Liz Cheney speaks out after being ousted by Republican Party
Liz Cheney speaks out after being ousted by Republican Party
Former GOP conference chair Rep. Liz Cheney responds to being ousted of her position, and speaks out against her successor Elise Stefanik
This is a rush transcript from “Fox News Sunday,” May 16, 2021. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: I’m Chris Wallace.
Tensions boil over in the Middle East and the CDC does an about-face on masks.
DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: We have all longed for this moment.
WALLACE (voice-over): The Centers for Disease Control now saying fully vaccinated people can remove their masks indoors as well as outside, but the new guidelines creating confusion as states, cities, and businesses scramble to decide what they’ll do.
The change coming just two days after a contentious hearing on Capitol Hill.
SEN. BILL CASSIDY (R-LA): I’m incredibly frustrated, and the American people are frustrated.
SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R-ME): I always considered the CDC to be the gold standard. I don’t anymore.
WALLACE: We’ll discuss the politics and the science with Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the head of the CDC.
REP. ELISE STEFANIK (R-NY): My focus is on unity.
WALLACE: Republicans elevate Trump defender Elise Stefanik to the number three post in the House, just two days after ousting Liz Cheney over her fight with the former president. We’ll ask Cheney what it means for her political future and the direction of the GOP.
Plus, panic buying and shortages at the pump after a cyber attack on the nation’s largest gas pipeline. We’ll ask our Sunday panel how President Biden should respond.
And our Power Player of the Week, a new memorial to remember the heroes of America’s forgotten war.
All, right now, on “FOX News Sunday”.
WALLACE (on camera): And hello again from FOX News in Washington.
We begin with breaking news. Another night of fighting between the Israelis and Palestinians in the worst outbreak of violence in years. Israeli airstrikes hitting Gaza and targeting this high-rise housing offices of “The Associated Press” and other media outlets. Journalists getting out safely after being warned a strike was imminent.
The fighting also taking place also taking place inside Israel between Arabs and Jews, and on the border with Lebanon and Jordan. The U.S.
spearheading diplomatic efforts to de-escalate the violence. President Biden speaking Saturday with both Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Palestinian Leader Abbas.
Let’s get the latest now from Trey Yingst reporting from Israel-Gaza border.
TREY YINGST, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Overnight, rockets soar through the sky before being intercepted by Israel’s missile defense system, the Iron Dome. Their target: the country’s second-largest city, Tel Aviv.
Israel responded to the rocket fire with more airstrikes hitting both military and civilian positions.
The Israel Defense Forces also responded today to criticism for destroying a media building on Saturday in Gaza city. A spokesperson for the military said these buildings will not be aboard for Hamas but provided no evidence the group was operating out of the location.
The Israeli military is shelling the Gaza Strip amid incoming rocket fire, the damage done by this artillery seen throughout Gaza.
This morning, a young child in Gaza City was pulled alive from the rubble of a collapsed building. Video from the scene show Gazans have lived the past week, trying to stay alive with very few places to hide. The Palestinian death toll in Gaza soared to more than 180 people.
So far, ten Israelis are dead, including one soldier and dozens more injured, while Israel has killed many military leaders, at least 80 civilian women and children have died as well. The damage to Gaza’s infrastructure will take years to recover from and with no end to the fighting insight, destruction will only increase.
YINGST (on camera): Preparations are underway for a possible ground invasion into Gaza. You can hear the sirens behind me as incoming rocket rounds are being intercepted by Israel’s missile defense system, the Iron Dome.
The Israeli military is still blocking access for international journalists to enter the Strip, meaning we don’t know the true extent of the damage inside — Chris.
WALLACE: Trey, can we see if you have your cameramen pan up, can we see some of the explosions above you?
YINGST: Pan up, could you?
Absolutely. You can see a few of the rounds from Israel’s missile defense system, the Iron Dome. That white smoke is coming — you can hear another interception right there, Chris. That’s coming from the missile defense system that according to the military this week tells FOX News is 90 percent accurate, though when these rockets do slip by, they cause severe damage in the border communities.
And as we saw last night, the fire towards Israel’s second-largest city of Tel Aviv, a major escalation by the factions inside Gaza and an indication that the Israeli security forces will continue their operations — Chris.
WALLACE: Trey Yingst on the Israeli border with Gaza, Trey, thanks and stay safe. And we’ll have more on this with the panel.
Now to a major shift in the way this country is dealing with the coronavirus. The Centers for Disease Control announced Thursday fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks in most circumstances. But there are a lot of questions about what that means for our daily lives.
Joining us now, CDC director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky.
Doctor, welcome back to “FOX News Sunday”.
WALENSKY: Good morning, Chris. Thanks for having me.
WALLACE: So on Wednesday night you were still arguing, still making the case that people who are fully vaccinated needed to wear masks indoors. And then Thursday, less than 24 hours later, you said no, there’s — it changed. Now you don’t need to wear masks if you’re fully vaccinated either indoors or outdoors.
Would you agree that this abrupt shift was not handled as well as it might have been?
WALENSKY: First step, let’s just acknowledge where we are in this pivotal moment in this pandemic. For 16 months we’ve been telling people be cautious, be careful, cases are going up, deaths are still very high, and for this very moment we have cases coming down, they’re down a third in the last two weeks, death rates that have never been as low since April of 2020. Things in this pandemic are starting to turn around.
And what’s also happening is we’re getting data, evolving data, on the science. Just last Thursday, we — there were two papers that were published in The New England Journal, and then just Friday, this past Friday, there was a large study that was published in the MMWR.
And so taking all of these data together, we’ve been working really actively just this whole last week to try and move the science, move the data, to the American people and tell people — deliver the science to them.
WALLACE: But the CDC, I think you’ll acknowledge, was under increasing pressure this past week to relax the guidelines. Members of Congress were growing frustrated. There was a decrease in demand for the vaccines.
I want to play a couple of clips this week for you. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CASSIDY: This is a blanket. Walk outside and wear a mask. You’re vaccinated and everybody else that’s in the room is vaccinated but you’re wearing a mask. The American people have just lost — just lost patience with us, and you guys.
JOSEPH R. BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The rule is very simple, get vaccinated or wear a mask until you do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Dr. Walensky, can you state flatly to the American people that pressure had nothing to do with the abrupt shift in the CDC guidelines?
WALENSKY: Yes, I can. I can tell you it certainly would have been easier if the science had evolved a week earlier and I didn’t have to go to Congress making those statements. But I’m delivering the science as the science is delivered to the medical journals. And it evolved over this last two — last week. The cases came down over those last two weeks and so that’s — I deliver it as soon as I can when we have that information available.
WALLACE: While the new guidance — and I suspect you’ve never had as much trouble delivering good news as you have this week. While the new guidance is clearly good news, it certainly has created some confusion and even concern.
I want to put up some numbers. The seven day average of new cases is still almost 34,000 a day. Deaths per day are still more than 600. And almost two-thirds of Americans are still not fully vaccinated.
If people who aren’t fully vaccinated start taking off their masks along with the people who are fully vaccinated, aren’t we going to see a spike in new cases? And aren’t you in a sense relying on an unrealistic honor system?
WALENSKY: We are still vaccinating somewhere between 1.5 and 2 million people a day. And so every day more and more people are getting vaccinated.
The honor system is to be honest with yourself. If you are vaccinated, we are saying you are safe, you can take off your mask, and you are not at risk of severe disease or hospitalization from COVID-19. If you are not vaccinated, you are not safe. Please go get vaccinated or continue to wear your mask.
The vaccine is now available to over 90 percent of Americans within five miles. You can text your zip code to 438-829 and find many vaccine sites near you. So what we are really asking the American people to do is to be honest with themselves and to not remove their masks until they are safe.
WALLACE: I want to do a lightening round, quick questions, quick answers on several real world situations.
What about kids in school, especially those who haven’t been vaccinated?
Should they continue to wear masks or not?
WALENSKY: Our school guidance for 20 — to complete this school year will not change and we’ll be working on school guidance for the fall.
WALLACE: So — and how soon are we going to see that, that new guidance for the fall?
WALENSKY: So we — this had to be the first foundational step that we made in order to update all of our guidance, thousands of pages of guidance. We need to update our school guidance, our childcare guidance, our camp guidance, our travel guidance. We have a lot of work that we need to do. We are actively working on that now and we’re actively doing outreach with the community to do so as well.
WALLACE: What about frontline health workers, frontline retail workers, frontline grocery workers? The union leaders for those various groups say that you in effect have now changed them from being the mask police to being the vaccination police. You talk about, well, people have to be honest with themselves. If everybody else — or a third of Americans are taking off their masks legitimately, haven’t you put these people in a tough spot to say, well, have you really been vaccinated?
WALENSKY: So first, our guidance to remove your masks if you’re vaccinated is not applicable to healthcare settings. I want to be very clear about that. It does not apply to healthcare settings.
In terms of other settings and businesses, the first thing I would ask is that those businesses make it easy for their employees to get vaccinated, to give them the time off, the paid time off that they need, so that employees, frontline workers can get vaccinated and protect themselves.
WALLACE: But what about — I’m not talking about them so much as their customers. If you’re a grocery worker and people are coming by without masks and walking around without masks, are they going to be put in the uncomfortable position of saying, hey, have you been fully vaccinated or not?
WALENSKY: If those employees are actually vaccinated themselves, they are not at risk. The other thing I want to make sure everybody understands is we’re not a homogeneous country, right? There are some places that have more disease than others and less vaccination rates than others. And what I would say is in those communities, they should still be looking within those communities before removing mask policies.
WALLACE: What do you think about vaccine passports? The president has made it clear the federal government is not going to do that. But what do you think as a way of just easing it for, for instance, a retail store or a grocery store, that if they want to say to people, you want to come in here you have to have proof that you’ve been fully vaccinated or else you’ve got to put on a mask? Do you think that’s a reasonable solution?
WALENSKY: As the president said, they’re not going to be — we’re not going to be doing this at the federal level. I think that there will be places at local levels that will be — will be engaging in that. So, for example, we’ve heard about many institutions of higher education, colleges, universities that are going to be doing this. Cruise ship industry might be doing this. So that’ll probably — that will be at the local level.
WALLACE: And do you think that’s a reasonable solution for private institutions, private businesses to say, we need proof that you’ve been vaccinated?
WALENSKY: I think that’s really going to have to be industry-by-industry.
I can see why in certain situations, for example the cruise ship industry, would be important to understand how protective the people who are taking the voyage are. I can also see how difficult it might be in other situations. So I think that that’s going to have to be an industry-by- industry discussion.
WALLACE: Doctor, finally, where are we on this pandemic? Is it fair to say that we’re at the beginning of the end? And what are the chances that either a new variant or because of the change in weather that we’re all going to end up having the masks up again come this winter?
WALENSKY: I think it’s premature to declare victory. We have to remain humble. We’ve had way to many curveballs in this pandemic come to us. But I am really cautiously optimistic that we are in a good place right now, that cases continue to come down. We are watching it really carefully. That we have new guidance and new science, really, that informs that guidance that allows us to be able to say vaccinated people can take off their masks.
Certainly there’s a lot of virus circulating in other areas of the world and we do need to be cautious about new variants that might emerge there, might emerge here. And we are sequencing somewhere between 10 — 7 to 10 percent of all virus that is circulating here in the United States at this time.
So I have cautious optimism but my vigilance hasn’t changed.
WALLACE: Dr. Walensky, thank you. Thanks for your time this weekend.
Please come back.
WALENSKY: Thank you so much, Chris.
WALLACE: Up next, we’ll bring in our Sunday group to discuss the escalating violence in the Middle East. How long will it last? How far will it spread?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: The president and his team keep sending missed messages about gatherings and wearing masks, and sometimes a break from their own CDC’s guidance for vaccinated Americans.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell reflecting the growing frustration political leaders and the public were feeling about CDC guidance before the agency announced the big change on Thursday.
And it’s time now for our Sunday group.
Steve Hayes, editor of “The Dispatch”; Catherine Lucey, who covers the White House for “The Wall Street Journal”; and FOX News political analyst Juan Williams.
Steve, it’s easy to second-guess both the CDC and the Biden administration for either moving too slowly or too fast and it’s changing guidance during evolving situation, but how fair do you think the criticism is of the CDC, especially this week?
STEVE HAYES, EDITOR, THE DISPATCH: Well, Chris, as you point out, it’s difficult, if you’re the CDC, you have to continue to update the guidance and you have to continue to follow the science. You heard Dr. Walensky say today that she’s just following science and providing this information as quickly as possible.
I think the challenge for the CDC is that’s not what’s been happening.
She’s been late to updating the science. She hasn’t been following the signs. In the hearing earlier this week, she was asked about kids attending summer camp and said she was going to keep her own vaccine-eligible son from going to summer camp when most of the activities are presumably outside. That’s just where people’s heads are at this point.
And if you get to the point where the U.S. public is not paying attention to the CDC because it’s so late in arriving to common sense solutions based on the science, then I think you really do have a problem.
WALLACE: Catherine, do you think the Biden White House is concerned at all about the criticism that it and the CDC have received this week? Or do you think they feel the public, in the end, it’s just going to focus on the fact it’s good news, we are making progress on the pandemic, and those people who are fully vaccinated can take their masks off?
CATHERINE LUCEY, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Well, Chris, I think what we’re seeing is a real effort from them to promote this as good news. As you said earlier, they had the president out in the Rose Garden maskless, you know, to talk about this as a step forward and I think you’re going to hear more from them on that. They really believe that his biggest mandate is to show progress on the pandemic, to show Americans that he’s moving forward with the vaccination campaign with reopening.
But certainly, there are challenges ahead. They are facing criticism at the city and the state level from some key unions and as Dr. Walensky said, they still have to update other key pieces of guidance around schools and children and other parts of American life. So you’re going to continue to hear from them on that and I think you are going to continue to hear from them trying to frame this and promote this as a positive.
WALLACE: Juan, I want to turn to the dramatic story we were covering up the top of the hour, the escalating violence between Israel and the Palestinians in this real shooting war now coming into and out of Gaza.
Here was White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki this week on that. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Hamas is a terrorist organization.
Hamas does not represent the views, the families, the people who are suffering, all of the Palestinian people who are suffering as a result of this violence. But there’s no justification for 1,500 rockets coming from Hamas.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Juan, there were some precipitating events at the beginning of this week, the planned eviction of some Palestinian families from East Jerusalem and that led to some open fighting on the Temple Mount, the Al- Aqsa mosque.
But why do you think it is that we’re now seeing the worst violence between Israel and the Palestinians that we’ve seen in at least seven years?
JUAN WILLIAMS, FOX NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: Chris, I think the ground has shifted in that Israeli-Palestinian dynamic over the last few years.
President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel basically created alliances. They negotiated the so-called Abraham Accords. They created alliances through the Middle East with a focus on defeating Iran, stopping Iran’s nuclear ambitions. But as a consequence, decades of negotiations focused on a two-state solution, which has been U.S. policy across party lines forever.
That effort, that two state solution paradigm was abandoned and I think consequently we are now in a dynamic where the Palestinians very much feel isolated, voiceless. I think that you have seen the Palestinian Authority, the Fatah, undermined in that dynamic while Hamas, the most radical and extreme faction in the Palestinian segment, now is elevated and they feel like they are free to fight.
Meanwhile, Israel feels unbound in terms of responding because they are no longer in that two-state dynamic.
So this is a very dangerous situation. I was so impressed by Trey Yingst reporting there. That seems to me to be an explosive situation that could get dangerously worse.
WALLACE: Yeah, Steve, I want to pick up on that because there is some domestic politics here. Hamas is clearly trying to show Palestinians once again that they are fighting for their cause as opposed to the more establishment Palestinian Fatah Party.
There’s also domestic politics in Israel because Benjamin Netanyahu was just on the verge of losing his position to an opposition coalition.
How big a role do you think Netanyahu and Hamas feel to fight this out right now from a domestic politics point of view?
HAYES: Yeah, it’s a very good point. I think this whole thing in a sense started because of domestic politics within the Palestinian side. If you look at what Hamas was trying to do, Hamas was poised to do well in elections there. You had the Palestinian Authority, I think, stepping up to show that it too could be tough, could take the fight to Israelis, in anticipation of a court ruling. We hadn’t even had the court ruling yet.
So you had in this internal dynamic amongst Palestinians, this effort to look like they were tough, like they were taking the fight to the Israelis.
Look, I think the Israelis have no choice but to respond and respond in a pretty significant fashion when you have 1,500 rockets, as Jen Psaki said.
I’ve been interested by the Biden administration’s response to this. It’s been pretty straightforward and pretty favorable to the Israelis I think given what — given the tense relationship that we saw between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu and Joe Biden and Benjamin Netanyahu.
Remember Biden didn’t see or talk to Netanyahu early in the administration.
WALLACE: Catherine, we’ve got less than a minute left. We are also seeing fighting going on inside Israel between Jews and Arab Israelis, people who live in — Arabs who live in Israel. We are seeing fighting on the border with Lebanon and with Jordan.
How concerned is the Biden White House that this could spread further?
LUCEY: You see, Chris, the White House treating the situation with increased urgency. The president was very engaged over the weekend. He spent a lot of time in the Oval Office yesterday. He’s on the phone with the Israeli foreign minister, the Palestinian Authority president. He is — he’s continuing to affirm, as he said, Israel’s right to defend itself, but he is also expressing concern about the loss of life, about death of civilians, of children, and the safety of journalists.
So I think you will continue to see the White House, you know, engaged on this issue very deeply and it’s going to be a real test of his foreign policy and his diplomacy in the coming days.
WALLACE: All right, panel. We have to take a break here. We’ll see you later in the hour.
When we come back, Congresswoman Liz Cheney on what’s next after House Republicans vote to remove her from their leadership team.
WALLACE: Coming up, House Republicans make Elise Stefanik their new conference chair.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ELISE STEFANIK (R-NY): I also want to thank President Trump for his support. He is a critical part of our Republican team.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: We’ll ask Congresswoman Liz Cheney what this week’s change in leadership means for the future of the party.
CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: House Republicans voted this week to remove Liz Cheney as conference chair for her refusal to stop attacking former President Trump. But she says it won’t stop her from running for re- election or from fighting for the future of the GOP.
And joining us now from Cheyenne, Wyoming, Congresswoman Cheney.
Congresswoman, I want to start with the decision by the House Republican Caucus to remove you this week.
We had Congressman Jim Banks, the head of the Republican Study Committee, on the show last Sunday and here’s what he set about this.
Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JIM BANKS (R-IN): We shouldn’t be talking about Liz Cheney. We should be talking about pushing back against the radical Biden agenda. And this is all a distraction from our ability to be able to do that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Banks was saying, with Republicans so close to winning back the House in the midterms next year, that the focus should be on what unites the Republican Party, which is opposition to the Biden agenda, and not picking fights with a former president who’s now living in Mar-a-Lago near Palm Beach.
What’s wrong with that thinking?
REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): Well, I think it is absolutely the case that we have to have the strongest position possible going forward so we can take back the House, the Senate, and the White House.
The issue is that, you know, we cannot do that if we are embracing the big lie, if we are embracing what — what President Trump — what former President Trump continues to say on a nearly daily basis, which is claims that the election was stolen, using the same language he used, that he knows provoke violence on January 6th. In order for us to be in the strongest possible position to be able to prevail, to be able to defeat the ideas that we see coming from the other side that are really bad for the country, we have to be a party that’s based on a foundation of truth. And I’m — I’m not willing to be complicit or silent in the face of those lies coming from President Trump.
WALLACE: But I guess the — the argument is, just as a practical politician, and you are a practical politician, what about the millions — tens of millions of Republican voters who still support Donald Trump? Why alienate them? I guess the question is, you know, just ignore them, just don’t take the bait and focus on your issues. He’s — he’s a — living in Mar-a-Lago.
CHENEY: Well, you know, I wish we could do that, Chris, but, unfortunately, as I’ve said over the course of the last several weeks, former President Trump continues to be a real danger. What he’s doing and what he’s saying, his claims, his refusal to accept decisions by the courts, his claims continued as recently as yesterday that somehow this election was stolen.
You know, what he’s doing is he’s causing people to believe that they can’t count on our electoral process to actually convey the will of the people.
You know, we have to be a nation of laws. If — if you continue to reject –
– if you reject the rulings of the courts, if you work against the rulings of our courts, then you really are at war with the Constitution. And — and he is a continuing danger to our system.
Those millions of people that you mentioned who supported the president have been misled. They’ve been betrayed. And certainly as we see his continued action to attack our democracy, his continued refusal to accept the results of the last election, you see that ongoing danger.
WALLACE: Congresswoman Elise Stefanik was elected on Friday to replace you as the number three Republican in the House leadership. And she wasted very little time in saying what she thinks about all this.
Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ELISE STEFANIK (R-NY): I support President Trump. Voters support President Trump. He is an important voice in our Republican Party and we look forward to working with him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: What do you think of Stefanik?
CHENEY: Well, I — I think she’s wrong. You know, when you have a former president who did what Donald Trump did, who provoked an attack on our Capital to try and stop the counting of electoral votes to try to steal the election, a former president who continues to threaten a democracy in the way that he is, he is — he’s forfeited his — his opportunity to —
WALLACE: Well, let — let me just interrupt, because I — I — you’ve — well, I just want to ask you, I’m — I’m — I understand what you say about Trump. I’m asking about Stefanik, who is embracing, wrapping herself in the mantle of Donald Trump. You said to — to — to play along with the big lie is to betray Republican voters. Is she betraying Republican voters?
CHENEY: You know, what I said in my last remarks to the conference as chairwoman of the conference was that if they were looking for leaders who would be complicit in — in spreading the big lie, I wasn’t there person, that there were plenty of other people who would do that. I think that that’s — it is fundamentally dangerous and I think it’s wrong and I think as Republicans especially we have a responsibility to — to stand up and to say we believe in the Constitution, we will fight for that, we will fight for the rule of law and to build that foundation so that we can get back to voters we lost in 2020. I mean that is really a key here. We lost the House, the Senate, and the White House while Donald Trump was president.
We’ve got to get voters back so that we can get Republicans back into position where our policies are the ones that are — are, you know, in place, that, frankly, are the ones that are necessary for the future of the nation.
WALLACE: During your round of interviews this week, you were also asked about House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy. And here’s what you had to say about him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHENEY: I think that he is not leading with principle right now. And I think that it is — it’s sad and I think it’s dangerous.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: When you talk about him being dangerous and — and the way he’s — he’s leading the party, and I ask this about both McCarthy and — and — and Elise Stefanik, are they being complicit in what you consider the Trump lies?
CHENEY: They are. And — and I’m — I’m not willing to do that. You know, I think that — that there are some things that have to be bigger than party, that have to be bigger than partisanship. Our oath to the Constitution is one of those. I’ve seen countries, I’ve worked in countries around the world where you don’t have a peaceful transition of power. What’s happening right now with Donald Trump and — and his continued attacks on the Constitution and the rule of law is dangerous and — and we all have an obligation to stand up against that.
WALLACE: You also say that Kevin McCarthy should testify, but what it appears is going to be a new commission to investigate the riot on January 6th, and should testify specifically about the conversation he had with the president on that day where he reportedly called the president and said you’ve got to call the off and the president said, Kevin, it appears some people are more interested in this election than you are.
I asked Congressman McCarthy about that a couple of weeks ago.
Take a look at that exchange.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Has the president ever reached out to you, since that report came out, to discuss what you and he talked about in the January 6th phone call?
And did you say to him, I can’t because we are under oath?
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): No.
WALLACE: That never happened?
MCCARTHY: It’s never happened.
WALLACE: And you —
MCCARTHY: Never — never even close.
WALLACE: And — and if it did happen, you would agree that would be witness tampering?
MCCARTHY: Yes, but it never happened.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Congresswoman, do you know anything about that, whether or not Kevin McCarthy and Donald Trump talked in the president tried to reach out to, in effect, get their stories straight about what happened in that January 6th phone call?
CHENEY: Leader McCarthy has spoken to a number of people in — in large groups and small groups since the sixth about his exchanges with the president. He’s spoken publicly on the House floor about his view as president’s responsibility. I think it’s very important that, you know, he clearly has facts about that day, that an investigation into what happened, into the president’s actions, ought to get to the bottom of. And I think that he has important information that needs to be part of any investigation, whether it’s the FBI, the Department of Justice, or this commission that I — I hope will be set up.
WALLACE: What — what do you think that accomplishes? If — if he testifies before the commission — I mean, I — I — I understand your concern about President Trump and what you say are his lies about the election, but what do you think it accomplishes to talk about a conversation on January 6th?
Do think that raises issues of his — President Trump’s responsibility for the riot, whether or not he’s trying to tamper with Kevin McCarthy as a witness?
CHENEY: Certainly. I mean I think that — that, you know, any conversations
— and we — we know certainly that that conversation happened. Any conversations that have gone on with the president about the president’s potential involvement in January 6th, his potential determination not to step in and offer assistance, any — any conversations that have — have to do with, you know, any members of Congress, those, you know, people who may be retired. We know that there were conversations in the Oval Office before this about the possibility of declaring martial law and seizing, you know, election — and seizing the ballot machines.
So I think that — that all of this really points to why it’s so important that we have a commission. You know, we’ve done that after Pearl Harbor. We did it after the Kennedy assassination. We did it after 9/11. It’s a way that we, as a country, come together in a non-partisan fashion to understand what happened, to get to the bottom of it. It must have subpoena power. And — and to begin to take steps so we can insure it never happens again.
WALLACE: I’ve got about a minute left, Congresswoman. I want to talk about you, finally.
You were on track to perhaps someday be the speaker of the House. Now that’s over. You’ve been removed from leadership. Your re-election next year in Wyoming is at least in question.
I guess the question I have for you is, are you prepared to make this, politically, the hill you’re prepared to die on?
CHENEY: Look, I — I cannot imagine a more important issue than whether or not the Republican Party is going to be a party that embraces and defends the rule of law and the Constitution. And I am firmly committed to being part of leading this party back to a place where we believe and — and advocate on the — on behalf of policies and substance, where we lay out an agenda that helps to attract voters back to the party, where we move away from this loyalty that so many, particularly in our House leadership now, have apparently pledged to Donald Trump.
CHENEY: The president, who provoked the attack on the Capitol and who refused to send help. So I think that — that what we have seen over the course of the last couple of weeks is really, you know, the opening salvo in — in what is a battle for the soul of the Republican Party, a battle for the soul of our democracy. And I intend to — to play a very big role in that and to do everything I can to help ensure that we can restore our party.
WALLACE: Congresswoman, thank you. Thanks for joining us today. Always good to talk with you.
Up next, the lines at the pumps are still long, prices are still high. Our Sunday panel returns to talk about the fallout from the cyber-attack on the nation’s largest fuel pipeline.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): I will do everything I can to insure that the former president never again gets anywhere near the Oval Office.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Liz Cheney removed from the GOP House leadership this week, but making it clear she’s not going down without a fight.
And we’re back now with the panel.
Steve, as a conservative who’s had your own differences with former President Trump over the years, what do you think of the decision to remove Liz Cheney from House leadership? I mean just as a matter of practical politics, good move or not?
STEVE HAYES, “THE DISPATCH” AND FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, I think it’s not a good move. You — you can understand on the one hand why these House members wouldn’t want Liz Cheney there because she’s not talking only about Joe Biden and, you know, that’s the argument they’ve made. The problem with that is that neither are they. You look at the things that they’ve been saying and doing in the time since they — this came up again, they’re the ones elevating Donald Trump and putting him front and center again.
You had Elise Stefanik give interviews to podcasts in which she talked, you know, sort of raised again these election conspiracies and — and got behind Donald Trump on those. You had Kevin McCarthy go on Sean Hannity the other night and talk about how virile Donald Trump is because he doesn’t require a lot of sleep. You had the NRSC, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, sending out 112 emails mentioning Donald Trump since April 24th. They’re not trying to get beyond Donald Trump, they’re putting him front and center. And I think the arguments that they’re making suggesting they want to just move on and look forward are disingenuous.
WALLACE: Juan, I think it’s fair to say that suddenly Liz Cheney, and surprisingly, Liz Cheney is House Democrats favor Republican. I’m going to take another shot at this, a question I asked Steve.
As a matter of practical politics though, can you understand what House Republicans would say, look, we don’t want somebody who’s picking a fight with Donald Trump and thereby alienating the tens of millions of voters who support Donald Trump when we’re looking to get those voters to support us and give us back the House majority next year?
JUAN WILLIAMS, FOX NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think that Liz Cheney was pretty clear in saying to you, Chris, that there is a bigger issue here in terms of, you know, faith in the not only truth telling, but in the Constitution and in democracy for the United States going forward and that Trump, in her mind, constitutes a threat. I mean what we’ve got right now is a full-fledged civil war within the Republican Party. You’ve got Trump on one side and I think what happened in the last week is that Republicans in the House caucus elevated Liz Cheney as the leader of the rebel forces by excommunicating her. She now has a platform as a martyr, someone who has sacrificed her political future for telling the truth.
So, I mean, to me, that is the critical issue. This is a civil war within the GOP that’s going to last certainly through the midterms. But I think all the way to 2024 it not only divides the party, but think of this, it divides their money because I think Liz Cheney’s going to start a super PAC. I anticipate she will raise millions of dollars.
WILLIAMS: But, again, to me, the bigger question — the biggest question for the GOP is how any thinking person can buy into a party that insists on lies as a matter of loyalty, as a litmus test. That’s very bad for the brand.
WALLACE: I want to turn to another big story this week, there were several, at that was the shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline because of a ransomware attack. It led to price shortage — rather supply shortages and long lines and — and spikes in the price of gas — gasoline, a gallon of gasoline.
Here was the Department of Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas this week on all of this.
Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: That’s a more than 300 percent increase over last year’s victimization of companies and there’s no company too small to suffer a ransomware attack.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Catherine, how worried was the Biden White House this week about those images of those long gas lines, even if only for a few days, and do you have a sense they have a plan, a realistic, serious plan to deal with cyberattacks, not only on the public infrastructure, but also on private companies like Colonial?
CATHERINE LUCEY, “THE WALL STREET JOURNAL”: Well, certainly, Chris, President Biden is well aware of the optics of, you know, rising gas prices. You know, he was in the Senate himself when then President Jimmy Carter dealt with a gas shortage. And what we saw this week was the White House move really aggressively to manage and to message this. You know, as you saw with the cabinet secretary there, we saw a lot of officials out talk about this, efforts to calm nerves. They took a variety of efforts to try and, you know, get fuel out, ease shortages around the country and the president himself addressing it as the pipeline came back online.
I think what you also saw this week was an executive order from the president that aimed to deal with improving the federal government’s response to cybersecurity. You know, obviously, that’s — you know, those agencies. But there is a hope that that will, you know, increase efforts in the private sector as well.
And then also the president is really seizing on this moment to, you know, promote his infrastructure proposal and his infrastructure plans, you know, arguing that this is a moment to invest in infrastructure and you’re going to see him keep pushing on that this week as well as he tries to negotiate with Republicans on those plans.
WALLACE: Steve, we also had President Biden this week say that the intelligence was that the hackers were operating out of Russia, but that there was no intelligence that the Russian government was involved.
And I just wonder, how credible do you think that is that a Russian gang could be operating out of Russia, attacking a major part of U.S.
infrastructure without Vladimir Putin at least knowing about it?
HAYES: Yes, it’s a very good question. I think they’re basically two potential possibilities here. One is that the Russian government allows these groups to operate, sort of gives them free hand, kind of a wink and a nod, hey, we’ll let you do this from our territory, but don’t involve us.
Then there are other groups, both Russian government directed and affiliated with the Russian government that conduct these kinds of attacks, more damaging attacks rather than ransomware attacks, where the Russian government has an active hand. It’s plausible to me that the Russian government wouldn’t have known in advance exactly what these groups were doing, but you still had to answer those questions and the United States should still insist the Russian government stepped down, clamp down on these groups who are conducting their attacks, who are operating from their territory, particularly in the context of the diplomatic back and forth about the SolarWinds hacks.
WALLACE: And — and I — less than a minute, Juan. How serious is all of this, an attack on a major part of U.S. infrastructure, both from a national security standpoint and also from just a political standpoint?
WILLIAMS: Well, politically, I anticipate that, you know, as the gas lines diminish over the next few days, the political consequence will fade. It’s the national security angle that I think is really difficult because I think it’s the new face of war and terrorism, Chris. And the Biden administration has to figure out how to respond. Certainly we have to harden our infrastructure. But also there has to be consequences. You know, we’ll see exactly what those consequences will be in terms of sanctions or even military action.
WALLACE: Well, it does give a new meaning to the — to the discussion of infrastructure week.
Thank you, panel. See you next Sunday.
Up next, our “Power Player of the Week.” It took more than a century but there is finally a memorial to the heroes of the First World War.
WALLACE: As millions of Americans gear up for Memorial Day travel, many are making plans to visit the nation’s capital. And now there is a new memorial to visit thanks to our “Power Player of the Week.”
EDWIN FOUNTAIN, FORMER VICE CHAIR OF WWI MEMORIAL COMMISSION: I said, gee, there ought to be a — a national World War I memorial. And I looked around and nobody else was — was doing anything about that.
WALLACE (voice over): Edwin Fountain on the spark that drove him to push for a World War I memorial in Washington, D.C. He’s the founding director of the memorial’s commission, a role he fell into after he noticed something on a run.
WALLACE (on camera): This all started with you jogging down the National Mall?
FOUNTAIN: Well, yes. It began — it began with my interest in — in the District of Columbia War Memorial. We began talking about expanding it to giving it a national character to make it a true national World War I memorial alongside those other memorials located next to it.
WALLACE (voice over): It sounds simple, but it took 13 years, millions in private donations, and bureaucratic battles.
FOUNTAIN: I was not sure that this would happen until we broke ground on — on building the memorial park.
WALLACE: It opened in April.
There’s a flag that’s flown over American battlefield cemeteries in Europe.
The memorial is in Cushing Park on Pennsylvania Avenue.
WALLACE (on camera): Honestly, is it a bit of a disappointment that it’s not on the National Mall?
FOUNTAIN: That’s a good question. By being on our own, the memorial can really spread its wings and achieve the scale and the grandeur and the gravitas that I think helps it stand shoulder to shoulder with those memorials on The Mall.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A new (INAUDIBLE) on old battlefields.
WALLACE (voice over): The war to end all wars touched every facet of American life, 4.7 million Americans served. In the end, the U.S. helped defeat Germany and its allies, but 116,000 doughboys never came home.
WALLACE (on camera): Why do you think it is that World War I has been relatively forgotten?
FOUNTAIN: World War I doesn’t fit neatly into an national mythology. It’s our coming-of-age story as a nation, but it doesn’t have that clear, moral arc in the way that those other wars do.
WALLACE (voice over): The centerpiece will be a 58-foot relief sculpture called “A Soldier’s Journey,” due to be installed in a few years and represented today by a rendering. It tells a hero’s story, leaving home, experiencing the sacrifices of war, and returning to a country that’s taken its place as a world power.
FOUNTAIN: It completes the quartet of national memorials in Washington to the four major wars of the 20th century. It was a need that — that had to be addressed. And addressing that was — was my form of public service.
WALLACE: That 58-foot long sculpture is expected to be completed in time for Memorial Day in 2024.
And that’s it for today. Have a great week and we’ll see you next FOX NEWS SUNDAY.
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