Transcript

Rep. McCaul on Manchester attack and keeping the US safe

Homeland Security Committee chairman provides insight on 'The Story'

 

This is a rush transcript from "The Story," May 24, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

MARTHA MACCALLUM, "THE STORY" HOST: Breaking tonight, we have brand-new images of the Manchester bomber, after three weeks in Libya - he came back to England just days ago. These pictures are the first that we have seen of the terrorist around that time. They were snapped by surveillance cameras in a mall just days before he loaded up a backpack with explosives - miles from his own home and walked into the Ariana Grande concert hall as the music was ending; taking the lives of 22 people. Good evening everybody. I'm Martha MacCallum and this is "The Story."

As the details come in, we know that among the dead: three girls, age eight, 15, and 18 years old; 12 children under the age of 16 are in the hospital with a very serious injury. Of the 119 injured, 64 remain in the hospital tonight. And police and nearly 4,000 members of the British military scouring the streets - many in search of the bomb maker who they believe is on the loose tonight somewhere in England. Six people are now in custody as a result of this raid today, one of them is a woman.

We have several big guests for you to add their expertise with this quickly moving story this evening. House Homeland Security Chairman, Mike McCall, on how ISIS fighters are tracked here in the United States; and former Islamic Extremist, Maajid Nawaz; and former Israeli Counterterrorism Officer, Aaron Cohen, take us inside the life of Abedi's family and friends and the place that he lives in Hails From in England. But we begin tonight with Fox News Senior Correspondent, Rick Leventhal, who was live in Manchester this evening with the breaking developments. Good evening, Rick.

RICK LEVENTHAL, FOX NEWS SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Martha. This has been an aggressive and fast-moving investigation resulting in at least six arrests here in Manchester and two more in Tripoli, Libya - all triggered by a very quick identification of that bombing suspect, is 22-year-old, Salman Abedi. And as you mentioned, there are new images of him now taken last Friday at a Manchester shopping center- where he is seen holding a bag believed to be the one that carried the bomb to the arena on Monday night.

As you said, he is believed to have spent three weeks in Libya before the attack, before returning to England just days before the attack. Yesterday, Manchester police arrested his older brother and today in Libya they arrested his father, and also his younger brother. His 18-year-old brother, Hasheem Abedi, who authorities say confessed to knowledge of the plot and said that he and his brother both belong to ISIS. There have been a number of raids in the Manchester area. One, earlier today, were three people were taken into custody and then that one tonight that you referenced where a woman was seen being led away in handcuffs possibly because she might be part of a terror cell related to Abed.

Meanwhile, more than 60 people remain hospitalized as you mention, 20 of them in critical condition with severe injuries. And here in Sabian Square tonight, a memorial continues to grow with flowers and candles and signs of support from the community determined to remain united, and Martha, this country now in the critical terror stage, they are very, very concerned here tonight about the possibility that there could be more attacks in large part because, as you said, the bomb maker is still on the loose.

MACCALLUM: Rick, thank you very much. Rick Leventhal, in Manchester, again, this evening for us. And Congressman Michael McCall is the Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, obviously, a lot of concerns about our situation here at home as well. Chairman, thank you very much for being here this evening.

REP. MICHAEL MCCALL, R-TEXAS, HOMELAND SECURITY COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Thank you, Martha.

MACCALLUM: Vetting has been something that has been discussed quite a bit, and it raises a question about whether or not extreme vetting, the version that the president has supposed would help keep us safer here, your thoughts?

MCCALL: Well, I believe it would. Mayor Giuliani and I have worked together to draft the memo on intensifying vetting in high threat areas and this is precisely why we did it. Here you have a - this is not a lone wolf case involving a knife. This is involving a militia foreign fighter type who traveled to Libya came back to the U.K. and then killed so many innocent children and teenager; my kids' age at a concert performance. It's a very soft target - very premeditated sophisticated attack using a very sophisticated explosive device. You know, in the process, I believe he's going back to Libya to provide more training. It is Ramadan on Friday- and the president's tour, let's forget was just to both the Saudi Kingdom, to Israel, and then to visit with the pope. I think that may have had some bearing on this as well.

MACCALLUM: Perhaps. One of the things that has come up today is the fact that U.S. officials, according to the reports in the New York Times, leaked some of the information of the detonator, the photos of the backpack, all surfaced. And that Theresa May and other British officials are very unhappy, they feel that there were leaks that should never have happened from U.S. intelligence officials. Can you comment on that?

MCCALL: I can. I knew Theresa May when she was what they call "Home Secretary." I actually talked to a British official that works closely with her - they're very, I think, upset about the fact - I think most of all that the suspect's name was released. Because remember, when that's released, anybody connected - and I think, in this case, not being a lone wolf, you have other conspirators involved in a network; a cell, if you will, who were tied to this individual. So, once that name is released then, of course, the others will either do one or two things: go underground and hide, or go out and try to get out of the country, or will detonate another explosive device very soon thereafter. So, I won't tell you I know first-hand that the Brits are not real happy about that.

MACCALLUM: Just lastly before I let you go, what has changed here at home as a result of this attack? Because I know there was a hearing today on Capitol Hill; can people expect to see anything different now?

MCCALL: Yes. I talked to a New York police commissioner there, with respect to Yankee - you know, to the games there, to the concerts in the town. Homeland Security is also looking at issuing a joint intelligence bulletin to state and locals about the seriousness of this. I think above all, 10,000 foreign fighters from Europe went into the region: Iraq and Syria. As we squeeze the caliphate, these jihadists will leave and they already have into Europe. I think most importantly, we need to stop them from getting in one flight away into the United States.

MACCALLUM: Thank you very much. Chairman McCall, always good to have you with us.

MCCALL: Thank you, Martha.

MACCALLUM: So, brand-new video into Fox of the father of the U.K. terrorist - speaking out from Libya defending his son, claiming that he had nothing to do with the attack. This is Ramadan Abedi, a short time ago, before he was arrested by Libyan authorities; he's now in custody. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RAMADAN ABEDI, FATHER OF THE MANCHESTER TERRORIST (through translator): Salman doesn't belong to any organizations, and I know that he doesn't belong to any. There was nothing hidden because I had open discussions with him about anything he wanted to understand.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MACCALLUM: Maajid Nawaz is a former Islamic extremist and author of "Radical: My Journey out of Islamist Extremism;" and Aaron Cohen, former member of an Israeli Special Forces unit and founder of IMS security firm specializing in counterterrorist training. Gentlemen, great to have both of you with us this evening. Maajid, let me start with you. As you listen to the father there, what goes through your mind?

MAAJID NAWAZ, FORMER ISLAMIC EXTREMIST AND AUTHOR: Well, what goes through your mind is this is a typical pattern. But of course, there's a level of denial not just in the immediate family, but in the wider community. The truth is that those of - his relatives and close friends who knew this man, this Jihadist terrorist, would've seen the signs a long, long way off. The signs don't necessarily have to be that, he's confessing to them exactly where or when he's planning an attack but the signs of radicalization are quite obvious and they involve a change not only in behavior but in psychology, an insistence for example, that western democracy is corrupt, that we must aspire to establish a caliphate - a very literalist take on the religion. I doubt very much that his father didn't sense any of this. In fact, I wonder how much of these ideas of the need for a modern-day theocracy in the name of Islam - that his father even rejects in the first place. I think these ideas are furthermore spread within the Muslim community than we're comfortable admitting.

MACCALLUM: You know, we have one picture of (INAUDIBLE) in Manchester - you know, boarded up buildings, it's not a great picture of the block, and I've seen pictures of that whole area. There have been 16 people who've been arrested in that area connected to terror attacks just over the last several years. What can you tell us about the neighborhood, about the climate there, about life there that might give us some insight into all of this?

NAWAZ: It's typical of areas not only across other cities in the U.K. but across Europe. For decades now, we have allowed a situation to develop where Muslim communities are growing up together apart from mainstream society. We're not as integrated as we should be in society, and mainstream society is also being somewhat negligent in attempting to have us integrate into the societies. And the simple truth is, Martha, ISIS didn't - this is going to sound counterintuitive, but ISIS did not radicalize the 6,000 European born and raised Muslims who went to join them.

ISIS didn't radicalize any of them. ISIS merely plucked the low-hanging fruit. The sad truth, the scary truth, is that European Muslims have been radicalized for decades by Islamist organizations who have been working on the right side of the law within our communities preaching theocratic ideals. And so, these people are already primed and wanting a caliphate, along came ISIS and claimed they've established a caliphate. And as I said, it was merely plucking the low-hanging fruit.

MACCALLUM: Thank you. Let me get to Aaron Cohen. Aaron, there were stories coming out shortly after what happened in Manchester; you know, being very concerned that there might be hate crimes against Muslims.
There was a woman who asked for, you know, white men or western men, I think, is the way she phrased it to watch out for their wives and their children - that was determined to be hate speech. In Israel, there's a very different perspective on how to handle this problem. What do you think needs to be done?

AARON COHEN, FORMER MEMBER OF AN ISRAELI SPECIAL FORCES UNIT AND IMS SECURITY FIRM FOUNDER: Well, Israel has Israeli citizens from all facets of life. Israel's one of the most open countries probably in the world. They have Christians, they have Muslims, they have Jews, they have Bahai, and the way we deal with things in Israel when it comes to these types of - when it comes to terrorism directly, and these types of hate crimes, we don't so much see so much of it in Israel. Obviously, there's a divide with the Palestinian community, and the security measures are very strict because of Hamas, and Islamic Jihad, and terrorism organization who would literally try to jump over this wall and kill Israelis.

But for the most part, the Israelis who are Muslim within the Israeli communities move and come and go very freely. Nazareth or Natharad is a primarily Muslim city, a very holy city inside of Israel, as east Jerusalem, and parts of the west bank that cross into Israel, there just isn't a lot of anti-Semitisms. The Muslims integrate and have integrated very well.

MACCALLUM: But you said political correctness is not a factor, it's not something that people are hung up on in Israel.

COHEN: It's not a factor because the 1 million plus Muslims who live in Israel are also afraid of terrorists. Huma Pha Kham, which a very large Arab village inside of Israel not far from Haifa, is also afraid of terrorists. They want the security measures that the Israelis provide. The Arabs inside of Israel know that terrorists are Islamist, and that they're extremist, and that they want to blow up children-

MACCALLUM: And they have become so used to living in that kind of society. And I think now we're all living in that kind of society in Europe and the United States.

COHEN: And we have Arabs who serve in the Israeli defense forces. We have Arabs who are a part of our security apparatus. That's part of life there, so nobody deals with any kind of nonsense when it comes to this.

MACCALLUM: All right. We're going to leave it there. Aaron and Maajid, thank you very much. I hope you'll come back soon. Good to see you both. So, still ahead tonight: the president was at the Vatican to meet the Pope earlier today, but it might be his visit to Brussels that turns out to be the most earth shattering part of his whole trip.

Ahead, on a major NATO meeting; see what one publication is saying about President Trump and what he's done in days that President Obama wasn't able to do in years, Bill Bennett explains. Plus, President Trump's budget director was on Capitol Hill today defending the president's plan to put some popular social problems programs on the chopping block; some Democrats even calling the plan hateful. Chris Stirewalt, standing by on the battle over the budget when we come back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICK MULVANEY, OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET DIRECTOR: We are not going to take any deserving person off of any meaningful program. We want to help people just as much as you do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MACCALLUM: So today, the White House budget chief went to Capitol Hill to make his case in a way that you rarely hear a justification for spending in this country. Mick Mulvaney has an entirely different approach that is somewhat more like how folks go about it at home or in their business. How much does this cost? Is this expenditure getting closer to our goal? And can we afford it? Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MULVANEY: This is a budget that was written from the perspective of the people who actually pay for the government. And we went line by line through what this government does and asked ourselves can we justify this to the folks who are actually paying for it? We no longer want to measure compassion by the number of programs that we have or the number of people that are on those programs. We want to measure compassion, true compassion by the number of people we help to get off of those programs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MACCALLUM: Wow! That's a novel idea, but it is not going over very well in some corners. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN, D-MARYLAND: You and I have seen a lot of budgets from Democratic and Republican Presidents. I've never seen anything as hateful and abominable as this.

REP. NANCY PELOSI, D-CALI., HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES MINORITY LEADER: It is shameful. It is immoral. It is indecent. So this is a picture of who they are.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MACCALLUM: Wow! Chris Stirewalt joins us now with the - he's our Fox News political editor. You know, a lot of people, Chris, think that the way that Mulvaney is talking -- where he talks about taxpayers, you know, he wants to say to them: is this a good way to spend your money, are you OK with us, is this program a big sort of bloated mass, or is it something that works? Why is that such a hard idea swallow?

CHRIS STIREWALT, FOX NEWS CHANNEL POLITICAL EDITOR: Well, apparently, based on the response - I love the fact that in Washington now, this is such a stupid time to be alive. It's just astonishing. The degree of - just the vapidity of the conversation. And you have this is immoral, this is sin, this terrible-

MACCALLUM: It's such a knee-jerk, right? They all just get right on the same page. Like, oh, yes, this is script B.

STIREWALT: But seriously, what is going to be left for outrage? We have exhausted our outrage glands to the point that we just - our endocrine system is breaking down. We cannot sustain this level of outrage if everything's at 11 if everything is a freak out for goodness sake. Now, I will say that for the Republicans, as they look at Medicaid in particular, and Mulvaney - Mulvaney is very gifted at this. He's the right guy for this moment, for this job, for this budget. His career has been leading up to this point.

But these Republicans need to think long and hard as they address Medicaid, which is basically a welfare program, it's health insurance - originally health insurance for poor people, now for the working poor too, under ObamaCare. As they think about making changes to Medicaid, there is huge political exposure there. That is a program that is very popular and is seen as favorably viewed by most Americans. That's the danger zone.

MACCALLUM: Here's the big problem as I see it. Social Security and Medicare are not up for any form of reform. I think if you ask most people: does it make sense to do some means testing? Does it make sense to try to save this program, so that people - you know, under a certain age, might do it differently? And they might actually have it by the time they hit 65; is off the table. the president has said he won't discuss it.

STIREWALT: And once you - and that's really the problem. That's where Mulvaney falls short. That's where Paul Ryan is going to fall short. Which is, if you can't deal with the big thing, if you can't do the big thing, why are you bothering being mean in the small thing? If your budget's blown up anyway, and you're going to have all this debt, you're going to do all these things because you want to rest entitlements, why not go ahead and give a little - it's like when I go off my diet and eat carbs, you know that there's a doughnut right around the corner because once I've decided to have a box of cracker jack, I might as well go for it.

MACCALLUM: You go for the donut, you're doing the sweet potato. All right, thank you very much, Chris, great to see you as always.

STIREWALT: You bet.

MACCALLUM: So, fresh off from his visit with his holiness earlier, the president touching down in Brussels late today for a very important showdown with NATO members. He once called this whole organization obsolete, remember? Apparently, now swayed by the president's tough talk; McClatchy writes this today: "Trump has done what Obama didn't, scare NATO into tracking defense spending." Here now, Bill Bennett, host of the Bill Bennet podcast and a former education secretary of the United States, and a Fox News contributor. Bill, always good to see you. Good evening to you.

BILL BENNETT, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR AND FORMER EDUCATION SECRETARY: Thank you. Thank you.

MACCALLUM: It was quite stunning reading the articles on this today, and the acceptance that NATO was a little bit nervous that Donald Trump is coming to town. They've rolled out their own red carpet for him, and they want to make sure they can impress them with the numbers that they're willing to produce from each country. Big turn of events.

BENNETT: Yes, it's very interesting. The question is, will he be received as well in Europe and Brussels as he was in Riyadh, in Saudi Arabia. He may not be-

MACCALLUM: Probably not.

BENNETT: -- very warm welcome. I don't want him to do a sword dance in Brussels; it was crazy about it in Riyadh either. But - and he does seem to have brought them to the edge here of doing the right thing. I think Russia has also helped. By the way, Martha, let's note the irony there. Russia, which is supposed to be this close bosom buddy of Donald Trump - is NATO's sworn enemy, that's why NATO was established to keep Russia in its bounds.

Now, Trump is pressuring the NATO countries to ante up more for their kind of defense. So, if he gets is done, this will be an enormous accomplishment; not the greatest accomplishment. I think the greatest accomplishment so far is that unified Middle Eastern front against Iran. That is a sea change from Obama and very important. But this is very important too.

MACCALLUM: Yes. You make an excellent point, as usual, Bill Bennett, and that is that NATO's reason for being is to protect those countries essentially from Russia. And you've got Poland, and Estonia, and Latvia, and Lithuania, all concerned that Russia may be looking at, you know, bringing them back into the warm embrace of the Soviet Union. This is designed to prevent that from happening, so if Donald Trump is strengthening NATO, he is doing exactly the opposite of cozying up with Russia.

NAME: Exactly, yes. And the polls, of course, are doing more than what is expected of them, as they usually do; greatest people in the world after the Americans, the polls. Always taking on the chin whenever there's a war, but they are wonderful people. But he's getting these others embarrassing them into it, countries like Germany and so on. And one of the officials today said - NATO officials said, well, we're not going to use NATO to defend or fight ISIS. And Trump will challenge that as well - Secretary Tillerson did, and he's absolutely right. This is a mortal threat in case they haven't noticed, in Manchester at the throat of all of Europe. And in Brussels-

MACCALLUM: How can they do that? You know, how can they deny their responsibility when their credo is that an attack on one as an attack on all? So, how does (INAUDIBLE) say, we're happy to pitch in what were supposed to pitch in, but we're not going to look at this as, you know, sort of a global threat such as it is.

BENNETT: I don't know. But they have lost so much ground in Europe, the things that made Europe so great: the belief, and the religious faith, the belief in capitalism, the kind of nationalistic trust that these countries had. They've lost an awful lot of ground, so we'll see. But ISIS is aimed at them. Let's hope we just don't get this indifference over this reluctance or this sense of resignation. While they're here and that's going to happen occasionally, there's not much we can do about it. The heck with that!

MACCALLUM: Yes, the heck with that is right. Bill Bennett, as always. Good to see you, sir! Thank you.

BENNETT: Thank you. Thank you, Martha.

MACCALLUM: So, we have no new FBI director yet, if you haven't noticed. And now, a long-time friend of Jim Comey is speaking out, quite forcefully. Why he says the president should be very scared of what Jim Comey is going to say. So, is that friend right? Or is he bluffing? We'll talk about that. Shocking revelation tonight also, as the Obama White House was scolded by the FISA Court for overstepping their bounds right at the end of the Obama administration - doing illegal searches for some time on American citizens. This is a very big story. We will lay it out for you tonight. Karl Rove and Ron Williams, coming up next.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: The way to make a government accountable is to make it transparent, so the American people can know exactly what decisions are being made, how they're being made, and whether their interests are being well served.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MACCALLUM: Alarming evidence tonight that the NSA under President Obama illegally gathered the phone calls, and emails, and personal information of countless American citizens, violating their constitutionally protected privacy over the course of the majority of his presidency as it was reported today. This is former CIA director, John Brennan, who served under President Obama - just told Congress under oath this yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN BRENNAN, FORMER CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY DIRECTOR: There is, I think, a right of all Americans to privacy. And that's sometimes information is collected about U.S. persons who may or may not be involved in any manner of criminal activity. It goes to great lengths to cover the identities of U.S. persons if they happen to be included in intelligence collection.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MACCALLUM: So here with more is our chief Washington correspondent who's been digging into this big story today, James Rosen. Good evening, James.

JAMES ROSEN, FOX NEWS: Martha, good evening to you. The foreign intelligence surveillance court known as the FISA court is so secretive we have no pictures of it to show you. It approves 99 percent of the government's request to conduct surveillance on American citizens. Now, the classified documents first obtain by the news website Circus Show that the FISA court sharply rebuked the Obama administration when its lawyers quietly inform the court two weeks before Election Day that the national security agency had systematically violated countless Americans rights over a period of years. Specifically, the court found NSA and not complied with so-called minimization procedures, meaning the measures the government is supposed to take to keep to a minimum its infringements on Americans constitutional rights under the fourth amendment against unreasonable searches. With greater frequency than previously disclosed to the court, NSA analysts have used U.S. person identifiers to query the results of internet upstream collection even though NSA section 702 minimization procedures prohibited such queries. The judges added sternly this is a very serious fourth amendment issue.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: If we can determine this to be true, this is an amazing abuse of power, and it dwarfs any of the other sort of made up stuff that we're looking into now. We're talking about millions and millions of phone calls and emails that are being gathered up and then being search with no sort of control over the privacy of the American.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROSEN: The spokesman for former President Obama did not respond to our request for comment. The section of the law that permits the NSA to engage in this kind of collection and in which it violated so routinely is up for reauthorization by the congress at year's end, Martha.

MACCALLUM: What a story. James, thank you very much. So here now with more, Karl Rove, Fox News political contributor and former deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush, and Juan Williams, Fox News political analyst and cohost of "The Five." James lays it out very well. But the bottom line is that a couple of weeks before the Obama team left the White House, they sort of dump this apology of sorts and said, oh, by the way, we were preaching all of these rules over the course of most of the presidency and we were exposing people on upstream, which mean, you know, you just went on the internet and you queried something or you say something to somebody, not collected as part of any sort of international collection process, they went after it and got it, Karl. So what do you say?

KARL ROVE, FOX NEWS POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, first of all, the administration, you're right, fessed up in October of last year that the new rules that it had put in place since 2011 were not being honored. We need to be a little bit careful in how we look at this because with all due respect to Senator Paul, he got it wrong. This is not telephone calls. This is something that goes along in internet backbone provider, a carrier, in which a so-called MCT takes place, multiple communications transactions. So think of it this way, somebody -- there's a great amount of information flowing out there and some American citizen who is not a subject of either a FISA court order or another kind of court order that allows them to be surveilled, somehow talks about or has terms in their emails that have something to do with that greater subject that they are already looking at and looking at legally. So it's incidental contact. The court held a very long opinion that they weren't living up to the rights because they weren't living up to their obligations because they didn't have the technology.

They had to make a human decision to avoid touching that person's communication. So they were doing it sloppy. And they fessed up, but they fessed up five years after these new rules went in to place that the administration itself had imposed on itself, and yet is troubling that this went on for as long as it did and as often as it did. Even though in the total amount of information they collected it's a small amount, but it's problematic. They weren't living up to their own standards.

MACCALLUM: Juan, what do you think?

JUAN WILLIAMS, "THE FIVE" COHOST: Well, I think -- by the way, Karl just gave a really wonderful description of what it is because this is about collecting information as it's flowing in and out of the country at times, and they're looking to connect the dots. People who may be in contact with terror suspects or somebody, and then they're looking to see who else they have in contact with as that data goes in and out. But, look, every American wants to be protected against terrorism, especially in the White House, I mention Karl might have felt this pressure in his days in the White House. And the intelligence community knows they're being measured on whether or not they prevent the next terror attack. They see this as a tool. They go to the FISA court. The FISA court said you've got to be careful. The constitution protects our privacy, our right to free expression. You can't do this. You get a lot of people on the left like Senator Paul, a libertarian. The ACLU, the nation magazine saying, hey, this is government run amok, but in fact, government is trying to protect us, and so at what point that they go overboard.

MACCALLUM: Here's the problem, I mean, how much of this was for political reasons, Karl, is one of the questions that is raise here. And how much of it was for terrorism because we all know that unfortunately people like the-- brothers in Boston have all the privacy they needed. They have every reason to be caught up in something like this, and yet, they weren't. So who was -- and especially toward the end of the Obama administration, how much of this was politically driven and not terrorism driven, Karl?

ROVE: Yeah. Well, I would have to say this. I think we got to be very careful. I wouldn't trust the Obama White House, particularly in 2016, but I do tend to trust the national security agency. They got sloppy here. They self-reported this. They identified the weakness in their systems, way too late in my opinion. But they are the one who said we're collecting the incidental contact. And, look, it wasn't that we were surveilling -- if that guy abroad emailed somebody inside the United States. That's not the kind of contact were talking about here. They're not really clear in the opinion as to what it is, and I don't want to really have to be clear to us about it. Because I want them to protect the sources and means by which they collect this information. But what it looks like is, is that somebody inside the United States was talking about an email communication or searching somehow for information about something that was connected to something bad abroad, like maybe it was how you make a bomb, but they were just looking at it. They weren't self-radicalized. There wasn't some connection between a bad guy over there.

(CROSSTALK)

MACCALLUM: Remember, Jim Clapper, testimony saying, well, may be, you know, unwittingly, perhaps, we collected it. So I think this goes all the way back to that.

WILLIAMS: And he was shown then, people criticized him and said that he had misled the congress. But the point here to your question, Martha, is there is no evidence that this is politically driven.

MACCALLUM: That's what we need to know about and hopefully will find an answer to that. Karl, thank you. Juan, thank you.

ROVE: And congress will find that out, that's for sure.

MACCALLUM: Thank you, Karl. Thank you, Juan. See you guys next time. So remember when the pope and the president who was then a candidate were in a bit of a twitter war? So how did it go when they met at the Vatican? And what exactly did the pope say that got the president's attention today which he pointed out? We'll show you when we come back. Plus, we haven't heard from Jim Comey, yet, but is he sending messages to a friend? We will explain. Mercedes Schlapp and Mo Elleithee react ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MACCALLUM: There is a bit of a shakeup in the search for the new FBI director. A senior White House source tells Fox News that former Senator Joe Lieberman, who is someone who is considered to be the leading candidate, president even said he was at the top of the list is now suddenly out of the running. This is a friend of the former FBI director James Comey, is speaking out on the Comey-Trump relationship. H is big scoop suggesting the president should be scared. His reasoning? Not evidence of collusion with the Russians, not obstruction of justice, but this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: He did not regard the people in the Trump White House is honorable.

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: That's correct.

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: He said that? That's your recollection is that he had said that or felt that.

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: I have no doubt that he regarded the group of people around the president as dishonorable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MACCALLUM: So, there you go. Mercedes Schlapp is a former spokesperson for President George W. Bush, Mo Elleithee is a former Democratic National Committee spokesman and both are Fox News contributors. So Mercedes, let me start with you. What do you make of that?

MERCEDES SCHLAPP, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I just think it's as moral high horse that Comey and his surrogates like to put out in display. I mean, it's not the first time that we've seen James Comey come out and basically create this political drama. You're going to see this probably in the next senate intelligence committee where he will be testifying publicly. You know, his surrogates also have in part of the ability to leak out information on what were in his memos. Of course, it's the memo specifically to Donald Trump and not the other one. This is about James Comey trying to salvage his reputation despite the fact that he's had significant high profile missteps being criticized by both parties, Democrats, Republicans, who have basically said that he should be gone, that he should be fired. So I think that this is nothing new. This is a political game that they're playing. This is to try to keep -- to protect James Comey and to try to destroy President Trump.

MACCALLUM: All right. I want to play another piece of this interview that goes to the question of what the president's intention may have been when he said, you know, can we let this go? Mike Flynn is not a bad guy, you know, something along those lines, can we let this go? Watch this exchange.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: the president -- people say he's kind of a transactional person, that he's in business, he's schmoozing, back slapping, and that it's just an attempt to kind of make the relationship more personal or friendly.

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: So I think it's perfectly possible to read it that way, and I'm not even going to say that's the wrong way to read it. It's not the way Comey read it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MACCALLUM: I found that to be the most interesting parts of that back and forth. Mo, what did you think?

MO ELLEITHEE, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: It's interesting, right. Because if you look just at that one moment, the moment where, you know, did the president say -- was he trying to push him? I don't know, right. Maybe you could just see that as him trying to chum up Comey a little bit. And does not rise to the level of obstruction? I don't know. I think where the president is finding some challenge or the special prosecutors going to have to really dig in here is when you take all these different moments and string them together, when the president did that to Comey, we know that was inappropriate, maybe not illegal.

MACCALLUM: Do you think that any other presidents in the past have ever said to an FBI director or to someone at the department of justice, for example, can you see a way pass this? Is this something we have to do or not?

ELLEITHEE: I don't know. But what I do know.

MACCALLUM: Does it seem logical that they probably did?

ELLEITHEE: Maybe they did, but it's that next step, firing Comey, right. It's that next step where he urge -- or even before firing Comey where he urged Coates and others to go out on the record and speak out against the investigation. When you string all those together, that's where it's creating this image.

SCHLAPP: But Coates denied that.

MACCALLUM: Mercedes, go ahead.

SCHLAPP: Coates denied that, Mo. And I think that the way -- you should listen to yourself, Mo. You're almost jumping to the fact that, well, let's strings this together and it's going to become an obstruction of justice. Look, here's the deal, in that conversation alone when you talk to legal experts, they basically say that there was no intent. When you look at it just based on what you're seeing, even in the New York Times had an opinion piece on it saying that that's not an obstruction of justice. This is why you have the special prosecutor. This is why the special counsel and the Democrats.

ELLEITHEE: Right.

SCHLAPP: . should be very pleased about this. We'll let them figure this out. But the fact is when you have political pundits making that jump and also now we have Comey where you have his associates, his surrogates coming out and being public in these interviews, I find that to be quite disturbing for them to go out and be talking to CNN and trying to make these assumptions and having these conversations. It's almost like if Comey is putting these guys out there.

MACCALLUM: It's a good point. You know, is that going to have a reflection or impact of the outcome of this, and people are listening to this? Basically, you've got a jury trial that's going to happen essentially and it could be changing what people think to some extent out there in the American public. Thank you both, Mo and Mercedes, good to have you here today. So President Trump made the Vatican today's major stop on his tour that we've been watching. So where two of the world's most influential people able to forgive and forget? Pastor Robert Jeffress is one of President Trump's faith advisors and he takes us inside the president's thinking on this historical meeting when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MACCALLUM: There was a very important moment this morning, a meeting that might have seemed impossible just last year, went off without a hitch today. President Trump visited the pope at the Vatican today. Still move by this visit, he tweeted this message, quote, honorable lifetime to meet his holiness Pope Francis. And leave the Vatican more determined than ever to pursue peace in our world. Join me now, Pastor Robert Jeffress, has advised President Trump on matters of faith, and he is also a Fox News contributor. Pastor, good to have you with us this evening, thank you for being here. You know, take us back to the moment along the campaign trail when the pope was criticizing President Trump, now President Trump about people who build walls, and what that all was like?

ROBERT JEFFRESS, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, this could have been a very awkward meeting when you consider what has been said by each man over the last year and a half. I mean, the pope fired the first shot, questioning Trump's Christianity because of his proposal to build a wall. He didn't compare the president populism to Nazism. the president responded by calling the pope's words disgraceful. But today, the president and the pope decided to turn the other cheek and when they emerge from that room, they look like BFF's. And I really believe that was the right choice and a wise choice for both of these leaders.

MACCALLUM: So how do you think it went in there because you have seen this president, you know, working religious leaders, you know, to put it craftily, I guess, to some extent, but you've seen him do that. How does he do that?

JEFFRESS: Oh, it's an amazing thing to watch. I remember moderating a meeting between President Trump during the campaign and some never-Trump religious leaders, and they were already before the president came in to give him a piece of their mind. And by the time he came in, he listened politely to everyone. He didn't look at his watch once. And once he had listened to them, he explained his point of view. And at the end of the meeting, Martha, he had them eating out of his hand. And I'm sure today that the president was very disarming and listening to what the pope said. But remember, the pope is also a political animal, as he described himself, and he knew exactly how to disarm the president. So you had two pros at work here today.

MACCALLUM: Well, apparently, President Trump told the pope on the way out the door that I will never forget what you said. And we're hoping to find out exactly what it was the pope shared with him that made such an impression on President Trump. I want to skip over to this issue of the budget and Mick Mulvaney today because there's a question of compassion and social program out there. Let me play this for you and I want to get your thoughts on it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: We don't want to measure our commitment to the country by the amount of money that we spend, but instead on the number of people that we help get off of these programs and get back in charge of their own lives.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MACCALLUM: Just have time for a quick response, a few seconds.

JEFFRESS: Well, I think the president is going to be balanced. Remember back in the health care debate, he said he does not want to see people dying in the streets. He's not your typical Republican, and I think the president will end up doing the right and compassionate thing.

MACCALLUM: Pastor Jeffress, thank you very much. Good to see you as always. Coming up next, our quote of the night for Manchester, England.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MACCALLUM: Before we leave you tonight, we want to show you some of those that we lost on Monday night in Manchester. The world will move on in time, these families have a much longer road ahead, so keep them in mind. Among those killed, 14-year-old Nell Jones, in a statement, her school called her a very bright and popular student. Her classmates said that they have lost a sister. Then there's Michelle Kiss, relatives say family was her life. Just hours before her death she posted a sweet image of her daughter ready for the concert. Her daughter, Millie Kiss, was pictured in the arms of a police officer. This image has touched the hearts of millions around the globe. Kelly Brewster died after using her own body to shield her niece from the blast. Marcin and Angelika Klis, both killed while waiting to pick up their two daughters from the concert. Olivia Campbell was 15. Her mom writes that she was taken far too soon, toasting with the angels and keep smiling, mommy loves you so much. That's "The Story" tonight. Tucker Carlson is next.

END

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