Transcript

RNC Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel on Georgia special election

Party 'cautiously optimistic' that Karen Handel will win

 

This is a rush transcript from "The Story," June 20, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

MARTHA MACCALLUM, "THE STORY" HOST: Breaking tonight, so how is the president doing out there? We may find out but not in Washington, the answer might lie in Georgia for the president brought Congressman Tom Price up to Washington to run Health and Human Services. That Republican seat has opened up so can the GOP hold on to it? Are the people in that district happy with the president or do they want to send some kind of message, perhaps, by turning this historically red, red district -- blue?

It is razor tight and that is "The Story" tonight. Good evening, everybody, I'm Martha MacCallum.

Early numbers starting to come in; former Georgia Secretary of State Republican, Karen Handel, is taking on the 30-year-old filmmaker and former Congressional Aide Democrat, Jon Ossoff. This contest has shattered records, now the most expensive House race in U.S. history. So, when all is said and done the price tag may reach $60 million for district six; much of the cash for Democrat John Ossoff, blowing in from out of state, a lot of it coming in from California, raising a lot of new questions about the influence of money in politics. So, in moments, Republican National Chairwoman Rhonda McDaniel is here on what this race means for Republican hopes for the midterm and beyond.

But first, we go Fox News' Jonathan Serrie live at Jon Ossoff's campaign headquarters in Atlanta. Good evening, Jonathan.

JONATHAN SERRIE, FOX NEWS CHANNEL CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Martha. There may be of a slight delay in tabulating all the votes, while most of the polls closed at 7:00 o'clock, two polling locations remain open; two voting locations remain open because of some problems with the electronic voting machines. And so, when elections judge ordered those two polling sites to stay open for an extra half-hour. Now, if that has not affected turnout including the storms that came through here, people just showed up with their umbrellas in large numbers.

Early voting; huge numbers of early voting, and of course, spending on this U.S. House campaign; the highest amount of spending on the U.S. House race in history. The Georgia sixth district, normally, favors establishment Republicans. They win by wide margins, but when you look at the November presidential election, Donald Trump had to fight for this district; he won by less than two percent and so Democrats see a potential inroad here. Jon Ossoff, throughout the campaign, has been trying to campaign as a moderate reaching out to moderate Republicans and independent voters in this district, which is going to be key if he's going to flip this district from red to blue.

And now my colleague, Steve Harrigan, is available covering Karen Handel. Steve?

STEVE HARRIGAN, FOX NEWS REPORTER: Thanks, Jonathan. Just two miles away with the Republicans and what could turn out to be a very close and hard- fought battle. Karen Handel was out there in the rain throughout the day really trying to fight for those last votes. She has gotten a tremendous amount of support throughout this campaign from the president on Twitter, she's also had several cabinet administrators come down here as well to try and campaign with her in person.

But despite that, she had tried to make this not a national race, trying to focus instead on the local people here and the local issues. She has tried to paint her opponent, Ossoff, as an outsider. She says he is too young, too naive to run this district, and over and over again she has tried to link him to the far-left saying he is a pawn of the far-left. Her supporters are gathering here now and what was for 40 years a reliably Republican seat, which could turn into a very close race late tonight. Martha, back to you.

MACCALLUM: All right. As we wait for those results. Steve, thank you very much. Here now in an exclusive interview: Ronna Romney McDaniel, Chairwoman of the Republican National Committee. Ronna, welcome, good to see you tonight.

RONNA ROMNEY MCDANIEL, CHAIRWOMAN, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Great to be here. Thanks for having me.

MACCALLUM: So, how do you think this race is shaping up, are you getting any early indications?

MCDANIEL: Yes, we started to see momentum shifting toward Karen Handel at the latter stages of the early vote. It's going be tight, it's going to be neck and neck, you're going to see high voter turnout. I'm cautiously optimistic but it really is going to depend on turnout today.

MACCALLUM: Yes. And how is turn out looking so far?

MCDANIEL: I haven't seen any indications yet, I think it's good. I mean, we need to see a good turnout in Cobb County and Northern Fulton County; those are going to be the areas that we're looking at. We're pleased that Karen started to take the lead in the early vote towards the latter stages of voting, that's a good trend line for her. And she represents the district, the voters of Georgia six know her, she served them; Jon Ossoff, of course, is from outside the district; he can't even vote for himself today. Most of his money comes from out of state, you know, California doesn't need a 54th Congressman, Georgia needs somebody who's going to represent their district.

MACCALLUM: So, the early numbers in terms of the early vote, about 140,000 early votes. And just to give people a sense: in the 2014 midterm, there were 210,000 votes cast. So, there's a significant amount of early vote here. You know, how do you feel that went, do you think it leads GOP, or do you think it leads Dem? You know, how do your voters vote in that district in terms of early voting?

MCDANIEL: It's neck and neck in the early voting according to what we're seeing. And I think Karen Handel's going to have an edge on Election Day voting. We think this will be a record turnout like you said in 2014, you said 210,000 voters turned out; I think you'll see between 230 and 250,000 turnouts for this special election. The interest is very high, and each of them is making their case. And of course, Karen is better-suited to represent that district.

MACCALLUM: So, what about the fact that Jon Ossoff has sort of presented himself as a middle-of-the-road candidate, especially in the final weeks of the campaign period here. And you know, President Trump has the 39 percent approval rating, and Karen Handel has said, you know, I'm not an extension of the White House. So, how is that going to sort out?

MCDANIEL: Well, Jon Ossoff's really tried to be all things to all people, so he's taking his money from California and New York, from the liberal side of the Democrat Party. But in the district, he's not talking about President Trump, he's saying I'm going to go to Washington and work with the Republicans, he's saying he's going to fight raising taxes. So he's trying to play himself as some moderate Democrat, we know he's going to go to Washington and vote with Nancy Pelosi 100 percent of the time. So, he's trying to have it both ways within the district, I think the voters are seeing that. And Karen is keeping it local, she's focusing on jobs, the economy, and helping people in the Georgia sixth district, and she's going to come to Washington and be a support to the White House and help us repeal and replace ObamaCare, pass tax reform and get jobs coming back to that district.

MACCALLUM: Ronna, thank you very much. Good to see you tonight. We're going to be watching every minute of this as the story unfolds.

And joining us now: Chris Stirewalt, Fox News politics editor; Tom Bevan, is co-Founder and publisher of Real Clear Politics; and Austan Goolsbee, former Top adviser to President Obama. Gentlemen, good to have you with us tonight. I want to hear about counties, and numbers I think of Chris Stirewalt, I also think of Tom Bevan. So, Chris, what you think? Dig in here?

CHRIS STIREWALT, FOX NEWS POLITICS EDITOR: This is awesome. This is so great. I've been in withdrawal from vote counting, and this one we know is a big deal; the previous two special elections, contested special elections, were sort of like fan fiction for Democrats like, we'll win in Montana, no, and we're going in Kansas, no. But this is one where this is a straight up, an absolute toss-up. This is a district that has been trending Democrat, it is the most educated district that Republicans hold, it is the most educated, most college degree holders of any district that Donald Trump won in 2016.

This is where Democrats future lies, in districts just like this. What we're going to be watching for tonight is basically this. You need two votes; Jon Ossoff needs two votes in the Democratic portion of Fulton -- of the Cobb County closer into Atlanta. He needs to votes there for everyone vote in Fulton County, which is the lion share of the district. So, he's to try and run up the score closer to the city because as the RNC chairwoman pointed out, the Republicans are going to try to run things up in the northern part of Fulton. I can't wait.

MACCALLUM: Yes. It's fascinating. So, Tom, how do the numbers shake out in terms of Democrats and Republicans in this district? What are we looking at?

TOM BEVAN, REAL CLEAR POLITICS CO-FOUNDER AND PUBLISHER: Well, as you mention -- I mean, this is a very Republican district, has been, Trump only won it by two points last time. The trend line's favor, favor Handel. I mean, Ossoff had a lead in the polls, leading into just the last round of polls that came up that showed her closing pretty quickly. Right now, the polls have it an absolute toss-up. I think this is going to be a nail- biter, it's going to be a long night, but if you're looking at the trend lines, the way things were moving, they were moving -- seem to be shifted in her direction here toward the end of the campaign.

MACCALLUM: So, Austin, what do you think the Trump factor is here?

AUSTAN GOOLSBEE, FORMER PRESIDENT OBAMA TOP ADVISOR: Look, there's no way this district would ever be competitive for Democrat if at this point, his presidency, Donald Trump, didn't have the lowest approval rating in the history of presidential polling. And this is a district that the Democrats really had no business winning, maybe someday in the future, but they've lost this district by 25-40 points except for the one year they couldn't even get a candidate, and they lost by 99 points.

So, I think Republicans in the Senate especially, and all around the House have absolutely one eye on this race because if a Democrat could actually win in a district like this, I think everybody's going to get as far from President Trump's agenda as they possibly can. If the Democrat cannot win in this race, then they're going to say, it's just like these other special elections, it will be fine.

MACCALLUM: Yes. Chris, when you look at this tonight, and you look at Donald Trump and the approval number that he has right now and you talk about the educated, the college-educated voters which were a tough group for him to pull over to his side. It was a group that he struggled with in the national election. Has Jon Ossoff presented himself in a way that's going to be appealing to people who may have peeled off from this president?

STIREWALT: I have never heard a Democrat talk so much about balanced budgets. I've never heard a Democrat talk so much about wasteful spending since the Clinton-era. It is -- he knows who his audience here is.

MACCALLUM: That's right.

STIREWALT: And it is the best word, and you know, basically, the parties are eyeing each other's exposed flanks. Republicans took advantage of the fact that Democrats really neglected white working class voters, especially in the upper mid-west in 2016. Hillary Clinton left all that money sitting on the table and Donald Trump was only too happy to sweep it up. The question now for Republicans and the Trump era is: can these affluent college-educated voters, who are certainly cool, to say the least, towards President Trump, can Republicans keep them as part of the coalition? Because if they can't the Democrats are going to eat their lunch in like 70 districts across the country.

MACCALLUM: All right. Do you want to place wagers? Let me start with Tom Bevan, who do you think is going to win tonight?

BEVAN: If I had to, I think Handel's going to eat it out, barely.

MACCALLUM: Austan, what do you think?

GOOLSBEE: I think they're going to be unresolved; they're going to have to have a recount.

MACCALLUM: Really?

GOOLSBEE: But I'm going to cross my fingers that the Democrats actually make this an interesting one.

MACCALLUM: And Chris Stirewalt, you love to do this; put your money where your mouth is.

STIREWALT: I'm going to with the winner tonight will be the American people and the viewers of the Fox News Channel.

MACCALLUM: Oh please! Come on, come on! You could do better than that!

STIREWALT: It's going to be close. I mean, or, how about this: every external indication is it's going to be close. I'll take the Austin sheet and say recount.

MACCALLUM: Recount, recount. Only Tom Bevan is willing to put his money where his mouth is. All right, guys, we'll be back, thank you so much. So, coming up tonight, the Trump administration making moves on tax reform and on health care, so why does that take a backseat to whether or not Sean Spicer briefed the press on camera? We're going to talk about that with Anthony Scaramucci and Krystal Ball, coming up next. And a Russian jet armed to the teeth flies within five feet of the U.S. recon plane. U.S. officials are now saying we've seen this 35 times, but at five feet we're going to call this unsafe. What is next between our two countries as tensions escalate? And a federal judge orders a removal of this cross from a Florida Park, why when we come back.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It sends a message to non-Christian citizens that they're not welcome in this community.

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MACCALLUM: So, some pretty big developments on the Hill today as the Trump administration makes major headway on big-ticket agenda items like health care and tax reform. But you may have missed some of those headlines, that's because much of the current news cycle was dominated by the fact that Sean Spicer is spending less time in front of the camera. Watch.

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JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I don't know what world we're living in right now, Brooke. We're standing at the White House, and they bring us into the briefing room here at the White House and they won't answer these questions on camera.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: An honest, simple question: what do they fear more, the questions these days or the answers?

DON LEMON, CNN TONIGHT ANCHOR: Do you want a president who is unchallenged? Who only delivers a message that he wants, that is not the American way.

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MACCALLUM: Chief National Correspondent, Ed Henry, live at the White House with the latest fallout. Hi, Ed!

ED HENRY, FOX NEWS CHANNEL CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, good to see you, Martha. It's still an uphill battle for the president in passing those big items like health, taxes, and don't forget, building the wall as well, but he has been making progress this week. But as you noted, more focused really on some inside baseball like, how many briefing Sean Spicer is having on camera than the actual substance of what's being discussed and laid out here.

You mentioned Jim Acosta at CNN, lashing out at presidential aide like Spicer tweeting about an interaction with the press: "At off camera, no audio briefing, Spicer took a question from a Russian reporter but not from CNN. #Pravda." An obvious reference to the allegations Russian interference in the election, which still dominates the coverage of the president, even though today we saw this Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, declared he's 100 percent committed to major tax reform this year, and Speaker Paul Ryan unveiled an ambitious plan to try and get there.

And the bill may be moving forward as well on repealing and replacing ObamaCare as Republican leader Mitch McConnell, inch close to unveiling his version of the bill, Thursday. Though, conservatives like Mike Lee say they share Democrats concerns with the lack of transparency about what's in the bill, putting McConnell on defense over health, as Ryan try to play offense on taxes.

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SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, R-KY, MAJORITY LEADER: Everybody will have an adequate time to take a look at it. I think this will be as about as transparent as it could be.

REP. PAUL RYAN, R-WIS., SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: About once in a generation or so, there's an opportunity to do something absolutely transformational, something that will have a truly lasting impact long after you and I are gone. That moment is here, and we are going to meet that moment.

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HENRY: To be sure, that moment could just as easily pass, they're running out of legislative days on Capitol Hill. Which is why tonight, there are some conservatives calling on the president to tell Congress to cancel that August recess. Martha.

MACCALLUM: Ed, thank you. So, here's my story today: while all of this was going on, this Twitter exchange broke out and got tons of attention. You see a reporter asked why there are more off-camera briefings lately and texted Senior Strategist, Steve Bannon, to ask why. She was answered with a curt text that read: "Sean got fatter." This launched a Twitter war between Chelsea Clinton and two conservative writers. Charlie Spiering, offer keen insight about the banning clip, which sounded about right: "It's a joke, people." To which Chelsea Clinton responded, "OK, so using fat shaming to avoid answering a question about increasing opacity, got it. 2017."

Jim Henson, former Special Ops strand in: "P.R.-manage response from the humor impaired left. It was a joke." Finished by Clinton, "Hi, Jim! Just me, as I was standing in line at Starbucks earlier; fat shaming isn't a joke I find funny ever," she said. So, in the midst of a Congressional shooting, the death of Otto Warmbier, Russian jets buzzing U.S. Pilots, off-the-cuff sarcasm from a typically acerbic Steve Bannon sent into a safe space tizzy over the horrors of fat shaming in the larger context of the White House. This fuse tweets and leaks on a daily basis at being too opaque.

Spicer answered with an on the record, on-camera briefing. All journalists want the big questions answered, and White House must be transparent as taxpayers, everyone there works for all of us, however, this spiral from joke to tirade may reveal more about the Twitterers and the texters all hyper-focused on their inside-the-beltway-noise than much else. That's my story, and I'm sticking with it.

So, let's bring in our panel to see what they think about this: Anthony Scaramucci was a member of the Trump Transition Team Executive Committee; And Krystal Ball, Executive Director of the People's House Project. So, Krystal, let me start with you.

KRYSTAL BALL, PEOPLE'S HOUSE PROJECT EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: OK.

MACCALLUM: What you think?

BALL: Well, Sean Spicer being fat shamed is probably number 987 on my list of concerns about this White House. But you know, I think it's a real challenge covering this White House in this era because there's a whole lot going on. To your point, I do think that we've failed in a lot of respect to cover the big issues, things like health care, things like the fact that Dodd-Frank financial bill was essentially repealed in the house. At the same time, the changes in the briefings are substantive and significant and here's why: this is an administration and this president has been incredibly hostile to the press from the way that he campaigned. To Steve Bannon --

MACCALLUM: Do you think the president is still hostile to him?

BALL: To Steven Bannon calling the press the anime of the people. Well, the press is supposed to be aggressive, they're asking the tough questions.

MACCALLUM: But you haven't answered my question.

BALL: I wouldn't say they've been hostile, no, I think that they've been trying to them to account. So, given that context of that hostility coming from the administration, when you see these sorts of shifts -- it is troubling. You worry about whether this is eroding, what has been part of what's made our country great, which is a free press.

MACCALLUM: What do you think this?

ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, TRUMP TRANSITION TEAM EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE MEMBER: Well, the first thing I was thinking of, I think I didn't have the doughnut in the green room before I showed up on the set; that was the first thing I've thought of. The second thing is that the press has been hostile, and so you know, and they've been hostile from the beginning of the campaign right up until today. And the reason why they're so hostile is that this is such a disruptive, transformative candidate who has brought an economic A-team together, who kept the House and Senate, who is a transformative leader, but he's not styled in the way that the media elites like. And so --

BALL: The media elites sure like them at the beginning of the campaign when they were showing an empty podium that said Donald Trump instead of Hillary Clinton.

SCARAMUCCI: They, they actually --

BALL: And that's what's so interesting here.

SCARAMUCCI: But they actually didn't because in the beginning, they were giving him that because they're like, OK, this is going to flame out and it's not -- he's never going to be a president, and there were people all over the media that said this will never happen, and there were some of us, frankly, here at Fox and other places who look at the exit polls and said, OK, he's likely not going to win on election night. And so, to me, the media, at that point, thought it was a joke and now he's the president of the United States, he's our president, and I think they should give them a fair shake. The American public does not --

BALL: What does a fair shake mean? I mean, I think that -- I think you have to --

SCARAMUCCI: 71 percent of the people in the CBS poll said, the guy doesn't get treated fairly. And so, I think --

BALL: No, that's not what the poll said.

SCARAMUCCI: What did the poll say?

BALL: Well, the poll said that they've felt that --

MACCALLUM: We can put it up. 71 percent says has president faced more or less criticisms than recent presidents; 71 percent say more. The same poll also showed rising concerns from Republicans about the president, and the overall approval rating at 36 percent now, which is very low.

BALL: Right, and what you had from the very beginning of the administration -- and let's put the Russia question and that investigation aside because I think that's a very sort of partisan lightning rods. But the fact is from the beginning of this administration his initiatives have been rolled out in an incredibly incompetent way. You've had sort of chaos, you've had leaks coming out of the administration, so yes, I do think he's been criticized more than other presidents, I also think he deserves that criticism.

MACCALLUM: I think there's -- you know, the transparency issue, there's an irony in it. I feel like you get more leaks out of this White House, and get more tweets out of this White House.

SCARAMUCCI: Am I allowed to switch back on?

MACCALLUM: Go ahead.

SCARAMUCCI: I think the leaks are terrible and unfortunate --

MACCALLUM: But we know a heck of a lot about what's going on White House.

SCARAMUCCI: It's un-sportsman like conduct for people inside the White House to ask you guys, please stop doing that, it's just unsportsmanlike and it doesn't serve the president. But as it relates to the president's process and what he's doing, he has been transformative. If you look at the Executive Orders, you look at the legislation that's been put forth. And if he -- so, let's talk about the health care --

BALL: Like what? I mean, health care is a mess.

SCARAMUCCI: He got the health care passed in like 117 days.

BALL: Polling at about 17 percent approval.

SCARAMUCCI: He's on his way to get the health care passed in the Senate. That's because people don't fully understand it yet.

BALL: Because the Senate won't tell us what's in the bill!

SCARAMUCCI: Once the people fully understand it --

MACCALLUM: That bill is going to be rolled out on Thursday.

SCARAMUCCI: Yes. The Senate will explain it. When you move from this sort of command and control government healthcare system to a more market- based health care system that is better for everybody. I don't have to bring out Adam Smith to explain that to people, but the invisible hand will help make the system -- like it's done in data transmissions, telecommunications, airlines, and every other facet of our technology and economy, it'll be lower-priced and better service. And that's what the president, that's what the president is going for.

MACCALLUM: And there's no question that the stock market is very positive.

BALL: There's no analogy to what he said, what you just said about the health care.

SCARAMUCCI: OK. So, why not -- well, why don't we let it roll out, and let's watch phase one and phase two take place and set in.

BALL: Because I don't want the 23 million people to lose health care in our attempt to -- they have very few choices.

(CROSSTALK)

SCARAMUCCI: We both know that the current system is going to implode on itself. We both know that we can look at the economic numbers; we can look at the upside down pyramid and the lack of young people joining the system to know that the thing is going to implode on itself. And so, we have to fix it. Thank God for President Trump, that he has the gumption and the courage to put this thing together.

BALL: And make sure that this bill does implode. And you're right ObamaCare is struggling across the country, so why don't we work on fixing health --

SCARAMUCCI: We're not blaming the ObamaCare thing on the Republicans. Not going to blame that on the Republicans. No doughnuts in the green room for you guys out there, OK? Go light on the doughnuts.

MACCALLUM: Doughnuts galore; have it, everyone. Good to see you, guys, thanks a lot. All right, so breaking tonight, the barnburner special house election out of Georgia, still too early to call this but we expect to get some first real result in the next 20 minutes. So, stick around for that. And is the Russia investigation spinning out of control? Professor Alan Dershowitz is here on why the scope of this probe may be going too far, next.

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MACCALLUM: Developing tonight, President Trump has been the object of criticism for calling the Russia probe a witch hunt, but now months into this investigation his descriptor is beginning to potentially look more accurate. David Brooks of the New York Times, far from a fan of the president, is raising a red flag as to the speed with which accusations are flying through the media. Watch.

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DAVID BROOKS, THE NEW YORK TIMES: I'm actually getting more uncomfortable with this whole deal thinking that maybe we're getting a little ahead of ourselves. And I'm bothered by the lack of emerging evidence about underlying -- the underlying crime that there was actually collusion or coordination between the Trump White House.

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MACCALLUM: That was shocking. Joining me now, Alan Dershowitz, professor emeritus of Harvard Law School, great to have you with us.

ALAN DERSHOWITZ, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL: My pleasure, thank you. I've been looking forward to being in your show.

MACCALLUM: Thank you. We've been looking forward to having you. I want to put up one more piece of his -- David Brooks' piece because as we say, he's been highly critical of this president. So this is a very big about- face for him. He said, quote, things are so bad that I'm going to have to give Trump the last word. On June 15th, he tweeted and he goes on to say -- this is the tweet that he refers to, they made up a phony collusion with the Russian story, found zero proof, so now they go for obstruction of justice on the phony story, and the tweet goes -- and he comes back to say unless there's some new revelation, that may turn out to be pretty accurate commentary, your thoughts?

DERSHOWITZ: Well, I think he's right. I think what we're seeing it from both sides. What happens in America is if you don't like someone politically, lock them up. Throw the key away. Each side criminalizes political differences with the other side. They did it with Hillary Clinton, with the espionage and the email server, that was never going to be a real crime and they're doing with Donald Trump. And I'm against it in both instances. But I am getting such heck for my liberal Democratic friends, how dare you stand in the way of this prosecution and impeachment. Well, I'm going to stand in the way, because I don't believe the constitution permits the prosecution of a president, especially for obstruction of justice, on the basis of him doing what he's constitutionally entitled to do, firing the director of the FBI, even telling them to terminate an investigation.

As to the Russian collusion, the worst-case scenario is still not a crime. It may be it should be a crime, but there's nothing in the statute books that would make it a crime. If Donald Trump called Putin and said, hey, Putin, help me become president and I'll be good for Russia, that would be terrible, but it wouldn't be a crime. And we have to understand the difference between doing something bad politically.

MACCALLUM: Some people say that would be treason.

DERSHOWITZ: It wouldn't be treason.

MACCALLUM: Why not?

DERSHOWITZ: Because the president is elected and he's entitled to make judgments about what's best for the United States.

MACCALLUM: Yeah, I mean. You know, we've seen plenty of people reporting on this who will say if that's what happened that would be collusion.

DERSHOWITZ: That's right.

MACCALLUM: . and that would show that he worked with a foreign country to undermine a U.S. election, and people say that's the underpinning of our entire society, of our election process, so you're saying it would be reprehensible, but not illegal.

DERSHOWITZ: It wouldn't be illegal because Putin could -- it depends on how you undercut. Obviously if he hacked voting machines that would be one thing, but if he leaked tweets that's what Democrats do.

MACCALLUM: That's what happens, right? I mean, nasty, embarrassing stuff that came out on emails is exactly what we're talking about here.

DERSHOWITZ: It's nasty stuff, but it's not criminal.

MACCALLUM: In terms of indictment, you can't indict a sitting president, correct?

DERSHOWITZ: Well, you know, that's what the justice department says. They had a ruling back in 1973, they reiterated it more recently saying the only process is, if you think a president has committed a crime, you have to impeach him first, remove him from office, then you can indict him in triumph, but you can't try a sitting president for a crime he committed while president or while candidate.

MACCALLUM: And that because he's elected by the American people, so in order to put him through that scrutiny he would have to be removed.

DERSHOWITZ: Imagine if a single prosecutor could end the presidency of somebody by simply indicting them and saying you have to be in a courtroom for the next three months defending yourself. Look, the Supreme Court made a terrible 9-0 decision with Clinton. When Bill Clinton was sued by Paula Jones, the Supreme Court, 9-0 said he could be sued while he was a sitting president. That's dumb. A sitting president has a job to do.

MACCALLUM: What happened is a political society we learn through Watergate and Whitewater that if you bring enough chargers, if you put enough smoke out there, you are able to sort of really make someone's agenda impossible.

DERSHOWITZ: And that's what the Democrats have done to the Republicans, that's what the Republicans have done to the Democrats, and the big losers are the American people.

MACCALLUM: You think that cycle is ever going to be broken?

DERSHOWITZ: It better be broken because we're entitled to better from our elected officials on both sides. You don't like a candidate? Campaign against him. Go to Georgia. Help the Democrat win the election if you don't like the president. But don't charge him with frivolous crimes which can't be prosecuted under our constitution today. It just takes time away from the president trying to achieve his agenda. He was elected. You know, we lost, face it, we lost. We're going to try to win again, but we lost last time and the answer to that is not making crimes out of political differences.

MACCALLUM: Thank you, Professor Dershowitz, great having you here.

DERSHOWITZ: Thank you.

MACCALLUM: Hope you come back soon. All right. So breaking tonight, the story out of Brussels, fully thwarts a potential terror attack, taking down a suicide bomber in a busy train station before he hits innocence. Former house intelligence chairman, Pete Hoekstra, is with us on the third terror attack on the European continent in the last two days. And atheist forces symbol of hope and faith that have been in one community for nearly 70 years to be taken down. Governor Huckabee is here with that fight from Pensacola when we come back.

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MACCALLUM: Breaking tonight, Belgian police believe that they foiled a major terror attack today at a Brussels train station when they shot a suspect with a suicide vest. Soldiers quickly neutralized the man after he set off a small explosion, which you can see in this photo. You might remember in March of last year, three coordinated attacks at the city's airport and train station left 32 people dead. Here now is Pete Hoekstra, a former House Intel Committee chairman. This is the third attack on the continent in the last couple of days, excuse me, including Paris and the U.K. Pete, what do you make of all this?

PETE HOEKSTRA, FORMER HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Well, I think it's disappointing, but we can describe this as the new normal in Europe. These are problems that have been festering, people have been predicting that this was going to be happening, this is the thing that we're going to be reading about, and Europe is going to be experiencing on a regular basis for the foreseeable future.

MACCALLUM: In terms of getting better at it, I mean, thank goodness this man was neutralized as they put it before he could blow up his suicide vest. We saw a similar thing in Paris yesterday, but getting better at tracking and finding these guys?

HOEKSTRA: Well, I don't think we found them, they found us. They found the law enforcement officers and luckily -- not luckily, these guys were prepared, these law enforcement officials were prepared to deal with the situation, they dealt with it quickly and effectively, it appears that the attackers in both those cases were maybe not that well-trained, that their devices malfunctioned and didn't carry out the kind of destruction that they were hoping that they would. But Europe now is going to need to get very serious about how they're going to deal with this. Two things that they can deal with that are under their control, they can deal with their borders to stop the mass migration coming into their countries. They can work through NATO with the United States to get rid of the safe havens in Libya and in Syria, but the more complicated problem is how are they going to deal with the internal politics and the internal threat that exists in their countries today.

MACCALLUM: All right. I want to put up a tweet that President Trump sent out earlier today and it has to do with China, and it comes in the wake of the horrific killing of Otto Warmbier, a slow death it appears by the North Koreans. And this is what the president said, while I greatly appreciates the efforts of President Xi and China to help with North Korea, it has not worked out. At least I know China tried. What do you think he means by that?

HOEKSTRA: Well, I'm assuming that he's reflecting on what happened with Otto, that's clearly been on his mind, he's very deeply concerned about there. I think he recognizes and believes that the Chinese really tried to help to get Otto out of North Korea, but they were unsuccessful in that effort and that's one of the reasons that Otto is dead today. And so, we all mourn with Otto's family and with the other Americans, and with the Americans that are in North Korea. But I don't think you can expand this and say, you know, the president at this point in time is saying, you know, China -- we can't expect China to help with North Korea. On this particular issue, China was not successful in getting Otto out.

MACCALLUM: Is he pressing them, though? Is he saying you can do better? It has not worked out, but thank you so much for trying. There's something to that perhaps.

HOEKSTRA: I hope so. I hope he's pressuring China. China has the greatest leverage on North Korea, and clearly the president is signaling that in this specific case, I'm sorry China, you failed. We have specific objectives. We still have three Americans, help us there. If you can help us on these issues, we have some expectation that you can help us on bigger issues which are the nuclear weapons and the missiles development.

MACCALLUM: Well said. Pete Hoekstra, thank you very much, good to see you.

HOEKSTRA: Thank you. Good to see you.

MACCALLUM: So you know tonight, we're keeping a very close eye on the special election that is taking place in Georgia tonight, in district six. So we have just started to see some of the numbers rolling in and we will put them up for you so you can see how this is shaping up, next. Plus, a court battle over a cross that has stood in Pensacola Park for decades. We'll tell you why a judge is ordering that that powerful symbol that means much to many, must come down within 30 days, Governor Mike Huckabee here to react next.

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UNINDENTIFIED MALE: This cross has been there for 60 plus years, no one has ever -- seriously argued that this is an establishment of religion by the city of Pensacola.

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MACCALLUM: All right. We do have some numbers coming in right now in Georgia's sixth district, where as we mentioned earlier they're facing off in a very high-stakes special election. This is for the seat that Tom Price left open when he went to work at HHS. And here's how the numbers look so far. You have 51.4 percent for Karen Handel, and 48.6 percent for Jon Ossoff. And keep in mind these are just the very early numbers because we expect, according to the predictions, to get to 230 - 240,000 votes is what's protected, we'll see how many actually come in, but that is part of the story right now. Let's go live to Atlanta where Steve Harrigan is standing at Karen Handel's headquarters. How are they feeling about things there?

HARRIGAN: Martha, they're feeling very excited about things here. We can really hear the buzz in this crowd of Karen Handel supporters pick up just over the last few minutes. Handel was out there in the rain today campaigning, taking a final shot at her opponent Jon Ossoff. She said while she can go and vote in this district, Ossoff can't, that's because, of course, the 30-year-old doesn't live in this district. A few factors could be key to this election, 50,000 new voters since the first time people voted in this race in April, both sides claiming that helps them, also a steady downpour throughout the day and some tough traffic problems, no sign on how that will affect turnout. And keep in mind too, this is a district with an incredibly high rate of college graduates among voters, it went big for Mitt Romney, just 2 percent win for Donald Trump, though. So this could be a real nail-biter. But the excitement and energy here has grown in just the past few minutes, Martha, back to you.

MACCALLUM: All right. Steve Harrigan on the scene, thank you very much, Steve, we'll go back to you as the numbers come in tonight. So a long-time staple of a community park deemed unconstitutional. A judge ruling that a cross that's been on the ground of Bayview Park in Pensacola, Florida, for decades must be removed. The judge noting in his ruling, quote, I'm aware that there's a lot of support in Pensacola to keep the cross as is, and I understand and respect that point of view, but the law is the law. That order cheered by attorneys for the plaintiffs who would argue the cross should not be allowed to stand on public grounds.

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UNINDENTIFIED FEMALE: The giant Christian symbol on city property, the city maintains the symbol as its own, and it sends a message to non- Christian citizens that they're not welcome in this community and that they're less favored by the government and Christian counterparts.

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MACCALLUM: So that's the argument. Here now former Arkansas governor and Fox News contributor, Mike Huckabee. Governor, good to see you tonight, your reaction to this story?

MIKE HUCKABEE, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it's absurd. Four people, four people in Pensacola said that they had a problem with this, tens of thousands of people have enjoyed the fact that it's there and they've seen it, they haven't been offended by it, and this is one of those just irrational decisions for the courts. I think the judged felt like he was in a box on it. But let me ask you this, Martha, I mean, if this cross in Pensacola is somehow offensive to the point that people can even go by there without being overwhelmed with religion, then tell me when are we going to take all of the crosses down at Arlington National Cemetery, because it's filled with crosses, it's filled with religious symbols. In some cases, it may be the Star of David, but those are all religious symbols. When will those come down? Is that not offensive? This is absurd. We're a nation that has freedom of religion, not freedom from religion, but that's what some of these folks they want. It's not that they really are offended they just can't stand the fact that there are some people who believe in God.

MACCALLUM: And they worked very hard at it, these individuals, to sort of seek out these cases so that they can make their mark on them, they're from the American humanist association. And as you say, there were four people who brought the case, two of them have since moved to Canada. They don't even live in the area anymore. So you're down to two people who are claiming to be offended by this cross. And we're looking at the pictures of it. It's been there for 75 years. As that attorney said it has been maintained by the town and that's where the legal problem lies.

I was talking to Alan Dershowitz about this before, and he heard tease that the story was coming up, he said I wish I could stick around and talk to my friend Governor Huckabee about this because we always have these heated arguments, but we're good friends on this issue. But he said, you know, because it's on public property, that's the law. And the judge in this case was appointed, he's a Reagan appointee, and he basically was sort of aggrieved at the fact that he had to find that finding, but he said it is backed by the law.

HUCKABEE: One solution would be that the city would deed the property over to a private foundation and make it so that it no longer is owned and maintained by the taxpayers. I think that's absurd because we have so many different expressions that really aren't offensive. And you mentioned these two people that moved to Canada, maybe they need to put up another cross and get rid of the other two people and be done with it when they move out of the United States. But I just think that the ultimate solution let the city deed this over to a private entity and maybe these folks won't be so overwhelmed by the offense of the presence of that statute, it's just amazing.

MACCALLUM: It's too bad they didn't do that, and maybe it will be saved by someone who's willing to put it on a private piece of property because that would make a difference legally according to the argument that we're seeing here. Governor, thank you very much, always good to see you.

HUCKABEE: Thanks, Martha, great to talk to you.

MACCALLUM: So free speech under attack on college campuses as you well know. A powerful quote of the night from fascinating testimony on Capitol Hill today, right after this.

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MACCALLUM: Breaking tonight, here are the latest numbers in the house race in Georgia, take a look. Karen Handel at this point at 51.4, Jon Ossoff at 48.6, she's got 37,000 and change, he's got 35 and change. It's early and there are still a lot of votes to come in there. Live coverage throughout the evening on that tonight. So today, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on free speech on our college campuses. Zachary Wood, a junior spoke eloquently about his concerns and his education at the number one ranked liberal arts college in our country, Williams College, which by the way cost $52,000 a year. Here's Zachary.

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UNINDENTIFIED MALE: In my time at Williams, I cannot name a single conservative speaker that has been brought to campus by the administration. This fact is problematic precisely because the overwhelming majority of students at Williams have liberal beliefs. This adds to what many commentators have referred to as the echo chamber. In classrooms, liberal arguments are often treated as unquestionable truths, in some cases conservative students even feel the need to refrain from stating their opinion in fear of being shut down. I appreciate the desire of my administration to ensure that all students on campus feel included. Yet, I deploy the state of free speech and intellectual freedom on my college campus.

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MACCALLUM: Fascinating. He was looking for an education. He wants to hear both sides, he's a brave young man.

END

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