This is a rush transcript from "The Story," February 8, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
MARTHA MACCALLUM, HOST: Good to see you tonight. So, we have some breaking news for you this evening on THE STORY. There are brand new text messages obtained exclusively by Fox News that reveal a questionable relationship between the top Democrat in the Senate's Russia investigation, and a lobbyist representing a Russian oligarch.
Good evening, everybody, I'm Martha MacCallum and this is "The Story" for tonight. Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, who held numerous press conferences over the past year, promising a fair and bipartisan investigation into President Trump's supposed ties to Russia was apparently trying to gain access through the Russians to Christopher Steele, the author of the infamous anti-Trump dossier. Writing in part in these text messages that are just being revealed for the first time: "We have so much to discuss. You need to be careful, but we can help our country." Fox News chief national correspondent, Ed Henry, live with the exclusive details on this brand new breaking story this evening. Ed, what can you tell us?
ED HENRY, FOX NEWS CHANNEL CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Martha, good to see you. These text messages obtained by Fox show that Senator Mark Warner a Democrat, as you say, who's been leading one of several probes of President Trump's ties to Russia had extensive contact last year with the lobbyist for a Russian oligarch who offered him access, yes, to Christopher Steele. Now, Warner texted he would "rather not have a paper trail in case he could not seal an agreement with the former British spy. Steele has still not agreed to an interview with the panel.
Warner began texting with the lobbyist, Adam Waldman, in February 2017 about brokering a deal with Justice Department to get the WikiLeaks Founder, Julian Assange, to the U.S. to potentially face criminal charges. That went nowhere. The Warner's office tells me, he turned over whatever information he got to the FBI in that matter. Warner and Waldman also exchanged dozens of texts about possible testimony from Waldman's primary client, the Russian billionaire, Oleg Deripaska, who had his visa revoked by the State Department in 06, because of charges he has organized crime ties -- which he denies. Warner was intent on connecting directly with Christopher Steele without anyone else being in the loop, at least initially.
An aide to the Republican Chairman, Senator Richard Burr, now tells Fox he was aware of the contact that Warner made, but added, "I don't believe he was aware," Burr, "of the content of these text messages that Fox is getting." Quote: "We have so much to discuss. You need to be careful," Warner texted, "but we can help our country." He sent that to Waldman last March 22. "I'm in", texted Waldman, whose firm has ties, yes, to Hillary Clinton.
Now, secrecy seemed important to Warner on March 29. When the lobbyist revealed that Christopher Steele wanted a bipartisan letter from Warner and Burr: "Hey," Warner texted, "can't we do brief off-the-record call today before the letter, so I can frame letter?" That's what Warner texted about Steele, who of course, put together, as you said, the dossier. Warner added, "OK, but I would like to do preliminary call, you, me and him," meaning Steele, "no one else before the letter just so we have to trail to start. Want to discuss scope first before letter, no leaks."
Waldman noted repeatedly, Steele was concerned about leaks so Warner texted back March 30th, "We want to do this right, private in London. Don't want to send letter yet, because if we can't get agreement, would rather not have paper trail." Now, the committee got the text from Waldman, I'm told, last September. And Warner aide acknowledged that Warner and Burr revealed these texts to their colleagues quietly last October because, "they realized out of context, it doesn't look great." But aides to Warner and Burr stressed to me today that Chairman, Mr. Burr, was in the loop.
The senators just gave us this joint statement: "From the beginning of our investigation, we've taken each step in a bipartisan way, and we intend to continue to do so. Leaks of incomplete information out of context by anyone inside or outside our committee are unacceptable. The Senate Intelligence Committee has been in possession of this material for several months. The full committee has that access to the material and been briefed on its content, and committee investigators are pursued all relevant investigative leads related to this material." We wanted to give that full statement.
Now, Waldman, who did not return calls today seeking comment runs endeavor group. He signed $40,000 a month retainer in 2009 and 2010 to petition the U.S. government on behalf of that Russian billionaire, Deripaska. There are reports that Deripaska, who sued Paul Manafort over a failed business deal has information to share with the U.S. Congress, but last may both the Senate and House Intel panels decided not to give Deripaska legal immunity. So, so far, he has not testified, Martha.
MACCALLUM: I mean, it's clearly of interest that this Oleg Deripaska has links to both Paul Manafort and then also to this lobbyist who has done work for the Clintons. And, you know, it's potentially at least a stream to follow up on, that the Russians, perhaps, were trying to lay groundwork on both sides of the fence here.
HENRY: No doubt about it. And look, The Washington Post reported last year that the Special Counsel Robert Mueller is interested in the fact that there are other e-mails from Paul Manafort promising this Russia oligarch inside access to the Trump campaign. I can give you information before anyone else has it. Nobody knows whether that ever really happened. Clearly, Manafort was trying to wield influence. The committee, you know, still wants to talk to Manafort more, they want to the oligarch, they haven't gotten that testimony. But the bottom line is Democrats have spent a lot of time talking about the president's ties to Russians, what kind of conversations he and his aides have had.
Now, these text messages that got from a Republican source close to the committee. It's clearly an attempt by Republicans to say hang on a second. The top Democrat on this committee also had some questionable conversations about trying to keep some of this secret. And again, I want to stress, Warner's office was very direct with me in saying they realize that this doesn't look good out of context, as they say. But they insist that the Republican chairman was in the loop and that there was no freelancing going on here to try to get dirt from Christopher Steele.
MACCALLUM: Yes, and I mean, obviously, they would like to hear from Christopher Steele, and it's clear from these messages that Christopher Steele, who was probably sensitive about what was being said about him and his reputation at this point didn't want to have any involvement that he might have appear partisan, right?
HENRY: Right, and that's why it's curious that Senator Warner, as a Democrat, who again has seen in public to act in a bipartisan manner with the Republican Richard Burr. They've had joint news conferences, all of that, at why he was texting: "Look, let's just keep this between us." I will say that last October, Warner's office stressed this to me, there was a news conference where Richard Burr, after seeing these text messages, said that me and Warner are on the same page. You know, we're trying to get Steele to testify. They haven't been able to do that. But this is a wrinkle in all of that tonight, Martha.
MACCALLUM: Yes, it certainly is. And both sides have sort of pointed fingers at each other from the House and Senate side that the House Intel Committee has all this friction between the Republicans and the Democrats. And that on the Senate side, the gentlemen are working everything out with no problems. This sort of put a little bit of wrinkle in that.
HENRY: This raises a question what's going on in private. And you think about this extraordinary thing where have you this big investigation in the Senate and a top Democrat who's investigating the president, now has his own text messages put into the committee record. I have over 20 pages of them. And I'm told, you know, they're marked confidential; not classified, we should say -- confidential. They are now in the committee record for this investigation. The text messages of Mark Warner who is doing the investigating. His messages are now part of the record as well.
MACCALLUM: Yes, and Waldman is also of interest in terms of what he was working on.
HENRY: We tried to get him all day and we'll still hope to talk to him, and we hope to bring them to you tomorrow night.
MACCALLUM: All right. Interesting stuff, Ed, thank you so much. Thanks for being here tonight. So, here to react to this and a few other things, Congressman Jim Jordan, a member of the House Oversight Committee. Congressman, you heard Ed's report. What's your reaction?
REP. JIM JORDAN, R-OHIO: If the Senate Intelligence Committee is so bipartisan, why did Senator Warner say he just wanted to meet no one else in that meeting except him, the lobbyist, and Christopher Steele? Why did he say he didn't want a paper trail and why was he willing to travel to London privately just to meet with Christopher Steele? If it's bipartisan, it should be bipartisan. So, I understand the statement that came from the chairman but that's the first reaction I have is, really? If this is how bipartisan works, then I'm a little confused.
MACCALLUM: Well, it should be pointed out, and I think it was at some point in the report, but this is all happening post-inauguration. This is the first four months or so of 2017. So, this is while the investigation is beginning. They very much, of course, would like to hear Christopher Steele's side of the story, and perhaps Senator Warner felt that he would have, you know, a better rapport with him. I don't know what he thought, but perhaps that was what he was doing.
JORDAN: The text messages themselves refute that because Christopher Steele is saying I want to do it in a bipartisan way. And never forget this is also in the context when they're using Christopher Steele's work product, namely the dossier to get the renewal at the FISA court. So, I mean, you can say it's bipartisan. They can say it's bipartisan. Maybe it still is. I just -- that's the first thing that came to mind as I just saw these text messages and heard Ed's report.
MACCALLUM: Yes. All right, I do want to ask you about the other pressing news on the Hill tonight and that's whether or not there's going to be a shutdown. What do you think?
JORDAN: Look, we'll see. Senator Paul is over there giving, I think, a good speech. He did earlier tonight on some important issues. What I know is we shouldn't spend this kind of money. I mean, this is close to a trillion dollars -- excuse me, a quarter of a trillion dollars in new discretionary spending, 230-some billion. And I would bet there is not one Republican candidate, one Republican member of Congress who ran and said I'm going to increase discretionary spending $230 billion if you give us control of the House, the Senate and the White House, and yet that's what's happening. So, this is a bad deal. I hope it fails in the Senate. But if it comes back to us, I hope we vote it down and send back to them the same bill we sent to him two days ago, which takes care of our military but doesn't grow government.
MACCALLUM: So, did Nancy Pelosi kind of put you guys in a bit of a box yesterday by speaking so long about DACA and perhaps pulling some other Democrats along with her. She is making your numbers a little difficult if the House Freedom Caucus is not on board with this deal?
JORDAN: Well, we'll see. I actually hope the Democrats vote no, and if the Democrats all vote no, we got enough votes to stop it, and then we can do what we told the people what we're going to do, namely: take care of our national defense and security needs but not grow the rest of government, not continue to grow these social welfare programs, and actually do something that's consistent with Republican principles and consistent with the mandate of the 2016 election. So, I hope all the Democrats vote no. If that's the case, we will definitely stop this bill, because the Freedom Caucus is against it, and so are a bunch of other conservatives in the House Republican Conference.
MACCALLUM: Apparently, Steny Hoyer has called Kevin McCarthy and asked for a 24-hour C.R. What do you think of that.
JORDAN: I think that shows they may not have the votes, and I think that puts us in good position because it gives us a chance to still accomplish what the election was about in 2016.
MACCALLUM: You know, Jonah Goldberg made a very interesting point on "SPECIAL REPORT" a few moments ago. He said that because of the way the budget rules work, you can't get anything through on reconciliation if you pass these huge increases in spending. Because in order to do a reconciliation deal, you have to prove that you're not going to add to the deficit dramatically over the next 10 years. So, he's saying that the Tea Party agenda is busted with this deal. Do you agree?
JORDAN: Well, I mean, I think this is entirely inconsistent with what Republicans are about, Tea Party Conservatives are about, and frankly, so many Americans across this country with just good common sense understand. You can't keep piling up deficits that this year will approach a trillion- dollar deficit. You can't keep adding to the debt, which is already at $20 trillion. And here's the other thing that's so important, just three weeks ago, Chuck Schumer shut down the government because he thought amnesty was more important for illegals than funding our military. Here we are with the same exact position funding our troops now just for the full year and doing what needs to be doing, and we're in such a good position to win and, yet, what's our leadership say? Oh, we're going to hatch a deal where we just keep growing government and keep doing the same old, same old that this town is so known for but the American people so despise.
MACCALLUM: I think you're right that this is not a deal that, you know, people who looked at the election and said, OK, well now Republicans are going to be in charge of the White House, the House, and the Senate ever thought that they would see with absolutely no spending cuts anywhere and a lot of growth in spending and growth in government.
MACCALLUM: Congressman, thank you. Good to see you as always.
JORDAN: You bet. Thank you.
MACCALLUM: So, here now, Lisa Boothe and Richard Fowler, a Nationally Syndicated Talk Show Host and Senior Fellow at the New Leader's Council, both are Fox News Contributors. Welcome to both of you. I guess, you know, I want to get your reflections on both of these stories, really. So, Lisa, let me start with you. Your reaction when you look at these text messages and with the understanding that this is all sort of, you know, new information. We're still kind of figuring out what was going on here.
LISA BOOTHE, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: I mean, personally, I think the whole Russia-Trump collusion narrative sort of blew up when we found out that Hillary Clinton and the DNC were behind the Russian dossier. Because I think the narrative really just combusted with that, considering the fact that the Democrats were doing the exact same thing that they're accusing the Trump administration of doing. And it seems like every single day now, we continue to have information come forward that really raises questions about the individuals who've been pointing their fingers at the Trump administration for so long.
MACCALLUM: Richard, what do you think?
RICHARD FOWLER, FOX NEWS CHANNEL AND NATIONALLY SYNDICATED TALK SHOW HOST: Well, I think you have to separate the memo from what we know in these text from the Mueller investigation. There are two different tracts here. You have what's happening in the house, you have this GOP memo, and then you have the Mueller investigation. And there's thin layers, but no clear connection between the three. I think it's very interesting that we've seen these text messages. That you've got to give mark Warner credit for the fact that he was very open to the committee about it, he was very honest about it.
And the idea behind it was that he was trying to get Steele to sit down and have a conversation with this committee, so they could find out what Steele knew, which means this investigation is actually bipartisan because Democrats and Republicans are working together to figure out what Steele knew, what Republicans knew, what Don Jr. knew, everybody who is involved in this case, they are trying to bring to the table. And I think that is a big deal.
MACCALLUM: I think what's becoming abundantly clear, though, is that Russians were clearly trying to influence, you know, whoever they could get their hands on.
MACCALLUM: They didn't care if it was Republicans or Democrats, right?
FOWLER: Absolutely. And I think the most -- the biggest revelation that we also heard from Ed Henry's reporting there is the fact that Manafort was selling access to Trump if he became president of the United States, which would speak to the reason as why he was invited under Mueller.
BOOTHE: That kind of sounds like the Clinton foundation to me.
BOOTHE: I said, well, we also had -- we also had with Hillary Clinton the Clinton Foundation clearly selling of access with Hillary Clinton.
FOWLER: Listen, I think like Martha just said --
BOOTHE: And President Trump fired Paul Manafort, rightfully so. Fired him.
FOWLER: Yes, but he was also the campaign chairman and he was now we know --
FOWLER: -- based on this evidence, this reporting, that he was trying to get access to the White House.
MACCALLUM: No, he was pushed out. And, in fact, you know, has been indicted.
MACCALLUM: So, I mean, you know, he has to deal with his own relationship with Russia and who he was trying to make money off of in his position. That's all going to come out. Quick thought on, potentially, another shut down for the government, Lisa? And then Richard.
BOOTHE: You know, look, it's frustrating for the American people, you know. It seems like a government just cannot function and you've got Nancy Pelosi sort of holding us hostage. Once again, I think it's more for self- preservation than actually caring about getting a DACA deal done. There's been a lot of questions surrounding her time as being the minority leader in the house, and potentially that coming to an end. So, I think it's self-preservation --
MACCALLUM: Rand Paul trying to hold the hostage, so as Jim Jordan -- to be fair.
BOOTH: Nancy Pelosi wasn't on the floor for them, though, you know.
MACCALLUM: Richard, go ahead.
FOWLER: I think that's biggest story today, is what you see Rand Paul doing in the United States House of Representatives. And let me tell you this, ideologically, I'm opposed to pretty much everything Rand Paul agrees with, but I actually agree with him on this. I was watching the speech before I came on -- before I was on air. And the point he made to me that was a salient argument. You can't be against deficits yesterday and now for deficits today on want to fact that we could fund all of these programs, as he said in his speech, if we ended the endless war in Afghanistan and bring our troops home. We can give all of our troops a raise if we ended the pointless war in Afghanistan, which I think we all agree on both sides of the aisle that there's no chance of winning.
MACCALLUM: All right. Thank you very much. Good to see you all tonight. Lots going on. So, coming up next, stunning new allegations on a scandal that seems to have fallen offer the radar. But Hillary Clinton and Uranium One, when an FBI informant told Congress today that will make you wonder about this whole deal whether the Clinton's relationship was a lot more- friendly than we thought. We'll talk about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: We want to reset our relationship.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's do it together.
CLINTON: So, we will do it together, OK?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: So, there are new details tonight about the alleged ties between the Clintons, Moscow, and highly controversial Uranium One deal. An FBI source on the Hill today, telling members of Congress that Russia paid millions of dollars to a U.S. Lobbying firm in hopes of influencing then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Peter Doocy with that story live on Capitol Hill tonight. Hi, Peter.
PETER DOOCY, FOX NEWS CHANNEL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Martha, an FBI informant is now talking to congressional investigators about a paper trail that he says shows at least $750,000. Three quarters of a million dollars of Russian influence over then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The informant's name is Douglas Campbell and he claims that the Kremlin hired a lobbying firm called APCO Worldwide to essentially make Russian uranium more attractive to regulators.
Here's what Mr. Campbell, the informant, and whistleblower say: "the contract called for four payments of $750,000 over 12 months. APCO was expected to give assistance free of charge to the Clinton Global Initiative as part of their effort to create a favorable environment to ensure the Obama administration made affirmative decisions on everything from Uranium One to the U.S.-Russia Civilian Nuclear Cooperation Agreement. But that lobbying firm now claims that that time line does not add up. APCO worldwide says this, APCO worldwide under took client work on behalf of Tenex in 2010 and 2011.
It undertook work from the Clinton global initiative from 2008-2016. These projects were totally separate and uncorrected in any way. All APCO's actions on these two unconnected activities were publicly documented from outset legally proper and entirely ethical. Any assertion otherwise is false and unfounded. The informant's attorney, though, Victoria Toensing, said this morning that something does not add up and she points to a questionable decision by the committee on foreign investment in the United States.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VICTORIA TOENSING, ATTORNEY FOR URANIUM ONE INFORMANT: What people really ought to be looking at is why was this CFIUS decision made? On its face, it's not a good decision. But when you consider the fact that Bill Clinton got $500,000 four months before the decision was made, and the Clinton foundation got $145 million from the people who gained when their stock rose after the Uranium One purchase wept through. I think it takes some looking into.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOOCY: The informant says that he went undercover, met with key players with a video camera, and that the FBI had seen the footage, so it does seem like all this threat about a grand global corruption scheme is just scratching the surface. Martha?
MACCALLUM: Interesting. Peter, thank you very much. Joining me now, David Bossie, President of Citizens United and a Fox News Contributor; and Marie Harf, a Fox News Analyst and Former State Department Spokesperson. So, Marie, that, you know, the take on the Democratic side of this equation is that this is old news, it's been dealt with, the time line is wrong. But, you know, in this guy Campbell spoke to these different panels today and told his story. He was an informant. He was there. So, isn't it legitimate to hear him out and see if there is anything to it?
MARIE HARF, FOX NEWS ANALYST AND FORMER OBAMA STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: Well, Martha, the FBI also determined that this informant was not credible and that's why they stopped working with him. They did not think he was giving them good information.
MACCALLUM: Christopher Steele, right?
HARF: And the --
MACCALLUM: I mean, no, it's the same, right?
HARF: It's totally different. But look, on Uranium One, there is also zero evidence that any of us have seen that Hillary Clinton was involved in any way with the decision to approve that deal -- there were nine members of the committee; they voted unanimously. Believe me, having worked at the State Department these CFIUS decisions are taken way below the secretary's level. And there is no evidence that she was involved in it in any way, shape, or form. And you heard the statement from APCO who said -- this lobbying firm, who said this isn't true.
MACCALLUM: Yes, no, that's all laid out pretty clearly. There are still hundreds of millions of dollars, David Bossie, that the Clintons and the Clinton foundation received from Russia. When you think about how panicked everyone is now about Russia, it's interesting to look back to that time period and say, wow, this was the reset period when President Obama was saying, you know, the 80's called, they want your foreign policy back. How silly it is to be any concern at all about Russia? And maybe that's more the frame in which all of this happened.
DAVID BOSSIE, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR AND PRESIDENT OF CITIZENS UNITED: I think, Martha, that this is a very good question. What this person, informant is talking about, definitely needs to be looked into. But it needs to be part of a much bigger investigation into the Clinton foundation, the pay-for-play schemes. This $500,000 that Bill Clinton was receiving four months before the decision whether it's any other ancillary issues and big ones like the Clinton e-mail server. So, I've been calling for many months. And you and I have talked about this that we need to have a special counsel to investigate this.
And I think that this person's claims. These charges that he brings will be, -- should be investigated by an independent arbiter of the facts and let the chips fall where they may. And I would -- I think that that is the only way to get the American people to understand that the Clinton investigation because now we see between Loretta Lynch and all of the rest that it was swept under the rug by James Comey and others and I think that we need to have American people understanding this is a fair investigation.
MACCALLUM: Yes. I mean, Marie, just in terms of the effort to, you know, open up business relationships at that point, right? That was clearly on the table and the encouragement of that, I think you do have to, you know, given the concerns that are out there today, look back at all of this and say were we kind of being played with some of this, no?
HARF: Well, I've said repeatedly and I will say again tonight, if I were the Clintons, I would not have run the foundation the way they did, given she was secretary of state and given she was definitely running for president. So, I am not going to defend that. But I'm also not going to defend the leap then to some sort of, you know, conspiracy theory by some out there that, you know, every dollar they got for something then went into the State Department in terms of influencing policy. I think that it was clear by 2016 that for many reasons the Russians hated Hillary Clinton and there are a lot of reasons behind that. And so, while we should get answers on all these other questions, looking forward, which is the most important thing, Russia is still threatening our democracy. We should focus on that more than anything else and how to prevent it from happening again.
BOSSIE: And I think part of that is that we need to find out what collusion the Clinton campaign had with the Russians. So -- because they were obviously paying for and financing the Steele dossier and working with the Russians. And look, Adam Schiff just got played by the Howard Stern of Russia, OK? So, we are seeing they're still so desperate.
MACCALLUM: They're clearly coming at all sides to see where the vulnerabilities might exist. Thanks, you guys. Great to see you both tonight.
HARF: Thanks, Martha.
MACCALLUM: So, disturbing allegations tonight about a former White House aide accused of abusing two of his ex-wives. But his resignation did not end the controversy. Now, the heat is turning up on General John Kelly. Is that fair? Is that right? Next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He just decided that the White male employee working for him couldn't possibly beat his former wives because he said he didn't.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: The White House under fire tonight over the lead up to the resignation of a senior aide after allegations surfaced that he was abusive to two of his ex-wives and a girlfriend. White House staff secretary Rob Porter has lost his job following the explosive claims of this abuse that first started to come to light on Tuesday. But there have been some report that some Trump administration officials including chief of staff John Kelly may have known about this for months. We don't know the extent of what they knew. But they did not make a move to remove him at that point. So the White House is strongly pushing back today, saying that General Kelly only learned the full extent yesterday. But that has not stopped many out there from going after him. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNINDENTIFIED MALE: He just decided that the white male employee working for him couldn't possibly beat his former wives because he said he didn't.
UNINDENTIFIED MALE: Isn't it John Kelly's job if he doesn't have all the details to get them?
UNINDENTIFIED FEMALE: John Kelly, as to everyone in this administration, beating up a woman is not a disqualification.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: Joined now by Ben Shapiro, editor-in-chief at dailywire.com who wrote about this today, and Ari Fleischer, former White House press secretary and a Fox News contributor. Gentlemen, great to have both of you with us today. Ben, you know, obviously, the underlying story here is ugly. It does not look good. And the more we learned about it today and went through some of these blogs and information that's out there is a big fall for Rob Porter. No doubt. He helped write the state of the union just a few days ago, and now he's lost his job. Your thoughts.
BEN SHAPIRO, DAILYWIRE.COM EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: No question. It's a major fall from him. But it seems like a fall that is well deserved from the credibility of the allegations and, of course, got multiple allegations from multiple different women. You have a police action that was filed against -- a temporary restraining order. The real question here is what did John Kelly know? And even if he only knew some of the allegation, why would he allow Rob Porter to get so close to the president? That really is the question to me because it's clear to me that from what Kelly has said, what the administration has said, he didn't, for example, have access to the photo of the ex-wife who was hit in the face. And once that came out he changed his story. But, when you're in doubt, you've got to keep the president safe from the impact of having someone around him who is going to take a fall like this. And it just seems irresponsible to me if you know anything about these stories to allow anyone with those allegations floating around about them to be that close to the president. It puts the president in a vulnerable position.
MACCALLUM: You know, it's tricky. And, obviously, the way that Ben presents it, Ari, you know, is from the national security perspective, which is absolutely a valid question to ask here. You know, from the personal side, when you read the account of his first wife, she talks about the fact that everyone loved Rob. That everybody always told her how lucky she was. That she was married to him, that he was such a great guy. This is clearly somebody who had a pretty good Jekyll and Hyde routine going.
ARI FLEISCHER, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Yeah. And I think that's explains why people at the White House said what they said about him. Look, this is human nature. It has nothing to do with whether you work at the White House, or worked in a school, or wherever you are. If there is somebody that you know, you admire, you like, you say that and it's reflected in what you think because that's how they behave in the office. They may have a totally separate way of acting when they go home and perhaps that's what the case is here. In all fairness to Rob Porter he has denied this and that is important. We do have to have two sides. And I think that would explain it then when people could be so shocked that he's such a great guy at the office. We don't know what he's like at home. And then you have to be precise in your language. When you say was he aware of this? What exactly is this? Is it that there's a picture of him with a wife who has a black eye or is it there's allegations of difficulties in a marriage and we don't know all the facts yet? This is where you just have to let the investigators really tell what do you know? What was precisely conveyed and said?
MACCALLUM: Yeah. Let's play a little bit of the news conference today at the White House talking about how they handled it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAJ SHAH, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think it's fair to say that, you know, we all could have done better over the last few hours or last few days in dealing with the situation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: So the White House accepting some blame there, Ben?
SHAPIRO: I mean, I think that's exactly the right move. And it's one of the rare times I've seen the White House actually say, listen, we may have made a mistake here. You're going to buy an awful lot of credibility from the press and from public when you say, listen, we didn't have all the information. As we got all the information it became clear that we jumped the gun on this. And that, obviously, should have been their first response, is we're gathering all the information, these allegations are obviously very disturbing. I think the reason that John Kelly is in some trouble here is because he made such a strong defense of Rob Porter and then had to go back on it, but acknowledging when you make mistakes, you know, a lot of people in politic see that as a weakness. I think that's actually a strength when it comes to the P.R. efforts of the Trump White House.
MACCALLUM: Ben, in terms of the media reaction, there has been a real pile-on on General Kelly from what he said about DACA recipients earlier this week, that if they hadn't signed up, you know, maybe they were too lazy to sign up for the program. It feels like there's some long knives out for him.
SHAPIRO: It does feel like that. It feels like there's a feeling that John Kelly, if he's the guy who protecting the president, and if he's the guy who is not holding the president back, I think the press wanted Kelly to be the guy who is sort of holding a leash on Trump and, of course, that's not Kelly's job. Kelly's job is to organize the White House in a better way. It feels like there's some vulnerability for Kelly now and the press is jumping on it because they'd like to see the White House return to something more chaotic as it was earlier before Kelly sort of took the reign there.
MACCALLUM: Ari, last thought.
FLEISCHER: Yeah. I mean, that's exactly right what Ben said. I've been around Washington long enough to know that anytime somebody goes after staff they're really going after the boss. That's what this is about. This is a way of taking another shot at Donald Trump. Staffs are interchangeable. It doesn't matter who they are. You pick up the staffer and you go after them because you really want to take down the president. In this case, too, I think there's a lot of Democrats and the media who don't like John Kelly any longer. They liked him when he came in and created order, when he was an improvement. But now that they see he's ideologically conservative, you know, let's throw him out too. There's a lot of that going on.
MACCALLUM: All right. Gentlemen, thank you very much. Ben, Ari, good to see you both.
SHAPIRO: Thanks so much.
MACCALLUM: So if the past is any indication, Democrats should expect to win more seats in the 2018 midterms. Generally that's what happens. So why are the poll numbers going down and Republicans are going up a bit here? What it might mean when we come back.
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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I think we're going to do well in '18. I think we're going to do very well.
(END VIDEO CLIP) (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
MACCALLUM: So here is a headline that's getting some political attention tonight, quote, improving poll numbers give Republicans hope that the midterms might not be so bad. According to the Real Clear Politics average, Democrats lead in the generic congressional matchup have been shrinking a bit. But when it comes to individual races, the story is different with the Cook Political report shifting 21 house races towards the Democrats today. So here to help figure this out our friend, Tom Bevan, co-founder and publisher of Real Clear Politics. Tom, good to see you. Obviously, it's a long way out and a lot can happen. But the people who are doing fundraising and who are looking to recruit people for these races are watching these numbers very closely, right?
TOM BEVAN, REAL CLEAR POLITICS PUBLISHER: Absolutely. And, look, there are sort of the macro indicators. You mentioned the generic ballot Trump's approval rating, right track, wrong direction. Those are sort of the macro-numbers -- the indicators that you look at. But at the district level you're right. I mean, Democrats have had very strong recruiting efforts over the past few months and this last release of fundraising numbers they're in a very strong position. And so, I think on a district by district level basis, Democrats are in a pretty good position.
MACCALLUM: Yeah. I mean, you have to watch for that enthusiasm and the intensity. And as you point out, recruiting -- I think they have more -- I think far more female candidates than Republicans do. They have a lot of military candidates. So it looks like they're looking to, sort of, hone in on places where some people who voted for President Trump or the Republican candidate last time around might be convinced to be pulled across.
EBEVAN: exactly. There are, I think, 23 districts that Hillary Clinton won in 2016 where Republican incumbents are battling to hold on. So this is going to be certainly, historically speaking, Republicans are sort of up against it in the house. And they are facing an enthusiasm gap with Democrats right now. But, what they do have on their side, we've seen improving numbers on the economy, on the tax cut. I think that's what help contributed to the decrease in the generic ballot number. And they've also got redistricting in 2010 helped them shore up some of these marshal districts which puts them in a bit stronger position than they may otherwise have been.
MACCALLUM: Let's take a look. You have three races that you think are the top races to watch right now, California 39, Illinois 6, and Virginia 10. Why are those -- and Barbara Comstock who is at the end of that list, we saw her arguing in favor of not shutting down the government because most of her district works for the government, right?
BEVAN: Right. So I picked one in the west. Obviously, the road to a Democratic majority runs through California, Southern California, particularly. A lot of competitive races there. But Ed Royce's district - - this is a district Clinton won. He's retiring. It's an open seat. It's one of the Dem's best pickup opportunity. Peter Rostrum here in Illinois, he is a guy who in 2006, when all of the Republicans were getting wiped out, he won. So if Peter Rostrum is in trouble at any point in this cycle, the Republicans might be in for a really rough ride. And then, Barbara Comstock, you mention, she's been targeted, probably, the most vulnerable Republican incumbent right now. And again, this battle, Martha, is mostly going to be fought in the suburbs around the country and where Democrats have -- they found success in 2016 with well-educated suburbanites, and the question whether they're able to make inroads there in the districts where Hillary Clinton won. But -- or whether Republicans can sort of fend them off.
MACCALLUM: As you point out, the economy ticking up and the tax reform is what Republicans hope will save the day for them, so we'll see how close. Tom, thank you very much. Good to see you tonight.
BEVAN: You bet.
MACCALLUM: Up next, do you remember this moment?
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UNINDENTIFIED MALE: Tobacco is a risky product which should be restricted to adults.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: Big tobacco CEOs forced to admit the dangers of their products in the late 90's. So could the major Silicon Valley tech companies be next? Why critics say big tech is putting profit over public health with dangerous devices when we come back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNINDENTIFIED MALE: These incredibly intimate portraits of our psyches, so they know all of our habits and they can predict things as a consequence of that. So they've engineered their products to be addictive.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: Freaky, right? That was Franklin Foer, author of World without Mind, the existential threat of big tech, talking to us about this from Facebook to Apple and Twitter. Big tech companies under growing scrutiny these days, facing similar questions to what the tobacco companies faced 20 years ago that they're making their product addictive to suck us in for their profit. And are they endangering our health at the same time? Just yesterday, tech health advocates hosted a conference in Washington, D.C., and while the major tech firms did send a few representatives, the major CEO's were invited, they chose not to attend. Joining me now Steve Hilton, host of the Next Revolution, also revelation here on the Fox News Channel, and Wendy Osefo, a professor and political commentator. Welcome to both of you.
You know, I have long-said that cell phones and all of these apps and all of this communication is the smoking of our age. Even to the point where people use them the same way, right? An awkward moment used to be a time when somebody would light up a cigarette, right? But now, what do you do? You look at your phone on the elevator or at a restaurant. Now everybody picks up their phone because they're not smoking cigarettes anymore. It's bizarre the connection, Steve.
STEVE HILTON, "NEXT REVOLUTION" HOST: That's exactly right, Martha. And the thing that everyone has to understand is that addiction that you describe, that is part of the Silicon Valley business model, it's at the core of what they do. I run a tech company out here in Silicon Valley. And I remember when I was raising money for my start up, the venture capital folk that's you're pitching to they literally ask you the question how are you going to make it addictive? They use that exact word because that's how they generate the returns that they want to see. And the trouble is it's causing real disaster in our society and families and people's relationships, but especially amongst children where research has just shown us now the really damaging effect that all this addiction has particularly on young people. It's a social disaster in the making. We have to do something about this.
MACCALLUM: It's so destructive. And yet they talk about FOMO, fear of missing out. And it glues them literally to their phones, and they have to keep in touch with each other or they lose the chain from one person to another. And they think it's fun but they're kids. And they don't realize how much it's addicting them. Wendy, you know, in terms of regulation, what form will that take?
WENDY OSEFO, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, I think it has to take some sort of regulation because the kids are really the big issue here. We have an issue when it comes to this digital identity crisis within our nation, and for children they start to feel depressed when they see things on social media and believe that art is imitating life. And going beyond just them feeling depressed. It even transcends to suicide. We see that 48 percent of children who use social media more than five hours a day commit suicide compared to 28 percent who only use it one hour a day. So the policies that we set forth really have to change the ways in which these social media agents are allowing our children do use their phones. What I think is really important here is we have to underscore that social media has been good to small businesses, but it has completely disseminated the fabric of personal relationship and it can really just quell all the issues of our social fabric. So we have to keep that in mind.
MACCALLUM: There's also a political indoctrination which has come more to the forefront now as well, Steve. And they're changing the news feed and they had less view, right?
HILTON: That's exactly right. And also, you see the way that bringing those two points together, the addiction and the kind of biased information. You just today, we saw reporting in the Wall Street Journal about how YouTube are feeding people videos based on their algorithms. They actually take them further in the direction of extreme content and conspiracy theories, and it's really distorting our political debates. There's just one thing I'd like to say about the regulation. I've been arguing for many years that actually for children we should treat exactly like smoking and ban smart phones for children. I think all parents.
MACCALLUM: Amen to that.
HILTON: . would welcome that. It would actually help them enforce the rules.
MACCALLUM: All right. We've got to go. We could talk forever about this. Thank you, guys. Come back.
OSEFO: Thank you, Martha.
MACCALLUM: Quick break and we'll be right back with more on The Story.
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UNINDENTIFIED MALE: Would you give me one minute.
UNINDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know that I can't do that. That's not how.
UNINDENTIFIED MALE: Stay down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: Everybody in that room understood where that came from. That moment from Randy Margraves, dad to three of Larry Nassar's victims, clearly got everybody's attention. He was held by the authorities as you can see briefly, and almost instantly a Go Fund Me page popped up with people who were happy to help pay for any legal fees he might incur. He was released. He did not face any charges. They understood what this man was going through, but the page raised over $30,000. So tonight, he says he's giving the money to charities that help victims of sexual abuse. Writing this, at the time of the incident, I didn't know that the great brotherhood had done this and I was overcome with gratitude when I found out. I appreciate everyone stepping up to support me, but help is not needed for me. So he's helping others.
That is "The Story" for tonight. Thanks for being here, everybody. We will see you back here tomorrow night at 7:00 PM. Tucker Carlson is up next.
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