Transcript

Brit Hume warns against reading Trump like other presidents

Fox News contributor reacts to the president's criticisms of the attorney general on 'The Story'

 

This is a rush transcript from "The Story," July 26, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

MARTHA MACCALLUM, FOX NEWS CHANNEL HOST: Tonight, "The Story" begins with a bizarre tale; one that we think deserves a bit more attention. It allegedly involves smashed computer hard drives, a laptop that was found stashed in a crevice in a building on Capitol Hill, and an aide to the former DNC Chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, nabbed at the airport as he was trying to leave for Pakistan. Good evening, everybody. I'm Martha MacCallum and this is quite a story.

His lawyer is now disputing some of these elements, which we're going to tell you about in a moment. But it begs the question when others on the Hill fired Mr. Awan after he was accused of accessing congressional computers with no permission to do so, why did Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz keep him on her payroll until yesterday? Watch this rather aggressive exchange with the Capitol Hill Police about getting her laptop back in the middle of all of this. It was seized during the investigation. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ, D-FLORIDA: A member's equipment is a member's equipment. It is not, it is not -- under my understanding, the Capital Police is not able to confiscate member's equipment when the member is not under investigation. It is their equipment, and it's supposed to be returned.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think there are extenuating circumstances in this case.

SCHULTZ: I think you're violating the rules. I don't think you conduct yourself that way. There will be consequences.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MACCALLUM: There will be consequences, she said. Chief Washington Correspondent, James Rosen, has more on this intriguing story tonight from Washington. Hi, James!

JAMES ROSEN, FOX NEWS CHANNEL CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Martha, good evening. A lawyer for Imran Awan, the former I.T. aide to top House Democrats who was arrested this week before boarding a flight to Qatar, is disputing as false that (INAUDIBLE) calls her story alleging that the FBI seized smashed hard drives from one of Awan's rental properties. Attorney Chris Gowen also told Fox News that his client, seen here with former President Clinton, had received a green light to travel abroad from the U.S. Attorney's office weeks before FBI officers, U.S. Capitol Police, and Customs and Border Agents swooped down on Awan at Dulles Airport, Monday night. Awan was arraigned on and pleaded not guilty to one count of bank fraud charges stemming from home loan application, seemingly unrelated to the $4 million in I.T. work that he and several members of his family performed for leading House Democrats.

The attacks on Mr. Awan and his family began as part of a frenzy of anti- Muslim bigotry. In the literal heart of our democracy, the House of Representatives said a statement issued by Awan's attorney's this afternoon, adding: "For months, we have had utterly unsupported, outlandish, and slanderous statements targeting Mr. Awan coming not just from the ultra-right-wing 'pizzagate' media, but from sitting members of Congress. Now, we have the Justice Department," the lawyers went on to say, "showing up with a complaint about disclosures on a modest real estate matter. The government had been informed he would travel and have stated no objection. Yet on Monday night, he was hastily arrested at Dulles Airport." The lawyers concluded, "We are confident that Mr. Awan will soon be able to clear his name and get on with his life." A hearing is set for next month in Federal District Court here in Washington, Martha.

MACCALLUM: James, thank you very much. So, here with more: Chris Stirewalt, Fox News politics editor; Mercedes Schlapp, former Spokesperson for President George W. Bush; and Richard Fowler, a Nationally Syndicated Radio Talk Show Host, both are Fox News contributors. Good to see you all tonight. Now, this is been percolating for a while. And then, there was this arrest at Dulles Airport. His other family members, who had worked on the Hill left the country earlier in the process as all of this was sort of coming down. But it raises a lot of questions about why Debbie Wasserman Schultz was the only one who kept him on the payroll, until right when he was arrested, after the arrest, Chris, right?

CHRIS STIREWALT, FOX NEWS POLITICS EDITOR: And more than that, it doesn't seem that he was in a position to have even executed the functions of his job, while you and I, and Mr. and Mrs. America were paying him. He couldn't do his work because of the investigation, and because he had lost these privileges, and she was still paying him. And she was obviously very adamant to get that laptop back. And yet again, I have to say, it's pretty remarkable. Debbie Wasserman Schultz has, as I've said to somebody earlier today, left a debris field larger than the Hindenburg now across the Democratic Party. She has just found so many ways to hurt her fellow Democrats, and this is just one.

MACCALLUM: Yes. He, as we said, worked for a number of Democrats. And according to the numbers that we've seen so far, he amassed something like $4 million, and she says he was a temporary employee; not even a full-time employee. So, that's a pretty nice haul for $4 million, for doing I.T. work on the Hill for a bunch of different members of Congress, Mercedes.

MERCEDES SCHLAPP, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR AND FORMER SPOKESPERSON TO PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Yes, no question. And he was banned from the house server network, and yet Debbie Wasserman Schultz, being a house member, still retained him. I mean, it does raise so many questions. Why did he smash these computers? They need to follow the money and see where this all ends up. We're talking about bank fraud, criminal cyber security activities, and the mere fact that he -- Mr. Awan was so close to Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

I think it's the making of not only a suspense novel but a Pulitzer prize- winning story for the journalist who actually wants to follow the scandal. Unfortunately, you see so many journalists focused, you know, on Trump fever, and on Russia that there's little room or little space to even talk about what could be a, potentially, a very devastating situation for Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

MACCALLUM: Yes. Richard, what do you think?

RICHARD FOWLER, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR AND NATIONALLY SYNDICATED RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well, here's the thing: I think we have to -- this is just allegations at this point, and we have to wait until the court plays itself out and see evidence we do have. I can't speak to Debbie Wasserman Schultz' H.R. decisions, they're beyond me. But what I will say here is that I think we've got to sort of see what happened here, and really take a look at one, how did he manage to get an equity loan on a house that he didn't own, right, and how --

MACCALLUM: He was renting the house, for the folks at home.

FOWLER: Right. And you know, and he got hundred and some more thousand- dollar loan, which to me seems, I don't know which bank person would actually do that. So, there seems to be a larger situation. I don't take it's scandalous. I don't think it reaches to a scandal. But I do think, clearly, the FBI --

MACCALLUM: Wait. What about just the basic fact of paying him with American taxpayer dollars to do a job that he was not able to do? Keeping him on the payroll; it's not her money, it's our money.

FOWLER: It's totally not her money, but every member of Congress all forms, 35 of them get an allocation of how so they can manage their office however they want. If they want to manage their office horribly, that's under their discretion, and it's up to their constituents to say, hey, listen, we think you're managing your office horribly, and we're going to vote you out of office, right? It's not our call to make. And it's for Debbie Wasserman Schultz' constituents to make the call on whether or not she was managing her office to the best of her ability and using tax payer money and their constituents wisely.

SCHLAPP: He was banned by the House of Representatives. He was banned from using the house's server network because of what his issues with procurement. There was an already substantial issue there, and so the question becomes: she obviously has a close relationship with this I.T. staffer. You need to figure out --

FOWLER: How did you know that though, Mercedes?

SCHLAPP: If there's more there, there?

MACCALLUM: Yes.

FOWLER: No, I don't think we know that there's a close relationship, right? We know that he was a service in I.T. and he was doing a good job.

SCHLAPP: He was her top I.T. staffer.

FOWLER: Wait a minute. Wait a minute. How about she only have one I.T. staffer? We don't know any of these details. If you're the only one, you could be the top staffer. My point is: we've got to let this court case play out. Let's look at the facts, and let's have the justice system do its job. Clearly, he shouldn't have left the country, but the Justice Department allowed him to leave the country. And so, there are so many problems here that I think we've got to let the courts, and the FBI, and investigators do their job. The same as we should do in the Russia investigation, let Mueller and his team do the job, and then we'll come up with a conclusion for the American people.

MACCALLUM: But it is weird. Before I let you go. Chris, I mean, it's weird that this has gotten more attention. I mean, there's clearly a lot of intrigues here, and as Richard said, you have to follow through this process. But as Mercedes says, you do all try to follow the money here. $4 million is a heck of a lot of money for these three individuals to make doing I.T. work, you know, freelance on the Hill.

STIREWALT: Well, as it turns out, Debbie Wasserman Schultz is about as good at H.R. decisions as she was as the Democratic Party Chairwoman. She's bad at this. And she has continued to be a blight on that party. And that, also, at a certain point, comes to the feed of Hillary Clinton, who retained her in that position until it became untenable and defended her even when she was caught on video. Never forget, she's caught on video essentially talking about trading her vote on an important issue for the support of a benefactor. Not a good look for Democrats.

MACCALLUM: All right. And we'll leave it there. Thanks, you guys. Richard, thank you. Mercedes, thanks to you. Chris, always good to see you.

STIREWALT: You bet.

MACCALLUM: So, coming up next here tonight. The stand-off between our Commander-in-Chief and the nation's top prosecutor has now taken it up another notch tonight.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why doesn't the President --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MACCALLUM: Brit Hume says no attorney general could withstand this icy treatment from the White House, but a reported new move by the A.G. may begin to change that somewhat. Plus tonight, we're going to speak with a man who's investigated Russian corruption at the highest level. What he's planning to tell Congress tomorrow about an alleged smear campaign that was launched in this country against President Trump.

And disturbing video released showing the final moments of three U.S. Special Forces before they were gunned down in cold blood by a Jordanian military guard. The fallout from this shocking video is straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MACCALLUM: So, the president, as he's embattled attorney general could possibly be finding some common ground after the president and his advisors have been making clear that they want an investigation, and they want an end into these leaks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want the attorney general to be much tougher on the leaks from intelligence agencies, which are leaking like rarely have they ever leaked before.

ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, SENIOR ADVISOR TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: I think he's got a plan that is put together. We have to crack down on leaks in a number of different fronts. We're going to try to hit a cultural reset on these leaks not only here in the White House, but I'm going to be working with the agencies as well and the department to do that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MACCALLUM: A big job. So, now, Jeff Sessions may be giving the President some of what he's been asking for. Fox News is learning that he will, reportedly, launch an investigation and that it may already have been underway into those leaks. But will that be enough for them to find some common ground and potentially save his job? Sarah Huckabee Sanders hinted today that the attorney general might be safe. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why doesn't he just ask him to resign or fire him? Why did he continue to just tweet about him instead?

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Look, he can be disappointed in someone, but someone wants to continue their job, and that's where they are.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, he wants to continue in that job?

SANDERS: I think that I made clear last week that there comes a point, if he doesn't, he'll make that decision.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MACCALLUM: So, here now, Fox News Senior Political Analyst, Brit Hume. Brit, good evening, it's good to see you tonight.

BRIT HUME, FOX NEWS SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Hi, Martha.

MACCALLUM: I want to play one more sound bite here. This is Corey Lewandowski on this topic as well, and then, I'll get your thoughts.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COREY LEWANDOWSKI, POLITICAL CAMPAIGNER AND POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't think he's humiliating Jeff Sessions. Look, I think the president is going to have that conversation with Senator Sessions, and I know that the president is thankful for the work that Jeff has done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MACCALLUM: Where do you think this is going, Brit?

HUME: I must say, Martha, I'm mystified by this. I checked my memory, which, you know, may not be as good as it used to be, but it goes back aways and I can't find any parallel to this. I've never seen a President do this to a cabinet officer or a close advisor ever. And Trump is so -- this President, President Trump is so unorthodox that it is just possible, Martha, that all he really wants to do here is to send some signals to Jeff Sessions to get the move on some of these issues.

I suspect, Martha, that the investigation that we believe that the attorney general is going to announce in the leaks has probably underway for some time. I mean, some of these leaks are criminal, we've known that for a long time, and they're certainly worthy of investigation. And the effort that Anthony and Scaramucci, you heard him described, it seems to me to be a worthy undertaking as well. I don't think that would be something -- the announcement timing is going raise questions about whether he just did this to save his job. You know, I doubt that's the case.

But if the president is looking for a way to, you know, say that the attorney general is now back in his good graces, this might be it. I just -- it's very hard to assess this. I wish I could say to you, Martha, that the last time something like this happened, I remember it. And it turns out such and such a way, but I can't remember anything like ever.

MACCALLUM: This is pretty unprecedented, this entire presidency. And I think a lot of people have said, you know, you just have to just kind of throw out the background and the history on how these things go, because we're just living in a completely different environment now. And as you say, even if this has been something the Justice Department has been digging into for some time, if now that they talk about the fact that they're investigating leaks, it puts him in a very difficult, awkward position -- Jeff Sessions. Because it's going to look like he's doing this to please the President, which is not really what his job is.

HUME: Well, let's see what he says about the inquiry, and when it was launched, and how long it's been going on and make -- I think will be able to make a better assessment of that at the time. We are existing in a media atmosphere, in which everything that the administration does was with few exceptions is going to be interpreted in the most negative possible light. So, you know, we have to guard against that.

And one of the things that worry me about all the stuff that's been going on, Martha, is that I think Mr. Trump is so different from any president we've seen before that we tend to read him as we would other presidents. For example, his continued irritation at the special counsel's investigation and his behavior about it makes you think, well, he must have something to hide. But he's -- you know, I don't think you can necessarily judge him that way.

It may be that he's innocent and he knows he's innocent, and he just wishes these people would come out and say he's innocent the way he wanted Comey to, which Comey told him privately. So, I just, I think, you know, he's hard to understand. I don't think many of us understand him very well. Newt Gingrich has a whole book out attempting to understand him. And I'm not even sure that Newt, although he has some access to him, understands him very well, either.

MACCALLUM: Yes. I mean, I just find it fascinating when you looked back at his history as a business person, and I think there are times that you could look at times where he has kind of called somebody out in an effort to get that person in line.

HUME: Right.

MACCALLUM: But this is government. This is an attorney general. And as you pointed out, he's not his personal attorney. I mean, he's representing, you know, the Law Enforcement Arm of the United States Government.

HUME: Right. And to the extent that an attorney general's job is to protect the president, it's to protect the president from doing illegal or unethical things. It is not to be his personal, as I put it, goalie, to protect him from any investigation that might come in his direction. That's simply not the proper job of the attorney general. He's supposed to enforce the law without fear or favor, and that means without fear or favor regarding the President of the United States.

MACCALLUM: Yes. But you make a great point about Mueller, because what we don't know is what the Mueller investigation has uncovered or what documents they've asked for from Trump, and he's obviously very irritated that he thinks it's extending beyond the bounds that it should be in. That it's going into his finances, and that it's going places that he thinks are not fair.

HUME: And we hear that. And it maybe that the president knows what Mr. Mueller is getting into or it may be that he doesn't because we don't have any real authority or any official authority that this is the direction in which Mr. Mueller is going. So, it's all -- you know, this is all we're kind of groping here to figure out what's going on and why. And it's tough to get this right.

MACCALLUM: Thanks for the clarity on that, Brit.

(LAUGHTER)

HUME: Doing the best I can, Martha.

MACCALLUM: Good to see you. You're great. Thank you very much. Good to see you.

HUME: You bet.

MACCALLUM: So, here now with more tonight, Republican Senator, James Langford, he sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee. Senator, welcome, good to have you with us tonight as well.

SEN. JAMES LANGFORD, R-OKLAHOMA: Good to be with you.

MACCALLUM: You know, with regard to this issue of leaks, we've heard a lot from the administration and a lot of concerns about deep state leaks, as they have been calling them that people who are Obama holdovers, and these intelligence agencies are putting things out there, even at the Mueller investigation has leaked a little bit of what they're looking into when it comes to President Trump and his finances. What's your take on that? How serious is that part of his investigation, and how much attention is being given to it?

LANGFORD: It's extremely serious and that is a very important part of his investigation. It's something that President Obama dealt with during his presidency. There is a season where there are a lot of leaks that were coming out of the Intel Committee; he had to aggressively take that on to be able to push back, to try to stop it. We've got to get that stopped now. These individuals that may be are holdovers from the previous administration or individuals that just want to be able to get their version of the story out are leaking out parts of the story, but holding back other parts of it to gain some sort of political advantage.

That's incredibly toxic, but what it signals is all of our partners around the world that help us in intelligence gathering don't share with the United States, because this information may be leaked out. Or if you're a source, they're constantly afraid that their information or their identity may be leaked out. That hurts us in our national security. So, this is not a political issue, this is a national security issue that we need to be able to make sure that we keep America protected. The way we do that is to be able to gather information internationally and that needs to be guarded.

MACCALLUM: All right. So, in terms of Jeff Sessions, the Attorney General, and you've watched what's going on here. There are about ten Senators who have come out and basically said to the President that they don't want him to be fired, that they think that would be a big mistake. Where do you stand on that?

LANGFORD: I think that'd be a big mistake as well. Again, the people that work for me and around me, if I have a problem, we sit in my office, and we get a chance to talk it through and then be able to settle it; I don't go to the media to be able to resolve those issues. I just don't think that's the right way to be able to resolve it. The president has access to every person on his staff at any time that he wants to visit with them. And if there is an issue with Jeff, he should certainly call him in and sit down, and say let's try to resolve whatever issues may need to be there, but Jeff Sessions' firmly inside of the law.

The law does not allow him to be involved in the Russia investigation. Because of his role during the campaign, he needs to recuse himself, should recuse himself. But that doesn't mean that the investigation is going to be unfair. They're going to go after facts, trying to deal with the facts. And what Brit Hume was saying before that Jeff Session is not the president's personal goalie, could not be more true. He has to be able to actually implement the law. So, he's putting in U.S. attorneys around the country. He's working with the criminal cases that are happening. He's putting together issues on religious liberty in the administration. He's doing what the attorney general needs to do and needs to be allowed to do. And the president's lost trust in him, resolve it.

MACCALLUM: He's getting a lot of support from you all on the Hill. Thank you very much, Senator, always good to talk to you.

LANGFORD: Good to talk to you as well.

MACCALLUM: So, the President says that he was listening to his generals when he announced this morning, and really surprised a lot of people with a tweet that he sent out, that the military will no longer allow transgender people to serve in their ranks. We are joined by two veterans of recent wars who have very, very different takes on this story.

Also tonight, new allegations of a shadowy company paid by Russian agents to run a smear campaign against President Trump. Bill Browder has a lot of insight into this group, which is based here in the United States. He's dedicated his life to fighting Russian corruption. He will be with us and talk about his testimony which is coming up on the Hill tomorrow.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY, R-IOWA: Did the FBI know that Fusion pitched propaganda for the Russians even as it pushed the dossier? What would they say about its reliability? If the dossier was represented to any court, should this have been disclosed?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MACCALLUM: That was Senator Chuck Grassley earlier today. He was chairing a hearing of the Judiciary Committee. They are investigating alleged Russian agents inside the United States potentially breaking the law. The Senator singled out one company called Fusion GPS. It is allegedly behind a smear of the president during the 2016 campaign. And now, we're learning that the firm may have some ties to people at the Kremlin. Trace Gallagher, joins us now live from our West Coast Newsroom with more on this intriguing story. Hi, Trace!

TRACE GALLAGHER, FOX NEWS CHANNEL HOST: High, Martha. Fusion GPS is in opposition research firm founded by a pair of ex-Wall Street Journal reporters. The infamous Trump dossier that Fusion GPS helped produce is a document filled with salacious details, but they're phony details about President Trump's connection to the Russians. Now, Financier, Bill Browder, plans on telling the Senate Intel Committee that Fusion GPS conducted a smear campaign against him in retaliation for his support of the Magnitsky Act -- that's the U.S. law that imposes sanctions on dozens of wealthy Russians and those involved in the death of Attorney Sergey Magnitsky, who was fatally beaten in prison after uncovering a massive Russia fraud scheme. And Browder claims the smear campaign was actually orchestrated by Natalia Veselnitskaya. Remember, she is the Russian attorney who had that controversial meeting last year with Donald Trump Jr.

In his prepared testimony, Browder, calls out Fusion GPS saying, quoting here: "While they were conducting these operations in Washington, D.C., at no time did they indicate that they were acting on behalf of Russian government interest, nor did they file disclosures under the Foreign Agents Registration Act or FARA. This was one of the best examples of Putin's propaganda." So, now, Senate Intel Committee Chair, Chuck Grassley, wants to know why, if fusion GPS was hired by Natalia Veselnitskaya, they never registered as a foreign agent. Grassley also points out, that while Trump allies -- Paul Manafort and Mike Flynn -- have often been criticized for retroactively registering under FARA, Hillary Clinton confidante, Cindy Blumenthal never did, even though he gave Clinton documents on behalf of a foreign political party. Here is Grassley.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GRASSLEY: The Justice Department never explained why they did not require Mr. Blumenthal to raid (INAUDIBLE). If the Justice Department though Mr. Blumenthal's activities on behalf of foreign interest, did not require registration, it should simply say so.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GALLAGHER: After being postponed by Senate Democrats today, Browder's testimony before the Senate Intel Committee is now set for tomorrow morning. Martha.

MACCALLUM: Fascinating. Thank you, Trace. So, here now for an exclusive is Bill Browder, CEO of Hermitage Capital Management, and the man who spearheaded major sanctions against the Russian government. Tomorrow morning, he will testify before congress. Bill, welcome back to the program, good to have you here today.

BILL BROWDER, HERMITAGE CAPITAL MANAGEMENT: Good to be back.

MACCALLUM: So you're supposed to be there, today. They evoked a two hour rule, which is very unusual. So now, you're going to testify on Thursday. Let's get to sort of the heart of the matter here. You feel that the Magnitsky Act, which was sanctions against some of Vladimir Putin's sort of elite crew in Russia, and he very much wants them lifted and has had this campaign to do so, which -- Natalia Veselnitskaya have been a part of. That there's a link also to all of that from Fusion GPS, which is an American -- firm, as Trace just said started by two Wall Street Journal reporters. What is their connection to all of this in your mind?

BILL BROWDER, HERMITAGE CAPITAL MANAGEMENT CEO: Not in my mind, it's on paper. Basically, Natalia Veselnitskaya put together a huge team, a very well-financed team -- people in Washington, D.C., to help her on this project to get these Magnitsky sanctions lifted. And what we know, as a matter of fact, is that she employed a law firm called Baker Hostetler, and Baker Hostetler employed Fusion GPS and Glenn Simpson as part of this campaign to get the Magnitsky act lifted.

MACCALLUM: And they never registered with FARA, which is the entity that you have to do in terms of compliance to say we're an American company, but we're doing some work for a foreign entity, that never happened. I just want to read something from Thor Halverson, who's a human rights advocate, who is also scheduled to testify, and here's what he says about Fusion GPS. He said it's a sort of thing they specialize in. He's talking about the dossier that was compiled by, then candidate -- now President Donald Trump. They say the mainstream false smears, allegations that are so salacious and over-the-top that people assume they must be true. He said they did this with Browder, meaning you, of course. They did this with two other whistleblowers, and they did it to me. So how did Fusion GPS get linked up with this Russian lobbyist entity?

BROWDER: Well, I'm not sure how they got linked up, but what I do know is that when they did get linked up they didn't spare any effort to try to basically run with the Putin narrative and try to change the entire story of the murder of my lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky. What Glenn Simpson did was he pitch to journalists in major publications that Sergei Magnitsky hadn't been murdered. That he died of natural causes, which is patently false. He said that Sergei Magnitsky wasn't the whistleblower, that he was a criminal. When in fact, Sergei Magnitsky was murdered because.

MACCALLUM: So they tried to dismantle your story, which I know you believe is the truth. About what happened to your friend, because they didn't like the sanctions and they want to sort of dismantle that whole underpinning to the story. In terms of the meeting that Natalia Veselnitskaya had with Donald Trump, Jr., and Paul Manafort, and others, they all came to that meeting under the pretense in the email that Veselnitskaya was going to deliver some dirt on Hillary Clinton. Knowing the players here, how do you think that part of it got cooked up? Because I know you believe that they were really just trying to get them in the room to get them on board with lifting these sanctions.

BROWDER: So what you have to understand about these people is that this is effectively a Russian operation, a Russian government operation. There's a specific objective, which is at the top of Putin's list, which is to get rid of these sanctions. And they would have sat down for many weeks beforehand and they would have studying their target. In this case, the target is Donald Trump Jr. They try to figure out something that they could say, some offer they could make, some enticement that they can put forward which would get him into a room or potentially into some type of deal. And so, they obviously looked on what they thought was the most interesting thing that they could offer, and that was what they offered because they had something big they wanted in return.

MACCALLUM: So they claimed that once they got in the room, you know, it was all about adoption, which we now know is linked to the Magnitsky Act and all of that. Does all of that ring true for you when you hear sort of what happened, or their account of what happens when they got into that room?

BROWDER: Well, you know, I so distrust anything that the Russians say, that there is -- absolutely, a pathological liars. And so, I can't believe what they say, but I do know what their intentions were. Their intentions were to get this piece of legislation repealed. This sanctions legislation. We absolutely do not know what they offered because you can't trust a word that they say.

MACCALLUM: I know you learned that the hard way, through extensive business dealings in Russia and losing your friend as well. Bill Browder, you will testify before this committee, come Thursday. Thank you very much, good to have you back on the show tonight, Bill.

BROWDER: Great to be with you. Thank you.

MACCALLUM: Shocked tonight, as Jordan releases terrifying videos that show American soldiers shut down in allied territory, killed in cold blood. Up next, we get reactions from two Special Forces operators about what went wrong here. Also tonight, great news from Congressman Steve Scalise, he is headed home. Also this evening, a Muslim leader at a California mosque calling for violence against Jews. And also, signs that North Korea is at it again, and this time more it's frightening than ever, straight ahead, tonight, when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MACCALLUM: Back to some of the short stories making headline tonight, great news first, Congressman Steve Scalise has been discharged from the hospital six weeks after he was shot during a congressional baseball practice. Rehab is the next stop. We wish him well. No doubt he's thrilled to be home, and we are thrilled for him. And a California Imam is facing sharp criticism following a sermon that he gave about violence at one of Jerusalem holiest site, according to the Middle East Media Research Institute translation, he not only condemned Jews, he called for their elimination. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, Allah, liberate the al-Agsa Mosque from the filth of the Jews. Oh, Allah, count them one by one and annihilate them down to the very last one. Do not spare any of them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MACCALLUM: A local Islamic center claims that the comments were taken out of context and says, quote, if the sermon was misconstrued, we sincerely apologize to anyone who was offended. And some new warnings tonight that another North Korean missile launch could come at any time now. The regime successfully test launched an intercontinental ballistic missile back on the fourth of July, and this news follows a chilling report that Kim Jong- un could be capable of launching a nuclear attack against a North American city, according to their outlook on this by next year.

So a move that sparked a lot of heated debate tonight, President Trump shatters yet again, another Obama-era policy, issuing a brand-new ban, this time on transgender people in the military, the president this morning tweeting that he will not allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory, and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you, he ended it. Joining me now, Robin Biro is the first openly gay army ranger, and Carl Higbie is a former navy SEAL. Gentlemen, welcome to both of you. Let me get your thoughts on this. Robin, let me start with you. What was your reaction when you saw this, this morning?

ROBIN BIRO, FIRST OPNELY GAY ARMY RANGER: Shock and horror. You know, as part of the LGBT services and the military, I really couldn't believe this. One thing that I have to say that I love about our military is it is essentially a giant melting pot of all different races, religions, socioeconomic backgrounds, and we always are able to see beyond those differences and accomplish one goal, which is defending our country and fighting the common fight. We have been taught and trained. It's been beaten into our heads to look past these differences. This right now is dividing us. Frankly, I'm concerned for the over 6,000 currently serving trans troops that we have, and I worry what's going to happen to them.

MACCALLUM: That's an outstanding question, the White House wasn't able to answer today. What it means for those who are currently serving, are they supposed to pack up and come home? Is that the directive that they're being given? Carl Higbie, what do you think?

CARL HIGBIE, VETERAN NAVY SEAL: Well, I think that sometimes we make personal choices that affect our career opportunities, and this might be one of those cases. The first thing I want to address here, is look, the military's job is to put bullets in bad guys. If you think adding an additional variable like transgenderism, whatever that is, to an already stacked against us fight, it doesn't help. If you can answer the question honestly, how does adding transgender to the military helps us defend the United States of America? I'm happy to have that conversation, but the fact is it doesn't. This is not a social experiment. The military is there to defend the United States. Not anything else. It's not a time for you to try new things.

MACCALLUM: Carl, I mean, I have never been in battle, you have. And I respect that greatly for both of you. So, you know, feel free to jump in here. But the same conversations were heard when African-Americans entered the military, when women entered the military, that it was all about all being the same, and that that was a problem that could not be overcome. Why is this any different?

HIGBIE: It's different because, look, transgenderism is not an actual thing. It's a mental dysfunction. You're born a guy or you're born a girl, period. You can change, you can add or subtract anything via surgery you want, but the fact of the matter is you're still a guy or a girl as you were born. This is something that adds a totally new dynamic. We've two genders right now, we've done away with the race thing, because as you mention before the race thing has been done away in the military. We have two genders right now. You start adding a half male.

MACCALLUM: The fact that it's -- and Robin, you can jump in here. I mean, there's already -- the estimates range for 7 to 11,000 that I've read today, people who are already serving. Now, there's a decision that needs to be made here, whether or not you in the middle of this process, whether you're undergoing surgery, if there are medical reasons why you cannot be there, and no one should necessarily expect that these surgeries should be paid for by the military, Robin, do agree with that part of this?

BIRO: Bingo. Yes, and I'm so glad you asked. I have already been briefed on this entire process. The military forces have already gone through, 100 percent of the troops have been brought up to speed on the integration of trans-troops. So we've already.

(CROSSTALK)

BIRO: . that this is a medical procedure, let me finish, this is a medical procedure. This is not a mental illness. You see a medical doctor, they prescribe medicine. The military pays for the medication, just like you would for any other illness. They do not pay for the surgery, but they pay for the medical condition to treat genders dysphoria, which is a medical condition.

MACCALLUM: It's worth pointing out that when asked, I mean, we don't have time to play this right not, but General Mattis at his confirmation hearing said, you know, frankly, senator, I never cared much about two consenting adults and who they go to bed with. And he indicated in a number of ways, Carl, that he was OK with this program moving forward.

HIGBIE: Look, I have no problem. If you want to be transgender in your own time, go ahead. But here's the fact, when I came back from Iraq in 2009, I had skin cancer in my family, so I want to get tested for skin cancer. The military wouldn't pay to send me to a dermatologist, but now they're going to pay for people to be transgender? That just doesn't make sense. It's on the backs of the American taxpayer. And that's not what I'm OK with. Do whatever you want on your own time. Don't put it on the backs of the military. And, certainly, don't make us conform because many of the military members I've spoke too, actually, all of them, don't support this policy.

MACCALLUM: All right. We've got to leave it there. Robin, Carl, thank you very much. Good to have both of you tonight.

HIGBIE: Thank you.

BIRO: Thank you, Martha.

MACCALLUM: So coming up, are we seeing a new strategy for President Trump, the commander-in-chief in his comfort zone in places like West Virginia and Ohio, over the course of this week. Up next, we talk to someone who could be a part of the team behind a new plan that is emerging from the White House. Trump insider joins me, David Bossie, right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MACCALLUM: President Trump spreading his wings a bit, making quite a few appearances this week, from a Boy Scout jamboree in West Virginia, to a big rally last night in Youngstown, Ohio, plus some extra events at the White House. But this is the tone so far for this week. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: By the way, just a question. Did President Obama ever come to a jamboree? This has been a difficult week for the media because I forced them to travel with us all around the country and spend time with tens of thousands of proud Americans. As I look out at the audience, I see the next generation of American leaders. I see the promise of our future. I see the strength and love of the American spirit, and because of young people like you, I and more confident than ever in the future of the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MACCALLUM: So there have been changes this week at the White House, and we understand that there are probably more to come. So here now, a man who was spotted at the White House, recently, and who has traveled -- went with the president to Youngstown, Ohio, last night. He was key in the campaign. Deputy campaign manager David Bossie of Citizens United joins me now. David, good to see you.

DAVID BOSSIE, CITIZEN UNITED DEPUTY CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Thanks for having me.

MACCALLUM: So I guess my question is, we've seen Anthony Scaramucci come onboard, and we have a picture, like detective work, of you and Corey Lewandowsky walking into the White House that we can put up on screen, which we have a spot all around because -- we're not following you exactly, but we're told that that's you guys walking in. So what's your sense from the president? What does he want to change? What is going to be different now?

BOSSIE: I don't really think it's the president doing anything different. He is going to continue exactly what got him to the White House, which is talking directly to the American people and telling them what he is going to do for them. Talking about their agenda, which is about jobs, and the economy, and their children's education, and repealing and replacing Obamacare, and so he is going to continue to go out and bypass the mainstream media. Bypass the fake news divisions across America, and talked directly to the American people, and continue to get his message out, the work he's doing for them.

MACCALLUM: I hear you. But we're seeing changes in the team and the people around him.

BOSSIE: Sure.

MACCALLUM: We talked about this in general terms that a lot of the people who were very close to him during the campaign were not part of the White House team, initially. Are we seeing a second wave, are you going to be part of this second wave? Is Corey Lewandowsky is going to be part of that? If not, what is your role?

BOSSIE: Well, I can't speak for Corey, but we are both friends of the president of the United States, and we are honored and humbled to be able to say that. And having worked for him during the campaign, both Corey and I, we want to do the best job we can to articulate his vision for America and what he's doing for the American people. So, this is a natural occurrence to have new people join and others leave the White House. It happened for Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, George Bush, it's just a natural occurrence.

MACCALLUM: You know, in terms of the changing of the guard, does that include Jeff Sessions? I want you to weigh in on whether or not you think the president is going to keep him or if he's going have a discussion, a powwow with him? Are they going to make up and things are going to be nice?

BOSSIE: Well, I think that the president has said he is disappointed in the decision that Jeff Sessions made to recuse himself, and that is the reason that the president is frustrated over this investigation, this unwieldy, wild investigation that has no boundaries, and really no scope. Look, this investigation has been going on for nearly one year, August. It will be a year next month. Multiple congressional investigations, the department of justice, special counsel, millions of taxpayer dollars spent, and not one ounce, not one shred of evidence that there's been any collusion or working with the Russians at all.

MACCALLUM: Fair point. I've got to go. Five seconds, is he done or not? Is Sessions going to stay?

BOSSIE: Oh, I think we've not seen the last of Jeff Sessions.

MACCALLUM: All right. David Bossie, thank you, good to see. We'll take a quick break and we'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MACCALLUM: So we leave you with this tonight. The Boston Globe wrote a story calling out Mitt Romney for waterskiing because there's so much going on in the world and Washington. There is this man, he ran for president, yes, but the moment he holds no elected office. What do the Globe would like him to do exactly about health care and other pressing issues on the hill is unclear. Still, the Globe never missing opportunity to go after the former governor writes, one Republican who appears to be unbothered by all the political tumult would be Mitt Romney, to which we say, Mitt Romney gave people a chance to make him the decision-maker. Having been denied that honor, we're glad to see that he's enjoying his summer and his family. And we would also add that the 70-year-old looks like he could probably teaches all of us a thing or two about carving turns. We'll be back here tomorrow night. Have a great night everybody. Tucker Carlson is up next.

END

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