This is a rush transcript from "The Story," August 30, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
MARTHA MACCALLUM, "THE STORY" HOST: Good evening, everybody. I'm Martha MacCallum. There is good news tonight. A strong GDP report and some tax reform that is in the works, and we will get to the big stories today. The fact of the matter is that the water is still rising, and people are still, tonight, being rescued in the state of Texas.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're flooded across the city. You know, one person -- one place is (INAUDIBLE). We have water all across the city five, six feet deep in some places. We have about 18,000 water (INAUDIBLE) here. The city put out there -- there are about 20,000 homes, something like that, and I would estimate about 20,000 have water in them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: Unreal. Unreal numbers. Port Arthur and Beaumont. Look at this. Look at this. In the middle of a tragic loss. Look at these people in a shelter. So, the president was in Missouri, as you know, and this is what he said today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I believe, will tough. But I have seen the resilience of the American spirit firsthand all over this country. To the people of Houston and across Texas and Louisiana, we are here with you today, we are with you tomorrow, and we will be with you every single day after to restore, recover and rebuild.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: And some of the most read stories online today are still about the first lady's shoes, or the desire to see the right photo op hug and sensible shoes. Trumps, shall we say their concern for the actual story of how effective the response is or is not for the people of Texas.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think that he understands the human scale of misery. I don't think he can connect with the sort of compassion that you normally have when you see a disaster like this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very little in terms of empathy of this president. Very little in terms of emotion or talking directly to the people of Texas.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Today President Trump visited Texas, but he forgot to bring any empathy with him, but he did bring a hat.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: When he greeted the crowd, it was -- it felt, perhaps, a little bit more like a rally.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I did not hear him speak about the victims of this flood. Is there something missing here?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: There's this picture sprawled across a piece of wood from a Texan summing up what we just heard that they blame Trump, this man wrote. And then, there's this cartoon from Politico which goes so far as to mock Texans. Politico sent us a statement tonight when they heard that we were going to be looking at this cartoon and that we were going to hear from Karl Rove about his thoughts. So, that's coming up tonight as well.
But first, we want to bring in Carl Higbie. He is now the White House Chief of External Affairs for the Corporation for Nation and Community Service to agencies providing support throughout Texas and Louisiana. So, you're working hard on this, Carl, but I have to ask you first of all: what goes through your mind given what you are so focused on when you see these responses about the improper amount of empathy and they're not sure if the hug was right or if the shoes were right?
CARL HIGBIE, CHIEF OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS FOR THE CORPORATION FOR NATION AND COMMUNITY SERVICE: It's amazing. I mean, it truly shows the media's true colors here. I mean, but President Trump authorized almost unprecedented funding and resources out the gate. You think he doesn't have empathy for this? President Trump sent 63,000 families immediate aid through FEMA. Right now, we have, you know, 100 plus military aircraft down there; we have 500 medical professionals; we have 1,000-plus Americorps members; 30,000 National Guard; 50,000 -- what else do you want? I mean, at this point, the people down here, including Americorps, FEMA -- who's been fantastic -- Governor Abbott.
Nobody has drawn any political lines on this. We're there to get the job done. We're there to save lives; get people out of their flooded homes. And you talked about him not showing empathy? President Trump is wholly invested in this operation, and it's disgusting to see media politicizing this because they don't like the current president.
MACCALLUM: So, you know, in the end, it's going to be judged based on or should be based on how efficient all the programs that you just talked about turn out to be. And whether or not the government and the capacity that it's capable, and this is an enormous task that's being undertaken here, so it's not going to be perfect. How well you do the job in the end? How confident are you that the systems that are in place are not going to produce -- you know, they'll produce good stories coming out of this day after day, after day as the president said they'll be there for?
HIGBIE: Well, I'll tell you -- I mean, this is my second week on the job. So, it was a nice warm welcome. The team in Americorps that I have is phenomenal. I mean, we have been in and out of this. And talk about people from all walks of life in this organization, nobody has mentioned any of that. The focus has been on the mission. FEMA has done a phenomenal job. The president basically gave carte blanche to anybody in the state and local officials with Governor Abbott, said what do we need, how can we help you, what can we provide? And he made it happen like that. This unprecedented. Katrina, Sandy, nothing came like this. President Trump has authorized things at an unprecedented rate, and I would hope the media realizes that.
MACCALLUM: You know, you've served your country, obviously, and you're continuing to do that now. So, I wonder what you think when there's this kind of measure that's put out there in terms of what empathy looks like, and how everyone understands it, and what we expect from presidents? I mean, you know, we all remember: Bill Clinton would kind of bite his lower lip, and I feel your pain. And you know, George W. Bush was often brought to tears, that's the man that he is. He's an outwardly emotional person. But you know President Trump, maybe he just isn't, you know, wired for that sort of emotion but he likes to get stuff done.
HIGBIE: He absolutely does like to get stuff done. That's what he ran on, that's what he's doing right now. But the thing is, President Trump instead of sitting down and feeling sorry for himself or anything like that, he has turned that energy to productivity. He goes down there and holds up a microphone and the Texas flag and he projects strength. And you know what, a lot of people find a lot of solitude in that because these people have literally lost everything. And when you see the president of the United States come down to where you are, have a Texas flag and say we got your back, it means a lot to the American people. And you know, Americorps, FEMA, like I said before, we're down there doing this work, and we're going to be there for five years.
MACCALLUM: Thank you. And I'm sure they thank you for that, too. Carl Higbie, good luck with all the work that you have ahead of you. Thanks so much for being here tonight.
HIGBIE: Thank you.
MACCALLUM: So, Hurricane Harvey, as you've been watching, hammering eastern Texas now. The city of Beaumont, home to over 10,000 people, is now a watery wasteland. Flash floods are ravaging that area as we speak, and this was the disastrous scene at a shelter in Port Arthur. These people came here to get dry. And the water flooded right in here, and they had to be moved out. But some of them were sleeping in the middle of all this on a cot, just hoping the water wasn't going to overrun them. Steve Harrigan, tonight, joins us live from Koonce, Texas, where the situation is just as dire. Steve, good evening to you.
STEVE HARRIGAN, FOX NEWS CHANNEL CORRESPONDENT: Martha, a steady rain here. We've been watching volunteers with their boats pulling people out of subdivisions all day. But for the people who want to stay in their houses or who don't feel they can leave, people are also ferrying out supplies to them. Kelly, tell me what you've been bringing people today.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, today I brought four gentlemen home, they were getting to their families, they're from Dallas. They had water, and canned foods, and bread, some medicine -- not sure what are, but they are just trying to get to their families that couldn't get out or did not choose to get out.
HARRIGAN: Now, your family, you can't reach them, but you're still out here helping other people.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I have family in the Orange area, but we cannot get to them either way. We go down 69 or 96 because the road is blocked off because of the flooding.
HARRIGAN: Martha, the roads have isolated so many people like this couple here. They can't get to their own family to help, but they're helping who they can here. When you get 49 inches of rain here in just the past five days, it completely isolated certain towns. This town, Sour Lake, 16 miles down the road, 10,000 people, no one's reached it yet. We just saw some boats set out there to try and find a way there. This water, actually, gets to be about seven, eight feet deep when you go a few more feet out. So, getting around here is tough, and right now it's volunteers who've been going out to try and save people. Martha, back to you.
MACCALLUM: Incredible. Steve, thank you very much and our thanks to them as well for talking to you tonight. So, flying over Texas today with the Air National Guard as they conduct live rescues. Our own Trace Gallagher, who joins us once again this evening. Hi, Trace.
TRACE GALLAGHER, FOX NEWS CHANNEL ANCHOR: Hi, Martha. We're now above these neighborhoods in Houston. You can see how much the water has reached in Houston. It's just amazing how it's going down. We have flown, though, from here over to Beaumont, to Port Arthur, and then Port Arthur is what Houston was two days ago. It is just devastating, and the water goes all the way. We're talking about 60, 70 miles. And now you get back to Houston, and the devastation and the water rise that we saw just yesterday has gone down dramatically. There was a golf course over there that we saw -- it was covered in the water yesterday. And we had -- we've been in the helicopter the past 3-1/2 hours, and we saw an amazing rescue of a family. Watch this.
They're leaning over the edge over there, and I'm not sure how close we can get. We don't want to get in their way because they're clearly busy. But they dropped the basket down, they're clearly looking for somebody. And then, as soon as that person gets in, they will hoist that person up. As a rule, the people who were taken up in the basket are fairly immobile. Here we go. Here we go. This is the first rescue victim. It's a child and her mom, right? Over and over again, can you imagine? Being a child like this, it breaks your heart. You know? 9 or 10-years-old and she should be at school today, right?
School started on Monday and she should be in school today, and instead, she's hoisted up in a Blackhawk helicopter basket with her mom because their lives were clearly at risk. And it kind of gives you an idea of what we're dealing with here. She's crying. Her mom is crying. I know our signal is in and out, but we're on the back side of this golf course, and I know we're going to talk back to you, Martha, because out signal is coming in and out, but I just wanted to show you this before we finished up. We're trying to make our way back over Houston. People and their flooded homes, but wow! I mean, the water has gone down here. It's rising in Beaumont. The storm, the encore that this storm provided today was absolutely stunning to so many people.
MACCALLUM: Amazing. And Trace, you have given us such a front row scene for the rescues that happened. It just breaks your heart. You look at the faces of the mom and her child. Imagine how terrified they must have been, being lifted up through the air into a helicopter. But thank goodness for the steady hand of the people who are organizing that rescue. I mean, it's incredible. It takes your breath away. And Trace was in and out there, but we want to stick with him because he's really giving us some great coverage and a lot of what Houston looks like tonight.
Our next guest is on the front lines of the battle against Hurricane Harvey as well. Fort Bend County Sheriff, Troy Nails, has been in the water for five days conducting rescues back-to-back nonstop evacuations just southwest of Houston. He's contributed to the more than 5,000 rescues, 1,000 a day since this started in that area so far. Joining me now by phone is the man you see here with a cowboy hat, Sheriff Nails. Good to have you here tonight, Sheriff.
TROY NAILS, SHERIFF, FORT BEND COUNTY SHERIFF: Good evening.
MACCALLUM: How are you holding up?
NAILS: We're doing fine. You know, everything the last several days, of course, very hectic, very stressful for anyone that would call Fort Bend County home. But today was the report of our first actual casualty as a result of the flooding. We had two individuals, a husband and wife, drown today. They drove their vehicle through some high water, and that high water swept their vehicle into the ditch line, then overturned. And of course, they died. And it's just a sad story.
MACCALLUM: It's awful. And you know, it seems that so often that's the case, you know when people try to get into their car and go somewhere. What are you telling people who you haven't been able to reach yet? Because you know, we just talked to Steve Harrigan, he's talking about a town, 16 miles down the road that nobody's been able to yet. What do you want them to know tonight?
NAILS: Well, several thousands of people -- excuse me -- thousands upon thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes. The volunteers down here bringing in boats, air boats from around the state, actually from around the country. It's just been a remarkable effort on behalf of everyone around the country to get people out of their homes, to safety. And then, what did we see yesterday? Something wonderful. We saw some sunlight. And the sun was shining yesterday and today. So, there are people who feel that you know, it's over. The worst has not yet to come. The Brazos River continues --
MACCALLUM: Thank you. I hear what you're saying about the rising Brazos River. We want to also hear it. And thank you so much for everything you're doing. The whole country is astounded by your bravery, sir, and everyone else. We want to go now to the mayor because this is getting underway now. Mayor Turner in Houston, live news conference. Let's listen in.
SYLVESTER TURNER, MAYOR OF HOUSTON, TEXAS: Hurricane Harvey disaster relief fund. And there are a number of people who have already stepped up and I cannot be so pleased with the fact that our corporate leaders are really stepping up in a major, major way. And not only in terms of their financial contributions, but in terms of supplies, and clothes, baby formula, you name it that many of the people in our shelters need. Many of those things, all of those things that I've talked about have been provided by Walmart. And I cannot thank Walmart enough for their generous contribution to people in their moments of need. They're one of the several corporations.
Dan Barkley is here today as Executive Vice President of Corporate Affairs at Walmart, along with several people who are with him, flew in this afternoon to kind of look at -- take a look at what's happening at George R. Brown, the shelter. But they'd already provided a number of items that our people needed. And then, to add to what they've already given, Dan also came on behalf of Walmart to make a contribution to the relief fund of $2 million. And so, I really want to thank them for their generous contribution to this relief fund. It certainly is going to be needed as we move forward. That's just one part of their give.
The remaining portion is contributing another $18 million, a $9 million match where people go and purchase, and up to $9 million they will match it by another nine. So, the total gift that they are giving to the Texas gulf coast region, people affect, is $20 million. But two of those $20 million for specifically targeted for Houston and Harris County. I'm very appreciative of their generosity, but it also demonstrates the solid spirit that we have of corporations in the private sector in our community. Dan, thank you on behalf of the city of Houston. And I know --
DAN BARKLEY, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT OF CORPORATE AFFAIRS AT WALMART: Thank you, mayor. It's a real privilege for us to stand here shoulder to shoulder with the people of Texas. We are Texans ourselves. We've been in these communities for many, many years, and we hurt when our fellow Texans hurt. And as the mayor said, we've been here with our supplies, with our own associates. We've got over 11,000 of our own associates who've been impacted by the storms themselves. But they're working very hard, tirelessly, to get the stores back open so they can serve the customers and make sure they have the goods they need. Our truck drivers have braved this bad weather. They've already made over 1,000 truckloads worth of supplies. A lot of that is water and other staple stocks that are needed particularly at the shelters. But today's announcement to say that we're going to step up even more.
$20 million commitment, as the mayor said, $2 million is going here, but also in a way in which our own customers as they want to support efforts, we will match every dollar with a double of that match up to $10 million. And many of those dollars will go to these sheltering operations to make sure not only that they have the personal hygiene goods and other things like water, but if there are things that we can do for families with kids, to make sure they have board games, and video games, and things to try to bring some sort of normalcy to a period of hectic drama and strife. It's just a little bit more than we can do as a company to say we're here to help. And so, we understand that the days and hours and weeks and months to come are going to be difficult. And this is going to be a long process, and we're just here to say that Walmart's going to be there every step of the way. So, thank you.
TURNER: Thanks. Thank you, Dan. Thank you for the corporation, Walmart, the contributions. And Walmart will join companies like waste management that have given a pledge to give $1.5 million to the same relief fund, along with NRG, making a contribution as well and a number of others. But look, government sectors are going to be able to do it alone, and we need the support of the private sector and we have some very generous companies. And that's when anybody says, you know, woe is Houston. Don't feel sorry for us. The sun came out on yesterday, and we --
MACCALLUM: All right. We're going to keep a close eye on that, obviously. You saw that Walmart has been very generous, a lot of companies are doing that kind of work for these areas, and that's a good thing. So, we'll keep a close eye on that. If there's more news from that last night, they told us about the curfews at night --those are still in effect, and they're keeping guard around the convention center. They want to make sure everybody stays calm because as the days go on, the tensions are going to begin to rise, as you might imagine. So, that's a big concern. So, we'll keep an eye on the news conference. We'll tell you if anything more comes out of that.
In the meantime, news tonight: President Trump is ready to ask Congress for cash for Harvey relief. Now, keep in mind, we got new Fox polls tonight. Fox has a -- I mean, Congress has a 15 percent approval rating -- ours are much higher than that -- according to that new poll rating, so they're not doing so well. But in 2012, when Super Storm Sandy hit the northeast, some members of the Texas delegation voted against the Federal Relief bill. Earlier, New Jersey Governor, Chris Christie, reminded folks of that, and he urged representatives to put that kind of divisiveness behind them. But he didn't let his fellow Republicans that went against his relief bill, off the hook. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE, R-NEW JERSEY: They were playing politics with it, OK? They were all getting ready to do what they wanted to do for 2016 and make themselves seems like the most conservative person. I'm urging members of Congress of New Jersey, don't hold a grudge.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: Texas Congressman, Kevin Brady, is Chairman of the House Ways Committee and he represents in and around Houston. So first of all, Congressman Brady, our hearts go out to your district and all of the people, no doubt, that you know that are affected by all of this. So, we want to thank you for taking the time to be here tonight, because we know you have a lot on your plate. In terms of the relief effort that will come from Congress, what do you make of the criticism of what happened in the last round?
REP. KEVIN BRADY, R-TEXAS: Yes. So, let's start about the immediate needs. We got two big challenges right now, this is an extra innings disaster as you can see. So, in southeast Texas, this is an area that just got hammered with Hurricane Ike and Rita. And they have never seen, even in those, the flooding they have today. So, we're still seeing evacuations, the flash flooding, you know, the rescues over there. And in our communities, you know, we were plucking people from rooftops yesterday. Today, we're watching the water seed. So, our focus now is helping people in shelters determine how soon can they get back, how they assess the damage, what do we need to take care of them in both the short and the long term? So, our focus continues to be on that.
MACCALLUM: No doubt. And you know, when you do return to Washington or when this bill comes up, I would imagine that you're going to be a strong, passionate voice for wanting that money to go to Texas. And I just have to ask you, because last time we talked about Sandy there were a number of conservatives, yourself included, who felt that there should be some offset in the budget for that money. Is that something that you want to pursue?
BRADY: Yes. So, look, let's review that. I voted for Sandy funding. I didn't for the Sandy plus poor funding. But I want to make this point about Governor Christie. Look, if he has a beef with this, fine. There are a time and place for this. But I noticed while he was on the airwaves trying to extort some petty political pay-back, what I noticed at the very same moments we had law enforcement officer trapped and dying in his car, a family van with six kids and family members swept to their death and an 89-year-old grandmother that we lost forever. And while emergency responders were trying and working day and night to save people, in my view, there's a time and place for that debate that Governor Christie wants, but this isn't it.
Because I will tell you this, when Hurricane Sandy was hitting New Jersey and our East Coast, we were pulling for and praying for them. And so, I think there are a time and a place for all of this debate. But I frankly think that Governor Christie owes an apology to emergency responders who are out there busting their tail and volunteers who are doing the same to save people's lives, while he was on the airwaves trying to score cheap political points.
MACCALLUM: Very strong point and well-taken. Congressman Brady, as you say, there are subjects for another day. I know you're very passionate about tax reform and the president spoke about it today. But I hope you'll come back when you're focused and have the luxury of turning to other things. Because obviously, you have a strong focus right now.
BRADY: This was a good day, too. I appreciate the president's support both for the hurricane and tax reform. We appreciate his leadership.
MACCALLUM: Thank you very much, Congressman Brady. We look forward to talking with you again, sir.
MACCALLUM: You bet. So, in this hour tonight and urgent rescue mission as flash floods trap dozens of nursing home residents. And then we have this story for you this evening: a political cartoonist thinks that there is some irony to all of this. But many are deeply offended at the cartoon that they see as mocking Texans. Texan Karl Rove responds.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, I waited for the water and somebody gave me a ride on the boat going here. It just breaks my heart.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm so sorry. Are these your patients?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It shows the water. And the water was all the way to, about, here. And that's like four steps until we reach the top of this second story.
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MACCALLUM: Wow. I mean, you look at that. People will start getting back in their homes, and they'll start seeing where the water level has gone in those homes. And that's going to be the story of the days and weeks to come as we take a look at what has been a very, very difficult week for Houston, for Texas, and now moving to Louisiana as well. And also, tonight, a controversial cartoon that was published in Politico. Take a close look at this -- we can drop that, here we go.
Critics say that this is an image that mocks Texans, stereotyping them as anti-government. You see the man in the rescue cage underneath the helicopters saying, "Angels sent by God." And then, the Coast Guard, saying Coast Guard send by the government. Now, depending on federal assistance in a time of need is one of the points of this cartoon. The cartoon also, many says, mocks the faith of some of the Texans who are involved in this disaster. The cartoonist, though, is defending his work in a statement to us tonight.
And here's what he says: "I try to get people to think to consider the ironies and subtleties of the world we live in. This cartoon went with an extreme example of anti-government types -- Texas Secessionists -- benefitting from the heroism of federal government rescuers." So, joining me now on the whole Texas story, and with his reaction to that as well, Karl Rove, former Senior Advisor to President George W. Bush, a Fox News Contributor, and of course, a proud Texan himself. Karl, good evening.
KARL ROVE, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR AND FORMER SENIOR ADVISOR TO PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Good evening.
MACCALLUM: I guess, the first thing that I want to ask you because we didn't get a chance to do it the other night is how you and the people that you know and love are holding up in your home state, a place that you hold very dear to your heart?
ROVE: Yes. Well, look, we lived on the far edge of the storm. We lost part of our chimney and a bunch of trees. But I got to tell you, we had no damage compared to what's being inflicted on Texans all along the Texas gulf coast. We got the former colleague of mine and their family is in a shelter in Houston because they couldn't get out. A friend of ours stayed with us Monday night. Their ranch was right in the eye of the storm. When it came ashore at rock port, it ended up about three miles away from the eye, was three miles away from their house.
Literally, the roof of their house is ripped off and looks like a piece aluminum foil is being ripped off at the top of the house. And we're going to be hearing stories for weeks to come about people in desperate straits that are overcoming the -- one of the worst natural disasters that happened in our country's history with grit and determination.
MACCALLUM: You know, the president was there. He's coming back on Saturday. We also know now that Vice President Mike Pence is going to go tomorrow. You were in the White House during Katrina, what did you think about the response that the president has put forth so far?
ROVE: Well, I think it's been great. We need to put it in context though. Under federal law, the president's not in charge of disaster emergency relief. That's the job of the governor of each individual state. What President Trump has done is he's told his agencies to be an incredibly responsive to anything the Texas Governor, Greg Abbot, needs and wants that's reasonable. And so, we ought to put a little bit -- I know the president draws a lot of the attention, but there are to be some attention paid to the people who really get this job done, which is the governors of the state. What we've learned in Katrina was if you have a governor like Haley Barbara of Mississippi, or Bob Riley of Alabama, or Jeb Bush of Florida, who knew what they were doing, then things got done. But if you have a governor under our law, the Stafford Act, the person who's in charge is the governor, and if the governor doesn't have their act together it's a disaster.
MACCALLUM: It's a great point.
ROVE: Abbott has his act together. He is -- over my shoulder, you see the state capitol. Not too far north from there is the state operations center. He's there virtually all day long, and he's purpose is to coordinate state, local resources, federal resources to attack this problem. And he's doing in my opinion a terrific job of doing so.
MACCALLUM: He deserves a lot of kudos. He has done an incredible job so far. So this cartoon, which -- I think his name is Walker, his last name, the cartoonist that did this. What does it say to you when you look at it, Karl?
ROVE: Well, it says that this guy is a moronic liberal. He is confused in his belief in limited government with a belief in no government. And I would remind you that Texans pay more of income taxes to support our federal government than the people of any other state except one. We enlist in the military in a much higher rate than the national average. We're the third highest number of people serving in the military in our state alone. We're 40 percent smaller than the population of California, and yet we've got only 800 fewer National Guardsmen because Texans are so patriotic they enlist on the guard to serve their country.
We are a dynamic, growing economy. And the idea that we're represented by somebody who wants to succeed is an idiotic comment, and I think it was done for political and partisan and ideological purposes. Yeah, we believe in limited government here in Texas. But, you know, the idea that this is somehow a group of secessionists is idiotic. Right over my shoulder, you see that capital? That capital has a hundred of Republicans in the state house, and 50 Democrats, and we do not organize the house representatives or the senate on a partisan basis because we get together and solve problems here in Texas, because, yeah, we're limited. We met 140 days every two years, maybe Congress ought to be meeting 140 days every two years and get their job done like we do here in Texas.
MACCALLUM: Well put. Karl, thank you very much.
ROVE: You bet.
MACCALLUM: Karl Rove, we wish you all well, you and your friends and your family in Texas. We're thinking about all of you. Thank you so much. Good to see you.
ROVE: You bet. Thank you.
MACCALLUM: So coming up here tonight, dramatic new video into Fox that shows a family being pulled to safety by a rescue helicopter, just one of so many stories that we watched today. And the faces on these individuals really tell you all you need to know about what's happening right now in Texas. We'll take you there to the live operations that are ongoing throughout the hour this evening on The Story. Plus, President Trump making a major push today for massive tax reform and asking Congress not to disappoint him again in his words. Ed Henry is live at the White House, and he will join us a moment from now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Today, I'm calling on all members of Congress, Democrats, Republicans and independents, to support pro-American tax reform.
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MACCALLUM: Some other developing stories tonight, one day after touring the devastation from Hurricane Harvey, President Trump was in Springfield, Missouri, today, to push major tax reform. The president called on Congress this time to get the job done. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: This is our once in a generation opportunity to deliver real tax reform for every day, hard-working Americans. And I am fully committed to working with Congress to get this job done, and I don't want to be disappointed by Congress. You understand me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: You understand me, said the president. Chief national correspondent Ed Henry live at the White House with more on the president's plan tonight. Ed.
ED HENRY, FOX NEWS CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's good to see you. Yeah, this is President Trump taking on the swamp that he slammed in the campaign. The entrenched interests here in Washington who do not want to change a complicated tax code full of loop holes that benefit them at the expense of the middle class. This is why we have not had major tax reform since 1986. So the president today went to the heartland, as you noted, said he wants to set a goal of cutting the corporate tax rate as low as 15 percent from the current 35 percent, and brought back the populist rhetoric that fueled his rise to power by declaring he wants middle class tax cuts to help workers rather than the rich.
Yet, strange political bedfellow, Ann Coulter and Chuck Schumer, immediately attacked the president's approach with about the same script from the right and the left both claiming this will help Wall Street not Main Street. Coulter launching a tweet storm telling president he should instead focus on illegal immigration and save taxes as a second term issue saying, quote, oh, stop pretending this is about letting families keep more of their money. Half of Americans don't pay taxes, this is for Wall Street, she said.
Chuck Schumer, meanwhile, charging if the president wants to use populism to sell his tax plan, he ought to consider actually putting his money where his mouth is and putting forward a plan that puts the middle class, not the top 1 percent first. That's a claim the president rejected, putting the onus on Schumer and other leaders in Congress to get the job done unlike on health care.
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TRUMP: I think Congress is going to make a comeback. I hope so. I tell you what, the United States is counting on it.
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HENRY: Now, the president also faced heat for being light on details, but administration officials here find that rich because after the failure of healthcare, what we heard from leaders in both parties was the president shouldn't have tried to jam healthcare down their throats. He should have had regular order, which mean go through the normal committee process, let Congress own it, and build momentum for it. Now, the White House is saying, OK, do that on taxes and they're complaining there's not enough details, Marth.
MACCALLUM: Ed, thank you very much. So here with more, Charlie Hurt, political columnist at the Washington Times and a Fox News contributor. Charlie, good to see you tonight.
CHARLIE HURT, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Hey, Martha.
MACCALLUM: You saw what Ann Coulter and Chuck Schumer had to say about it. That's just sort of a plan that's good for Wall Street. What do you think about it?
HURT: Well, it's kind of interesting. And they're not entirely wrong about it because, obviously, a lot of people because of tax credits wind up not paying taxes. But the bottom line is, the idea that the United States has a 35 percent corporate tax rate and the, literally, trillions and trillions of dollars in profits that get parked overseas because of these onerous tax rates in this country, that hurts average everyday Americans. Obviously it will help corporate America, it will help Wall Street, to fix that, but it will also help a lot of regular Americans. It helps them get good jobs. And I would argue, you know, anything that puts money -- instead of going to the federal government actually into the economy is good for everybody.
MACCALLUM: I mean, you heard the president's comments there, that he's concerned that he's going to get the same thing he got on healthcare, which is.
HURT: And why shouldn't he be?
MACCALLUM: Absolutely. So, when you look at this and you sort of look into what is already being said on the hill, there's a fear, I think, on some parts of, you know, people who really want to see real reform, wholesale reform of the tax code, that they'll get some watered-down version that, oh, this is just a temporary fix to taxes for this year, and then next year we're really going to get something done. I mean, is that what we're going to get here again, Charlie?
HURT: I'm as nervous as anybody is about that possibility. I think this is a very important moment for Republicans in Congress, this is a moment where they can prove that they either can work with this president, who by the way, did run as a Republican, won in the Republican primary, and is a Republican.
MACCALLUM: And this is a completely conservative idea.
HURT: Yes, absolutely. So Republicans in Congress can either figure out how to work with this president and get what they want through or -- this guy doesn't care. He will turn around, if they fail to do it, he will turn around and make a deal with Democrats. He'll make it tomorrow. And if Republicans in Congress thinks that the deal that Donald Trump would make with Democrats is going to be better than the deal that he would make with them, they're insane.
And for -- I would argue for average Americans, the deal that he's going to -- can make with Republicans will be much, much better, it will cut taxes, and natural disaster like this that we're seeing right here, so tragic, it's a perfect example that the federal government isn't the answer to all of our problems. What is working down there are the people that are volunteering and helping. Not the government.
MACCALLUM: Let me bring in Austan Goolsbee, who we didn't have at the start of conversation, but we do now. He's in Chicago. Austan, you heard what the president had to say today and the plan that he lays out. He would love to see a 15 percent corporate tax rate. He feels that would fuel growth in this country. We have a great GDP number that came out today at 3 percent. It's an upper revision for second quarter GDP. What do you think about the tax plan?
AUSTAM GOOLSBEE, UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO ECONOMIC PROFESSOR: Well, you know, the tax plan didn't have a lot of details again. It's the fourth time the president has come out with a plan in which he calls for -- let's call it vaguely something like $5 to $6 trillion of tax cuts, but doesn't explain how he intends to pay for them. So I think we're back in this holding pattern where he's put the ball in Congress's court. Mitch McConnell made clear he's going to try to do this with only Republican votes. And we're going to have to see whether they're going to actually blow a $6 trillion hole in the deficit, or whether they're going to try to close deductions, or what the president called loop holes, or something, to come up with the $5 trillion to pay for it.
MACCALLUM: I mean, the loop holes are what this is all about, Charlie. You know, reducing the number of loop holes, and that's going to cause pain for corporations as well, but they want that 15 percent tax credit, they want the 15 percent tax rate, and they're willing to give some on the other side in terms of giving up the loop holes and giving up the tax code. But as Ed Henry pointed out, there's so many people invested in this 2,800 page tax code in Washington, they're afraid they'll be out of the job if this happens.
HURT: Yeah. And Ed's report was exactly right.
HURT: The thing that is so enraging about this is the fact that the only people who benefit under the current system are people who can afford an army of lawyers and accountants and lobbyists and they get these loop holes. It's absolutely disgusting. But I have to say to Austan, I'm so delighted to hear you concerned about spending and how we're going to pay for it.
MACCALLUM: Thank you guys. We'll leave it there. Austan Goolsbee, good to have you. And Charlie Hurt, always a pleasure. All right. So still ahead tonight, is defense secretary General Mattis contradicting the president on transgenders in the military and North Korea? Maybe, but maybe not. How the take on this may actually be wrong. Plus, another update from where the storm is now headed. We're on the ground tonight now in Louisiana. We'll show you what they're battening down the hatches for there when we come back.
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UNINDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's devastating. To wake up in the morning, having a house full of water, crying babies, I don't know what to do. I didn't expect any of this to happen at all. We just need help.
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MACCALLUM: Harvey's destruction continues, and the storm makes another landfall earlier today. It slammed into Louisiana with pounding rain, more flooding, and more damage, and more evacuations. Look at the scene in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Rick Leventhal is live in Vinton, Louisiana, with the very latest from there. Hi, Rick.
RICK LEVENTHAL, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Martha, it's continuing to rain here tonight, but there's some hope on the horizon. We've seen some patches of blue sky. And as you could also see there's still plenty of flood water here. In some neighborhoods, it's said to be rising. There are a number of homes here that are in bad shape, but the people here know that it's much better here than it is across the state line in Texas. Behind me is highway I-10, the major east-west artery between Louisiana and Texas. We've seen a lot of members of the Cajun Navy pulling boats along this highway. And the state troopers have been diverting some of them off the road, but we've just saw them allow one of them go through.
Earlier today, we say about 40 officers with the Florida fish and wildlife agency bring in their airboats and other flat-bottom boats into Texas for rescues. Here you see the National Guard, the Louisiana National Guard set up a command post where they're coordinating some of the rescues. They're one of the agencies helping out with helicopters and high water rescue vehicles as well as boats. And this gas station and motel as you can see is also under water here, Martha. The neighborhood behind it is in pretty bad shape, but the folks here are resilient and they're happy to do what they can to help their neighbors across the line in the state of Texas. Martha?
MACCALLUM: You see it again and again. Rick, thank you so much. Rick Leventhal in Vinton, Louisiana, tonight. And President Trump facing some public push back in the past 24 hours from a top member of his team according to some take on this. Defense Secretary James Mattis, first ordering the Pentagon to continue for now allowing trans-gender troops to serve in the military during a period of review, and then disagreeing with his commander-in-chief to some extent over North Korea. The president tweeting today, quote, the U.S. has been talking to North Korea and paying them extortion money for 25 years. Talking is not the answer, said the president. But Secretary Mattis said something sort of different.
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JAMES MATTIS, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: We're never out of diplomatic solutions. We continue to work together. And the minister and I share a responsibility to provide for the protection of our nations, our populations and our interests. We're already very strong collaborations. We've always look for more. We're never complacent.
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MACCALLUM: Very interesting, right? Chris Stirewalt is Fox News politics editor, and he joins us with his take on this. Is this a sort of Nixon-Kissinger routine that we're seeing here, or are they really disagree, Chris?
CHRIS STIREWALT, FOX NEWS POLITICS EDITOR: Look at you with the way-back machine.
MACCALLUM: Look at you with the way-back machine. That's what I have behind me.
MACCALLUM: It's not. I'm kidding.
STIREWALT: So, I think this. For a long time, the president needed a sounder team around him. More competent, more capable if he wanted to get his agenda passed, if he wants to get things done. You can't have havoc swirling around you as president of the United States. So he now has John Kelly, another retired general in as his chief of staff. Order has come. Things are moving in a direction of efficiency, competency, et cetera. But, another thing that seems to be happening is that we have a group inside the administration who is working pretty hard to, if not counterman what the president does, but to pen him in, to restrain him. And we know what Donald Trump thinks about people trying to restrain him.
MACCALLUM: But, you know, in terms of the reference that I made, you know, it is more that -- and Nikki Haley also had some very strong comments on North Korea, basically saying something serious has to happen. So if the president puts out that message, you know, the time for talk is over, and then some of his more diplomatic forces say, you know, look, we can still come to the table, it leaves him wiggle room, but it lets North Korea know that this president is willing to take other measures, right?
STIREWALT: The wild man.
STIREWALT: So the idea here is you frighten your enemies or your potential adversaries by saying I can't control the guy. He's a lunatic. I'm absolutely unable to constrain him. So you should come to the negotiating table right now and get the deal while it's good or we may blow you up. That can work, but it only works if the threat is perceived as credible. If foreign countries believe that Trump -- the people around the president are going to let him follow-through on these orders because there's some counter thought that goes on here that says, maybe they're constraining the president. Maybe the president is not free to act as he wishes right now. So that's the point of tension in that dynamic.
MACCALLUM: All right. There's also a lot of empty offices. It's pretty crowded in the White House, but there are some empty spots there. You think they need to be filled, or do you think that there's an isolated president as some writing had said today.
STIREWALT: That's the fear for Donald Trump as he goes through these batches of staffers and more of administration 2.0 now that he can get isolated. I don't think that's where he is right now.
MACCALLUM: Chris, good to see you as always. Thanks, Chris. We'll be right back.
MACCALLUM: So in times like these in Texas, everyone is called upon to do what they can. And Victoria White and her gospel backup singers did just that, at the Lone Star Expo Center Conroe, Texas, where evacuee spirits were lifted after what were many was one of the worst days of their lives, with more struggle to come. That's our story for tonight, as Victoria White sings us into Tucker time.
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