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This is a rush transcript of “Special Report with Bret Baier” on March 4, 2022. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
BAIER: Well, as Russian forces continue to move forward in Ukraine and the battles are engaged in different parts of the country, there is also problems in Russia itself as there is a mass exodus ahead of what could be, some fear in that country, martial law. This is “Axios,” “Why it matters, for as devastating as the humanitarian situation in Ukraine has become, widespread suffering is rapidly arriving at Russia’s own doorstep. More than 8,000 people have already been detained at anti-war protests since February 24th according to the independent monitor OVD-Info.” And there have been people turned away at the borders, we’re told, could draft be coming there in Russia soon? That’s one of the other factors.
Let’s bring in our panel, Trey Gowdy, former Congressman from South Carolina, Jeff Mason, White House correspondent for Reuters, and Jason Riley, “Wall Street Journal” columnist and senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute.
Jeff, the White House continues to get questions about this no fly zone. Obviously, you have Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the president of Ukraine, calling for that. But there is pretty much a united front — NATO, the White House, the Pentagon all saying that’s not going to happen, at least at this time.
JEFF MASON, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, “REUTERS”: And the reason for that, Bret, that the White House is saying and that the administration is saying, is because they have said all along the U.S. does not want to engage in war with Russia. And putting U.S. planes and NATO planes up there and sending troops in to enforce a no-fly zone could essentially lead to that. It’s clear that that is what Ukraine is asking for, and there is certainly appears to be frustration on the on the Ukrainian side that they are not getting that kind of support. But the calculation from the U.S. and from NATO writ large is that that would potentially make it much worse.
BAIER: Trey, do you think that something gets there along those lines, or do you think that holds?
TREY GOWDY, FORMER SOUTH CAROLINA REPRESENTATIVE: I’m just trying to process how things can get worse? You have women being raped by Russian soldiers. You have innocent civilians being killed in Ukraine. You have a near miss with a nuclear reactor site. And I think people are wondering, Bret, OK, we swore a blood oath to defend Poland. Poland is just one step removed from Ukraine. So I think Americans are wondering, OK, if we are willing to risk world war for Poland or Estonia, why not do something to help Ukraine? I think Americans are going to start asking that a lot in the days to come.
BAIER: Meanwhile, there is a pushback from people saying we shouldn’t get further in this. We should give them everything they need to fight the fight, Jason. That’s the pushback from that side.
JASON RILEY, COLUMNIST, “WALL STREET JOURNAL”: Yes, that is the pushback. I think it’s the right pushback. It’s pragmatic. There was this note of triumphalism in the State of the Union address. The world is united, we handled things brilliantly is what the president is saying. I don’t think that’s quite warranted by what we are seeing. Putin is escalating. Cities are being attacked, particularly in the south, they are vulnerable. And yes, I think we need to be doing more.
The bottom line here, Bret, is the long-term strategy here. We don’t want a world in which authoritarian Russia is in control of the central Europe and eastern Europe, authoritarian China has control of east Asia, authoritarian Iran has control of the Middle East. That’s bad, bad, dangerous world that will come back to haunt us, particularly when those powers are working together, which is what they are already doing.
And so yes, I think we need to do more to shore up militarily, and might be time not just to dissuade Putin at this point, but to make it an example of him, because other authoritarian regimes are paying attention to what is going on now, and clearly what we are doing is not having intended effects. I think civilian casualties are probably going to increase at this point before they decline.
BAIER: Well, this administration is definitely facing headwinds on a number of fronts if you go down the issues and you look at the poles.
But Jeff, today was really, really good news on the economic front. And you can’t sugarcoat it. It was really good. And the jobs numbers, 678,000 jobs added, 3.8 percent unemployment rate, beat expectations. The reaction, take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: These numbers are incredibly positive across the board, strong numbers, and that wage inflation not showing up as people had worried.
MARTIN WALSH, LABOR SECRETARY: We also have to be realistic about the times that we’re living in. In a global pandemic, much of the inflation is caused by the supply chain, manufacturing, lack of getting goods and services to our country.
JOE BIDEN, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is what it looks like to grow an economy from the bottom up and the middle out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: That’s not to say, Jeff, that people aren’t feeling it, that they’re not feeling the increase of inflation, that families aren’t feeling it. But this was a good day economically for this administration.
MASON: For sure. But the administration isn’t getting or doesn’t feel like it’s getting a lot of credit for that in terms of polling and support. And the president sort of nodded to that today when he was talking about it, saying he recognizes that the biggest priority is to bring inflation and rising prices down.
GOWDY: I’m happy for all the Americans that got jobs. I think the headwinds remain, and that’s why two-thirds of the country thinks we are headed in the wrong direction.
BAIER: All right, stand by, guys. Up next, negotiating a new Iran nuclear deal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: The talks with Iran about a mutual return to compliance with the JCPOA have reached a decisive moment. If a deal is not reached in the next few weeks, Iran’s ongoing nuclear advances will make it impossible to return to the JCPOA.
MIKHAIL ULYANOV, RUSSIAN ENVOY TO IRAN NUCLEAR TALKS: We are at the very end. We are practically finished. I cannot imagine that at this stage the talks might collapse. It would be absolutely irresponsible, especially at this stage when we are actually on the finish line.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: It was the Russians at the table, crucial, according to the Biden administration, for the Iran nuclear deal. That’s the JCPOA. You heard the secretary of state.
Here’s how “The Washington Examiner” writes it, “JCPOA 2.0, Ukraine crisis offers Biden cover for that. The State Department did issue a ban on U.S.- Russian diplomatic engagement, but it exempted the nuclear talks from it, thereby undercutting the administration’s tough talk about putting Russia in the global penalty box.” NBC News says about this deal, “Under one draft interim agreement, Tehran would be required to stop enriching uranium up to 60 percent purity and dispose of its current stockpile, possibly by exporting it to Russia along with other restrictions. In exchange the Iranian government would receive access to billions of dollars in oil revenues frozen in foreign bank accounts.” And the U.S. would receive a lot of oil.
We’re back with the panel. Jason, it does seem to fit in why maybe some of this is looking for oil to fill a vacuum.
RILEY: Yes, Bret, this is complicating things. Biden’s domestic policy agenda with respect to fossil fuels is certainly complicating things. And he needs to realize we are in a different situation now. This is a big deal that’s happening with Ukraine and Russia. We need to reassure our European allies that if they are not getting their energy supply from Russia, they will be able to count on the U.S. And that means ending the war here in the U.S. on fossil fuels, threatening to tax gas and oil companies through the roof to satisfy the progressive agenda. This is just the new reality that we are living under.
And I really expected to see more of a pivot from Biden in the State of the Union address on this front the way we saw, for instance, in Germany, but that’s not what we have been seeing so far. And I think they need a reality check here.
BAIER: Remember, the Biden administration is made up of some of the Obama administration. The Obama administration really wanted an Iran nuclear deal. This is kind of a legacy issue for some of them, Jeff. The Israeli prime minister, however, not a fan. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NAFTALI BENNETT, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: The emerging deal as it seems is highly likely to create a more violent, a more volatile Middle East. The sunset clause, the clause that says that in two-and-a-half years they no longer have to freeze the development of uranium enrichment centrifuges leaves Iran with a fast track with the military grade enrichment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: So Jeff, the devil is always in the details. We haven’t seen it, but that’s the Israeli prime minister.
MASON: And that is not a new position on behalf of Israel. They have opposed the deal. They opposed the deal when it was made under the Obama administration. They were delighted when President Trump withdrew the United States from that deal, and they oppose it now. It’s just a disagreement between close allies on whether or not this is in the world’s interest or not. The United States and other western powers and Russia that are working on this deal with Iran argue that they have to do it in order to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear bomb.
BAIER: Yes. Trey, “The Washington Examiner” says Ukraine provides them cover. We would be talking a lot more about the details if that was not going on.
GOWDY: Yes, Bret, what I keep thinking about. About a month ago, House Democrats brought in the oil executives and talked to them unmercifully. You would have thought they were talking to Putin they were so tough on Chevron and Shell and Exxon. Of course, they canceled that hearing that was set for today. I’m sure people are wondering why are we removing sanctions from a country like Iran but imposing them on Russia, and yet Iran is going to ship its uranium to Russia. I’m sure people are co confused, and you can add me and the 100 members of Congress who wrote the letter to Biden to that list.
BAIER: Yes, panel, thanks very much. We’re not going to talk about this — we’ll be talking about this for a long time. Thanks.
All right, it is Friday. It’s hard to believe. It’s been a long week, but it’s Friday. It’s time for “Notable Quotables.”
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A steady assaulted on Ukrainian cities both large and small continues without pause.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have the reason to be here. We have the reason to fight.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We could not here live in peace knowing that they are under the shelf.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We are fighting just for our land and for our freedom.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I have to talk with Putin. The world has to talk with Putin.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Should Americans be worried about nuclear war?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have a president that talks about, talks about, and doesn’t do thing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there a Brutus in Russia?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And if you establish a no-fly zone and that would put us at war with Russia.
JOE BIDEN, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you. Go get him.
NANCY PELOSI, (D-CA) HOUSE SPEAKER: Ban the oil coming from Russia, yes.
JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It’s only about 10 percent of what we are importing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is literally national security suicide, and we have to stop it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For this go up the way it’s been going up, it is — it hurts.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And 1.1 million people have fled the country in the last eight days alone.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was scary. I’m still afraid that I can’t see her anymore.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: Amazing, one week covering Ukraine.
Monday on SPECIAL REPORT, we will talk with former attorney general William Barr about a host of issues and his new book.
This weekend, please join FOX NEWS SUNDAY. Shannon Bream is going to host. Her guests include the Ukrainian ambassador to the U.S. and Senators Chris Murphy and Joni Ernst.
Thanks for inviting us into your home tonight. That’s it for this SPECIAL REPORT, fair, balanced, and still unafraid. We have got continuing coverage of everything in Ukraine and around the world. “JESSE WATTERS PRIMETIME” continues that right now. Hey, Jesse, have a good weekend, man.
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