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This is a rush transcript from “Your World,” February 21, 2022. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
NEIL CAVUTO, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: All right, we have a lot of breaking news right now, but I have some ‘splainin’ to do.
Welcome, everybody. I’m Neil Cavuto, substituting today, well, for Neil Cavuto.
It seems weird saying that, especially when so many of you have gotten used to and actually really enjoyed Sandra Smith and Charles Payne hosting this show, or David Asman, Jackie DeAngelis, Ashley Webster or Ed Lawrence, my other shows here and on FOX Business.
My thanks to each and all of them. They upended their entire lives and schedules and family commitments to cover for me and be there for you, as did my incredible staff.
But I am back. And I’m betting a lot of you wondered if I would ever be back. That was certainly the case earlier today, when I returned to my FOX Business show and talked about viewers like Lisa, who wrote that she thought I had died and FOX just, well, forgot to say anything about it.
Or Melanie, who was convinced I was fired: “Cavuto has to be out of a job. Now they’re calling it ‘Your World.’ He sure sucked at it, but I hope he’s well.”
Not a fan, I guess.
Or Janice, who kindly noted: “Dead or alive, as long as he isn’t on my TV, it’s a good day.”
Well, sorry about today, then, Janice.
Now, once FBN viewers finally saw me, I thought they’d be delighted. Not quite.
“Bummer. Cavuto is back. Time to change the channel. He should have just kept his subs, as they were so much better.”
Actually, I’m convinced that was one of the subs.
Another tweeting: “Welcome back, Neil Cavuto. Glad you’re feeling better. Is it me, or did you lose weight? Based on your track record, I’m sure you will gain it all back.”
God protect the workers at the nearest Ponderosa all-you-can-eat buffet. That’s actually funny, Ponderosa. There’s a theme here, by the way.
Virginia tweeting back: “Neil, come back. We missed your sense of humor,” and that, “Most of all, glad to see you’re well.”
This from Francesca: “So glad you’re back, Neil. It’s that strong Italian heritage. Can’t keep us down. God bless.”
And Alex wondered why it was taking so long for someone, anyone to explain my absence: “What are they hiding? Why is FOX not saying anything?”
Well, I was trying to make this clear on FOX Business, but, first off, Alex — and I want to repeat it here — because I asked them not to say anything. They were honoring my wishes. And they were respecting my privacy, though they were getting a lot of heat trying to protect that privacy.
Now, I wasn’t hiding anything. I just felt that it really wasn’t a story. The stories on this show were and are the story. It’s about you. It’s not about me, just like this show. My opinion doesn’t matter. What matters is the news. What matters is you.
But this did drag on a long time, so you deserve an explanation from me. I gave it to FOX Business viewers. Now here goes for FOX News viewers.
I did get COVID again, but a far more serious strand, what they call COVID pneumonia. It landed me in intensive care for quite a while, and it really was touch and go. So, some of you who wanted to put me out of my misery darn near got what you wished for.
So, sorry to disappoint you. But, no, the vaccine didn’t cause this. That grassy knoll theory has come up a lot, that I really have to put it to rest.
My very compromised immune system did. Because I got cancer and now multiple sclerosis, I’m among the venerable and vulnerable, what, 3 percent of the population or so that simply cannot sustain the full benefits of a vaccine. In other words, it doesn’t last.
But let me be clear. Doctors say, had I not been vaccinated at all, I wouldn’t be here. It provided some defense. But that is still better than no defense.
Now, maybe that’s not great comfort for some of you. I got to be honest. Frankly, it was not great comfort for me either. This was scary, so scary, I’m talking Ponderosa suddenly out of prime rib in the middle of the buffet line scary. If you don’t know Ponderosa, it falls on deaf ears.
Anyway, I’m not here to debate vaccinations for you, just offer an explanation for me. I figured I owed you that. I didn’t want to become the story. But, for many of you, I did. Now you know my story.
Time to get back to far more important matters and stories.
And now I will, like what’s going on right now in Ukraine and the threat of war that looms large.
In just a moment, we will be talking to General David Petraeus on all of this and the White House now saying it is ready to respond immediately. What does that mean?
First to Jennifer Griffin on these fast-moving developments.
Jennifer, what’s the latest?
JENNIFER GRIFFIN, FOX NEWS NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, first, Neil, let me say that I, for one, am extremely happy you’re back. I missed you terribly.
CAVUTO: Thank you.
GRIFFIN: Everything that has occurred in the past few hours, however, Neil indicates that Vladimir Putin has his sights set on all of Ukraine, not just the Donbass, his televised speech to the nation a chilling, distorted history lesson in which he talks about the mistakes Russian leaders going back to Vladimir Lenin made by separating Ukraine from Russia.
It was almost verbatim what Putin said in a seminal 12-page speech back on July 12, 2021, sent to his armed forces entitled “On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians,” in which he essentially outlined why he did not believe Ukraine has the right to exist as a separate nation.
This was a cold and calculated speech in which he blamed past Soviet leaders like Nikita Khrushchev for giving into Ukrainian nationalism. It’s the kind of speech that is reminiscent of those delivered on the eve of World War II before Hitler invaded Poland — quote — “For some reason, Khrushchev gave Ukraine separate status,” Putin said with disdain. “Why did we have to be so generous and then give these republics the right to leave? Madness,” he said.
Putin has long said that the Soviet collapse is the worst geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century. We are now on an escalation ladder. Putin has made his opening gambit, and he will want to see the response from the U.S. and its allies.
Expect the separatists in the Donbass to invite Russia’s military to move in and help them against perceived Ukrainian aggression. From a military perspective, here’s what we can expect to see if a full-scale invasion is ordered by Putin. Electronic warfare will be combined with cyberattacks to paralyze the Ukraine government and military.
Anything on the communication, GPS or magnetic spectrum will go dark, followed by salvos of ballistic missiles, waves of attacks that will look like us shock and awe, with warplanes targeting air defense systems, command-and-control. The next wave will include tube artillery and rocket launchers likely in the wee hours of the morning.
Then he will insert his special forces, who we have been told have target lists of leading Ukrainian journalists, academics and potential opposition leaders. Expect the Russian forces to take over the radio and TV stations. And right before dawn, the paratroopers will be inserted to secure bridges and critical infrastructure.
At first light, the tanks will cross the border and will move in on Kyiv.
I’m told Ukraine’s military will likely lose half their forces in those first hours. Tens of thousands of Ukrainians will lose their lives in the event of a full invasion, which could begin in the coming hours — Neil.
Jennifer, thank you so much.
Jennifer Griffin following these fast-moving developments.
We should say what worried a lot of analysts was something we got out of Vladimir Putin earlier today, long before he addressed the Russian people, when he talked about he is considering recognizing separatist states in Ukraine.
Now, these are Russian-backed renegade states, Luhansk and Donetsk, in Ukraine. And the inference there was clear as a bell, that if there is hardship there or that they are under pressure there, or there’s something manufactured even from Russia, Russian sympathizers there, he’s going defend them.
And that was very, very clear. And that prompted worries.
To General David Petraeus right now, also the former CIA director, on when he makes of this.
General, thank you for taking the time.
What do you think Vladimir Putin does now?
DAVID PETRAEUS, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: Well, first of all, good to be with you, Neil.
And, again, as Jennifer said, welcome back.
CAVUTO: Thank you.
PETRAEUS: It is very, very hard to say what he is planning at this point, other than that he has certainly positioned all of his forces to invade Ukraine, to provide a Russian example of shock and awe, if indeed he decides, if he calculates that that is worth pursuing.
I would suspect that, having declared the independence and recognized the independence of the these rump republics that he supported the separatists in taking away, in a way, from Ukraine, that his recognition of them is a prelude to having Russian forces go in there, justified by actual cases that they have manufactured, Russia has manufactured, to claim that the Ukrainians have been shelling them or this kind of thing.
I do think it still remains to be seen whether the scenario that Jennifer laid out so superbly does come to pass. He has to be considering two realities, if you will. One is that it would be very swift for Russia to take over part, if not all of Ukraine, indeed, to force its government out of Kyiv, at the very least.
But then he has to be wondering, how painful would it be to absorb Ukraine, to swallow, if you will, what Ukrainians have promised would be a porcupine?
Again, I have been part of an invasion. This is very similar to what we went through in 2003, when I was privileged to command the great 101st Airborne Division the eve of the invasion of Iraq.
We’re seeing the uncoiling of the combat forces, the positioning of rocket and missile and air and other combat enablers, as well as, most importantly, if you will, logistics, because, again, it’s really logistics that will keep this invasion going without halts, as they get deep into Ukraine, if that order is given.
So, again, having seen that, but also knowing, frankly, how difficult it is once you do, in effect, own a country, occupy a country, how difficult it can be if that country starts to generate an insurgency, starts to attract extremist forces, he has to be reflecting on the Soviet experience in Afghanistan and wondering, would this be as painful as that was?
Would the West inflict so much damage on the Russian economy, for example? Would the West support the Ukrainian forces that continued to fight on?
I’m just back from Munich…
PETRAEUS: … and the Munich Security Conference, where, among other activities, I met with a Ukrainian parliamentary delegation.
They said they’re determined to fight. They know they will take enormous casualties in the early hours of an invasion, but they are ready to fight on. And they welcome any support that we will give them, in addition to what we have already provided to them.
CAVUTO: General, I wonder if this is bigger than Ukraine.
I mean, the Russian president made it very clear, in addressing the Russian people, that there’s a long history here. And he was making it very clear the breakup of the Soviet Union was a catastrophic event that he wants to amend, I think.
And I wonder if these breakaway republics go way beyond Ukraine, and he is setting his sights beyond Ukraine, regardless of sanctions, either those already contemplated and those that might be implemented, like, immediately.
What do you think?
PETRAEUS: Well, if he goes into the former Russian republics of the Baltic states, he’s going to bring NATO into it.
Now, I’m sure that he does not want to do that. He has to be asking, in fact, already, has he — in the back of his mind, has he made a mistake? He’s trying to make Russia great again and astride the world stage and get the eyes of the world focused on him.
What he’s actually done is make NATO great again. He has given the greatest gift to NATO since the end of the Cold War, a reason to live, and, again, to hear the NATO secretary-general, to hear our vice president, to hear the other leaders from different NATO countries unified in a way that I have never heard at the Munich Security Conference in decades of going there since the time that I went during the Cold War as a speechwriter for the supreme allied commander in Europe.
So, again, there have to be some misgivings in there, as confident as he projects an image of being. He has to be calculating, again, what does happen? It’s the what happens after we own part or all of Ukraine. And, indeed, do we want to go back into former Russian republics that are now NATO members, that, therefore, enjoy the Article 5 guarantee of an attack on one is an attack on all?
CAVUTO: Do you think that it’s inevitable he’s going to invade Ukraine?
PETRAEUS: I don’t, no. No.
I think he has very clearly positioned his forces. If you listen carefully to what President Biden, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, Tony Blinken and others have said, there’s always a qualifier. They say that he has ordered his forces to prepare, or they have plans to invade, or they have positioned those forces.
All of that is absolutely true. Again, this is also the first TikTok war. So, you can follow developments incredibly well just by going through TikTok, Twitter, and other sources of news, in addition to the mainstream media.
And what this makes clear is how impressive the forces that have been marshaled on the borders of Ukraine are, in Belarus, of course, as well as in Russia. But, again, whether that final decision has been made, we won’t know really until we see the opening salvos, as Jennifer so superbly described, what likely would unfold.
CAVUTO: General, I think you’re right — I hope you’re right on this.
General David Petraeus, a former CIA director as well.
General, thank you for taking the time.
Well, the currency for anything that Vladimir Putin wants to do comes in oil prices, and they have been rocketing. They were up again today. And now there are growing thoughts here that it’s — if it’s limited via sanctions to whom he can sell that, the fact of the matter, he has quite a wide network of people to whom he can.
And that currency just reinforced his position, at least economically, oil prices moving up today very close to $100 a barrel yet again.
We are on top of that, and on top of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who raised eyebrows when he complimented something going on in San Francisco. It wasn’t what the government was doing there. It’s what the people were doing there.
Jeb Bush is next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Here’s a picture of you right here on Facebook with a crowd of people…
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That’s it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: … with no mask on.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is my time, and I…
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Excuse me. No.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have facts and truth on my side.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am not going to sit here…
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This isn’t about you anymore. It’s about…
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can we have a police officer, please?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAVUTO: All right, to call a police officer on a mom who was calling was out board administrators there for being hypocrites for espousing masks for students, but not wearing them themselves.
I don’t know what Jeb Bush would think of this particular mom and what went down. I have the feeling he would support the move, though, as he did in an interesting column where he praised what’s going on in San Francisco. Not talking about the government in San Francisco, but voters there, who just recalled three school board members by a 3-1 margin for essentially ignoring parents.
The former Florida governor is with us right now.
Governor Bush, very good to have you.
FMR. GOV. JEB BUSH (R-FL): Hey, Neil. How are you doing? Glad to see you’re back.
CAVUTO: No, same here.
It’s interesting, because, when I first heard you praising San Francisco, I was reading your column, I said, wait a minute, this is The Florida Sun. What was going on there?
CAVUTO: But I knew what you were getting at, that parents had had enough of it there and recalled three of the members who were there, particularly egregious.
But you hope it’s a trend, that ignoring parents, as you said — and I quote here — “has consequences.”
BUSH: Well, I mean, COVID has brought up the fact that moms and dads now really have a much more detailed, intimate knowledge of their child’s education.
And think about the last two years. Kids — many places around the country, not so much Florida, but other places, schools were shut down. And you bring up the hypocrisy. That just lights up the scoreboard with anger. Take the — take Los Angeles. The Super Bowl came. All the celebrities where. It was a great game, a lot of fun.
BUSH: The mayor — the mayor claims that he was not breathing when he was getting pictures taken without a mask.
CAVUTO: That’s right.
BUSH: And yet the second largest school district in the country has been masked all — outdoors, indoors all the time.
And there’s nothing in science that suggests that that’s good. In fact, there’s a lot of studies that suggest that it retards the social development of young people, not being in school and then being masked.
So, parents are upset, legitimately so, whether it’s Critical Race Theory, or not being able to attend schools, or low expectations for their kids. And when school districts, like the most liberal one, one of the most liberal ones in the country, like San Francisco, does — stiff-arms them and says, what is — your — your — what you say doesn’t matter, they — even in very liberal San Francisco, by 3-1, they overturned, they kicked out three of the school board members.
And they would have kicked all of them out had they been on the ballot.
CAVUTO: You know what’s interesting too, Governor? It comes at a time when some of those very same liberal districts and states are reexamining masks, period, as there’s been a 180 on this from the left on how to deal with the whole mask thing.
And many, much like those giving up restrictions altogether, are throwing in the mask thing, but not because parents are complaining at board meetings, or maybe enough of them have, but because they’re reading the political tea leaves. What do you think?
BUSH: Well, just look at the numbers of. The number of homeschool kids is up dramatically across all sectors of our society. The number of students going to charter schools is up by more than 10 percent.
Catholic schools, which had been in steady decline prior to the pandemic, even though there’s a bunch of economic hardship and a lot of people had struggled to make ends meet, have seen an increase. Parochial schools have grown. Public schools have gone down because many school districts have had this attitude, holier than thousand, that we’re the smart people, you’re — you just have to follow what we tell you to do.
And it was OK when things — when we had a — people — when parents weren’t that engaged. But, during the pandemic, everybody became the math teacher of their kids. And they had to learn social studies. And they saw some of the — some of the work that was being done. They saw the lack of connectivity, so their children couldn’t learn.
The learning losses have been really severe. And rather than focus on how do we regain our footing to make sure there’s rising student achievement, again, many of these schools, not all, have — have embraced this very liberal kind of ideology and have imposed it on schools. And it shouldn’t be in there.
Politics should have nothing to do with K-12 learning.
CAVUTO: You know, Governor, I was thinking, though, in the whole — as you quite accurately pointed out, and with the whole virus, it reawakened and angered a lot of parents going to school board meetings that very few did in the past, and now they’re letting it be known.
Are you afraid, as all of this subsides, the irony will be — that is, the virus — that so too we go back to boring old school board meetings where they say what they want to say, they don’t have to be bothered by angry parents?
CAVUTO: And I know you have pushed from your days back as governor a student bill of rights. You have made this a cause. You have made a lot of good moves to make sure students and their parents have a voice.
But all that goes if this virus goes away completely?
BUSH: Neil, in almost every state legislature — in the legislative sessions going on across the country, maybe 40 of them, there are efforts under way to make permanent the idea that parents matter, that there should be total transparency about what goes on in schools, that you don’t stiff- arm parents, you give them all the information available so that they’re informed and that, secondly, students should have choices.
Parents should have choices about where their kids go to school. Oklahoma – – the governor of Oklahoma has proposed a universal voucher, an education savings account, where parents will decide where their kids go to school. West Virginia did it last year. Florida, Arizona, many other states have been leaders in this regard.
So what we’re seeing is a broadening out of this, of these issues for more transparency, higher quality, to make sure that we don’t have eighth-grade level readers graduating from high school and bragging about how great our graduation rate is, and then empowering parents to make more choices, more informed choices about their students’ future.
I’m — the pandemic has been a tragedy for so many people, loss of life, economic hardships, but it has created a — I think a sustained sense of purpose for parents to be much more engaged in their kids’ education.
CAVUTO: Governor, while I have you, I did want to get your thoughts on what’s going on with the Ukraine, talk of still more sanctions right now.
But it seems — and I hope General Petraeus was right that a war could still be avoided — but that we’re certainly heading in that direction. What do you think?
BUSH: It appears that way, and the irony that you brought up, which is that all this uncertainty is creating rising oil prices, which helps Putin in the short run actually sustain this massive effort that he has under way.
Russia is an economic basket case. And they can’t sustain this over a long haul without higher oil prices. And so, first, I think we need to impose sanctions, and they need to be severe, not just on isolated oligarchs, but across — across the board.
We need to make sure that our European allies, who are on the front lines of all this, are supportive of the efforts, particularly Germany. And I think there needs to be a united front.
And moments like this is not time to be critical. I think President Biden, after a disastrous policy initiative in Afghanistan, I think, has regained his footing, and America’s leading. And we will see if we continue to show resolve.
Just sanctioning folks that are — or prohibiting people investing in the runaway areas of Eastern Ukraine is not going to cut it. There needs to be much stronger actions. And I’m — my guess is that they’re working on those now.
CAVUTO: We shall see.
Governor, great catching up with you. Thank you for taking the time.
BUSH: You bet.
Hey, Neil, everybody loves you. Don’t listen to all the naysayers. You always bring those up when you’re on your show.
BUSH: You’re beloved, my friend.
CAVUTO: Well, your family should stop writing. All right, stop it. What’s going on there?
CAVUTO: All right, very good — very good seeing you again, Governor.
Governor Jeb Bush of the beautiful state of Florida, a very successful governor there.
In the meantime here, we are focused today on how the world economy and markets are responding.
Thank goodness our markets were closed today for the Presidents’ Day holiday. Futures were indicating that, if they were open, they would have been down about 300 points.
It’s a weird world. But Mark Cuban says, it’s not as bad as you think. The billionaire investor on what he makes of the way the world is reacting — after this.
CAVUTO: All right, how about sanctions right now, rather than wait to see what Russia does in the Ukraine? Growing indications right now that, by citing two runaway provinces, he was being a bit too provocative.
Was he? Is he?
CAVUTO: All right, it is an understatement to say Americans are concerned about inflation. Right now, it’s getting to be a bigger, bigger worry, even among the well-to-do, who can apparently afford the higher prices, but nothing like this.
It’s a point I brought up with Mark Cuban, the billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks, who says he at least is trying to address one area that inflation, higher drug prices. Take a look.
MARK CUBAN, OWNER, DALLAS MAVERICKS: There are drugs that sell for thousands of dollars that we’re selling for $15, $20, and drugs that sell for $300 and $400 we’re selling for $3 and $4.
It’s just such a distorted marketplace that we literally turned it upside down. And we have only been available since January 19, and we already have hundreds of thousands of customers, and thousands more signing up every day.
CAVUTO: Maybe my — I have still got this COVID fog, Mark, but how are you able to cut prices that much? Who have you removed or what entity have you taken out? It can’t be just one middleman.
CUBAN: So, what we — who…
CAVUTO: It’s got to be several.
CUBAN: Well, those middlemen are really, really big companies that are public that really have to keep on pushing their numbers up and hitting earnings estimates, et cetera, et cetera.
We don’t have to. We’re a public benefit corporation.
CAVUTO: But some of their drugs are on patent, right? Some of their drugs are on patent here, so you can’t just willy-nilly slice that?
CUBAN: No, of course.
So, there’s two different types of drugs, Neil, as you know all too well. There’s generics and there’s brand. And, for generics, we’re able to go out there and either manufacture or buy them or create them ourselves.
And what we do is, we take our actual costs — and we show our actual CostPlusDrugs.com. And then we mark it up 15 percent. Then we have a $3 fill fee through our pharmacy partner Truepill, and then $5 for shipping. And that’s with generic drugs.
With brand drugs, we’re starting to have those negotiations now, because the pharmaceutical manufacturers, the people who are creating and selling the drugs, don’t like the current system either, because it paints them as the bad guys, when, in reality, these pharmacy benefit managers, the — are the middlemen that really distort all the pricing with rebates and other things that they do.
So, we truly can disrupt this. Now, are they going to respond? Are they going to try to match or beat our prices? Of course, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing for patients out there either.
But we have got so much momentum right now, that it’s truly working. And I — right now, we only sell about 110 drugs, but we anticipate adding more each and every month and, by the end of the year, having at least 1,000 drugs, including brand names, that we manufacture and sell.
CAVUTO: You seemed to pooh-pooh talk that you would consider running for president.
You cited your children. It’s very disruptive to families. That’s probably an understatement. But if Donald Trump were to run for the Republican nomination — it looks like he will — it’s hard to say — would the prospect of him becoming president change your view?
CUBAN: No. No.
I mean, what I’m finding out, particularly with CostPlusDrugs.com, I can have a far greater impact than trying to pretend whether I’m a Republican or a Democrat and playing party politics and dealing with primaries and fund-raising and all that.
CAVUTO: What are you? By the way, what are you?
You have had a — you have had a back-and-forth with Donald Trump. I mean, you’re — you try to be amicable about it. I guess he tries as well. But I’m wondering, if the prospect of him returning to the White House — you were no big fan of his getting to the White House. You’re saying that would not incentivize you one way or the other?
CUBAN: No. No, not at this point, no.
2016 was a different world. At this point, what we’re doing with the drug manufacturing, I think we can extend — extend that into so many different areas, and that, as an entrepreneur in finally getting to the point where I have a greater understanding of health care in particular, I think there’s a lot of opportunities for disruption, starting with the drug pricing, that we can do at our company that will change the game and have far greater impact than anything I could do as a politician, even as president.
That said, my greater goal than running for office when it comes to politics would get people to — would be to get people to disaffiliate with any party. In my opinion, it’s not — it’s not the voters for Donald Trump or the voters for Joe Biden that are the issue. It’s just the structure, the fact that we have two parties, and everybody bandwagons to their team.
And that’s very disruptive. And so, to me, the best thing we can do is disaffiliate, don’t be one side or the other, look at individual issues, and try to have an impact. And I think that’s where my focus is going to be going forward, just trying to change the game and help as many people as I can. And I think, as an entrepreneur, I can do that.
And not to keep on going back to Cost Plus Drugs, but just the response that we have gotten, so many people have to ration their medications or make a choice between rent or food or medicine. And we’re already changing the lives of tens of thousands of people who had to make that choice.
And I think that’s a greater impact than I could ever have as president.
CAVUTO: All right, Mark Cuban, the Dallas mavericks owner, billionaire, on what he wants to do at least to ease the medical drug and prescription inflation problem.
In the meantime, I guess we could say, at least for the time being, the summit between Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin is off, if it ever was on. Or is it?
CAVUTO: All right, this morning, there had been talk of a possible summit between President Biden and Vladimir Putin. Given some of the more bellicose tall cat of Vladimir Putin later in the day, that does seem to be put on ice for a while. But you never know.
Peter Doocy at the White House with more. What next from the president, Peter?
PETER DOOCY, FOX NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Neil, that summit isn’t necessarily looking so good right now, because the White House said President Biden was open to the idea of a meeting with Putin down the line as long as he did not invade Ukraine.
And while that hasn’t happened yet, it — the events of the last few hours may be putting a Biden-Putin sit-down in jeopardy. What’s going to happen next, according to Jen Psaki, is a very narrowly targeted group of sanctions.
She said this. President Biden will soon issue an executive order that will prohibit new investment, trade and financing by U.S. persons to, from or in the so-called DNR and LNR regions of Ukraine. This E.O. will also provide authority to impose sanctions on any person determined to operate in those areas of Ukraine.
It is Presidents’ Day. The president chose to be here, instead of Delaware, as expected. And we understand that he’s been working the phone and meeting with advisers. We have seen the secretary of state going in, the defense secretary, the head of the CIA, but, so far, nothing on camera from the president.
There is a possibility that that could come. But, as of right now, we’re not expecting anything — Neil.
CAVUTO: Got it.
Peter, thank you very much for that.
So, if and when the president does talk to the American people, does Joe Lieberman have any idea what he should say? We will ask Joe, because he’s next.
CAVUTO: All right, I want to go to Joe Lieberman right now, the former senator, vice presidential candidate.
I apologize ahead of the fact, Senator. With the breaking news, we have truncated things a bit.
But your thoughts on what President Biden might want to tell the American people now, what his next move should be right now.
FMR. SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN (I-CT): Right.
Hey, Neil, first, welcome back. Thank God you recovered.
CAVUTO: Thank you.
LIEBERMAN: And we missed you because you’re the best at what you do, really.
CAVUTO: You could spend the next few minutes just talking about me, Senator. That’s fine.
CAVUTO: Go ahead..
LIEBERMAN: I have more I could say.
CAVUTO: All right, sir.
LIEBERMAN: So, you have given me the opportunity. I will say, because I have thought about it, you’re smart, you are fair, and you’re funny. And you don’t find that much on TV.
CAVUTO: All right, I was only kidding.
But about Russia right now…
LIEBERMAN: No, but that’s the truth.
CAVUTO: … what is — you think about it, the president’s in a corner, right?
So what does he do now?
LIEBERMAN: Yes. Right.
So, he obviously — I mean, this was a kind of declaration of war. It’s not — by Putin today. It’s not new. He’s been saying it for years. He issued an essay last summer in which he basically claimed that Ukraine is part of Russia. And, in a way, he repeated that today in a very defiant tone.
So it’s obviously not time for a summit with him. And I don’t think the limited sanctions against people in these two provinces in Eastern Ukraine are enough. I think this is the time for President Biden to say, we’re going to hit Putin and Russia hard with the kind of extremely extensive sanctions that we have threatened them.
And, look, I was in Munich at the security conference this weekend. And President Zelensky of Ukraine was there. And he said, he really shouted about the sanctions, what are you waiting for?
LIEBERMAN: When the bombs are falling on us, it’ll be too late for sanctions.
And he’s absolutely right. He’s our ally. Putin is making up this whole crisis, so he can try to build his legacy by reclaiming Russian sovereignty over Ukraine, which is just a fiction. And so I think it’s really time now for the U.S. and Europe to be extremely tough on Putin before it gets worse.
CAVUTO: Senator, very quickly, the Kremlin is now saying that Vladimir Putin is ordering Russian forces to maintain peace in Eastern Ukraine.
Maintain peace, what does that mean to you?
It’s — you can’t believe anything they say. I mean, again, he says this whole thing, it’s about keeping Ukraine out of NATO. But NATO is a defensive alliance. He knows that NATO doesn’t threaten him. He’s looking for an excuse to move into Ukraine and seize their territory.
It’s just like the old Soviet communist union. And we can’t let it happen, or we will go back to a very unstable world. The Europeans are on the front lines there. They have to act. But the U.S. has a real interest in this as well. So, whatever Putin says, I don’t believe him. You got to watch his actions.
LIEBERMAN: He’s got 150,000-plus troops on the border. They’re not just there for a training exercise.
To me, they’re certainly going to go into Eastern Ukraine, and they may even try to take over the whole country. And that would be a devastating setback for world peace.
CAVUTO: All right, we will watch it closely.
Senator Lieberman, thank you for taking the time.
LIEBERMAN: Thanks, Neil. Be well.
CAVUTO: We are also following these developments out of the White House and how we’re formally going to respond to this. But it does make you wonder how, if it gets to be a crisis, which some say it already is, for example, how would an Abraham Lincoln handle it?
Doris Kearns Goodwin is here with some thoughts — after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: We are not enemies, but friends.
We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAVUTO: You know, timing is everything.
And this three-part series that has kicked off on The History Channel on Abraham Lincoln — the first part was his young life as a child and growing into adulthood, a seven-and-a-half-hour documentary that’s actually based on Doris Kearns’ bestseller “Leadership in Turbulent Times.”
It’s called “Abraham Lincoln.” I thought The History Channel folks just wanted to keep it simple, “Abraham Lincoln.”
Doris Kearns Goodwin with us right now.
Doris, very good to have you.
DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: I’m so glad to be with you, Neil.
What better place to have you come back than on Presidents’ Day. We have talked about presidents for such a long time together.
CAVUTO: No, absolutely.
And I was thinking about you. And, of course, you’re the executive producer of this. And it really gets into his handling of a crisis. We have got a crisis going on now. But it’s how presidents handle those crises that ultimately define them, isn’t it?
GOODWIN: Without a question.
And, sometimes, it’s not only what they did, but who they are. And Lincoln just had the qualities, the emotional qualities that were necessary to handle the crisis. For one thing, he understood that he had to unify the North. There were factions in the North that — some wanted emancipation right away. So wanted never to do it. They were conservatives, moderates, radicals.
So what did he do? He had the humility, which doesn’t mean humbleness — what it means is the acknowledgement that you need help — to put himself with a Cabinet of all these people who represented these different factions, many of whom were more educated, more — more kind of celebrated, and each one of whom thought he wanted to be president, instead of Lincoln.
CAVUTO: Right. Right.
GOODWIN: So, he was able to unify the North by having them there.
CAVUTO: And he had a comfortable enough ego that he would endure it.
I try to surround my myself with people who weren’t threats, but eventually threats emerge. So I give him credit.
CAVUTO: But I’m curious.
When you look at and people look and appreciate Abraham Lincoln now, we think we know him, but he was a tortured soul, wasn’t he?
GOODWIN: No question.
I mean, from the time he was a child, there’s a melancholy temperament. He suffers severe depressions. At one point in his early career, it was such a severe depression that his friends took all knives and razors and scissors from his room.
But the great thing was that he got through those adversities with a greater strength and with a resilience. Ernest Hemingway once said, everyone is broken by life. But, afterwards, some are stronger in the broken places. And I think he brought that sense of humor, which was such an important part of him, which you see in this documentary over and over again, telling funny stories at the moments of highest crisis.
People need to relax. People need to laugh. They need to laugh at themselves. And he would laugh louder than anybody else. And then he brought a sense of empathy with him to the presidency. If you look at that first inaugural, which we just saw part of, then you look at the second inaugural, then the North is finally winning that war, but no triumphant message does he deliver.
On the contrary, he says, both sides were responsible. Both sides read the same Bible. Both prayed to the same God. Neither’s prayers were fully answered. And then, of course, with malice toward none and charity for all, let us bind up our nation’s wounds.
It’s that ability to look at both sides, I think. It’s what we need in this country right now so badly. When I look at this problem with Ukraine, it’s a democracy vs. a dictatorship. What is a democracy but a system of government that allows the people to choose their leaders in or out of power?
And unless we feel a sense of common American identity — this is what Teddy Roosevelt warned against, that democracy would be in peril if people in different sections and parties and regions began to regard each other as the other, rather than as common American citizens.
So, maybe the hope is, as we’re seeing NATO unite against Ukraine’s — Russians — Russia’s involvement in Ukraine, as we’re seeing parts of our country come together, you’re seeing the two sides of the Republican and Democratic Party coming together, maybe it’ll teach us that we have to preserve our own democracy right now. And maybe it’s the thing we have needed to start beginning to pull together.
That would be the best thing of all this. And you provide solace, weirdly, by looking at the Civil War.
CAVUTO: No, that would be.
GOODWIN: There it is.
CAVUTO: Yes, you’re right about that.
And in the limited time — I apologize — we have had all the breaking news, Doris — but you talk about what you want vs. where you see things now. Vladimir Putin was making it very, very clear he wants the Ukraine much, like the old Soviet Union, to return to the days.
And we are saying we have moved on. It would be like saying we want the South to be what it was at the time of the Civil War. And Lincoln wanted us to move on.
How would a Lincoln handle something like this?
GOODWIN: I mean, I think he’d understand that you need strength to move forward.
If there’s ever going to be any kind of diplomacy, you have got to come from a position of strength. That’s what he did by unifying the North. That was his position of strength, and then be willing to fight that war; 600,000 would die. But, at the end, the union was restored and emancipation secured.
So, I think right now that projecting that strength is absolutely critical, and we have to do it at home and abroad.
And maybe it’s not over, diplomacy. You know, old Yogi Berra used to say, it ain’t over until it’s over.
CAVUTO: That’s right.
GOODWIN: So, let’s hope that maybe it ain’t over until we see if diplomacy has one last chance.
CAVUTO: No, it’s worth the last chance.
“Abraham Lincoln,” it’s on right now on The History Channel, two more additions coming, based on the “Leadership in Turbulent Times.”
Doris Kearns Goodwin, she really puts it in perspective and makes it current to all of us. We need reminders like that.
That will do it. Here comes “The Five.”
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