'Special Report' All-Star panel on Cuban protests, how Biden's responding to the rise in crime

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This is a rush transcript from “Special Report with Bret Baier,” July 12, 2021. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: We know there are some things that work. And the first of those that works is stemming the flow of firearms used to commit violent crimes.

ADAMS: We’ve responded immediately when we saw those students with assault rifles that hit our college campuses in suburban counties, and it was the right thing to do. But the problem in America is the handgun.

Yet the demographics of the victims of black, brown, and poor, we’ve ignored it for far too long.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAIER: Let’s talk about all of this bringing our panel early Trey Gowdy, former congressman from South Carolina, Harold Ford, Jr., former Tennessee congressman, CEO of Empowerment and Inclusion Capital.

And as mentioned before, a special panelist tonight, Jesse Watters, co-host of “THE FIVE”, author of the new book, How I Save the World.

This is a rare event, Jesse.

WATTERS: It is. I’m feeling very special, and I will try not to ruin your show, Bret.

BAIER: Thank you.

Trey, let’s start with you. All this talk about guns and gun reform at the White House, your thoughts about what how the White House is handling this, how President Biden is talking about this violence across the country.

TREY GOWDY, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: When you know, Bret, gun prosecutions went down under President Obama with Vice President Biden right there beside him. I mean, I want your viewers to focus on the group that constantly calls for more gun laws.

Gun prosecutions went down when they were in office. So, what we know is defunding the police doesn’t work, this bond reform doesn’t work, these so- called progressive prosecutors don’t work. I got a really crazy novel idea.

How about actually enforce? You’d be shocked Bret at the — at the gun laws we currently have. But they don’t do any good if the federal prosecutors aren’t actually enforcing them. So, how about we start there?

BAIER: Harold, there does seem to be a split between some Democrats and how they talk about this, and what the White House is kind of messaging on this?

HAROLD FORD J.R., FOX NEWS CHANNEL POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, first off, congrats to Jesse on the book. And thanks for having me on.

I don’t think that there is as much of a gap as we think that the leader of the Democratic Party has never been for the funding the police. He convened a group of law enforcement officials to talk candidly, to talk seriously, and broadly about how to address this issue.

The Democratic nominee in the largest city in the country that has witnessed and experienced some of the great crime reductions over the many years. And I might add, I would agree with Trey, gun prosecution should go back up.

But during the Biden administration, excuse me, the Obama administration, crime, and violent crime rates were down in a lot of cities. But they’re going up now, and it causes — it calls for a different set of reactions.

So, I was encouraged by this meeting. I’m encouraged by even the willingness to listen to some of the bail reform changes that must happen. I think there were some who we’re well-intentioned of wanted bail reform, but it’s not working. It’s putting criminals and putting violent people back out on the street.

There has to be a better way to achieve with some of those who wanted bail reform to achieve without endangering our communities as we — as we certainly have.

And finally, we should go after ghost guns. They’re right about that, and I hope they continue, continue that pursuit.

BAIER: You know, we just saw that report from Matt Finn. The Chicago police superintendent talking about the disregard for police on the streets. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: There is no regard for law enforcement’s presence at the scenes to bring them to justice. They will fire a weapon at law enforcement or at others for what appears to be no apparent reason.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAIER: Jesse, your thoughts.

WATTERS: Well, the country has been too permissive when it comes to all of these precincts in liberal America. The gun issues a dodge. We have the strictest gun laws in these cities. So, it’s really just about enforcement.

If you’re a gang banger, Bret, and you get popped for illegal possession of a firearm, you can be booked out same day back on the street. And when it is time for sentencing, if a liberal D.A. only recommends one year instead of the three to seven, and the public defenders says OK, let’s just go 10 days, liberal judges is going to slice it in a half and give them six months.

So, he’s paroled in six months back out squeezing the trigger and comes into contact with the law enforcement that’s under siege by liberal activists. So, unless we’re not talking about incarceration and prosecution, I don’t believe this is a serious issue with the Democrats.

Joe Biden’s doing great on COVID, big numbers in terms of approval. But with crime and the border, he’s in his 30s. And you add critical race theory to that, you add gas prices of that, eventually, the COVID thing is going to become not an issue anymore.

And he’s got some stuff that’s just really just right there at the edge waiting to take him down. So, he needs to fix this quickly. But I don’t see it happening.

BAIER: You know, Trey, some media organizations at the beginning of — as we were covering it here on Fox said, you know, we were blowing it up out of proportion that this really wasn’t — crime wasn’t an issue across the country.

And now there’s this meeting at the White House, obviously, it’s risen to the level politically, how does that fall? You know, as we get closer and closer to 2022?

GOWDY: Well, look, I mean, there are lots of folks on the Democrat’s side. Harold Ford included that they’re really smart when it comes to politics. I mean, you look at Jim Clyburn and others, they want to hold on to the House, and they know that if the economy is OK, and COVID is OK, the public safety is the number one function of government.

So, if you can’t do that, and look, let’s be fair, most of this crime is state and local. But when you have Democrat members of Congress talking about the police the way Rashida Tlaib, and Omar, and AOC, talk about the cops, then, it’s going to trickle into the federal system.

He gets to pick U.S. attorneys. Let’s pick some that actually believe in putting people — violent offenders in prison. That would be a great place to start. Quit with the progressive prosecutors, pick U.S. attorneys that actually believe in enforcing gun laws.

BAIER: All right, panel. We’ll see you at the bottom of the show. And you know, we’ll do another book tease down there too, Jesse.

WATTERS: Thank you.

BAIER: OK. All right. Stocks are up today. Record closes all around. The Dow gain 126, the S&P 500 finished ahead 15. The NASDAQ rose 31.

Up next, Texas Democrats bolt out of town on private jets in the name of election reform. We’ll bring you that story.

First, here is what some of our Fox affiliates around the country are covering tonight. Fox Five in Atlanta with the funeral of the golf pro killed in a triple homicide at a course last week. Gene Siller was 46 years old. The man suspected of killing him and two others was arrested Thursday.

Fox 40 in Sacramento as firefighters work in extreme temperatures across the west, struggling to contain wildfires. The largest blaze of the year in California raging along the Nevada State line. It has burned about 134 square miles so far. State regulators are asking consumers to voluntarily conserve as much electricity as possible to avoid any power outages in that region.

And this is a live look from Tampa from our affiliate Fox 13 down there, the big story there tonight. As real lightning spoils part of the party for Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning.

Shortly after the team’s boat parade ended, severe weather force cancellation of the Riverfront Park ceremony. It’s Tampa’s third major sports title in just over a year. Congratulations.

That’s tonight’s live look “OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY” from SPECIAL REPORT. We’ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS CHANNEL HOST: Breaking tonight, a number of Democratic lawmakers in Texas are fleeing the state in order to scuttle Republican plans there to pass controversial legislation. Controversial called by the Democrats.

Senior correspondent Casey Stegall is in Dallas tonight to tell us how this works on the state level. Good evening, Casey.

CASEY STEGALL, FOX NEWS CHANNEL CORRESPONDENT: Bret, good evening. And this all happened by the way just four days into that special legislative session that began last Thursday and now, the majority of House Democrats, well, they once again have abandoned their posts. Dozens left Austin this afternoon on two private jets and flew to Washington D.C. where they plan to stay for the next couple of weeks until the clock runs out on this special session here in Texas.

We’re told not all 67 House Democrats left the state capitol, just enough to deny Republicans the quorum they need to pass the controversial elections bill.

Because under the Texas constitution, at least a hundred of the 150 House members must be required or must be present for a vote for any legislation to get passed.

The election reform bill would ban drive thru and early overnight voting in addition to creating new I.D. requirements for those who want to cast their ballots by mail.

Democrats argued that that would disenfranchise lower income Texans and voters of color.

Earlier today, Vice President Kamala Harris praised the move, listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I applaud them standing for the rights of all Americans and all Texans to express their voice through their vote, unencumbered.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEGALL: Now, last May, House Democrats you remember staged the walk out just before the end of the regular session, so the voting legislation died.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott meantime has issued a statement not long ago saying in part, their decision to leave, I’m quoting here, inflicts harm on the very Texans who elected them to service, Bret.

BAIER: We’ll continue to follow this story. Casey Stegall in Dallas, thanks.

President Biden says the U.S. is standing with the people of Cuba tonight following some of the largest antigovernment demonstrations in decades. Correspondent Phil Keating has reaction tonight from Little Havana, Florida.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PHIL KEATING, FOX NEWS CHANNEL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): An unheard of an unprecedented public demonstration against the Cuban communist regime in a dozen cities Sunday on the Caribbean island. Bold defiance to the government’s tight grip on everything there and exhausted with decades of poverty and food and medicine shortages.

Even accusing leadership of a failed response to coronavirus, for which the State Department was criticized after initially tweeting that was the reason not inept communist rule.

In Miami’s Little Havana, Calle Ocho filled up with hundreds, if not thousands of supporters in solidarity with the Cuban people. Also calling for change as they have for the past 50 years with no success.

President Biden this afternoon.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The United States stands firmly with the people of Cuba as they assert their universal rights and we call on the government, government of Cuba to refrain from violence their attempts to silence the voice of the people of Cuba.

KEATING: Cubans on Sunday also modified the revolutionary phrase freedom or death, chanting freedom or life.

Florida’s Cuban American Senator Marco Rubio posted this on Twitter.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL): Post-COVID has a role to play but this began well before COVID. These people are frustrated, they want to live in a normal country. They don’t want to have their kids getting on rafts and having to leave the country in order to lead normal lives.

KEATING: The Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel as usual blamed the island’s problems on the U.S. and its trade embargo.

In a national address, he accused the U.S. of manipulating emotions and feelings through social media.

U.S. Secretary of State Blinken says it would be a grievous mistake for the Cuban regime to blame what is happening there as a result of anything the U.S. has done.

FRANCIS SUAREZ, MIAMI MAYOR: The hour of freedom has arrived.

KEATING: Miami’s Cuban American Mayor joined the chorus for change.

SUAREZ: People are dying. People are getting beaten up. People are suffering and they’re starving. And this has been happening for far too long.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEATING (on camera): Notably, most left leaning Democrats have been quiet on the Cuba issue today, including New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Senator Bernie Sanders, however, did make a short statement. He said he supports the right to protest everywhere. And he stands by his interview he gave last year on “60 Minutes” where he said not everything in Cuba is bad.

On the streets of Havana today, quiet, no demonstrations and the internet and social media have largely been shut down, Bret.

BAIER: Phil, quickly, you know, we know the Cuban American population down there in Little Havana intense and everything that comes out of Cuba. Do they feel on the streets that this is a game changer moment there?

KEATING: Well, some of them are now calling for the U.S. government to intervene in the island nation, this is an opportunity just like back in 2016 when Fidel Castro died to come gather, people drive by, very slowly honking horns all day, and people banging pots and pans and holding signs to manning Cuba change.

But like I said, after five decades of calling for that, nothing has happened in Cuba.

BAIER: All right, Phil Keating live in Little Havana, Florida. Phil, thanks.

Authorities in Haiti say a Florida man in his 60s is the latest suspect attained in the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moise. A total of 26 Colombians are suspected in that killing as well. 18 of them have been arrested so far along with three Haitians.

The head of Haiti’s police says five of the suspects are still at large, and at least three have been killed. No motive yet from officials or authorities.

U.S. officials who recently arrived in Haiti, including representatives from the Justice and Homeland Security Departments met Sunday with Haitian officials. The U.S. has rebuffed Haiti’s request for troops.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby over the weekend on “FOX NEWS SUNDAY” saying the request is going through a review process.

Up next, between concerns over COVID and curriculum, parents want more choices for their kid’s schools, we’ll bring you that.

First, Beyond Our Borders tonight. Lightning kills at least 38 people across two Indian states over a 24-hour period. 11 people died after being struck by lightning near a watchtower in western India. Police officer says some of the victims were taking selfies near that tower when the lightning struck.

British police investigating alleged racist abuse against three black players who failed to score on penalty kicks in England’s loss to Italy in the European Championship final. Italy won Sunday shootout 3-2 following a 1-1 draw.

Police say they will look into what were called offensive and racist social media posts soon after the match.

Pope Francis will spend a few more days in the hospital following his intestinal surgery. Vatican saying he wants to optimize recovery and rehabilitation treatment and therapy.

Vatican officials also announcing the pope plans to attend the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Scotland this November.

Just some of the other stories Beyond Our Borders tonight. We’ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BAIER: Shaping up as a long hot summer for educators and parents fighting over critical race theory, which links racial discrimination to America’s foundations and legal system. They want choices, parents do.

Tonight, correspondent Anita Vogel looks at the options parents have in determining their children’s education.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JENNIFER STEFANO, CHIEF STRATEGIST AND VICE PRESIDENT, COMMONWEALTH FOUNDATION: I have always been concerned about the American public education system.

ANITA VOGEL, FOX NEWS CHANNEL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Activists around the nation have been on guard for some time now about curriculums including critical race theory being taught in public schools.

During COVID, many got a firsthand look through Zoom classes and didn’t like what they saw.

STEFANO: Well, I think COVID showed parents that when it comes down to your children and their educational future, who’s in control, you are a bureaucrat. COVID showed us the bureaucrats are in control and that has upset a lot of parents.

VOGEL: But conservative parents like Jennifer Stefano and others upset over woke agendas and strict COVID protocols are emboldened by legislative moves in a handful of states, making it easier for parents to choose private schools.

Teachers unions and others who oppose school choice even some on the right insists it takes away precious resources from public schools. The National Education Association saying, quote, “vouchers undermine strong public education and student opportunity.” But GOP advocacy groups say the issue will be front and center at the ballot box in the next election cycle.

DAVID MCINTOSH (R), FORMER INDIANA REPRESENTATIVE: What we’re seeing now is a real shift in favor of school choice, I think, along with Critical Race Theory and the opposition to that, the driving issues in the next two elections.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

VOGEL (on camera): And a recent Supreme Court decision allowing families in Montana to receive public assistance to send their kids to religious high schools is also being hailed by parents in favor of school choice. The high court is set to take up a similar case in Maine soon. Bret?

BAIER: Anita, thank you.

Vice President Kamala Harris is being criticized for opposing voter I.D. laws because she says rural people cannot get photocopies of their I.D. cards.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KAMALA HARRIS, (D) VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In some people’s minds that means, well, you’re going to have to xerox or photocopy your I.D. to send it in to prove you are who you are. There are a whole lot of people, especially people who live in rural communities, there is no Kinkos. There’s no Office Max near them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAIER: Last month, President Biden selected Harris to lead the administration’s effort to expand access to the ballot box.

Former President Donald Trump easily won the straw poll at the Conservative Political Action Conference this weekend in Texas. The former president capturing 70 percent of the ballots cast and firing up the crowd there.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: With the help of everyone here today, we will defeat the radical left, the socialists, Marxists, and the critical race theorists. We will secure our borders. We will stop heft wing cancel culture. We will restore free speech and fair elections. And we will make America great again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAIER: Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis came in second in that straw poll at 21 percent.

Let’s bring in senior political analyst Brit Hume. Good evening, Brit.

BRIT HUME, FOX NEWS SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Hi, Bret.

BAIER: I want to talk to you about the former president and where he stands as far as the power in this part, not just perhaps at CPAC, but within the Republican Party.

HUME: Well, Bret, I think he is going to be with us a while longer, maybe a good while longer. The strength in that straw poll there, that’s the most conservative elements of the party. It isn’t necessarily the sentiments of the entire party. But there are not many Republican politicians who want to speak out against Donald Trump, not because they think he should lead their ticket in 2024 or about that they can win with him, but because they believe that his following is still sufficiently strong in the party that they dare not oppose him publicly. That is, I think will where he stands.

When he said in that speech, you just heard some of the last phrases from that speech, he was talking about, we’re going to do this, we’re going to do that. It’s not entirely clear if by “we” he means the party and him at the head of it, or if he just means the party. I think an awful lot of things are going to happen between now and 2024 which will determine whether he’s in any shape to run or not.

But he’s still there, and he’s still at the center of things. And he is going to make news and have attention wherever he goes. That’s the fact of life for Republicans.

BAIER: Right. And you mentioned that speech. Let’s take another little piece of that. This is, again, the former president at CPAC.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I was banned by sleazebags. I was banned by bad people. They are far worse. I don’t say I’m perfect, but they are far worse than I am, I will tell you. They are far worse.

In other words, the entire system was rigged against the American people and rigged against a fair, decent, and honest election.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAIER: Bret, I have talked to a lot of the Republicans who absolutely love Trump policies. They love them. But they had a problem with Donald Trump, the man. They also had, as far as what he did with Twitter and how he talked about things, but also, Donald Trump on January 6th and the wake of that. As he talks more and more about the stolen election, how big a problem is that for Republicans as a party?

HUME: I think it’s a very big problem, Bret. I saw one poll not long ago that reflects what you were just talking about people in which a majority of Republicans said they would like to win with his policies. A smaller number said they would like to win with him leading the way. And I think that’s basically where the matter now stands.

I think a lot of rank-and-file Republican politicians and a lot of rank- and-file Republican voters wouldn’t mind a bit if he went away. They could then pick up his agenda and run on it. The Biden administration to date seems to have left them plenty of opportunity. The president, the former president outlined a lot of them in his speech on all kinds of issues, crime, immigration, and on down the list.

And so I think the party feels it could be a in a strong position. They’re afraid to buck him, but they’re afraid they will lead them to a defeat, which is what they feared the first time. And then he did lead them to a defeat the second time. So that’s, I think, where they are. But he shows no signs of going away, we will see what happens if he gets indicted or something like that. That might change the calculus, or he needs to spend his time keeping his businesses together. We’ll see about that as well.

BAIER: Quickly, you mentioned the Biden administration, they seem to be giving Republicans some low hanging fruit with the border crisis. There are some questions about the economy, obviously, and about crime across the country. But Vice President Harris, you just heard that, talking about rural voters not being able to get a photocopy of their I.D. There are now 70 plus percent of Americans who say photo I.D., I.D. for voting is OK by them.

HUME: This is a tricky issue for the Democrats. They’re trying to make the most of it. They’re trying to label Republicans as people who want to suppress the vote. But a number of the things that the Republicans want to do in the laws they are passing across the country and so on are things that are popular, and voter I.D. is very high on that list, Bret, as you suggest. I think it’s politically really stupid to come out and criticize voter I.D. And I think, there are obviously people in the Biden White House who kind of wonder whether having Kamala Harris out front on a lot of these issues has turned out to be a very good move. She seems at times lighter than air.

BAIER: Brit, as always, thank you.

HUME: Thank you.

BAIER: Up next, what the Biden administration is missing as it tries to the deal with the border crisis. We’ll take you there.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are flying into locations in Mexico, flying up to locations at the border, and they’re literally walking a couple hundred yard across the border.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BAIER: Tonight, critics are accusing the Biden administration not seeing the big picture in the immigration crisis. While the president’s team is trying to discourage migrants from the Northern Triangle countries, less attention is being given to the huge numbers coming from South America, the Caribbean, and Asia. National correspondent William La Jeunesse takes a look tonight from Los Angeles.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KAMALA HARRIS, (D) VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Address the root causes.

Root causes.

The root causes of migration.

WILLIAM LA JEUNESSE, FOX NEWS NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: But addressing the root cause of illegal immigration from Central America may not address the problem. Last week this group of Cubans and Brazilians crossed into Arizona.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are flying into locations in Mexico, flying up to locations at the border, and then being transported by some kind of bus line or a cab company or personal vehicles to the border, and they are literally walking a couple hundred yards across the border.

LA JEUNESSE: Some border stations look more like the U.N. than the U.S. Ecuadorans, Cubans, Brazilians, Venezuelans, Nicaraguans, joining with an increase in Mexicans across the border. Many are not, as the administration argues, displaced by violence, climate change, or corruption. Ecuador’s homicide rate is lower than most U.S. cities. Brazil ranks among the world’s wealthiest countries. Yet apprehensions from Ecuador are up more 200 percent, as well as Cuba, Brazil, Venezuela, and Nicaragua.

LAURA CARRAZANA, CUBAN MIGRANT: Cuba is horrible today. I have no food. I have a child. I have work to eat, and so I need to come here.

LA JEUNESSE: Not that any of this travel is safe. This is a bandit on a bridge outside San Luis, Arizona, charging migrants cash at gunpoint to enter the U.S.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

LA JEUNESSE (on camera): Spending $4 billion on root causes in Central America ignores a growing list of other countries where residents look for a better life in the U.S., Bret?

BAIER: William, thank you.

Breaking tonight, the U.S. military in Afghanistan is under new management. The four-star general in charge of the American forces there stepped down today as the troop withdrawal nears an end. Senior foreign affairs correspondent Greg Palkot reports tonight from Kabul.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

GREG PALKOT, FOX NEWS SENIOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: What’s being called a symbolic end to America’s military involvement in its longest war happened today in Kabul. General Scott Miller handing over overall command of U.S. forces in Afghanistan to general Frank McKenzie. The Cent Com commander noted the moment.

GEN. FRANK MCKENZIE, U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND: This ceremony marks an important milestone in the transition of our involvement in Afghanistan. But it’s not the end of the story. It’s rather the end of a chapter.

PALKOT: But the news today not good. New reports of Taliban gains in two key provincial candidates. The militants now thought to hold over a third of the country in their violent offensive.

GEN. SCOTT MILLER, U.S. FORCES AFGHANISTAN COMMANDER: What I tell the Taliban is they are responsible, too. The violence that’s going on is against the will of the Afghan people, and it needs to stop.

PALKOT: What’s being called a hasty departure by U.S. forces in part fueling the violence. Afghan troops trained by U.S. and others not doing well. Afghan officials say they will survive.

Sir, what is the danger of Taliban taking over here?

HAMDULLAH MOHIB AFGHAN NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Well, there will be no takeover of the Taliban. The Afghan people are determined and resolute in that determination to defend our country.

PALKOT: Remember today, too, the sacrifices made by America and its allies. Nearly 2,500 U.S. troops killed, 20,000 injured during a long 20 years.

I guess the question was it all worth it?

ROSS WILSON, ACTING U.S. AMBASSADOR TO AFGHANISTAN: I think history will have to judge that. Afghanistan made tremendous changes, and all for the better over the course of the last 20 years.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

PALKOT (on camera): Even gains in society here are at risk as the Taliban looms. General McKenzie says America’s support for Afghanistan remains. Some aren’t sure. Bret?

BAIER: Greg Palkot in Kabul, Afghanistan. Greg, thanks.

Billionaire Richard Branson is back on earth tonight after a brief trip to space Sunday in his own winged rocket shop. The 70-year-old Branson and five crewmates from his Virgin Galactic space tourism company reached an altitude of 53-and-a-half miles over the New Mexico desert. Branson’s rival, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, plans his own flight to space next week.

Up next, the panel on Cuba and Afghanistan, but as we go break, former Louisiana Democratic Governor Edwin Edwards died. Edwards spent four terms in the governor’s mansion and eight years in federal prison after a corruption conviction. A family spokesman says he died of respiratory problems. Former Governor Edwin Edwards was 93.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE BIDEN, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Cuban people are demanding their freedom from an authoritarian regime.

REP. CARLOS GIMENEZ, (R-FL): This is a socialist, communist regime. Let’s call it what it is. Why are you afraid to say that?

ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: The Biden-Harris administration stands by the Cuban people and people around the world who demand their human rights and who expect governments to listen to and serve them rather than try to silence them.

MAYOR FRANCIS SUAREZ, (R) MIAMI: I really can’t understand why anyone wouldn’t call this what it is. It’s never worked. It’s never going to work, and the United States has to start intervening.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAIER: The situation in Cuba taking a turn over the weekend as Cuban people head to the streets calling for liberty and freedom. Let’s bring back our panel, Trey Gowdy, Harold Ford Jr., and Jesse Watters, co-host of THE FIVE and author of the new book “How I Saved the World.” Harold, let me start with you. Obviously, some firm words from the president, secretary of state. Are there Democrats taking a little bit of distrance from this Cuban situation? How do you see it?

HAROLD FORD JR., FORMER TENNESSEE REPRESENTATIVE: Let me be clear, I’m not one of those Democrats. I stand with the president in standing with those protesters against a decaying and corrupt and communist regime. I think any American, any American serving in public office has a responsibility to do this. I hope that those Democrats and Republicans alike who have not announced their unwavering support for those protesters, for those seeking freedom, that they will speak up soon and speak up with the same kind of passion they do for issues that bother them in other ways.

BAIER: Obviously, one of those Democrats I’m talking about is Bernie Sanders, who has spoken about that then, back then, and now. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, (D-VT): We’re very opposed to the authoritarian nature of Cuba. But it’s unfair to simply say everything is bad. When Fidel Castro came into office, do you know what he did? He had a massive literacy program. Is that a bad thing even though Fidel Castro did it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of dissidents imprisoned.

SANDERS: That’s right. And we condemn that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you still share that sentiment now that the people seem to be —

SANDERS: I support throughout Latin America and in Cuba and everyplace else the right of people to protest for a decent economy and for political freedom, absolutely.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAIER: Jesse, your thoughts?

(LAUGHTER)

JESSE WATTERS, FOX NEWS HOST: Oh, Bernie Sanders. I would just say charitably, Bret, that the U.S. has been vexed by Cuba for about six decades. We have had some very colorful plots — exploding cigars, poison pens, mafia hits — some would say plots as colorful as Bret Baier’s golf attire.

BAIER: Nice. Nicely done.

WATTERS: But they have all failed, unlike your golf game. Our policy vis- a-vis the Cuban regime has been a failure. And am I optimistic that President Biden can somehow oversee a democratic revolution there, whether he has his hands off or is engineering it from behind the scenes? Absolutely not, if history is any guide.

So I think if there is a revolution there, it will be bloody. But it has to come from the Cuban people. And it has to be timed perfectly. But after all of this time, I think I speak for all Americans, it’s just maddening that you have a communist outpost 90 miles from the Florida Keys, and everybody here, especially in Florida, wants to see that country free.

BAIER: All right, Trey?

TREY GOWDY, FORMER SOUTH CAROLINA REPRESENTATIVE: Well, I agree with Congressman Ford. And I would just add to this. Let’s don’t forget the Cuban government essentially engaged in acoustical warfare against U.S. diplomats. So the Cuban government, whatever bad can happen to them, I support what our role should be. I don’t know, Bret, but I also didn’t raise my hand to be the leader of the free world. So I’m not expected to have the answer. President Biden is. I’d like him to be as forceful as he can be on behalf of freedom-loving people.

BAIER: Trey, let me ask you this. Afghanistan, that handover is happening now. U.S. troops are going to withdraw this weekend. Admiral Kirby, the Pentagon spokesperson, saying that the counterterrorism effort is going to be over the horizon, and he said like the Libyan model. Your thoughts on that?

GOWDY: I think I would pick another model. I don’t know what he means by the Libyan model. Is Libya even a country anymore? Here’s what I do know. We had some success, but both parties lost interest in Afghanistan. No one that I can recall won in Afghanistan. Alexander the Great fought to a draw and then got out thereof as quickly as he could. I just don’t want the men and women who served in Afghanistan to have any ambiguity. We are grateful for your service, even if sometimes it’s hard to tell what your service and sacrifice was for.

BAIER: All right, Jesse, because the golf pants comment, you get the last word here.

(LAUGHTER)

WATTERS: To Trey’s point, I would say Genghis Khan, Alexander the Great, and Joe Biden, men with nothing in common except one thing, that they’re all leaving Afghanistan and never looking back.

BAIER: All right, panel, stand by. When we come back, tomorrow’s headlines with the panel. I’m going to start with Harold.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BAIER: Finally tonight, a look at tomorrow’s headlines with the panel. Harold, as promised.

FORD: You talked about the soccer game over the weekend. Some British fans red card won’t be lifted until full apology and gratitude is shown towards their national football team. The invoking of race to explain that loss is both wrong and grotesque. Thanks to Prince William and the Duchess for standing with the team.

BAIER: All right, Jesse, congrats on the book. Your headline.

WATTERS: Jesse Watters takes a page out of the Biden playbook and starts going door-to-door asking people to please buy his book “How I Saved the World.”

(LAUGHTER)

BAIER: Basically that’s every show, but, yes. OK, Trey, wrap did up.

GOWDY: Teacher union wins anonymous bid for Hunter Biden’s sixth grade finger painting.

(LAUGHTER)

BAIER: See, I said keep it pithy, and you delivered.

All right, guys, thank you very much. Jesse, it’s always a pleasure. We’ll see you next time.

Tomorrow on SPECIAL REPORT, we will talk with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California about a host of issues. You don’t want to miss that.

Thanks for inviting us into your home tonight. That’s it for this SPECIAL REPORT, fair, balanced, and unafraid. Hey, it’s good to be back. “FOX NEWS PRIMETIME” hosted by Pete Hegseth this week starts right now. Hey, Pete.

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