Big Tech CEOs under pressure to voluntarily appear before Congress

This is a rush transcript from “Your World” October 20, 2020. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: We’re following a lot of, well, deadlines and moments, the midnight one tonight, which Nancy Pelosi has said, either put up or shut up. We’re not quite clear what she is putting up and what Republicans are putting up.

But we know we have kind of got, when it comes to the Senate, a shut-up from them, because there is zero interest in any big spending plan over half-a-trillion dollars.

The president is pushing the point with Republicans, especially in the Senate, that we should go big, really big. But that’s apparently a lot bigger than Mitch McConnell wants to go.

So, the big hassle right now is not only getting the two sides together in the House — and we’re told right now that they’re close — but whether it could be a moot point trying to win over the Senate.

We are all over this story that had the markets on a wild ride. More on that in a second.

First to Chad Pergram, where all of this stands right now.

Hey, Chad.

CHAD PERGRAM, FOX NEWS CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT:  Hey there. Good afternoon, Neil.

Well, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the secretary of the Treasury, Steve Mnuchin, they began talking again by telephone at 3:00 Eastern time. As I indicated earlier in the day, we didn’t think we would find out where they went with these talks until after the markets closed. And I just checked a few minutes ago to see if there was any update. Nothing just yet.

But the speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, says that they are inching along and getting closer. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA):  I’m optimistic because I do think we have a shared value, not many, but a shared value, that, finally, they want to crush the virus.

And that’s been a change from even over the weekend, when they put forth language that wasn’t respectful of what we needed to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PERGRAM:  Pelosi indicates that, if they’re going to get this done before the election, they need to have legislative text frozen in form at the end of the week.

The sides still face hurdles over state and local money and over liability protections pushed by the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell. Those issues have barely moved since the talks began.

But McConnell signals the Senate would consider the possibility of a bigger bill.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY):  We’d have to see what it was first.

There’s been no deal announced. If a deal is announced, then it’ll have to be written. Then the people will have a chance to take a look at it. Then it’ll have to clear the House. And if all of that occurs, of course, we would consider it in the Senate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PERGRAM:  Now, there’s a lot of Republican senators today who were skeptical that they could vote for a big deal, something over $1.8 trillion.

Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, weighed in on that. Pat Roberts, Republican of Kansas, was skeptical that they could get a deal. There’s a lot of Republicans who are saying they want a targeted bill. They would be willing to spend more if it’s targeted, but that’s going to be in the eye of the beholder.

There’s not even an agreement on what’s targeted. And if you start to target, then you start to lose Democrats. Again, this is about finding that sweet spot in the middle. This is kind of Goldilocks and the three bears.

Not too hot. Not too cold. Just right. But just right has been elusive so far — Neil.

CAVUTO:  And it brings out the bears when it looks like nothing will happen.

See what I did there on the markets, Chad, that that’s what happened?

(LAUGHTER)

CAVUTO:  I’m going to play along with that theme. I like what you just said.

Chad, thank you very much.

No room for bears today, though, so maybe they’re confident that something can be done at the corner of Wall and Broad today.

We were all over the map, pared our gains from better than 350 points to about 113 points. A lot of this follows on the possibility we’re going to get stimulus. Then, the less likely it looks, they pull back. I think, by now, you know the drill here, so stocks really just focusing on this for the time being and whether it can ever come to pass.

Let’s get the read from Robert Wolf, the former UBS Americas chairman and CEO, 32 Advisors CEO. We have also got Kathryn Rooney Vera here with us, the Bulltick Capital Markets Big chase.

So, Kathryn, end it with you, begin with you on the markets sort of waiting for this and waiting and waiting and waiting. The math is prohibitive.

They’re — just getting it done in the House is one thing. Getting it picked up in the Senate is quite another. It doesn’t seem likely to me.

So what happens if that reality finally hits Wall Street?

KATHRYN ROONEY VERA, BULLTICK CAPITAL MARKETS HOLDINGS:  Well, Wall Street is expecting a fiscal stimulus package, Neil. It doesn’t have to come before November 3. And I think, largely, the market doesn’t believe it will. And I think that’s correct.

Something is in the pipeline. And that’s what the market is de facto banking on. If we got nothing, that would be a massively negative surprise for the market, and we should expect a fall.

I think we’re going to get something by first quarter of next year after Inauguration Day. And, Neil, what I’m telling our clients is to invest in industrials and materials in front of the election. And I’m so daring to do that before an election because I think, regarding of who wins, whether it’s President Trump or former Vice President Biden, this fiscal stimulus package is coming.

And you can bank on industrials and materials outperforming other sectors of the S&P 500 in that eventuality.

CAVUTO:  You know, if I could switch gears slightly on the political side of this, Robert, we’re told that some of the Democrats are getting a little anxious about the conservative — that is, the conservative campaign that Joe Biden is running by not going out much.

I know he’s preparing for the debate these next couple of days, while the president crisscrosses the country. There was that memo over the weekend where there was concern expressed by some Democrats that this is not a gimme, don’t assume that, Trump has come back before, he can do it again.

So, you know that. I mean, do you have any of those concerns? Do you think the president is making headway as Joe Biden stays home?

ROBERT WOLF, FORMER ADVISER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, I wouldn’t say he’s staying home.

He’s always doing things for the campaign and the election. He’s been on calls nonstop. Kamala was in Florida yesterday. President Obama is going on the road. We have plenty of surrogates kind of on the airwaves and doing things 24/7.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO:  But you would have to admit it is a little bit like looking for where’s Waldo, right? I mean, it is less frequent, certainly, than you see the president.

(LAUGHTER)

WOLF:  Yes. No, that’s true.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO:  Now, to be clear, these polls, if you buy them — and I know the president doesn’t — but it’s working. I get that.

WOLF:  There is no question…

CAVUTO:  But do you worry about that?

WOLF:  Of course we’re worried that a campaign and an election is going to be close.

But, today, I’d rather be Joe Biden’s campaign than Donald Trump’s campaign. He has many more avenues of success to win. Now that Arizona is actually in play, and right now leaning towards Biden, that wasn’t even a swing state with Obama nor Clinton.

So the idea that that’s in play and leaning blue, the idea of what happened in 2008 with the blue wave, now Georgia is in play. You have South Carolina’s in play, away from Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan that I think we will take up this time around.

So, listen, I’m cautiously optimistic, but 20 days is a lifetime. We have a debate. We have a lot of things that can happen between now and then. But I think it’s more important right now to say that it’s time for a relief package.

Last week, jobless claims were higher than the entire month of September job gains. We need Congress to go back to work. It’s time for Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell to get at the table and get a deal done.

All big deals have to have all of the leadership.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO:  All right, Kathryn, let me switch gears with you very quickly.

Goldman Sachs, the big investment firm, it said today that if there is a blue wave, if there is a blue wave — that means that the Democrats take the White House and take the Senate — then there’s going to be a whole lot of massive spending, but it would boost the economy.

So, whatever fears there would be about tax hikes on the well-to-do, everyone else and the economy itself will benefit. Do you buy that?

ROONEY VERA:  I think it’s quite rich to say that Mitch McConnell and President Trump have to come to the table, when it’s been de facto Speaker Pelosi who has been largely stalling the next round of stimulus package.

I mean, I don’t think it’s going to come, because I think there’s very close to zero chance that Pelosi is going to give Trump a win, regardless of the magnitude of the stimulus.

I think it’s particularly interesting to note that we have had several packages, of which, Neil, they dwarf what the fiscal response was to the Lehman Brothers crisis, if your audience remembers, back in 2008, which brought around the financial crisis.

CAVUTO:  Right.

ROONEY VERA:  We had talk of $1.9 trillion. We’re already at about $10 trillion.

An additional stimulus package is what has taken us to these heights. We need to get on our own feet and be able as an economy to push forward, private enterprise leading — leading the fore.

CAVUTO:  All right, just to point out, though, the president did a couple of weeks ago, by tweet, shelved the talks, say they were going nowhere. So, both sides, I guess, can be guilty of doing some quick 180s.

But we will see how it goes.

WOLF:  Well, I would just say…

CAVUTO:  Guys — go ahead, real quick.

WOLF:  I should just say, we passed a relief package in May, OK?

Democrats passed a relief package in May. They have been sitting on it since. McConnell was talking about $300 million, when we’re now talking $2 trillion. We’re talking apples and oranges here. It’s time to be for the people.

(CROSSTALK)

CAVUTO:  Well, you’re equating the size — you’re equating the size of the stimulus with the virtue of the parties. So, I’m not quite sure I’d run to that.

But, guys, I want to thank you very, very much.

I do want to get the latest from John Roberts on how all of this is going, because they have got to redo schedules here, including one regarding the full Senate confirmation, if it comes to that, for Judge Amy Barrett, I believe now pushed back to next Monday, but a lot more going in between — John.

JOHN ROBERTS, FOX NEWS CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT:  Yes.

Well, the full Senate next Monday, the 26th, which is what the original schedule was. And that was an accelerated schedule.

Speaking of schedules, Steven Mnuchin is talking to Nancy Pelosi from the Middle East, where it’s midnight. So he’s really burning the candle at both ends here, trying to get a deal.

As Chad Pergram was alluding to, it was a real surprise this morning what the president said. Senate Republicans proposed a $500 billion deal, which the Democrats rejected. The White House offered up about $1.6 trillion to

$1.8 trillion, which the Democrats rejected.

But when the president said it this morning, it really kind of upped the ante here.

Here’s what he told “FOX & Friends”:

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  She’s at 2.2.

QUESTION:  OK.

TRUMP:  And I would like to go — I would be willing to go more, because I think that, number one, I view it differently.

We get the money back, the government. It gets the money back, ultimately.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

ROBERTS:  Now, as opposed — as far as the government getting the money back, more on that just a second.

The White House is still opposed to payments to bail out blue states that have separate financial problems long before coronavirus came along. But the president — and here’s the key — he’s willing to go higher if the money is spent on items that could provide some return on investment, such as infrastructure projects or incentives for companies to move manufacturing back to the United States from China.

In the past, Republicans have not been big fans of a big relief bill. Last week, the president, though, said, if he gets something that he likes, regardless of how big it is, he will make sure that his Republican colleagues like it too.

The White House continuing to insist, it’s Nancy Pelosi who’s throwing up roadblocks in the process. Listen here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY:  We’re not worrying about Republicans here. Republicans will come to the table and do what’s right for the American people, as they always have.

But what we’re dealing with now is a crisis among Democrats. This is about one thing for Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, making sure this doesn’t happen before Election Day, because they care more about winning an election than relief for hurting Americans.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTS:  There is a growing sense of urgency here in Washington to at least have the appearance of trying to get something done in time for the election.

If they do manage to get something done, it’ll all be about bragging rights as to who was responsible for this. And if they don’t get something done, they will both use it to be the cudgel with all the way through until November the 3rd — Neil.

CAVUTO:  Yes, such is politics. I guess you’re right there, my friend.

John Roberts following all of that at the White House.

By the way, there is still, obviously, that pile-on with the technology titans. Of course, they’re all taking it off the chin right now. In Washington, they have been asking nicely, the Judiciary Committee, well maybe we’d like to hear the Twitter CEO come by and talk to us, or maybe we can subpoena him, on the very same day the antitrust case is being made against Google and Alphabet fame.

The issue there, you have gotten too big for your britches — after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAVUTO:  We talk about the markets and things that could move them.

After-hours, we’re learning that Netflix disappointed on the earnings front. What’s kind of interesting about that, it’s not so much how much money it’s making, how many new subscribers it is getting. Most had thought it would add about 3.3 million new ones. It turned out that it added about

2.2 million.

That’s pretty much why the stock is falling better than 4 percent, almost 5 percent in after-hours trading. Now, this could be a post-pandemic response, now that we’re out of the pandemic. But with more people out of their homes, they’re probably not streaming as much or doing as much sitting on a couch.

But that is a phenomenon to watch here, because, of course, Netflix had been on fire and was one of the best-performing stocks throughout the pandemic. When people were shut in, they were streaming on, and the stock was zooming up. So we will look at that a little bit later.

In the meantime, still looking at the pile-on, on tech, not on Netflix, but on a host of big tech players right now from all sorts of interests, including Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter. You know the backstory there.

Jackie DeAngelis here from FBN to put it all together for us.

Lots of news on lots of tech companies, huh, Jackie?

JACKIE DEANGELIS, FOX BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT:  Absolutely. Good afternoon, Neil.

Look, from what we know, the Senate Judiciary Committee is considering the big tech subpoenas on Thursday. That would include the issue of how the companies handled that New York Post Hunter Biden story. But that’s also when the committee is supposed to consider the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett. So it’s fluid right now.

It could even be pushed again. Now, what’s really interesting here is that, according to Senator Roger Wicker — he’s a Republican from Mississippi — he was speaking at a lunch today — he explained that Judiciary looks at antitrust issues. Commerce looks at Section 230 issues, including privacy.

The Commerce hearing next week will have Jack Dorsey of Twitter, Sundar Pichai of Google, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook. They will all appear virtually and voluntarily.

With respect to the Judiciary Committee inquiry, there’s speculation that it will include more than just Dorsey. Mark Zuckerberg’s name is being floated, too, because Facebook also blocked that story to fact-check it — fact-check it.

What’s interesting here is a subpoena, right, not voluntary participation anymore. Now, the central question, with two weeks to go until the election, is controlling the messaging on these platforms, some sort of breach. And that’s what everyone’s trying to get to.

You have already had Elizabeth Warren advocating for breaking up big tech.

Donald Trump has even said it’s necessary, but maybe for different reasons.

One is about financial power and scope. The other is more about influence, like censorship.

It’s not a new issue. Big tech was supposed to be in the hot seat for most of this year. But the pandemic, remember, slowed that down.

Then, of course, today, you have got the news that Google is being sued by the Department of Justice. One of the issues there, does it monopolize search functionality?

So, what’s being set up here is a big battle over what to do with these companies that will continue on into 2021, Neil. And depending on who has the White House, we’re going to see how this goes.

CAVUTO:  All right, Jackie, thank you very much for that.

Man, a lot of names to keep track up there.

Senator Thom Tillis joins us right now, North Carolina senator. Of course, he sits on the Judiciary Committee, among others, has recovered from a positive testing of COVID-19.

Senator, first off, how you feeling now?

SEN. THOM TILLIS (R-NC):  I feel great, well-rested, and glad I’m back to work.

CAVUTO:  All right.

Now, you’re going to have a lot of work, obviously, the Judiciary Committee, not only with the Amy Barrett vote later this week, but, of course, in the full Senate next week.

That’s a pretty aggressive timetable. I want to get into these technology issues, but, first off, on the Judge Barrett vote and what you think of how that’s looking?

TILLIS:  Well, she’s going to get voted out of committee at 1:00. The vote is scheduled at 1:00 on Thursday. She will get voted out of committee.

And then she will be put forth to the Senate chamber. We have procedural motions that we have to go through. But we will be voting her confirmation early next week, at the latest.

CAVUTO:  All right, in the meantime, I know the Commerce Committee, the Senate Commerce Committee, is going to be listening and hearing from Jack Dorsey, obviously, of Twitter, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook.

A lot of this predates the whole fuss over this New York Post article and whether both companies made it next to impossible to let users transfer that or retweet that to others.

What do you think of what’s going to happen? I know the Judiciary Committee wants to hear from both of these gentlemen as well. What’s the latest on that?

TILLIS:  Well, I think we will — we’re discussing it this week.

We’re coordinating with the Commerce Committee, who got witnesses to testify voluntarily. But I’m prepared to vote for a subpoena if we can’t work out a similar arrangement. We will be talking about it when we convene on Thursday in the Judiciary Committee.

And I just hope that these big tech firms answer our requests to come before the committee and stack it up with the Commerce Committee hearings that we will hear next week.

There’s a lot of important things to talk about. Section 230 is a key one when it has to do that — which is largely within the jurisdiction of the Commerce Committee, but the antitrust issues, a number of other things, factual and fair publishing of content, something I think the American people want to hear more about. And it may require Congress to act at some point.

CAVUTO:  You know, I want to go back to your state as well.

Your race now has become essentially a toss-up, the presidential battle here. The polls show both the president and Joe Biden almost dead even, the same for you. And you were given up for — in serious trouble. And, right now, you’re technically tied with Cal Cunningham, your opponent.

I’m just wondering — I know there are separate issues with Mr. Cunningham and these controversial texts, but I’m wondering if there’s something else going on here. How would you describe it?

TILLIS:  Well, I think it goes far beyond controversial texts.

We’re talking about a confirmed affair with the wife of a wounded warrior, and now a second affair reported over the weekend. Cal Cunningham ran a campaign talking about truth and honor matters. He’s under investigation with the Army right now. He’s going to get a letter of reprimand.

And depending upon the circumstances of now two affairs, he could ultimately be subject to court-martial. And I think that matters to North Carolina voters. And I believe we were trending well before these revelations.

I think, on Election Day, we win the day and we hold the Senate.

CAVUTO:  So, if he beat you, if he were to beat you — and some polls show him still leading you — do you think he should not take that Senate seat?

TILLIS:  Well, I honestly think that the only honorable thing Cal Cunningham could do right now is to withdraw from the race, reconcile with his family, and rebuild his reputation.

But the investigation with the Army will go past the election. But there’s no question ,based on former JAG officers that I have spoken with, that he will have a letter of reprimand, and, again, depending upon the circumstances of now two affairs that occurred during this campaign.

This is not years ago. This is weeks ago in his own home. Then it could rise to a higher level within a court-martial.

CAVUTO:  All right, we will watch it very, very closely.

Senator Thom Tillis, thank you very much.

We have reached out to Cal Cunningham’s offices. We have not heard back.

All right, we have a lot more coming up here, including what’s going on, on early voting, a good deal about that. We’re hitting records left and right.

Who that helps, who that hurts in key states — after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAVUTO:  All right, you are looking live in Erie, Pennsylvania. The crowd is already building there for that an event the president is planning tonight.

He is crisscrossing all of these battleground states, Joe Biden for the second day running and up until the debate on Thursday, studying for that, not traveling.

More after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAVUTO:  All right, the president likes the crowds. And when it comes to real campaigning, that is his cup of tea.

The Democratic ticket, maybe leery of the pandemic and everything else, prefers to keep its main candidate at home as he prepares right now for the final presidential debate, and, in this case, having Kamala Harris do a virtual one.

Well, it’s better than none, or is it?

Mike Tobin following all of that.

Hey, Mike.

MIKE TOBIN, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Hey, Neil.

The very latest numbers from the U.S. Election Project say that 35,500,000 Americans have already cast a ballot. To put that number into perspective, as of four days ago, early voting numbers were four-and-a-half times what they were for the same time period in 2016.

And Democrats are dominating the early voting game. In Florida, Democrats have cast 386,000 more ballots than Republicans. In Kenosha, Wisconsin now notorious for the police-involved shooting of Jacob Blake, African-American led organizations marked the first day of early voting with a march from Kenosha to Milwaukee with a message to vote, and vote early.

Indelibly blue Cook County, Illinois, quadrupled mail-in voting. Early numbers, however, could be distracting. Remember, President Trump criticized particularly mail-in voting.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP:  They’re trying it again with this whole 80 million mail-in ballots that they’re working on, sending them out to people that didn’t ask for them. They didn’t ask. They just get them. And it’s not fair and it’s not right and it’s not going to be possible to tabulate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TOBIN:  Now, Tom Bevan at RealClearPolitics says most Republicans polled say they will vote on Election Day. Democrats say they’re voting earlier by mail.

But people make mistakes, and ballots get rejected.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 A lot of Democrats are saying that they are exercising the mail-in and absentee option.

If they are not filling out those ballots correctly, if those ballots are going to be rejected, and if the race is close in those states, it could be decisive.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TOBIN:  Now, in the states that track party registration, 8.5 million Democrats have voted, more than 4 million Republicans and 3.5 million independents — Neil.

CAVUTO:  Mike Tobin, thank you very much, my friend, Mike in Chicago.

How voting goes, and then, on Election Day itself, two weeks from today, count a former Republican defense secretary and a former, well, Democrat defense secretary very worried.

They joined forces with a warning and a hope. Meet them next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAVUTO:  All right, a Democrat and a Republican sharing the same anxiety over elections now two weeks away to the day.

Leon Panetta, the former Democratic defense secretary, much more, Republican Chuck Hagel, who was in that role, of course, in a Republican administration as a Republican defense secretary, but increasingly concerned about the message we could be sending on Election Day itself, concerns that it might be overwhelmed, contested, and maybe trigger violence.

Both men weighing in.

I begin with Senator Hagel.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHUCK HAGEL, FORMER U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY:  If we can’t even conduct elections in our democratic republic in a way that people could have confidence and trust in those, and that are secure, then what can we do right?

And this is a dangerous time and a defining time in the world. It’s a defining time here in the United States. So, these elections, our elections, are so important, because they’re the essence of democracy.

CAVUTO:  So, Secretary Hagel, I will go to you very quickly.

Are you saying, did the president make this worse by telegraphing his concerns, outright saying there are a lot of problems with this, he might have trouble accepting the results of this? What do you think?

HAGEL:  Well, I don’t think that adds to confidence in our voters and how the world perceives our elections, when the president of the United States makes those kinds of comments.

I don’t blame the president of the United States for all of this. I think there’s an underlying dynamic and factor across our country that we have seen coming in many ways. It’s a breakdown in trust and confidence in our institutions, in our system, in our leaders.

That’s not the president’s fault. But he doesn’t add to it, he doesn’t help when he makes comments like he does. He could be making a different set of and a different kind, different tone of comments about have confidence and trust and do what you can to make the system work.

But he goes the other way.

CAVUTO:  So, Secretary Panetta, one of the things that’s reinforcing some of the president’s argument, or critics of this, is, the system is getting overwhelmed.

We hear ballots miscast, thousands thrown out. I think, in the percentage of things, and I have been following this, they’re very small, in the 33 million ballots we have had so far tabulated, not counted, but tabulated.

So that might be an exaggeration.

But the concern is that it’s going to overwhelm the system, particularly when they do have to start counting all of these. And therein lies the repeated 2000 fears.

Do you think that’s a legitimate fear, whatever the president’s views?

LEON PANETTA, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE:  Well, there’s no question that we’re dealing with probably one of the most important elections certainly in my lifetime.

And I think most Americans understand how important this is. And we’re going to have, I believe, a huge turnout. And a lot of it is going to be different because of COVID-19, and a lot of people who are going to vote by mail-in ballots, absentee ballots.

So there’s going to be a lot of ballots that are going to be presented to these state election officials around the country. And the most important thing right now is that all of us have to be patient and allow this process to play out.

There’s going to be some bumps. There will be some incidents, as we have seen. But I think, if we’re patient and allow these election officials in these different states to do their job, to count the ballots, then I think, ultimately, we will get a result that will represent a free and fair election for all of the American people.

CAVUTO:  It looks to, that point, Leon, we’re going to get record turnout.

It might go back to the 1960 JFK-Richard Nixon election.

Do you think that will be the case?

PANETTA:  I think there’s a very good chance that that’s going to happen.

You have had a lot of this early voting in a number of states. You have had mail-in ballots sent out. In California, we have already received our mail- in ballots and sent them in. We — there’s a lot of that going on around the country.

I think there’s a great deal of interest in this election. There’s clearly a lot of division here in the country, a lot of concern about our future.

And I think people are going to go to the polls and indicate what kind of direction they want for the future.

And I — that’s a great opportunity for the American people. I’m a believer in our democracy. I’m a believer in the ability of voters to decide what happens in our democracy. The ultimate check and balance in our system is the ability of the American people to vote.

That’s the — that’s the most important check and balance we have.

CAVUTO:  You know, Secretary Hagel, we do know that foreign policy will not be among the debate subjects that will be featured on Thursday. I don’t know how that’s going to work out, nor do I know how the power of the moderator has to cut a microphone on either one of these guys, how that will fare out.

But I’d be curious to get your views, Secretary, while I have you here, about this New York Post Biden e-mail story. Many have kind of pooh-poohed.

And social media, of course, came under scrutiny for not even allowing users to resend it or retweet it, whatever the terminology is.

I’m not very technologically hip, guys. But do you think it should come up?

Do you think that the president will force the issue, Secretary Hagel, and really push it? Do you think that would be a wise idea? What do you think of it as an issue, period?

HAGEL:  Well, if you’re talking about foreign policy as an issue, it is an issue. It’s a big issue.

We live in an interconnected world. We are dependent on allies, on alliances, on relationships all over the world. Our trade, our economy, our national security, our intelligence-sharing and -gathering, every aspect of our lives, of Americans lives’, is connected to the global dynamic.

And so foreign policy, I know, has, in most presidential elections, taken a backseat. Most of them have. And I get that. And I understand why, and especially now, because of COVID-19, the consequences, economic consequences that have happened.

We’re in a recession, and all that flows from that. But foreign policy is so critical, so important. And I think it deserves a place on the agenda, the debate agenda, should be in all the debates.

So, no, I’m a strong believer in that, that you have to include that in the larger scope, the larger framework of America’s interest, because it is not exactly central, but it is a big part of our national interest.

CAVUTO:  You haven’t lost your touch from your days in service avoiding the question about the Biden e-mails. So, touche to you on that one.

But, Secretary Panetta — I’m just kidding there.

But I do want, Secretary Panetta, to get your take on that, now these signatures that appear to be Hunter Biden’s on these documents and everything else. I don’t know where this goes, but is it an issue to pursue?

I mean, it’s been operation ignore on the part of the Biden campaign. There might be that something, there might not be, but, sometimes, a hell of a lot less has been brought up that had more scant details on the president that did come up.

So should it come up?

PANETTA:  You know, look, I — first of all, I agree with Chuck about the importance of discussing our foreign affairs and the challenges we face in the world.

The president of the United States is the commander in chief and responsible for protecting our national security. So I think that’s important.

CAVUTO:  Do issues like this come up, Leon, whether there are charges about someone who might have been using the influence of the vice president to court favor with business interests in Ukraine?

PANETTA:  There’s no question.

Look, those charges are going to come up. They’re probably going to come up on both sides.

CAVUTO:  Yes.

PANETTA:  Biden will raise the issue of this president going to the Ukraine and to China to get them to interfere in the election. And I’m sure that President Trump will raise the issue of Hunter Biden.

But what both of them need to do is to raise the issue of Russian interference in our election, because, very frankly, that interference is what is undermining the American election system. And we not — ought not to accept that.

No matter — no matter what they’re trying to accomplish, it is unacceptable to interfere in our elections, period.

CAVUTO:  Secretary Hagel, Hillary Clinton had advised Joe Biden sometime back not to concede, no matter what’s going on election night, and that obviously fostered this argument that you have heard elsewhere that this could be a long time in getting a final result.

We don’t know, and things could be very different. But what do you think the environment will be if this were to drag on, let’s say 30 days, and we’re — kind of like a 2000 phenomena, where we don’t know? Some have worried about violence. Some have worried about uprisings.

So, do you worry about that?

HAGEL:  I do worry about it very much.

We are, as a nation, especially this year, for so many reasons — and we discussed some of them — we’re really hair-triggered. It’s like dealing with nitroglycerin, every issue.

And I don’t recall a nitroglycerin-type election presidential election ever quite like this. Sparks just set things off. And if we do not have certification of a winner for a week or two weeks, that does run the risk of militias taking the streets, of lawsuits, of calls of fraud, and every aspect of:  We won’t accept this selection. It was fraudulent. Why can’t we get a winner?

It isn’t, I don’t think, the same society as it was in 2000. I don’t think the society today is near as tolerant as where we were in 2000. The American people let it go on and on. The Supreme Court made a decision. Al Gore was a gentleman. And he said, I have lost, and that was it.

I don’t think that is the same kind of situation as we have today. So, I am worried. I am concerned. Some of the points that Leon made about both sides need to tamper everything — have — tamper it down — tamp it down, and let the system work, let the process work.

It will work. And the system is honest.

CAVUTO:  All right.

HAGEL:  And we know it’s honest, but it will work.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CAVUTO:  All right, Chuck Hagel and Leon Panetta.

I think I misstated. Even though Chuck Hagel is a Republican, he did serve as a defense secretary under Barack Obama, by the way, as did Leon Panetta, both men, though, penning this editorial concerned about the safety and the reliability of the elections or whether things could get out of hand, that the whole world is watching.

And, by the way, much of the country is watching these so-called talks that are going on for stimulus on Capitol Hill.

We’re learning a little bit about that phone call Nancy Pelosi had with Steve Mnuchin, in which she expressed some optimism that they’re closer to a deal, and they hope to have something done by the end of the week. We shall see.

More after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAVUTO:  Disney World in Florida open, Disneyland in California not. What’s the deal?

Jonathan Hunt on the latest in magic land — Jonathan.

JONATHAN HUNT, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT:  Hey, Neil. Bad news for Mickey.

California officials just announced that large theme parks will not be allowed to reopen until the county in which they are situated is in the state’s yellow tier in the coronavirus reopening guidelines.

Disneyland’s home, Orange County, is currently two tiers above that, in the red. And even when it gets to yellow, theme parks like Disneyland will only be allowed to reopen under very strict restrictions, including guests being restricted to 25 percent total capacity.

Advanced reservations will be required. Guests will need to be pre-screened for COVID symptoms. And face coverings will have to be worn by all guests and employees.

Disney World in Florida reopened in July, but California officials say they are mindful not just of the behavior of people when they are in a theme park, but how they might behave when they leave.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. MARK GHALY, CALIFORNIA SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES:  People may keep their guard up while they’re in, let’s say, a theme park, but when they are milling around the community, their guard may go down. And that could be just enough to create outbreaks and transmission risks that California just doesn’t want to see.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HUNT:  The mayor of Anaheim, which is Disneyland’s hometown, just issued a statement criticizing the decision, saying that it is not just about Disneyland, but about the thousands of small businesses and working families in the area who depend on the business driven by Disneyland — Neil.

CAVUTO:  Thank you very much, Jonathan Hunt.

HUNT:  Sure.

CAVUTO:  Well, a change of plans right now for the president’s trip to Pennsylvania this evening. He is coming. His wife is not.

The latest on why.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAVUTO:  All right, the president will be leaving the White House shortly, heading off for a big rally in Erie, Pennsylvania.

He was to have been taken his wife, Melania, him. She had a troublesome cough, nothing to do with COVID, we’re told. Just an abundance of caution, she’s staying back at the White House.

Francesca Chambers is with us, Byron York.

Francesca, do we know anything more than that?

FRANCESCA CHAMBERS, MCCLATCHY D.C.:  That’s all about that the first lady’s spokesperson has said.

And we’re waiting to hear if there’s going to be a new date for her to join the president, Neil, and whether or not she might have some other events coming up soon with the campaign.

CAVUTO:  Byron, we’re always told about the president having trouble with female voters. And he obviously disputes that, argues that.

Well, does it make a difference to have the first lady with him? It can’t hurt, I imagine, but your thoughts?

BYRON YORK, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR:  Well, it is better.

And it’s one more bit of evidence that this is a highly unusual campaign.

The first lady has barely campaigned with the president at all, except for his announcement of his reelection bid. So, this is not unusual that she’s not there.

And other than concern about the first lady’s health, of course, what this shows is, this is a really unusual campaign.

CAVUTO:  Yes, that’s putting it mildly.

Francesca, the president’s busy travel schedule seems to dovetail with tightening in some of these polls. I don’t know if it’s a quid pro quo thing. But what are you making of his busy travels vs. Joe Biden holding out in Wilmington getting ready for the debates? How is this all playing together?

CHAMBERS:  Well, if you look at a state like Pennsylvania, where the president is going today, it is tightening, Neil.

That was a state that, the end of September, Joe Biden in public polling was up anywhere from seven to 11 points. And now in recent polls, we’re seeing that drop to about four points for President Trump, and this is the state that he has campaigned in frequently.

So, it would appear that that is helping him. But, again, four points is still not winning, so it would seem that he has a little bit more work to do before Election Day.

CAVUTO:  Byron, while I have you here, I wanted to get your thoughts, yours as well, Francesca, on this cutting-the-mic thing that will be a feature of the debate if either candidate goes over, interrupts. I don’t know what would actually trigger it.

How do you think that will go over, Byron?

YORK:  Well, I don’t know.

I think that President Trump will certainly point it out, and I think it will certainly look to Republicans like the commission is trying to protect Joe Biden. And, personally, I just don’t see the need for any of this, because voters can make their impression based on what they see.

In the first debate, the president was very aggressive, interrupted Joe Biden a whole bunch of times. And did that turn out to be a big winner for him? Not really. In the polls, it seemed to hurt him.

And we have heard word that the president is going to tone it down a little this time. So, in that debate, which many people thought was a disaster, voters could look and draw conclusions from what they saw.

And the same thing could happen in this debate, and they don’t need to cut anybody’s mic.

CAVUTO:  Yes.

Real quickly, Francesca, the argument was that let Joe Biden talk, and if you then — you might get what you want, Mr. President. What do you think of that?

CHAMBERS:  And the president did indicate this morning in his interview with “FOX & Friends” that that’s a strategy he could take this time, make it a little different.

CAVUTO:  Yes.

CHAMBERS:  I would also note, Neil, that the campaign just believes at this point that they have the superior ground game, his campaign, that is.

They believe that they’re doing just much better when it comes to voter registration at this point, and that’s what gives them confidence that President Trump will be successful.

CAVUTO:  All right, two weeks is a long time, as you guys remind me.

Thank you both very, very much.

We’re watching that as well, also trying to get details on where these stimulus talks are going, whether anything can be done. That’s something we will be following a lot more tomorrow.

For right now, here comes “THE FIVE.”

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