Are Trump's attacks on Hillary, Bill justifiable?; How big of a victory is Ramadi?

How the presidential candidate is throwing away the GOP playbook; Panel reacts on 'Hannity'


This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," December 28, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

RICH LOWRY, GUEST HOST: Welcome to "Hannity." Tonight, Donald Trump tells Hillary Clinton she better be careful.

I'm Rich Lowry, in tonight for Sean.

The warning from the Republican front-runner comes after Clinton says she's getting ready to release her, quote, "secret weapon" on the campaign trail, her husband, Bill.

Joining us now from Washington with more is Ed Henry -- Ed.

ED HENRY, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Rich, Donald Trump feels confident enough about the polls nationally that he seems to already be looking ahead to the general election, pounding Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, as well as her husband, Bill Clinton, by saying he's ready to bring up the former president's personal scandals.

Interesting because there has been repeated speculation that Trump's many phone conversations with Bill Clinton were part of a some kind of a conspiracy, where the billionaire was trying to blow up the Republican primaries to help deliver the presidency to Bill Clinton's wife.

Trump, as you know, has repeatedly dismissed that as nonsense. And in fact, now he's ramping up his attacks on the former president, the billionaire saying that Hillary Clinton threw the first punch last week when she accused the Republican of sexism after he used coarse language to describe her 2008 presidential defeat. Listen.


HILLARY CLINTON, D-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's not the first time he's demonstrated, you know, a penchant for sexism. And so I'm not sure, again, anybody's surprised that he just keeps pushing the envelope.

DONALD TRUMP, R-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think he is fair game because his presidency was really considered to be very troubled, to put it mildly, because of all of the things that she's talking to me about. I mean, she's mentioning sexism. I turned her exact words against her from that standpoint. She's got to be careful.


HENRY: Now, everyone from Republican Carly Fiorina to Democrat Debbie Wasserman Schultz reacted by saying this is going to backfire on Trump by hitting Bill Clinton, Wasserman Schultz saying the former president is widely popular, and Fiorina asserting it's better for Republicans to prosecute their case against Hillary Clinton, not Bill Clinton. Although remember, throughout this race, Trump has repeatedly defied the naysayers and keeps rising in the polls -- Rich.

LOWRY: Ed, thank you very much.

Joining us now from the very influential and prestigious National Review, Jonah Goldberg, from The Washington Times, Charlie Hurt, and Fox News contributor Jedediah Bila. Thanks, guys, for being here.

Charlie, you were in on the ground floor of this Trump thing. In fact, if you don't get an ambassadorship out of a Trump administration...


LOWRY: ... there's no justice in this world. I recommend the court of St. James. That's just me. But Charlie, what do you think of this because what supporters like about Trump is the fact he is willing to go out there and say things that they're thinking and it seems no one else will say.  And here's Donald Trump hitting back against Hillary Clinton on the sexism charge twice as hard.

CHARLES HURT, WASHINGTON TIMES: Well, you know, as you know, Rich, you know, it's the GOP playbook that Republicans are not allowed to go after female candidates. They're not allowed to go after Hillary Clinton on this kind of -- you know, this stuff about her husband. It's -- and -- and they consistently lose.

So Donald Trump has obviously thrown away the entire GOP playbook. He's going after her hard. And I think it's perfectly justifiable. After all, you know, she's running as a feminist icon, which is absurd because, you know, the only reason we're even talking about her is because after a lifetime career as first lady, she converted basically who she married into a life in politics.

And you know, when I look at the successful women that I know, the women that have clawed through, you know, male-dominated newspapers and things like that in order to become truly influential and have great careers, it's not because of who they married. And so I don't really know how she gets to play this double standard, where she's claiming to be this great feminist icon, but she's -- there's no accomplishment there.

LOWRY: Yes, Jedediah, speaking of double standards...


LOWRY: ... it's just so galling to have Hillary out there now saying all women accusers should be believed...

BILA: Right!

LOWRY: ... when throughout her husband's career, she has aided and abetted the effort to smack down any of his accusers, many of which, maybe all of which, are quite credible.

BILA: That's exactly right! And it's just -- isn't she embarrassed to go out there? And even when we were watching that clip before and she's talking about, Well, Donald Trump and his sexism -- I mean, look at who you're married to! This man has a history of accusations of rape, of sexual assault. He disgraced his wife, himself and the country in the Oval Office!

I mean, cry me a river, Hillary! I don't want to hear you complaining about Donald Trump when you're married to this guy, and you didn't stand up for any of those women over the years. Don't talk to me, don't lecture to us about what a war on women is and lecture to us about Donald Trump when you haven't stood for any of that and your life has not been a representation of that!

So I think she needs to be really careful because I think that Republicans, if they have the guts, they can simultaneously go after her and her record and call her out on that hypocrisy when she brings up the war on women and when she brings up sexism and when she throws all that -- those cards out there saying, Well, I have ovaries, you can't pick on me -- I think they can go after both. Republicans need to learn they can do two things at once at the same time and do it effectively.

LOWRY: Now, Jonah, I hate to break it to you, I don't think you'll be getting any ambassadorships...


LOWRY: ... in a Trump administration. In fact, I really your taxes are in order if this happens. But you've been a Trump skeptic, but this just seems another controversy that's probably going to help Donald. What do you think?

JONAH GOLDBERG, NATIONAL REVIEW: Yes, and look, this is one of the -- I mean, my view on this is sort of like the Iran/Iraq war. I mean, by all means, let both sides destroy each other, if that's in the cards.

But at the same time, this notion that somehow, Donald Trump's insults, which I often think are pretty juvenile and ridiculous -- you know, calling -- likening Ben Carson to a pedophile and all that nonsense. Nonetheless, they seem to work.

And this idea that somehow, they only work on Republicans but won't work on Hillary Clinton -- there's no evidence to say that that's true. So far, you know, he's Godzilla. He goes and he sees a bridge and he steps on it and he crushes it. And you know, that's how he goes across the political landscape.

And the idea that somehow, it only works in the Republican primaries and not across the aisle with Democrats -- maybe that's true, but there's no reason to believe it. And of course, I agree with everybody else about the double standards and the hypocrisy of Hillary Clinton, you know, saying that somehow, she's this paragon of womanhood...


GOLDBERG: ... (INAUDIBLE) definition.

LOWRY (on-camera): So Charlie, we're about a month out now before the Iowa caucuses. Trump has blown through every theory about what would sink him.  He's not just a midsummer phenomenon. The poor debate performances haven't hurt him. The controversies haven't hurt him. Do you see anything standing in his way of this nomination, and what would it be?

HURT: Well, I think that the big question for Donald Trump is, you know, is he actually reaching new voters the Republicans are not able to count in polls? Is he really, you know, broadening the electorate the way Barack Obama did in 2008? And if, in fact, he is and in places like Iowa, he actually is reaching people who are going to come to the caucuses, which, of course, is a very complicated and -- requires a major commitment and it's not easy for first-time voters to do that sort of thing -- but if he is broadening the electorate, it can be an absolute wipeout.

But if it turns out that -- you know, that he's just excited a lot of people, but they're not really going to put any effort, then you know, obviously, it's a different matter. I think Iowa is going to be tough for him, you know, either way, given, you know, Cruz's -- Ted Cruz's advantages there right now. But you know, it's -- all bets are off after that in New Hampshire, South Carolina and on down the road.

LOWRY: So Charlie hits on a key issue. You look at the Iowa polling and you get different results based on the turnout model.

BILA: Right.

LOWRY: If you think Trump's people are actually going to turn out and they're actually new people in the caucuses, he's pretty much even with Ted Cruz. You go the traditional model, Ted Cruz is potentially pulling away, and bizarrely, Trump hasn't really attacked him.

Do you think that truce between Trump and Cruz will hold?

BILA: I think it'll hold for now. I mean, I -- for a little while. I've been talking about Ted Cruz for a long time and saying that as people look at Donald Trump and start to potentially doubt his conservatism and start to do a little bit of research and a little bit more digging as we get closer to the election and see that he's been on many sides of many issues in the past, I think a lot of conservatives are going to look to Ted Cruz and see this is our conservative warrior. He's been politically consistent on many issues when he's had to stand up for something against the GOP establishment.

He's the guy that people look to, in addition to the likes of Rand Paul and whatnot. But you know, Rand Paul's a little bit of a libertarian and that tends to get him into trouble sometimes.

But I think Ted Cruz -- right now, for me, this is a Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Donald Trump race. And I have yet to see either Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz be able to fully steal that microphone from Donald Trump. I think Iowa will be telling, but beyond that, I want to see if they can really steal the microphone on a larger scale and if they can get people to look at them and believe that those are guys that will call it like they see it, won't be afraid and will be unafraid to sort of say what people at home are thinking sometimes, which is the truth.

Everybody's afraid of the truth in politics. Sometimes, you have to speak the truth.

LOWRY: Jonah, 30 seconds. What could potentially still trip up Donald Trump in this race?

GOLDBERG: Only Donald Trump. I mean, at this point, I think, basically, what happens is it boils down to whether or not -- as Charlie says, whether or not Trump turns out people and they show up in Iowa. And then the question is, if he doesn't win Iowa, which I think is very possible -- not necessarily likely, but very possible -- how does he respond? Does he respond with a Trumpian version of the Howard Dean meltdown?


GOLDBERG: And you know -- and if that happens, how does that reflect...


GOLDBERG: ... New Hampshire?

LOWRY: If he does, it'll be all on Twitter, all on Twitter at 2:00 AM!


GOLDBERG: It's entirely possible. Look, we know he doesn't like to be cast as a loser. He said if he doesn't win Iowa, he's the loser. And we know that whenever he starts to lose in things, he lashes out and says all sorts of crazy stuff. And we'll see, you know, how he handles defeat, if he's defeated.

And my guess is that he handles it badly, and that could have a catalytic effect going forward. But I mean, we -- no one knows until people show up at the polls and whether or not and how many.

LOWRY: Great. All right, guys, thank you very much. And Charlie, if there's a Trump administration, please remember your friends. Remember Jonah and me, OK?


HURT: You'll be invited. You'll be invited.

LOWRY: Thank you very much.

Coming up -- a feud is brewing between Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.  That's next.

And later -- Iraqi forces announce they've seized control of a strategic government complex in Ramadi from ISIS. What does this mean for the fight against the Islamic State?

Plus, Peyton Manning is firing back after a report by Al Jazeera claims his wife was sent human growth hormones back in 2011 while he was recovering from his neck surgery. Manning says he is disgusted by the allegations.  Sportscaster Jim Gray is here later with reaction. Stay with us.



LOWRY: Welcome back to "Hannity." 2016 presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is going after Donald Trump. During an interview yesterday on "Face the Nation," Sanders said this about the Republican front-runner.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, D-VT., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What Trump has done, successfully, I would say, is take that anger, take that anxiety about terrorism and say to a lot of people in this country, Look, the reason for our problems is because of Mexicans. And he says they're all criminals and rapists. We got hate Mexicans. Or he says about the Muslims, you know, They're all terrorists and we got to keep them out of this country. Those are -- that's what we have to deal with to make America great.

Meanwhile, interestingly enough, John, this is a guy who does not want to raise the minimum wage. In fact, he has said that he thinks wages in America are too high.


LOWRY: Donald Trump was quick to respond. He tweeted after Sanders's interview aired, "Bernie Sanders, who blew his campaign when he gave Hillary a pass on her e-mail crime, said that I feel wages in America are too high. Lie!"

And today, Trump tweeted, "Strange, but I see wacko Bernie Sanders's allies coming after me -- coming over to me" -- excuse me -- "because I'm lowering taxes while he will double and triple them. A disaster."

Joining us now with reaction are FOX news contributors Doug Schoen and Tammy Bruce. Thanks, guys, for being here.



LOWRY: Doug, let's focus in on Bernie a little bit before we get to Trump.


LOWRY: Where does he stand in the race with Hillary? Seems as though...


LOWRY: ... he's been giving back some territory but could still win Iowa and New Hampshire, which potentially will be quite damaging to Hillary, I would think.

SCHOEN: Precisely, Rich. And that is Hillary's worst fear. What Bernie is doing in this interview is trying to win independents in New Hampshire, who are a key voting bloc and can vote in either the Republican or Democratic primary.

Bernie is, I guess, within 10 or 15 points in Iowa, some polls single digits. But Hillary didn't do so well there in 2008, and there's a real fear she'll underperform. If she underperforms and Bernie is very close or wins Iowa, and then Bernie wins New Hampshire overwhelmingly, that, as you suggest, Rich, could put the campaign in a tailspin.

I think, ultimately, she will be the nominee, but she wants to avoid that problem.

LOWRY: So Doug, just to spin this out a little bit, if Bernie...


LOWRY: ... loses in Iowa, and basically, the Democratic race is over going into New Hampshire, is that very good for Donald Trump because he will presumably soak up those independents who might not be interested in the Democratic race at that point?

SCHOEN: I think that's absolutely right. And if you factor in that Donald has at least a 50 percent chance of losing Iowa himself or more, he's going to need as many independents as he can get in New Hampshire. So anything that strengthens his hand in a state that will be must-win for him, New Hampshire, will be critically important and beneficial.

LOWRY: So Tammy, something that I've been struck by in the recent polls is Donald Trump performs more poorly than other Republicans against Hillary Clinton, but not that badly, you know, 2 points behind...

BRUCE: Within the margin of error.

LOWRY: ... in recent polls...


LOWRY: ... which just seems an amazing statement of Hillary Clinton's weakness.

BRUCE: Well, see, that's it. I mean, you're looking at not necessarily a Trump strength but her weakness.

And I have to say that when it comes to the independents, they, too, are worrying more about terrorism. It's not about the economy. So it's an interesting -- it's a smart thing. It's kind of a Hail Mary pass for Bernie Sanders. But when you're looking at what independents care about and Republicans and Democrats, national security, terrorism at the top. So the Republican will win.

Clearly, Donald Trump is seen as stronger on that. Bernie Sanders didn't even want to have to deal with that at the debate. He didn't want that even to be a subject. So he knows his weakness.

But this argument now isn't going to -- caring about the minimum wage -- people are seeing what's happening. Obviously, we'll going to have more terror issues before the election, perhaps even before the caucus and before the primaries. So Donald Trump I think just needs to be himself.  He's clearly not running against...


LOWRY: He doesn't seem to have a problem doing that.

BRUCE: Yes, I mean, that's it. He's not -- everyone else -- and look, Bernie also wants to be in headlines with Trump, right? He wants that attention.

So he -- Trump is just running with himself. Everyone else seems to be running, weakening themselves with Trump, not because he's a superhero necessarily -- for some people, he is -- but because it shows their weakness, like Jeb Bush saying, I want a one-on-one debate with Donald Trump. All of these people now seem weak because they seem to be looking to that as light (ph).

LOWRY: Right. And so far, it hasn't worked out with anyone really...

BRUCE: No, it hasn't.

LOWRY: ... having a fight with Donald Trump.

BRUCE: It looks like weakness. Again, it's not because Donald Trump -- it's not -- the onus isn't on Trump. It's about the weakness that that seems to exude from by individuals doing this.

LOWRY: So Doug, how do you read Trump being so close to Hillary in some of these general election matchups? Is this just my hopefulness talking when I say Hillary looks incredibly weak? I mean, her numbers on honesty and trustworthy comparable to Donald Trump, her favorable/unfavorable comparable to Donald Trump. This guy has been a complete bull in the china shop.

SCHOEN: Yes. I've looked at the numbers in some detail. Hillary is quite strong with Democrats, and she's going to stay strong with Democrats. But with independents and Republicans, she is very, very weak. And the key group there are independents.

Donald -- I think Tammy is right -- has strength on national security issues. But really, the two of them are almost as weak as one another in terms of their ratings. And given the anger that exists and the desire for change, I think Trump benefits from that. Put another way, if we get a Trump/Hillary race, I think it'll be a very close one. I'd bet on Hillary, but not with a lot of certainty.

BRUCE: (INAUDIBLE) with the enthusiasm gap. That's key for the Republicans. There's a...

SCHOEN: That's true.

BRUCE: There's a 20 digit (ph) gap...

SCHOEN: That's true.

BRUCE: ... I think between the Democrats (INAUDIBLE)

LOWRY: So very quickly, both of you, because we're almost out of time.  What odds would you give Trump winning the nomination at this juncture?

BRUCE: Fifty percent.

LOWRY: Fifty. Doug?

SCHOEN: Thirty to forty percent.

LOWRY: Anyone else higher, Doug, in your estimation?

SCHOEN: I think Ted Cruz is around the same because if Ted Cruz wins Iowa, the entire race could change. He's got an organization in the South that is underrecognized.

BRUCE: I agree.

LOWRY: All right, guys. Thanks so much. It'll be fascinating to watch.

SCHOEN: Thank you.

LOWRY: Coming up -- Iraqi forces say they've retaken control of Ramadi's government center from ISIS. How big a win is this? That's next.

And then later -- NFL quarterback Peyton Manning says he's both disgusted and furious over a report by Al Jazeera that claims his wife was sent human growth hormones back in 2011 while he was recovering from his neck injury.  Legendary sportscaster Jim Gray weighs in on the report later tonight.  That and more as "Hannity" continues.


LOWRY: Welcome back to "Hannity." Over the weekend, ISIS released a 24- minute audio message purportedly from the terror group's leader, al Baghdadi. And earlier today, Iraqi forces declared that they had sieged control of a strategic government complex in Ramadi. How significant is this victory?

Joining us now is the author of "Foreign and Domestic," retired brigadier general Tony Tata, and the author of "Warrior Diplomat," retired special forces officer and former adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney on counterterrorism, Lieutenant Colonel Michael Waltz.

Gentlemen, thanks so much for being with us. Anthony, why don't you get us started here and just set this up. How big a deal is Iraqi forces taking back Ramadi?

BRIG GEN. TONY TATA (RET.), AUTHOR, "FOREIGN AND DOMESTIC": Oh, Rich, it's a huge deal. The town of Ramadi is the line of communication hub between Jordan and Syria into Baghdad. And so if we have -- if the coalition forces truly have retaken Ramadi, then what they've done is establish about a 55-mile buffer between Ramadi and Baghdad, which is key, and they've also cut down the ability of ISIS to move laterally on the battlefield, and then they can push out there. There's just one road that leads out towards Syria and Jordan there, due west.

So it's a big deal. And part of the reason for this success is that we've got Lieutenant General Sean McFarland in charge now. And Sean's an aggressive guy. He came in. He studied the situation. And where we were employing counterinsurgency tactics, he saw a need for conventional tactics, and so Sean stepped back, retrained and went after this. And it appears to be working.

And with a guy like General McFarland in charge, he was all over western Iraq during the previous war, and he understands this enemy. He knows this enemy, and I believe we're going to see great things under General McFarland's leadership.

LOWRY: So Michael, do you agree with that, one? And two, what has changed here? Because we heard so much, you know, over the last year or so about how terrible and inept the Iraqi forces are and they're basically running away from the fight, and here they've won a big victory.

LT. COL. MICHAEL WALTZ, AUTHOR, "WARRIOR DIPLOMAT": Well, I agree, Rich, that it's significant that we're taking Ramadi back. It shows capability on the part of the Iraqi army that it's lacked before due to our training and engagement.

However, I'm still very concerned that the United States lacks an overall political strategy for Iraq and for ISIS writ large. My concern particularly when it comes to Ramadi is that the Iraqi army is primarily Shi'ite, and it needs to be able to hold Sunni-dominated areas.

And you know, the Iranian-influenced Iraqi government is not allowing Sunnis to be integrated into the Iraqi government. Our training efforts for the Sunni militias to hold the areas around Ramadi have failed.

And you know, in the bigger picture, Rich, this is one city in one country.  We're talking from Nigeria to Libya to Syria to Afghanistan to Pakistan, ISIS is spreading like a cancer. It's attacking Europe and the United States, and we still lack an overall global strategy, a multi-generational effort to take on Islamic extremism, just like we took on communism in the cold war.

LOWRY: So Anthony, do you think that's right, that the Shia forces will have trouble holding these kind of gains because they're not politically welcome in these Sunni areas and the Sunni tribes have felt betrayed by us and the Iraqi government before, and -- well, take that on first.

TATA: Well, Rich, first of all, General McFarland is well known in this part of Iraq and he's well known by the Sunnis and he's well known during - - he was there during the Sunni awakening. That really turned the tide of this -- the previous war that happened there.

And so I think Sean's relationship -- and relationships are everything in Iraq, Afghanistan. I believe his relationships there will help in that integration between the Shia and the Sunni. And I agree 100 percent that this is one victory in a much broader scale, but it's very significant in that you have al Baghdadi coming out and trying to put some kind of news on top of it because he knows that he's losing Ramadi, or has lost it. And so he's got to put out a statement that, you know, helps the recruiting effort because he knows that this could harm it.

And so when you look at it from that perspective, it's -- you know, even ISIS sees it as a strategic loss. Ramadi is a key city in this country, so -- and you look at -- to get back to the point of -- the president right now has about a 30 percent popularity rating on his handling of the war.  And so when you look at America's viewpoint of the war, we do not have the leadership that we need in marshaling a global strategy to defeat ISIS, and the American people know that. And 40 percent of the people believe we're losing.

LOWRY: I think it's such a key point you make about how -- why al Baghdadi is out there with that statement. We've had so much talk in the political debate about recruitment tools and what are and aren't recruitment tool for ISIS.

The biggest recruitment tool is owning a quasi-caliphate in Syria and Iraq, and the more we can do to roll it back, the harder time they're going to have attracting people. Michael?

WALTZ: That's exactly right.

TATA: I think that's exactly right. And again, this has to be a whole of government effort from the United States, diplomatic, informational, military, economic. I mean, the fact that -- you know, on the one hand it's good that Baghdadi is trying to cover up his loss. On the other hand, the fact that he can still make statements and isn't running scared every single night because he's afraid he's, frankly, going to be killed, has me concerned.

You know, and just back to your point about Iran, and you know, the integration of Sunnis into the military, I think General McFarland will do the absolute best he can. But this is a bigger issue of, are we, the United States, willing to challenge Iran, or are we more concerned about the Iranian nuclear deal, the rest with Russia, what's going on in Syria.  I just feel that this administration has a bigger -- a bigger agenda at play here.

LOWRY: Michael, really quickly -- you got about 15 seconds. Is it your sense that the Iraqi forces are now working more closely with the Iranians or with us in this offensive in particular?

WALTZ: Well, I think it's not only the Iraqi forces, it's the Iraqi government. In the absence of United States leadership, you know, Iran has stepped in, Russia has stepped in, and you know, the United States is viewed as having turned its back on the Middle East.

LOWRY: Gentlemen, thanks so much for being here. Really appreciate it.

TATA: Thank you, Rick.

WALTZ: Thank you.

LOWRY: Coming up, NFL star quarterback Peyton Manning is furious over a report by Al Jazeera that his wife was sent human growth hormones back in 2011, while he was recovering from his neck injury. Legendary sportscaster Jim Gray weighs in on the controversy next.

And then later, actor Kurt Russell says now is not the time for Americans to, quote, lay down their weapons. Will Russell's pro-gun stance sit well with the Hollywood elite?


LOWRY: Welcome back to "Hannity." Legendary NFL quarterback Peyton Manning is firing back after essentially being accused of doping by Al Jazeera. The network aired a documentary that claims Manning's wife received shipments of human growth hormone back in 2011, the same year the star quarterback was recovering from a neck injury. Watch this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All the time we would be sending Ashley Manning drugs, like a growth hormone, all the time, everywhere, Florida. It would never be under Peyton's name, it would always be under her name. We were sending it everywhere. Like he'd go to Florida.


LOWRY: Manning addressed the report during an interview yesterday with ESPN. Watch.


PEYTON MANNING, NFL QUARTERBACK: I think I rotate (at least) between being angry, furious, on and on, but disgusted is really how I feel. Sickened by it, that I'm not sure I understand how someone can make something up about somebody, Admit that he made it up, and yet it's somehow it's published in a story.


LOWRY: Earlier today the reporter for Al Jazeera stood by her report.  Watch.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let's be clear what the allegation is and what it's not. What Charlie Sly says is that the Guyer Institute shipped Human Growth Hormone to Ashley Manning in Florida. I have not heard anyone deny that. If it was not true, would Peyton Manning have come out and said Human Growth Hormone has never been shipped to my wife in Florida?


LOWRY: Joining me now with reaction is sportscaster and Fox News contributor Jim Gray. Jim, thanks so much for being with us.

JIM GRAY, SPORTSCASTER: Good to be with you, Rich.

LOWRY: Now, Jim, for those of us who might not have been following this closely over the Christmas holiday, can you walk us through what the story basically is, what the allegation is, and how much evidence there is behind it?

GRAY: The allegation is, like the reporter right there just said, that Human Growth Hormone was shipped to Peyton Manning's wife, Ashley, over the course of a period of time. The alleged time that this occurred, out of this clinic in Indianapolis, was during the time that Peyton Manning was recovering from his fourth neck surgery. I believe his fourth neck surgery, and trying to get back on the playing field. The allegation would take the step further, if you are to interpret what they are saying, is that this was used for his help in recovering with his neck. I find this all to be a great leap, that Ashley Manning, who now has her medical records exposed, may be using this for whatever, may or may not have this prescribed by a doctor -- we certainly don't know. And now they're saying that Peyton Manning used it. And what's really unfortunate and upsetting about this, not only Peyton's denial, but the fact that something like this can get out there on the air, Rich. And now he's forced to somehow try and convince the public, because his name is being tarnished, that a man who recounts -- recants this entire story, says it's not true, and now Peyton Manning has to prove that the man who is recanting is in fact lying. I mean, good Lord.

LOWRY: Now, Jim, as you mentioned, Charlie Sly, who's key to this report, has actually recanted. Let's take a listen to that.


CHARLIE SLY, PHARMACY INTERN: The statements on any recordings or communications that Al Jazeera plans to air are absolutely false and incorrect. To be clear, I am recanting any such statements and there is no truth to any statement of mine that Al Jazeera plans to air. Under no circumstances should any of those statements, recordings, or communications be aired.


LOWRY: Now, Jim, in any dispute between Al Jazeera and Peyton Manning I know what side I'm on. But on the other hand, I'm a sports fan, I'm a big baseball guy, a Yankee fan. And put aside Alex Rodriguez, Andy Pettitte took performance-enhancing drugs when he was recovering from an injury and, ever since that came out, my attitude's been more or less, well, if Andy Pettitte could have done this, anyone could do it.

GRAY: Well, that's the problem with all of this. His name is now thrown in the mud, like Andy Pettitte, like Roger Clemens, like Barry Bonds, like Mark McGwire. Of course, the biggest abuser of them all, Lance Armstrong.  Now Peyton Manning is thrust into this conversation, based on what? Based on who? By who, by what, by how? By this? I mean we need to have a heck of a lot more. And, yes, I guess there should probably be an explanation as to why all of this HGH was in fact being delivered to Ashley Manning.  But on the same hand, on the other hand, however, Rich, she's entitled to privacy, like anybody else would be for her medical records. Now they're making this great leap that for whatever the reason she may have had this shipped. And we don't know, we haven't seen those rocords -- records. We haven't seen those documents, we haven't seen any of this. Based on the reporting of the documentary of a guy who has recanted, now he has to go prove and tell the world what it is is going on.

LOWRY: Right.

GRAY: It, it's all wrong.

LOWRY: He has to prove, has to prove (inaudible).

GRAY: In my opinion, it seems like it's all wrong to me. Now perhaps we'll go further down the path, and we'll get more information, and something will come to light that can give this some credibility. But to me right now, I've got to say that it has none.

LOWRY: So your perspective is basically this is a where do I go to get my reputation back situation?

GRAY: Exactly right. And that's what wrong with this. If they had this so nailed down, it seems to me that they would have a heck of a lot more than what it is that they've presented to the public here. And, you know, I've known Peyton Manning and covered Peyton Manning for an awful long time, going back to his college days, throughout his entire professional career. Aside from the fact that he's always very respectful, courteous, and on time, and answers the questions, this has been a standup guy who seemingly has done everything right in his professional career to attain the excellence that he has achieved. And to see this ripped to shreds now by this report, in this fashion, it's just off, it's way, way off.

LOWRY: Now Peyton aside, as a general matter, how strict is the NFL testing regime for these kind of substances?

GRAY: If you're talking about back in that period, there was no testing back in 2011. And the union and the National Football League and its players association came to an agreement a couple of years ago where now this is tested for. And, you know, the problem with the testing is, is those who would do abuse have found, as they have in the Olympics and in other sports, a way to beat the tests. But back at the time that his is alleged, this wasn't even tested for. They didn't have an agreement.

LOWRY: Jim, thanks so much for being with us. It's very helpful.  Appreciate it.

GRAY: All right, Rich. Thank you. Happy holidays.

LOWRY: Same to you. Coming up, Hollywood A-lister Kurt Russell's defending the Second Amendment in a big way, and says now is not the time for Americans to have their guns taken away. That and more as "Hannity" continues.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, everybody, hear this. I'm taking this woman to hang. Reward's $10,000. That money's mine, boys.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, that's interesting.


LOWRY: That was part of the trailer for the new Quentin Tarantino film, "The Hateful Eight." Looks delightful. One of the film's stars, Kurt Russell, made headlines after defending the Second Amendment. During an interview with the Daily Mail, Russell was asked about what he thought about gun reform and several recent high-profile shootings. He is quoted as saying "Now is not a good time to lay down your weapons. How will you protect yourself?" He also said "I am a libertarian, a hard-core one, and of course I have guns. I shoot things with them. I hunt game." Joining me now with reaction is radio talk show host, Leslie Marshall, Fox News contributor Katie Pavlich, and Senior Editor of In Touch Weekly, Kim Serafin. Thanks, everyone, for being here. Kim, let me start with you.  As someone who's not followed Kurt Russell's social, political views very closely, is this surprising that he would have this opinion?

KIM SERAFIN, SENIOR EDITOR IN TOUCH WEEKLY: No, I mean, he is a libertarian, as he mentioned that he is. But he is someone also -- he just recently also did an interview where he said he gets asked to do TV interviews and other interviews about his politics all the time. And he said it's not something that he really runs out to do, that he obviously has opinions, he's an American. But when he get, gets asked about it, he wants to -- I think he said, I don't want to pop off about stuff that I know nothing about. I like finding out about stuff. And then I find out about stuff, and then I'm knowledgeable about it. And I think that's great when you see a celebrity who wants to actually find out about things and then talk about it. Whether either -- you know, either side of the aisle that you're on.

LOWRY: A well-informed celebrity. What, what a concept.

SERAFIN: A well-informed celebrity is good. No matter if you're on the right or the left, it's great because it gets other people talking about the issue.

LOWRY: Now will anyone else in Hollywood care because he has views presumably that most of Hollywood hates on the gun issue?

SERAFIN: You know, I don't think everyone in Hollywood thinks alike. I, I think, you know, Brad Pitt actually about a year ago made some comments about owning guns since he was a kid.

LOWRY: So that makes two of them.

SERAFIN: Brad Pitt, his career certainly has not suffered since making those comments. So, look, I, I think obviously we're getting into an election year where you're going to hear a lot of celebrities chime in about the election and who they support. And there are certainly people in Hollywood supporting Republicans, supporting Democrats. So, you know, get ready for people to -- maybe who don't watch Fox News all the time, who don't read The Washington Post, who don't read The New York Times, to get educated in some of these issues when celebrities talk about them.

LOWRY: So, Katie, one thing I like about this statement from Kurt Russell, he really gets at the crux of the issue, which is the Second Amendment isn't there just to hunt game,.


LOWRY: although he does that himself. It's there for self-defense.


LOWRY: It's an individual right that's fundamental to us as persons.

PAVLICH: Well, and let's look at it in the context of why he was asked this question. He was specifically asked the question surrounding the San Bernardino terrorist attack that we saw, of course, in San Bernardino. And you have the Obama administration and the left now harping on this idea that at this point in time we need new gun control. I mean the idea that, you know, that we need more gun control in an age or terrorism, and when we need more self-defense than ever, is really absurd and asinine. So I think it's important to point out the context of that, and that's why he's commenting on it on this, at this time. He's not just talking about it because he was asked a question about the Second Amendment. He was specifically asked about the events surrounding San Bernardino. And that's why we're having this conversation.

LOWRY: So, Leslie, in the gun control debate, in the context of mass shootings, what is a gun control measure, any gun control measure, that would actually help prevent these kind of shootings?

LESLIE MARSHALL, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well, I'm one of the people, Rich, that said that because it's a multi-faceted problem, we need a multi- faceted solution. And having universal background checks, even though the majority of Americans support that, as do I, that is not going to as you say, prevent the next attack. But I think prevention is key, and that's what I believe that gun control advocates, and other like myself on the left, are looking for. Whether it is to reduce the magazine clip capability, whether it is to reduce the ability for somebody like we saw in San Bernardino to access weapons like AK-47s. Nobody is trying to keep Kurt Russell or anyone else's -- or take away anyone's Second Amendment rights, or to take away their weapons.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeh, they are actually.

MARSHALL: No, no, no, no. We have over 30.

LOWRY: Leslie, that, that's just not true.

MARSHALL: We have over 30.

LOWRY: The New York Times.

MARSHALL: Rich, we have over 30.

LOWRY: Leslie, The New York Times, The New York Times ran a front page editorial, made a big splashy play, where they advocated banning so-called assault weapons and a de facto confiscation. They do want to take people's guns from them.


MARSHALL: Well, The New York Times isn't (inaudible).

LOWRY: Wait, wait, wait. (inaudible)

MARSHALL: Rich, "The New York Times" is not legislating anything. There are over 30 million gun owners in the State of California. We have more gun owners in the United States than we have had in our history, and we have more mass shootings and terrorist attacks than we've had in our history as of late. So to say that everybody should be armed, we're protecting ourselves, that's not preventing these problems, these mass shootings or terrorist attacks either. And "The New York Times" doesn't speak for every liberal.

LOWRY: OK, Leslie, let me get, let me Katie in real quickly.

MARSHALL: And The New York Times does not legislate.

LOWRY: Let me get Katie in really quickly. (Thirty) seconds.

PAVLICH: What would, what would prevent the problem.

LOWRY: Katie, go ahead.

PAVLICH: .prevent the problem would be not allowing people who are openly anti-American into the country, but that's a whole other issue. And let's not forget that California has some of the strictest gun control laws on the books. And when it comes to regulating Americans.

LOWRY: True. And an assault weapons ban.

PAVLICH: .right from the Second Amendment, the President is proposing that 40 -- that, that everyone who's on the no-fly list, right, shouldn't have access to a firearm. But he doesn't mention that 40 percent of those names are people who have nothing to do with terrorism whatsoever. And so we are talking about taking rights away from everyday law-abiding Americans, without due process, and they're doing under the guise of public safety and gun safety. And it's a lie.

LOWRY: All right. Guys, thanks so much for the discussion. Coming up, more "Hannity" right after the break. Stay with us.


LOWRY: Welcome back to "Hannity." Before we go, a quick programming note.  Be sure to tune in on Thursday night for Fox News' "All-American New Year" coverage. The main event starts at 10:00 pm and is hosted by Kimberly Guilfoyle and Eric Bolling again. That's Thursday at 10:00. Plus Kennedy, Jesse Watters, and Katherine Timpf kick things off starting at 9:00. Be sure to tune in. And that's all the time we have left this evening. Thank you for being with us. Be sure to follow me on Twitter @richlowry. Have a great night.

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