This is a rush transcript from "The Kelly File," September 9, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
MEGYN KELLY, HOST, "THE KELLY FILE": Breaking tonight, one of the most controversial men in politics today is going to bat for team Clinton. Attacking Fox News and trying to get an edge in what could be the most critical debate of this presidential election.
Welcome to "The Kelly File," everyone. I'm Megyn Kelly. On Monday, September 26th, the first debate. Less than one month later, the third and final. On Wednesday, October 19th, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump take to the stage in Las Vegas for what could very well be the most important debate of this presidential contest, not to mention these two people's lives. Less than three weeks before Election Day, moderating that debate, our own Chris Wallace, host of "Fox News Sunday," a choice the Clinton camp agreed to when this was announced by the debate commission just one week ago.
But tonight, a controversial Clinton ally is trying to change the rules. This man here is David Brock, described by Bernie Sanders, his campaign, as, quote, "One of the worst practitioners in the dark arts of dirty politics." Brock is now demanding that the debate commission boot Chris Wallace, a journalist with a sterling record after more than 50 years in this business, saying Wallace is somehow unqualified to moderate because he used to work for Roger Ailes at this channel right here, Fox News. And Ailes is now reportedly counseling Donald Trump.
In moments, we'll speak with Charles Krauthammer about Mr. Trump, Mrs. Clinton, and the debates themselves. But first we go to our own FOX News digital politics editor Chris Stirewalt and the host of "MediaBuzz" here on Fox, Howie Kurtz, both of whom are very familiar with the track record of Mr. Brock, not to mention Mr. Wallace. Good to see you guys both.
All right. So let's just start with David Brock because I think, Howie, most people don't know who this man is, and why should they? But he has made it his mission to destroy Fox News and to destroy pretty much any Republican candidate who comes on the scene. And it's no accident he is the accuser coming after Wallace this way.
HOWIE KURTZ, FOX NEWS HOST, "MEDIABUZZ": And he is also the head of a pro-Hillary Super PAC. So this is kind of a twofer. Attack of Fox News. Defend Hillary Clinton. Work the reps. And, you know, doing it in this way, you got to kind of twist yourself into a pretzel Megyn to follow this argument about Chris Wallace, who just a few weeks ago had a perfectly fair interview with Hillary Clinton, who interviewed Donald Trump many times also fairly.
KELLY: She didn't have problem with it. She didn't complain.
KURTZ: Well, the commission is independent. That's why Chris Wallace was chosen. And when we have a moment, I will tell you a little bit about my dealings in the past with David Brock, who used to be a conservative who tried to smear the Clintons.
KELLY: Uh-hm. And you, I mean this is a man who, you know, he'll do anything to bring down FOX News. That's his white whale. But this is different. He's coming after Chris Wallace just because he says, number one, Wallace used to work for Ailes, who is no longer the CEO and chairman of this channel. And, number two, Wallace said he's not the truth squad when he's out there moderating Chris. And he is suggesting that -- he and others, actually -- this is in Politico, that Ailes is likely intimately familiar with Wallace's preparation and debate style and that he oversaw Wallace's preparation for the three primary debates.
Now, you and I unlike these idiots were actually in those debate preparation sessions, every single one of them. You and I actually know how Chris prepares for these debates. Why don't you enlighten the audience on what role this people had in it?
CHRIS STIREWALT, FOX NEWS DIGITAL POLITICS EDITOR: God help the poor fool that tried to oversee Chris Wallace's debate preparation. No way. I mean, yes, exactly. No one is more thorough. No one is more scrupulous. He and his research team were -- I mean as you know, nobody does it better.
STIREWALT: This is how good they are. And I don't wonder at all that people of both campaigns would like to have Chris Wallace not doing a debate because guess what. Even without, quote-unquote, "Truth-squadding," he's going to be the best one, FYI, of all the debates because he's the best prepared. He asks the best questions and he's not afraid to put it out there. Because he doesn't care about making himself look good. He wants the right question and he wants the right answer. And he is going to-- I'm sure Brock doesn't want him on it, but you know what? Too bad.
KELLY: And just to set the record straight, Ailes is not intimately familiar with Wallace's preparation and his debate style.
KELLY: He did not oversee Wallace's preparation for the three primary debates. He had nothing to do with our debate preparation. Nothing! It was Wallace, Baier, me, Stirewalt and Fox News Bill Sammon, that's it. We wrote our own questions. No one told me what to write because there's another report out there that Rupert Murdoch got involved, which he didn't. The nonsense that circulates out there, Howie and then it's just accepted. And now this guy wants Wallace booted off the commission because of his cockamamie theories, off of the debate.
KURTZ: It is absurd and your team moderating those Republican debates was widely praised across the mainstream media. Now, 15 years ago, I interviewed David Brock, I interviewed him a number of times. At a time when he was trying to flip to the liberal side after being a conservative activist. Here's what he told me. Don't take my word for it. He told me, quote, "I lost my soul in printing allegations about Anita Hill that I knew to be false." He had called her a little bit nutty and a little bit slutty as you may recall. He told me, quote, "I consciously lied in print." He said at the time, I was so blinded by my tunnel partisan vision I believed my own propaganda. And finally, there were blacks say, at the time, I was a whiting cog in the Republican sleaze machine. Now, people grow. They evolve, but this is part of his background.
KELLY: She needs to reign him in. She helped form media matters, Hillary Clinton, did she not Chris Stirewalt? She did. She's on record. She's on record.
STIREWALT: She is a creator of David Brock in this incarnation, no doubt. But remember he's also angling for position inside Clinton world because he tried to take a larger role. He got burnt and shut down, so this is probably a relevancy play in addition to just trying to work for --
KELLY: Just for the record, Hillary Clinton, institutions that I helped to start and support, like Media Matters. She's on record. This is her guy.
This is her group, and she needs to come out and say, love him, Chris Wallace, love him -- love him.
Great to see you both.
KURTZ: Good to see you too.
KELLY: So, these tactics by some affiliated with Hillary Clinton clearly suggest that some of her supporters are looking for an early edge in these debates. And if you're wondering why, here's a little reminder about how anything can happen when Donald Trump takes the stage.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS HOST: Raise your hand now if you won't make that pledge tonight. Mr. Trump.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think you're on the wrong side of this if you're still arguing for a single --
DONALD TRUMP, R-PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I don't think you heard me. You're having a hard time tonight.
I have never gone bankrupt by the way. I have never. But out of hundreds of deals --
CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS HOST: But, sir --
TRUMP: Excuse me.
WALLACE: That's your line, but --
CARLY FIORINA, R-FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think women all over this country heard very clearly what Mr. Trump said.
TRUMP: I think she's got a beautiful face, and I think she's a beautiful woman.
JEB BUSH, R-FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The one guy that had some special interest that I know of that tried to get me to change my views on something that was generous and gave me money was Donald Trump. He wanted casino gambling in Florida.
TRUMP: I did not.
BUSH: Yes you did.
TRUMP: Totally false.
BUSH: You wanted it, and you didn't get it because I was opposed to casino gambling before, during and after. No. The simple fact is Donald --
TRUMP: Okay. More energy tonight. I like that. You're the one. You're the one.
(TALKING OVER EACH OTHER)
SEN. TED CRUZ, R-TEXAS, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Release the tapes.
TRUMP: Let me just say -- excuse me. I've given my answer, lying Ted. I've given my answer.
KELLY: All right. Let's leave it at that.
TRUMP: He hit my hands. Nobody has ever hit my hands. I've never heard at of this. Look at those hands. Are they small hands? And he referred to my hands if they're small, something else must be small. I guarantee you there's no problem. I guarantee you.
BAIER: Moving on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
I was there for a lot of that. Joining me now, FOX News contributor, nationally syndicated columnist and author of the book "Things That Matter," Dr. Charles Krauthammer.
Great to see you, Charles. So, anything can happen with Donald Trump on that stage, and she's got to find it very disconcerting. Here we are about two weeks out from the first debate.
DR. CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, NATIONALLY SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: That's true, and I think she might have made a strategic error because she's been very extremely heavy in the criticism, calling him everything, unstable essentially, psychopathic, racist. I mean these are a string of attacks that maybe might have been more strategically placed after the debates because what she has done is she has set the bar so low for Trump, that if he just shows up not foaming at the mouth, if he looks normal, relaxed, and sort of reasonable, he wins automatically. I think that's happened a lot in the past as well. I think in 1980, the strategy of the Carter campaign was to make Ronald Reagan extreme, somebody that you couldn't possibly imagine, somebody unstable that would be a danger to the world.
And then he shows up in the debate with Jimmy Carter. He's affable. He's relaxed. And then he came out with that single line. It had nothing to do with anything. I think it was Jimmy Carter accusing him of wanting to cut back Social Security. And Reagan's answer simply was, it wasn't a policy answer. It was, there you go again.
KRAUTHAMMER: And the air came out of the balloon. People said, we can live with this guy. And he won in a landslide.
KELLY: Well, the other thing that Reagan had and that Donald Trump has as well is a healthy sense of humor. And what do you think about that? Because Trump, he has the ability to win over an audience. His ability to penetrate that lens goes beyond just being interesting, which he clearly is. He is funny. She is not. And that -- that makes you kind of warm up to a character on TV.
KRAUTHAMMER: Well, you know, if you watched any of the debates in the primaries -- and unfortunately I was sentenced to watch all of them. You were sentenced to participate in some of them and live the aftermath. I mean on policy and on substance, Trump was -- you know, he didn't do very well. Let's put it kindly. But when it came to whether he came out of it with people having a better feeling about him, the facts are, whatever the polling showed, that his numbers kept going up, and he kept winning primaries.
So it does show that it is -- look, the debate forum is one about personality and comfort. It's not about policy. When Kennedy beat Nixon in the first debate -- in the first sort of history of these debates, it was because he looked better. You know, he did makeup, and Nixon didn't. It's quite simple.
KRAUTHAMMER: The fact is that people heard the debate on radio thought Nixon won, and those who watched it thought that Kennedy won because Nixon was sweating, and that's what was remembered.
KELLY: So that raises an interesting question because I think one of the reasons people thought Trump won, even though he may not have scored the most points on policy is because he was so unusual. He is an outsider in so many ways, and they like that. They liked that he was different and he didn't play by the same rules as the others. So does he do that in these debates, or does he show up as presidential Trump?
KRAUTHAMMER: Well, I mean I think he'll just show up as who he is because he can't -- I mean he won't be reading from a teleprompter. I think the key in the Republican primary debates, it wasn't only that he was an outsider. It's that he is an entertainer, and he made you feel comfortable. That's the essence of entertaining.
KRAUTHAMMER: As you know, for example, hosting a show, hosting, say, a late-night comedy show, everybody says, oh, that looks easy. I could do that. But it is extremely hard to do. Looking natural is the most unnatural thing in the world when a camera is on you. And anybody who has done it knows it. He has had cameras on him. He's very comfortable. And she's coming in with extremely high expectations. She's been at this for 25 years. He's a novice.
She has been, you know, on television, on camera, answering questions forever. He's new at this. But I think what he really is not new at and that she has never really mastered is how to endear yourself with an audience, ingratiate yourself, and he's got a way of doing it.
KELLY: How to charm. You got to know how to charm up on that presidential debate stage, and he may offend with his attempts. But it's like the same number of people who are offended are charmed on the other side.
Charles, it's how I feel whenever I see you. Not the offended part but the charmed. Thank you for being here.
KRAUTHAMMER: My pleasure.
KELLY: Up next, Karl Rove on Mr. Trump's possible new path to victory in November.
Plus, is President Obama about to pick the interests of Saudi Arabia over those of the families who lost loved ones on 9/11? We'll show you why the answer is now looking like yes. Don't go away.
KELLY: Well, with just 60 days to go until the election and the newest polls looking better for Donald Trump, does he now have a more clear path to victory? Trump trails by nearly four points in the latest Real Clear Politics average of national polls, and he is further back in the Electoral College race. But our next guest suggests the battle for those battleground voters could still be Trump's to win.
Karl Rove is a FOX News contributor, former deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush. Karl, good to see you. So, first let me start by this. You said, you have a piece out this week saying Donald Trump has 60 days to close the deal. Is that a lot or a little, 60 days?
KARL ROVE, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: That's a little, particularly since this contest has gone on so long. I think he's been in the race for 15 months. Hillary Clinton's been in the race for nearly 17 months. They've been at this a while.
KELLY: I thought you were going to say, years.
ROVE: Well, it feels like that. In fact, it may be political junkies are sort of head like dogs. We have longer -- we have shorter periods of time for years. But 60 days is not a lot of time.
KELLY: Okay. So she's been leading him in the national average of polls. It was like by six-and-a-half points after that three-week issue after the conventions. But now it's down to three and change just after Labor Day. What does that tell us?
ROVE: Well, her high point was 7.9 points on August 7th. Since then, her lead has been cut by two-thirds. As of today, the Real Clear Politics average is 2.7 points. So it's closed more because he's gone up than she's come down, but the race has closed. And, look, there's no new path to victory. It's just that the old path to victory, the narrow path that he's got to victory, is more within reach. Look, a Democrat starts with an advantage. If you look at the 18 states and the District of Columbia that the Democrats have carried in each of the last six presidential elections, they total 242 electoral votes.
You need 270 to win. So they start with an advantage. But he's got a path, and the path has become clear in the weeks since. First you got to play defense. Mitt Romney got 206 Electoral College votes. If you look at the Real Clear Politics averages of states, he's narrowly ahead today in Arizona and Georgia, states that Romney carried comfortably, and narrowly behind in North Carolina. So the first thing he's got to do is carry the 11 Electoral Votes in Arizona, 16 in Georgia, 15 in North Carolina.
ROVE: Otherwise, he's going to start off in a deficit. The next ones are the states that are close, and what's interesting is that in the Real Clear Politics average of state polls, Florida is nearly tied. Ohio is almost tied. And Trump actually has a modest, very 0.8 tenths of percent lead in Iowa. If he were to win those states, that would get him to 259. But at that point, he's got to take something away from the Democrats that they have in all likelihood won in each of the last six presidential elections. You got to take away a Pennsylvania with 20 or Michigan with 16 or Wisconsin with 10.
Nevada with six that Bush carried twice or a New Hampshire with four that Bush carried once. He's got to take away something that's in the Democrats. All of these are ranging between, you know, five points and nine points, so they theoretically would be possible in a fluid race. We just don't know how much fluidity there is in this presidential contest.
KELLY: So there was a very complete, interesting piece in the National Review earlier this week by their chief political correspondent, Tim Alberto. And his answer to the question of whether Donald Trump has any realistic path to defeating Hillary Clinton was, barring any unforeseen and transcend end developments, no. Do you agree with that, then, or no?
ROVE: Well, look, I think that history is on the side of that opinion. If you look back in the last nine modern presidential elections, on Labor Day the candidates were tied one time. That was in 2012. Obama went on to win. In the other eight, seven out of eight times the person who led on Labor Day won. And, again, she has a lot of paths to victory. Let's assume that she wins the 242 votes that they've won in each and every one of the last six presidential elections. All she needs to do is win Florida. Or if she loses Florida, win Ohio and North Carolina.
Or, you know, Virginia and North Carolina. Or Virginia, Colorado, and Nevada. Or Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, Iowa, New Hampshire, all of which would get her over 270. So, look, I don't think that it's a foregone conclusion. That's why we have elections, so that we can play this thing out and we have 60 more days, which is not a lot of time, but it may be enough time. You saw -- now gives him one out of every three chance to win. He's the underdog, but he's got a path.
KELLY: Karl, great to see you.
ROVE: Thank you. Appreciate it, Megyn.
KELLY: Also, I have new developments tonight on reports that an entire NFL team is now threatening to protest the national anthem on 9/11. On 9/11. I have a 9/11 family member here to react to that.
Plus, we'll show you what the cameras caught when they went behind the scenes with the Clinton camp. Mark McKinnon of The Circus joins us next with our favorite Friday segments.
Today, Secretary Clinton is on a larger plane, a charter plane with the press for the first time. It is a big damn deal.
KELLY: Well, this week Hillary Clinton unveiled her new campaign plane, and for the first time in a long time, she opened the doors to reporters. Mark McKinnon is an executive producer on Showtime's "The Circus," and he was able to get his cameras behind the scenes. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK MCKINNON, CO-CREATOR & CO-HOST, THE CIRCUS: Six a.m., White Plains, New York, Labor Day. Sixty days left. It's a sprint to the finish. This race has tightened up. This could go either way. Today, Secretary Clinton is on a larger plane, a charter plane with the press for the first time. This is a big damn deal.
HILLARY CLINTON, D-PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Hey, guys. I am so happy to have all of you with me. Hi, Mark.
MCKINNON: How are you?
This is it. So we just landed in Cleveland, and 100 yards to my right here is Hillary's plane. Two hundred yards that way is Trump's plane.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
CLINTON: Cleveland, I know that these elections are always tight and hard. I'm not taking anybody anywhere for granted.
I've always thought this was going to be a close race. We're just going as hard and fast as we possibly can.
So for these last two months, join this campaign. Help us make history. God bless you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I mean, Donald Trump can still win this, and I'm sure it's going to get closer, but we had a lot of planes. They all landed well today.
MCKINNON: Tomorrow you start all over again, right?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KELLY: Love the circus. Joining me now, Mark McKinnon, co-creator and co- host of "The Circus" on Showtime. Mark, good to see you. So, you're out there with her as she now does a little bit of making herself accessible.
First of all, do you think we're going to see more of that? And second of all, how is she, in your opinion, out there on the campaign trail?
MCKINNON: Well, the first question is, you know, I think she's going to do a lot more. She did it the first day, and then she came out and did it the second day. I think it cross-pressures Donald Trump. And the thing that surprised me -- I mean and I think a lot of other people was that and should reinforce the fact that she does it more is she was very good. I mean in the Q&A and back and the forth with reporters, you know, she's as good as I've seen with presidential candidates.
She was relaxed, and she was knowledgeable, and there was no problem, which makes you wonder why she waits 270 days. But I think now, my prediction is that she will do a lot of it and that that will help her. My sense from the whole campaign is that they're not going to lean back. They're leaning in. They're not going to be cautious. They know this is a tight race. They know they need to run like they're ten points behind. So my sense is that they're going to lean in and be very aggressive.
KELLY: Well, were they doing that in the three weeks that Donald Trump was, you know, hurting himself after the conventions?
MCKINNON: No! No, and I think they suffered from that. And I think they recognize that now. I think they thought we're going to go off the radar screen, raise a bunch of money which could be helpful in the final days. But I think they also saw that the race tightened appreciably, and that's because Donald Trump was out there dominating the media while she was out there. So they know that they've got to be in there.
And by the way, part of what we saw this week was a lot of cat and mouse. I mean, you know, this has been a furious campaign all along, but Labor Day, you could feel it out there. It's just shifted into fourth gear, and they are really revving the engines and it's fun to watch.
KELLY: Is this a real race?
MCKINNON: Yeah, it is a real race. You know, Karl was mentioning the number of Labor Day campaigns where, you know, there'll be person who was ahead one. The one where they didn't was the campaign that I was in 2000 with Karl, with President Bush. We were down two points at Labor Day, you know, which is pretty close to where Donald Trump is.
And the way we changed that was in the debates. So that, again, just demonstrates how important the debates are going to be. But Donald Trump, if he does well in the debates, he's within that margin where a good debate performance could turn this thing around.
KELLY: She sounds like she's untouchable. The American people don't -- they don't really like either one of them. Anyhoo, Mark, great to see you.
MCKINNON: Kick it. Thanks.
KELLY: So back on the ground, the Clinton camp is again attacking Trump for how he has long raised questions about president Obama's birth certificate. This is back. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: We are facing a candidate with a long history of racial discrimination in his business. He traffics in toxic conspiracy theories, like the lie that president Obama is not a true American. If he doesn't even respect all Americans, how can he serve all Americans?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KELLY: Joining me now, Alan Colmes, host of "The Alan Colmes Show" and David Wohl, an attorney and Trump supporter. So, that is a lie that he wasn't born here, and it is something you shouldn't traffic in. So why, Alan, didn't she just say that rather than this when "60 Minutes" brought it up with her when she was running against the man for president. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE KROFT, CBS NEWS 60 MINUTES SHOW HOST: You don't believe that Senator Obama is a Muslim?
CLINTON: Of course not. I mean that's -- you know, there is no basis for that. You know, I take him on the basis of what he says. And, you know, there isn't any reason to doubt that.
KROFT: So you take Senator Obama at his word that he's not Muslim. You don't believe that he's... or implying that...
CLINTON: No, I do not. No. No, there is nothing to base that on. As far as I know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALAN COLMES, "THE ALAN COLMES SHOW" HOST: Well, she was very clear. She wasn't trafficking in this kind of toxic birtherism, you know...
KELLY: As far as I know?
COLMES: Well, what if he were a Muslim. So what? But the point is she went over and over again saying she wasn't a birther like Donald Trump. Don't forget Donald Trump made his bones on the national stage as a birther and now he's got surrogates on television saying, oh, he's renounced it. Giuliani said today he renounced it. Kellyanne Conway, he renounced it. No one ever asked him. He was on "O'Reilly" Thursday night...
KELLY: No, no, someone asked him.
COLMES: ...saying I don't talk about it. So, someone should ask him. Are your surrogates accurate when they say you're no longer a birther? Is he or isn't he?
KELLY: OK, but Trump would not -- just this past week, Trump would not answer a reporter's question about whether he now believed Obama was a citizen. The point is, David, it's all well and good to have Giuliani come out and say he no longer believes it. Why doesn't Trump just say it?
DAVID WOHL, ATTORNEY: He does not believe it, Megyn. And for Hillary...
KELLY: Why doesn't he just say it?
WOHL: Megyn, he will. There's no doubt about that. But for Hillary Clinton, listen to me, to exhume this dead issue is so out of control and is proof, Megyn, that her campaign is in cover-up mode for the unbelievable e-mail scandal that frankly, Megyn, is causing her campaign to implode and is putting her husband's scandals to shame. You have her -- the guy who installed her e-mail server now given immunity.
The guy who destroyed the evidence on the e-mail server, given immunity and guess what, Megyn? They're given immunity to go after the big fish, and that's Hillary Clinton. She will not be given immunity and that's why she's into this mode of going after Trump.
KELLY: They did go after her. But the FBI decided she didn't do anything wrong criminally. But here's the question now. But to David's first point, Alan, about why -- listen, Trump's done a lot of controversial things so you can sort of take your pick if you want to go after him, but why now the birther thing? That was back in 2011. I mean, it's been a long time. He's done a lot of stuff in between other...
COLMES: Well, Trump was asked about it Thursday night by O'Reilly. I mean, and he keeps denying and he keeps saying I don't want to talk about it and he won't answer the question. If he could put it aside -- if I could just finish -- he could put it aside if he would just finally, as his surrogates have done, answered the question. Let him answer it.
KELLY: Go ahead David.
WOHL: Why bring it up, Alan?
KELLY: The question O'Reilly was asking him was whether he thinks that birtherism is hurting Trump with black voters, who feel the suggestion is that he tried to delegitimize this president.
WOHL: I think it's a dead issue, Megyn, and when you bring it up again as Hillary Clinton did, it's actually a slap in the face to Mr. Obama. And it's a diversion tactic obviously. If she wants to talk about issues that are relevant to this campaign, let's talk about these e-mail revelations,
Megyn, that would lead to anyone else being indicted in a federal court. When you talk about there's no -- and Comey talked about no intent. I can think back in my practice, Megyn. I have not represented a client who unintentionally, accidentally smashed 13 blackberries with a sledgehammer.
COLMES: That's not true.
KELLY: Okay. I got to go.
COLMES: By the way, this has been put to bed. The e-mail issue has been to put bed. Comey has no reason to indict. He said no precedent.
KELLY: Okay. Good-bye. More news coming up. We're going to hit the 15-year mark now, this weekend from that since 9/11, which is hard to believe, right? So the families of the 9/11 victims are tonight watching the White House, hoping and praying that president Obama will side with them over Saudi Arabia. And some of them are here on why it is not looking good despite a unanimous vote in Congress, but the president stands alone. We'll tell you what's happening.
And Donald Trump doing something no Republican has ever done before, as he appeals to evangelical voters at the Values Voter Summit in D.C. this afternoon. Tony Perkins has the news on what happened next.
KELLY: Donald Trump doing something today that no Republican has ever done before, addressing the evangelical Values Voters Summit in Washington, D.C. as his party's official nominee. And while Trump has stumbled at that summit before, today it was standing ovations as he appealed to the audience's faith while also attacking Hillary Clinton.
(BEGI VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Politicians have really abandoned you to a large extent, and Hillary Clinton -- you can forget about her. So let me state this right up front. A Trump administration, our Christian heritage will be cherished, protected, defended like you've never seen before. Believe me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KELLY: Tony Perkins is the president of the Family Research Council and author of "No Fear: Real Stories of a Courageous New Generation Standing for Truth." Tony, good to see you. So, here's a question. So you were originally more of a Cruz guy, but now Trump is the Republican nominee. Are you, and do you believe other evangelicals are going to really get behind Trump and really push it for him in the next 60 days?
TONY PERKINS, FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL PRESIDENT: I think the movement is building. I think by coming here before even saying anything, he has gained a lot of support. In the end, he didn't have them walking the aisle, but I think he does have them walking into the voting booth and I think there is a growing understanding this is a choice between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. There is no real viable alternative. So I do think that support is clearly building.
KELLY: Somebody is very loud in the background and really needs to understand that your voice must be heard on Fox News. I want to ask you this. Do you believe when Trump says those things we just heard about how he's going to really protect religious liberty and look out for values voters, do you believe he means it or do you think that's just talk to win a presidential campaign?
PERKINS: No. I think that's what gives him credibility coming into this because in the primary, you know, he said things that as he thought, as he believed, not necessarily what was politically correct and expedient. And I do think there's some kind of a trust factor that people believe him because he's willing to take on the political establishment. And that is a key touch point with evangelicals still for conservative voters.
KELLY: He doesn't care about, you know, doing what's popular in your view, but other people say that's exactly what he cares about, and he'll swing with the wind whichever way it seems to be blowing. What say you to that?
PERKINS: You know, I don't think so. I mean, I do think that he is genuine in this. Now, look, people do question will he do what he says he's going to do? There is some legitimate questions about that, but people know exactly what Hillary Clinton's going to do, and so they say, we know what Hillary's going to do. It's not going to be good. We think he may do the right thing. Not sure, but we're going to go with him.
And I think that's becoming more of the momentum and support building for Donald Trump. And I do think he's going to get strong support among evangelicals. As you pointed out, the fact that he came here as the party's nominee is pretty significant. It sends a strong message to social conservatives.
KELLY: Tony, great to see you.
PERKINS: Thanks, Megyn. Good to be with you this evening.
KELLY: Up next, Congressman Peter King and 9/11 family members on why the White House may side with Saudi Arabia over the folks who lost loved ones right here in America on that tragic day.
Plus, an entire NFL team now threatening to protest the national anthem while the nation is remembering that attack. On 9/11 they're going to protest. The father of a fallen New York City firefighter is here with his thoughts on that. Don't go away.
KELLY: From the world headquarters of Fox News, it's "The Kelly File" with Megyn Kelly.
KELLY: Developing tonight, just two days from September 11th, marking 15 years since the 9/11 terror attacks and the White House may stand in the way of families seeking justice. Earlier in a rare, very rare bipartisan effort, Congress passed the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, allowing 9/11 families to sue anyone who may have been behind the attacks.
Now the bill goes to president Obama's desk, and we are hearing he is not prepared to sign it. Joining us now, New York congressman Peter King, who sponsored the bill, and Terry Strada, along with her daughter, Caitlyn, who lost their husband and father, Tom Strada, on 9/11. Thank you all so much for being here. Let's start with you, congressman.
REP. PETER KING, R-NEW YORK: Yeah.
KELLY: The House passed it unanimously, and the Senate passed it unanimously. Every single one of our representatives is in favor of this.
KELLY: And the president's going to stop it? Why?
KING: He's threatening to reload (ph). There's pressure from the Saudis, from Saudi lobbyist, the foreign policy establishment. Somehow I think this will unravel things which is now (ph) since this bill was so finely drawn -- Terry was at every step of the way.
KELLY: Unravel things meaning what, our relationship with Saudi Arabia?
KING: Probably with Saudi Arabia they feel because Saudi Arabia is cooperating with us in certain areas. We don't want to antagonize it. Listen, they cooperate sometimes. Sometimes they don't. We have to send a signal that they have to cooperate all the time because there is really strong evidence as what may have happened on 9/11. If they have nothing to worry about, don't worry about the lawsuit.
But as far as the president threatening to veto it, Donald Trump came out and said he supported the legislation. It's important for Hillary Clinton, I think now in her role to tell the president that she supports it and call on him not to veto it. It's really up to her right now and the president.
KELLY: Terry, obviously you lost her husband on 9/11, and you go forward with this but why would you want to sue Saudi Arabia given the difficulties that would be associated with it, given the unlikelihood of actually collecting on any judgment you might get?
TERRY STRADA, NATIONAL CHAIR, 9/11 FAMILIES & SURVIVORS UNITED FOR JUSTICE AGAINST TERRORISM: Well, because the evidence points to them so they are the ones responsible for the murder of my husband and like all the other 9/11 families, we deserve justice and accountability for that. Our lives were shattered on that day, and this has not been easy the last 15 years, and it's never going to be easy living without him. So, there needs to be accountability. It doesn't matter what country it was, you know? It doesn't matter if it was the Saudis.
KELLY: What do you think of that, you know, president Obama saying, hey, we have an important relationship with them now. We don't want to antagonize them by allowing this?
STRADA: Well, every relationship is better if it's based on the truth rather than lies, and right now they're hiding behind what they did. So, the truth needs to come out, and I think things will be better. It won't damage our relationship. We'll still have a relationship with them, it's just that the families will have the justice that they deserve. This bill really is about justice.
KELLY: Caitlyn, what do you think? You're 19 years old, just started college. You were 4 years old when your dad died. I mean do you have a real understanding of, you know, the enormity, apart from your own loss, of what happened that day, and do you think others are starting to forget? Because we're going to do a segment in the next block about this football team that's going to protest during the national anthem on 9/11.
CAITLYN STRADA, LOST FATHER IN 9/11 ATTACKS: Right. It's the hardest thing for me to grow up in a world where the threat of president Obama not signing off on this bill, my father lived by the saying to do the right thing. He always wanted to do the right thing, and I think it's time for the president to do the right thing and sign and enact it into law.
KELLY: How do you feel like being a 9/11 child has affected your life?
C. STRADA: Oh, it's changed my life. It has been the hardest thing to grow up without a parent due to terrorism, and I wouldn't wish it on anyone. It breaks my heart seeing all of these other terrorist attacks happening every month here.
KELLY: You think people your age get it, you know, like really understand what happened that day?
C. STRADA: I find that a lot of people don't truly understand what happened and they don't know that no one's been held accountable. And I think that we need to finally bring those accountable -- we need to bring them to court, and we need to find them guilty, and they need to be held accountable.
KELLY: Here's the thing congressman, is that most Americans moved on with their lives and didn't have to live in grief ever after as this family did.
KING: Yeah, too many Americans have moved on. Maybe its human nature to put it in the back of your mind but the fact is we should never forget what happened.
KELLY: And the president shouldn't.
KING: Yeah, I agree. He's the leader of the country. You know, if you're a Democrat or a Republican, he's the leader. He should set the example. With 9/11 coming up in two days, for him to even talk about vetoing this bill is a disgrace, absolute disgrace.
KELLY: Before I let you go, your message to these football players who may protest during the national anthem on 9/11.
ING: They are a disgrace to America. Again, they should be ashamed of themselves and they should thank God they live in America.
KELLY: Great to see you all.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.
KELLY: Thanks for being here. Lots of love to you.
T. STRADA: Thank you.
KELLY: Well, we are also, as I mentioned hearing these reports tonight that the NFL -- it's actually started with one team but now we're hearing the NFL is bracing for widespread player demonstrations this September 11th. Remember when we wouldn't touch this date with any sort of political protest. The entire Seattle Seahawks threatening now to protest the national anthem and it's not just them.
This all started two weeks ago when quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand during the anthem, saying he refused to, quote, "show pride in a flag of a country that oppresses black people and people of color." Joining me with reaction to that, retired FDNY Deputy Fire Chief Jim Riches, a 9/11 first responder a who recovered the body of his son, firefighter Jimmy Riches from the rubble of the towers, carrying him in a flag-draped coffin. Thank you so much for being here and again, my condolences on your loss.
Every year we are reminded of what you went through and what the country went through. And I don't know, you tell me, talking to Caitlyn. Here's a 19-year-old who lost her dad in 9/11. These 26-year-old football players, do they get it? Do they get it?
JIM RICHES, RETIRED FDNY FIRE CHIEF: They probably don't get it. To answer your question from before, my son is never going to walk back in that door and that there will never be closure. So, we always miss him and we'll always, you know, we hurt every day. These guys, half the NFL is 26 years and under. They were 11 years old when this happened. These guys -- this flag stands for veterans, for police, for firefighters.
Those police and firefighters on 9/11 ran into the building with a plane sticking out of it and people trapped in there. They went to help people. These guys are going to disrespect them, and they're disrespecting all the veterans who gave us the light of freedom of press, the freedom of religion, and the freedom to speak what we want to speak. And these guys are actually going the wrong way, the wrong way about it.
The 9/11 first responders got hurt down at ground zero. They were told that (inaudible) What did we do? We fought back. We passed the Zadroga Bill. That's what these guys have to do, get together -- there are 60 of them. Get politicians, elect your DA's, elect your mayors and pick your police commissioners if you don't agree with them. But to protest against the flag, which stands for the United States of America, it's a disgrace. And if they don't like it, they should go play football in Canada.
KELLY: Jim, I know that Jimmy had been a New York City cop for eight years prior to his two years of service in the FDNY, and then he gave his life trying to save others inside that building that day, others like Caitlyn's father. And to have these football players, who make in some instances millions of dollars a year decide to use the national anthem to try to send a message to cops, cops like your son who put their lives on the line every day, your message back to them.
RICHES: You know, these guys are just playing a game with a ball. Firemen, police officers, deal with life and death situations every day. He was a cop for eight years. He never went out and said, let me go out and shoot a black person today. They're saying that the police are doing a witch hunt on all the black people. It's a total -- the numbers don't add up for that, and it's wrong. They're not. They're good men, heroes, and they're not these guys playing ball.
KELLY: Love to your family. Thanks for being here.
RICHES: Thank you.
KELLY: We'll be right back.
KELLY: On Monday, we'll have Dr. Phil, the man who helped me change my life and whose counsel my book title is loosely based on. It's called "Settle For More." You can order it right now online and I hope it can help you change your life too if you're struggling in any way. Have a great weekend.
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