This is a rush transcript from "The Story," December 8, 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 and "The Story" begins with a live look at Pensacola, Florida. President Trump is about to take the stage there. He will, no doubt, tout the jobs number that came out today for November. It was an upside surprise. He will also likely double down on his endorsement for Alabama Senate Candidate, Roy Moore. Lots of news where that's concerned today. Pensacola, it's the eastern part of the Alabama media market, hence the reason for being there perhaps to some extent tonight. Mark Short of the president's team, joins me here in moments from the White House.
But, first, there are big developments tonight with regard to the Russia investigation. We now know that the FBI determined that Attorney General Jeff Sessions did nothing wrong with regard to the meetings that he had with the Russian ambassador -- they said they were routine. They came to that conclusion on March 7th of this year, just five days after the A.G. recused himself from the investigation. So, that's interesting timing, isn't it? And it raises new questions about why Jeff Sessions felt that he needed to recuse himself at all. We are also learning tonight that a judge in the Michael Flynn case is no longer in that case.
Also, tonight, brand new fallout in the media. Late today, CNN was forced to walk back a story about Donald Trump Jr. Earlier this week, Brian Ross in ABC had to do the same. In both stories, it had to do with the timing and the details, which are important in these cases. And it all adds some fuel, you would say, to the fire in the White House argument that this whole thing is not a fair fight for them. So, we're going to get to that with the panel in just a moment. But first, Chief Washington Correspondent Ed Henry live at the White House with what happened today. Good evening, Ed.
ED HENRY, FOX NEWS CHANNEL CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Martha, good to see you. What a week it has been both for hyped up news stories that are putting President Trump in a negative light that turned out to be bogus on top of a series of stunning developments that suggest maybe people around the president are not getting a fair shake in the Russia investigation. The latest example tonight, the judge overseeing the case involving Retired General Michael Flynn has now recused himself from the matter without explanation.
Court documents showing that Judge Rudolph Contreras has now removed himself from the case, but he only did so after Flynn pleaded guilty -- before Contreras -- in federal court for lying to the FBI, raising questions about why he did not reveal that beforehand. That move follows several other problems for special counsel Robert Mueller this week. That increased concerns about whether the investigation is fair.
New tonight, the Wall Street Journal reporting that Mueller's Top Deputy, Andrew Weissmann, attended Hillary Clinton's election night party, yes, at the Javits Center in New York. Remember earlier this week, we learned Weissmann had e-mailed then-Acting Attorney General Sally Yates early this year when she defied President Trump over his travel ban, writing: "I'm in so proud and in awe. Thank you so much. All my deepest respects."
On top of FBI Agent Peter Strzok, having to be pulled from Mueller's probe because he had sent text messages to his girlfriend that was anti-Trump and were cheerleading for Hillary Clinton. After Strzok had served as lead agent in the Clinton e-mail probe and got then FBI Director James Comey to shift his summation from saying Clinton was "grossly negligent", which hinted that crimes to the more lenient "extremely careless."
Now we learned tonight that despite several media reports earlier this year suggesting Attorney General Jeff Sessions may have been in hot water for not revealing his contacts with the Russian ambassador on an important security clearance form, an FBI e-mail marked March 7th, that date was important, shows that Sessions was under no obligation to reveal those contacts unless he quote developed personal relationships with ambassadors from Russia or anywhere else.
And here's why that's important: just a few days earlier on March 2nd, Jeff Sessions put out a statement saying he was recusing himself from any investigations involving the 2016 campaign, because of his role supporting President Trump. Now, the FBI e-mail basically comes in five days later saying there was no problem with you failing to disclose this contact with the Russian ambassador on this form. Remember, when Sessions recused himself, that led to the appointment, yes, of Robert Mueller. Martha?
MACCALLUM: Indeed it did. And, Ed, you know, obviously that's something that the president has been upset about since it happened.
MACCALLUM: And it raises, you know, one question as the head of the Department of Justice, if he was considering recusing himself, based, you know, among other things on these meetings that he had because that had just been a big story, all that had come out and he felt, perhaps, it didn't look good for him.
MACCALLUM: You know, why wouldn't someone at the FBI had said, you know, we're working on this investigation, we don't really see any problem with those meetings just so you know before do you this.
HENRY: Right. Well, in Jeff Sessions defense and why he recused himself, he would probably argue because he has talked about this before that it wasn't just about that form the FBI was evaluating in terms of his security clearance. It was also his testimony before Al Franken and other members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and whether he fully answered truthfully. There was a lot of pressure on Jeff Sessions. But if you're President Trump tonight and you're hearing that five days after your attorney general recused himself the FBI said well, that contact with the Russian ambassador really wasn't that big of a deal, the anger that President Trump has had before about the recusal leading to the Mueller appointment is only going to get a little hotter.
MACCALLUM: It's likely bubbling back up again. Ed, thank you so much. Ed Henry tonight at the White House for us. So, joining me now: Karl Rove is Former Deputy Chief of Staff for President George W. Bush and a Fox News Contributor; Adrienne Elrod served as Strategic Communications Director for the 2016 Clinton Presidential Campaign, and they both join me now. Lots to chew over tonight. Thanks so much to both of you for being here.
You know, with regard to this CNN report, I just want to put up a statement from CNN's Brian Stelter. He said that "A CNN spokeswoman says there will be no disciplinary action in this case because, unlike Brian Ross, ABC, M.K. Raju followed the editorial standards process. Multiple sources provided him with the incorrect info." When you put these stories together this week, though, Karl, you know, what do they say about, perhaps, a propensity to jump to judgment without checking all the numbers and dates which are crucially important to the story?
KARL ROVE, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR AND FORMER DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF FOR PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, it shows the danger of trying to be in a rush to be the first. CNN broke the story. It was then followed by CBS. And ironically enough, the media outlet that corrected them both and blew the whistle on this was The Washington Post, which said you got the dates wrong, you're making -- you're conflating this, making it look like it's something that it's not. So, it's a problem in the media culture in which we live where everybody feels like they've got to be the first. And particularly, if it sounds like it's anti-Trump, then some media outlets are quick to rush through it. But it is an irony, CNN made the mistake, CBS quickly followed, and the people who set them straight were The Washington Post.
MACCALLUM: Yes. Brian Ross got a four-week suspension without pay for his error. In the CNN case, they are not doing that, they feel that their reporter was -- you know, that they fixed it in time and that's going to be enough. Adrienne, you know, when you look at that, and then you look at sort of the larger context of the stories that we've talked so much about this week with regard to the Mueller team and their conflicts, and, you know, being like Weissmann, for example, who was at the Hillary Clinton party, which turned out to not be not much of a party that night. And all of their obvious support for her, do you see that as a problem, as an American who wants to make sure that this is a fair system?
ADRIENNE ELDROD, STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR FOR THE 2016 CLINTON PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: Well, no. Absolutely. I mean, first of all, going back to what happened with CNN, it is critically important, there are so many moving parts in this investigation, it's critically important that every media outlet make sure that they check all of the boxes, dot the I's, cross the T's before they go up with something. There is a lot of competition out there and accuracy is incredibly important. Especially, when we're not even looking at this. At least in my view, it shouldn't always be a Democrat vs. Republican issue. We need to make sure that we as Americans protect ourselves from ever being under the influence of an adversarial government, again, in terms of influencing our electoral process.
But secondly, look, I mean there are a lot of moving parts in the investigation, but you see a lot of Republicans now who praised Mueller when he was initially appointed to oversee this investigation independently. And now, people are saying oh, wait, we don't think he's fair, we think he's too biased when this is just, again, another example of Republicans trying to create chaos in a situation given the fact that Mueller is getting closer and closer to determining the -- getting to the bottom of this investigation.
MACCALLUM: You know, it's not so much about Mueller, Karl, as it is about some of the people that he chose to put on this team. And I think everyone feels that -- you can feel however you want about candidates and who you support, but it just raises the question if you feel that strongly, are you the right person for this investigation?
ROVE: Yes. Look, I have confidence in Bob Mueller. I'm one of those people who at the beginning complimented the choice. I still have confidence in him. But Peter Strzok removed in July; we find out about it in December. Bruce Ohr removed in the Justice Department for having met with Steele, the Brit who was behind the so-called dossier. Andrew Weissmann -- of the 15 attorneys that we know were involved in the Mueller investigation, nine of them are political contributors and all of them are Democrats. So, I thought Kim Strossel had a terrific column today in The Wall Street Journal. And her recommendation was that in order to keep a confidence, to build confidence in this investigation, Mueller needed to have someone whose job it was to respond quickly to congressional requests for information. And make certain that when things like Peter Strzok happened in July, we don't find out about it in November. People in Congress who are involved in these investigations find out about it contemporaneously.
Can I correct one other thing, though, in the reporting that we've been talking about here: the recusal of Jeff Sessions. It is required by law. In response to the appointment of Robert Kennedy by John Kennedy as his Attorney General, and the John Mitchell appointment, the Campaign Chairman for Richard Nixon, the federal statute requires that if a matter comes up involving the presidential campaign, and the attorney general had played a leading role in that campaign as an advisor or participant in the campaign, he must, as a matter of law, recuse himself. And Jeff Sessions as the first Republican senator to endorse Trump and a Senior Adviser to President Trump had no other course of action available to him except to recuse him under the explicit federal statute governing these kinds of situations.
MACCALLUM: All right. So, you feel that he made the right choice, even given the fact that they were about to determine --
ROVE: Sure. These two things were unconnected.
MACCALLUM: -- that he made no mistakes on turning out these forms.
ROVE: And I would never -- knowing Jeff Sessions like I do, I would absolutely have total confidence in that that there was never anything in his behavior that was incorrect.
MACCALLUM: All right. You know, Adrienne, in terms of the Ohr story this week, and just as one example of people who are close to this story, does it bother you to learn that he had meetings with Glenn Simpson, that he had meetings with Christopher Steele who came up with that dossier? Because one of the main questions that remains here is whether or not the dossier is the document that this investigation was hinged upon.
ELROD: Well, look, there's no proof out there that the dossier is why the FBI opened this investigation in the first place. The FBI opened this investigation because there were clear signs that Russia was possibly colluding with the Trump campaign to alter the elections results. You know, and secondly, the dossier -- I know there has been a lot of criticism, I understand that, but a lot of the information in the dossier is fact-based. And in my view, if anything in the dossier ultimately leads to determining what actually happened in the election to get to the bottom of what happened is a good thing.
MACCALLUM: Karl Rove and Adrienne Elrod, thank you very much, you guys. Great to see both of you tonight.
ELROD: Thanks, Martha.
MACCALLUM: So, we are looking live as we say in television at Pensacola, Florida where the president is about to come out and speak to the good folks there in a campaign-style rally, selling tax reform to America among other things. It comes as a nearby Alabama embattled Senate Candidate Roy Moore feeling vindicated tonight in some respects after one of his most vocal accusers has added to part of her story in terms of the inscription on the yearbook. So, there's some information there. We'll tell you what happened.
Our power panel Chris Stirewalt, Guy Benson, Mary Anne Marsh, all here on that. And more proof tonight that President Trump is making good on the promise to help the economy in the United States. The top White House official joins us on the just-released jobs report, and what all this means for your bank accounts. The Dow liked it today, that's for sure. Plus, the reason why a group of conservative students was kicked out of the campus coffee house. Wait until you see this video.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You are threatening the integrity of our club.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a community standard. You are wearing hats that completely violates our safe space policy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm telling you to take them off or you have to go.
MACCALLUM: Fox News alert and a live look right now at Pensacola Bay Center in Florida where the president is about to speak. He'll take the stage there with a campaign-style rally. They're getting the group already for his arrival there and we'll bring it you that as soon as it happens on the right-hand side to see the airport where we're waiting for him to land-- near the Alabama state line there. The Alabama Senate race is front and center, of course, so you can you see how close Alabama and that part of Florida are? And that may be the reason for choosing that site this evening.
Today, Candidate Roy Moore hit back at one of the women accusing him of sexual misconduct. Beverly Nelson has altered her story a bit about the much talked about yearbook inscription that was written decades ago. There was one line at the bottom, the date, and the location, which she added later. So, here's what the Moore campaign had to say about that a short time ago.
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PHILLIP JAUREGUI, ATTORNEY FOR ROY MOORE: The truth is out there and until she releases the yearbook, all we know is they're not telling the truth and they've lied. And under the Alabama pattern jury instructions, it says -- it tells the jury that if you believe that a witness has lied about anything, you can disregard everything they've said.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: Fox News' Peter Doocy live at the Trump rally in Pensacola with the story tonight for us. Hi, Peter.
PETER DOOCY, FOX NEWS CHANNEL REPORTER: Hi, Martha. The Moore campaign knows that most of his backers are going to be with him no matter what.
But I've been texting back and forth with some Moore advisors this evening who say that what happened today goes a long way in helping them confirm what they have been trying to convince the public of. That this infamous yearbook inscription, that one of his accusers said is the proof that Moore pursued her when she was a young teen is not exactly what it seems.
DOOCY: Nelson says she did make notes to the inscription but the message was all Roy Moore.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Beverly, he signed your yearbook.
BEVERLY YOUNG NELSON, ROY MOORE ACCUSER: He did sign it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you made some notes underneath?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOOCY: But his accuser's attorney, Gloria Allred, now says that her client's story is legitimate and she says that she's got proof.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GLORIA ALLRED, ATTORNEY FOR BEVERLY NELSON: The expert concluded that the signature and the handwritten notation on the signature on exhibits one and two were prepared by Roy Moore. We are very happy to be able to announce this important expert opinion regarding Beverly's yearbook.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOOCY: I asked the Moore campaign what it means for them now that this notorious yearbook inscription story has holes in it. And this is the response I got: "holes, I'd say a forgery whether in whole or in part is more like a crater. Judge Moore has been vindicated feeling an even stronger get out the vote effort, and I am now very confident in victory next Tuesday." And Moore's attorney think of this entire issue, is now going to be behind them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAUREGUI: Galore Allred came back again at the end, when asked the question with her client Beverly Nelson nodding in agreement that everything written on that page was written by Judge Moore. Well, today, it's a different story, isn't it? They're not saying that anymore.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOOCY: There are a lot of Moore supporters here in Pensacola tonight at the Trump rally, but he is not expected to appear with the president less than a half an hour away from the Alabama border. Martha.
MACCALLUM: Thank you, Peter. Peter Doocy, we will be back there shortly.
Chris Stirewalt joins me now Fox News Politics Editor; Guy Benson, Townhall.com Political Editor and a Fox News Contributor; and Mary Anne Marsh, Democratic Strategist and Former Senior Advisor to Former Secretary of State John Kerry. Great group. Thank you, guys,, all for being here this evening.
GUY BENSON, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR AND POLITICAL EDITOR FOR TOWNHALL.COM: Thank you, Martha.
CHRIS STIREWALT, FOX NEWS POLITICS EDITOR: You bet.
MACCALLUM: Chris, let me start with you, your thoughts on what we're about to see in Pensacola tonight?
STIREWALT: Well, I think we'll probably see classic Trump, classic campaign Trump. He has been in this region before. He's given speeches in mobile before. We'll hear a lot about the great huge big, biggest bigly tax cuts, we'll hear about all of this stuff. What I don't know and this is the $64,000 question: will Trump be able to resist going and talking about Moore by name? Will he be able to resist talking about fake news and using this thing about the line she added under Moore's signature and say it's all fake news? And is he going to go into the space or is he going to keep some distance?
MACCALLUM: Yes. That is the question. You know, we just saw Peter Doocy's story all laid out there, Guy. How close does the president want to put himself to this situation? Does he want to speak about it specifically in those terms tonight or does he want to just see what happens in Alabama on Tuesday and feel that, you know, he's sort of done what he can do?
BENSON: Well, he hasn't been bashful on Twitter recently, has he?
BENSON: All caps: VOTE ROY MOORE! So, he -- not subtle at all on that whole front. And I listened very carefully to Peter Doocy's report there, and I think that it's important to try to keep a few things straight. It is true, in my view, that this accuser has damaged her own credibility to a significant extent because Gloria Allred presented that entire inscription as written by Roy Moore, which we now know was not accurate. To say that now the whole thing is a forgery or to say that the judge has completely vindicated, I think is a vast overstatement especially because there are eight other women who are involved in this.
And one other very quick point, Martha, one of the Moore spokesmen there said that, oh, if you believe that the witness lied about one thing, you can believe they lied about everything. If that standard was applied to Roy Moore, I think that that is not something he would want, because a previous accuser came out this week with a note that he wrote her in high school. Now, he claims that he does not know her at all. Now, there's a signature that looks exactly like the one in the yearbook, same exact handwriting that undermines his claim that he never knew any of these women. So, it's more of a mixed bag.
MACCALLUM: Yes. I mean, they make a very big leap when they get into, you know, discussions of this whole thing being thrown out on its head because she added a date and she added the place. And when you look at it, you can really see, you know, that it's different -- her handwriting different underneath the rest of it. You know, honestly, I don't even know -- I don't think it matters to Alabama voters. It doesn't appear that it does. So, Mary Anne, let's talk about it in terms of Doug Jones who now has made this a tight race for a Democrat in a place where it hasn't been one in forever.
MARY ANNE MARSH, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST AND FORMER SENIOR ADVISOR TO FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY: Right. I mean, that's the point, Martha. The fact that this is even a competitive race, tells you everything about this whole situation in Alabama. It has been decades since the Democrat has won anything in Alabama. And certainly, the fact is Moore has made it competitive by his out of mainstream behavior and his beliefs. Doug Jones has been a pretty good candidate. But it's a good race. It's close, but it's tough.
Four things have to happen for Jones to win. One, you need a low Republican turnout. Republicans who can't vote for Moore won't vote for Jones. You need a high turnout amongst women, suburban women, Democratic women, independent women, you need a very high turnout amongst African- Americans in particular. And last, but not least, you need a great GOTV operation. Now, the Democrats haven't had a plus rating in Alabama since 1976. So, the fact that they could have any kind of GOTV operation is, I don't know, a little tough. But, in a three to five-point race if that's what this is low single digits.
MARSH: That -- you can you overcome that with GOTV? Can the Jones Campaign put that together and deliver on Tuesday when you have nine times the requests of absentee ballots you ever have for this race, and the secretary of state is predicting a 25 percent turnout -- about 825,000 voters on Tuesday.
MACCALLUM: Very interesting. In terms of the African-American vote, Doug Jones put out this flier this week. It came from his office, right, Chris? And, you know, that could be a concern for him. The way that it depicts this man in the picture, and, you know, here's the new Doug Jones mail you see it below. Ostensibly, it means to, you know, help improve Black turnout. But a lot of people were offended by it.
STIREWALT: I don't know enough about that one to know how folks in Alabama are feeling about that. But Mary Anne makes a fantastically correct point which is this: in a state like Alabama that used to be competitive, Richard Shelby was elected, by the way, as a Democrat. Republican Richard Shelby switched after he got elected in 1986. So, a long time ago it was a competitive state. But what happens when your state is uncompetitive for long enough is that your voters tune out, they go away. Just like what happened in California: Republicans used to keep it close in California but after enough defeats, you lose your -- you lose your verve, you start to get worse candidates and you fall apart.
The question for African-American voters in Alabama is, do you feel like it's worth a try? Do you feel like it's worth a try this year, that you can send a message that you can do this? And there's no guarantee that they will, but I would say that Doug Jones is running a smart campaign in this way. He's focused now very much on talking about Alabama's reputation. And what it will say about Alabama to have one governor removed for a sex scandal, and then have another senator, and then have a senator elected under the cloud of one.
MACCALLUM: All right. Guys, thank you very much. That's why we're going to be watching very closely on Tuesday night. Thanks for setting us up for being ready for all of that.
STIREWALT: You bet.
MACCALLUM: Good to see you all, Chris, and Guy, and Marianne. Few of our favorite people.
OK. So, you know what that is. That's Air Force One. It has just landed in Florida for the rally. The president likes to work on Friday nights and it's 7:26. He has just landed, so he'll head over to the venue and get ready for this speech tonight. We know that he's going to touch on the economy for sure; very strong numbers. And we're going to talk to Mark Short at the White House about what those jobs numbers mean for people in America. We know the market has taken off like a rocket since the Trump election, that is for sure. So, we're going to keep a close eye on what he has to say as he heads there.
Also, this tonight, a little side note as we looked at this story. It seems that the first lady gets heat pretty much whatever she does. She made a joke at the White House talking about wanting to get away to an island, you know, someplace to relax with her family. And that provoked some criticism from some elements of the media, which is interesting. So, Ainsley Earhardt joins us live with her take on that coming up right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you could spend a holiday in the world, where would you go?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: Fox News alert, the president has landed in Pensacola, Florida, walked down the steps of Air Force One just a moment ago. And now he's doing what he loves to do, which is to spend some time with the crowd there, shaking hands. Looks like a chilly night. Snow has moved through the southern part of the country, hitting Georgia, and is heading north over the course of tonight and in to tomorrow. But President Trump will speak to the folks on the line there. And then he'll move on through, and go to the rally and begin his speaking. So we're going to stay close on all of this as we watch it play out this evening. No doubt he'll talk about the economy.
No doubt he will make some comments on Roy Moore. That's obviously what everybody is going to be watching for to see sort of how strong those comments are. As Guy Benson pointed out a little while ago, he certainly hasn't been shy in his support in his tweets throughout the course of this week. He says Roy Moore doesn't believe he did anything wrong and that the people of Alabama are the ones that need to make this decision in terms of what they will do on Tuesday night. So the White House, as we said, some good economic news today.
This morning we got a look at the November jobs numbers. Almost 230,000 jobs added last month. Expectation was for 200,000. So that was an upside surprise. Unemployment still at 4.1 percent, that's a 17-year low. Markets moved higher on the news proving once again that the one undisputed aspect of the past year under President Trump is that the market clearly likes what it sees. Earlier this evening, I spoke with Mark Short, White House director of legislative affairs. Asked him how he responds to critics who say despite the strong jobs numbers, wage growth is a bit sluggish.
MARK SHORT, WHITE HOUSE DIRECTOR OF LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS: Well, Martha, we're really excited by the numbers. We have a 17-year low in unemployment. And something buried inside those numbers is an all-time low in Hispanic unemployment in this country. As well as the 1.9 million jobs created during the Trump presidency. Equal to the number of private sector created in the entire first term of the Obama years.
All four years. So we think that the economy is going the right way as the president continues to unleash it and pull back the regulatory burden. And we think you'll see the wages increase when we actually get tax reform as well to provide tax relief for corporations and for middle income families. That will help drive the wage rise as well.
MACCALLUM: Yeah. And we did see back-to-back 3 percent growth quarters which we haven't seen in some time, which is clearly economically significant. When you take a look at through the headlines in response to this news, you see things like this, Trump's unpopularity is amazing given the strength of the economy. Despite Trump's ranker for the global system, the world economy is surging. You know, I mean, when you do look at the polls, the numbers do not match up with what we're seeing in the economy. Why do you think that is?
SHORT: Well, Martha, I think that there's a lot of things happening. It's not just the economy, but it's also America's place in the world. The Trump presidency continues to make progress both in securing our country as well as turn the economy around, I'm confident those numbers will go up. But there is no doubt that this president faces unparalleled amount of opposition from the mainstream media. And that certainly impacts what your popularity numbers are as well.
MACCALLUM: I just want to switch gears for a moment and ask you something about Jeff Sessions because reports today that it was revealed actually some time ago, but it just surfaced today that the FBI found that there was no reason for him to disclose the meetings that he had with the Russian ambassador. And that he was not wrong in not including them on his forms. So, given that what is the White House think about the fact that he recused himself? Did he do that without needing to?
SHORT: Well, Martha, I think the president has spoken about his concern about the recusal. But, also, I think it's important to note regarding the larger investigation that millions and millions of dollars of taxpayer expense have been spent so far on investigation has proven no collusion whatsoever with the Russians.
So, while the White House continues to cooperate fully with the different house and senate investigation as well as the special counsel, there has been no evidence of collusion. We will continue to do our job and cooperate. But we're also anxious to move beyond this and begin to focus on the things that we can for the American people, such as providing middle income tax relief.
MACCALLUM: In terms of what other news out of the White House today, Dina Powell announcing that she will leave in the beginning of the year and the beginning of 2018. And there is speculation that it will be just the beginning of a wave of people leaving. Is that true?
SHORT: Martha, there is no way I can know what other people's plans are. Dina has been a terrific asset to this White House. We're sorry to see her go. But she has family considerations. And she'll be hard to replace.
But, I think a lot of us are having a good time in our jobs. We think that we're helping to make an impact on this country and we're honored to serve this president.
MACCALLUM: So you don't expect a wave of people leaving or -- an increase in that in the New Year. Rex Tillerson is also back on the list, backs in discussion that he also plans to leave over the next few weeks.
SHORT: Martha, I feel like we're just getting started. We're just turning this economy around. America is being respected across the globe again. There's so much more that we left to do. And I think most people here excited about what's still left.
MACCALLUM: Just one last question on Dina Powell, there was suggestion that there was some dissension over the Jerusalem story, the decision by the president to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem in recognition of it as the capital of Israel. Was that something that she felt differently about?
SHORT: No. I certainly don't think so. I think that, in fact, the president engaged in a very deliberative process that allowed the State Department, the CIA, others to provide their opinions on the decision. The president heard it all out. He made a strong decision to stay with commitments other president had made and unable to fulfill, as well as what congress has promised to do going back to 1995 when they voted in the senate 93 to 5 to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. So, this president has continued to live up to the commitments he made. I don't think there is any dissension from Dina on that decision.
MACCALLUM: Widespread concerns at the White House about the protests that we've seen in reaction to that decision.
SHORT: Well, I'm sure we'll always going to be concerned about protests. Certainly we want to dissuade violence in any way. But this is a decision that other congress have recognized. Other presidents have promised to do on the campaign trail and failed to deliver. This president delivered on that promise.
MACCALLUM: Mark, thank you very much, good to see you tonight, have a good weekend.
SHORT: Thanks, Martha. Thanks for having me.
MACCALLUM: So a Fox News alert in southern California, these images are unreal. What they have been going through. At least six large wildfires have scorched nearly 160,000 acres in the state just this week. Hundreds of thousands of people are out of their homes tonight. We'll continue to keep a close eye on it and we will bring you updates as we get. These images from Ventura, California, tonight. But first, free speech under attack on another college campus in the United States, as a group of conservative students get kicked out of the coffee shop on campus, which is supposed to be a place where everybody can hang out. One of the Fordham students who was shouted down joins us with his story, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNINDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't want people like you supporting this club. No one here wants people like you supporting our club.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: Minutes away now from the president's rally in Pensacola, Florida. We're keeping a close eye on it. We'll take you there as soon as it gets underway. And also developing tonight, caught on camera, conservative students at Fordham University here in New York, said they were kicked out of a campus coffee house because of thought discrimination and a dislike for their hats. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNINDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't want people like you supporting this club.
UNINDENTIFIED MALE: Well, then you should be.
UNINDENTIFIED FEMALE: No one here wants people like you supporting our club. You are wearing hat that completely violates our safe space policy. I'm telling you to take them off or you have to go. Three minutes. Three minutes.
UNINDENTIFIED MALE: What does the hat stands for?
UNINDENTIFIED MALE: Fascism, Nazi, OK?
UNINDENTIFIED MALE: I do not see fascism, Nazi on this hat. I see America.
UNINDENTIFIED FEMALE: Three minutes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: Wow. Fordham University sent us a statement that says this in part, there is no university safe space policy, nor one that excludes any member from the Fordham community from any public spaces on the basis of their political views, Fordham is a community that values diverse opinions, and in which student should disagree with one another in a civil fashion. The university is still investigating the incident, and students who may have violated university code of conduct will be met with the appropriate student conduct process. Here now is one of the students in the video, Aaron Spring. Aaron, good to see you tonight. Thank you for being here. That's the hat that you were wearing that she said represented fascist?
AARON SPRING, FORDHAM UNIVERSITY STUDENT: Well, the make America great again hats are the one she said represented fascism. However, after they said that they did attack this American flag hat which I'm holding up, saying that we were affiliated with the make America great again people, and therefore we had to leave as well. We didn't leave. We stood our ground.
MACCALLUM: So, did you ask her what's unsafe about you guys being there and why she is not open to discourse? Why you're not allowed to think what you want to think?
SPRING: Well, yes. Part of what she was talking about was that we violated the safe space and that we represented Nazism and fascism and all this just made up liberal propaganda, really. And we were in there. We're just a group of friends trying to talk, have a cup of coffee and have political conversation. And they just attacked us.
MACCALLUM: This space is sort of notorious. They've said that they don't want you guys there. So did you go there to provoke a confrontation?
SPRING: No, of course not. We were just a couple friends going to get coffee, having a talk. We walked in and said all are welcome. It says on the sign, all are welcome. But that only pertains to people who have the same thoughts and the same, you know, opinions as the people who ran that cafe.
MACCALLUM: So what's the university going to do about it? What do you think?
SPRING: I don't think they're going to do anything about it. I think it's up to patriots such as myself and other people on campus to kind of step up and start fighting for free speech and campus reform, which is a great group at campusreform.org, has really stepped up to this issue and was able to help in organizing this interview here. And we need people like that to continue to push and get free speech to be recognized.
MACCALLUM: Yeah. I mean, campus reform definitely looks for injustice across campuses and tries to find places where people are now -- where this is an action, this is not a safe space.
SPRING: No, no. It's not.
MACCALLUM: It wasn't safe for you guys.
SPRING: No, it was not a safe space at all.
MACCALLUM: Do you feel -- when looking back on it, do you think you did anything wrong?
SPRING: No. I firmly believe I was.
MACCALLUM: You were polite.
SPRING: I was polite. I bought a cup of coffee. I patronized them. I sat down. I didn't make any noise. I wasn't rude. I didn't curse at anybody. I was just sitting and enjoying a cup of coffee with friends.
MACCALLUM: And the woman we've seen there, what's her role in the coffee house?
SPRING: We believe she's a manager. She's definitely upper level employee. And she just.
MACCALLUM: So she gets to decide who can have coffee and who can't?
MACCALLUM: Wow. OK. Thanks for bringing your story to us. Let us know if there are any developments and what the university -- what their response is because it will be interesting to watch. Thank you, Aaron Spring.
SPRING: Thank you for having me.
MACCALLUM: Good to see you tonight. So any moment, President Trump will take the stage, as you know, there's a lot of build-up to these events. And we know that he landed in Pensacola about 15 minutes ago, I would say. And we'll go there as soon as the rally begins. Plus, the first lady, Melania Trump, facing some attacks again. Remember they went after her for the decorations at the White House? Now they're going after her for some light hearted comment that she made about wanting to spend Christmas on a deserted island somewhere with her family. Ainsley Earhardt joins us with her take next.
MACCALLUM: So, as you know, if you have been watching The Story -- well, that guy has a sparkly hat and he's all ready for the president to arrive in Pensacola. Big night. Friday evening of make America great rally. The president loves to do these events. And we watched him shake the hands as he came out off of Air Force One. Crowds gathering, they'll probably play the President Trump sound track to get everybody ready to go. You can't always get what you want, Rolling Stones, all of that generally in there for the campaign and that continued. So we're going to continue to keep eye on that. Roy Moore is on the topic list for the evening, the economy as well. And we'll keep you posted as soon as he arrives. So there is a little bit of cultural controversy that bubbled up today with regard to first lady Melania Trump's recent visit to a children's hospital. It started with a question and with her answer, watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNINDENTIFIED MALE: If you could spend the holiday anywhere in the world, where would you go?
MELANIA TRUMP, U.S. FIRST LADY: I would spend the holiday on deserted island -- tropical island with my family.
MACCALLUM: Yeah. So can you see why that's so disturbing, right? The event was meant to bring holiday cheer to sick children, family, hospital staffers. It seems Mrs. Trump's detractors could not miss an opportunity to give her a hard time over this. Vogue magazine suggested the idea that she wants to get away is, quote, another sign that Melania Trump has mentally checked out of the role as first lady, and checked into a spa somewhere far, far away. And then there's this from The View. You know Joy Behar is a huge fan of the first lady.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNINDENTIFIED FEMALE: As far as away as possible from ginger Donald.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: Ainsley Earhardt, co-host of Fox & Friends, and author of the new book, through your eyes, my child gift to me, which is a beautiful book that we'll talk about as well. Ainsley, so good to have you here. You're a trooper. You have early mornings, and we really appreciate you coming in on this Friday night.
AISLEY EARHARDT, "FOX & FRIENDS" CO-HOST: Thank you.
MACCALLUM: But, you know, I thought of you when I saw this story today because I just -- she cannot catch a break.
EARHARDT: She can't. I mean, she is at a children's hospital. You would think everyone -- every woman out there would say this is wonderful. Every mother out there would say how sweet of her. These children are in a hospital and it's Christmas time and she's there to spread some holiday cheer.
MACCALLUM: I mean, who doesn't want to go to deserted island with your family if you can do that. You know, but I just think that she's handled herself really beautifully through all of this. She's very gracious and she doesn't step in it and say things she shouldn't say. She's really, I think, being exemplary by most standards.
EARHARDT: If she were a Democrat, how do you think she'd be treated?
MACCALLUM: They would love her. Joy Behar would love her. In fact, remember there was similar controversy over Michelle Obama, people saying she was miserable, that she couldn't wait to leave the White House. It's like -- give these people a break. It is not easy to be in these positions. I mean, there are tougher jobs in the world, but they do sacrifice a lot for the country. And I just think that, whether it's Michelle Obama or Melania, just lay off. They didn't run. Their husbands did.
EARHARDT: I would have supported both of them. I believe that you pray for your leaders. You support your leaders. The bible tells you to do that. I think that no matter who is in office you support them. We're one country. We're all Americans. Even if you didn't vote for him. So these people, Lindsey Vons that don't want to go to the White House. If President Obama or if President Trump invited me to the White House, I'm there. I'm going. Because it's the president of the United States. Melania, I think she's graceful. I think you're right, she speaks five languages. She's very, very smart.
MACCALLUM: She's incredible.
EARHARDT: Have you interviewed her?
EARHARDT: She's so strong, very strong. I remember asking her, Melania, a lot of people want to see you out on the campaign trail with your husband more. She said you know what? I'm not running for office. First and foremost, I'm a mother and my son needs me here in New York City, and I thought, you can't argue with that.
MACCALLUM: Yeah. You have a beautiful book out.
EARHARDT: Thank you.
MACCALLUM: And let's put it up on the screen again. What sort of inspired you to write this?
EARHARDT: Well, I wrote my first book based on these little notes that my dad left next to our cereal bowls, was it saying or scriptures or a poem. And so, I was pregnant with my daughter. And then, when that book, by the grace of god and by our wonderful viewers, the book did really well. And so, the publisher came to me and said what are you going through now? When my child was a year old I said I'm learning so much through my daughter's eyes. Every single day as you know as a mother of three, is such a gift. Every day I'm learning something new from her. I mean, Martha, to see her see rain for the first time, or a dog, or eat a lemon for the first time. Or today, we were at church -- tonight, we're at church decorating ginger bread houses. It's the first time she's ever really tasted any of that candy and she loved it. More candy in her mouth than the ginger bread house. All these things -- I waited so long to have children because I focused on my career, and I was so worried about being a mom and I don't know why.
MACCALLUM: Quick break. We'll be right back.
MACCALLUM: So we do understand that the president is in the building now. And he will be there speaking in just a moment. Merry Christmas signs everywhere. Merry Christmas, early to you. That's The Story for this week. See you back here on Monday.
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