Pam Bondi: FBI Director Wray has a lot of explaining to do

This is a rush transcript from "The Story with Martha MacCallum," February 16, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

MARTHA MACCALLUM, HOST: Good evening, everybody. I'm Martha MacCallum. We are monitoring the president's trip to Florida at this hour. We will bring you live any comments or when we see the president. We will take you there live moments away. Meanwhile, the governor of Florida calling for the new head of the FBI to step down. We are always told if you see something, say something. And tonight, we know that someone did. In early January, about six weeks ago, someone close to Nikolas Cruz had enough of the threats to carry out a school shooting, the violent behavior the accumulation of guns, and so they picked up the phone and did something brave. They called the FBI. This is the FBI's explanation of why they never knocked on Cruz's door.


ROBERT LASKY, SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE MIAMI DIVISION: This information should've been provided to the Miami field office. There, appropriate investigative steps would've been taken. The information was not provided to the Miami field office, and no further investigation was conducted at that time.


MACCALLUM: The Broward county sheriff, shifting blame away from the FBI.


SCOTT ISRAEL, BROWARD COUNTY SHERIFF: Make no mistake about it, America. The only one to blame for this incident is the killer himself.


MACCALLUM: In moments, my interview with Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. But, first, Trace Gallagher live in our West Coast Newsroom with how this could happen. Trace.

TRACE GALLAGHER, FOX NEWS: Martha, the call came into the FBI's public tip line on January 5th. The FBI will only identify the caller as "a person close to Nikolas Cruz". But the agency does acknowledge the tipster was concerned about Cruz's gun ownership, his desire to kill, his disturbing social media post, and the fact that he wanted to be school shooter. The protocol is that the bureau records the information from the tipster, runs a data base check on the person at issue, and if it raises red flags, it's supposed to trigger a field investigation. In this case, protocols were not followed and there were no further inquiries. Here's the FBI, watch.


LASKY: On behalf of myself and over 1,000 employees of the Miami field office, we truly regret any additional pain that this has caused.


GALLAGHER: As you noted, the Broward county sheriff appears to have accepted the apology, saying only the killer is to blame. But Florida Governor, Rick Scott, says the mishandled tip is unacceptable, and is now urging FBI Director Christopher Wray to resign. The governor released the statement that reads in part "17 innocent people are dead, and acknowledging a mistake isn't going to cut it. An apology will never bring these 17 Floridians back to life or comfort the families who are in pain. The families will spend the lifetime wondering how this could happen and an apology will never give them the answers they desperately need." Attorney General Jeff Sessions has also ordered a full investigation into the bureau's handling of the matter, saying that we see the tragic consequences of the failures. Here's what the A.G. told the Fox Business Channel's Maria Bartiromo. Watch.


JEFF SESSIONS, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I met with a group of sheriffs yesterday, they all believe that we need to do a better job of receiving these signs and acting on them and following up on them better. That is probably the most valuable thing we can do to stop these kinds of cases.


GALLAGHER: The FBI's public tip line can receive thousands of calls a day but authorities say the number of calls is not the reason this fell through the cracks. Martha.

MACCALLUM: Trace, thank you very much. So, earlier, I spoke with Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. Watch.


MACCALLUM: You have been very strong and I know a huge help to the families throughout the course of this. But address that for us if you can right out of the gate, these concerns about what we learned today about the FBI.

PAM BONDI, FLORIDA ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, you know, the governor and I have been on the ground here the entire time, and we've seen, you know, these grieving families and, you know, Wednesday being in a room with families, 17 families lost their child. And, you know, having them hear them be told they lost their child is horrific. And one thing, if I can say on that issue, is that's what we do. We promote don't be afraid to tell, don't be afraid to call in. All these kids are on Snapchat now. Last night, let me tell you about my night last night.

After I had gone to sleep, I got a call from someone I know and they had heard me on the news saying don't be afraid to call and report something. And kids were seeing Snapchat posts about other kids threatening to shoot up a school after this. And so, I said what do you do? Call it in. And parents, kids, do not be afraid to call it in. We would rather you be wrong 100 percent of the time and report it and I will tell you from here on out, everything you report will be followed up on by law enforcement, not only by local law enforcement but by the FBI -- I was on the phone last night with the FBI. This morning, I was on the phone with them, police last night. And, you know, because nothing now is a hoax anymore.

MACCALLUM: This has been going on for years. And, you know, some look at what was given to the FBI very specific, weapons, intent to shoot up a school, postings on social media. I mean, these are all the things that we, you know, after 9/11, I think, Americans felt that there was going to be much better coordination. And when you look at what happened in the Boston marathon case, and you look at what happened in the Texas church shooting, where that was clearly violent person who managed to get his hands on a gun and nobody in the military gave a heads up that he shouldn't be able to do that. These are raising very serious questions. And the governor has said that he believes that Chris Wray needs to resign over this. Do you agree with him?

BONDI: Well, I think he has a lot of explaining to do. You know, the men and women of the FBI report to him, and we need to find out exactly what happened that could have saved 17 lives and many, many injuries, and thousands of kids who will be traumatized for the rest of their lives. And I don't want that, though, to impact what's happening next. That kids need to tell their parents about Snapchat. Again, I dealt with it last night, because people are online and it's a sick world in which we live in now, but we have so many good kids and good parents. And even if you think it's a hoax, call it in. I'd rather you be wrong 100 percent of the time and call it in and let us save some lives.

MACCALLUM: We need a national campaign in every school system that you need to alert an adult.

BONDI: We're working on it.

MACCALLUM: -- need to have someone that they tell, the FBI. There needs to be a direct chain of follow through and then we need to have the legal backup to be able to, you know, put this person behind bars or in an institution if that's what they need. All of these things need to happen. You know, I want to show the cover of the New York Post so folks at home will see it, which I thought it was very interesting this morning. It says, "Mr. President, please act." You will be seeing the president this evening. Your thoughts on what President Trump will do about what we saw in Florida and about what lies in the future?

BONDI: Well, I know President Trump. I talked to him right after the shootings happened and I was here. I know he's deeply concerned. All he kept asking about were the victims and their families, and how they are doing, and he deeply cares. I personally believe we do need more security in our schools, Martha. We live in a different world now than when you and I grew up. It's different. And social media makes things so much easier to occur. And we have to have more school security. And I think you've heard me say this for years: we've to have better mental health. We have to. That's what our country -- we are failing in mental health. And I've always said that. I said that on the president's opioid commission as well. We have got to have better mental health in our country as well.

MACCALLUM: And we need to marry those few things, right? You have to have mental health combined with law enforcement in the rights cases where there is a present danger and an obvious violent background and situation that needs to be --

BONDI: That's right. That's right.

MACCALLUM: Attorney General Pam Bondi, it's always good to speak with you. And I know it has been a long week. And we thank you for being with us today. Thank you very much.

BONDI: Thank you. Pray for the families.


BONDI: Please, pray for the families and those who are still recovering.

MACCALLUM: Trust me, we are, Pam.

BONDI: Thank you.

MACCALLUM: Those prayers are going your way. Thank you for being here tonight. Many thanks. Take care.

BONDI: Thanks, Martha.


MACCALLUM: So, the evidence that Nikolas Cruz was capable of this atrocity went far beyond the tips that were missed. Cruz left an almost endless number of red flags in his wake including the fact that law enforcement was called to his home dozens, 30 something times in just the past few years. A couple times a month, by one count. And he would reportedly introduce himself to people, saying: Hi, I'm Nik, I'm a school shooter. Dr. Keith Ablow, specializes in adolescent and forensic psychiatry. It's good to have you here tonight, Dr. Keith, on this kind of occasion. But you say that there is no safety net in this country for mental health. What do you mean by that?

DR. KEITH ABLOW, SPECIALIZES IN ADOLESCENT AND FORENSIC PSYCHIATRY: What I mean is that having turned the decision-making for mental healthcare services largely to third party insurers. It is a common occurrence that folks hit the E.R. suicidal, having expressed suicidal or even homicidal ideation, ideas. And that when they're then questioned a little bit more, by an emergency room clinician, it may retract those things. And they then, are deemed OK to go home. And why? Because third party insurers are saying, we're not paying for this person to come into the hospital because he promised or she promised more often, he, that he would do no harm. Now, listen, if three hours has elapsed, what kind of safety net is that? Not to mention the fact that having gutted the community mental health system network. Most teachers have no idea that you can call the community mental health center say I want to talk to the crisis team.

MACCALLUM: Dr. Keith, I'm going to jump in for one second. Stay with us here.

ABLOW: Sure.

MACCALLUM: But here's President Trump and Melania Trump at the Broward County Medical Facility where so many have been treated. Here he is.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: -- people and incredible recovery. Incredible. And first responders, everybody the job they've done is incredible, and I want to congratulate you. Incredible job.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you see the victims, Mr. President?

TRUMP: Yes, I did. I did, indeed, and it's very, very sad something like that could happen. But, the job, the doctors did, the nurses, the hospital, first responders, law enforcement, really incredible. The speed that they got the victims over to the hospital was record speed. One case 20 minutes, and one case 19 minutes from the time of the shot. It's an incredible thing. Thank you very much.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do our gun laws need to be changed, Mr. President?

MACCALLUM: All right. So, President Trump giving obvious commendation to all of the individuals who were there on the scene and who helped law enforcement and emergency response teams who were incredible and who were, you know, witnessing things that were so horrific, and, yet, their instincts kicked in. They brought the injured to the hospital and did an amazing job, and we've seen some of them released and make it through. So, all of that good news as the president has arrived in Florida as you can see and spent some time at the hospital. One of the last -- the last question that shouted out, Dr. Keith Ablow, you know, what are we going to do now? What comes next? That is the question that needs to be addressed. If you were advising the president tonight, what would you tell him has to be done?

ABLOW: Well, number one, I'd say please don't get distracted by thinking this is a gun issue. It isn't. All you'll have is a creative killer. If you disarm the killer, they'll use something else. The worst episode of school violence 1927, 38 kids killed by explosives, not a gun. And so, what I would say is, listen, this isn't that hard. Most of the assailants are male, most of them are socially ostracized, most have a fascination with video games and with weapons. If you even have even a course filter that leads to a referral to voluntary or even involuntary outpatient medical treatment, psychiatric treatment. Inpatient when needed, you will catch 75 percent of these cases before they ever happen. You know, we say social media is creating this -- to some extent, it is. But it's also testimony of the fact of how much we're able to ignore, how callus we have become in this safety net that there's this trail in so many of these cases where you say, oh, it's all over the Internet. Well, we've got to give people a known way like at the tip of their fingers where they say this is what you do when you have these concerns.

MACCALLUM: Yes. You know, a teacher has to have the authority to be able to call someone anonymously and say, I'm very concerned that this child is violent. You know, we all know that the things that are opened up by that. But the fact of the matter is that common sense needs to play a huge role, doctor, right? I mean, we all know the difference between a kid who sketches a gun, you know, with a crayon and someone who is clearly -- you know, this young man stalked his ex-girlfriend and said he was going to kill her, to the point where her friends would never leave her alone. So, these kid's instincts were very strong but they obviously didn't have the right people to turn to.

ABLOW: Exactly, and we're so careful to not use the criminal justice system, but we should if there's malicious threatening. That's a reason to go to the courts. The courts can then say, listen, we're going to come down necessarily that hard. We'll do a continue without a finding with these requirements -- outpatient therapy, these medicines. The courts are our friends in this. And its sort of a court of last resort because we disseminated the mental healthcare system.

MACCALLUM: That's right.

ABLOW: So, we've got to lean on the courts for a little while to enforce psychiatric treatment.

MACCALLUM: Dr. Ablow, thank you. Good to see you tonight.

ABLOW: All right, Martha, take care.

MACCALLUM: You too. So, media digs in, shaming politicians over their NRA support.


DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Why does he talk about mental health and not guns? Could it be because the NRA spent some $30 million to get Trump elected?


MACCALLUM: Howie Kurtz joins me on that. Plus, the president responds to Robert Mueller's indictment of 13 Russians who were sent as agents to pose here as Americans.


ROD ROSENSTEIN, U.S. DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: The defendants allegedly conducted what they called information warfare against the United States.




ROSENSTEIN: The indictment alleges if the Russian conspirators want to promote discord in the United States and undermine public confidence and democracy. We must not allow them to succeed.


MACCALLUM: Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein today announcing a federal grand jury's indictments of 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities for interference in the U.S. elections, starting back in 2014. The deputy A.G. says no Americans willingly aided the Russian effort, and the Russian's ultimate goal was to spread distrust towards America's candidates and our political system in general. The 37-page indictment is the first filed against Russian nationals as part of Special Counsel Mueller's probe. Fox News Correspondent, Leland Vittert, is in Washington with the whole story for us tonight. Hi, Leland.

LELAND VITTERT, FOX NEWS: Hey, good evening, Martha. More on the Americans in a minute. Meantime, these indictments lay out a Russian operation far more involved and sophisticated than ever thought. Way beyond bot farms of fake social media accounts onto the stealing of identities and laundering money to buy political ads. In these dates, all the way back to 2014 -- long before President Trump got involved in the race from the indictment -- they engage in operations primarily intended to communicate derogatory information about Hillary Clinton, to denigrate other candidates such as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio and to support Bernie Sanders and then-Candidate Donald Trump.

Among those indicted, Yevgeny Prigozhin, a businessman with deep ties to the Russian president who allegedly used the base in St. Petersburg to run what was called the Internet research agency, but then they masked their online identity by using U.S. servers -- again, from the indictment. The organization created and controlled the Twitter account Tennessee GOP, which used the handle: @TEN_GOP. The @TEN_GOP account falsely claimed to be involved by a U.S. state political party. Over time, that account attracted more than 100,000 online followers.

And their quest, the Russians quest didn't stop when President Trump won the election. In fact, the Justice Department found evidence the Russians worked to capitalize on the deep divisions post-Clinton's loss from the indictment. At the same time, defendants and their co-conspirators through another organization controlled, organized a rally in New York called "Trump is not my president", held on or about November 12th, 2016. Similarly, defendants and their conspirators organized a rally entitled: "Charlotte against Trump", in Charlotte, North Carolina held on or about November 19th, 2016.

Now, for the issue of alleged collusion with the Trump campaign. From the indictment, defendants and their conspirators also used false U.S. personas to communicate with unwitting members, volunteers, and supporters of the Trump campaign. The key word there being "unwitting." And President Trump tweeted the latest indictments prove what he said all along. The president's tweet: "Russia started their anti-U.S. campaign in 2014, long before I announced that I would run for president. The results of the election were not impacted. The Trump campaign did nothing wrong. No conclusion." He wrote that just before heading to Florida. The White House press secretary also doubled down that the indictments prove no collusion.

Important to keep in mind tonight, Martha, even conservative legal analysts warned team Trump should hold off on any celebration, and this indictment may or may not be the end of the road of the collusion investigation, and certainly doesn't clear Trump and his staff of crimes life obstruction of justice -- which we have heard Robert Mueller is looking into. Back to you.

MACCALLUM: Leland, thank you very much. Here now with more tonight, Jonathan Swan, National Political Reporter at Axios. Jonathan, good see it you. Thanks for being here tonight. So, this is a bit of a surprise this afternoon. Rod Rosenstein stepped in front of the podium. Nobody really knew what he was going to say. And lo and behold, you know, there's two sides of this investigation, of course. And the Russians, 13 indictments - - we'll never see those people. They're all back in Russia. But they really did detail what they saw in terms of their efforts.

JONATHAN SWAN, AXIOS: That's right. I took a few things away from today. Number one, I thought it was important signal that Rod Rosenstein held that press conference. It was a real show of support for Mueller and his support for that investigation. But secondly, as you correctly pointed out, so far, all we've heard about when this investigation is, you know, Bannon sitting down with Mueller, Reince Priebus, you know -- Trump associates going in and out. And the reason for that is because, you know, us reporters in Washington, they're the people that we know, they're the people that we cover. But this reveals that actually, there's this huge substantial, very deep and serious part of the investigation which has nothing to do with those guys, it actually has everything to do with Russia and Russians. We often forget it is actually the Russia investigation and there are Russians involved, not just Trump people.

MACCALLUM: Exactly. You know, and to that, it also said, I think clearly, that Robert Mueller is interested in sort of getting to the heart of what Russia's role has been for years, going back to 2014.

SWAN: Right.

MACCALLUM: I mean, it reminds you of, you know, the back and forth between President Obama and Mitt Romney, who back then, was concerned that the Russians were a big threat to the United States. President Obama said at that point, he thought that that was funny, and that, you know, he was referring to the 80s. But clearly, this is a long-entrenched campaign with spies coming over here, impersonating Americans. I mean, it's pretty detailed stuff. What does it mean for the investigation, though, overall?

SWAN: Well, I think there is a huge TBD on this investigation. We don't know where it's going to be end up with regards to the Trump side of it. I understand why the president tweeted what he did today, because in the indictments today, there was no collusion of evidence between the Trump campaign and Russia. That doesn't prove that there was no collusion, but there has been no evidence to date. So, I think that part of it is a TBD. But what it shows is that Mueller is doing a very serious investigation, and it was, I thought, very striking today that President Trump's own lawyer, John Dowd, said, quote -- well, something to the effect of he's done a hell of a good job, about Mueller, which is not something you typically hear Trump allies say about Robert Mueller.

MACCALLUM: You know, a lot was made today of the reference throughout the indictments to co-conspirators. Now, we don't know if those people are, you know, the lady that they convinced to dress up in the prisoner outfit as Hillary at something or whether they are people who are higher up the chain in the campaign organization, said they were unwittingly involved. But we're going to hear more about those people, I would imagine.

SWAN: I assume we will. And again, I thought, Leland pointed out perfectly, which is the keyword there is "unwitting." It cannot, by definition, be collusion if you believe that you're engaging with an American who simply supports President Trump. Then, every campaign would be on the hook for collusion.

MACCALLUM: Indeed. So, where do you think this goes from here? You know, President Trump as you say, you know, sort of took a little mini victory lap on these revelations today. But you have Gates, still in the mix, you've got Papadopoulos, you know, we don't know what these people are up to, or what they've promised to give in terms of, you know, any information.

SWAN: That's right. That's right. I think there's a few things we're looking for. We still don't know what Steve Bannon told Robert Mueller. He spent, we're told, about 20 hours with Mueller's team over the course of about three days. You mentioned Rick Gates; we don't know what he has given up in order to get that deal. So, that will be interesting. Did he sell out his former partner, Paul Manafort, or did provide something that helped investigators hone in closer on president. And lastly, the president himself. I mean, we don't know whether he is going to do a sit- down interview with Mueller, and that's been a subject of debate among the president's legal team.

MACCALLUM: Jonathan Swan, good to see you tonight. Thanks, Jonathan.

SWAN: Thanks for having me.

MACCALLUM: So, Vice President Mike Pence's faith was openly mocked by Joy Behar. The vice president didn't take it too well, as you might imagine. And now, Oprah Winfrey is sounding a lot like Mike Pence. And what is the reaction at the White House to the Mueller indictment of Russians? And where will all of this go next? Our power panel Karl Rove, Chris Stirewalt, and Austan Goolsbee on a Friday night weigh in next.



ROSENSTEIN: The defendants pose as politically and socially active Americans advocating for and against particular candidates. They established social media pages and groups to communicate with unwitting Americans.


MACCALLUM: Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein giving a glimpse of how the Russians allegedly were working to try to interfere in our elections. But there are growing questions tonight about the political fallout from these charges.

As we mentioned earlier, President Trump said that he believes that the indictments prove today that there has been no collusion in terms of the unwitting help from some Americans and the word also in the indictment that they didn't -- none of the Americans who were involved knew that they were working with Russians.

Karl Rove served as deputy chief of staff under President George W. Bush and is a Fox News contributor, Chris Stirewalt, Fox News politics editor, and Austan Goolsbee, former chief economist under President Obama. Good to see all of you tonight.

I just want to mention to everybody at home and to you as well that the president as we know is on the ground in Florida tonight, and he has just left the hospital, where he visited with the doctors who treated the victims in Parkland and he is on his way now to the sheriff's office in Broward County for discussion with them.

So as soon as that gets underway, we might -- we will dip in and take a look at what's going on there. We see the motorcade is on the move right now. Karl, so quick to you, your thoughts on what we got today in terms of these Russian indictments?

KARL ROVE, FORMER DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF UNDER PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, pretty exhaustive intelligence gathering and investigation by both, I assume the FBI, our intelligence agencies, and Robert Mueller's investigation. Pretty comprehensive. There is no way you can't look at this and say the Russians weren't trying to mess up our election.

I think we need to be -- we really need to be tough on the Russians. I also want this to be in proportion, you know, for example, the Russians after the election attempted to generate rallies in Charlotte, North Carolina and New York, competing rallies for and against the president-elect.

I can't find references to the New York rallies, but the Charlotte rally was 150 people against President Trump in November. So, they spent a bunch of money, but the amount of the money they spent pales in significance to what the campaigns and the parties here in the United States spent, but this is serious and we ought to act against it.

I'm disappointed the previous administration apparently knew a bunch of this stuff and all they did was have the president say to Vladimir Putin late in the campaign stop it, and he obviously didn't do it.

MACCALLUM: Yes, back it off and some sanctions after that. Chris, you know, I couldn't help but get a small kick out of the fact that apparently they wanted Bernie to win the nomination. They were no match for the DNC --


MACCALLUM: -- on that though.


MACCALLUM: Your thoughts.

STIREWALT: Very good. Look, this is serious and it's serious that we are coming to terms with the fact that the Russians played us for a bunch of zaps. And that there were Americans who willingly went along. You remember the protest march to Trump Tower --


STIREWALT: -- after the day after the election and the fake black lives matter groups and all of this stuff pinning American against the American to turn politics into a vessel of hate. Now, we do bad enough job with it ourselves. But the fact that they played us for suckers should make us mad and it should make us vigilant and it should unite us on that point.

MACCALLUM: Yes. You know, Austan, I remember the moment really throughout the whole campaign everybody, you know, everybody thought that Hillary Clinton was going to win. President Obama said, you know, look, there is no reason to think that there is any sort of playing around with ballots or anything like that.

You can always trust the outcome of the American election. And then it went the other way. And suddenly there was all this concern about what we see now which was clearly an effort on the part of the Russians to intervene.

AUSTAN GOOLSBEE, FORMER CHIEF ECONOMIST UNDER PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Yes, fair enough. Look, I think both of the previous comments were pretty well said as regards Russian involvement. I think it's a little unfair to try to lay that at the foot of the Obama administration.

But, regardless, I think President Trump has an opportunity here in one sense, which is if he says -- if he believes that this investigation proves there was no collusion, he could step forward and say, and this makes me mad, this should make all of us mad, and I'm going to take the following five steps to prevent the Russians from doing this in 2018, which you have already seen the head of national intelligence say, they are engaged in trying to interfere in 2018.

I think it could be an opportunity maybe Donald Trump could start putting some of this behind him and not be insecure about it and say, I'm trying to stop the Russians just like anybody else would.

MACCALLUM: Yes. What do you think about that, Karl?

ROVE: I think that's right. Look, I understand why Austan is a little sensitive about President Obama, but President Obama knew some of the stuff and has responsibility to step forward. One of the great things about today was it's a public disinfectant. We now can read that nearly 70- page indictment. Americans can go online and read it and methodically lays out the case the Russians were messing around in our elections.

I agree with Austan. This is an opportunity for Democrats and Republicans, the president and Congress, both parties in Congress to step forward and say, we're going to protect our election systems and we're going to protect our election process.

Remember, one thing that was not talked about today was how the Russians had attempted to intervene in essence invade the election systems of the states. It's turned out to be far more than we were led to believe at the end of the 2016 election.

MACCALLUM: Yes. It's a wake-up call to be sure in terms of their involvement. As you can see, everybody, the president is on his way to the Broward Sheriff's Office. And we're going to show you that live when he goes in to speak to Sheriff Scott Israel who we have all gotten to know through the course of this week.

Gentlemen, thank you very much for being here tonight. As we move forward this evening, Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman abused by Larry Nassar and now doing things on her own terms. She is getting backlash for this photo.

And journalists jumping in to the fray over guns. Where do you draw the line? Howie Kurtz knows and he is up, next.


DON LEMON, CNN: People who are saying oh, you know, it's not the time to talk about guns or whatever. Yes, it is, shut up. I don't want to hear it. It absolutely is.



MACCALLUM: Breaking tonight, President Trump is about to arrive at the Broward County Sheriff's Office. What happened in Florida has upset and shocked us all. The relentless killing in our schools must stop. So what role should or can the media play in this debate though?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: President Trump addressed the attack, as you know, but he did not mention the word "gun."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Trump won't even say the word "gun" in his address to the nation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's the message that I give out every day which is so long as Trump is there, nothing big is going to be gotten done. LEMON: People who are saying, oh, you know, it's not the time to talk about guns or whatever. Yes, it is, shut up. I don't want to hear it. It absolutely is.

JIMMY KIMMEL, TELEVISION HOST, ABC: I agree this is a mental illness issue because if you don't think we need to do something about it, you are obviously mentally ill.


MACCALLUM: Joining me now is Howie Kurtz, host of "Media Buzz" and author of "Media Madness: Donald Trump, the Press, and the War Over the Truth." Howie, you know, that was a mix, obviously, you know, Jimmy Kimmel is not a reporter.


MACCALLUM: But we did see some journalists and hosts of their own programs there weighing in on the gun issue. I guess in some ways it's tough not to get emotional during the course of covering these events in some ways.

KURTZ: Well, I don't have a problem with journalists saying that guns have to be part of the debate especially since this was carried out with an AR-15.


KURTZ: And when you even have the conservative pro-Trump New York Post with the banner headline Mr. President, do something, tells you something about the emotions.


KURTZ: But I do have a problem with all of these attacks on the president who is trying to deliver a healing message of unity. How dare he not mention guns. That kind of shows an agenda. And I do have a problem with commentators who blame Republicans, blood on your hands, because they don't take the same position when it comes to regulating guns as many of those in the media do.

MACCALLUM: Yes, it's interesting too because you start to hear these enormous numbers of money that goes to the NRA and looking at that critically, it's interesting. The open secret website list the top 10 lobbying firms in America and NRA doesn't even make the top 10.

They are not in the top 20 of the large donations that Marco Rubio has received, and he has gotten a lot of heat for being supported strongly by the NRA. So we need to make sure their facts are right with all of that.

KURTZ: Yes. I think it's fair to point out NRA contributions because the power of the group goes beyond handing out cash to, for example, running barrages of TV ads against incumbents if use as pro-gun control.

But, you know, even more important than the NRA is the fact that gun owners in this country are passionate and motivated voting group and Democrats still haven't forgotten how many of them lost seats after Bill Clinton passed that assault weapons ban back in 1994. That is more than the NRA, Martha, is the reason that even Barack Obama and Joe Biden couldn't get a single gun control measure through Congress during their years.

MACCALLUM: So true, Howie. You know, 30 percent of Americans or about 100 million Americans own a gun and they themselves based on their own feelings about that and the second amendment are very powerful voting block separate and apart from any money that the NRA may be getting.

You know, when you look at the question that a lot of people quoting the number 18 school shootings that had happened in 2018, that number is not accurate, you know, it's important to be right, clearly --

KURTZ: Right.

MACCALLUM: But also, you know, one child, one shooting is enough to make this obviously such important.

KURTZ: I was going to say, even one school shooting is one too many. But I was surprised to learn that the 18 figure because I have seen it in so many media outlets, MSNBC, the broadcast networks repeat it, it comes from this group called every town for -- against gun violence.

And it turns out it includes such incidence of a man committing suicide outside of a school that has been closed for months. So that is blatantly deceptive. The Washington Post, the (INAUDIBLE), and all journalists have to be careful not to accept as facts propaganda and loaded numbers put out by advocacy groups.

MACCALLUM: Yes. The numbers are bad enough without --

KURTZ: Indeed.

MACCALLUM: -- inflating them, you know. And the numbers are way too high as we all know and we watch this play out. Just a quick thought on President Trump tonight, Howie, before I let you go. He is about to enter the Broward County Sheriff's Office in terms of how he has handled this so far.

KURTZ: Well, you know, I thought he gave a pretty good speech. Obviously, as you pointed out, a lot of critics oh, he should have mentioned guns. But, you know, he is there in Florida which is sort of his second home state. He is visiting people.

He is doing what a chief executive needs to do at this time of tragedy, which is to show that he is engaged, involved, and pathetic, and I don't think even his severest critics should begrudge him on what he is doing right now.

MACCALLUM: And the thing from the White House is that he is very serious about mental health and talking about figuring out ways to address it in terms of law enforcement. That's a big issue that nobody has really been willing to confront.

KURTZ: It will be good to see more specifics. This is a broader issue than just guns.

MACCALLUM: Absolutely. Howie, thank you very much. Good to see you tonight.

KURTZ: Same here.

MACCALLUM: Coming up, Oprah Winfrey is not running for president, and one reason, she says, is that she didn't get really the message from God that that was what He wanted her to do. So will Joy Behar be mocking Oprah now? I kind of doubt it. We'll be right back.



OPRAH WINFREY: Wouldn't I know? If God actually wanted me to run, wouldn't God kind of tell me? And I haven't heard that.


MACCALLUM: Oprah Winfrey suggesting that she talks to God and that He hasn't told her to run for president, but it seems that if you are mocking the media mogul when it came to Vice President Pence's religious beliefs, it was fair game. Comedian Joy Behar. Watch.


JOY BEHAR, COMEDIAN: It's one thing to talk to Jesus. It's another thing when Jesus talks to you.




BEHAR: That's different. That's different. That's called mental illness if I'm not correct, hearing voices.


MACCALLUM: Wow, she's kind of apologized for that. Mike Pence said it's all about his faith and he finds that offensive, of course. Rachel Campos- Duffy, conservative commentator and Fox News commentator and host during the weekends for us for a while. Good to see you.


MACCALLUM: We look forward to that. So, what do you make of that whole thing? And Oprah basically said exactly the same thing that Mike Pence said.

CAMPOS-DUFFY: Exactly. It's such a hypocrisy. Look, If it's a powerful black liberal woman, it's OK. Vice President Pence said that he is (INAUDIBLE) and he is ridiculed for it. And, by the way, if Oprah had said that she was going to yoga and, you know, trying to wait for enlightenment or praying to Buddha or Allah, I think it would have been OK, too.

I think this kind of derision or this kind of scorn is reserved for Christians especially conservative Christians who happen to be Republican. So part for the course.

MACCALLUM: I mean, it's clear Joy Behar can't stand Mike Pence, there is absolutely nothing that he can do right. But I thought his comment was very forceful, you know, and she obviously alienated a lot of people.


MACCALLUM: She is still trying to make up for it.

CAMPOS-DUFFY: And Oprah Winfrey and Vice President Mike Pence are where the American people. I mean, most people are. Pray and wait for signs from God. And this is a party that lost the heartland, that lost working class Americans, and this kind of attitude, I think, from most progressives isn't a way to win.

MACCALLUM: Quick thought on Aly Raisman's picture.

CAMPOS-DUFFY: I think girls are getting all kinds of mixed messages. I think when she stood up to her sexual abuser, it was a very powerful moment. I'm kind of sad that that message is being diluted and hijacked by sports illustrated swimsuit. They have a very commercial purpose. And I think they have hijacked the "Me Too" movement through Aly. She's allowed that to happen. And I think it's really unfortunate.

MACCALLUM: But she says on her body, you don't have to be modest to be respected. And I think she's saying, you know, that she has the power to decide or not whether or not she wants to show off her amazing physique that way.

CAMPOS-DUFFY: It is amazing.

MACCALLUM: She has decided to do it and that's her right.

CAMPOS-DUFFY: She has a right to do that, but again, it's a very important message that I think is getting lost. She also said if I have a minute here, she said in the interview when she was asked about it, you should be able to walk down the street late at night in an ally by yourself wearing whatever you want and not have any risk of being attacked.

Again, another dangerous message, I think, for young girls. I have a daughter going off to college in the fall.

MACCALLUM: You don't want her to do that.

CAMPOS-DUFFY: I want her to take -- I want her to take personal responsibility for her safety. That's empowering to me.

MACCALLUM: Rachel, God bless you. Good to see you tonight. She'll be up early in the morning.

CAMPOS-DUFFY: I will. Thank you.

MACCALLUM: Coming up next, we will honor those that we lost this week in Florida.


MACCALLUM: We leave you with this tonight as we remember the precious lives that were lost this week in Florida.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Carmen Schentrup, Meadow Pollack, Peter Wang, Nicholas Dworet. He was a happy, young man full of joy and life. Mr. Christopher Hixon, Mr. Aaron Feis, Luke Hoyer, Alaina Petty, Jamie Guttenberg.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jamie was such a special kid. All of the kids here are. What is unfathomable is Jamie took a bullet and is dead.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Martin Duque, Alyssa Alhaddeff.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know Alyssa is with God.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Helena Ramsay, Mr. Scott Beigel, Joaquin Oliver, Cara Loughran, Gina Montalto, and Alexander Schachter.


MACCALLUM: Unfathomable loss this week. We remember them and we keep them in our prayers. Good night, everybody. Tucker Carlson is coming up next from D.C. That's our story for this evening. We'll see you back here on Monday. Be good.

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