FBI under siege for missed signals in Florida

This is a rush transcript from "The Story with Martha MacCallum," February 19, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

MARTHA MACCALLUM, FOX NEWS CHANNEL HOST: Thank you very much, John, good to see you tonight. Breaking tonight on THE STORY. So, President Trump tonight wants to know what was going on in the Obama administration when Russia supposedly began to meddle way back in 2014. Tweeting, 'Obama was president up to and beyond the 2016 election, so why didn't he do something about Russian meddling?' And what about those in charge who are now sure that the Russian plot worked? But they sounded very different back then.

James Clapper was the Director of National Intelligence from 2010-2017, charged with bringing together all of the input from all of the intel agencies that are under his watch. He was the guy was supposed to bring it all together and assess what's going on. Remember, his post was created after 9/11 because of a tragic lack of dots connecting in the run up to the attack. So, how did he do connecting the dots, which was his job? Compare what Clapper said the summer before the 2016 election when Clinton and Trump were still out there campaigning and the outcome was still months away with what he's saying now.


JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: It was just a screw up of trouble or was it ultimately to try and influence the election? We don't know enough to say the motivations. I don't think there's any question about -- clearly, the Russians were trying to affect the election.


MACCALLUM: Clapper's latest comments were in reaction to a series of very interesting tweets over the weekend from Facebook's Robert Goldman, who says this. And you know, Facebook was used for a lot of the input here from the Russians according to what we learned. He said, 'I've seen all the Russian ads, and I can say very definitively that swaying the election was not the main goal. The majority the Russian ad spend happened after the election.' Trace Gallagher following this story live for us from our Los Angeles bureau tonight has more. Good evening, Trace.

TRACE GALLAGHER, FOX NEWS CHANNEL HOST: Good evening, Martha. President Trump's rapid-fire burst of more than a dozen tweets this holiday weekend mostly went after the usual targets -- those he believes are carrying out a witch hunt against him like CNN, the Democratic Party, and former President Obama. But the president also offered a few surprises by applauding an adversary and admonishing an ally. For example, when the ranking Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, was pressed on something that President Trump has been saying for more than a year, the fact that Russian meddling began midway through President Obama's second term.
Schiff, said this on CNN. Watch.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF, D—CALIF.: I said all along that I thought the Obama administration should have done more. And indeed, when we discovered and we could attribute the conduct to Russia, Senator Feinstein and I took the first step to make public attribution, because at that time, we couldn't get the Obama administration to acknowledge the Russian interference.


GALLAGHER: Schiff went on to say Trump is making the same mistake that Obama made in not countering Russian disinformation. But in response to Schiff going after the previous administration, Mr. Trump tweeted quoting, 'Finally, little Adam Schiff, the leaking monster of no control, is now blaming the Obama administration for Russian meddling in the 2016 election. He is finally right about something. Obama was president, knew of the threat, and did nothing. Thank you, Adam.'

But when National Security Advisor, H.R. McMaster, said that Robert Mueller's indictment of more than a dozen Russians accused of meddling means that Russian interference is now 'beyond dispute.' President Trump fired up this tweet, 'General McMaster forgot to say that the results of the 2016 election were not impacted or changed by the Russians, and that the only collusion was between Russia and crooked Hillary, the Democratic National Committee, and the Dems.'

Conservatives are now counseling President Trump not to claim that Mueller's Russian indictments vindicate his campaign because it's unclear if Mueller will issue more indictments down the road. Though, conservatives also want to know why when President Obama was warned about Russian interference in 2014, his administration apparently disregarded the warning. Martha.

MACCALLUM: Trace, thank you very much. So, joining me now, Tammy Bruce, Columnist at the Washington Times and a Fox News Contributor; and Philippe Reines, a Former Advisor to Hillary Clinton. Philippe, let me start with you. You know, you hear the argument laid out that under President Obama's watch, all of this was going on at the time. The comments that we got from the top brass in intel were that it really wasn't that big a deal. In fact, even when President Trump, Candidate Trump at the time, suggested that, you know, there might be some sort of fraud, there might be, you know, question, reason to doubt the election. President Obama came out full force and said absolutely not, nobody can mess with the American election. But the tune changed dramatically after the outcome of the election.

PHILIPPE REINES, FORMER ADVISOR TO HILLARY CLINTON: Well, I mean, on the theme of the NBA All-Star game, I think what Donald Trump did very good, very well in 2016 and 2015 is work the refs. I don't think was what the Obama administration did about the intelligence, it's about what they said about it. In May 2016, Clapper -- knowing what he knew at that time, said they were targeting the campaign. In July, is when the DNC was hacked. And if you remember, Donald Trump's first instinct was to say the DNC hacked itself. It wasn't until September that the entire intelligence community came together and said that they unanimously believe it was Russia and that they had intelligence that Putin himself did it.

The next time that Obama saw Putin, he told him to drop it, stop. Now, playing politics was not saying anything because they were so worried about what Donald Trump would say about the legitimacy of the election, because if you remember, he was questioning a great deal that they, the White House, only wanted to speak publicly if they had Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell with them. Paul Ryan agreed and Mitch McConnell refused. He said, if you do this, I'm going to say you're doing it just to hurt Donald Trump.

MACCALLUM: Yes, but you know what they said in my public and what they should've been going behind the scenes are two very different things, Tammy. I mean, they clearly did not have their hair on fire as expression goes in terms of what we would like to see from an intelligence agency, if indeed all of this is going on. They said it wasn't a big deal. Now, they say it really is.

Yes, I think that if that's what the case when it comes to President Obama, and McConnell and Ryan. It's the only time where President Obama didn't just need his phone and his pen, but he did more than just stay silent. In October, he was at a press conference, and he was asked about this, he actually told Donald Trump to stop whining, said that no serious person would consider this an even remote possibility that this could -- that anyone could affect the American election because they're so dispersed.
So, he wasn't just quiet, he didn't just not say something, he mocked and chastise people who were warning about it.

And it started, actually, back in 2012 when he mocked Mitt Romney for saying exactly the same thing. So, these are interesting questions I think that, politically, of course, when it comes to the arguments that are now being made against the president. These are important and valid thing to point out when it comes to what President Obama, up until the election when they thought Hillary was going to be winning, they didn't want to cloud over the election at that point. Only until late December when it was done, did President Obama get a fire under his chair and in order to do something, and that was as we now know to set all of this dynamic forward.

REINES: Well, Martha, if I could add two things. Actually, one, in October 2016, what President Obama said out loud was that he did not fear the voting system being hacked because our voting system, which we learn from 2000, are terrible. And for someone to hack all of them would be near impossible. He was not talking about their attempt to deal -- to undermine our election.

MACCALLUM: But why wouldn't he have said at that point, Philippe? You know, but we are concerned about Russian meddling, because we saw what happened this summer with the DNC, and we're very worried about it. There was like a hush-hush feeling because, you know, everybody thought that Hillary was going to win, who obviously was the candidate he wanted to win.
And everyone was just like, let's just sit on this whole thing and wait until it goes away.

REINES: I think that they were -- they had Donald Trump in their head. Honestly, they didn't want him to say when -- you're right, they thought she would win. They didn't want him to say that the Obama administration tip the scale by saying don't vote for him. Because if you remember, if they'd said something, people would have thought the Russians are making you vote, and he would've said that that's not fair. But, Martha, to be honest with you --

MACCALLUM: But isn't that interesting in and of itself though, Philippe?

REINES: -- I wish President Obama had said more. I wish he had done more.

BRUCE: I think that's part of the problem, is that you're saying that Barack Obama was controlled by the fear of what either of the Russians would have made possible or the Russians have said or Donald Trump, maybe, would've said and not willing to deal with the serious mess of it.

MACCALLUM: And as Philippe just said, just one second, because I want to get one more thought in here. Let's put up the money, it's minuscule, the money that the Russians spent on this whole thing. You know, one of the other takeaways, I think, is all that sunk in over the weekend was that it doesn't look like a terribly big deal. I mean, a million dollars compared to a $2 billion election. How much influence, when you look at all the other influences that were out there on this election, Philippe, doesn't it seem like a bit of a stretch to say that this was the factor that made Hillary lose?

REINES: No, I don't think so. First of all, it's one of the factors -- I would go back to Jim Comey, but without going down that rabbit hole. I would say that what it did was, you know, spending over a million a month on a campaign, that's more than probably Rick Perry did. I mean, they were more effective than most of the Republican field -- which I think should be very unnerving. And we should also ask whether they had western help. But you know, your audience is aware of certain things, whether it's so-called 'Pizza-gate' or Seth Rich. Those things came from the Podesta email. The hack of the Podesta e-mail was a basically free advertising for all of these negative things. And by the way, if the Russians spend even a dollar on screwing around with us, it's a dollar we should not --

MACCALLUM: Well, the president said they're laughing their asses off because the money that they put into this whole thing, they got it back a million times over in terms of sowing discord.

BRUCE: If I could, if I could add that what really made that million dollars, not a month, $1.2 million the entire campaign overall is the fact that the Democrats, the media, and liberals rode on those coat tails, move this notion that the election was not valid, the divisions between Americans, Michael Moore, the march on Washington, this is not my president, this is a fraud, the attempts to nullify done by actors here -- legitimate American actors here. Using that kind of rhetoric is what the president was alluding to in his tweet about if they wanted chaos, they succeeded based on what Americans were doing in the midst of this as well.

REINES: What Mueller said on Friday was that the Russians paid for a pro- Trump protest or pro-Trump rally the same day that they paid for a pro -- an anti-Trump rally in the same city.

MACCALLUM: That's right. The things -- it's the chaos. They wanted to sow chaos, which they certainly got. And we're still in it. Thanks, you guys. I'm sorry, I got to leave it there, but it was great. And we'll have you back soon. Thank you very much.

So, coming up tonight, the future of the FBI and its Director Christopher Wray is a very big question tonight. Are politics trumping what the president calls the basics at the bureau? Former FBI Assistant Director Ron Hosko joins me next.


RUSH LIMBAUGH, TALK SHOW HOST AND CONSERVATIVE COMMENTATOR: The FBI is engaged in a bunch of stuff that's time-wasting and isn't going to take us anywhere.




LIMBAUGH: Maybe the FBI should stop trying to find every case a sexual harassment in the White House, and maybe they ought to give up on this ridiculous pursuit -- the Russians colluded with Trump on the election. But clearly, this is my point: a lot of people knew, a lot of people had every bit of knowledge they knew to act on this guy, to surveil this guy. You know, we're told, well, we can't do anything until the crime has been committed. That's what has to change.


MACCALLUM: The accused Florida school shooter with his head down and his eyes on the floor in court for his status hearing just a few short hours ago. He joins a shocking club, whose members include the Boston bombers and the Chelsea bomber, each one had brushes and interactions with the FBI, and a citizen who did what they were supposed to do and blew the whistle.
But they got away, and they killed and injured innocent people. The Ron Hosko joins me now, Former Assistant Director of Criminal Division of the FBI. He has three decades of experience working for the agency that he dedicated so much of his life too. Ron, it's good to have you here tonight. Thank you very much for being with us.


MACCALLUM: To that charge, and the president made a similar claim, that there's too much focus on Russia and some of these other things and not enough on the basics at the FBI, and that the agency has become politicized. What do you say?

HOSKO: You know, Martha, the FBI, agent workforces somewhere between, I think, and 12 and 13,000 people. That's roughly a third the size of the New York Police Department. Was the FBI had to cover with those numbers of agents? International investigations that include counterterrorism, counterespionage, thousands right there, cyber, and criminal cases ranging from public corruption to gangs, to violent crime to white-collar crime and fraud. And they have to do that on a global scale. So, that's a lot to do. And I understand the political rhetoric that's going on and a lot of it directed at the FBI right now, but we're talking about very few resources compared to the size of the range of workforce that are devoted to support Bob Mueller right now, that we're devoted to support the Hillary Clinton investigation. I don't think that politics is dominating what the FBI does. I think it's a very, very small part of what they have to do.

MACCALLUM: Understood and well-taken your points. But when people listen to what happened here, they say, how can a school expel someone, right? His name is in a public, some sort of public database for the school system, I'm sure. This kid has been expelled. Then, you've the FBI, you've got someone who clearly reaches out, says he has a gun, he has a motive, and we know from the previous time that the FBI was contacted, said he wanted to be a school shooter. Why is there not an alarm bell that goes off, that those databases talk to each other, and they say, wow, you know what, we need to go check this out. Or if the FBI has too much on their plate, call the local law enforcement and say we put all this together, you guys need to do this, because this can't happen, obviously. And I'm sure it kills you that this happen.

HOSKO: Yes. Well, it does. I mean, this hurts all of us, current people working for the FBI, and those of us who have spent our careers there. It is a catastrophic tragedy. Period. It may be a people failure, it may be a technology failure, and it may be both. But to your second point, I think that would be the path. First, the FBI has no jurisdiction in investigating, you know, proposed or would be school shooters. They do have some narrow jurisdiction to support the local law enforcement response in an active shooter situation. So, the option in my mind would be having this clear, convincing evidence from somebody close to Cruz. They should package that up. It should have gone to the Miami, the Miami office, and it should've been delivered to state and local law enforcement having jurisdiction over that school. The systems failed that community, failed their school, and in ways failed this child, Cruz -- he's an adult now -- probably failed him all along. We've heard reports of these -- that's having multiple visits and having the wrong assessments. Police being out there a dozen times, perhaps, having the wrong assessments.

MACCALLUM: But let me ask you something, before I let you go. How often does this happen that these many wires are tripped? So, is this the sort of thing that, you know, as an FBI person you say, oh, we get those kinds of messages every day? Or is a message like this that is, you know, a credible assessment of somebody who they know well? Does that happen a lot what we saw here? You know, tips from the community do trigger new investigations, whether it's criminal, particularly terror, cyber investigations, that happens all the time. Here -- this was an FBI failure, and the director is going to have to account for it.

MACCALLUM: Do you think the director should go?

HOSKO: No, I don't. No, I don't. If this was a request of his leadership --

MACCALLUM: Should the person who was supposed to passed this along to local law enforcement go?

HOSKO: I think the failure was in West Virginia at the tip line. We don't know what the details are yet, and I think if it's a people failure, then Christopher Wray need to take the right personnel action. That may be one person fired or maybe multiple people fired. Got to find facts first.

MACCALLUM: Ron Hosko, always good to have you, sir. Thank you very much.

So, shortcomings at the FBI that we just discussed begs the question, does the change that we need to see begin at home? Does it begin in church? The NFL's Benjamin Watson with a very powerful message for all of us. Plus, Steve Hilton and Dr. Carol Swain on how to change our troubled culture from the bottom up.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I had met him a couple times before. He had spent the night at the house, and that he was very polite. He seemed normal.



MACCALLUM: On this Presidents' Day, when the teenagers of Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, should've been home enjoying a day off, they were attending funerals for their classmates. These images are heart wrenching and they have ignited a fierce debate in this country, as politicians, the media, and beyond all try to pin the blame on gun-control or mental illness. But outspoken NFL player Benjamin Watson has this message for everyone. In a passionate Facebook post, he writes, 'While justice demands this young man in Parkland, Florida be held accountable for the heinous plan he carried out by his own volition, we must have the courage to take an honest assessment of our culture in its totality and how it relates to this tragedy and others like it.' Baltimore Ravens Tight End, Benjamin Watson, joins me now. Ben, good to see you tonight. Thank you for being here. What did you mean by that?

BEJAMIN WATSON, TIGHT END, BALTIMORE RAVENS: Well, what I meant by that is that every time there's an incident like this, something really horrific, we talk about respecting life. And while that's very important, we have to look at our culture as a whole. We incarcerate our young men at an alarming rate, we vote for things that create the disintegration of the family, we murder 60 million of our unborn. We're a culture that really gravitates towards violence. So, while we must hold this young man accountable, we need to step back and say, hold on, what are we as parents teaching our children? How are we as teachers dealing with kids when they have certain conflict in the classroom? All these things are very important. So, it's easy to say that is one thing or another, that its guns or law that needs to be changed. While that might be the case, on a larger aspect, we need to as individuals, as parents, as a community, as a culture, identify where we've gone wrong and be willing to have the courage to fix it.

MACCALLUM: You know, I hear you. You know, one of the things that's so hard to fathom in this whole situation, he was orphaned, then he was adopted, and then he lost both of his parents, I should say, they both died due to illness. And then, he was with one family and then he went to another family. I mean, you know, clearly, he had a tremendous amount of tragedy over the course of his life. And these people were very kind; they took him into their home and they spoke out this morning about how they feel about all this. Let's watch that.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everything everybody seems to know, we didn't know. We had rules, and he followed every rule to a tee. We knew he had one Instagram account that my son had, and I guess that would be the normal one. These other Instagram accounts that he had, we had no idea about. My son had no idea about. As far as the animal killings, he never did anything like that are our house. We have animals and he loved our animals and our animals loved him.


MACCALLUM: So, given the change that you think we need to see, Ben, you know, when you look at this case, this situation, what cries out to you?

WATSON: What cries out to me the most is that people are hurting. This young man went through so much in his life, so much tragedies, and people are really hurting. And when you take faith out of the public arena, when you take God out of there, people suffer. And whether you are Christian or not, those principles really carry us through. I mean, I talked to my father who has seen how things have changed over the course of his lifetime. A lot of people of his generation point to the fact that when we start to remove God from the public sphere, we start to suffer the consequences. And for me, I look at this young man, I see, you know, there are a lot of people like him that are suffering. How can I reach out to him? How can I share the love? How can I listen to him? A lot of times, because of the culture we're in, we're on our cellphones, we're not paying attention to who's around us. I'm willing to communicate with others and so they feel like they're isolated in these silos.

MACCALLUM: You know, let's put up these numbers, because few research says that seven out of 10 Americans consider themselves Christian. However, the number has slipped by more than eight percent over the course of the last seven years. So, what do -- and you talk about your dad -- and, you know, you speak with him about this, what do you -- what does he attribute that to?

WATSON: Well, you know, it's one thing to poll and say these people are Christian. What I'm talking about is understanding that because of guided, and because of his love for us, we respect all life. And that there's a broad spectrum there. The way you treat people is very important. And even if you look at it now, and you at how we go back and forth, we give them our different (INAUDIBLE), and we call them names, and shout and scream, we curse at each other over social media. There seems to be such a great divide when it comes to how we communicate with each other. I believe that all that really is the underlying foundation where we start to see more things like this starting to happen because people are really, really frustrated. They don't quite know how to lash out because they're not really looking at each other the way God would see us.

MARTHA MACCALLUM, THE STORY HOST: You said, Ben, in your Facebook post over this week, while we have been driven to our knees as countless voices invoke prayer, I'm haunted by the fact that this very exercise is forbidden in this school and thousands of other schools across the nation. And I asked myself, if he is God in crisis, is he also not God in peace?

WATSON: Yeah. One thing I've always said, whenever we have a natural disaster, or a hurricane, or earthquake, something like that, or a school shooting of which we've had many over the last few months, we've always invoke prayer. We say we want to send our thoughts and prayers. We want to pray for these people. And that's very, very, very important, don't get me wrong. We also need action when it comes to certain laws, whatever that maybe. But what I'm saying is that we can't come to God as if he some sort of cosmic vending machine, whenever we have a problem we just reach out to him. No, we need to be submitting to him daily in our lives. We need to be coming to him every day and saying, Lord, how can I help people? How can I reach out to people? What are the things I can do for the person that is being maligned? What can I do for the vulnerable so that they don't feel like they have to lash out and do things like this? Lord, give me wisdom when it comes to that. And that comes from a daily walk with him. It's not something we just turn to when we have a crisis. Now, he will answer us in crisis and he will come to us and save us and help us in our time of need. But more importantly, when we look at what's happening in our schools by taking prayer out of schools, by taking the Ten Commandments, God out of schools, by taking him out of the public sphere, by saying, you know, we're not going to listen to God, we're going to talk about him, we're simply going to do what we think is best, and then we turn to him in these times, it rings hollow. And so, if we can trust God during these times when we are horrified by what happened, when we have nowhere else to turn, why can't we trust him in those times of peace?

MACCALLUM: Benjamin Watson, wise man. Thank you, sir. Good to see you tonight.

WATSON: Thank you.

MACCALLUM: Here now, Steve Hilton, host of the Next Revolution here on Fox News, and Dr. Carol Swain, former professor of political science and law at Vanderbilt University. Carol, let me start with you, you say that, you know, that the conversation always goes immediately to gun-control and mental health. What do you think about what Ben just had to say in the framework of your thinking on this?

CAROL SWAIN, VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR: I agree with him a 100 percent. I believe that we need to focus on character building of young people. Young people need to know the golden rule, do unto others that you would have them do unto you. And I think too much of what they're learning today in schools is about how to be offended. Too much political correctness. Young people not being taught how to think critically. And they're so easily offended and all of the stuff about bullying. Most of us who have gone to school were teased at some point. We learn to get by.
And I think that today, we teach our children to look for ways to be offended, and the adults are not providing the moral guidance that they need.

MACCALLUM: I hear you. I do. You know, I just think of the kids who voices were very clear and the concern they had about this young man. And I just can imagine the frustration that they have. We also have to listen to children when they come to us with these kinds of concerns because they did know some of them and they carry that burden with them now. Steve Hilton, you have said that, you know, growing up in England, you looked at what this problem was in the United States because it is unique, unfortunately, to the U.S., and you see it differently now that you're here.

STEVE HILTON, NEXT REVOLUTION HOST: Yeah, Martha, I think that actually this is the biggest issue that we have to confront in America. Tonight, we're talking about it in a terrible circumstances of department shooting, but on another night we could be talking about it in relation to gang violence, and other night it could be domestic violence, and another night it could be drug addiction or welfare dependency. It all goes back to the same thing, which is a social breakdown that's been going on in America, I think, for at least four or maybe five decades now. And at the heart of it is family breakdown. The real trend-away from children growing up in stable loving homes and the fact that more, more children are growing up in broken homes and in a culture of toxic stress and violence. And that is affecting our society in deeply troubling ways. It really is something that we can confront. But we got to really prioritize it as an issue.

MACCALLUM: Yeah, it is so important. You know, you look at Chicago, Dr. Carol Swain, you know, and the numbers of children who are killed all of the time there. And in other places where these kinds of violent outbreaks happen little bits at a time, but the numbers add up to an extraordinary number. And family breakdown is a big part of that environment, is it not?

SWAIN: It is. And you can trace the dysfunction back to the 1960's. In 1962, the Supreme Court removed prayer from school, 1963, bible reading, and if you look at the indicators of dysfunction, I mean, everything changed dramatically in the 1960's. And I think it can be traced back to those decisions that we made. And I believe that the way we correct things is to start encouraging young people to value life. In the black community, there's a devaluing of life at every stage. You see it on the abortion rate. You see it on the black on black violent crime rate. And that's something we need to turn around. But an entire society devalues life, they're afraid of God, and those who profess to be Christians, there's nothing about their behavior of this society that will suggest that they're truly Christians in the biblical sense.

MACCALLUM: Steve, final thoughts.

HILTON: So there's something practical I think we need to focus on, which is so much of this comes back to the way kids are raised and the way that they are raised by their parents. We can actually help parents to do a better job. You've got generation after generation now who are growing up having experienced really bad parenting, so they don't know how to do it themselves. And we can actually give them practical help to do that, and that is one simple thing that we can do that would make a difference.

MACCALLUM: Thank you both. Very good to have both of you weigh in on all these really important topic tonight. We hope that the conversation continues from here. Steve and Dr. Carol Swain, many thanks. So coming up, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's rare interview shaking up what we have heard about North Korea. Plus, Oprah versus Trump in 2020 in private, apparently, she has reportedly not ruled out running. Now President Trump is daring her to do just that. Karl Rove weighs in next.


OPRAH WINFREY: There's been some members of Congress, including Republicans, questioning his stability and fitness for office.



MACCALLUM: President Trump practically daring Oprah Winfrey to run against him in 2020, after he caught this exchange on 60 Minutes last night. Watch.


WINFREY: So polls are showing that respect for the United States is eroding around the world. There've been some members of Congress, including Republicans questioning his stability and fitness for office. During the campaign, we are all aware that some 20 women accused him of inappropriate sexual behavior. Do you think the president is held to a different standard when it comes to this issue of sexual harassment?


MACCALLUM: So in response to the question, primarily in the way they were phrased, President Trump tweeted, just watch a very insecure Oprah Winfrey, who at one point, I knew very well. She's interviewing a panel of people on 60 Minutes. The questions were biased and slanted the facts and correct. Hope Oprah runs so she can be exposed and defeated like all the others. Joining me now, Karl Rove, Fox News contributor and former senior advisor to President George W. Bush, and our resident Oprah expert joining me tonight. Hi Karl, good to see you.


MACCALLUM: So the president tweeted a lot over the course of the last couple of days, the last 48 hours or so, but this got him fired up when he watch it. He thought it was unfair, what do you think?

ROVE: Well, first of all, the presidential election is three years off, she has said that she may run, she might not run. She said God hadn't talked to her. She thought that if God wanted her to run, he talk to her about it. And I would remind you, that even while she's overwhelmingly draw favorable reviews, in the NPR polls 35 percent said she should run for president, and 54 percent said she should not. My point is the president ought to be focused on being president. My opinion is, Oprah Winfrey is unlikely to run, and there's plenty of time before the next election if she does run for him to voice his opinions. I think the American people want him to focus on being president. I don't think it helps his cause or the cause of his agenda for him to be spending his time punching down to somebody who may or may not run and is unlikely to run in my opinion.

MACCALLUM: Yeah. You know, I'm curious what you thought about the panel itself and the questions and, you know, the time that 60 Minutes devoted to giving her that platform to do that.

ROVE: Well, look, the panel -- they started this a year ago. The panel is consists of a small number of people, half of them pro-Trump, half of them not Trump, and they did it a year ago. I really have a concern about doing these focus groups. I know we at Fox do them sometimes, but I think there's all kind of potential problems in having a small group like that and trying to make big judgments. Particularly a group that you've already exposed to television coverage and then brought them back. Those people are going to be inclined less to give their opinion than to do what they did before only times ten and that is performed for the camera. So it makes for interesting television. I'm not certain it's particularly good journalism.

MACCALLUM: It does make interesting television sometimes. And here's another one we pulled up from CNN that we thought was pretty interesting. Watch this.


UNINDENTIFIED MALE: We're one year. One year in. How's he doing?


UNINDENTIFIED FEMALE: Great. Better than I would have ever dreamt. I mean that sincerely.



UNINDENTIFIED MALE: I agree. He's doing wonderful. He's staying on task.


MACCALLUM: Those are Trump supporters, obviously, and they check in with them from time to time. I think in that instance, they were thinking that they probably had changed their minds by now, but they surprisingly say that they didn't. I mean, I understand you're saying from a polling perspective this kind of thing is meaningless, right?

ROVE: Yeah. It was a Westinghouse effect. In the 1920's, they did some studies and said, OK, we're changing the things inside the factory here. They're going to improve things. But they really didn't change anything, and people's productivity increased. Well, same thing happens when you say we're going to put you on camera and we want to have your opinion. People sort of perform how they think that they ought to perform, not necessarily how they really feel. I'm sure all of those people were honest and authentic in their views of I think the president is doing a good job. But, look, let's not suggest that that is scientific polling or precise.

MACCALLUM: In the 30 seconds that I have left, do you believe the approval numbers that you see based on the problems that we've had with polls so far in this presidency?

ROVE: I take it with a grain of salt, but I take -- if you have an average of them, I'm interested more in, sort of, where those numbers are moving up or down. But do I believe that any particular poll has the exact right number? No. Do I think that an average of the polls tends to give us a sense of where we are roughly? Yes. Do I think it shows movement? Yeah.
That's the main thing that I rely upon for is to show that are things getting better or getting worse. And in candor, the president has gotten better in the last couple of months, and as has the tax reform bill, and I think the two things are tied together, along with people sentiment about the economy, which is gotten very good over the last several months in a wide variety of studies and surveys and polls. And some of those studies involve very large panels of people that have been around for a long time.
I have greater confidence in those than I do in a lot of these robocall.

MACCALLUM: I think the midterms are going to be fascinating. And we will be there with you, Karl. Thank you very much. Good to see you tonight.

ROVE: You bet. Thanks Martha.

MACCALLUM: So coming up next, a rare admission from our secretary of state. He is nervous about the nuclear threat from North Korea and he is ready to sit down and negotiate with Kim Jong-un. Is that the only option that we have at this point?


UNINDENTIFIED MALE: My job is to never have a reason for the first bomb to drop, and we don't know precisely how much time is left on the clock.




UNINDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to use all the time available to me. Our diplomatic efforts will continue until that first bomb drops. My job is to never ever have a reason for the first bomb to drop, and we don't know precisely how much time is left on the clock.


MACCALLUM: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson detailing the United States ongoing efforts to deal with the threat from North Korea. And while Tillerson expressed his desire for a diplomatic solution, he also noted that military options are still on the table, which is what we always hear here. And that the U.S. is using large sticks, not carrots, to get Kim Jong-un to the table. Tom Rogan is the Washington Examiner commentary writer and he joins me now. Tom, good to see you again. How would you assess Tillerson in this interview? Do you think he's on the right track?

TOM ROGAN, WASHINGTON EXAMINER COMMENTARY WRITER: Good to be with you, Martha. I think he is on the right track in terms of the broad theme of trying to pursue this diplomatically. But the problem is, if you look at South Korea being very much detach now from the Trump administration tougher approach to dealing with North Korea. If you look at the timeline probably less than six months now to a credible ICBM post-warhead capability on the North Korean side, and the Chinese still not giving, really, anywhere near enough. I think his notion of how successful diplomacy is at the moment is one that is not borne out by the fact.

MACCALLUM: Yeah. And as you point out, the time frame looks to be somewhere around six months. I heard as early as this summer. And the big looming issue is to have that nuclear capable warhead on an ICBM missile.
And the capability looks like they're heading in that direction. So it's not like we have all the time in the world here. If we need to step it up, what do you recommend?

ROGAN: Well, look, I think that's point. I think the critical element here is if you look at the history of late development of ICBM's, it's about the heat shield, it's about re-entry. It's about targeting. It's basic stuff. But what should we do? I think the first thing President Trump needs to do is to tweet at President Xi and say, listen, China, you have failed the United States here. You pledged to be a partner. You have not done that. So we're going to sell a lot more high-end equipment to Taiwan and India. We're going to push for India to enter the nuclear supplies group. We're going to change the balance of power. Also, sanctioning Chinese financial entities that act as cutouts, as clearinghouses for the North Koreans to keep them alive. And cargo vessels that are providing some limited exports and imports to the North Korean economy.

MACCALLUM: That's interesting. I mean, I can imagine the backlash if the president started tweeting foreign policy at President Xi. But you think that's exactly what he should do?

ROGAN: Well, yes, because what else are we going to do? If we're running down the clock, the only other option is the military option, which is perceptively catastrophic. All we live within North Korea that can threaten ICBM destruction of an American city. And so, I think -- the Chinese are realistic. You've got to play them at their own game.

MACCALLUM: Play hardball and mean it.

ROGAN: Play hardball. And that's the way diplomacy will work.

MACCALLUM: So the North Koreans, to the Olympics for just a moment in the
30 seconds that I have left, the scary suggestion is that some of them because of their failure to bring home a medal could see some very serious ramifications, including ending up in a work camp. Do you think that's a realistic possibility for them?

ROGAN: Fortunately, at least for those North Korean athletes, I don't think so now because the functional issue is that North Korea has seen the diplomatic opportunity with the South Koreans, especially to say, look, we're not that bad. And that helps them buy time, again, on the slower track of diplomacy instead of tougher actions.

MACCALLUM: Tom Rogan. Thank you very much, Tom. Good to see you tonight.

ROGAN: Thank you.

MACCALLUM: So coming up next, we will honor those laid to rest today in Florida and remember the words of a man who led America through one of her darkest times when we come back.


MACCALLUM: Finally tonight, friends and family gather today to mourn two more victims from the Florida school shooting. Fifteen-year-old, Luke Hoyer, said to have always been smiling. He loved basketball and Chicken McNuggets, and he was very close to his mom. Fourteen-year-old, Alaina Petty, remembered as a vibrant and determined young woman who loved to serve and help with the cleanup efforts after Hurricane Irma. They will be missed. On this Presidents' Day, those fitting words from President Harry Truman as he spoke upon the surrender of Nazi Germany, but they are fitting tonight as well. We must seek to bind up the wounds of a suffering world, to bring an abiding peace, a peace rooted in justice and in law. That is our story for tonight. Thanks for being here everybody. Send us your thoughts at Martha MacCallum, and we will see you back here tonight at 7:00. Tucker Carlson is coming up next.

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