This is a rush transcript from "The Story," January 3, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
SANDRA SMITH, FOX NEWS CHANNEL HOST: Good evening to you, Bret, thank you.
We will pick up the story from here.
Tonight, while all eyes are on the battle brewing between President Trump and the man who once served as his closest ally, Steve Bannon. There's another explosive story to uncover, involving the low down dirty tactics Democrats tried to use to get Hillary Clinton elected. Good evening, everyone, I'm Sandra Smith in for Martha MacCallum tonight.
A new report in The New York Times describing how political operatives exploited stories of sexual misconduct for the purpose of political gain.
And these explosive new claims will leave Americans of all political stripes questioning the integrity of the entire #MeToo movement, not to mention the victims of these horrific allegations. Now, left wondering did anyone really care about their cries for help? The New York Times piece citing Washington Lawyer, Deborah Katz, who says, "there is a danger in this environment that unsophisticated individuals who have been abused by powerful people could be exploited by groups taking part as an advantage or by lawyers seeking a moment in the limelight.
One of the political operatives whose name is at the center of the story, David Brock, the Founder of Media Matters, who famously declared war on Fox News and launched a campaign to dig up dirt on the people who worked here both on camera and off. According to the Times, Brock and his fellow operatives are at it again, funneling hundreds of thousands of dollars to Women's Rights Attorney, Lisa Bloom, who in turn pushed more female victims into the spotlight to accuse Donald Trump of sexual assault. Here now is the man behind the expose, New York Times Reporter, Kenneth Vogel.
Kenneth, first walk us through your reporting on this and what you learned.
KENNETH VOGEL, REPORTER, NEW YORK TIMES: Yes. We found, Sandra, that in the week before the election, there had been a press conference that Lisa Bloom scheduled at which she was promising that a woman would come forward in detail explosive allegations against Donald Trump. When that fell through, she said that a number of major Democratic donors reached out to her and offered help, financial help, we're talking about, to see what they could do to bring this woman back to the table -- and get her to go public with her allegation. She did not come forward. Lisa Bloom said she would've come forward, but Lisa Bloom told these donors that she had several other women with whom she was working who also had allegations against Donald Trump who might be convinced to come forward if there was funding provided.
She said for their safety, possibly even a safe house, relocation services. So, many of these -- several of these donors did end up writing checks, at least $700,000, we found, including $200,000 from a group associated with David Brock; $500,000 from Susie Tompkins, this a major donor at San Francisco, who found -- co-founded the Esprit clothing line, very close to Hillary Clinton. They provided this money. Ultimately, those women with whom Lisa Bloom was working, did not come forward and she refunded some, but not all of the money.
SMITH: Now, Ken, I know in your reporting, you follow the money trail. Were you able to determine exactly how much money was used to go after these victims for political gain?
VOGEL: No, we weren't. There's no real disclosure on this. In fact, interestingly, David Brock's group that wrote this $200,000 check to Lisa Bloom law firm, group called American Bridge 21st Century, it filed -- recently filed its tax return, public tax return for 2016. It did not include this $200,000 payment in there -- I'm not exactly sure why. There may be some legal reasons why it was able to avoid disclosing that, but it just goes to show how difficult this money can be to be traced because it's not -- it's money being paid to either private individuals or to law firms in this case that have no disclosure requirement.
So, we don't know how much of this is going on. We did find out, though, in our reporting, Sandra, that in fact Lisa Bloom's mother, another well- known Women's Rights Attorney, Gloria Allred, who has brought her fair share of sexual harassment allegations is currently raising money for another lawsuit against Donald Trump. A defamation lawsuit by a woman who was on "The Apprentice", who accuses Donald Trump of sexually harassing her. So, that's yet another example we found of an effort to raise money to bring forward and support these allegations.
SMITH: In your reporting, Ken, examples of the left going after the right using these victims. But this is something that your reporting also revealed the scene on the right as well.
VOGEL: Yes, that's right. Mike Cernovich, the well-known Trump backer who has a big and sort of controversial social media presence offered publicly $10,000 for any woman who came forward with details of or actual documents showing a settlement by a member of Congress. He did not specify a Democratic member of Congress -- a member of Congress who had settled sexual harassment claims. In fact, he did end up getting the sexual harassment settlement that ended up bringing down John Conyers, Representative John Conyers, Democrat from Michigan. Until then, the longest-serving member Democrat in the House of Representatives. And Cernovich told me that he was surprised; he actually offered the person who brought that confidential settlement money in exchange for it and the person turned it down.
VOGEL: Now, just because money is being offered, Sandra, it doesn't necessarily mean that people are coming forward.
SMITH: It's an excellent point. And something else that stood out to me in your reporting, Ken, is the title of your peace in New York Times itself: "Partisans Wielding Money Begin Seeking to Exploit Harassment Claims." Do you think that we're just at the beginning of this?
VOGEL: I think we could become, Sandra. Certainly, David Brock has already promised that he will start a fund explicitly to try to bring forward allegations against Republican politicians, so he is saying he wants to do more of this despite the backlash that he has gotten, the controversy around his effort with Lisa Bloom in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.
SMITH: All right. Ken Vogel, thank you for your reporting on that and thank you for coming on tonight.
VOGEL: Yes. It's a pleasure.
SMITH: All right. Well, here with more: Katie Pavlich, is News Editor for Townhall.com; Tammy Bruce is a Columnist for the Washington Times and a Radio Talk Show Host, and Mo Elleithee is a Former DNC Spokesman, all are Fox News Contributors. And two of the ladies are on with me tonight. So, Mo, we'll get to you next. But I'm going to start with you, Katie, because, you know, the lawyer that uses in his piece, Deborah Katz, she says that this can be a very dangerous environment and his reporting is showing hundreds of thousands of dollars chasing down these victims.
KATIE PAVLICH, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR AND NEWS EDITOR FOR TOWNHALL.COM: Look, it can be a very dangerous situation. And if you have a powerful man going after a woman who feels like she doesn't have any say in her work environment, then she may feel like she needs some of those protections.
But when you follow money trail here, all of the things that are being accused, the allegations that are brought up are questioned. And what this does is it gives powerful men who have done bad things a way out because they can look at it and say, well, they're being paid, all of this money is coming through, this is only about politics, and therefore we shouldn't believe any of them.
The other side of this is when you offer this amount of money, hundreds of thousands of dollars, millions of dollars for these types of stories, you really have to be careful about going through every single one to vet the validity of it. That doesn't mean you're just counting the claim, however, you need evidence-based claims to meet the allegations to be proven without any doubt because innocent people's lives can also be ruined as a result of this. Partisan political operatives have a lot to gain if they can take down a candidate for a powerful seat in the Senate, for the White House, of course, as a result of these actions.
SMITH: And Tammy, you wonder if this is going to dilute that #metoo movement that we've seen.
TAMMY BRUCE, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR AND COLUMNIST FOR THE WASHINGTON
TIMES: Well, even that has moved it into activism, as opposed to a search for justice. So, we've also heard the idea that all women should be immediately believed. I'm a feminist, work within the feminist movement, all women should be taken seriously, and we should have the opportunity to make our case, and that's what women ask for. We ask for an environment where we can make that case. As opposed -- we want due process ourselves, and a framework of due process that takes us seriously and allows allegations that we're making to be dealt with properly.
Because otherwise, as we are seeing here, is that when you put the politics into it, and this is classics also, though, for the left. They move through victimhood. They sought work as an example with the Roy Moore case. And once that worked, I knew that they were going to move this through the nation. And -- but also, look at those victims. They were in the media almost every day, and now we don't hear from them, we don't know their situation.
SMITH: It's a great point how little you're hearing about this. We're leading off the show tonight with this, but you are not seeing this at the top of many hours today or this week. And then, there's this former Hillary Clinton campaign manager who has now been accused of protecting a staffer who sexually harassed women. There's proof, WikiLeaks released an email, top Clinton aide cornered women for (INAUDIBLE) protected by Campaign Manager, Robby Mook, according to accusations that were discovered in a 2015 email. There's a lot here.
MO ELLEITHEE, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR AND FORMER DNC SPOKESMAN: Look, I agree with almost everything that Katie was saying, that there are two sides to this and that you've got to take these women seriously, that you've got to go through this process, and that a lot of times these women who are being victimized by powerful men feel no other recourse and so they may need some assistance. I also agree, however, that there is the risk of this becoming hyper-partisan and being overly politicized.
When groups are out there singling out potentially bad actors of a single party, that's a problem. If you are in this for justice, be in it for justice. We've seen this on both sides. Remember the Paula Jones case against Bill Clinton was financed by a conservative group? Ken Vogel talked about Michael Cernavich out there, offering money for evidence against particular members of Congress that was mainly focused on Democrats. So, we -- if you're in is for justice, be in it for justice, don't be in it for a political gain.
PAVLICH: I would just add that -- you know, we've been having this conversation for months now about the solution to these problems. How does the private sector handle sexual harassment and assault versus the public sector on Capitol Hill? And the bottom line is you actually can't get to any kind of accountability or change when it comes to this issue if it's so politicized. And my fear is that we're already there and because of all the money that is involved and the power involved, we can't take the politics out of it.
SMITH: And then there's the fear for the victims, the women who want to come forward, need to come forward, Tammy, and you wonder are they going to somehow now have to prove that they're not one of the ones being paid?
BRUCE: Well, I think that if you're coming up a few weeks before an election, if you've been solicited to come forward with a story, if you are being paid for an allegation, or to make the allegation even though it looks like it's something you may need, that's going to be a factor. At the same time, let's remember where this started. Back when Bill Clinton said this is private, it doesn't matter, you hired me to do a job, that it was that framework that within politics said our behavior doesn't really matter, you don't need to worry about that. This clearly is changing, but it is about the politics of control and humiliation and for those who use it politically to just deal with certain political opponents, we've got to make sure this conversation continues. And unfortunately, we do have to look at them with some cynicism depending on the timing and the nature of what's happening, and then we can still find a way to the truth at some point.
SMITH: All right. While you're hearing the conversation here. Tammy, Mo, Katie, thank you.
PAVLICH: Thanks, Sandra.
SMITH: Here's one of the stories you have heard all day: Steve Bannon has turned on President Trump, suggesting members of his campaign committed treason. Up next, a side of this story you will not hear from Steve Bannon from inside the Trump campaign. And President Trump didn't hesitate when it came to calling out Iran for abusing its own people, but what about one of ours? Coming up, the son of an American who went missing there more than a decade ago with a message for the White House and his father's captors.
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DAN LEVINSON: This is an American citizen and there should be outrage around the world, and they've been getting away with it, and this is unbelievable that it's been this long, and that we're still -- I'm still coming out here and having to plead to get action.
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SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think furious, disgusted would probably, certainly fit when you make such an outrageous claims and completely false claims against the president, his administration, and his family.
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SMITH: Some strong words from White House Press Secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, today describing the president's reaction to explosive allegations from none other than his Former Chief Strategist Steve Bannon. Has his once trusted confidante turned into a traitor? In a moment, a side of the story you will not hear from Steve Bannon. But first, Trace Gallagher's live in our West Coast Newsroom with how today's feud went down.
Interesting day, Trace.
TRACE GALLAGHER, FOX NEWS CHANNEL HOST: Very, Sandra. Yes, the White House wasted no time distancing itself from Steve Bannon and the comments he reportedly made to the author, Michael Wolf, for his upcoming book "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House." In the book, Bannon describes a
2016 meeting between a Russian lawyer, Donald Jr., Jared Kushner, and then- Campaign Chair Paul Manafort as being "treasonous and unpatriotic". Going on to say, "the three senior guys in the campaign thought it was a good idea to meet with a foreign government inside Trump Tower in the conference room on the 25th floor with no lawyers. They didn't have any lawyers." Bannon added this, "they're going to crack Don Jr. like an egg on national T.V."
Bannon also said, he also believes the Russians were taken to meet Donald Trump after the meeting. The White House says the book is filled with false and misleading accounts. And the president released a four-paragraph statement that reads in part, "Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my presidency. When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind.
Now that he is on his own, Steve is learning that winning isn't as easy as I make it look. Steve had very little to do with our historic victory." The statement makes it clear that President Trump is now at war with one of his closest political allies, who was still reportedly advising the president well after he left the White House. Even Sarah Sanders acknowledged the two men spoke last month. But Sanders argues, the president can believe Bannon lost his mind and still talk to him. Watch.
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SANDERS: The president continues to have conversations with him, often ask for by Mr. Bannon. The president spoke with him, but that doesn't mean that he can't hold that position.
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GALLAGHER: Donald Trump Jr. also responded today tweeting, "Steve had the honor of working in the White House and serving the country. Unfortunately, he squandered that privilege and turn that opportunity into a nightmare of backstabbing, harassing, leaking, lying, and undermining the president. Steve is not a strategist, he is an opportunist." Steve Bannon's allies were also reportedly caught off guard by the release of the explosive excerpts from the book, but Steve Bannon himself has not yet commented on either the book or the president's response. Sandra.
SMITH: All right. Trace Gallagher, thank you. Here now, Michael Caputo, who's a Trump Campaign Senior Advisor until June of 2016, and that timing is important because he then left two months before Bannon, then came on board. So, important to get your thoughts tonight, Mr. Caputo, on what you have heard. Is what you have heard today true?
MICHAEL CAPUTO, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN SENIOR ADVISOR: Well, I'll tell you, I really question anything Michael Wolf writes. I think this book will be dissected and parts of it will go into the true bucket part, and it will go into the false bucket like anything that Wolf writes. But the president believes what was written about Steve Bannon. I think about what other people were quoted as saying in that book and that's what matters here. I was really disheartened to hear about this. I stand with Donald Trump 150 percent. He has the right and the duty, in fact, to put together a White House that he trusts, and the White House that he believes can implement his agenda. I believe he's entering into 2018 with that kind of team. But for those of us who view Donald Trump's agenda as something that we really want to push for this year, it's a difficult day.
SMITH: Well, the president did not waste any time slamming right back, saying Bannon lost his mind. It was a four-paragraph takedown. Just hours, by the way, after we saw this, and the president said Bannon had nothing to do with me or my presidency, is that true?
CAPUTO: I will tell you -- I'll leave it to the president to define what brought him to where he is. I know that when I was there up until the convention or before the convention, Steve was still outside the campaign, so was Kellyanne Conway and some of the other folks who came in and took this to the end game in November. The president put together a team with Corey Lewandowski, the five musketeers, that took him almost to the convention, and then brought in Manafort and Gates and others to make sure that the convention went his way and he came away with the nomination.
And Steve and Kellyanne and others helped the president all the way to Election Day. It's a pretty broad and diverse group, and I wasn't there to see what Steve did. But, you know, from what I consider from here forward, I don't really have concerns about the base, I don't have concerns about the agenda. The base is there for Donald Trump, and for Donald Trump alone. I think Steve Bannon knows that too. But I like to see allies working together and both of these men think alike and are on the same page.
SMITH: All right. Well, you were with the president during the primary, much of the general election. You were there for a big chunk of that time.
Lastly tonight, Michael, I wanted to bring up all the speculation around Mitt Romney, possibly Senator Mitt Romney, and remind folks of a few things that Mitt Romney, some choice words that he had to say in the past about Donald Trump and get your thoughts. Listen.
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MITT ROMNEY, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: His domestic policies would lead to a recession. His foreign policies would make America and the world less safe. He has neither of the temperament nor the judgment to be president. Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud. His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University. He's playing the members of the American public for suckers. He gets a free ride to the White House and all we get is a lousy hat.
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SMITH: Well, so, I'll ask you, will he support President Trump's policies?
CAPUTO: Well, we saw Donald Trump and Mitt Romney come together, you know, in the transition phase and I believe they continued to speak. I'm not a fan of Mitt Romney, and the things he said about the president were deeply offensive to me. But if the president can get the compromise with Mitt Romney, he can compromise with pretty much anyone. I think Mitt Romney would be a reliable vote on fiscal conservative issues, and I hope the people of Utah to know what they are doing.
SMITH: Well, we'll see where that all goes. But there's a lot of indications and a lot of fingers pointing to the likely possibility that that may happen. So, Michael Caputo, thanks for coming on tonight. Good to get your thoughts and perspective, sir.
CAPUTO: Thank you.
SMITH: All right. Well, the founders of the firm behind the anti-Trump dossier, Fusion GPS, now say they're the real victims in all of this. Bill Browder, once targeted by Fusion GPS himself isn't shedding any tears. He is here to tell you what they want, when we come back.
SMITH: Developing tonight, two men behind the firm that came up with that infamous anti-Trump dossier, now say they're the real victims in this whole Russia debacle. Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch, just penned an op-ed in The New York Times claiming they aren't the ones creating fake news, the Republicans are. They write, "Today, amid a growing criminal inquiry into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, congressional Republicans are again chasing rabbits." They go on to say, "we are extremely proud of their work to highlight Mr. Trump's Russia ties. To have done so is our right under the first amendment." Here now, Bill Browder, no stranger to Fusion GPS. He once found himself in their crosshairs while lobbying for a piece of legislation, the firm was hired to block. We thank you for being here tonight, Mr. Browder. You've read through this, obviously, and you say they left out some very important facts.
BILL BROWDER, FINANCIER: Well, the most important fact that they left out is that while they were doing the Trump dossier, they were also being paid by Russian government interests to try to overturn sanctions legislation called the Magnitsky Act, which I had been very instrumental in getting past, which put sanctions on Russia government officials. So, they were working for the Russian government interests at the same time as they were effectively trying to connect Trump with Russia, which they did not mention in this dossier -- in the article, they wrote in The New York Times. And it was very disingenuous for them to be saying, we're such victims. And at the same time, they were out effectively trying to victimize me and Sergey Magnitsky, my lawyer, who was killed in trying to overturn an important piece of human rights legislation.
SMITH: And when you point out that, and the piece does talk about that, and you often talk about the Russian anti-Magnitsky narrative, you say that they also leave on another important fact and that some of the journalists that were paid.
BROWDER: Well, this is probably the most troubling part of their whole story, which is that as they were being grilled and subpoenaed by various committees, one very important court document came out, came out of the D.C. district court, and it basically said and it showed that they were paying journalists. And so, and I know for a fact that there were a bunch of journalists who were acting inappropriately and not journalistically when they were trying to smear me and Sergei Magnitsky and repeal the Magnitsky act. And so, I'm wondering where those journalists paid by Glenn Simpson to try to write false stories about Sergei Magnitsky? I don't know the answer to that question, but I do know that they were being -- that they have evidence that exists that they were paying journalists, and so we would like to know the answer to that question.
SMITH: Something else that Simpson complains about in this piece is congress not releasing the transcripts. And I saw you tweeting about this today because you took issue with that because they were invited to give open testimony, you remind all of us, and they didn't show up.
BROWDER: Yeah. In the end of July of last year, I was invited to the senate judiciary committee to give testimony about Fusion GPS and Glenn Simpson's role in trying to overturn the Magnitsky Act. And the other person invited -- one of the other people invited was Glenn Simpson. And as the days approached that the testimony he refused to show up. He refused to show up and at the very last minute they subpoenaed him, and then he and his lawyers went into big negotiations and agreed to do it privately. But, I mean, if he's so worried about having all the stuff out in public, why was he so worried about showing up in an open testimony as I did? It makes no sense.
SMITH: Really interesting to get your initial reaction to that piece today. We're very thankful that you came on with us tonight. Thank you for being here.
BROWDER: Thank you.
SMITH: All right. Well, the handling of the Trump-Russia investigation and the Clinton email investigation have forced questions about the DOJ and the FBI and their ability to investigate themselves. So, on who does that job fall? Here now it's Florida congressman, Matt Gaetz, who is leading the charge for congress to take over because all of this, congressman, just looks like a mess.
MATT GAETZ, U.S. CONGRESSMAN: Well, it truly does. And the Fusion GPS op-ed is as unreliable as the Fusion GPS dossier for more than five months now. We've had 20 members of the house judiciary committee calling for a second special counsel to evaluate the nexus between the DNC, the Clinton foundation, Fusion GPS and Russians, the very Russians who told lies to undermine the president of the United States both before and after his election. So, we'll get to the bottom of this. And the fact that we're turning up the heat on our investigation is likely one reason why Glenn Simpson wanted to tell his side of the story in the newspaper. Now we're ready for him to tell his side of the story in open hearings in congress.
SMITH: I got to tell you, congressman, we hear you and we know your ambition and we know that you're going after this, but at this point it feels to the American people like -- is anybody going to be held accountable? Is anything going to actually come of this?
GAETZ: It's a totally fair question. And the number one thing that can hasten accountability in this system is an attorney general who will step up and do his job. And unfortunately, we don't really know whether the attorney general is in charge on issues that relate to Fusion GPS and their collusion with others to undermine Donald Trump. The attorney general's recusal may or may not cover that issue because it has some ties to Hillary Clinton and the DNC. So, we'd like to see the attorney general renounce that recusal, appoint a second special counsel, and really deliver the facts to the American people. I'm skeptical that just closed-door meetings with members of congress will really give us the transparency we need to really expose this scandal.
SMITH: I'm convinced, congressman, at the end of these days we're all left with more questions than answers.
GAETZ: Well, we can get those answers if we have open, sworn testimony. I always believe that sunshine is the best disinfectant and that's why we need to get these folks under oath before congress. And we also need the FBI to tell us what role they had. It's troubling to me that Christopher Wray, the director of the FBI, would not tell us whether there was taxpayer money used to reimburse Glenn Simpson. That's something we all have a right to know.
SMITH: Well, Congressman Gaetz, you have been passionate about this from the beginning. We continue to hear from you and we'll continue to watch where this goes. We thank you for coming on.
GAETZ: Thank you.
SMITH: Thank you. And President Trump did not hesitate when it came to calling out Iran for abusing its own people, but what about one of ours? Still ahead, we have an exclusive interview, the son of an American who went missing there more than a decade ago, his powerful message for the White House and his father's captors. And North Korea issuing new threats against America, but many in the media are more worried about President Trump going after Kim Jong Un about the size of his button. Lieutenant Colonel Michael Waltz says everyone is missing the point. He is here live, next.
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UNINDENTIFIED MALE: This is the craziest Trump tweet ever, but it's certainly among the most dangerous if not the most dangerous.
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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.
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SMITH: Kim Jong Un's bold new threat to nuke the U.S. not getting as much attention as President Trump's response. The North Korean leader said our entire nation is within range of his nuclear weapons and he could push the button at any time. President Trump responding on twitter, quote, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un just stated that the nuclear button is on his desk at all times. Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a nuclear button but it is a much bigger and more powerful one in his, and my button works. Those comments not sitting well with some in the media.
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BRIAN STELTER, CNN: If this were the leader of Germany or China or Brazil, what would we say? How would we cover these tweets? We would say these are the messages from a person who is not well.
JOHN HEILEMANN, MSNBC: He's being cavalier in a way that makes him seem demented and deranged.
STEVE HAYES, FOX NEWS: Basically saying my nuclear button is bigger than your nuclear button accomplishes nothing and demonstrates the kind of emotional immaturity that you would expect of a 5-year-old.
JOY BEHAR, ABC: Trump needs to be medicated and hospitalized at this point, or he is going to just kill all of us.
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SMITH: Just some of the media's reaction today. Here now Lieutenant Colonel Michael Waltz, a former Green Beret commander and Fox News contributor. Colonel, I'll ask you to weigh in, what were your thoughts when you saw that tweet?
MICHAEL WALTZ, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, you know, I'm just struck by the inconsistency and the criticism here. You can't have it both ways. On the one hand, many critics are saying that Kim Jong-un is a rational actor. Susan Rice wrote an op-ed and said we can live in a world where he has a nuclear arsenal. He'll abide by mutually assured destruction theory. And then on the other hand, he's an absolute madman that's going to be provoked to World War III via tweet. So, which is it there? I think the Trump administration has been consistent and that he is irrational, we can't trust him to have a nuclear ICBM. We're not going to risk an American city. And that, you know, if he obtains this program it will mean his destruction. So this rhetoric, this strong rhetoric, which is untraditional, but then again.
SMITH: But let me take that point -- with all due respect, let me jump in on that, colonel. And let me just push back there and say why not issue a statement? Why a tweet? Why not a formal statement from the White House as far as a strategy, an approach to taking on North Korea and its leader?
WALTZ: Well, Sandra, I think we've had statements, we had press conferences from Nikki Haley. We've had a number of statements from both Mattis and Tillerson in a bit of a good cop and bad cop where we will obtain overmatch against the North Korean regime, but Tillerson saying the door is still open for you to denuclearized with talks. Prime Minister Abe has said the time for talks, for the sake of talks, are over. And then, I think this president has an unconventional style where he wants to make both the Kim regime and, importantly, the Chinese, understand that their calculus has to change, that the same-old, same-old, won't work anymore and the United States will not stand for a nuclearized North Korea.
SMITH: I'm hearing from you that you see the president's strategy as effective as far as what you have seen so far and as far as the rhetoric is concerned. I think you're OK with this kind of talk.
WALTZ: But Sandra, to be clear, I think the last 40 years of traditional diplomacy had been ineffective. The North Koreans have used it to buy time and to build a very capable program now that's capable of striking the world, and that they will sell to the highest bidder around the world, including the Iranians. So, I think the time to try something new, the Trump administration, to your point, has put forward a policy of maximum pressure and abandons strategic patients. And then we do have this unconventional rhetoric kind of standing up to the Kim regime from the commander-in-chief as part of that strategy.
SMITH: I think those tweets, they come out and it takes some time, people look at them and there's such varied reactions. But, obviously, you have more credibility than any of those in the media to comment on that, and we thank you for your perspective on that tonight.
WALTZ: Sandra, at the end of the day, we're running out -- I mean, we're running out of time here. The policy is that we're not going to stand for him to have a nuclear weapon and I think that's right. We're not going to bet an American city. Then we have to pull everything, all the stops out to try to get them to change their thinking and to abandon this program.
SMITH: All right. Colonel Waltz, thank you for coming on.
WALTZ: All right. Thanks, Sandra.
SMITH: Good evening. All right. Well, President Trump showings no patience for the brutal leadership in Iran, cracking down on its own people, protesting in the streets, but what about one of our people?
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UNINDENTIFIED MALE: I've been held here for three and a half years. I am not in very good health.
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SMITH: The son of retired FBI agent, Robert Levinson, who disappeared in Iran more than a decade ago, here with a plea for the president and a powerful message for his father's captors.
SMITH: Developing tonight, a top Iranian general declaring victory against the biggest anti-regime protest in almost a decade. The violent clashes leaving more than 20 dead, and one American family knows firsthand how brutal the oppressive government can be there. Former FBI agent, Bob Levinson, went missing in Iran nearly 11 years ago. In moment, his son, Dan Levinson, is here with a plea for the president. But first, Trace Gallagher live in our west coast newsroom with the back story. Trace?
TRACE GALLAGHER, FOX NEWS: Sandra, former FBI agent Robert Levinson disappeared while on assignment for the U.S. government in Iran in 2007.
Three weeks after he went missing, Iranian state TV reportedly acknowledged that Levinson had been taken into custody by Iranian security forces, but was expected to be released shortly. A decade later, Iran now denies knowing where Levinson is, or having anything to do with his disappearance.
If Robert Levinson is still being held by Iran, which U.S. investigators believe he is, he would be the longest held U.S. civilians by a foreign government. The Levinson family received a proof of life video in 2010 showing a very thin Robert Levinson pleading for help to get home, but since then, nothing. And the family felt devastated by the Obama White House when Levinson was not part of the January 2016 Iranian prisoners swap that freed several other Americans. The family claims they weren't even told a prisoner swap was in the works until they saw it on television.
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WIFE OF ROBERT LEVINSON: I'm very disappointed. I feel extremely betrayed by them. They have done nothing to get in touch with me other than I've asked them to.
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GALLAGHER: Last year, the wife and children of Robert Levinson filed a lawsuit under the foreign sovereign immunities act for injuries suffered by each of them as a result of Iran's unlawful acts of hostage taking. The family contends that for more than ten years the Iranian government has been allowed to, quote, dodge and weave, every time it was asked to come clean about what happened to Bob and send him home. The family has also created a website looking for leads into Levinson disappearance, and though it has attracted a number of responses, so far it has not led to any significant information. Sandra.
SMITH: Thanks, Trace. Here now for an exclusive interview, Dan Levinson, Bob Levinson son. Dan, thanks for being here tonight to tell your story.
First off, seeing your mother there speaking, I know it's incredibly difficult and here we are ten years later. How is your family doing?
DAN LEVINSON, SON OF ROBERT LEVINSON: We just keep pressing on. We're going to fighting until he's home with us. So, we're just taking it one day at a time, and figuring out new ways to press our administration, press the Iranian government to work together to get him home.
SMITH: I know it's been incredibly difficult, and your youngest brother Doug was only 13-years-old when your father went missing. What's your message for President Trump tonight?
LEVINSON: Well, he has the opportunity to do something that the previous two U.S. presidents weren't able to do, bring home the longest held hostage in American history. He's a dealmaker. This is going to require a deal.
They need to get to the table with the Iranians and it's going to take carrots and it's going to take sticks. And they released a statement back in July with very strongly worded language and we appreciate that, but we need follow-up. We need them to be pressuring the Iranians and talking to them at every opportunity.
SMITH: What were you hearing -- what are you hearing from them? I know this is something you take on every single day. What is the correspondence been?
LEVINSON: Well, we're trying to meet with them as much as possible. We go to Washington whenever there's an opportunity to meet with top-level officials. They're working on the case. We would like to be hearing more from them and making sure that it's a top priority for the administration.
They have said that in the past, but we need action more than just words.
SMITH: And now here more than a decade later your family is suing to try to get answers, and try to bring your family home. What is your family doing now?
LEVINSON: Well, that is one of the ways we're keeping the pressure on the Iranian government. They have to know we're not going to go away. We're going keep pushing them until -- we're going to stay a thorn in their sides until he's home. We know that the supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, can snap his fingers and say send Bob Levinson home, and my dad would be on the next flight out of there. So, we're going to keep pressuring them. I went over to Iran two years ago. We went a previous trip and we'll go back over if need be, but we're not going -- just stop and give up and decide that it's over.
SMITH: What is your family thoughts have been as you see now a second week of these violent protests over a thousand arrests, more than 20 deaths there. Protesting this brutal regime that you have firsthand knowledge of and experience with?
LEVINSON: Well, I know that this doesn't impact my dad's case whatsoever.
We're just an average American family. We don't get involved with domestic politics of Iran. We're watching everything closely. We're always following events in Iran and we're seeing -- we're looking for new opportunities to keep the pressure on them.
SMITH: Do you believe that they know exactly where your father is?
LEVINSON: Absolutely. They arrested my dad. This is a foreign government that has taken an American citizen hostage. They have been misleading and not coming forward with the truth for over a decade now, and we know exactly that he was arrested. The U.N. itself found after conducting their own investigation that my dad was being arbitrarily detained and that he should be released immediately. So, everybody knows that the Iranians took him. We just need to resolve and get them to send him home now.
SMITH: Trace just reported your family put together a website to try to bring in leads. Has anything come from that?
LEVINSON: We get leads, but a lot of times it's people who are looking for money or just trying to take advantage. It's been unfortunate. It hasn't really produced anything of substance. But we're going to keep pressing and we're always checking any time someone contacts us with information.
There's a $5 million reward out there for any Iranian who comes forward with information of at least getting my dad home, that's a lot of money. So, we keep trying to publicize that and make sure it's known over there.
SMITH: Well, you got your message out tonight, Dan, and we thank you for coming on and all our best to your family.
LEVINSON: Thank you for having me and thank you for keeping the story in the news.
SMITH: All right. All the best. We'll be right back.
SMITH: You can always send us an email and tell us what you think about tonight stories, about the show. The Story at foxnews.com. You can also tweet me @sandrasmithFox. A lot of people talking about Trump and North Korea tonight. And a lot of you are fired up about potential Senator Mitt Romney. So a lot of good ones on that as well. Thank you so much for joining us, and if you didn't get enough of me today, I'll see you first thing tomorrow morning on America's Newsroom as well as Outnumbered, both at 9:00 AM and 12 noon, and I'll be back here tomorrow night at 7 PM. It's a pleasure to join you. And now, here's Tucker Carlson.
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