S. be doing more about this?

CASSIDY: I agree with the president 100 percent. Use some common sense. We should not be endangering our soldiers or marines et cetera because somebody decides not to evacuate until after the fact. Get out! If there’s a pending invasion, use common sense. Leave.

SMITH: All right, Senator, the president this week, meanwhile, vowed to end that Nord Stream 2 pipeline if Russia invades Ukraine. Germany said it is united with the U.S. in that decision. He did so standing next to President Biden at the White House.

So, if that pipeline, as we just discussed, remains halted, Germany will lean on other foreign nations, as you well know, for a significant amount of their energy needs. So, what can we be doing on a country today, knowing the resources that we have and can tap into, as you just mentioned, what can we be doing to preparing on what will likely be an energy crisis in Europe if Russia does invade?

CASSIDY: We must resume using America’s resources, ramping them up in order to provide or replace that which Russia would provide. By the way, that means beginning to lease in the outer continental shelf off Louisiana, allowing development of oil and natural gas and public lands only (ph) inland and speeding up permanenting for the LNG export facilities and pipelines that are currently not occurring.

It could also include, by the way, permitting for the renewables to be able to ship their electrons. Right now, this administration is putting in amber the ability of the U.S. to expand its energy supply. That’s why we’re paying more for gas and natural gas. It’s why the EU is. We have to ease that, not only for ourselves, but also for the EU.

SMITH: Your home state of Louisiana, sir, provides more natural gas exports than any other U.S. state. And, of course, we know you have access to a whole lot more. You and a few other Republican senators met this week with the EU commissioner for energy. Were there any promises made that we will be able to meet Europe’s energy needs in the future?

CASSIDY: Senators cannot promise if the administration slow walks everything by every means possible to decrease U.S. energy production. Now, the administration can take laws that are on the book, interpret them in such a way, sometimes in direct conflict with a stated means of the law, to slow down production. That’s what this administration is doing.

They’re doing it in the name of lowering carbon intensity. So now Germany’s burning coal instead of natural gas. Not only are we getting more carbon intensity, but we’re also putting our European allies at threat of economic downturn and allowing them to be leveraged by Russia. This administration’s energy policy is a failure in terms of the climate, in terms of national security, the economy, in terms of you name it.

SMITH: Senator, I want to move on to the great mask debate. We saw a lot of it this week. And indeed this week we said Democrat and Republican governors alike either dropping or winding down their indoor or school mask mandates.

In your state right now, Louisiana, the governor has encouraged mask wearing there but says schools can opt out of masks as long as the schools follow CDC quarantine guidelines. Yet the CDC and the White House are still recommending wearing masks in high transmission areas.

I want to show you a map of Louisiana, Department of Health provided this. It indicates community risk right now is very high all over the state.

So, should kids be wearing masks in Louisiana schools, sir?

CASSIDY: We have — we have to follow the science. If the science says that masks is only of marginal benefit but that the cost to the child is of more than marginal cost, then we have to follow the science. And I’ll just say that because clearly what has happened over the last year, children have suffered, from being locked out of school, and some say from wearing the mask. Let’s follow the science. I’m a doc. That’s what I believe. That’s what we should do.

SMITH: And that’s what makes you a very unique senator, right, having that M.D. We’ve seen some major battles playing out over who has final say on mask mandates for the children, schools or the governors. In your home state, school mask mandate decisions are left up to local school districts. Is that the right approach, Senator, or should governors be able to supersede local authorities as we’ve seen recently in states like Virginia?

CASSIDY: I’m a conservative. I think that he or she who governs closest to those governed governs best. So I do think that should be a local decision. I say that as a rocked-ribbed (ph) conservative.

SMITH: Great to hear from you, Senator. Joining us from the great state of Louisiana, Senator Cassidy. Thank you very much.

And up next, we’ll bring in our Sunday group to discuss the Russia-Ukraine conflict and growing inflation in the U.S.



SULLIVAN: If you look at the disposition of forces in both Belarus and in Russia on the other side of Ukrainian border, from the north, from the east, the Russians are in a position to be able to mount a major military action in Ukraine any day now.


SMITH: That was White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan adopting more urgent tone as he discusses the prospect of military action in Eastern Europe.

And it is time now for our Sunday group: Jason Riley of “The Wall Street Journal” and author of the new book “The Black Boom”; Johanna Maska, former Obama White House official; and Gerry Seib, executive Washington editor of “The Wall Street Journal”.

Welcome to all of you. Great to spend the Sunday morning with you.

Johanna, I’ll start with you first. We heard Friday, as I mentioned, a major shift in tone from the White House communications on Ukraine, when Jake Sullivan stepped into the microphone at the White House Friday.

So, did you make of that heightened sense of — did you sense the urgency from the administration and a change and tone when we heard from him?

JOHANNA MASKA, FORMER OBAMA WHITE HOUSE OFFICIAL: Absolutely. Sandra, it is wonderful to see you again and it is great to join Jason and my fellow Jayhawk, Gerry, on Super Bowl Sunday. But yes, they are absolutely concerned about it.

And we should all be concerned because as you saw, China and Russia announced a friendship pact. And the thing about China is that they have always been planning for the next 100 years. This is not just about Russia invading Ukraine, but it’s about China watching Russia invade Ukraine and those subsequent events that could happen.

I mean, we’ve got Russia and China now saying to all of us that they’re working together on artificial intelligence, on Internet, on climate, on all of these things. And so, while I appreciate, you know, the administration is moving forcefully, we are still planning into two and four-year segments when Russia and China are looking at the next century.

SMITH: Gerry, I’m curious whether or not the White House may look back and think they got this wrong. If Russia doesn’t invade, will they be accused of overhyping the situation? Not sharing enough of what they knew? Considering Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has been demanding to know what the U.S. knows that is leading to this escalating tone coming from the White House.

GERALD SEIB, THE WALL STREET JOURANL EXECUTIVE WASHINGTON EDITOR: Yeah, I don’t think that’s likely because I think the White House strategy here is to make an invasion less likely by yelling at the top of the voice that an invasion could be coming and therefore maybe use that as a deterrence factor against Vladimir Putin.

It’s a novel strategy and it may actually be working. Some people think that there actually won’t be an invasion and that Vladimir Putin could blink. I think it’s important to keep this in perspective. If this happens, this could potentially be the largest land war in Europe since World War II. And one of the things that Vladimir Putin may be thinking is that he’s already winning to some extent because he is really hurting the Ukrainian economy simply by massing troops and threatening innovation.

You know, what happens in a situation like this is capital flees, investment dries up. And right now, the Ukrainian government is having to spend its precious hard currency reserves to defend its own currency. So, there maybe an element here of Vladimir Putin wanting people to get alarmed because he knows that help destabilize the Ukrainian government.

Maybe he’ll get what he wants, which is a change in Ukrainian, without having to invade.

SMITH: Jason, it doesn’t seem after just talking to Admiral Kirby a moment ago that the White House is considering sanctions as a preemptive move. It’s still just being used as a deterrent if Vladimir Putin is to invade. Should we be considering sanctions now?

JASON RILEY, “THE WALL STREET JOURNAL,” MANHATTAN INSTITUTE SENIOR FELLOW AND FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Oh, absolutely. And not — and not just sanctions. I think we — one of the problems I’ve had with the Biden strategy is that they’ve taken off the table the strongest deterrence with can put forward, which is the threat of U.S. troops in Ukraine if Russia invades. Once that’s off the table, it weakens our hand considerably. And I think that’s part of the problem. Vladimir Putin was watching what happened in Afghanistan, our clumsy at best exit from there, or even our decision to exit he was witnessing, and I think he senses weakness, h e senses division and he’s an — he’s an opportunist.

And I agree with Jerry about the consequences of going and the economic consequences to Europe, but Europe could not just be facing an energy crisis here, it could also be facing a refugee crisis. There are some 44 million people in Ukraine, and they share a border with four European Union countries. If Russia invades, millions of people could flee Ukraine into Europe. I mean Europe saw a refugee crisis in 2015. This could dwarf that. So, I understand the lack of Europe’s interest in helping us out here because they are so energy dependent on Russia, but they could pay a price for that hesitancy.

SMITH: Right.

All right, I want to get a quick thought from each of you on inflation. Some pretty big numbers this week showing 7.5 percent. It was the biggest jump that we’ve seen in U.S. inflation as a nation in 40 years. This is a reality for many American families. To you, Jerry, from “The Wall Street Journal,” what are we doing about this to bring these consumer prices down?

GERALD SEIB, EXECUTIVE WASHINGTON EDITOR, “THE WALL STREET JOURNAL”: Well, first of all, it is a big hit to every family. There was a study that came out this week that we reported on that said the average family household suffers $276 a month in increased costs because of inflation right now. So, this is real and it’s across the board. Everybody feels it.

The difficult part for the Biden administration is there’s not a lot in the short run that you can do about it. The one thing they can do, and some Democrat are urging is, do some more things to get the supply chains untangled, reduce pressure on at least one point that’s adding to the inflationary spiral.

SMITH: A lot of pressure is going to be on the Federal Reserve as well for their next move.

Johnna, a quick thought from you on inflation. You’ve got this — these massive price hikes but yet this White House is still pushing its spending bill, trying to do so at least, across the finish line.

JOHANNA MASKA, FORMER OBAMA WHITE HOUSE OFFICIAL AND CEO, GLOBAL SITUATION ROOM: Look, I agree with Jerry that one president is not responsible for inflation. And we are still feeling the effects from closing the global economy in March 2020. I think Present Biden is doing everything he can to address it.

And just going back really quickly on the point of President Biden being responsible for Putin’s aggression. President Trump actually undermined our intelligence agencies to Putin. So I think a lot of blame is there. I think we, as Americans, need to come together and focus on our next hundred year strategy for American dominance.

SMITH: OK. Jason, real quick thought from you. We’ve got to leave it there.

RILEY: Yes, this is why Americans are still so sour on the economy. The wages are up. That’s true. But those wages are being gobbled up by inflation. This is going to be a political problem for Democrats as we head into her midterm elections.

SMITH: It keeps showing up as the number one issue for voters in a midterm election year. One might want to take notice. Good to have all of you here today. To our panel, thank you very much.

Up next, two years into the pandemic, we are seeing states across the political spectrum rollback mandates. We’ll discuss the decisions with Colorado Governor Jared Polis, next.


SMITH: More and more Democratic governors are joining Republicans who have rolled back statewide mask mandates. Their actions going against recommendations from the White House and the CDC.

Joining us now to discuss the factors driving these decisions, the governor of Colorado, Jared Polis.

Governor, welcome. Great to have you back on FOX NEWS SUNDAY.

GOV. JARED POLIS (D-CO): Great to see you, Sandra.

SMITH: So your state has not had a statewide mask mandates since last year. In December you said, quote, the emergency is over and have left the mandate decisions up to local officials. This week we saw a number of Democrat governors follow your lead. However, the White House has a different take, as well as some other Democratic governors.

Take a look at what the president said this week.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I committed that I would follow the science. The science as put forward by the CDC and the — and the — and the federal people. And I think it’s probably premature, but it’s, you know, it’s a tough call.


SMITH: So, Governor, does the divide cause confusion for people in states like yours who are not under mandatory mask requirements?

POLIS: Well, in Colorado, we haven’t had a statewide mask requirement for – – for close to a year.

What the CDC puts out, Sandra, its guidance. Their recommendations on science. The CDC does not mandate anything. It’s really been up to local governments and, to some — in some states, governors to determine when or if people need to wear a mask. And I think the most important thing is that that should be an individual decision. People should be empowered with the information they need to protect themselves. And the truth is, if you’re at risk, and I use my parents as an example, they’re 77 and my mom has some respiratory condition, yes, they do wear medical grade masks when they’re out around others. But that should be an individual decision based on the science and the data.

SMITH: So, Governor, is the White House getting the issue wrong?

POLIS: Well, I think the CDC is putting forward guidance. It’s not mandating it for anybody, right? And the CDC isn’t and shouldn’t be mandating mass wearing for anybody. It’s a — it’s a very heavy thing for any level of government to try to tell people what to wear and it should only be used under extreme circumstances.

So I think as long as CDC sticks to the guidance, no political interference from the Biden administration, just as hopefully there was no political interference from the Trump administration, get that message out and hopefully it’s one that individuals will look at and take into account in their everyday lives so they can live with the risk profile that they’re comfortable with.

SMITH: Well, you reference the CDC, but the White House specifically, when asked, has said that they maintained their stance that children should still be wearing masks in the classroom.

POLIS: Well, I think what the White House is doing and should be doing is saying, look at the CDC guidance. And, again, in districts where mask wearing is not required, and that’s nearly every district in Colorado, some parents want their kids to wear masks for that extra level of safety. Perhaps their kid is asthmatic, perhaps their kids has a pre-existing condition. And those are all reasonable decisions. There’s no right or wrong here.

Sandra, there’s something more important than whether you wear and mask or not, and that’s civility and respect. And if you’re somebody who doesn’t like wearing masks, respect those who do. If you’re somebody who likes wearing mask, please respect those who don’t.

SMITH: Sounds like good old common sense, right, Governor. We’ll see if — we’ll see if that is in place when many of these changes take place. The transition could be difficult.

All right, so, Governor, brand-new numbers released this week showing that the nationwide inflation spiked to a 40-year high last month, 7.5 percent. President Biden offered his take on what’s causing these price hikes to consumers.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The reason for the inflation is the supply chains were cut off, meaning that the products — for example, automobiles. The lack of computer chips to be able to build those automobiles so they could function. They need those computer chips.


SMITH: So your state is suffering from one of the highest inflation rates in the nation, sir. Is the president right on this issue, or is there more to these high prices consumers are paying?

POLIS: You know, I mean, it’s hard to say he doesn’t get part of it right. Clearly, the supply chain issues, both with trucking and international trade are part of the cause. There’s other causes too. But I think the response needs to be that we hear people and we’re reducing fees and costs to save people money where we can.

I was thrilled to see Senator Kelly and Senator Hassan at the national level put forward a bill to suspend the national gas tax. That saves people 18 cents a gallon. We’re trying to do a similar thing here in Colorado to avoid a $0.02 gallon fee on gas, as well as trying to cut fees on a lot of other services that people — people need.

SMITH: You bring up the gas tax. And this is really interesting. So to bring some relief at the local level there in your state, sir, you’ve suggested delaying a new gas tax. This is just months after you signed it into law. Is that an admission that that was a bad idea in the first place?

POLIS: Well, now is not the time to increase the gas tax. In fact, what we fought for in that bill was actually lowering the gas tax. What we got in that bill was lowering vehicle registration fees in Colorado by $11.50. We want to continue that reduction of $11.50 in vehicle registration fees and, of course, we’ve always been supportive of cutting the gas tax.

SMITH: I want to move on to crime because there have been a lot of big stores at the national level in the news this week. The country continues to battle a spike in crime. But your state, Colorado, falls very low on the list of safest places in the nation, ranked 39th safest state in America. Let’s take a look at some of the violent crime numbers.

Since 2019, in Colorado, murders are up 48 percent, assaults are up 34 percent, robbers are up 15 percent. You’ve said that your goal for Colorado is to become a top ten safest state in America and you’ve introduced the public safety plan of action to hopefully reach that goal. However, the Colorado Fraternal Order of Police and county sheriffs of Colorado, they’re not embracing your plan. They’re citing concerns of anti-law enforcement sentiment.

How do you plan to bridge the gap between your plan and law enforcement to combat these rising crime rates in your state, sir?

POLIS: First of all, many, many police chiefs and sheriffs are fully supportive of our plan because our plan, fundamentally, invests in helping recruit and retain law enforcement. We have sheriff’s departments, police departments that are at 70, 80 percent of capacity because they’ve had early retirements, they can’t successfully recruit and train. And we need to support and help to make sure that we have the police on the ground that we need to protect our families in Colorado and make our state one of the safest.

In addition to that, we need investments in behavioral health, in diversion, in making sure that we can prevent crimes before they occur by having youth intervention programs and programs within our prison walls to prevent recidivism when people have served their term and get released.

So, it’s a compressive, thoughtful approach. Law enforcement is a big part of it, but there’s a lot more to it. If crime was a simple issue, it would have been sold. So we’re committed to listening to police chiefs, sheriffs, and experts from across the country to really have a data-driven plan to make Colorado one of these safest states.

SMITH: Governor, thank you very much for joining us on FOX NEWS SUNDAY. Always good to speak with you. Thank you.

POLIS: Always good to see you. Thanks, Sandra.

SMITH: All right, up next, we will bring back our Sunday group on the rise of Covid convoy protests in Canada and elsewhere.


SMITH: We are back now with the panel.

Federal officials now say trucker protests in Ottawa, Canada, are exasperating supply chain issues in the U.S. Michigan-based auto companies that had already faced shipping delays. What’s the day-to-day impact this will have on Americans if it continues?

Jerry Seib, to you first.

SEIB: Well, look, it’s already having an impact. You’re seeing auto plants having to either slow down production or shut down temporarily, not just in Canada, but in the U.S. as well. When that happens, people lose work, and they lose their paychecks. It’s not necessarily a great way to win support for your cause for the truckers, honestly. So I think that’s just beginning. And it’s starting in the auto industry.

But it’s not only going to be in the auto industry. You’ll — if this continues, you’re going to see that ripple out across the supply chain at a time when we’ve been talking about supply chain disruptions already and when part of the answer to that problem is to get more trucks on the road, not fewer.

SMITH: Jason, you’ve got to wonder what the White House is saying behind the scenes to Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau as the movement seems to be gaining traction and spreading.

RILEY: It is. You know, as someone who grew up in Buffalo, New York, which is right on the Canadian border, frankly, I’m a little embarrassed that my — our neighbors to the north, known for their friendliness, are exercising the kind of rebelliousness usually associated with Americans. I wish more Americans were adopting this civil disobedience attitude that the truckers have.

But I think the larger message here is that even — if even Canadians are fed up with this emergency Covid nonsense, it’s time to end — it’s time to end these mandates. And it’s not just in Canada. We’re seeing it in Europe, in Brussels, we’re seeing it in New Zealand. And people want their freedom back. And I think that’s the message being sent. Even at the prevention level in Canada, Justin Trudeau is seen pushback from members of his own party on these mandates. So I think it’s time to rethink them.

SMITH: Yes, I — to that point, we are seeing these start to pop in a New Zealand. There’s a convoy protests happening in France, where police had to deploy — be deployed to fire tear gas to disperse some of the crowds there.

But truckers in the U.S. are now, Johanna, potentially planning their own convoys. As we mentioned, this seems to be spreading. Now with the possibility of gridlock in traffic in several major U.S. cities ahead of the State of the Union Address, what would a Biden administration, from your view, what should their response look like to that?

MASKA: Look, I think you have to be consistent. That shutting down traffic is not OK with a protest.

And, look, we’ve seen a number of protests shut down traffic and it’s interesting to meet when the right and the left say they’re OK with one side and not the other. No one should shut down traffic. And the truth is, when these, you know, protesters have a problem with the president and the president’s mandate, they’re actually taking it out on the people. And so the American people would be the ones to suffer.

So I really hope that this doesn’t happen. I hope the Biden administration takes a strong stance and that state and local governments are given the resources that they needed to prevent any shutdowns that will impact average Americans.

I think the bigger issue is always political polarization of a pandemic. And that, by even virtue of us having this conversation, continues and need to all take a step back. Listen to exactly what we need to do to come together, overcome this pandemic, and move forward together.

SMITH: Listening. Listening is always good. We’ll see — we’ll see if the country’s able to do that while some Republican politicians, Jerry, are expressing support for the peaceful protesters, including former President Trump, which led to even more attention for these protests. What is the impact of some right-wing support expressed from the U.S.?

SEIB: Well, it’s a little — it’s a two-edge sword. You’re certainly going to see more Republican politicians latch onto this because it’s got a populist appeal. President Trump has certainly done that. This is a little like the Tea Party movement that started out as a protest about bailouts and morphed into a larger populist cause.

The danger is that some far right groups are latching onto this movement as well. That could turn it darker and maybe even violent. That’s the danger, I think.

SMITH: You hear from so many of these truckers who are out there trying to spread their own messages. They don’t want to be associated with the bad eggs that had been in some of those crowds.

Appreciate our panel. Thank you very much for joining us. And we’ll see you next Sunday.

Up next, it is, of course, Super Bowl Sunday, and the Bengals are hoping to defeat the Rams and get their first ever ring. Jim Gray joins us next with want to watch.


SMITH: All right, queue up the snacks, folks. We’re just hours away from the big kickoff of the big game. Bengals quarterback Joey Burrow, for my alma mater LSU, hoping to lead his team to a first ever Super Bowl win. It is expected to be one of the warmest Super Bowl’s on record. A rude awakening for the Bengals who practiced this week in an ice storm.

And the gaming industry’s betting big, saying it expects a record 31 million Americans will place bets. Total wagers could be more than $7 billion.

Joining me now, legendary sportscaster and Fox News contributor Jim Gray.

Jim, welcome to FOX NEWS SUNDAY. Welcome to Super Bowl Sunday.

JIM GRAY, SPORTSCASTER AND FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Great to be with you. Marv Leavy, who lost with the Buffalo Bills four times, had the greatest saying ever. Where would you rather be than right here, right now? And that’s exactly what it is. Eighty degrees at Sofi Stadium coming up this afternoon, 3:30 Easter Time. It’s going to be so much fun. The Rams and the Bengals.

SMITH: What is Jim Gray going to be watching for tonight?

GRAY: Well, I want to see how Joe Burrow does against this great defensive line. His offensive line has given up 63 sacks. That’s an awful lot. Nine in their last game against Tennessee, which they were able to advance before they played the Kansas City Chiefs. So, it’s going to be that offensive line, see how they do against Aaron Donnell and Von Miller and just a great, great Rams defense.

SMITH: Jim, you host a podcast with Tom Brady and spoke to him just after he announced his retirement. You asked whether he’d ever consider returning. And here’s what he said.


TOM BRADY: I’m just going to take things as they come. You never say never. And, you know, at the same time, I know that I’m very — I feel very good about my decisions.


SMITH: You know him well. What did you make of that answer, Jim?

GRAY: Well, I think he’s just trying to be honest. He’s been playing football for more than 30 years. He loves professional football. He loves his family. And I just don’t think that if he changes his mind three, six months down the line, a year from now, he wants to be pointed at and said you’d never do that again.

So, I think he was just being honest. I don’t think he has any plans at this point to un-retire. It’s only been a week or ten days now. So, I don’t see that happening. But, of course, you know, the door should be open because, let’s see what happens with him in June, in July, when it’s time to go back to training camp. Let see what happens with the family. Let’s see how things go.

And he can still play. He’s not leaving because of any physical attribute that he can’t do anymore. He led the NFL in every statistical category as a quarterback. So, it’s just because of family concerns and it’s time to do other things. He’s 44 years old. He’ll be 45 if he was to play next season.

I personally don’t see that happening, but I don’t speak for Tom, and he can speak for himself, and he just left the — he just left it open ever so slightly so if something happens he can have the ability to not be pointed at and say, you said you would never.

SMITH: You know, as you were saying that, I thought, well, it wouldn’t be the first time one of the greatest return to the field, Jim,

All right, I’ve only got 10 seconds left. You — I don’t think you’re going to make a prediction, but something that we should all be watching tonight as a final thought.

GRAY: I think it will be the Rams in a blowout or the Bengals in a very close game. Won’t be anything other. The Rams are the better team, but the best team does not always win. So, Bengals fans, you’ve got a chance here today and you could steal this thing and take it home.

SMITH: Nobody could have said it better.

Jim Gray, thank you so much for joining us. Appreciate it.

GRAY: Sandra, thanks for having me. Good to talk to you.

SMITH: All right, that’s it for today.

I’m Sandra Smith. I’ll see you again tomorrow for “AMERICA REPORTS” on Fox News Channel. That’s at 1:00 p.m. Eastern.

Have a great week, everyone, and we’ll see you next FOX NEWS SUNDAY.

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