Transcript

Sen. Lankford: Let career prosecutors finish Russia probe; Turley: White House created a credibility problem

Senate Intelligence Committee member talks Comey dismissal, subpoena of Michael Flynn on 'The Story with Martha MacCallum'

 

This is a rush transcript from "The Story," May 10, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

MARTHA MACCALLUM, "THE STORY" HOST: Good evening, everybody. I'm Martha MacCallum and this is "The Story."

Tonight, we have learned that the now-fired FBI Director James Comey could be back in Washington testifying on Capitol Hill next week. Tonight, we got an independent citizen who will be very interesting in that iteration to say the least. The Wall Street Journal reporting today that the White House was becoming frustrated by Comey's lack of support and that they wanted him to say "three little words", there's no ties when it comes to Russia. He opted not to do that. Supporters of the president's decision also out in force today saying that Comey had a history of overreach and that he needed to go.

And the backlog of doublespeak from politicians and pundits on this whole thing is so rich and so remarkable, we will dig into all of that with you tonight. In the meantime, the White House was very much in explanation mode on all of this today. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why did you fire Director Comey?

DONALD TRUMP, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: Because he wasn't doing a good job, very simply. He was not doing a good job.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, PRINCIPAL DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARRY: The president had lost -- again, like I said, he had lost confidence in Director Comey, and frankly, he'd been considering letting Director Comey go since the day he was elected.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MACCALLUM: Got a big show for you tonight. Senator James Lankford and Professor Jonathan Turley here on those calls for a special prosecutor, where is that going? Juan Williams and Bill Bennett on the frenzy of pundits and politicians, and whether the president has made his situation better or worse here? Our power panel, Chris Stirewalt, Mercedes Schlapp, and Julie Roginsky, on the lessons learned at the White House last night, and what is coming at them next.

But we begin tonight with Chief Intelligence Correspondent Catherine Herridge who is live outside of the FBI's headquarters in Washington. Good evening, Catherine.

CATHERINE HERRIDGE, FOX NEWS CHANNEL CHIEF INTELLIGENCE CORRESPONDENT: Thank you, Martha. Late today confirmation on a bipartisan basis from the Senate Intelligence Committee that they have issued subpoenas for the former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn who resigned in mid-February over his contacts with the Russian Ambassador. The Senate Intelligence Committee asked Flynn in late April to cooperate and to provide records that were relevant to their investigation, but he declined on the advice of counsel. So this issuing of subpoenas represents a major escalation in the case as Vice President Mike Pence told reporters today that the decision to fire the FBI Director was based on the recommendation of the deputy Attorney General, a career prosecutor, and had nothing to do with Russia.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE PENCE, UNITED STATES VICE PRESIDENT: There is no evidence of collusion between our campaign and any Russian officials. Let's not - wait, let me - let me be clear with you, that was not what this is about.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HERRIDGE: Also late today, these new images of the now-fired FBI Director James Comey, who is back in Washington, D.C. These images from his home in suburban Virginia. You can see him wearing workout clothes as he exits his vehicle. The next time we anticipate seeing the former FBI director will be on Capitol Hill next week, likely Tuesday, in a closed, classified session before that same Senate Intelligence Committee, Martha.

MACCALLUM: Stunning developments. Catherine, thank you very much.

HERRIDGE: You're welcome.

MACCALLUM: So, in the wake of James Comey's firing, there have been calls for an independent special prosecutor to step in and take over the Russian election interference probe. My next guest is not among them, Senate Intelligence Committee James Lankford, says the career FBI agents still present will carry that ball forward, and he joins us now. Senator, good to have you with us tonight. Welcome.

SEN. JAMES LANKFORD, R-OKLA., SENATE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE MEMBER: Thanks. Good to be with you.

MACCALLUM: So, I understand that you were in a meeting that the president was leaving this evening or later this afternoon. Was any of these brought up there? What did he talk about?

LANKFORD: It's a brief conversation with the president about it. We were meeting on tax policy and trying to work through some issues there. We also had a brief conversation, he and I did about this firing, and what happened, and some of the timing, and the why. And my dominant issue with him is many Americans will say they understand, Comey has been a very controversial figure for a while. The big issue Americans are looking for is why right now? It made sense in January, it doesn't make as much sense now. And his answer was very clear, it's what the vice president has said before. He -- when Comey's boss is now in place, he's only been there a couple weeks, Mr. Rosenstein, when he came on board, met with Comey, he and Comey did not connect, had some issues there, and he made the recommendation to the president, "This is not going to work long-term, that we've got to have somebody in there that'll have the trust of the American people." And he made the recommendation and the president made the decision and say, "All right. Do it. I'll follow through on what your recommendation is." So, it's just that straightforward.

MACCALLUM: I mean, did you ask him if he had become frustrated that James Comey, you know, that he watched Clapper and Yates both suggest that there was no collusion that they had found evidence of. He never really got that, clearly stated from the FBI director and the indication is that that frustrated him.

LANKFORD: No, we had no conversation with the Russian involvement at all. I serve on the Senate Intelligence Committee. I wouldn't even bring that up on a one-on-one conversation with the president at all.

MACCALLUM: All right.

LANKFORD: But, he also said, it was very straightforward. Obviously, the American people have lost trust for Comey. Comey, I think, has been a very solid servant of the people. I think he's done what he could do. He's been in a very difficult position that quite frankly, the Clinton campaign put him into once Hillary Clinton was taking private information home, and put him in a very difficult situation there. I think he made the best of a bad situation but he was second-guessed all over and he was damaged.

MACCALLUM: So, in terms of this testimony, two things from Catherine Herridge's report that we just heard. James Comey is expected to speak with your intel committee on Tuesday behind closed doors. What do you hope to learn in that and has your approach changed given the fact that he's now a private citizen?

LANKFORD: No, our approach will obviously stay consistent. We're trying to get all the facts and be able to pull the facts out. We have - we have the responsibility of oversight of the entire process, what's happening now with the FBI, what's happening in the intelligence committee, the documents that have been gather, how they were gathered, and all the information that's there. FBI obviously has all of their investigation to do, so we work with the FBI all along. They have a separate track which we're providing oversight for. The FBI will continue on that same track. There are career prosecutors that are there. James Comey is not conducting the day-to-day investigation list. He does the final signoff on things but it's the career folks that have been there that are very solid in that investigation, they will continue on that investigation, and they will quickly have someone to be able to make that final call in the interim time period until we get a new director. So our process are going to remain the same, but we will still have very similar questions for James Comey.

MACCALLUM: And there's a subpoena now for Mike Flynn. Tell me about that.

LANKFORD: That's correct. Mike Flynn was supposed to turn documents over to us by yesterday. He did not do that. According and we understand to his counsel --

MACCALLUM: What kind of documents are you looking for there?

LANKFORD: Well, we have subpoenaed a large number of documents, everything related to the questions we've given but I'll leave that out there. We have a large document research that we pursued for him. He didn't turn those documents over, so we've subpoenaed those documents. We do expect them to be delivered to us.

MACCALLUM: In terms of a special prosecutor, you feel confident that the committees that are in place that are investigating this can do the job or do you think that's necessary?

LANKFORD: I don't think that's necessary. Let the FBI finish their work and the career folks that are there at FBI. If there's a dissatisfaction at the end of it or what they found, then we'll get a chance to address something from there. But, nothing goes faster with a special counselor coming out. Remember, it was six years for the Iran counter investigation. It was three years in the Watergate, it was a full year just for Waco and that investigation, and that was a pretty straightforward investigation with no classified documents. It doesn't go faster with an independent council. Let them finish their work. We -- let us finish our work in the committee and oversight as well. We've already been on this five months. Let us continue that out, and then we'll see where it goes from there.

MACCALLUM: Alrighty. A lot of entities that have the job of getting to the bottom of this and as you say, you're all in the middle of this journey. So, Senator Lankford, always good to talk to you, thank you very much.

LANKFORD: Good to talk to you as well. Thanks.

MACCALLUM: So, the issue of the special prosecutor that we're just talking about came up during the White House Press Briefing earlier today, and here's what was said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does the White House oppose the appointment of a special prosecutor to continue - to continue the investigation?

SANDERS: We don't think it's necessary. You've got a House committee, a Senate committee, and the Department of Justice, all working on this. I don't think that there is a necessary need at this point to add --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MACCALLUM: George Washington University Law Professor Jonathan Turley is in disagreement with the White House on this one. He joins us now. Jonathan, good to see you tonight.

JONATHAN TURLEY, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY LAW PROFESSOR: Thank you.

MACCALLUM: Why do you think there needs to be a special prosecutor here?

TURLEY: Well, first of all, for many weeks, I've actually question the need for a special prosecutor because I'm not too sure what the crime is. No one has yet to explain to me what the core crime that would be investigated with regard to Russian influence. The crimes that have been mentioned are things like failure to disclose items with General Flynn, and that's hardly something that a major crime justifying a special council. I think that the way that the White House fired Comey and the when more importantly does give greater justification for the appointment of a special council. There's a lot of people who are not convinced by what the deputy Attorney General said were the reason for Comey's termination. I criticize many of those folks that are saying, "This had to be because the investigation is closing in on Trump." I don't see the crime, so I don't see how it's closing in on Trump. But, I think, the White House has created a major credibility problem. And it --

MACCALLUM: Why and what timing would've worked better? I mean, if you wanted to get rid of Jim Comey, was there ever a good moment when he wouldn't have had this backlash?

TURLEY: January would've been nice. You know, the problem is to wait this long. I understand it's not implausible to say that we waited for the deputy attorney general to come in, but there's also a need, I think, for the White House to recognize the realities here. The president has been criticizing the Russian investigation for weeks. He's been making it known that he's not happy with it. It's a lob off the head of the FBI director after that long of criticism creates a real appearance problem, and appearance matters in a political system. And I think he's -- the White House is making it very, very difficult for Republicans in Congress.

MACCALLUM: What about the suggestion in the president's letter that Jim Comey had told him on three occasions that he was not under investigation?

TURLEY: Well, it was sort of an odd thing sort of it was parachuted in there. I -- it seemed a bit forced. I wasn't surprised by that because I have not seen any credible claim of collusion, in fact, you know, governments trying to influence elections are nothing new. Our government is a serial violator of that rule. We have tried to influence elections around the world. We've even overthrown governments. So from outside the country, our objections and shocks seemed a bit forced. But the question comes back to what's the crime? Are we going to try to indict Vladimir Putin? Because that's not going to go very well.

MACCALLUM: It's a great question, and as you point out, Michael Flynn's, perhaps, negligence in filing forms and informing people about the speaking engagements and the money that he was getting from Turkey and from Russia are sort of the specific things that needs to be dig into, and beyond that, there hasn't been much details of what could fall under that category of crime. Jonathan Turley, always good to see you. Thank you very much.

TURLEY: Thank you.

MACCALLUM: So, still to come tonight, Juan Williams and Bill Bennett here on the assertion that this firing of James Comey was done in order to protect the president from accelerating Russia investigation. You just heard that. We're going to get into that with them.

Plus, our power panel of Chris Stirewalt, Mercedes Schlapp, and Julie Roginsky on how this whole thing was handled in the White House.

And disturbing new details in the hazing death of a Penn State sophomore. What his fraternity brothers allegedly did inside that house, the 911 call has now been released. We will play it for you here tonight.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

911 DISPATCHER: And what's going on today?

RYAN MCCANN, BETA THETA PI MEMBER: We have - we have a friend who's unconscious. He's -- hasn't moved. He's probably going to need an ambulance.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MACCALLUM: Breaking tonight, the White House continues its defense for removing FBI director James Comey, saying that it was done to restore trust in the Federal Bureau of Investigations. His critics, however, aren't just skeptical, they see a ton of things in all of this, suggesting that the move was meant to sabotage the investigation into Trump's campaign potential ties with Russia. They went really wild on some of these. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- will rightly suspect that the decision to fire Director Comey was part of a cover-up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the kind of thing that goes on in nondemocracies, that when there is an investigation, they fire the people who were in charge of the investigation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president of the United States has removed someone at will who was -- is in charge of an investigation that could lead to treason.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, it's a very troubling abuse of power. And Donald Trump just behaved like a tyrant.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The administration itself, I think, has a profound conflict of interest in the firing of the director.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MACCALLUM: Joining me now, Fox News Political Analyst and cohost of "THE FIVE", Juan Williams. Juan, I said there were some wild comments in there. It just struck me that it was kind of getting out over the skis a bit. Your thoughts.

JUAN WILLIAMS, "THE FIVE" COHOST AND POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, the fact is, you could say over the skis because where is the evidence? You would think at this point there would be some leaks, there would be some indication that would prove ties between people in the Trump campaign or potentially even the president himself and some of these Russians who we know interfered in the 2016 election. The thing about it, though, is the timing. The timing is just so suspicious. The argument being put forth by Rod Rosenstein, the new Deputy Attorney General is that this is all tied in to what Jim Comey, now the former FBI director did back in July of last year, Martha, and then subsequently in October, 11 days before the election.

MACCALLUM: But this before Comey - he could get a bite at that apple he was just confirmed a week ago.

WILLIAMS: That's not true.

(CROSSTALK)

WILLIAMS: No, it's too - it's almost -- but the point is, in fact, this is a point of great interest today, the note that he sent the president detailing how, in fact, Comey went past his authority in making statements about Clinton, apparently deciding whether or not to prosecute her, these were things that were dated and sent in a memo to the president just yesterday, and the suspicion therefore is that they were trying to create a paper trail. They were just about satisfying the president's desire to create a reason to fire Comey at this moment when Comey is in charge of the investigation into the Russian probe.

MACCALLUM: I want to play a sound bite that I heard last night after this show when I was watching T.V. at home. This is Jen Psaki, a former White House official. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEN PSAKI, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: If they're not calling for an independent prosecutor, I think people should start to question whether they're in cahoots with Russia, what their patriotism, and what they think should actually happen here to get to the bottom of this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MACCALLUM: That just amazed me. She's saying if you don't think that a special prosecutor is needed, then you're in cahoots with Russia, and I question your patriotism. I mean, at some point, we have to have reality check here, and we were just discussing the only actual suggestion of specific allegations are that Michael Flynn did not go through the proper channels to do that RT appearance, didn't say that he was getting paid for it, and the same thing with his work for the Turkish government. Beyond that, we don't have anything to go on here yet.

WILLIAMS: Well, obviously, we have something in terms of what Sally Yates, the acting attorney general said when she found that Flynn had, in fact, been discussing sanctions with the Russian Ambassador, and yet told Vice President Pence.

MACCALLUM: Right. All based on Flynn who is gone now, and has now been subpoenaed because he won't turn over documents.

WILLIAMS: And the subpoena is new as well. And the subpoena of people associated with Flynn and financial information about not only Flynn but other people including President Trump.

MACCALLUM: But this language that, you know, that he's disintegrating the presidency, that he's a tyrant, do you find that to be a little bit over the top, or do we just live in such a time of complete hyperbole when everybody has to completely sort of start kind of getting so far beyond what we're actually looking and talking about? If we get there, fine.

WILLIAMS: If we get there, fine. So, I'm in agreement with the spirit that you represent here, which is, let's not convict someone before you have evidence of a crime. But, I think, when the president of the United States, given the power we give to our president as the head of the law enforcement because he's the attorney general's boss. The Attorney General reports to him, and of course, the FBI reports to the Attorney General. The idea that then the president would somehow be potentially interfering in the investigation at a moment when we could come to some evidence is pretty lethal. A lot of suspicion and -

(CROSSTALK)

MACCALLUM: Are you calling (INAUDIBLE) prosecutor?

WILLIAMS: I saw that Jonathan Turley did, and I know that Charles Schumer, the top Democrat in the senate is. As well as you see people like McCain and others and Republicans.

MACCALLUM: Are you?

WILLIAMS: I want some kind of indifference. I just want to be able to trust the results.

MACCALLUM: That makes me think you're in cahoots with the Russians -

(CROSSTALK)

WILLIAMS: Is that right? Oh, my gosh.

MACCALLUM: -- patriotism. Thank you. Thank you, Juan. Good to see you tonight.

WILLIAMS: Thank you.

MACCALLUM: So, here with more, Bill Bennett, host of the Bill Bennett Show podcast, and former Secretary of Education, he's also a Fox News Contributor. Bill, good evening to you. Your thoughts on what you're hearing here?

BILL BENNETT, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Hi, Martha. I wouldn't fire Juan Williams from anything. I think he's - I think he's great.

MACCALLUM: Neither with me.

BENNETT: Look, everybody go - every parent go to the book of virtues or your favorite children's story book and look up Chicken Little and the Sky is Falling. This is what the Democrats are telling us. Remembering the story, the acorn fell and Chicken Little and the rest of them thought the sky was falling. Well, this isn't an acorn - it's bigger than an acorn - but it's certainly not the sky. I mean, there's some real crazy stuff being said out here. Tyrant? A little cultural literacy here, tyrants are Stalin, Pol Pot, Ivan the Terrible, those are tyrants. The president fired the FBI director, he's allowed to do that. Bill Clinton fired his FBI director. Now, we get this argument about the timing, Martha.

MACCALLUM: Right.

BENNETT: Let me just dissent from this. If he had done it three days before and announced that he was going to do it in three days, we would've had the same reaction from the Democrats. Do, you think the Democrats would've said, "Oh, that's fine. Thanks for giving us a heads up, thanks for giving us notice?" No, we would've heard the same stuff about decapitation. It would've been more considerate of Comey, personally, but in terms of the political reaction, wouldn't have made any difference. About the only time he could've done it (INAUDIBLE) I think an enormous reaction would have been the day after he was sworn in. But I think you made news tonight with Senator Lankford.

MACCALLUM: And, you know, Bill, I mean, when you -

BENNETT: Senator Lankford -

MACCALLUM: Go ahead.

BENNETT: Well, Senator Lankford reported to you a conversation with the president if I heard this right in which the president said the deputy Attorney General Rosenstein came in, met with Comey, and said this isn't going to work. They didn't mesh, they didn't see the world the same way, he is the boss, he gets to decide, he told the president. And yes, then they did have the papers, the paper trail as Juan calls it, those are the appropriate papers to do - but, you know, the amazing thing is this new group of four-seasoned Comey fans. Nobody has liked Comey every day. You know, Democrats liked him on odd days. Republicans liked him on even days. And he was too famous. That's not what the FBI director is supposed to be. It's supposed to be a quiet job, do your job quietly, don't seek out the spotlight.

MACCALLUM: He wasn't in an unusual position, because he had two candidates who were both under FBI investigation. I just want to say that.

BENNETT: Sure.

MACCALLUM: But I want to play - I want to play this sound bite because I do want to get your thoughts on this before we run out of time, Bill. This is Betsy DeVos today speaking at a graduation, and here's what happened.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BETSY DEVOS, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF EDUCATION: Doctor Jackson, board of trustees, thank you so very, very much for this great honor and privilege. I am honored to become a Wildcat.

MACCALLUM: I know you know her, Bill. Does she deserve that?

BENNETT: Yes, I -- she doesn't deserve it. I know her, and I admire her, and I like her. I felt bad for her. This is what four years of liberal arts education will do for you. Is that what you're paying for, parents? I will say one thing, though, that wasn't in your clip but the president stepped to the microphone, president of the university, and said, "If you keep this up, you will get your diplomas mailed to you." That's more courage than they had at Middlebury. Good for the president of the Bethune-Cookman.

MACCALLUM: And Betsy DeVos has, you know, spent most of her adult career working to empower inner-city kids with charter schools all across this country. So really tough message there for her, give her credit for getting up there and trying to do that. Bill, we've got to leave it there. Thank you so much. Never enough time with Bill Bennett. Good to see you, Bill. Thank you.

So coming up here tonight, what happened at the White House last night, and why is Matt Drudge calling for a house cleaning there today? Chris Stirewalt, Julie Roginsky, and Mercecdes Schlapp. And in the middle of all this, guess who came to the White House today? One of the same Russian officials named in the Michael Flynn probe. Why were the White House photographers not allowed in? General Jack Keane is here to explain the real message behind that meeting.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MACCALLUM: So, as Washington and the larger media picked through the rubble that was created in the wake of the FBI director's ousting, the news questions emerge about how this whole thing came about from the little response out of the White House Communications office to the manner in which Comey's firing was announced. The White House perhaps taking some lessons out of the last 24 hours, perhaps. Whatever the mindset inside 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, one media giant level their warning this way. Matt Drudge tweeting this, "Trump advisers leaking to media are now deliberately sabotaging presidency. Major house cleaning needed for survival."

So, here with analysis, Chris Stirewalt, Fox News Digital Politics Editor, Julie Roginsky, a Democratic strategist, and Mercedes Schlapp, Republican strategist, both are Fox News contributors. Welcome to all of you. So, Chris, wow, pretty dire words from Matt Drudge there. What do you make of it?

CHRIS STIREWALT, FOX NEWS DIGITAL POLITICS EDITOR: Yes, that's just exactly what this struggling administration needs, is a savage bloodletting. They just need to cut all the throats and just slaughter.

MACCALLUM: You disagree?

STIREWALT: Lordy, dang! I mean, come on, at a certain point -- at a certain point, you cannot continue to give the people who work for you nothing but beat downs, terror, they're worried, is my job safe, are you in, are you out, it's all of the intrigue.

MACCALLUM: Great point.

STIREWALT: In an organization, any organization, but especially one as important as the White House, loyalty is a two-way street. Donald Trump expects the people who work for him rightly to be loyal to him. They should have the same expectation of the president that he's going to help them do their jobs well, facilitate situations where they can succeed. And when things go poorly, see his own part of fault in this and not just say, you're out, you're out. It's your fault, now I'm going to go be mad.

MACCALLUM: OK. You know, Mercedes, we've seen the way that the president does things and he's been praised for this in some respects, you know, the missile launch, the extreme vetting, which did not go over as well. This move last night, he is decisive. No matter what you say about him, when he makes a decision, he wants to implement it right away like a CEO. Is it the wrong way in the White House?

MERCEDES SCHLAPP, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: No. Because with his bold decisions, though, there is a shock value to it in the system, and what happens, it creates almost like a crater, where then you have the sort of vacuum. And that's the moment when for example the Democrats were able to come back and have a very cohesive response on going forward on a special prosecutor. I just can't even believe that the Democrats are basically being helpful to Comey when just weeks before that, and months before that, they were being very critical of Comey. I think for the president, it's how he functions in terms of saying I'm going to make this very bold decision. I think that there is this loyalty coming from his team. I disagree with Matt Drudge that the Trump advisors are trying to sabotage his presidency. But I do believe that for the presidents important to understand that that calm part of the White House is so important, so critical for him to deliver his message effectively, get surrogates out who are able to explain what the president has done. But, you know, he just functions in a little bit of a different way.

MACCALLUM: I think, in part, where the Drudge thought came from was a story like this one which was out this morning, the firing was done in such haste that his own contract couldn't catch up. The vast majority of the White House staff learned about it on TV when the news broke. It quoted someone within the White House as saying this is insane. Julie, your thoughts?

JULIE ROGINSKY, DEMOCRATIC ANALYST: Well, you know, taking my partisan hat off and putting on my staffer hat on mercy, I think you'll agree with me on this because we've both worked for our share of politicians. No politician is an island onto him or herself. So when you make a decision like this, it's probably a good idea to lineup the surrogates that you need both internally and externally to carry your message for you. Otherwise you have the disaster that you have over the last 24 hours, which is a completely convoluted message. And on top of that, it looks like your own staff leaking and leaking and leaking like a sieve in order to save themselves and to make themselves look good. That does not serve them. It doesn't serve their principal at all. But as Chris very aptly points it out, the principal doesn't let the staff do its job, it is virtually impossible for the staff to do its job. And then you get to the Washington habit of covering, you know, CYA, that's a big problem.

MACCALLUM: Let's get around the horn on this quickly. Chris, what comes next? He met with McCabe today, the president. He has to get a new FBI director.

STIREWALT: He's got to get an awesome new FBI director. He cannot get like a massive pretty good FBI director. He cannot get like the generic corn chips. He's got to get the real Fritos. He's got to get the good stuff on this because if he doesn't, he's going to end up with a special prosecutor, and that special prosecutor will end up doing to him what the special prosecutor did to Bill Clinton, and that is not what Donald Trump wants. So he needs to shoot the moon and have a great pick for the FBI director. If not, if it doesn't get Democratic votes, will it at least get Democratic praise.

MACCALLUM: Julie, how's that going to go?

ROGINSKY: Amen. I honestly can't think of who that person could be at this point.

(LAUGHTER)

ROGINSKY: I'd love to hear a name because I can't imagine who that could be.

STIREWALT: Merrick Garland is available.

(CROSSTALK)

ROGINSKY: It has to be somebody like that. Short of that, I'm not sure who it could be. Great idea. I don't know. Special prosecutor, I suspect is where we'll eventually end up. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but in the next few months I think that's where we'll end up being.

MACCALLUM: Mercedes?

SCHLAPP: I think that we don't need a political celebrity to be the FBI director. You hardly ever hear the name Robert Mueller, who was George W. Bush's pick as FBI director. You want someone who is completely honed in on law enforcement, not on being a political figure, not on being out on the limelight. This is someone who needs to have impeccable credentials and who can cross these party lines and really focus on the Americans and on safety.

MACCALLUM: Yeah. And I think that's the kind of person he's probably going to pick because the word is -- you know, the reporting as he thought Comey was a show horse, and I'm guessing he's going to go for sort of a good hard-working pony or something.

(LAUGHTER)

MACCALLUM: Thank you, guys. Good to see you all. Still ahead tonight, a high-stakes meeting at the White House today, as two of Russia's top diplomats visit the president today. This was all prescheduled of course, but weird timing perhaps or perhaps just right. We'll talk about it. General Jack Keane is here with his exquisite insight into the real message being sent to Russia by the White House today. And this story, disturbing new details tonight. We first brought you the beginnings of this a couple of nights ago, the hazing death of a Penn State sophomore. We now have the chilling 911 calls that were made by his fraternity brothers and the potential of a very serious cover-up.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNINDENTIFIED FEMALE: Was he breathing?

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: He's breathing.

UNINDENTIFIED FEMALE: Was there any alcohol or anything involved that you know?

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, there is.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MACCALLUM: Controversies swirling tonight following President Trump's meeting with two of Russia's top diplomats today at the White House. It's the highest level face-to-face meeting between the administration and Moscow since President Trump took office. The commander in chief hosted Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, and Russian ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak, whose name you know from the whole Michael Flynn situation. The meeting coming just one day after the president fired FBI director James Comey, the man heading the investigation into the Russian interference in last year election, claims that the Russian foreign minister brushed aside.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SERGEY LAVROV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: I believe that politicians are damaging the political system of the U.S., trying to pretend that someone is controlling the U.S. from the outside.

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MACCALLUM: Interesting there. Joining me now, retired four-star general Jack Keane, Fox News contributor and chairman at the institute for the study of war. General Keane, good to see you tonight as always. I want to start with something that you just did recently and that was speak to a couple hundred FBI supervisors, and that was before all of this happened. But what was your feel for how they felt about the FBI director?

JACK KEANE, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, first of all, let me just say what an honor it was to speak to them and how proud I am of being associated with them. It was total professionalism as American people, have every right to be proud of them and have confidence in them. Informally, they've lost confidence in their director. The public utterings, largely surrounds how the Clinton case was handled and widely known that most of the investigators in that case are recommending, certainly, that charges be found against her. And then, essentially, dismiss those charges. And also took it upon himself to make that decision when it was the attorney general's responsibility. So, I think over time, they just lost that. And I believe he was becoming a distraction to the agency.

MACCALLUM: You know, you hear some people were upset, in tears, at his dismissal, but clearly there was also the sentiment that you're expressing. We've heard that from others that they have worked very hard on that case and that they believe that they had enough evidence to move forward, and the politics that may have swept in and sort of how he got here today. In terms of the timing today of this meeting with Lavrov and Kislyak, and the fact that White House photographers were not included in that moment of these photographs. There were Russian photographers who were allowed to come in and take these pictures. Bad timing? Good timing? What you make of this meeting?

KEANE: That's a little bizarre. I don't know why we wouldn't have the courtesy to have our own photographers -- the White House photographers in there, to just exclude them and have the Russians in there. I solely understand the Russians being in there. Normally we don't do that. You have to electronically sweep that place. I certainly don't want to leave any eavesdropping stuff there. But, no, it doesn't make any sense to me.

MACCALLUM: So in the terms of this meeting, how do you think it went? It's almost a set up for the Putin meeting that's down the road. What do you expect?

KEANE: Well, listen, President Trump and Secretary Tillerson and Secretary Mattis have changed the relationship with Russia. That's a fact. Under Obama, he was willing to engage using diplomacy primarily, very rarely willing to confront. But President Trump, he's willing to not only engage, but he's willing to confront. He sanctioned North Korea, he sanctioned the Iranians. He's called out the Russians. He called them out for enabling Assad who kills his own people using sarin gas. He's called out the Russian for not abiding by the Minsk Accord, and withdrawing their separatist forces and their military capabilities out of Ukraine. He's also called them out for this great controversy dealing with the meddling in our elections. He is going to confront them until their behavior changes.

All that said there are ways that we should cooperate, where we have mutual interest. A mutual interest is ISIS, radical Islam. The common order up in the Artic that has unbelievable natural resources is something that we have mutual interest in. So we have found when we have bad relationships with the Soviet Union, we found opportunities at times to work together. But, as long as this Russian behavior continues where there aggressively asserting and trampling our interests and our allies national interest, I think this president is going to stay right on top of these guys.

MACCALLUM: Interesting. General Jack Keane, thank you, always good to see you.

KEANE: Good talking to you, Martha.

MACCALLUM: So coming up, we are going to play the 911 calls, and the stunning new details that have been released from text messages as well, in the case of the hazing death of this Penn State sophomore, pictured here when he was in high school with his mom and dad. We're going to hear for the first time what the fraternity brothers allegedly did in the hours after he fell 15 steps down to the bottom, when we come back.

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UNINDENTIFIED FEMALE: What's going on today?

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: We have a friend who's unconscious. He hasn't moved, probably going to need an ambulance.

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MACCALLUM: Stunning 911 calls and gruesome details that are emerging in the tragic case of 18 Penn State fraternity members charge in the hazing death of sophomore Timothy Piazza. His fraternity brothers allegedly ignoring him for 12 hours, I mean, at times, they were dumping water on him and putting books on his chest and not completely ignoring him, but essentially they left him to die after he fell down a flight of stairs because he was very drunk. Trace Gallagher has more on this from our west coast bureau tonight with the latest. Trace?

TRACE GALLAGHER, FOX NEWS: Martha, we'll play the entire call, but first some context, 19-year-old Tim Piazza was involved in a hazing ritual where you drink as much as possible in 2 minutes. Piazza blood alcohol was four times the legal limit to drive a car. Alcohol was mentioned during the 911 call, but there was no mention of him falling down a flight of stairs, and no mention of him falling on his head several times throughout the night.
Listen.

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UNINDENTIFIED FEMALE: 911, what is the address of your emergency?

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: Uh, 220 North Burrowes Street.

UNINDENTIFIED FEMALE: You said 229?

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: 220, two, two, zero, North Burrowes Street.

UNINDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, what's your name?

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: Ryan McCann.

UNINDENTIFIED FEMALE: And what's going on today?

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: We have a friend who's unconscious. He hasn't moved, probably going to need an ambulance.

UNINDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, how old is he?

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: He is 19, 19-years-old.

UNINDENTIFIED FEMALE: And was he breathing?

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: He is breathing.

UNINDENTIFIED FEMALE: Was there any alcohol or anything involved, do you know?

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, there is.

UNINDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right, we'll get somebody over there, OK? If anything changes call back and let us know.

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you very much, bye-bye.

UNINDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're welcome, bye-bye.

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GALLAGHER: Notice how calm. The grand jury report said the fraternity showed indifference to clear signs that Tim Piazza was in trouble, and then vigorously tried to conceal evidence. For example, after Piazza had been taken to the hospital, but before he was pronounced dead, there were a series of text messages with one fraternity brother writing, quote, make sure the pledges clean the basement and get rid of any evidence of alcohol, a pledge respond, they're taking care of the basement. Then another text tells the severity of the situation, quote, like what did most of the damage? Response, he fell down a flight of stairs because he was too drunk.

You can't blame yourself, said the pledge, how could I not? I don't think you fully comprehend the situation. He looked effing bed. And then, after Piazza dies, there is this text, quoting, if need be, just tell them what I told you guys, found him behind the way bar the next morning around 10:00 AM, and he was freezing cold but we decided to call 911 instantly because the kid health was paramount. The grand jury noted the Greek life system at Penn State is a danger to human life, Martha.

MACCALLUM: Thank you, trace. Here now, Sam Ruland, who is Penn State university student and editor in chief of the daily collegiate. Sam, thank you. You have done very strong reporting on the story, and I would imagine that it is not easy for you to cover this and to read these text messages and the callousness that is in them.

SAM RULAND, PENN STATE UNIVERSITY STUDENT: Yeah, thank you for having me, Martha. It's unbelievable reading through these messages and the court documents. There was mourning or -- for these boys with their disregards to those text messages and trying to cover up what happened that night.

MACCALLUM: I mean, there is, you know, unlike previous cases, there is videotape that is very high-quality that was taken from cameras all over the inside of this fraternity house, correct? I mean, they have an enormous amount of evidence over this entire time frame. So these guys are likely in big trouble.

RULAND: Yeah, there was video footage from the entire night. It -- saw a video when he first fell down the stairs, the basement cameras, he fell down the basement steps. That video footage was not uncovered because that camera wasn't working, but the camera has footage of him walking towards the basement. (INAUDIBLE) several times throughout the night, and people slapping him, punching him in the stomach where there was an issue with his spleen, putting backpacks and where they're putting textbooks on him in case he rolls over, many of them just kind of disregarding any of the pain that he was in. It shows him, though, kind of rolling up into a ball at one point when he was still alive at 6:00 AM.

MACCALLUM: It's unbelievable. I mean, is this shocking to you? What was going on at this event? Or is it something everybody just sort of knows happens at these pledging events?

RULAND: I don't think the actual part of the hazing in terms of the gauntlet for 2 minutes alcohol drinking period was what was shocking. I think everybody who goes to a university or college especially where there are fraternities, they know that this is what happens in those houses behind closed doors where no one is there to monitor what the boys do and what's being done. I think what was shocking was just how it was handled and the disregard for human life in general.

MACCALLUM: I mean, it is appalling to read through this indictment and these charges, and the recklessness that he was treated with. And the fact that at some point, one of the younger members wanted to get him help and he was roughed up as well. He was pushed against the wall, correct?

RULAND: Yes, he was pushed against the wall. And there were a few other boys messaging the messages who had expressed concern. One of the boys actually said Tim Piazza actually might be a problem, he fell down 15 stairs, head first. But that was at 11:53 PM that night. But yet, no one -- there were no messages responding to that or released to the court documents.

MACCALLUM: I mean, you know, they texted all of this. There is so much evidence in this case it is kind of overwhelming. Let's put up a few more of these text messages and it is shocking because in a way, and I know all these kids have been told if you text something, it doesn't disappear, and now they've learned that lesson the hard way. In that group it said, so there's no evidence on Tim's phone, because they had group messages, so they were trying to cover their tracks. That's obviously tampering with evidence. Here's one more. What you think they would sue for? That he passed away or how we handled it? I mean, it is so callous, Sam. It is unbelievable. Quick last thought.

RULAND: That president of the fraternity, Brandon Young, himself, his major is risk management. It's concerning how they.

MACCALLUM: We're out of time.

RULAND: --Almost idiotic in a sense on how they didn't.

MACCALLUM: We'll talk again. We're going to be right back.

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MACCALLUM: From the beltway, to the university commencement speech, to Penn State, we leave you with a little wisdom from our old friend Mr. Rogers, who gets the quote of the night tonight, when I say it's you I like, I'm talking about that deep part of you that allows you to stand for those things without which humankind cannot survive. Love that conquers hate, peace that rises triumphant over war, and justice that proved more powerful than greed. Thanks, Fred. Goodnight, everybody.

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