KELLY FILE

Gen. Keane on why he supports Mattis pick; Brothers who lost TV show over beliefs slam 'thought mafia'

This is a rush transcript from "The Kelly File," December 1, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

MEGYN KELLY, HOST: Breaking tonight, President-elect Donald Trump winding up a barn burner of a speech moments ago in Cincinnati. Telling supporters the best is yet to come. And telling detractors he has not forgotten.

Welcome to "The Kelly File," everyone, I'm Megyn Kelly reporting tonight from Naples, Florida. It is been a day of victory lapse for Mr. Trump first in Indiana where he spoke about his efforts to keep Carrier jobs in the United States and put companies on notice that they will not leave America without consequences.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT-ELECT DONALD TRUMP: Thank you very much.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KELLY: Then it was on to Ohio where he held his first rally since winning the White House and here are just a few of the highlights. Watch.  

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: People are constantly telling me and telling you to reduce our expectations. Those people are fools. They're fools. But this campaign proved that the old rules no longer apply, that anything we want for our country is now possible. Anything we want, right? Now is not the time to downsize our dreams but to set our sights higher than ever before for our country.

Now is the time to unlock the potential of millions of Americans left on the sidelines, their talents unused, their dreams unrealized and their aspirations totally forgotten. And these are people of great talent. This is the moment. This is our chance. This is our window for action. This is the hour when the great deeds can be done and our highest hopes can come true. We're going to do it, folks. We're going to do it.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KELLY: In moments, Bill Bennett will join us to talk about that message and why Mr. Trump's actions in recent days remind him of his former boss, President Ronald Reagan.

But before that in what may be a political first, Mr. Trump used tonight's rally to announce his choice for secretary of defense making big news.  

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We are going to appoint "Mad Dog" Mattis as our secretary of defense.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

But we're not announcing it until Monday so don't tell anybody. "Mad Dog."  He's great.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KELLY: Joining me now, retired Four Star General Jack Keane, chairman of the Institute for the Study of War. He recommended General Mattis for the job.

General Keane, great to see you. So the crowd went wild, they loved "Mad Dog" Mattis. I think many people don't really have an understanding of who General Mattis is. Tell us why you supported him and what the bottom-line is that people need to know about him?

GENERAL JACK KEANE, FORMER VICE CHIEF OF STAFF OF THE U.S. ARMY: Well he's an accomplished four-star general Marine corps, battle earned stripes in Iraq and Afghanistan, commanded central command. So our audience went on the stand. That overseas, the most volatile and dangerous neighborhood in the world, and that is the Middle East, south Asia and also our friends the Iranians. And so he has huge experience in dealing with heads of state in those countries, foreign ministers and defense ministers and obviously military counterparts.

This is a proven professional. He's very capable. And I think what's also happening here, Megyn, is President-elect Trump wants to break from the past where we had a president that did not embrace the wars we were fighting and tried to get out of them. President-elect Trump wants to win them if you're going to be involved in a war. I don't think he wants to be involved in war but when we are, he wants to win.  

KELLY: And so, as you see it, if Secretary Mattis gets confirmed, right?  What will he do when it comes to the war against ISIS that we didn't see under the Obama administration?

KEANE: Yes. First and foremost he's going to help rebuild the military and that's essential because we've got to restore the superiority that we truly have over all of our adversaries which has been eroding recently.  When it comes to ISIS, I think what he will insist on doing is giving the commander-in-chief within a reasonable amount of time, 30, 45 days at most a comprehensive plan to defeat ISIS, not just in Iraq and Syria, but ISIS has spread to 35 other countries.

It doesn't mean we're going to put troops in those 3500 countries but we have to have some kind of a strategy to deal with those countries and how we can pool our resources and certainly our thinking and how to cope with this spreading dilemma that the Obama administration has failed miserably at coping with.  

KELLY: Do you think we have a president coming in now, a commander-in-chief coming in now who is actually going to listen to his general, something you've been very critical of President Obama for not doing?

KEANE: Oh, absolutely. There's no doubt in my mind about that. And I think he has -- there's a certain appeal that he has with military leaders who by and large -- I mean, we're all a little different. But there is a culture there of straight talk, being very direct with people, there is no bs involved. We're sort of A-political as much as we possibly can. I think he's attracted to that. So yes, he's going to listen to them. But listen, generals need oversight just like any other major Cabinet post or executive agency in the executive branch of the government. And that is appropriate for the president to do. He is the commander-in-chief. He's the civilian control of the military. And he will provide that oversight, I'm convinced, with his staff also.  

KELLY: Okay. Quick last question before I let you go on the straight talk front. General Mattis, he has gotten in trouble for saying that it's fun to shoot people, some people, that he likes brawling during a 2005 panel discussion in San Diego. Is that going to be a problem for him? What about this prohibition that if you've been on active duty, you have to wait seven years before becoming secretary of defense. Do you see either of those being a problem of him in getting confirmed because --

(CROSSTALK)

KEANE: No. I don't Megyn.

KELLY: -- change the rules on that.

KEANE: I don't. The waiver has been done before for George Marshall, our most esteemed general probably from World War II. The Congress is already working in the House and the Senate to get that waiver for General Mattis because there will be tremendous support for him. He'll get the waiver, he'll get confirmed. Yes, that was a remark that he probably regrets. And the name Mad Dog came from how he talks to his troops. But Mattis is also contemplative, studious, thoughtful, a closet intellectual, cerebral and that is the other side of Jim Mattis, he is a great leader and I think our country will come to appreciate him and have tremendous regard for him.

KELLY: Well, it's great to hear your enthusiasm. General, always a pleasure. Thank you, sir.  

KEANE: Good talking to you, Megyn.  

KELLY: So, tonight one of President Reagan's Cabinet members Bill Bennett is comparing President-elect Trump's actions with Carrier today to those of his former boss who took on the air traffic controllers after they went on strike illegally. President Regan told the air traffic controllers in no uncertain terms, you better come back to work or else.  

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RONALD REAGAN, 40TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The union demands are 17 times what had been agreed to. Six hundred and eighty one million dollars. This would impose a tax burden on their fellow citizens which is unacceptable. It is for this reason that I must tell those who fail to report for duty this morning, they are in violation of the law and if they do not report for work within 48 hours, they have forfeited their jobs and will be terminated.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KELLY: And he made good on that threat. Changing the strike history that we would see of these kinds of unions for years to come. Bill Bennett is a Fox News contributor and former education secretary under President Reagan.

Bill, great to see you. First, let's talk about Donald Trump's speech tonight. What a speech it was. Optimistic, you know at times -- strong, at times a little threatening of those who would cross America in his view, not dissimilar from what we heard from Ronald Reagan.  

BILL BENNETT, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: That's right. But it was vintage Trump. Very funny I think when he was on the text reading from the text and then when he departed. I preferred the departures from the text, actually. Would be just as happy if he didn't return to the text. But both parts were good. Very strong and he's the same guy. I think that's the thing. And my comparison with Reagan is that, would Reagan did the air traffic controllers firing, everybody said, oh my gosh, you know, this guy is serious.

Remember, Ronald Reagan was called an amiable dunce by Clark Clifford, part of the Republican establishment. People didn't know what we were getting or at least Washington didn't know what he was getting. The people knew.  And when he got in and did this, people said my gosh, this guy is serious.  He means business. That's what Trump did in Indiana with the Carrier thing. Two things, he showed that he meant what he said, he said what he meant and second he showed that he remembered what he promised during a political campaign. Do you know how cynical people are about American politics? Here's a guy who said something, before he's even president he acts on it. American people like that and I did too.

KELLY: What do you make of, you know, obviously he did not keep the promise to go after Hillary and put her in jail and he got some heat for reversing himself on that promise --

BENNETT: Right.

KELLY: -- and a couple of others last week. This one actually leads to real American employment and jobs kept here which may be more important to the American people. But how do you square those two?

BENNETT: Well, both are consistent with Christmas, I would argue, and before Christmas. You know, the Hillary thing that can still be covered by other people if it needs to be for investigation. I don't think people are worried about that. She's out in the picture.

KELLY: Yes.

BENNETT: The Clintons are done. She's out of the picture. But this was a reminder that the guy meant what he said and he means business. And now we'll see what else.

KELLY: Uh-hm.

BENNETT: But the other thing I mentioned was about the Cabinet because people have been saying, you know, the never Trumpers, with whom I was arguing, one of my old friends said two things they were sure of, one, he wouldn't be elected. Because Hillary would bury him. Well, that was wrong.

The second thing is he's no conservative. This Cabinet, these picks so far are not the most conservative by a Republican president since Reagan.  They're the most conservative including Reagan. I was there. I sat around that table and knew those folks were. Look at this line-up. I mean, you have place, you have Jeff Sessions, you have Flynn, you have Betty Deboss in education and now Mad Dog Mattis. By the way, it's nice to have a general named Mad Dog, I think. I wish --

(CROSSTALK)

BENNETT: Well, I wish General Keane hadn't said he meant for his old troops. I'd like the other side to think he meant it for them. But I imagine he can be pretty tough there. The warrior monk they call him because he reads books. How about that, generals read books.

KELLY: Yes. What do you think about the Never Trumpers? Do you think they're coming around now? And I feel like a lot of these Republicans who opposed Donald Trump are suddenly looking around and saying, this is actually great, we control the House, we control the Senate, we've got a Republican president in the White House who is saying all of the things that we believed in, maybe not the trade stuff but apart from that, he's saying a lot of things. I mean, that speech tonight was a speech 80 percent of which -- 85 percent of which most Republicans have been dreaming about for at least eight years.  

BENNETT: Yes, no kidding. Well, I haven't heard from them. I'm still lonely for lunch but that's okay. Maybe you'll come you and you and I can have lunch. But I do notice that some of them are trying to get on the transition team and they're looking for positions in the White House. I've talked to a couple of people who said they were in transition. I said, did you vote for Trump? No. Did you support him, no? I said, I'm going to turn you in.

I don't think you should be on the transition team. But in any case, I haven't heard people saying, you were right and we were wrong. I haven't heard a whole lot of that. But you've got to be impressed with these picks. If you're a conservative, you have to be very pleased.

KELLY: Yes.

BENNETT: Administration is personnel. I mean, I ran three federal agencies. Administration is personnel. And when you hire conservatives, that means your government and your policy will be conservative.  

KELLY: Okay. Before I let you go quickly, what do you think -- who do you like for Secretary of State, who do you hope he picks? And he mentioned, we're going to get to this in a minute, possibly Sarah Palin for the head of the VA who is a controversial figure for at least half of the country.  What do you think of those two positions?  

BENNETT: Well, I'm pretty loyal to FOX so I would like to see Pete Hegseth get that VA position.  

KELLY: He's going to be on tonight. He's coming on.  

BENNETT: Good. Good. You tell him I'm supporting him. But in terms of Secretary of State, a name that is not on the list and I don't know why and that is John Kyle. I think John Kyle is one of the most capable people ever to serve in the U.S. Senate and knows --  

KELLY: Would you stick to the list --

BENNETT: -- foreign policy.

KELLY: Stick to the list, Bill.  

BENNETT: Yes, okay, I'll stick to the list and go for Giuliani. I know, you know, look, I have trouble with the Romney thing. I just thought he was so far out of the realm of fairness in terms of what he said. So personal, so nasty, so uncalled for by Mitt Romney, supposedly a gentlemen, so I'd be for Giuliani. But if Donald Trump was to forgive him and say fine, I'll follow the example of my leader.  

KELLY: Bill, great to see you.  

BENNETT: Thank you.

KELLY: So as we've been discussing, President-Elect Trump kicked off his thank you tour tonight with a powerful speech featuring an unexpected Cabinet announcement and his plans for this presidency. But then in the middle of all of this, Mr. Trump seemed to go a little off script as Bill mentioned and delivered a fierce critique of some of the media coverage running up to Election Day. Listen.  

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Breaking news, Donald Trump has won Florida.

And we won it big. But then the people back there, the extremely dishonest press, how about when a major anchor who hosted a debate started crying when she realized that we won. How about it? Tears. Oh, tell me this is a joke. And you know what she doesn't understand? Things are going to be much better now. Remember, you cannot get to 270 dishonest presses. There is no road.

Folks, how many times did we hear this? There is no path to 270. There is none. There is no path. I'm supposed to win the great State of Utah. I love Utah. I love those states. Remember when they said Donald Trump is going to lose to some guy I never even heard of. There's no way that Donald Trump can break the blue wall, right? We didn't break it, we shattered that sucker.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KELLY: That had to feel good.

Carl Higbie is a Trump supporter and former Navy SEAL. And Jon Soltz is also a veteran and now chairman of VoteVets.org. Great to see you both.

You got to love Trump's sense of humor. President-Elect Trump's sense of humor. When he goes off script he's at his most charming. But Carl, let me ask you about -- he's referring to this moment that Martha Raddatz of ABC News had on the air after at about 1:00 in the morning on election night which he and others have suggested was her crying. ABC News says she did not cry at all. Let me just show it to the audience so they know what we're talking about.  

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tim Kaine has a son in the Marine Corps, he was asked by John Dickerson, if Donald Trump is democratically elected and your son is serving as a marine, you wouldn't trust his life under that commander-in-chief and Kaine said, I wouldn't. That is a pretty extraordinary thing to say. If you have a son in the Marine Corps and that you don't trust the commander-in-chief. People in the military defend the constitution.  

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KELLY: So her voice cracked up a little bit there, Carl. But Martha Raddatz, her voice does that when she talks normally. So, what do you make of it?

CARL HIGBIE, TRUMP SUPPORTER AND FORMER NAVY SEAL: Well, I think look, Megyn, the issue here is maybe she cried, maybe she didn't. But, you know, the term, if someone is crying about something, don't take it too literally. Look, Donald Trump, quite frankly he gets the spike of the football a little bit. Everybody told him that he could never do it and he did. So, you know, I'll give him some rope on that.

KELLY: Yes. What do you make of it, Jon? He's entitled to spike the ball. Carl has a point there. However the, you know, dismantling or the attempt to delegitimize all of the media is potentially problematic.  

JON SOLTZ, SERVED IN IRAQ IN 2003 AND 2011: Well, I think first, Martha Raddatz has spent a lot of time with the military and she cares about it.  She's been an embedded reporter for a large percentage of her career. So, it's something that's close to her. And I agree with Carl, whether or not she cried or not isn't the point. Politically Donald Trump did things that not of us thought were possible. I obviously was one of this people who thought he never had a chance. And so, he's doing what worked for him which is attacking the press.

Now, do I like that? Of course, I don't like that. But it's what worked for him and until it doesn't work any longer, he's going to continue to spike the football and continue to do it and collect, you know, 15 yard -- and, you know, like he was in the NFL. And he's going to, you know, he is gloating. And maybe hearing that right after proven this basically all of this wrong.

KELLY: Carl, what do you make of him? You know, he came out tonight and says, what we need is unity. And that let me see, I'm looking at my notes.  That we're going to seek an inclusive society where people love each other, where they dream big, where they believe anything is possible. And you know he's gotten hit for not being more inclusive, for not reaching out to some of the groups that felt he was against them or that he wasn't in their corner during the course of the election. Was this that? Was this that attempt to do that?

HIGBIE: Well, I think this was an attempt at that. But also keep in mind, back to the campaign times, you know, the Republican electorate generally stayed out of the black community. And Donald Trump reached out to them saying, hey, we haven't been here for a few years and that's our bad. But vote for me because, you know what? It can only get better for you. And he did that during the campaign and I think that showed successfully. And now as he goes on this tour, I think people are actually seeing that Donald Trump is not as divisive as I think he is.

KELLY: Well, and there was always a question Jon about whether Donald Trump -- to Carl's point, was that divisive or was just saying what he believed he needed to say to get into office. And now that we have a President-Elect Trump and are about to have a President Trump, we're going to see the real man and what he really stands for ideologically and otherwise. What do you believe?

SOLTZ: You know, I guess time will tell. I haven't seen anything in the past, you know, three or four weeks that would make me think that he's not going to do the things that he wants to do. You know, he attacked Latinos, he attacked the judge. He sat there tonight and said he was going to build a wall. You know, he put Mike Flynn as the national security adviser who said terrible things about Muslims. So, you know, we're starting to see him repay the people that paid him back or supported him very early in his campaign.

So, I don't see anything that he would tone down his rhetoric. You know, he stuck on the trade stuff tonight. Yet, you know, he outsourced his own tie to China, he talked about women tonight. Although he obviously has said many terrible things about women in this country, so I haven't seen anything yet to make me think he's actually, you know, going to outreach and be some type of leading -- a leader of our country that wants to unify.  Because, you know, this was a very partisan and political speech tonight and nothing that looked more presidential or more we've seen from past president to trying to unite the country after a brutal election.  

KELLY: What do you think of that Carl, the accusation that he did not seem presidential? Because, you know, the thing about Donald Trump is he's unlike any other figure we've ever seen before. Right? The willingness to laugh and to sort of make fun of himself at times and obviously make fun of a lot of others. It is unusual, you're not used to seeing it. It is entertaining. I mean you could argue that it's charming too when it's, you know, depending on what the content is.  

HIGBIE: Well, I think what you see in Donald Trump is a fact that he's actually having fun with this too, which is a good thing. That means he's devoted to it. He's got his whole heart in it. But also Donald Trump has redefined presidential and we're seeing it now because people said, we're never get elected and it did. So, and the other thing too, Mike Flynn, look, Mike Flynn said what he said because Mike Flynn was in charge of an intelligence agency that had good intelligence that said, hey, we support people's fears if you have those fears. Mike Flynn is an intelligent guy, I mean, he is far, above and beyond, many of the other people that I have ever served with. And I don't think that's a fair judgment. Just to say because he said one thing that if you have a fear, it's rational.  

(CROSSTALK)

SOLTZ: Yes. But I don't know --

KELLY: Go ahead, sorry.

SOLTZ: -- how you can make the argument that banning Muslims is somehow going to unify this country.  

HIGBIE: Flynn didn't say that.  

SOLTZ: There's a reason that people are protesting in this country. And, you know, I think Donald Trump could have said, hey, listen, I understand there's people that don't agree with me, but I'm going to be your president even if you don't disagree with me. Instead he went out and you know, continues to attack people. He think he could have said something tonight to the Latinos in this country about, hey, I'm not going to just deport everybody instead he said, you know, he stood up there and said, I'm going to build a big wall.

So, I'm looking for him to be the leader and say, listen, I know you guys don't agree with me but I'm going to be your president and I haven't seen that from him yet. And that is what I am looking for. Leadership starts at the top and we're not seeing that type of unity from him as our commander-in-chief. So, would you be happy --

KELLY: Well, just for the record, on the Muslim ban he did say tonight, you know, we're talking about a specific group from specific countries who are meant to harm the United States. So, that thing has gotten much more narrow from the day he first announced it in which it was offered in sweeping terms. Guys great to see you.  

SOLTZ: Thank you, Megyn.

KELLY: So, you heard Bill Bennett suggesting that Pete Hegseth should be the head of the VA. That is because Pete is actually rumored to be one of the last three in the mix. He's here with us in moments and we'll get all of the details on whether this is -- is he leaving? Is he like -- he just got a show on "Fox & Friends." Or he's like there all of the time. He's going to leave that to go run the VA?

Also his main competition, Sarah Palin. Who would you prefer?  

And we've got breaking news as new audio tape services of Congressman Keith Ellison, right? This is the guy who may be heading up the DNC, talking about Israel and this could mean trouble for the man considered the likely new head of the Democratic Party. Wait until you hear this.  

Plus, there's new controversy over a media hit piece aimed at the religious beliefs of two popular TV hosts. Tonight we'll hear from a teen who suffered a similar attack when the Bannon Brothers join us live to talk about the new battle in the culture wars. Stay tuned on a busy night.

Chip and Joanna are believers in Jesus Christ. They're not anti-anything.  They're pro-God, they're pro-Bible, they're pro-people, they're pro-Jesus.  And this is -- what's happening right now is a witch hunt?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KELLY: Breaking tonight, new audiotape surfaces of Congressman Keith Ellison talking about Israel and it could mean trouble for the man considered the likely new head of the Democratic Party. This is getting dicier and dicier.

Trace Gallagher has more on the controversy live from our L.A. Newsroom.  Trace?

TRACE GALLAGHER, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Megyn when Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison first made his bid to become the next chair of the Democratic National Committee much was made of his past controversies including his involvement of the nation of Islam. And his defense of Louis Farrakhan's anti-Semitic remarks. But even the anti-defamation league which bills itself as a Jewish nongovernmental group defended Ellison saying, it appreciated his contrition and would not rush to judgment. But now more of Congressman Ellison's comments have come to light, including comments audiotape of a speech Ellison gave in 2010 referring to Israel. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. KEITH ELLISON, D-MINN.: The United States foreign policy in the Middle East is governed by what is good or bad through a country of seven million people. A region of 350 million all turns on a country of seven million. Does that make sense? Is that logic? Right? When the people who -- when the Americans who trace their roots back to those 350 million get involved, everything changes. Can I say that again?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GALLAGHER: Congressman Ellison says, his comments were selectively edited and taken out of context. And we should note the audio was uploaded by the Investigative Project on terrorism whose Founder Steven Emerson has dealt with credibility questions in the past. Still the ADL thinks Ellison should be disqualified saying, quote, "Whether intentional or not, his words raise the specter of age old stereotypes about Jewish control of our government, a poisonous myth that may persist in parts of the world where intolerance thrives, but has no place in open societies like the U.S."

Ellison is also battling information uncovered by CNN which found that in 1990, he wrote a column in his student newspaper at the University of  Minnesota where he defended a black radical speaker who claimed that during World War II, quote, "The Zionists joined with Nazis in murdering Jews so they would flee to Palestine." It was in that same student newspaper that Ellison said, there should be a separate country for Black Americans preferably in the Southeast United States. Incoming Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer who initially back Keith Ellison for DNC chair says, his support still stands -- Megyn.

KELLY: Trace, thank you.

Joining me now with more, Fox News contributor and Townhall.com editor Katie Pavlich and DNC Platform Committee member Nomiki Konst. Wow! There is a lot to unpack there.

Katie, let me start with you. This is a guy who defended Louis Farrakhan as not anti-Semitic, who called him a role model, he called Farrakhan a role model. A guy who called Judaism a gutter religion and who said, "Hitler was a great man." And now they're thinking about making Congressman Ellison the head of the Democratic Party. Your thoughts.  

KATIE PAVLICH, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR, TOWNHALL.COM EDITOR: Well, just first have to say that the democratic party has become increasingly anti-Israel over the past couple of years. It was at the 2012 DNC convention where delegates booed putting Jerusalem back into the platform after it was initially taken out.

And, you know, Keith Ellison talks about this comment that he's under fire for with the American interest being involved with Israel. America has an interest in Israel because it's the only democracy in the Middle East where women and gays can walk around and openly be themselves.

Keith Ellison is radical. He has no business running a major party in this country. He has defended Louis Farrakhan. He went on a trip in 2008 to Saudi Arabia and met with a president of a bank that funded suicide bombings in Israel from the Palestinian side. He has also defended a cop killer which is a whole another issue. He's a radical who has no business of being at the head of a major party in this country.

KELLY: Nomiki, the ADL now has come out and said, look, we initially defended him, but we view these remarks as disturbing and disqualifying. Why are they wrong?

NOMIKI KONST, DNC PLATFORM COMMITTEE MEMBER: They're wrong because -- let's be clear here. There are a lot of remarks being taken out of context, being pulled from years ago in snippets. Specifically, this audio was mentioned--

KELLY: That was 2010. The stuff about why do we dictate our Middle East policy based on a 7 million with 2010.

KONST: Edited by somebody who the Southern Poverty Law Center called an anti-Muslim extremist.

KELLY: He's not denying it. He's not denying it. We heard it for ourselves.

KONST: I'm saying that he -- but the person who edited this footage. Now to be clear, let's be very clear here, Keith Ellison has been one of the strongest allies for Israel. Let me explain why.

He has fought against holocaust deniers in the Minnesota State Legislature. He fought for $27 billion in Israel funding. He has been a humanitarian. All you have to do is look at his record. Just look at his allies on top of it.

KELLY: We are looking at his record, and he said Louis Farrakhan is not anti-Semitic. A man who said Hitler is great and Judaism is a gutter--

(CROSSTALK)

KONST: He has never been a member of the nation of Islam. I know--

(CROSSTALK)

KELLY: -- not anti-Semitic. How do you call Louis Farrakhan not anti- Semitic.

KONST: Louis Farrakhan organized the Million Man March--

PAVLICH: Oh, come on.

(CROSSTALK)

KELLY: -- Jews are part of a gutter religion.

KONST: Maya Angelou was at the Million Man March. You know, so many--

PAVLICH: It has nothing to do with the issue.

KONST: It does.

KELLY: Maya Angelou never came out and said Farrakhan was not anti-Semitic. Go ahead, Katie.

PAVLICH: Keith Ellison never said anything anti-Semitic specifically.

(CROSSTALK)

KELLY: Okay. Farrakhan wasn't anti-Semitic. Go ahead, Katie.

(CROSSTALK)

PAVLICH: -- Saudi Arabia meeting with radical clerics who have said anti- Semitic things about Jews in Israel. As I just mentioned, he is meeting with a president of a bank that funds suicide bombings to kill Jews. Meeting with radical--

KONST: You're pulling from all of these places.

(CROSSTALK)

KELLY: Hold on. Let Katie finish. Hold on. I'll go back to you, Nomiki. Katie, go.

PAVLICH: -- it is his record. Meeting with clerics but not only called for the death of Jews in Israel but also the death and murder of American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. So we are going to talk about his records.

We should talk about in its entirety. And it includes his radical view points on a variety of issues. You cannot just cherry pick the things that you like. It's a variety of issues and that is a very record.

KELLY: Okay. Go ahead, Nomiki.

KONST: If you look at his record, there's nothing that shows he's radical. Let's be clear here. The only radical that we should be talking about right now is President Trump who has somebody who's a white supremacist.

(CROSSTALK)

KELLY: We're talking right now about Ellison. You have the floor on Ellison, Nomiki.

KONST: As somebody who's on the platform committee, who helped passed the most progressive platform? The most so Israel platform in the history of democratic party. Who was there doing that? That was Representative Keith Ellison. He has the strongest record of humanitarian issues in congress. He's somebody who wants to reform the democratic party. And there's not one time--

KELLY: I got to go but I got to ask you quickly. Nomiki, I got to ask you quickly. I got to ask you quickly, Nomiki. Twenty-six years ago, he offered support for a separate country for black Americans, saying they would have the option of choosing their own land base or to remain in the United States.

Since black people toiled most diligently in the southeastern section of the United States, that quite naturally would be the most suitable. That means Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi. Blacks of course would not be compelled to move to the blacks state. Peaceful whites would not be compelled to move away. Problematic?

KONST: He was 22 years old responding to police brutality at a time when there was massive police brutality. Let's not forget, he's 53 years old. If you were to go back from when you were 22 years old, would you be proud of it?

PAVLICH: He has the same attitude.

KELLY: Go for it. You won't find anything like that.

PAVLICH: It's the same attitude today as he did back then.

KONST: You don't know him, Katie. I do. And I can tell you--

PAVLICH: I know his records. And it's pretty clear.

KONST: -- he voted for $27 billion in Israel funding. Donald trump sure as hell never did that.

PAVLICH: Okay.

KELLY: All right. Good to see you both. Taking your thoughts on that. Facebook.com/thekellyfile. On Congressman Keith Ellison, whether he should be the new DNC chair. So, you may have heard Bill Bennett in our first block suggesting that Pete Hegseth should be the president-elect's pick to head up the Veterans Administration. Pete is next here live on that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(START VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Our most basic commitment to provide health and medical care to those who fought for us so bravely has been violated completely. The VA scandals that have occurred are widespread and totally inexcusable.

Can you imagine the waste and corruption -- and I will tell you, we will find it, and we will find it big league when I become president in January 2017.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KELLY: Big league. Taking care of our nation's veterans is one of the promises that president-elect Trump repeated over and over. And with rumors swirling now over who could soon be heading up the VA under president Trump, we are learning this week that nearly 600 patients at one facility in Wisconsin may have been inadvertently infected with things like hepatitis and HIV.

Making it clear that whoever fills this post is going to have their work cut out for them. Joining me now, Pete Hegseth, a Fox News contributor and one of the names being mentioned as a candidate for the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Great to see you, Pete.

PETE HEGSETH, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR, FORMER EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF VETS FOR FREEDOM: Thanks, Megyn.

KELLY: So horrible what happened in Wisconsin. And sadly this isn't the first time we've had you on to talk about what is happening to our veterans at facilities across the country because whatever they do, they cannot seem to manage this facility correctly. Let's just start with that and your thoughts on it.

HEGSETH: Well, that's exactly right. Donald Trump is correct in what he said up front. It's a systemic failure and a bureaucracy that cannot care for veterans because it is a single payer government top down government run system that puts the bureaucracy in front of the veteran.

And in this case, Wisconsin is a place that has already had problems with opiates and over-prescriptions. You got a place where doctor is literally putting 600 lives at risk. And he's not been fired. He's been put on paid administrative leave. Our civil service (inaudible) can't hold people accountable.

If you can't hold people accountable, you can't change a culture. So a future leader of this department or any department has to have that authority. And then veterans need a choice. Either you go to the VA or if you live near there elsewhere, you can go to a provider and go to a doctor of your choice if you don't feel like you're being cared for properly.

So, the answers are there. You just have to have the courage to fight for against the interest in Washington, which was a raid against reform. The swamp is powerful. The union, the VA bureaucracy, the special interest, the media, others that will fight against it. You've got to have the willingness to fight back and then you can change things.

KELLY: Absolutely. So, I want to ask you, whether you're going to be in the Cabinet.

(LAUGHTER)

HEGSETH: Listen, it's always humbling and to have your name considered, I'm grateful for the opportunity. I've had the honor of serving my country in uniform in Iraq and Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay and serving veterans for my work with concerned veterans for America where I think we put the most comprehensive plan forward to anyone has and has pushed reform on Capitol Hill more than any other group.

I never expected to be considered for anything. My heart is just for vets. My heart is for serving them and serving our military. Our country has done them such a disservice for so long.

And so whoever is in that position needs to day and night wake up with a focus on putting veterans first, forget about the bureaucracy being the priority, the priority is vets.

And I think there's a crystal clear opportunity. Because Donald Trump cares. His heart is for vets. He wants to fix this--

KELLY: Got to get through the red tape there.

HEGSETH: -- whoever takes that position. That's right.

KELLY: All right. Let me talk -- because you were spotted at Trump Tower on Tuesday and I want to ask you whether -- because they're also talking about Sarah Palin potentially for this role, possibly Senator Scott Brown. And the question is whether would you -- might you go in a number two position if they asked you, would you serve in any capacity if they asked you?

HEGSETH: Well, service is in my blood, as I said. So, I would welcome the opportunity to serve vets. It's going to be up to Donald Trump who runs that, and my job is not to lobby for that. I had the honor of meeting with him, made the case of what it would take to fix things for vets. He'll make that choice. But I would welcome any opportunity to serve.

KELLY: What about Sarah Palin? Would you get behind her as a choice?

HEGSETH: She's got a heart for vets. She's got a son-in-law and a son who's served this country. So, I have not nothing but good things to say about her and Scott Brown, both friends of mine. So, hey, I welcome the opportunity. But I think when you look at -- I feel good about what I've done and why I've done it.

And it really is hard to go to Capitol Hill and get things passed which is something my group has done, Concerned Veterans for America, we've actually helped hold people accountable. We fought for real choice for vets. You got to do that.

KELLY: What does that mean for "Fox & Friends Weekend" where you're a regular host up until the end of the year and beyond.

HEGSETH: I love "Fox & Friends" and "Fox & Friends Weekend", so I have no desire to leave this network at all. So, I'm not hunting or lobbying for anything. I love you guys. We'll see what happens.

KELLY: We love you, Pete. Thanks for being here tonight.

SEGHETH: Thanks, Megyn. Appreciate it.

KELLY: Up next, there's also new controversy over a media hit piece aimed at the religious beliefs of two popular TV hosts. Tonight, we'll hear from a couple of guys who suffered a similar attack when the Benham brothers join us live next to talk about the new battle in the culture wars. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KELLY: Now to a Kelly File follow-up for you and new backlash against BuzzFeed for questioning the faith of popular HGTV stars Chip and Joanna Gaines. Now, two Christian brothers who lost their own HGTV show two years ago because of their religious beliefs are coming to their defense. Trace Gallagher has more from our west coast newsroom, and then the Benham brothers join us live. Trace?

GALLAGHER: Megyn, Chip and Joanna Gaines still have not publicly commented on their beliefs regarding same-sex marriage although Chip Gaines did go on Twitter saying, quote, "Be on your guards, stand firm in the faith, be courageous, be strong, do everything in love."

And HGTV which airs the couple's show is addressing the question raised in the BuzzFeed article as to whether the show would welcome a same-sex couple saying, quote, we don't discriminate against members of the LGBT community in any of our shows. HGTV is proud to have a crystal clear consistent record of including people from all walks of life in its series.

Now the Benham brothers who lost their own HGTV show two years ago after a right-wing website labeled as anti-gay are coming to the defense of Chip and Joanna Gaines, posting a Facebook video, calling them a wonderful family saying, quote, they're not anti-anything. They're pro-God. They're pro-Bible. They're pro-people. They're pro-Jesus. What's happening right now is a witch hunt.

The Benhams also encourage fans of the show to stick by the couple pointing out that the stars of "Duck Dynasty" also came under fire for homophobic comments. But millions of Americans stood by them and that show remains on the show today.

We should note BuzzFeed is getting some major push back from the article with The New York Times, The Washington Post and others calling it nothing more than a hit piece. Meg.

KELLY: Trace, just to clarify. I think it was the website Right-Wing Watch that went after the Benham brothers, not a right-wing website.

GALLAGHER: Right-Wing Watch. Yes, you're correct.

KELLY: Okay. Good to see you. Now speaking out in a "Kelly File" exclusive, David and Jason Benham. They're also authors of the book "Living Among Lions." Great to see you, guys. Thank you so much for being here. So, let me start with you David and why you thought it was important to speak out.

DAVID BENHAM, LOST HGTV SHOW AFTER ANTI-GAY REMARKS, AUTHOR: Well, here the thought mafia is targeting another Christian couple. Jason and I knew. I mean, this is the same thing that came after us. It's time to stand up for the Gaines family. And here's what's interesting is that this agenda to silence men and women of faith and really to silence anyone that disagrees with the sexual revolution, the ceiling has become the floor.

Now to where we are today, where Jason and I, we were actually fired for simply voicing our opinions about marriage and sexuality within the context of marriage. The Gaines are being pressured because they simply attend a church that has a pastor that speaks about our traditional beliefs. This is an absolute witch hunt and we knew we had to come to their defense.

KELLY: Yeah. The Gaines have not said whether they agree with all these things that their pastor has said. The question BuzzFeed is raising is do they? And just to set the stage for the audience, this is a pastor. His name is Pastor Seibert. And this is the church that the Gaines attended. Let's just listen to the controversial comments that BuzzFeed is focusing on. Listen.

(START VIDEO CLIP)

JIMMY SEIBERT, PASTOR: This is a clear biblical admonition. So if someone were to say marriage is defined in a different way, let me just say it this way, they are wrong. Obviously. Truth number one, homosexuality is a sin. The lie, homosexuality is not a sin. The statistics say that over 90 percent of people that are in a full-blown homosexual lifestyle were abused in some way, physically, sexually, mentally.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KELLY: Jason, that last one in particular has caused a lot of controversial, just not supported by the facts or the signs. Your thoughts.

JASON BENHAM, LOST HGTV SHOW AFTER ANTI-GAY REMARKS, AUTHOR: Well, our thoughts are that God's blessings are found within God's boundaries. And when you remove God's boundaries, those blessing are replaced with burdens. And true love involves compassion with standards.

If you remove one or the other, you don't have love. And so what this pastor has done is something that we encourage other pastors to do, to actually stand and say, what does the bible say about marriage? It's not that difficult. And, you know, when we have pastors that are backing out of this hot topic issue right now, this is why the thought mafia can come in and try to get the Gaines off of their show.

And so we don't need this anymore. This is why it's such a great time for Christians to actually stand up and say, we love all people, we're not anti-anything. But God's blessings are found within God's boundaries and we need to live within those boundaries.

KELLY: But what do you make of it? You know, because the LGBT community and those who support them would say, hey, you know, we have the right to vote with our pocketbooks, the same as Christian community does. If we don't want to support a show or see a show on the air, that we feel it's anti- gay, then we have the right to say we don't like that show, we're going to go after them. What do you make of that?

BENHAM: You're right. You'll remember when Jason and I were on your show and various other shows after we got fired, we said HGTV had the right to fire us. The gay community -- which was not the whole gay community. This whole LGBT agenda does not represent the entire gay community. There are so many gay individuals across the country that support the gays, that supported us.

This is not representative of the entire gay community. But Jason and I said look, they have the right to watch what they want to watch. But what we're talking about here is an agenda that's gone from acceptance to appreciation to celebration and now they're going to force participation and that's why we have to stand up to this.

KELLY: Guys, thank you very much for being here.

BENHAM: Thanks for having us.

KELLY: Appreciate it. Great to see you. Again, this is not about necessarily anything the Gaines actually believe. It's about what their pastor said. That's what this whole thing has been based on. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KELLY: So we are here in Naples, Florida, tonight as part of our book tour. I wrote a memoir, you may have heard, it's called "Settle for More," number one on The New York Times best seller list, thanks to you. This tour I have to say has been the most uplifting experience I've had professionally perhaps ever in my life.

Meeting our viewers, people like you, face to face and sharing even just a moment with all of you has been so exciting to me, to my entire team. These are some of the people we met today here in Naples. And we are so grateful. It's just been -- you just have a second to connect with somebody across the desk or hold a hand.

But man, this is like the complete opposite of the internet. This guy says I'm from Michigan second district. And I'm grateful for the support of the book as well. Tomorrow, we are off to the villages and then back home on Monday. Thanks for watching. Here's Sean who has Trump.

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