What's the latest on COVID relief legislation negotiations?

This is a rush transcript from “Special Report” October 15, 2020. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Thanks, Jesse. Good evening, welcome to Washington. I'm Bret Baier.

Breaking tonight, President Trump and Joe Biden go head-to-head but the election still 19 days away.

Tonight, both the president and his challenger Joe Biden will compete for T.V. audiences in separate town hall events on different networks. These meetings were set up after a virtual debate that was scheduled for this evening was cancelled.

There's also news about that cancel debate's moderator tonight, we'll bring you that.

Also, both members of the Democratic ticket are in the same area as people on that campaign test positive for the coronavirus.

Earlier today, President Trump spoke at a rally in North Carolina. He said Joe Biden and his family are being protected by big tech after Facebook and Twitter censored a report about Hunter Biden's e-mails -- alleged e-mails.

That is where we begin tonight with chief White House correspondent John Roberts live on the North Lawn. Good evening, John.

JOHN ROBERTS, FOX NEWS CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Bret, good evening to you. Time may be running out for social media companies to censor content without repercussion. The FCC Chairman Ajit Pai today saying that he is going to move to clarify a rule that has so far shielded Facebook, Twitter and others. This as the president again today vows to go after social media companies as he turns up the heat on Joe Biden.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTS: In Greenville, North Carolina today, President Trump vowing to keep pushing the Joe and Hunter Biden e-mail story despite Twitter and Facebook moving to censor postings that contain e-mail addresses or other personal information.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He's a corrupt politician, just remember it. And I'm going to say it more and more, and Facebook and all can try and shut us down, but you know what, everybody knows it.

ROBERTS: Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany's personal Twitter account continues to be locked after she posted screen shots of the e-mails. The Trump campaign's team Trump Twitter was temporarily blocked today.

Communications Director Tim Murtaugh scolding Twitter in a statement saying, this is election interference, plain and simple.

President Trump again pushing to repeal Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, shielding social media companies from legal action over censorship.

TRUMP: We're going to take away their Section 230 unless they shape up.

ROBERTS: North Carolina and it's 15 electoral votes were key to President Trump's win in 2016. A new New York Times poll finds Joe Biden leading the president by four points in the Tar Heel State. The RealClearPolitics average shows President Trump trailing by three points but that's exactly where he was on October 15th four years ago.

TRUMP: Well, don't clap too hard. Go out and vote. We'll clap later.

ROBERTS: The president again today making an appeal to suburban women, a key voting group he currently trails Biden with.

TRUMP: The suburban women should love Trump.

ROBERTS: President Trump also tried to calm concerns about a recent spike in coronavirus cases in North Carolina. The president touting new treatments and looming vaccines and going back to the same well he drew from six months ago. Again insisting the virus will eventually burn out on its own.

TRUMP: It's ending anyway. I mean, they go crazy when I say it. It's going to peter out and it's going to end.

ROBERTS: From North Carolina, President Trump off to Miami, the site of tonight's canceled second presidential debate, the president in an NBC News town hall. At the same time, Joe Biden participates in a competing town hall on ABC.

President Trump musing on what's in store for him compared to NBC's recent town hall with Joe Biden.

TRUMP: I just want to see the tone of the way they treated this character and the way they treat us.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTS: There are complains that by appearing in competing town halls, voters won't get a chance to watch both candidates tonight. Ultimately bragging rights may go to the candidate who gets the best ratings this evening, Bret.

BAIER: All right, John, thank you. I'll be watching both. I'll be on Shannon show later tonight with a wrap up.

Meantime, Joe Biden's presidential campaign says vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris's suspending in-person events until Monday after two people associated with the campaign tested positive for coronavirus.

We also learned this afternoon Biden himself has been around someone infected. Correspondent Peter Doocy reports tonight from Wilmington, Delaware.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PETER DOOCY, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Joe Biden wore two masks at once on his flight to Florida and as it turns out, there was an administrative official from the charter company sitting in the last row infected with

COVID-19 on that flight and one to Ohio Monday.

But Biden is not changing his schedule since the sick person never got within 50 feet and all parties wore masks. Part of the safety plan carefully crafted when he started flying regularly.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We've worked out a protocol where how I get on the plane, what kind of plane I'm getting on, how it's sanitized, where how I engage people.

DOOCY: His running mate Kamala Harris was confident in those protocols last night.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you feel safe campaigning during COVID?

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Well, we've been very safe. And you know, again, the president has made fun of us but we wear masks.

DOOCY: But today, cancelled events through Sunday because two people on a plane with the V.P. nominee one week ago got sick. Communications director Liz Allen and a member of the flight crew.

JENNIFER O'MALLEY DILLON, JOE BIDEN CAMPAIGN MANAGER: During the flight, Senator Harris wore an N95 mask, as did both individuals who's not within six feet for more than 15 minutes with either of them.

Therefore, she does not meet the CDC definition of close contact for exposure.

DOOCY: That flight was the same day as a rare joint appearance by Harrison and Joe Biden in Phoenix.

HARRIS: Joe has had a plan for COVID at least since March.

DOOCY: Biden holds an 11-point lead over Trump with registered voters in an NBC Wall Street Journal poll.

The campaign raised $383 million just last month.

BIDEN: That's more than money I've ever raised in my whole -- in my whole life.

DOOCY: Alluding to scandalous stories about his son, Biden told donors this about Trump. We have 19 days left, and you know, he's going to throw everything but the kitchen sink at me. He's going to be on the trail solo through the weekend though during the biggest test yet of the campaign's COVID plan.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is the established plan if one of you contract COVID between now and the elections?

HARRIS: The plan is not to get it.

 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DOOCY: Even though Joe Biden sat in a cabin with somebody now sick with

COVID-19 on Monday and Tuesday, the campaign says they have not been advised to take any additional precautions to protect campaign staff or the former vice president. So, he is going to fly again tomorrow morning to campaign events in Michigan, Bret.

BAIER: Peter Doocy live in Wilmington. Peter, thanks.

The Congress is jumping into the fray over the social media response to the Hunter Biden e-mail story. Senior political correspondent Mike Emanuel has an update tonight.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): This is election interference. The Senate Judiciary Committee wants to know what the hell is going on.

MIKE EMANUEL, FOX NEWS HOST: Outrage on Capitol Hill after learning the New York Post reporting on Hunter Biden's e-mails was censored on social media.

SEN. JOSH HAWLEY (R-MO): I hope that we'll subpoena both Twitter and Facebook. They should both come. They're both engaged in censorship.

EMANUEL: Delaware Democrat Chris Coons praise the social media giants for taking action.

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE): Facebook and Twitter have policies to not spread things that are utterly unreliable that have been debunked and where their origin is untrustworthy.

EMANUEL: But Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham says there is a double standard.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): Nobody in Twitter and social media shut down anything about Trump and Russia.

EMANUEL: Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey criticized his platform publicly. Our communication around our actions on the New York Post article was not great and blocking URL sharing via tweet or D.M. with zero context as to why we're blocking: unacceptable.

The story broke yesterday. Fox News obtained several e-mails purportedly between Hunter Biden and Ukrainian energy executive Vadym Pozharskyi who is a top official at Burisma.

I one alleged e-mail, he thanks Hunter Biden for inviting him to Washington and "giving an opportunity to meet your father and spent some time together". The Biden campaign says there is no such meeting listed on the vice president's official schedule.

The reported e-mails are from a laptop that the owner of a computer repair shop says was dropped off in April 2019 and never picked up. The computer technician initially said he wasn't sure it was Hunter but then changed the story.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When did you realize that it was Hunter Biden's laptop?

JOHN PAUL MAC ISAAC, DELAWARE COMPUTER REPAIR SHOP OWNER: When he paused and said, Biden, like I was expecting to know who he was.

EMANUEL: Trump confidante Rudy Giuliani talked about how he got involved.

RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER ATTORNEY OF DONALD TRUMP: The document that I have signed by Hunter Biden says, that after 90 days the hard drive is abandoned and it becomes the property of the merchant. He legally turned it over to the FBI, and then he legally turned it over to my lawyer, it's now his property. He can do what he wants with it.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

EMANUEL: As for the fallout on Capitol Hill, the Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to vote on issuing subpoenas to the big tech executives Tuesday. That could set the stage for a high stake hearing with them on a hot seat next Friday.

As for Twitter, it appears the social media site is down right now. A spokesperson telling Fox, they're looking into it, Bret.

BAIER: OK, Mike, thank you.

C-SPAN has suspended its political editor after he admitted that he lied about his Twitter feed being hacked after an exchange with a former Trump aide who is now a Trump critic. And when that surfaced Fox News media analyst, host of Fox's "MEDIA BUZZ" Howard Kurtz has specifics tonight about Steve Scully. Good evening, Howard.

HOWARD KURTZ, FOX NEWS MEDIA ANALYST: Bret, good evening. When the Presidential Debate Commission tapped C-SPAN's Steve Scully to moderate the second debate which was to have been tonight, he seems like a logical choice.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEVE SCULLY, POLITICAL EDITOR, C-SPAN: It's a big task but we're ready for it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: A 30-year veteran of the nonprofit network C-SPAN's political editor and Washington Journal host offered few opinions and once the backup moderator in 2016. But late today as you noted, C-SPAN suspended Scully indefinitely for lying.

President Trump had initially assailed the choice of Scully who was once a college intern for Joe Biden and Ted Kennedy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: And then you look at this guy Scully, he turned out to be a fraud.

You look at Scully, he was a never Trumper.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KURTZ: And the president pounds when a Twitter message surfaced in which Scully asked White House aide turned fierce critic Anthony Scaramucci for advice on responding to Trump. Scully then claimed to be a hacking victim and there was skepticism because twice before in 2012 and 2013, he blamed hackers for certain tweets, one of them on weight loss. This time, the FBI was called in.

Scully now tells the A.P. he was frustrated by Trump's comments and social media criticism and "I falsely claimed that my Twitter account had been hacked. These were errors in judgment for which I am totally responsible for, I apologize." He asks for forgiveness.

The network said Scully had made a serious mistake, we were very saddened by this news and do not condone his actions but adding that he'd eventually return.

Trump quickly reacted on Twitter. I was right again. Steve Scully just admitted he was lying about his Twitter being hacked. The debate was rigged. Did I show good instincts in being the first to know?

Now, the soft-spoken Scully is universally liked here in Washington but everyone including him recognizes that lying in journalism is a cardinal sin, Bret.

BAIER: And we'll see what it means for the Debate Commission as well. Howy, thank you.

Up next, senators turned their fire toward each other over the Barrett nomination. We'll take you there.

First, here's with some of our Fox affiliates around the country are covering tonight. Fox 31 in Denver as a wildfire in Larimer County grows to more than 158,000 acres. An increase of more than 20,000 from Tuesday, making it the largest wildfire in Colorado history. The Cameron Peak fire is 56 percent contained.

Fox 2 in Detroit as Michigan's attorney general's office says another person has been charged in the plot to kidnap Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer. That brings the total number of people arrested in the widespread insurgency plot to 14.

And this is a live look at Los Angeles International Airport from Fox 11, our affiliate out there. One of the big stories there tonight, for the second known time in weeks, a person in a jet pack was seen flying close to commercial airplanes near LAX. The FAA says a China airlines crew reported the sighting and approximate altitude of 6,000 feet.

Back on August 31st, an American Airlines pilot reported seeing a mystery person in a jetpack flying around in the path of incoming jets.

That's tonight's live look outside the Beltway from SPECIAL REPORT. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BAIER: 36 states are reporting an alarming increase in new coronavirus cases. The number of Americans, meantime, seeking unemployment benefits rose last week by the most in two months to 898,000 as the pandemic continues to drag on the economy.

Dr. Tony Fauci is criticizing a declaration by several scientists who support the concept of herd immunity. Fauci, says the idea that the disease will stop spreading once nearly everybody has contracted it is "total nonsense".

And the NFL's Atlanta Falcons have shut their facility because of positive tests down there.

President Trump, says Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett was toying with Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee, and the prospect of her confirmation is making their heads explode, according to the president. The committee will take its vote one week from today.

Fox News chief legal correspondent, anchor of "FOX NEWS @ NIGHT", Shannon Bream, tells us where things stand after the conclusion of the hearings.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SHANNON BREAM, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: With nominee, Judge Amy Coney Barrett's public testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee wrapped, today, members turned their arguments directly on each other, slowly evolving from what had been the Democrats primary arguments that the nomination is somehow illegitimate.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): This is a sham.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is outrageous paragraph.

BREAM: To acknowledging they can't stop it.

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ): I recognize, Mr. Chairman, that this goose is pretty much cooked.

BREAM: To begrudgingly admitting, the president and Senate are within their constitutional boundaries to move Barrett's nomination forward.

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT): You're moving ahead with this nomination because you can, but might does not make right.

SEN. MIKE LEE (R-UT): This is the American people's seat. We've got historical precedent on our side and we've also got the Constitution and the best nominee I've seen in a long time.

BREAM: The committee heard from witnesses today, including the American Bar Association's Standing Committee, an independent body within the broader ABA, which has often faced the accusation that it doesn't treat conservative nominees fairly.

PAMELA ROBERTS, MEMBER, AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION: Judge Barrett has earned and enjoys an excellent reputation for integrity and outstanding character.

BREAM: There were also witnesses both for and against Barrett's nomination.

LAURA WOLK, FORMER NOTRE DAME LAW STUDENT: In part because of her unwavering support, I am the first blind woman to serve as a law clerk on the Supreme Court of the United States.

KRISTEN CLARKE, PRESIDENT AND EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, LAWYERS' COMMITTEE FOR CIVIL RIGHTS: Judge Barrett's views are far outside the mainstream, and for evidence of this, one need to look no further than her own words before this committee this week.

BREAM: GOP leaders have teed up an ambitious schedule for getting Barrett confirmed before Election Day. She's set to be voted out of the committee at 1:00 p.m. on the 22nd, likely, along party lines.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, says he'll take her nomination to the Senate floor on the 23rd, and get to an actual vote within three to four days after that.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BREAM: Though Democrats seem resigned to the fact that they really don't appear to have any tools left to stop Barrett's nomination, one GOP Senator told me he is actually a bit worried because things have been going so smoothly.

Remember, it was only after his initial hearing that the years-old allegations surfaced against nominee now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Bret.

BAIER: We'll follow it. See you tonight at 11:00 for a wrap-up of the town halls.

BREAM: See you then.

BAIER: Thanks, Shannon.

A third day down in a row for stocks. The Dow dropped 20 today, the S&P 500 lost five. The NASDAQ fell 55.

Up next, we talked to two senators: one Republican, one Democrat about the Barrett hearings, the election; other big breaking news. Keep it here.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEVEN MNUCHIN, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY: I think her all- or-nothing approach doesn't make sense for the American public, and politics are getting in the way. But the president and I are determined to keep working on a larger comprehensive deal.

By the way, you know, if they would approve stand-alone checks, which is mostly direct deposits, we can get that money out quickly as well. So, no, the president and I and others are not giving up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAIER: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, saying it is time for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to fisher cut bait on coronavirus stimulus relief even as negotiations between the two continue. Just one of the many stores we're covering tonight, from the Barrett hearings to the election 19 days away, the Hunter Biden e-mails.

We'll get reaction to all of it from both sides of the Senate aisle. First, let's bring in Maryland Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen. Senator, thanks for being here.

SEN. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D-MD): Bret, great to be with you.

BAIER: You know, I want to start with this negotiation that is still ongoing. It was stopped for some time, it's still the discussions are going. Why can't Congress get something across the finish line?

VAN HOLLEN: Well, that's a good question. Now, because we've been trying for a very long time now, the House of Representatives passed the Heroes Act more than five months ago.

At that time, Leader McConnell, the Republican leader didn't want to do anything. And then, the House of Representatives passed a revised version recently.

And while I'm glad the talks are still going on between the administration and the Speaker, Mitch McConnell just said today that anything in the range that Secretary Mnuchin and Speaker Pelosi are talking about is unacceptable in the United States Senate and does not have the support of a majority Republican senator.

So, we've all been very focused on the negotiations between the White House and Speaker Pelosi without recognizing that the huge impediment really is with the Senate Republicans and Mitch McConnell at this point in time.

BAIER: I mean, she had as the Speaker did a kind of an interesting interview with Wolf Blitzer the other day, in part, saying that she didn't want a check with Donald Trump's name going out before the election, essentially. Why not get something instead of nothing before, you know, in coming days?

I understand where you're saying that the bill passed for $2.2 trillion.

They're negotiating at about $1.8. But why not get $500 billion? Why not get a trillion something?

VAN HOLLEN: Well, what Speaker Pelosi, the Democrats have said is we're not going to take this piecemeal and only support and first support, you know, Republican priorities. In each of these bills in addition to the amount of relief at stake, there are also these poison pills that are included.

If you look at what Senator McConnell put on the floor of the Senate most recently, and apparently, plans to do it again, it would actually penalize schools that have not gone back to full classroom participation for safety reasons. They would get access to a much smaller pool of money, then schools have decided to send all the children back to the classroom. So, there are lots of details to these issues, Bret, that need to be resolved.

I would --

(CROSSTALK)

VAN HOLLEN: I was glad to see that, you know, President Trump said he want to go above $1.8 trillion. And he got after Secretary Mnuchin for not bringing home a deal. I hope they can resolve it, but I want to go back to the fact that, you know, Mitch McConnell -- Senator McConnell intends probably have a vote in this coming week on a package that isn't anywhere close to addressing all the issues.

BAIER: OK. Well, just for the state of the American people, hopefully, something can get across the finish line. I want to talk to you about this Hunter Biden e-mail story and social media reaction to it. Here is Senator Ted Cruz.

Oh, we don't have that sound bite. But he says, let me be clear, I don't know if these New York Post stories are true or not, those are questions Vice President Biden should answer. But Twitter and Facebook and big tech billionaires don't get to censor political speech and actively interfere in the election. That's what they are doing right now.

Do you agree with Senator Cruz?

VAN HOLLEN: Well, look, I'm not here to defend all the decisions made by all the social media companies. And Jack Dorsey, the head of Twitter did send out a statement saying that they should have provided an explanation for their decision. But I hope we would all agree, Bret, that we also don't want a social media companies to become viral engines for lies and disinformation.

After all, we were justifiably critical of them when the Russians used social media in the last election. I wish our Republican colleagues were more interested in stopping Russian interference in our election this time around, but I hope we would at least look for a way to prevent sometimes dangerous misinformation regarding COVID-19, fabrications, or other to go viral.

BAIER:  Quickly, are you saying that you don't believe that the emails are authentic? Why do you think the Biden campaign didn't go down that authenticity road with their statement about this?

VAN HOLLEN:  I don't know about the authenticity or not of these particular emails. What I do know is the idea that somehow Vice President Biden used his official position to benefit his son Hunter has been thoroughly debunked. Everybody who has looked at this has concluded there's no there there. I know Republicans continue to try to push that disinformation out.

They are even using Senate hearings for these political campaign purposes.

But the reality is there is no there there.

So I don't know the story with these particular emails. I looked at some of them. None of them indicate that the vice president actually provided any assistance at all to Hunter Biden. And so to create the impression and illusion that they did is pure political fabrication.

BAIER:  Senator Chris Van Hollen, we appreciate your time tonight.

VAN HOLLEN:  Good to be with you.

BAIER:  Joining us now, Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn. He sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Senator, you just heard Senator Van Hollen.

Good evening. Your response to him?

SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R-TX): It's clear that the social media platforms are no longer just neutral platforms but definitely have a point of view. And it's very troubling that they used the legal authorities that they currently have under the Communications Decency Act, Section 230, that we've talked a lot about in order to immunize them from any sort of criticism or reform.

And so the Judiciary Committee is issuing subpoenas to Twitter, Facebook, and the other platforms, and we intend to get to the bottom of this because we can't have these platforms which are essentially public forums now censoring political speech, especially in the run-up to an election.

BAIER:  What about senator Van Hollen's point about there is no there there when it comes to the Hunter Biden, Vice President Biden connection or payoff?

CORNYN:  I don't know what is there, but we need to find out, and the American people deserve to know before they vote.

BAIER:  You've been in these hearings for the past few days, Judge Barrett.

It seemed to take a bit of a turn from Democrats saying this is a done deal. It's baked in. Your thoughts on where things stand?

CORNYN:  Judge Barrett was an outstanding witness, and I think blew everybody away with her intellect and command of the subject matter, but also what a wonderful person she is, her character and her integrity. So I believe she will be confirmed here in the next week-and-a-half or so.

But it's clear my Democratic colleagues didn't want to talk about her. They wanted to talk about a hypothetical case that she might sit on in the future and focus their fire on President Trump. So they spent their time doing that instead of asking her questions, but I think the questions we were able to ask her and the responses she gave demonstrated she deserves to be confirmed, and I believe she will be.

BAIER:  I want to play a soundbite from President Trump talking about the selection, specifically one group of people. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  So why is it that the fake news keeps saying that women aren't going to like Trump? You know what women want more than anything else? They want safety, security, and they want to be able to have their houses, and leave me alone, right?

(APPLAUSE)

TRUMP:  The suburban women.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAIER:  Suburban women the president is talking about there. There's a lot of talk, Senator, about Texas, and "Texas Monthly" had this write-up about "Should Trump lose Texas he has no path to victory. The electoral earthquake would shake the national Republican party to the ground. Even a close Trump victory is unlikely to protect the state GOP from further losses. Republicans are caught between a Trump-worshiping base and a burgeoning suburban electorate that finds him repellant."

Your thoughts about that in your race, which is closer than you've ever had before?

CORNYN:  This is the most unusual environment we've ever had. We learned in the Cruz-O'Rourke race that we had gotten complacent when it came to voter registration and the fundamentals of elections. But the amount of money coming into these races, including into Texas, that we've never seen before is really kind of making things a little more questionable than they would otherwise be.

The president is ahead in Texas, I believe he will win. I believe I'm ahead in Texas, but not by a huge margin. And when Chuck Schumer and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee announced, as they did today, they're putting another $8.6 million in on top of the money they've already put in, it does have an impact.

But we're ready to litigate this, and I believe based on policy alone we don't want to make Texas into California or New York, which is what Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi want to do. So I think we are right on the issues, and we will prevail.

BAIER:  I'm going to end where I started with the Senator Van Hollen, and that is the prospect, what do you think, about a coronavirus stimulus getting done? It's still under negotiation between Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and House Speaker Pelosi, but it sounds like Senator McConnell is not ready to go anywhere near where the administration is going.

CORNYN:  Bret, we already passed $3.8 trillion worth of COVID-19 relief, and I believe we do need to do some more. That's why I was disappointed when Senator Van Hollen and all Democrats voted to block another half- trillion dollar bill on September 10th. They just blocked it. Speaker Pelosi said nothing is better than something, which I think is the opposite of what most of us believe, a half a loaf is better than no loaf. But Senator McConnell is determined but the bill on the floor again next week and to see whether Democrats are serious or whether this is just politics.

BAIER:  Senator Cornyn, we appreciate your time.

CORNYN:  Thank you very much.

BAIER:  A democrat, a Republican talking about the issues of the day.

Up next, the battle between Republicans and the California government over unofficial ballot drop boxes.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BAIER:  The Postal Service will reverse changes that slowed mail service nationwide. That decision settles a lawsuit filed by Montana Democratic Governor Steve Bullock. He contended the changes impeded the ability of his constituents to vote by mail. He also said they caused delays in the delivery of medical prescriptions, payments, and job applications. The Postal Service agreed to reverse all changes and prioritize election mail.

Speaking of the election, the California Republican Party is refusing to comply with an order from the state's chief elections official to remove unofficial ballot boxes from counties with competitive U.S. House races.

That is just one of many legal disputes involving early voting as voters shatter records for early voting throughout the country. Let's get an update tonight from national correspondent William La Jeunesse in Los Angeles.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAY POGGI, CALIFORNIA VOTER:  I just want to make sure my ballot got in, and I know it's here at the county, right at the registrar's office.

WILLIAM LA JEUNESSE, FOX NEWS NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT:  In person and by mail, less than three weeks out Americans are voting in a record number is.

JOAQUIN PEREZ, VIRGINIA VOTER:  The first time I'm voting early, but I didn't want to leave it to chance.

LA JEUNESSE:  More than 15 million already voted, shattering records in Texas and Georgia.

JASON MOORE, TEXAS VOTER:  A lot of people suffered and died for our right to vote, so I'm out here honoring that.

LA JEUNESSE:  But in 44 states, 300 legal battles continue.

J. CHRISTIAN ADAMS, PUBLIC INTEREST LEGAL FOUNDATION:  These cases have been filed in almost every state ranging from South Carolina to Connecticut. You get the whole range of blue versus red being the subject of litigation.

LA JEUNESSE:  In Wisconsin, New Hampshire, and Georgia, judges this week sided with Republicans, requiring all mail-in ballots be received by Election Day. Democrats scored victories in Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Michigan, relaxing rules on signatures and late arriving ballots.

JULIE WISE, KING COUNTY, WASHINGTON, ELECTIONS DIRECTOR:  We know the truth here in King County, that vote by mail is safe, it's accessible, and it's a secure way to vote.

LA JEUNESSE:  Washington, like the majority of states, requires ballots be postmarked on or before election day, but can arrive days, and in some states, weeks later. In California, the GOP taking no chances, adding more of its own drop boxes in defiance of Democratic state officials.

HECTOR BARAJAS, CALIFORNIA REPUBLICAN PARTY:  We have a secretary of state that is engaging in voter suppression, basically removing an option for individuals to turn in their ballot in a place they know and place they trust.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LA JEUNESSE:  The GOP ballot boxes are illegal, says California, but the state has yet to file a case. In Texas, a state judge, contrary to a federal ruling, said today Governor Greg Abbott cannot limit ballot locations to one per county, but an appeal is likely. Bret?

BAIER:  William, thank you.

Up next, the panel on the dueling presidential town halls and where we stand in this election 19 days out.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We have some news to get to as well, starting with those dueling town halls tonight.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  This is not what it was supposed to be. The president and Joe Biden were supposed to face off in their second debate.

TRUMP:  So they asked me if I would do it, and I figured, what the hell, we get a free hour on television.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I think that NBC is all in for Trump as they were for "The Apprentice."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Why not a new Bill Cosby special while we're at it?

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  There's no good reason to hold these events simultaneously.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  If you want to give Donald Trump airtime on your network, have him go on MSNBC. Have him go on with Rachel.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Are you as mad as everybody else that NBC is doing a town hall with President Trump tomorrow instead of the debate?

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I'm not going to tell the networks what to do, but I'll tell you, I know who I'm going to be watching.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAIER:  The left is up in arms about the dueling town halls tonight as there was supposed to be a debate tonight in Miami. It was canceled, first virtual and then canceled. And the moderator for that canceled debate, Steve Scully from C-SPAN, engaged in a controversy and now indefinitely suspended from C-SPAN. Here's how A.P. writes it up, " C-SPAN suspends Scully after he admits to a lie about a hack. Scully said that when he saw his tweet had created a controversy, "I falsely claimed that my Twitter account been hacked." He had been frustrated by President Trump's comments and several weeks of criticism on social media and conservative news outlets about his role as moderator, including attacks directed at his family, he said. "These were both errors in judgment for which I'm totally responsible for," Scully said. "I apologize."

Just another day as we get closer to this election. Let's bring in our panel, Charles Lane, opinion writer for "The Washington Post," Katie Pavlich, news editor at “Townhall”, Byron York, chief political correspondent for the "Washington Examiner." A lot to talk about. Katie, let's start with you, your thoughts on these developments.

KATIE PAVLICH, NEWS EDITOR, “TOWNHALL”:  It sounds like many in the media and ABC News are concerned about a little bit of competition between Joe Biden and President Trump. It would be beneficials if they were facing off together, but the Presidential Debate Commission made unilateral decision to turn a debate into digital without consulting any of the campaigns. So here we are with each candidate staking their claim tonight in primetime and talking to different types of voters in swing states, Pennsylvania, and the state they're fighting for in Florida. So that's an interesting development, of course.

And then in terms of the debate moderator, this is something that conservatives have been complaining -- not complaining about -- voicing concern about for years and years, the idea that moderators are always unbiased, despite what they portray. And I think the bigger issue here for Steve Scully is not just lying about a hack, but also why was he reaching out to someone like Anthony Scaramucci for advice about how to handle President Trump? The president, of course, is talking about it on twitter, saying he was right. But this is a bigger issue of media bias the president has rightfully been concerned about it for years, and it's actually during a very contentious presidential election.

BAIER:  The tweet he sent, it looked like he was direct messaging, and he sent it out as a tweet Scaramucci, saying should he respond to President Trump. Chuck, had he come out and just said I screwed up and I was looking to respond, I think it would've washed away. But it does bring into question the debate commission, and now ahead of Nashville next week.

CHARLES LANE, OPINION WRITER, "WASHINGTON POST":  I think Steve Scully made a terrible mistake and belatedly admitted it, and probably the worst part of it was to drag the commission into it. The commission vouched for Steve Scully's claim that he had been hacked, and associated itself with what we now have come to find out is not the truth. And that's a very bad and unfair to the commission. So there's a cleanup on aisle five to be done around the Presidential Debate Commission.

I do think that nevertheless the president should have found a way to participate, whether virtually or otherwise, in the debate tonight. That's where we should have been, and that's a disservice to the country, because now we have this dueling town hall situation, which this turns into, rather, than an opportunity for people to maybe compare and contrast. It's just the two tribes assembling in their separate territory. And I guess we'll have to see if things go a little better October 22nd.

BAIER:  Yes, meantime, the Hunter Biden story, trying to get the authenticity of these emails, still digging on this story, but obviously, a part of the story, Byron, is how it's been handled on social media. It almost fueled the story more. Your thoughts on where this stands tonight?

BRYON YORK, CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, "WASHINGTON EXAMINER":  Well, it did. The social media angle, obviously, sort of took over the story. And it is absolutely outrageous what Twitter did and what Facebook did, and it's bald censorship of journalism. And I think it's fine for Capitol Hill to look at some of the laws affecting the social media companies.

On the other hand, the big story is still the big story, which is did Vice President Biden, when he was vice president, meet with this official from Burisma that was paying his son all this money? Did that happen? Is that email genuine? We need to know more about the authenticity and accuracy of the story because that's the real story.

BAIER:  We should point out, the Biden campaigns says the meeting never happened, it wasn't on the schedules, they say, that they looked back at, and the email itself says set up for a meeting. Katie, take a listen to Rudy Giuliani and the owner of this computer store.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S ATTORNEY:  The process was that the laptop was left by Hunter Biden in in inebriated, heavily inebriated state, with the merchant. The merchant fixed the laptop, tried to reach Hunter Biden, and Hunter Biden never came back for it.

JOHN PAUL MAC ISAAC, COMPUTER SHOP OWNER:  I'm legally blind. I have a visual acuity of about eight inches, operational vision of three to four feet on a good day. If he came in, and if it was late at night, my eyes are tired. I probably couldn't see clear past two feet.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAIER:  Let's just not sugarcoated. The whole thing is sketchy. You couldn't write this script 19 days from an election, but we are digging into where this computer is, and the emails and the authenticity of it.

Katie, where do you think this story goes?

PAVLICH:  Rudy Giuliani says that we've only seen a tiny part of what is actually on the hard drive, and the worst story is to come on the alleged emails and deals with the Biden family are to come in terms of China, the money they were getting, the deals. And this isn't just about Hunter Biden.

This is about Joe Biden, the former vice president of the United States and what he would do as president when it comes to dealing with these types of governments and regimes on behalf of the United States, what his son was getting, all these sweetheart deals using the Biden name.

BAIER:  All right, panel, thank you.

When we come back, the brighter side of things, some good deeds.   

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BAIER:  Finally, tonight, some silver linings. A group of first responders in Florida went beyond the call of duty to help an Army veteran Prince Pinkney. The crew treated the 80-year-old after he fell ill working in his yard, but their work was not done. You see what they're doing right there, they stepped in and they finished cutting his grass. Pretty cool.

Anne Duncan tied the knot with her husband Bill a second time. Bill, who has dementia, forgot their first wedding, so he proposed to Anne because he was convinced, she was his new girlfriend. The couple remarried in an emotional ceremony at their home in Scotland. Pretty nice.

Thanks for inviting us into your home tonight. That's it for this SPECIAL REPORT, fair, balanced, and unafraid. I'll be on with Shannon tonight,

11:00 p.m. wrapping up those two town halls, should be interesting. We're going to flip back and forth between them.

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