tv Special Report With Bret Baier FOX News December 9, 2021 3:00pm-4:00pm PST
>> foot rub, that's not sick to you? it's big who stake in the of him with his foot in her chin. >> stayed with fox for the breaking news and the jesse verdict. it was a wonderful reletting of the christmas tree. we love being there that's it for christmas tree we loved being there. "special report" is up next. you lucky guy, bret, you get the verdict. here we go. ♪ >> bret: good evening. i'm bret baier. breaking tonight just minutes ago word that the jury in the jussie smollett case has now reached a verdict the actor is accused of staging a fake hate crime against himself. he took the stand to defend himself in this case and now you will hear from the judge and the jury with a verdict. in chicago, correspondent matt finn has been covering this case from the very beginning. he has the latest right now. matt? >> good evening, bret. we got word about 45 minutes ago that a verdict was in. so far we have seen special prosecutor dan webb walk into
this building. so far no sign of jussie smollett or his attorney. yesterday, the judge told the attorneys that when a verdict come in, he would like them back in courthouse in a matter of about 30 minutes. so it looks like smollett and his team is passed that 30 minute mark. we will keep you updated on that front. in all deliberated about 9 hours total. seven two hours yesterday, seven hours today. we did not get word of the jury asking any questions or any difficulties. it was a very quiet day here in the courthouse. yesterday, before going home, the jury asked for one thing. they asked for a copy of a prosecution exhibit of a calendar that had red x marks on it indicating important dates in this trial. jussie smollett and his family walked into this courthouse every day locked in arms. jussie smollett was often assisting his elderly mother. is he charged with six low level felony counts of lying to police. police and the six counts represent each time they feel jussie smollett lied to them. and there are varying charges, including lying about a hate
crime because smollett is black and gray. lying about battery because he was injured and lying about aggravated battery because his attackers wore masks. lead attorney before they went into the deliberation room that he, quote,ing constitutional warriors in that room. he also challenged the jury to believe that smollett did not lie and was a real victim. jussie smollett testified under oath that he still has a scar underneath his eye and a permanent black spot underneath another eye. the prosecution told the jury that smollett not only lied to police but he also lied to the jury under oath once again. if convicted, smollett faces up to three years in prison but there is also the possibility of probation or community service. we're waiting for smollett to walk into this courthouse. we're waiting for the verdict to be read and we will keep you updated, bret. >> bret: okay. matt finn there, stand by if you would. as we wait for that verdict. let's bring in andrew mccarthy, a former assistant u.s. attorney and george washington university law school professor jonathan turley. jonathan, this seemed like sort
of a hail mary the way that the defense was operating. explain how to look at it and what nine hours with six men and six women on the jury means. >> well, bret, i think calling it a hail mary is actually being charitable. i think this is what you normally refer to as a jury nullification. i don't think smollett really expected the jury to believe what he was saying. the evidence is overwhelming against him. they have to discard every eyewitness, a videotape, two cooperating alleged co-conspirators. they have to discard all of that i don't think smollett thinks that's going to happen. he was asking for nullification. he was asking them to disregard his guilt, or at least one of them to give him a hung jury. and the question is, will they buy it? you know, he was able to persuade people in politics like vice president harris and speaker pelosi.
he was able to get many members of the media, based on these assumptions. that's tougher in a court of law. >> bret: you had 13 witnesses. andy, you know, the trial dragged on for some time, closing arguments. reading the jury's decision. it's six counts, he is charged with disorderly conduct for allegedly lying to police during this about the january 2019 incident. what about this. >> well, they are all low level felony counts, flight i think the fact that they actually brought so many forward was an indication by the police of how seriously they took this because they spent a lot of resources and essentially wasted a lot of time investigating this. i thought the interesting -- i completely agree with jonathan that this was a very air tight case. it's a high risk strategy for
especially a first offender type defendant to take the stand and testify in a case like this. because it's the kind of case where even if smollett were convicted on -- with nothing else having happened like getting on the stand, he had a very good chance of probably not doing any jail time. by getting up on the stand, especially if it becomes clear from the verdict that a finding of perjury would be made by the court, that really increases the chance that he will end up doing time. so, if you are going to get up on the stand under those circumstances, i think you better have a good story and it better be something that can turn the case into a horse race. and i just don't see that here. >> bret: this is a live look here in chicago and we assume this is the family arriving. let's take that full if we could to the courthouse.
they are arriving here for -- to read the verdict from the judge. the judge will have them in the courtroom. they were supposed to be there within -- let's listen. >> back please, step back. step back, please. step back. >> any comments for your fans, sir? >> sir, are you nervous about the outcome of the case? message to your fans? what are you hoping for the verdict, sir?
>> how did it go? >> bret: all right, jussie smollett walking there into the courthouse, again, getting ready to find out what the verdict is in this case. matt finn, you are there. we still have matt with us? >> yes. >> bret: okay. andy, obviously this was a risky strategy, he potentially faces three years. >> it's potentially 18 years. nobody expects that he will get anything like that. it's three years on each of the counts. so, it will be up to the judge. there are sentencing guidelines in illinois. they imitate the federal guidelines and important particulars. that's why i keep coming back to his decision to testify. in the sentencing guidelines, in federal court, for example,
there's an automatic increase in the sentence. it's called a 2 point enhancement it can be pretty significant depending how much time you look at. the defendant who takes a stand and tells a story that is essentially rejected by the verdict really runs the risk of exacerbating his potential sentence. here getting a prison sentence when maybe a non-prison sentence was more likely. >> bret: egregious nature of it if all the evidence lines up and this jussie smollett going through the metal detector with his family there you saw him walking. in it's all about the coverage of this case and everything surrounding this case and the lack of coverage of this case after it was wrongly covered at the beginning. >> it is. and let's be quite clear about this. he is not just accused of being a liar.
he is accused of being a race baiter. that's what we are talking about. we are talking about somebody who is accused of falsifying a hate crime in order to use our painful and deep divisions over race to advantage for his aggrandizement. it worked. he got an interview on abc which is really breathtaking where the interviewer finished by saying that his words were, quote, beautiful. and early on he basked in this victimology. but the crime here is more serious than the usual case of someone lying to the police. he was fueling racial divisions for his own advantage. and i agree with andy as a criminal defense attorney, you have to tell your client that taking the stand comes at a risk not just on cross-examination. but you are essentially denying guilt. it's very hard once you are convicted to say well everything i just said on the stand, that
was all a lie. i'm really really sorry. i mean, the problem is that he just told this judge and the jury this never happened and that he was quite defiant. so, if you don't have -- if he is really convicted -- we don't know if he is convicted but if he were to be convicted it becomes more difficult to ask the court to show leniency over his regrets. >> bret: matt finn just checking in on on the walk in and timing here? >> each and every day jussie smollett walked in with his elderly mother. we just saw that again there are times it appears she has trouble walking on his own. he was walked arm in arm with his mother and brother ofs and sisters. it's a visual to see brothers and sisters walk into the courthouse. they did it every single morning. now they are walking here in the evening for, perhaps, the first time now for the verdict. it's going to be a short walk from here to the courtroom. they are going to get into an elevator.
go up seven floors and wait for the verdict to be announced. judge james ginn asked the attorneys yesterday i would like you guys here within 30 minutes. now we saw special prosecutor dan webb walk in and smollett team walk. in i asked him if he had any comment he didn't provide any comment, bret. >> bret: was there any thought of having cameras in this courtroom? is that a thing in that courtroom? >> there was a request for cameras and judge james denied it this is an older courthouse as many are. the courtrooms aren't adequately equipped for television or live broadcast. special equipment had to be brought in just for the exhibits. there is not even large screens in these courtrooms. and a short while ago we saw some of the staff come down and remove large screens since the trial portion is over, bret. >> bret: yeah. the first jury first heard from the special prosecutor dan webb and saying that smollett not only committed a crime by falsely reporting a hate crime,
but what he did was, quote, just plain wrong to denigrate something as serious as a hate crime. this is according to the chicago tribune. web said it was egregious for smollett to make sure his plan had words and symbols elm policemen met particular of this country's racist past including a noose and the use of the "n" word. defense pushed back and saying, andy, that there were holes in this case and that it was more systemic and it was real, essentially. >> bret, the case was so air tight that they had to bring something in do try to give something to the jury to hang their hat on. so there is this idea of systemic racism that we hear about so often. in other words, there is nothing concrete that i can point to, but it's everywhere, it's all around us, it envelopes us. i don't think the jury in this case is likely to accept that.
and i think if there was some indication that the -- at least some of the jurors were swayed by that i think we would have had a different kind of deliberation. i mean, this is always reading tea leaves at this point. but, if there were any division, i think we would have heard about it over the last nine hours, and it would have gone on longer. what it seems like is they moved through these counts relatively quickly. nine hours isn't all that long for a six count case. and we haven't seen anything that reflects any division within the jury at this point. >> bret: and, jonathan, last thing. for this city of chicago police department for the prosecutor's office, they have spent a lot of money and time on this case. this is a frustrating thing, i suppose. and they felt they needed to wrap this fully with the charges that they brought. >> that's right. i'm from chicago. and i can tell you this tore the
city apart it tore it apart originally with the allegation. then it tore it apart when there was a feeling of celebrity justice. that he was originally let go from the charges that were brought because of his association with the district attorney and very powerful people. and so this has left a lot of broken china all over chicago. but i also think that andy is right that, again, as a criminal defense attorney, if i was thinking of a hung jury, they would usually go longer. you would often get questions to the court. so, if i were his counsel, i would not be happy right now with being called to the court at this stage. it does take time because even though he's charged with disorderly conduct, effectively lying, they are lying about specific things about the use of a mask, the hate crime, so it's not all just very -- really have to find those elements.
so, he could be very well looking at a number of convictions here. as a criminal defense attorney, i would not be optimistic getting a call like this at this time from the court. >> bret: all right. as we wait, and it should really be any moment now, let's just take people back to refresh them exactly what happened here. you can look at the video of the different times he has arrived at court and spoken to the media. but jussie smollett, january 22nd, 2019, was says this racist homophobic threatening letter studio in chicago where empire is filmed. police say they believe smollett sent the letter january 9th, 2019. smollett tells police he was attacked by two men 2:00 a.m., he says the men used racist and homophobic slurs, wrapped rope around his neck and poured on him. as we talked about black and
gay. told detectives that the attackers yelled obviously the president donald trump. and make america great again. the slogan, january 30th, they received hundreds of hours of surveillance camera footage including smollett walking downtown and none shows this attack. they obtained the release of two people want to question calling them persons of interest. reports of an assault on smollett draw outrage, support for him around social media. on different media outlets as well as politicians as we talked about. in washington. january 31st, his family issues a statement calling the attack a hate crime and disputing claims that he changed his story, february 1st, smollett issues a statement saying he is okay but he is working with authorities and he has been 100 percent factual and consistent on every level. february 2nd, he opens a concert in west hollywood, california with this emotional speech
saying he had to play the show because he couldn't let his attackers win. february 13th, chicago police pick up two brothers at chicago o'hare's airport empire were returning to chicago from nigeria and they searched their apartment. february 15th, they released the brothers without charges after arresting them on suspicion of assault and holding them for nearly 48 hours. a spokesman says there is no longer suspects. february 16th, 2019, police say the investigation has now shifted after detectives questioned the brothers and requests a follow-up interview with smollett. the 17th, they talked to smollett's attorney, still want to interview him. the 19th, the chief prosecutor cook county state's attorney kim foxx recuses herself from the investigation. february 20th, they charge, prosecutors do smollett with disorderly conduct for filing a false police report about the
alleged attack. police say smollett surrenders on the 21st of february. and that starts this whole effort to move forward with this trial. matt, after that, a lot of things happened publicly, but that -- those are the basic facts of the case at the beginning. >> yeah. and a lot of attention on this -- a lot of global attention on this story no doubt was that, you know, kim foxx's office sensationally dropped these charges. thee sent out an eternal email saying she was recusing herself. days later, the charges were dropped against jussie smollett in what her office called an alternative prosecution. well, special prosecutor dave webb was assigned and included kim foxx i believe broke state
statute or did not follow protocol in recusing herself. that was strike one. and then a judge agreed that the charges should be brought up again against jussie smollett about lying to police. and michelle obama's chief of staff texting with kim foxx saying she was concerned about this case. that really heightened the interest in this case. it was not just a person claiming to be the victim of a hate crime but also you had the politics of chicago, even washington being dragged into this, bret. >> bret: the jury, we're told is now in the courtroom. and we are awaiting on their verdict and the judge to read that out. it is happening as we speak. we can't bring you those images. andy paint the picture for us. obviously we have seen courtrooms before but this is a tense moment for all sides. >> it sure is, bret, and to
jonathan's point from before, you know, if you thought that -- if you were a defense lawyer and you thought this was a likely acquittal, i don't think it would take you an hour to get to the courtroom. you would want to get there as quickly as you could. but it's obviously a very tense to learn the verdict. and then one way or the other, but particularly if there is a conviction, there would be a request by the defense of the jury to be polled. and as a prosecutor, that was always the moment that i would be most nervous about then the judge asked each individual juror whether they have heard the verdict as it has been read and whether they agree with it, whether that is their verdict. the individual jurors' verdict. and they will go through each of the 12. >> bret: and they have to go through each one. it takes time right, andy? >> yep. >> bret: okay. matt finn, any word there in the
courtroom? ♪ >> we have a producer in the courtroom who is texting me right now that smollett is guilty on the first five charges. we will wait and see what happens on that sixth charge. he is charged with six low level felony counts of lying to police. there are varying charges in there. there is lying about a hate crime because he is a black gay man. there is lying about battery because he was injured and is lying about aggravated battery because he said that his attackers were wearing masks. in closing arguments yesterday, the defense pointed to six items that they felt destroyed smollett's story. they say that he withheld critical evidence like his cell phone data and his medical records. they say he mislead police about i.d. they say he faked evidence by tampering with that room noose around his neck. they say he lied about who attacked him. medical evidence corroborated the osundairo brothers' story. jussie smollett told them to hold their punches when they hit him.
northwestern doctor testified under oath that jussie smollett had no injuries. and the sixth point was that jussie smollett never signed the criminal complaint against the brothers. police testified the lead detective testified that a t. is very rare or unheard of for a hate crime victim not to sign a criminal complaint against who they feel attacked them. bret? >> bret: okay. again, the smollett verdict count 1 guilty. count 3 guilty, count 4 guilty. count 5 guilty. and we're seeing count 6 not guilty. and that is just coming down from the courtroom in chicago. andy, significant? >> highly significant. a quick verdict. five guilty verdicts, 15 years of exposure. again, i don't think this will be anything near 15 years. but, the jury clearly and given the speed of it, i would say emphatically rejected his testimony and that, i think, will weigh on the judge as he imposes sentence.
>> bret: this judge, matt, has -- is there a history here about what he has felt about this case? there were times he seemed upset about how jussie smollett was acting or how his defense team was responding. that all factors in. >> yeah, there were several times that the judge scolded jussie smollett while he was on the bench telling jussie smollett that he had to give yes, no answers he was not allowed to intervictoria's secret commentary his opinion, when jussie first took the stand and under direct examination of his own attorney he was calm, cool, collected he was warm when he talked about his family. warm when he talked about his mother who was right there in front of him. then, when he was under the prosecution's examination, he became snarky. he became irritated. he was a kind of interjecting some of his own commentary in there and the judge told him several times you cannot do that the judge here, bret, he wanted -- it appeared that he really wanted to get this case done. in fact, last monday when jury selection began he told the jury that this whole thing might have
been wrapped last week. he kept the jury 8:00 at night many niments. long day to sit there and pay attention after after hour. the judge apparently really wanted to get through this case and here we are now with a verdict, bret. >> bret: okay. five of six counts guilty. jussie smollett guilty. we will find out what exactly that means. sentence wise and we will continue to cover this one of the only places covering it fully. matt finn on the ground thank you. andy, stand by if you would. ♪ >> bret: also breaking tonight a federal appeals court has just overruled the effort by former president trump to shield documents from the house committee investigating the capitol riot on january 6th. the said legislative need for this document, these documents. former president trump has sought to block their release through executive privilege. let's bring back andy mccarthy. andy, this seems to be a
significant ruling and possibly goes right to that privilege call it really is, bret, it's a sweeping victory for the januare house. court was really strong on the decision about invoking executive privilege, even though proposition that a former president some degree of privilege that the incumbent president really is the influential figure here. privilege belongs to the executive branch personally. so it's a very high bar to try to prevent congress from getting information. and the courts was very persuaded congress this information because of the importance that the capitol riot. >> bret: and we should point out, the january 6th committee was looking at a possible contempt charge against mark
meadows, former white house chief of staff corroborating and one of the things meadows has now sueded committee over is that privilege. so does that put a hole in what meadows just did, too. >> i think, bret, what the court has done here has restrengthened the committee's hand with respect not only to mark meadows but to all of the different witnesses who have been resisting to -- from one degree to another cooperation with the committee. basically what this court has said is congress is engaged in a legitimate inquiry. they seemed unimpressed with any claims that the committee was too partisan. they said that they have legislative purposes for what they are doing and that the incumbent president is the main influential figure here and he has basically waived privilege for these purposes. >> bret: last thing, the legal fight unclear whether the supreme court would take
something like this, right? >> right. they don't have to take it. it may well be a thicket that they don't wish to get into. >> bret: okay. andy mccarthy, thank you very much. thank you to jonathan turley. thank you to matt finn. the breaking news on jussie smollett plus this federal appeals court ruling on these documents a busy first half hour. we have other news though. up next, is president biden doing enough to fight america's crime crisis? many critics say no. stand by.
♪ ♪ >> bret: also breaking tonight, president biden's vaccine mandate strategy continues to unravel even as the omicron variant emerges and continues to gain numbers at least around the country as far as severity it's said not to be as severe. but last night the senate voted to repeal the president's rules for private employers on vaccine mandates. now that legislation goes to the house. it comes amid sprelgd displeasure with the way the president is handling the pandemic and various judges around the country have pushed back against the rules. let's go to the white house correspondent jacqui heinrich with the white house seeing democrats away from these vaccine mandates. good evening, jacqui. >> good evening to you, bret. the president just spoke alongside his covid response team. touting data from pfizer showing three shots gives good protection against the omicron variant. they are quite visibly pushing voluntary vaccinations as facing
challenges from all sides. >> as quickly as the blow to the white house was delivered. >> the a.s are 52 the nays are 48. the joint resolution is passed. >> the administration returned the punch. >> if it comes to his desk, he will veto it. >> right now it's unclear if democratic leaders in the house will take up the senate passed resolution to repeal the vaccine or test mandate for private businesses. but democrats whitmer reportedly telling business leaders if that mandate happens, we are going to lose state employees. we have a lot of the same concerns that you just voiced. and it's going to be a problem for all of us. democratic senator jon tester joining senator joe manchin crossing party lines on the vote. >> even though the owners think it's a good idea to get vaccinated, they are saying this puts me in a bind. the mandate issue for the private sector does become problematic for business. >> the white house changing
course citing polls that say a majority of americans support the rule. also ruling to battle challenges in court. >> the department of justice will vigorously defend this in court. >> but ahead of the compliance deadline, businesses are sounding the alarm about impacts ahead including one of the president's favorites, amtrak. >> we anticipate proactively needing to temporarily reduce some train frequencies across our network in january to avoid staffing-related. >> cancellations despite a 94% vaccination rate overall. >> amtrak got $66 billion in the infrastructure deal now they are talking about having to make cuts? is this policy undermining the president's own legislation. >> we don't expect these requirements will cause disruptions to services that people depend on. there is some time to implement it. >> but that means finding new workers. >> our plan to fully by march or as soon as we have qualified employees available. >> the white house is still telling private businesses to prepare for that january 4th deadline to comply with the
vaccine or test mandate. even though osha officially halted steps to implement it amid ongoing court challenges, including from republican led states, bret. >> bret: jacqui heinrich live on the north lawn, thank you. the national sheriff's association hesitate the biden administration has not sent federal resources to address the nationwide crime surge. the white house insists that's inaccurate. all of this comes as congressional democrats are being criticized for their reactions to america's crime crisis. here is congressional correspondent aishah hasnie. >> as crime spiked across democratic controlled cities, democrats on the hill spent most of their time talking about social spending. congresswoman alexandria ocasio-cortez even doubted smash and grabs were happening at all, forcing her colleagues to find a delicate response. >> what's leadership position and what can congress do to help some of these cities out? >> well, i don't want to comment
on the leadership's position is. president biden has been very clear that he is going to provide all the help. >> this week white house press secretary jen psaki told fox the administration sent from the fbi to hard hit areas like california. but the national sheriff's association quickly disputed that saying california tell us they have seen zero federal resources. today the doj announced it's awarding $16.5 million in grants for program. >> we need to invest in more and better law enforcement. >> democrats are playing catch-up while the g.o.p. hits the gas on what's now a major campaign issue for the midterms. >> democrats just want to keep getting weaker on crime and softer on public safety. >> even minority leader mitch mcconnell used the crisis to lobby against president biden's pick for u.s. attorney from massachusetts rachel rollings.
the former boston district attorney faced g.o.p. criticism for proposing an entire list of crimes without consequence. vice president kamala harris has to break a senate tie to confirm her. >> joe biden is nominating radical activists for these important jobs. and what we need to see from these prosecutors is a commitment to enforce the law and protect the american people. that's not the commitment they are making. >> and, bret, the white house says the president's budget will include an increase of significant increase in police spending but so far, there has not been an agreement let alone a timeline the senate and the house on when that budget would be moved through. bret? >> bret: aishah hasnie on capitol hill. thank you. the dow was essentially unchanged today. losing just 6 hundredths of a point. the s&p 500 was off 34. the nasdaq plunged 270 today. up next, ceremonies honoring bob
dole and as gee to break, some never before seen footage of the late senator provided to us by our friends at the richard nixon foundation and library in your linda, california. >> when i was a republican leader i did a lot of work with democrats we got along fine be we had democrats supporting us in different bills and we got a lot done we're team players and artists. designers and do-it-yourselfers. parents and friends. if joint pain is getting in the way of who you are, it's time to talk to your doctor about enbrel. enbrel helps relieve joint pain, and helps stop permanent joint damage. plus enbrel helps skin get clearer in psoriatic arthritis. ask your doctor about enbrel, so you can get back to your true self. play ball! enbrel may lower your ability to fight infections.
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♪ >> bret: the memorial service for lock time kansas senator bob dole is tomorrow in washington today, dole was honored at the capitol rotunda. congressional correspondent chad pergram shows us. >> a military honor guard hoisted the flag-draped casket of an american hero of the 34 steps of the u.s. capitol.
robert j. dole is now lying in state in the most hallowed shrine of american democracy, the capitol rotunda. >> robert joseph dole, he belongs here in this place, in this temple of liberty. >> dole was just the 33 american to lie in state in the rotunda. his wife, former senator elizabeth dole beamed alongside former colleagues and friends. >> inspired to reach into the depths of town virtues or our big city bravado to emulate this plain spoken statesman. >> the great depression and world war ii defined a generation, a wounded bob dole from the dust bowl personified that generation with grit and determination amid adversity. >> bob was the last of the greatest generation to run for president. but he was never stuck in the past. >> dole lost the use of his right arm during world war ii.
while recovering, dole forged a seven decade friendship with future hawaii senator daniel inouye who lost his right arm, as inouye lay in state in 2012 dole rose from his wheelchair and walked to the casket casket. dole said he didn't want his friend to see him like this. as bob approaches the pearly gates let us take comfort he can reunite with his old friend once again. [applause] >> dole was a fierce partisan, dubbed a hatchet man by a member of his own party but sardonic is one of bob's legs georgia's. >> i swear bob could have made it as a stand up comic. >> he used political sales skills to pitch everything from viagra and pepsi the latter alongside britney spears. >> easy, boy. >> after the pepsi ad with britney spears, a class i teach met with dole. one student was named britney. when introduced, dole joked i know a britney, the class
roared. bret? >> bret: chad, lots of stories about bob dole. up on capitol hill today, the debt ceiling, is it going to be-what exactly is happening in the senate? >> in just the past few minutes has agreed to a framework to pass the bill, with the house of representatives to raise the ceiling with a simple majority next week. this is just a framework. it's what the house of representatives did last night. the senate has now synched up with the house of representatives, there were more than 60 votes today, bipartisan vote to get-break a filibuster 14 republicans voted yes, so the house and senate will vote with simple majorities next week to raise the debt ceiling. the deadline is wednesday. >> bret: okay. chad pergram up on capitol hill. chad, thanks. up next, the panel on president biden's pandemic strategy, the collapse of his vaccine mandate policy and support for it and
think the american people feel is quite reasonable. >> i'm a doctor, i am pro-vaccine but i'm anti-mandate and that's because i believe the mandate is a massive overreach. >> gone and not received the vaccine are not going to do it until this white house recognizes natural immunity. >> bret: there is a pushback about the vaccine mandate. the pushback is not only from republicans but it's from democrats. it's also from federal judges in a number of different districts around the country. let's bring in our panel. former white house press secretary ari fleischer, katie pavlich news editor at town hall.com and jeff mason white house correspondent for reuters. jeff, is this white house, do you think, surprised by the pushback and how fierce it's been? >> well, bret, i think what they have been surprised about broadly, is the lack or vaccine hesitancy. and that was the reason for the
mandate in the first place. president biden has said before that his initial inclination was not to go with mandates and he changed course this fall as a basically as a strategic decision to use a stick in addition to that carrot yes now it's getting pushback for sure and that is a dent in his strategy the overall point of that was continue to crease vaccination rate. >> bret: ari, there are a couple moves that are questionable as the administration lays out this pandemic policy, this most recent travel shut down from south african countries. there omicron variant was about less severe more contagious. >> president biden has put himself and administration in a position of don't just stand there, make some noise, has to do things like that. even if they're not warranted because of the campaign promise he made that he wouldn't shut down the economy, he would shut
down the virus. it was one of the most irresponsible promises over promises unrealistic promises anybody could do experienced joe biden should have known better and never made such a promise because now he is stuck. there is virtually nothing he can do that is going to work anymore. and the mandates have become the crux of the matter, isn't it? he never should have mandated mandates. he shed he would oppose them. then he went for them. when there is this much resistance, you have to be realistic. you cannot shove this down the throats of the american people. if he were to try, it would be another lockdown, particularly in the transportation sector. many other industries where many people are resisting the vaccine. be realistic and joe biden has not been. >> bret: then there is the question about what does fully vaccinated now mean and will that change? take a listen, katie?
natural immunity from this infection is limited short-term maybe four or six months so does vaccine induced immunity. based on the vaccines we have today we should anticipate that you will have to be vaccinated probably every six months or so. >> optimal protection is going to be with a third shot. whether or not it gets changed in the definition, i think that's going to be considered literally on a daily basis. it's going to be a matter of when, not if. >> bret: so there are a number of things, katie that have been moving targets and that may be one of them. >> i think that's why the biden administration is losing steam when it comes to a lot of their strategy on the pandemic because they have never, from the beginning, been honest about this is really just a moving target and they have only offered sticks and not very many carrots. and when it comes to the vaccine mandates failing over and over again in court, if you look at the opinion and read the opinions from the judges, many of them, the thread that is
similar in the rulings is that congress did not authorize the executive branch, not to mention the president, to initiate and implement this kind of mandate. so, on the communications front, the white house through the press briefings continues to say and encourage h.r. departments to implement the mandate. yet, osha stopped the implementation of it and wrote right on their website so they have stopped it as a result of these lawsuits. and now you have congress and democrats voting with republicans in the senate because they are starting to realize the practical implications of -- and it's affecting their constituents. they are getting phone calls about it and yet the administration continues to move forward the courts haven't spoken and now as if congress hasn't spoken either. bret is there concern about how this is affecting the economy inside the white house and do you see that linkage between the two. >> well, i think both economically and politically,
the two top priorities for president biden's white house are fighting the pandemic and getting the economy back on track. and they are absolutely linked. every time there's an outbreak, every time there's a new variant as we are seeing right now with omicron that throws doubt over the strength of the economic recovery not only in country but worldwide. absolutely they are linked. and i think the white house sees them as linked. i used the world politically because it's contacting his poll numbers as well. there is no question that the fact that americans are still concerned deeply about covid pandemic that that is -- that they are taking that out on the current occupant of the white house. >> bret: quickly, ari, is this going to be something that we come to grips with, that covid-19 is going to be with us? >> i think most americans have come to grips with this. the government that hasn't. i think most americans realize that unless you have a co-morbidity, it's not a deadly
illness. it's now become for many people like the flu. if you get it, you get it and you get over it i think people are living their lives. what people don't like is being forced to wear masks, being told what to do. the threats that airplane potentially unless you are vaccinated. i think these are the things that are driving people crazy as the american people have settled in to have to live with covid. ing it's important to remind news that context. almost 800,000 people have died. >> bret: that's true. i will leave it at that. >> true, if you shut down the economy. it gets worse. >> bret: a lot of people have died because of this but as time goes on, and vaccines are up above 60% in the country, at what point are we going to be dealing with this for the long term? okay, panel, thanks so much. when we come back, a brand new christmas tree lights up fox square. ♪ ♪
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>> bret: flu christmas tree outside new york just a short time ago. the original tree set on fire a few days ago. thanks for all the police and fire. thanks for inviting us into your home tonight. fair balanced and unafraid. freedom hosted by tammy bruce starts right now. >> hey, bret. >> thank you very much. welcome to freedom fox news alert here. we have a verdict in the hate crime hoax trial of jussie smollett. actor found guilty of five of the six charges he was facing. fox news correspondent matt finn has been all over this case and he is here now with the latest. matt? >> hi, tammy, dan webb, special prosecutor in this case is talking right now. he said he is obviously pleased with the verdict. he think the verdict sends a resounding message. he also said that he felt like cook county needed a trial. that the details of jussie