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May 27, 2022

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‘Special Report’ All-Star Panel on inflation, SCOTUS protests

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This is a rush transcript from “Special Report,” May 10, 2022. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I really doubt that we are going to see an inflationary cycle.

JOE BIDEN, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The overwhelming consensus is it is going to pop up a little bit and then go back down.

JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: One of the steps that we have taken as an administration is to provide a range of assistance to the American people.

BIDEN: As our economy has come roaring back, we see some price increases.

PSAKI: When people go to the grocery store and a pound of meat is more expensive than it should be, we agree that’s less related to supply chain issues.

BIDEN: The inflation has everything to do with the supply chain.

The first cause of inflation is a once in a century pandemic. This year we have a second cause, a second cause — Mr. Putin’s war in Ukraine.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TRACE GALLAGHER, GUEST HOST: Let’s bring in our panel, Byron York, chief political correspondent of “The Washington Examiner,” Leslie Marshall, Democratic strategist, and FOX News media analyst and host of FOX’s MEDIA BUZZ, Howard Kurtz. Thank you all for coming on.

Howie, I’m not sure if you were counting there, but I was. You might have been as well. In that time in the soundbite we played, over the course of 11 months President Biden has changed his explanation on inflation four separate times. And when you are changing the messaging that much, Howie, it’s really hard to get people to believe what you are saying.

HOWARD KURTZ, FOX NEWS HOST: Some of those soundbites did not age well. This was Joe Biden’s first speech of the midterms, almost entirely a rehash. And when the president says we have to raise taxes on corporations and the wealthy, that’s a Democratic failure because he doesn’t have 50 votes in the Senate to do that.

And I know you are going to talk about Rick Scott’s tax proposal. It was misleading in the extreme for the president to suggest that this is the official position of the Republican Party or the MAGA party as much as it would be if Republicans are running against some AOC position and pretended all Democrats agree. And so this was about political blame shifting, Putin price hike, feeling your pain on inflation. It reminds me when George H.W. Bush running for a second term blurted out the talking points, message — I care.

GALLAGHER: We will talk about the Rick Scott plan in a moment, but Leslie Marshall to you. Here is the president defending government spending. Watch this and we’ll get your thoughts.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For the inflation in this country, do you take any responsibility, your policies?

JOE BIDEN, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think our policies have helped, not hurt. Republicans love to attack me as a big spender, as if that’s the reason why inflation has gone up.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The inflation outlook still remains quite uncertain.

SEN. TOMMY TUBERVILLE, (R-AL): It’s self-inflicted. They know it. We know it as Republicans. The American people know it, and they are fixing to find out about it in November. At the end of the day, what effects the American people are prices.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GALLAGHER: And to the former coach Tuberville’s point there, Leslie, 44 percent of Americans now being hit very hard by inflation numbers. Your thoughts?

LESLIE MARSHALL, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, first, if we want truth, and you say tell the people the truth, the people know the truth, and it’s out there, but they still want somebody to blame. Democrats do it. Republicans do it. And Howie, thank you for reading my mind because I have seen Republicans say that Democrats agree with AOC, and here is one who hasn’t agreed on every policy.

Inflation, whether it’s in this country or throughout the world, it comes down to three things, and that’s why we see what the market has been doing on Wall Street for the past five weeks. You have Ukraine. You have a global energy crisis if you will. And then, of course, you have the risks in this country that the feds are taking.

But for the president to be blamed for all of this is not only unfair, it’s untrue, because we know without the American rescue package there would still be inflation, economists whether they are Democrats or Republicans, whether wearing red or blue, agree on that point.

GALLAGHER: We talked about this at the top of show, Byron. Two-and-a-half months into this war, gas prices hit a record today, which kind of shows you the remedies the White House has prescribed so far are not working.

You see the national average price there, $4.37, $2.97 a year ago. In California it’s over six bucks, seven bucks in some places. I want to play this soundbite from Mitch McConnell followed by the president, Byron, and get your thoughts.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, (R-KY) SENATE MINORITY LEADER: Americans are now playing roughly $4.40 a gallon. That’s up about two whole dollars from when President Biden put his hand on the Bible.

JOE BIDEN, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My plan is already in motion. I led the world and other countries to join with us to coordinate the largest release of oil from our stockpiles of all the countries in history, 240 million barrels to boost global supply.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GALLAGHER: And for context, Byron, 240 million barrels equates to about 12 days worth of gas for the country.

BYRON YORK, CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, “THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER”: Well, he did list a bunch of very ineffective measures like the petroleum reserve, like going after oil companies. And he was seeking to blame everybody but himself.

But another thing that’s extraordinary about this appearance today was that he would not back off an inch from the environmentalist climate agenda. Part of his prescription for curing inflation is to spend more on subsidies for electric cars, to spend more on subsidies for clean energy, and call this real energy independence. Republicans had pointed out that the U.S. through fossil fuels had reached energy independence under President Trump. And now Biden is saying we are going to reach real energy independence. What this has to do with inflation is just not clear at all.

GALLAGHER: Kind of segues, Byron, into our next subject here, which is this ugly battle now between the president and Rick Scott, the Senator from Florida, over Scott’s plan. President Biden calls it the ultra-MAGA plan. You have a lot of Republicans who are not on board. He is saying it is going to cut down some of the social safety nets. What are your thoughts on the plan and the response and the Republican support, Byron?

YORK: The plan, first of all, alienated a number of Scott’s colleagues in the Senate who do not, who do not support raising taxes on people whose income is so low that they currently do not pay federal income taxes anyway. So not a single Republican has signed on to this plan. It’s Rick Scott idiosyncratic plan.

On the other hand, politically it is a gift to the Democratic Party and to the White House because Rick Scott is, in fact, in charge of the Republican effort to win back the Senate this year. And they can say look, this is what the guy in charge wants to do. It’s what Republicans want to do. And Republicans can deny it up and down, but it is a fact that this is what Rick Scott says.

GALLAGHER: What about you, Howie, do you think it’s damaging?

KURTZ: I think it gives a big target to the Democrats, as Byron pointed out. I also think it’s fair for President Biden to say some of this has to do with the war in Ukraine, some of it with the pandemic and the supply chain. Those are legitimate points, as is pointing out that he created millions of jobs and has lowered the deficit.

But the fact is a reporter asked him why are people are so angry, and why do they blame you? I think Biden gave a candid answer. He said because we are in charge. We control the House and the Senate, at least nominally, and the White House. And that’s the way politics works. It may be unfair, but every president gets probably more credit than they deserve on the economy, and less when things are not going well.

GALLAGHER: Leslie, about 30 seconds to wrap us up.

MARSHALL: I agree with both gentlemen. I think it is a gift to my party, thank you, Rick Scott for that. And when you are in charge, absolutely, And Rick Scott, as Byron said, is in charge. All you need is one person, whether it’s AOC on the left or Rick Scott on the right or anybody putting something out there, even if your party doesn’t agree. And when people say the MAGAs agree with it, I know Senator Mitch McConnell is not thought as a MAGA. But you know polling changes, and the wind blows a certain way. He might be tomorrow, and he might agree.

GALLAGHER: Yes, a lot of people are walking back from this, including Rick Scott, a little bit. Panel right back. Up next, pro-choice demonstrators targeting the homes of Supreme Court justices.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. DICK DURBIN, (D-IL) SENATE MAJORITY WHIP: There is no room for mob action, intimidation, or any personal threats against a public official, period. I don’t care for people who do it to my home, and they have. It is demeaning and adolescent and not convincing at all.

SEN. TOM COTTON, (R-AR): Joe Biden should come out today and say that federal law enforcement will put an end to these protests tonight. If any person gets close to a justice’s home, they should be arrested and charged with a federal crime.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GALLAGHER: And we are back with our panel. Very interesting because, let’s face it, Dick Durbin, Byron York, and Tom Cotton, they can’t really agree on which direction the sun is going to set. But it still seems to me like the White House is still very noncommittal. I want to play this soundbite from Jen Psaki. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think, to be very clear, the protests outside of judges’ homes have not turned violent. Even as passions are high, even as people are fearful, even as people are scared and frustrated, which is understandable, no one should resort to violence, of course, nor threats, nor intimidation, nor vandalism, that those are not effective means.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GALLAGHER: I found it interesting, Byron, that not only not condemning these protests but kind of actually giving the protesters credit for not being violent under the circumstances, what do you think?

YORK: I find it absolutely baffling, too. I agree with you about Senators Durbin and Cotton. And now it appears that legally this is an attempt to interfere with a judicial proceeding, but just in common sense terms it’s a bad idea. And I do not understand why the White House cannot say just don’t go to people’s houses. It’s not a good idea. Don’t do it. Protest at the Supreme Court. Make more noise than they have ever heard down there. But don’t go to people’s houses. It would be so simple for the White House to say, and they won’t say it.

GALLAGHER: They won’t say it, Howie. Even some Democrat-friendly publications are now kind of saying, you know what, don’t go to the White House. Here is “The Washington Post” quoting here, “To picket a judge’s home is especially problematic. It tries to bring direct public pressure to bear on a decision-making process that must be controlled, evidence based, and rational if there is to be any hope of an independent judiciary,” which is why it’s illegal, Howie.

KURTZ: Yes. Well, about time. And these demonstrations cross a bright red line. It’s intimidation pure and simple, an effort to change people’s minds by — imagine the justices, they’re trapped with their kids inside night after night as people shout and chant and wave signs, and it gets pretty loud.

Now, look, peaceful protest is in America’s DNA, and it’s fine to protest on something you feel strongly about outside the Supreme Court, at the White House, at your local downtown. But, at least the White House, I think, has walked back a little bit the no comment stance it has taken.

And just briefly with some liberal pundits defending this tactic as a kind of ends justify the means mentality, imagine the tone of the coverage if conservative protesters were screaming outside the home of Sonia Sotomayor or Elena Kagan or Nancy Pelosi, and yet “The Washington Post” ran a long sympathetic profile of the woman leading the Brett Kavanaugh protest.

GALLAGHER: Yes, and that was exactly my next point, but I want to play this, Leslie Marshall. This is a few calls to end the protests, and we’ll get your thoughts.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JUDGE ESTHER SALAS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT: To only be doing our jobs and to be fear of retribution, retaliation, or death is not part of the deal.

JACK HOOGENDYK, (R) FORMER MICHIGAN STATE REPRESENTATIVE: If we don’t see a stronger message coming from law enforcement and from political leaders, you are going to see more of this kind of activity and behavior.

SEN. MARSHA BLACKBURN, (R-TN): This is unsafe. It disrupts the entire community. It is something that does need to be addressed, and the president, the White House should take the responsibility of addressing this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GALLAGHER: Three fair points, Leslie, including from a Hispanic federal judge.

MARSHALL: So many points here. Howie, January 6th, that’s all I will say to people angry and protesting. Used to live in San Francisco, Pacific Heights, Nancy Pelosi house in plain view. You can Google it, people protesting there morning, noon and night.

KURTZ: I’m not saying it hasn’t happened before. I’m not saying it hasn’t happened before. But that doesn’t justify it happening now.

MARSHALL: No, I don’t feel violating the law — the Constitution is very clear, and there are exceptions for time, manner and place. There is a federal mandate in place, and specifically Section 1507, Title 18 says, quote, with the intent of influencing. And, of course, it could be argued these people are just angry, they are not trying to influence these people if the draft is correct they have already made up their mind, but —

GALLAGHER: What are they trying to do there? If they are not trying to influence anything, what are they doing there? Are they just making a point? If they are not trying to influence anything, why would they be there?

MARSHALL: The same reason anybody protests in the United States —

GALLAGHER: To influence.

MARSHALL: — whether we agree or disagree with it. No, no, no. Sometimes people do try to influence. Sometimes people are just angry so they take to the streets. We saw that with the women’s march. We saw that after Donald Trump was elected. We’ve seen that with the million man march. The list goes on.

But I am not — you’re misunderstanding. It is wrong because it is a federal mandate. It is breaking the law. But interestingly, guys, if you were to arrest somebody, and if they had counsel that fought this all the way, where would it go? To the Supreme Court.

GALLAGHER: Leslie Marshall, Byron York, Howie Kurtz, thank you all.

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