This is a rush transcript from "The Story," November 3, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
MARTHA MACCALLUM, "THE STORY" HOST: Welcome to "The Story." I'm Martha MacCallum, live tonight from Pearl Harbor where the president will visit the U.S. Arizona. The Arizona's directly behind us here. It will be a moving reminder of the loss of life here on December 7th, 1941. And right in front of us is the USS Missouri, where the Japanese signed the document of surrender in Tokyo Bay. They are literally (INAUDIBLE) of the United States' involvement in World War II.
The president will head directly this evening to a briefing at the Pacific Command led by Admiral Harris. The Pacific Command is our front line, it is the command that would seek to defend the United States against threats from North Korea or China -- both of which have the capability to reach our bases in South Korea, in Japan, in Guam, in Hawaii, and even the west coast of the United States. So, as the National Security Adviser, H.R. McMaster put it, these threats are real and we are running out of time to thwart them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
H.R. MCMASTER, ADVISER, NATIONAL SECURITY: President Trump will reiterate the plain fact that North Korea threatens not just our allies, South Korea, and Japan and the United States. North Korea is a threat to the entire world. So, all nations of the world must do more to counter that threat.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: Kim Jong-un's regime releasing this statement in response today saying, "The reality clearly shows that the gangster-like U.S. imperialists are the very ones who are aggravating the situation of the Korean Peninsula and seeking to ignite a nuclear war." So, that is the situation that the president walks into as he begins this very historic trip.
This is the itinerary: Monday, he will be in Japan -- he will meet with the Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, also bilateral meetings with Prime Minister Abe, as you just heard Bret Baier, will sit down with Prime Minister Abe during that trip as well.
So, Tuesday, the president moves to South Korea where he will meet with President Moon. President Trump will also speak at the national assembly where he will celebrate the enduring alliance and friendship between the two countries, and he will call on the international community to join together in maximizing pressure on North Korea. Right now, there are no plans for the president to visit the DMZ between North and South Korea, which has caused a bit of controversy. We will watch to see if there's any change in that part of the agenda.
And on Wednesday, the most important stop of all perhaps is in Beijing. He will meet with their President Xi, also a series of trade and cultural events. He has CEOs on his trip as well. The economy is a big part of the agenda as well. So, the most important though, clearly, the insistence that China crackdown on North Korea and their nuclear weapons program.
Then you have Friday in Vietnam. The president will participate in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit. Russian President Vladimir Putin will also be there. No word yet on whether the president and Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia, will be meeting one-on-one. But they will definitely be, obviously, in the same arena as they attend that.
So, then you've got Sunday, Manila, Philippines. Also, a controversial part of the trip, the president will meet the Philippine President, Rodrigo Duterte for the first. He's been basically criticized for taking too harsh of an offense against drug offenders in his country and for violating human rights. They will sit down there. November 13th is part of that visit. The president will attend the second summit of the trip at the U.S.-ASEAN Summit.
And just announced today, he will spend an extra day extending his trip in total. It's a long trip. The president tweeted this just moments, right before landing. He said, "Getting ready to land in Hawaii. Looking so much forward to meeting with our great military veterans at Pearl Harbor".
And I'm joined by Marc Thiessen, former Speechwriter for President George W. Bush and a Fox News Contributor; Retired Brigadier General Anthony Tata, has more than three decades of public service as a military officer; and Jessica Tarlov, senior director of research at Bustle.com, and a Fox News contributor as well. Welcome to all of you. Great to have you here.
GEN. ANTHONY TATA, RETIRED BRIGADIER GENERAL: Great to be with you, Martha.
MACCALLUM: As we mentioned, the president has landed. It's good to have you with us. The first stop is going to be at PaCom, which is the Pacific Command. There's such a strong military presence here in this part of Hawaii, and no doubt that is going to be the focus. You'll see the shot of the plane now as he comes in; we will continue to take you to all of this live. Marc, let me start with you. Your thoughts about the trip as we begin tonight.
MARC THIESSEN, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR AND FORMER SPEECHWRITER FOR PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Sure. Yes, this is the longest presidential trip to the Asia, Asia Pacific region since 1991 when George H.W. Bush vomited on the Japanese prime minister. So, there's a low bar for success here, just as long as he doesn't hurl.
MACCALLUM: Just don't throw up.
THIESSEN: The president has done --
THIESSEN: The president's best moments in the nine months that he's been in office have come; is when -- when he's been abroad. His trip to Saudi Arabia and to Israel was a huge success; he gave a great speech in Saudi Arabia. His trip to Poland, he gave another fantastic speech, and to NATO. You know, so, I expect that this going to be a very successful trip because he's on his best behavior and most presidential when he's on these trips. I expect he's going to give some very well-thought-out, substantive, solid speeches about important matters, and he's going to embrace the trappings of the presidency -- which he doesn't tend to do. I expect not a lot of tweeting, a lot of important speechmaking and a lot of policy getting made.
MACCALLUM: General Tata, your thoughts on this PaCom briefing? What do you expect he will hear in there?
TATA: Well, you know, Martha, what I think is really stunning about this trip is that he's got the opportunity to go straight to the foxhole, and he's going to Pacific Command, U.S. Army Pacific, he'll get all those briefings today, then he will go to Japan, then he'll go to the Republic of Korea. And he'll be able to see, actually, what it's like on the ground there. And it's very important that we reach a diplomatic solution here, and I think that that will be reinforced based on what the leaders in Hawaii and Republic of Korea and Japan talk to him about. And then, he goes, as you said, to Beijing, where the continuing of diplomatic solution discussions will take place.
So, I really see this as a two-part deal. One is to get -- martial the international community, to put pressure on -- continue the pressure on North Korea to find a diplomatic solution so that we don't have nuclear warfare. And two is to get China to -- it's a really tough tightrope to walk. Because, you know, we want better economic conditions with China, you know, better market access, and better exchange rates and so forth, but we also need their help on North Korea. So, that's a tightrope that he's going to have to walk as we re-assure all the allies that were with them.
MACCALLUM: We need their help on North Korea to be sure. It's also a time when they're expanding in the South China Seas and trying to expand their own military footprint. So, it's a very delicate dance as he heads to Beijing midway through this process. Jessica, your thoughts as he has now landed and begins this big trip.
JESSICA TARLOV, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR AND SENIOR DIRECTOR OF RESEARCH AT BUSTLE.COM: Yes. Well, I actually agree with everything that's been said on the panel so far, except for the point that Marc made about the speeches being his best, that there's always some policy points that he's conveyed that I don't agree with. I'm just on my own political sensibilities, but I certainly agree that the president in the last nine months has done the best when he is abroad -- and I hope that that continues.
I am concerned about the tweeting and him carrying on about the DOJ investigation, and Jeff Sessions, and everything that's going on at home. I think a few tweets about tax reform would be useful, because, obviously, on the Hill, there's a big push to get that done for Republicans. But I hope that he really focuses on what's in front of him, listens to everyone there and make sure that when he's with our allies, that he re-assures them, that we are going to with them in every capacity that we can, and that he is tough with China. And makes it clear to them that we want to be great economic partners, we want a fair deal on everything, but that they have to do more with North Korea, and that we will economically sanction them if they're not more helpful.
MACCALLUM: I mean, Marc, obviously in terms of the first stop here today, to visit with the members of PaCom, Admiral Harris will lead that trip and that visit. You know, the president does have a good record of very strong relationships with the military and wanting the military to be strong, wanting them to lead the way with, you know, have surrounded himself with some very important and influential generals in his cabinet. Speak to me about what you think that communication will be like when he's there today.
THIESSEN: Yes. Well, I hope he's going to sit down and be presented with some serious war plans for the Korean Peninsula and some serious options other than sitting around and just saying we're going to destroy you because he needs to have real quality military options. The reality is, we're not going to have a diplomatic solution if North Korea and China and everybody in the region thinks that military solution is off the table.
The only way we're going to convince them to do this peacefully is if they really believe, and the president's been trying to do this, that he's willing -- unlike all of his predecessors, Republicans and Democrats for the last quarter of the century, he's actually willing to use the military option to stop North Korea from getting this weapon. Because we're in the situation right now where for 25 years, Republicans and Democrats have been kicking this problem down the road and we're out of the road.
On his watch, North Korea is either going to become a country that can strike the United States with a ballistic missile, with the nuclear weapon, or it's not. He's there -- you know, you're right there where the last time an unchecked Asian power was able to strike the American homeland. His job, I hope that focuses him, I think there's symbolism in that that he wants to send a message. We're not going to let this ever happen to our again, and North Korea going to be allowed to develop the capability to hit the United States with a nuclear missile.
MACCALLUM: Yes. You know, you touched on such an important point, and that's something that we have been witnessing so clearly in the past 48 hours here, General Tata when you visit the U.S. Arizona, and you are literally suspended above the Arizona and the 1,177 lives that it took with it. And you think about the Japanese planes swooping into the waters here at 30 feet above the water and the shock and the surprise of that attack. And all of World War II, the tremendous loss of life, there's no way that you can go through that memorial and not feel the weight as the president, I would imagine, of what is on your shoulders when you talk about the military option.
TATA: Yes, as you did, Martha, you'll look down at the water, and you'll see the oil still leaking out of the Arizona. And it is just such a symbolic reminder of the blood and treasure lost during World War II. And I agree with everything we're talking about here that the military option is on the table, and it is seriously on the table. And when you really think about it, would we rather fight them today when we're not sure about their capability -- we're sure that they can't range too much of the United States, they may be able to range some of it, or do we want to fight them in five years when we're sure they can range all the way into the middle or maybe even the East Coast of the United States. I'd much rather fight them now, and I think that's the president's position here. And you know, I'd much rather, as I've said earlier, have a diplomatic solution. But if this comes to war and I think this nation is ready for that, then, you know, let's fight them now.
MACCALLUM: Let me ask you, you know, what do you mean when you say let's fight them now? I know Marc has mentioned the option of having a no-fly zone over South Korea and having a policy where any missile that is set off will be shot down. Is that something that you think we should adopt as a policy, General?
TATA: I think, really, what you're talking about, Martha, is you got two real issues here. You've got the conventional threat of 8,000 artillery tubes on the DMZ from North Korea, and 4,000 rocket launchers. So, they can eventually checkmate us, and that's what they've done for the last 20 years. So, you've got to have a way to get at those 12,000 items or weapons that can range Seoul. And at the same time, you've got to decapitate that government and Pyongyang. And, you know, Kim Jong-un right now is Airbnb-ing it all over North Korea because of the information warfare that's going on.
TATA: So as we -- and which is a good thing, because the more he moves around, the more he'll communicate and the more mistakes that they'll make. And so, a lot of this tweeting and so forth is information warfare. And you and I have talked before, Martha, about diplomatic information, military and economic elements of national power. We're tightening the screws in every respect. And I guarantee you, you know, my good friend General Bob Brown over there, the Pacific -- U.S. Army Pacific Commander, he's a good plan for the -- General Vince Brooks and the Republic of Korea. He's got a good -- they have a good plan right now. And I bet you it's a combination of conventional and nuclear options.
TARLOV: Yes, can I just add to that? I agree with everything that's been said. And I think that a policy of muscular military-ism is the way to go here. North Korea doesn't feel like we'll actually back anything up, that is totally useless. But it would be helpful, I think, if the president would make not to hurt any sort of diplomatic chance that we have to make progress there, like with the tweet about Rex Tillerson about a month ago, saying, you know, oh, give it a rest, it's not going to work.
I mean, we are understaffed at the State Department at this point -- I mean, in all departments, quite frankly. And I think it's important for him to also bolster the roles of our diplomats while he's over there. And to make that clear to our allies that we're working on all cylinders to make sure the military option is our last option. I don't want to sound too dovish, but I just --
MACCALLUM: You know, it seems that this president believes that the most powerful form of diplomacy is making sure that the enemy --
TARLOV: Is a Twitter, a diplomacy?
MACCALLUM: No, and making sure that the opposition, in this case, believes that you would take military action. And there you have President Trump and the First Lady, Melania Trump, just arriving as they get off of Air Force One here in Honolulu to begin what Marc pointed out is going to be the longest presidential trip of this kind that we have seen in a very long time. They will be here this evening. They will visit the USS Arizona overnight tonight.
And obviously, as we mentioned, they're going to have the PaCom briefing, he will, this afternoon. But this is a very significant way, as we have mentioned, to begin this trip, to begin it in Hawaii, which looks out over this very potentially dangerous part of the world and a part that he will visit, where he'll try to shore up relations with our allies -- with Japan, with South Korea. He will visit Vietnam, he will visit The Philippines as well, and there you see the traditional receiving of the lays as they arrive in Hawaii, and a hug for Melania Trump as she's begun this part of the trip, too, standing by the president's side throughout the course of this.
Let me go back to you, Marc, as we watch all of this. You have been part of these trips in the Bush White House. You know, what goes through your mind as you watch this president, still fairly new at the job, not a year in, begin this very historic journey?
THIESSEN: I just think the stakes are so high. I've been on that plane, landing on that airport with President Bush traveling to that part of the world with Secretary Rumsfeld. But the stakes have never been higher for an American president traveling to Asia. Because as I indicated earlier, we've run out of road to kick the can down on North Korea, and this is a really -- this is our one chance to rally the world toward some sort of a solution that is short of the total war that the general laid out.
So, the stakes on this trip are incredibly high. And I hope that Admiral Harris and some of the commanders at PaCom there are going to be giving him a set of military options short of total war. You know, for example, you alluded to -- I have suggested that the president could declare a no-fly zone over the Korean Peninsula; no ballistic missiles will be allowed to launch. From the Korean Peninsula, we will take them down either with ballistic missile defenses or we'll take them out on the launch pad. Just as declaratory policy and re-assurance to the Korean regime that if they don't retaliate, we're not going to go for regime change right away.
And so, therefore they have to make a choice: do they want their regime to be destroyed by retaliating or not? This would be something similar to what the Israelis did with the nuclear program in Syria, where they took out the North Korean built nuclear plant in Syria, and the Syrians did nothing in response. So, I think we need to try a lot of options to make sure that there's -- that includes military to stop this thing in its tracks before we get to -- and that would also send the seriousness that if they do keep going, we will take them out as the general laid out.
MACCALLUM: Yes. Great point. Jessica, one of the tricky things, obviously, about dealing with China is the president's long-held feelings about the unfair trade practices that he believes that they participate in. So, he wants to press them on that, he wants to press them on the issue of their aggressiveness and expansion of the South China Seas -- building islands in order to expand their military base in that area. At the same time, he would like to improve trade relations. He decided not to do the TPP, which will be met with some criticism in some of the countries that he's visiting. And he wants to do a lot of bilateral trade agreements, where it's just one-on-one. And that's why you see a whole series of these kinds of meetings set up here with regard to trade. Your thoughts on all that.
TARLOV: My thought is that I thought it was very illuminating. In an interview earlier, this week or maybe last week that he said that President Xi is like King Xi of China that he's very clear about how much power he wields, and in the region generally. And I think he really sees it as a meeting of two kings, the western world and the eastern world there.
I hope that he goes in with very clear policies that he wants to be enacted, especially in terms of trade since he's going to be going after bilateral agreements there and that he's just as direct as possible. It would be great for there to be some hard resolutions that come out of this, instead of kind of waffle talk around these issues. And it's interesting -- be interesting to see what President Xi is willing to compromise on and how he views all this.
There've been a lot of talks in the foreign policy community right now that how this is essentially President Xi's world at this point. And that he's amassing more and more power as he used that expanding into the South and the East China Sea, taking over land that Japan sees as their own. Obviously, Japan, one of our closest allies. So, it'll be interesting to see for me, really, if there are any resolutions that come out of this, and what are the policies that President Trump actually advocates for when he's sitting, you know, face-to-face with President Xi.
MACCALLUM: Yes. And you can't really underestimate the importance of sitting face-to-face with these leaders.
MACCALLUM: And as you just pointed out, the leaders in South Korea and also in Japan, Prime Minister Abe, are going to look for that reassurance. Because they don't want China to dominate, to dominate the seas around that area. So, they're going to be looking for some reassurance from the president. General Tata, there has been some discussion over the past 24, 36 hours about the possibility that North Korea could test a missile during this trip. What do you think about the possibility of that?
TATA: Well, I think it's highly possible. You know, it depends on where they shoot it, where it lands and ultimately how provocative they want to be. But it would be a hugely stupid thing for Kim Jong-un to do, and it would be a finger in president's eye. And this -- you know, I was getting ready to mention that my biggest concern about these parallel converging railroad tracks that we and North Korea are on is a mistake that could be made.
And that would be a mistake that could be made, that could ultimately lead to a more emotional rather than a rational response or -- you know, either way, we need to be able to look at that. And I am sure that is one of the contingencies that has been laid out. If they shoot, what is our flexible response option? We have flexible, as what's been laid out earlier, we have flexible deterrent options, flexible response options. We could move rangers onto the Korean Peninsula, we could fly more B-1 bombers, we could -- you know, we've got three carrier strike groups in the sea right there off to Korean Peninsula.
Right now, we are prepped militarily to attack North Korea. And if they were to launch while the president's boots on the ground in South Korea, that would be a huge mistake that could spark the forest fires, so to speak, that starts this thing. And I really think that we need to be -- I'm sure that they've thought through this, the planners have -- H.R. McMaster and so forth.
MACCALLUM: It's a great point. It's a great point. You know, spending some time in the Pearl Harbor museum yesterday, and you look at the images there and the efforts that were made at diplomacy right before the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor up to the final hours before they attacked Pearl Harbor. And you have sort of two streams that weren't talking to each other in Japan. And the military attack was already underway while those diplomatic efforts were being sought. And it gives you, Marc, that sense of the reality of what happens in an emotional moment -- not that that was a particularly emotional moment, it was clearly planned, but how easy it is when you look across the course of history to slip into war when there is mixed messages or diplomacy fails.
THIESSEN: And it's a reminder. I mean, the general was talking about miscalculations. I mean, the dictators are prone to miscalculate. There's -- one of the problems we have is that we can't count on Kim Jong-un to behave as a rational actor. I mean, he's acting rationally for his interests, but there's no debate within the North Korean regime about strategy.
If you walk into Kim Jong-un's office and say, dear leader, I think you're making a big mistake testing this missile while Donald Trump is on the Korean Peninsula, you're going to find yourself on the receiving of an artillery barrage. People are terrified, so people don't go up to the leader and say, you're making a mistake, you ought to really reconsider because they're afraid that they're going to get purged.
This is -- one of the reasons why we had a war in Iraq was that Saddam Hussein, it had no weapons of mass destruction stockpiled, all he had to do was let the inspectors come in and say, here, you got free reign, there's nothing here. You can look anywhere you want, and there would've been no war. So, we can't count on these dictators to make rational decisions rationale in our -- in terms of how we see the world.
And then you've got the added problem of, you know, these are North Korean missiles. What if they test a missile and it acts, instead of going to Tokyo, it lands in Tokyo, accidentally? You know, you can have an entire war start just because the other side miscalculated. So, these are serious contingencies with the military which we prepared the president for.
TARLOV: I actually had the honor -- sorry, I just wanted to say, quickly, I went to Japan for the first time over the summer and went to Hiroshima. So, now seeing, you know, the other side of what can happen when something like this breaks out, and the devastation, seeing it, you know, face-to-face and going through that memorial, which I would recommend everybody does. And obviously hearing the responses to President Obama's visit, which was legendary at this point and something so wonderful for the country and for our relationship with Japan. You hope that we certainly stay away from any of that, but you also have a greater understanding of the fear in which they live of what's going on in North Korea, and that something, like Marc, just said, could happen just even by accident.
TATA: Yes, I would recommend that we bring a delegation from Pyongyang into Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
TARLOV: If they'd be willing, I think it would be smart, yes.
TATA: And China as well. Because, you know, China is going to get -- if we end up in major warfare on the Korean Peninsula, China is going to be the bill payer in a big way on refugees or whatever. And more importantly, the China really is -- what is the end state of the Korean Peninsula. Because do they want the west flush up on their border? And I think the answer is no. And so, that -- North Korea has always been that buffer spring for them. And so, they've got a really tough calculation to make here on how far do they go, how far do they let this brinksmanship go.
Meanwhile, you know, sort of something that we haven't talked about yet is in the South China Sea; China is building islands in one of the most heavily trafficked commercial shipping lanes in the world. And we've got to -- you know, so the delicate balance that President Trump has right now is how do you get China to back off and re-assure Vietnam and The Philippines that, you know, those shipping lanes are going to stay open, and how do we keep those open, and then how do we get into their markets, how do we get the right exchange rates with China, and then how do we get them to help us with North Korea? It's a very complex set of negotiations going on right now.
MACCALLUM: It absolutely is. For all of the reasons that you just mentioned, you've got the economic pressures, you have the military pressures, you've got -- China's real aggression to really want to be the world dominant force, and for the United States to sort of lose that ground. And so, that becomes your negotiating partner trying to get North Korea to back off on these exercises that have the whole world very much on edge.
And you know, you think about the fact, as Marc pointed out, that for the past 25 years, we have kicked the can down the road with North Korea. So, this president is not going into this trip as, you know, as an act of tourism. I mean, this is a very heavy weighted situation that he walks into. There has been a lot of tweet diplomacy, as Jessica pointed out, but this is face-to-face diplomacy.
And I think it's also worth pointing out that he will have, in some parts of these interactions, American CEOs along on this trip as well to sort of discuss the economic realities and the trade deals that they want. But this is very -- talk about the art of the deal. And this is very high stakes negotiations, as we pointed. IU just want to mention that, you know, obviously, the president enjoys the moment that he's in right now.
He loves meeting people on the tarmac as he's doing; these are mostly military families that are there. You saw a lot of members of the Navy along the way. He tends to take more time sometimes than his people might like in these moments, but he doesn't particularly care. He really likes to spend the time shaking hands, and, you know, taking some pictures with everyone along the course of this route. And they're enormously enthusiastic to see him in Honolulu today, which is, you know, it's just an absolutely spectacularly beautiful place. And he and the first lady are clearly the sort of soaking up this moment as they continue through it.
You know, in terms of -- I see some waves now. It looks like they might be starting to moving and they'll head, as we said, to this briefing with PaCom. And just to give you a sense of what the rest of the evening looks like, there's a little bit of downtime worked into the schedule after the briefing at PaCom. Then, he will move behind us to the USS Arizona and he will lay a wreath there.
Every president since Kennedy, which is when it was built, it was -- the memorial was finished in 1962 and opened. And President Kennedy visited just months before his assassination. But it is a very moving spot and a sort of presidential memorial ritual of sorts as we watch the president and first lady make their way towards their vehicle here.
Jessica, you know, obviously the first lady gets a lot of attention as well (INAUDIBLE) on these trips. She'll be, you know, taking part in some of the meetings. She is standing by his side for the duration of this long trip together; she's with her husband. Your thoughts.
TARLOV: Yes. No, I think that that's great. I mean, I think that a united first family is always a wonderful thing. And even presidents that I've disagreed with politically, had great first families like George W. Bush. And I think that Melania makes President Trump better. And I think that that's a wonderful thing. I like seeing them together like that. And -- oh, I wanted to add, and you mentioned this in the initial instruction to the segment, but we haven't talked about the importance of President Trump, emphasizing human rights on this trip, that something, obviously, it's to be done in the Philippines and but as well with China. And I know that human rights advocate back here in, certainly, in the western world will be watching to see what kind of push he gives there for the importance of, you know, democracy and human rights. And Melania looks great.
MACCALLUM: Jessica, thank you.
MACCALLUM: As always, right?
TARLOV: Yes, always. She's so good-looking.
MACCALLUM: Yes, absolutely.
MACCALLUM: I know, she's a beautiful first lady and it's fascinating to watch. As they face split off, she's going in one direction and he is heading over to the briefing as expected. As we watch this, you know, an enormous moment as all of this begins. Marc Thiessen, General Tata, thank you very much. Jessica Tarlov, thank you all for being here.
TARLOV: Thanks, Martha.
TATA: Thank you, Martha.
THIESSEN: Thank, Martha.
MACCALLUM: And taking us through this part of the beginning of this trip. It's great to have you with us, all of you. Thank you. So, President Trump, as I mentioned, is on his way to the Pacific Command for the briefing on North Korea, and really on the entire area that falls under their command, which is enormous. It actually covers about 50 percent of the globe. So, we will bring that to you. We expect a spray as we call it. So, you'll see some activity there, and we'll take you there as soon as that happens live on THE STORY tonight. But first, remember this?
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He served the United States with honor and distinction.
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MACCALLUM: Bowe Bergdahl admits to deserting his comrades and his country, but a judge has decided that that is not enough to put him behind bars. My next two guests are outraged at that decision. Lieutenant Colonel Tony Shaffer worked on the congressional record of his massive recovery efforts, and Lieutenant Colonel Michael Waltz led search missions for Bowe Bergdahl in Afghanistan. You would want to hear their reaction to this enormous story today.
MACCALLUM: So breaking tonight, as you just witnessed, President Trump landed a little while against in Honolulu, and is now at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. He was greeted by a number of local officials before heading over the Pacific Command where he will be briefed on the North Korea threat and on everything that's been going on in the Pacific region. But first, tonight, Bowe Bergdahl walked into a North Carolina courtroom facing life imprison and walked out a free man today. You can see the pictures on the left and right. Obviously, he's back in civilian garb as he left those proceedings today, which was a big shock to a lot of people. A military judge ruling no time in jail after pleading guilty, he pled guilty to desertion. President Trump tweeted his outrage about this as well, saying, quote, the decision on Sergeant Bergdahl is a complete and total disgrace for our country and our military. Jonathan Hunt live in our west coast newsroom with the back story on that, tonight. Jonathan?
JONATHAN HUNT, FOX NEWS: Martha, eight years after walking off his base in Afghanistan and into the hands of the Taliban, former sergeant now demoted to Private Bowe Bergdahl walked out of court a free man bringing an end to a case that sparked strong emotions on both sides. In June 2009, Bergdahl walked away from his base in what he has since said was meant to be a protest about what he saw as leadership problems on that base. But he was quickly caught by the Taliban and held for five years. During which he says he was kept in a small metal cage and repeatedly beaten and tortured. Fellow soldiers were sent on missions to search for Bergdahl. And as the court heard, several of them were seriously wounded during those searches. When he was finally freed in exchange for five Taliban prisoners, President Obama welcomed Bergdahl's parents to the White House, and national security adviser Susan Rice said Bergdahl had served with, quote, honor and distinction. Others felt he was a traitor deserving of the harshest punishment. Then presidential candidate Donald Trump was among that group.
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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We're tired of Sergeant Bergdahl who is a traitor. He's a traitor, a no-good traitor who should have been executed.
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HUNT: Bergdahl's attorneys argued comments like that had tainted the case.
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UNINDENTIFIED MALE: President Trump's unprincipled effort to stoke a lynch mob atmosphere while seeking our nation's highest office has cast a dark cloud over the case. Every American should be offended by his assault on the fair administration of justice and his disdain for basic constitutional rights.
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HUNT: Now the military judge in this case did not explain how he arrived at his decision, not to order any prison time. But he had previously called President Trump's comments disturbing. And Martha, Bergdahl's attorney says his client has been through a terrible ordeal and he's, quote, glad it's over. Martha?
MACCALLUM: Jonathan Hunt, thank you so much. Here now with more, Lieutenant Colonel Tony Shaffer, CIA trained intel operative who is involved in the classified military talks on the Bergdahl recovery mission, and Lieutenant Colonel Michael Waltz, a former green beret commander who led search missions with his men for Bergdahl. He's also a Fox News contributor. Gentlemen, welcome. Obviously, you are two of the best people to talk to on this night. And I know you're very disappointed with the outcome here. Colonel Waltz, let me start with you on this. Tell everyone your reaction, and also what you and your men did to find him.
MICHAEL WALTZ, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Hey, Martha, you know, as a soldier, as a veteran, today I'm devastated. I'm devastated for my men who are actively baited into ambushes, searching for Bergdahl. The Taliban were feeding us false information and baiting us into places that we shouldn't have gone, and missions that weren't properly vetted. I'm devastated for the SEAL who underwent 18 surgeries. I'm devastated for the army sergeant who was shot in the head on a mission looking for Bergdahl and cannot speak and cannot walk anymore. So he's not walking free. None of these people. You know, they all received a life sentence. And for Bergdahl to receive nothing I find just an absolute travesty. I expected reduction possibly in his sentence for how he was treated under the Taliban, which he brought on himself.
But now to find out that not only he's walking free, he's appealing his dishonorable discharge and seeking what? An honorable discharge? And I would expect maybe a book deal and a movie deal after that? I just find absolutely devastating. And finally, Martha, you know, he is affecting -- these wheels he set in motion in this trade that Obama approved is affecting American hostages all over the world as we speak, because all of those terrorist groups holding Americans hostage today expect a trade like what Bergdahl got. So it's just devastating all around.
MACCALLUM: Amazing. It is just shocking when you look at it and you hear your story, Michael Waltz, Colonel Waltz. And Tony, you were also involved in the activities surrounding this recovery mission as well. Your thoughts on how this ended.
TONY SHAFFER, CIA TRAINED INTEL OPERATIVE: Well, look, as Michael pointed out, there was an extraordinary effort made once he abandoned his post to get in there. I was involved in a number of aspects of this relating to just getting him back in some form. A lot of us felt in many ways he should probably just perish on the battlefield where he went because he put himself there. As Michael said, look, this is setting all sorts of bad precedence, and most particularly, you know, this allows for essentially the idea that a soldier, who gets feed up and tired, can get up and leave his post and walk away, and expect a sentence less than someone who sells drugs out of the barracks. Martha, I know people that went to Leavenworth for selling drugs out of the barracks who have longer sentences than this man who deserted his post. And to Michael's point, the Article 99 charges partially based on the fact that there were some level of cooperation with Bergdahl after he went to the Taliban that they allowed for him to help the Taliban set up ambushes of Waltz's folks. That's how bad this is.
MACCALLUM: Colonel Waltz, talk to us about the military proceeding, you know, in the way that this was arrived at and the judge who made this decision.
WALTZ: Well, I think, you know, obviously, the defense made their case for how he was treated, which I will point out is according to Bergdahl himself. I don't know that we have independent corroboration of how he was treated by the Taliban. And there's a whole body of thinking that he corroborated, that he collaborated -- excuse me -- with the Taliban.
WALTZ: So I think they made their care. They made their case. Essentially, his defense attorneys blamed the army that he should have never been let in the army in the first place. But, you know, to Tony's point, an apology, some sympathy, perhaps, a missed psychological exam does not absolve him of accountability. This is not the army's fault. This is about personal responsibility on Bergdahl's part. And for him being held accountable for what he did. I will say though that there is a four-star general, Robert Abrams, that is overseeing the court. He does have the final say. This is the same general who rejected pleas under the Obama administration that he not go to court martial at all. So there is some hope. You know, Martha, we've come from served with honor and distinction to this close to having justice after eight years, and I just can't think of another word but devastating.
HUNT: Welcome back to The Story. Just moments ago, President Trump arrived at Pacific Command in Hawaii for a briefing there as the unit faces North Korea's terror threat head on. You can see the president arriving there to the honor guard. This is of course the very first part of what is going to be a long and very significant trip to and around Asia. Pacific Command obviously is heavily involved in the planning for any action that might be deemed necessary by President Trump to take on the North Korean threat. That obviously is the focus of what he will be talking about at Pacific Command tonight. So this is a very significant part of the trip. This all coming of course as another type of terror threat has New York City on high alert. Police ramping up security to historic levels as the world descends on the Big Apple for the big marathon that is just less than 48 hours from now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNINDENTIFIED MALE: I want to once again assure all New Yorkers, there are no credible and specific threats against the marathon or against New York City. You will see a lot of police presence. Sunday will be an important day for the city. It's a chance for us to show the whole world once again who we are, and to show that New York City will always be New York City. We won't change.
UNINDENTIFIED MALE: We will have hundreds of counter terrorism trained officers on the route, explosive detecting K-9s on the route. We will utilize our aviation unit to monitor the crowds, the events, the race, the rooftops from above.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: Now, ISIS despite no evidence is claiming responsibility for Sayfullo Saipov's deadly massacre. And as seven survivors of that attack still lay in the hospital at this hour, earlier today the president issued this warning to the extremist group.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: So when we have an animal do an attack like he did the other day on the west side of Manhattan, we are hitting them ten times harder. They claimed him as a soldier. Good luck. Every time they hit us, we know it's ISIS. We hit them like you folks won't believe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: Ben Collins is a former green beret who served three tours in Afghanistan. Guy Benson is political editor of townhall.com and a Fox News contributor. Gentlemen, thank you both for being here tonight. Ben, let me come to you, first of all, thank you for your service. What more can we possibly do to prevent these kind of attacks on the streets of American cities?
BEN COLLINS, FOMER GREEN BERET: Well, Jonathan, I think the first thing that we need to do is actually change the way we start thinking about these attacks. There is no such thing as a lone wolf ISIS attack. Now here is the reality. This is exactly what ISIS wants. You know, they put their propaganda in what they -- you know, it's a digital pipeline where individuals go online, they start seeing certain things to get them -- you know, they get upset. They look at YouTube videos. Then they start looking at different, you know, training manuals. They've learned from their magazine.
HUNT: Sorry. Ben, I have to break you off there. We're listening here to President Trump at Pacific Command in Hawaii.
TRUMP: Lovely people. Great relationships. I'll tell you this is very special to be in Hawaii and to visit (INAUDIBLE) Pearl Harbor. I've read about it, spoke about it, heard about it, studied, but I haven't seen. (INAUDIBLE) Thank you very much. Wonderful meeting you. A lot of tough people and talented people.
UNINDENTIFIED MALE: Great to have you here in Hawaii. Thank you.
TRUMP: Thank you very much.
MACCALLUM: So you're watching these moments. We have to apologize. We lost our shot here for a few moments. We're back up. We hope we're back up to stay. As Jonathan Hunt, thank you very much to him in Los Angeles, was sort of keeping the rest of the coverage going here. And you can see the camera sort of around a bit at the U.S. Pacific Command. We've just heard some very brief comments from the president as he began his discussions with Admiral Harris there. He will be briefed on the operations of the U.S. Pacific Command, 375,000 people strong. It covers like I said earlier 50 percent of the globe, and 36 percent -- 36 countries, rather. So the president will continue that briefing today and he will be obviously talking about plans that could potentially put together for an attack of any kind of retaliation should North Korea fire off more missiles, and potentially the discussion of whether or not a missile launch should be intercepted by the United States, as we were just discussing earlier with General Tata and Marc Thiessen.
So all of the military options that could potentially be on the table are part of what are being discussed now. Guy Benson joins me. Ben Collings joins us as well. They were just speaking moments ago with Jonathan Hunt. As we look, gentlemen, and Victor Davis Hanson, thank you for being here as well today. As we take a look at the president as he begins this historic trip, and I know Victor Davis Hanson has written about the Second World War and the potential for war as it exists in the country today. The president obviously is up against some very serious circumstances. Essentially, the decision about whether or not North Korea will be able to exist as a nuclear power. Victor Davis Hanson, let me get your thoughts on that first, sir.
VICTOR DAVIS HANSON, AUTHOR: Yeah. I think history sometimes repeats itself. And 80 years ago, we lost the appearance of deterrence of the pacific, and Japan thought we were spent power in the western general and it had this greater East Asian co-prosperity scare where it bullied its neighbors and carved a new hegemony. And it was all predicated on the idea that although it was weaker than the United States, we haven't made that clear. So I think 80 years later, what we want to do is plead with China -- not that I shouldn't say plead, but demonstrate to China that it's very dangerous that this North Korean climate that they let get out of control will evoke a response from us that they're not even imagining -- they can't even imagine the magnetite of it -- the greatness of it.
I think right now, we have to realize that deterrence is not just predicated on material resources, but will and clarity. I think Donald Trump after the failed pivot is trying to explain to the region our neighbors, our enemies, our allies, our rivals, that we can't have a nuclear North Korean peninsula. He's got a whole list of sticks and he has some carrots in allowing China to get rid of the nukes peacefully whereas we don't have to do some things that we wouldn't otherwise want to. So we want to restore deterrence. We don't want China to assume the role of Japan in the late 1930's.
MACCALLUM: It's a great point. And you feel it very potently sitting here in between the USS Arizona and the USS Missouri where the Japanese signed their surrender on the deck. Ben Collins, your thoughts as the president takes all of this in and deals with this enormous weight of a potential nuclear North Korea as he ventures in this trip to try to keep that from happening.
COLLINS: Well, Martha, some of your previous guests have noted -- I mean, this has been 25 years in the making. I mean, if you go all the way back to the first test, I mean, it was essentially one kiloton. Now, they've successfully tested 30 kiloton. It's about, you know, two times the size of the bomb on Hiroshima. We watched them go, you know, built not just the nuclear capability, but also their missile technology. We've slowly watched over the years -- and as Victor said, exactly, we have essentially lost our ability to deter our enemies. And, look, the reality is, this is -- this is not in China's interest for North Korea to become a nuclear power as well, because China knows that if we have to respond, it will be a disaster that will leak into the Chinese borders, not just refugees but also, you know, possible nuclear material. And so, I think, China is actually going to have to really pay attention. And I think some of those levers of deterrents right now that President Trump can bring to bear is going to be the relationship that exists between the United States and China economically. And he's got some weapons in that arsenal that I think he's going to be willing to use at this point.
MACCALLUM: Guy, in terms of this president and how very different he is from the most recent presidents in terms of the strategic patience that we saw under President Obama, and the efforts towards peace, obviously, through the course of these last several presidencies, but this is a president who is not afraid to say, you know, rather bellicose things, and to make threats and to have threats come back at him from Kim Jong-un. What are your thoughts as he goes forward to have one-on-one conversations with some of these individuals?
GUY BENSON, TOWNHALL.COM: Oh, he's very willing, Martha, to keep our allies and our adversaries totally off balance, and off kilter, and unsure of about what he's going to do or say on any given day. I think there's disadvantages to that, but there's also some advantages. And it strikes me, Martha, the discussion that we were just hearing between Ben and Victor on very serious foreign policy issues are such a departure -- is such a departure from all of the topics that are consuming Washington, D.C. right now. Everyone is talking about the Russian investigation, and tax reform, and some of the other drama surrounding the administration. I think it's probably a good thing for this president to get out of D.C., out of the country, focus on some of these other issues that are very much important and ought to be a priority for any president. And we've seen in the past when he's gone abroad, seems like he leaves some of the petty, 24/7 news cycle behind him as well. I think that's probably a healthy thing to get 10-11 days away from it and focus on these issues.
MACCALLUM: Yeah. Guy, I think you make an excellent point. And Victor, when you sit where we're sitting right now, you do feel the weight of those world events and of history. And it does make all of that seem rather petty.
HANSON: Yeah. I think we need to remember that Iran is watching this as well. In the last 30 years, countries that went nuclear were anti-American. And we should warn China and to a lesser degree, Russia, that the next round of proliferation would probably be -- I don't even want to imagine it, but it would likely be Japan, South Korea, maybe Taiwan, and then in Middle East, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. They're either democratic or pro-American. And that's going to be a very different landscape as far as China is concerned. And they should try to avoid that. We're big adherence to nonproliferation, but if they keep pushing us, countries will take their security in their own hands and it will be a marked departure from what we've seen in the past. It will be more to our interest that China's or Russia's.
MACCALLUM: Ben, what do you think about that?
COLLINS: Well, I agree. I think at the -- you know, one of the things that the Iran deal actually did, it sent a signal to the rest of the countries in that region, countries like Saudi Arabia, that they needed to catch up and become a nuclear country as well. Now I think that what we're looking at right now in terms of North Korea and China, you know, a lot of talk -- we talk about what are we going to do in case, you know, North Korea becomes -- it's not like this story ends if North Korea actually does proves that they have an intercontinental ballistic missile that is nuclear equipped. You know, we're still going to be dealing with a relatively young leader who's mentally unstable, and if he has that capability, you know, we're going to be -- that's going to be a problem every day from next -- until it's not.
MACCALLUM: Thank you, gentlemen. I've got to leave it there. Ben Collins, Victor Davis Hanson, Guy Benson, thank you so much to all of you. Obviously, our live coverage throughout the evening continues from Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, as the president is here and will visit the USS Arizona moments away. Stay with us as "The Story" continues and Fox News continues tonight.
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