New questions about FBI's surveillance of Carter Page

This is a rush transcript from "The Story with Martha MacCallum," February 20, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

MARTHA MACCALLUM, FOX NEWS CHANNEL HOST: Hi, Bret. Good to see you tonight. Breaking tonight, on THE STORY, is General Michael Flynn rethinking his guilty plea? Flynn was one of the earliest supporters of now President Trump.


MICHAEL FLYNN, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: The next president of the United States, right here.


MACCALLUM: They campaigned together, and he became the White House National Security Adviser, one of the very first hires in the new administration. He was there only 24 days. The first casualty of the Russia investigation. He took a plea in December to making false statements to the FBI when they asked him about his meeting and the contents of it with the Russian ambassador, and then, became a cooperating witness. His lawyer has said for months that Flynn 'certainly has a story to tell and very much wants to tell it,' should the circumstances permit. General Michael Flynn has not yet been sentenced. It has dragged on for some time.

And now, the collusion case, the broader case, appears to be thin, at least at this point. There are no questions raised about whether the prosecutors originally believed that he had actually done anything wrong when he interacted with the ambassador. And now, in his case, you have a request for further documentation, and that is raising eyebrows, about where all of this is headed. Jonathan Turley and Judge Napolitano take on this very important topic tonight in just a moment. Plus, Catherine Herridge on another breaking story: Congressman Devin Nunes raising new questions about the Trump dossier -- this is sort of chapter two and the memos that we were promised, and how it was used against people like Trump Campaign Advisor Carter Page and others. Remember just last week, Page said this --


CARTER PAGE, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISOR: I think that the truth will set a lot of people free.


MACCALLUM: So, in just a few moments, Carter Page will join me live for an exclusive on The Story tonight. But first, Jonathan Turley, Constitutional Law Attorney and George Washington University Law Professor. He just wrote a fascinating piece about Michael Flynn and his potential options.
Jonathan, good to see you tonight. Welcome to THE STORY.


MACCALLUM: So, you begin by talking about this order that was filed, which would -- you know, sounds, sort of, arcane to most of us, but explain what caught your attention in this.

TURLEY: Well, the order deals with a case called 'Brady' where the Supreme Court said that defendants must be given exculpatory evidence -- evidence that helps prove their innocence by the prosecutors. That's fairly common for many of us that practice in the area. But a little less common is that the prosecutor here is the special counsel, and this is Michael Flynn, their star cooperating witness. Now, it's a little odd to see this type of order come out, with someone who's already pled guilty and effectively awaiting sentencing. Now, it's important not to read too much into this. Judge Sullivan, who I've been in front of many times is a very fair judge, and he may be simply amplifying that until he's sentenced, he's entitled to this evidence. But the reason this is intriguing for some of us is that new evidence has come out since the plea, evidence that he might not have known of. The first and foremost is that before Comey was fired as FBI director, his investigators apparently concluded that Flynn did not lie to them, that it was not intentional or knowing false statement. That changed when Mueller and his team came in and they decided to frankly hammer Flynn on that and a number of other possible charges. So, the question that is raised when you see an order like this is whether Flynn had sort of buyer's remorse.

MACCALLUM: There was a front-page story, you know, months back, when the FBI was still on -- rather, the prosecutors, the original prosecutors were on the case, saying that they hadn't found any collusion with Michael Flynn, that they hadn't turned up anything quite yet. And then, as you say, it went over to the special counsel. And you know, one of the questions that's raised is the whole all of the input by Sally Yates, you know, the rushing over to the White House to, sort of, talk about how concerned they were about Michael Flynn. You know, that has to start to raise questions as some of the other pieces of this fall apart, and we're not quite sure where it all ends. You know, we don't know yet. But do you think that's having an impact on Flynn's attorneys in terms of whether or not he jumped the gun?

TURLEY: It may. You know, the whole Yates thing is very odd. She went over to the White House to allege a Logan Act violation, which is perfectly bizarre. She was saying that he was in violation of a law that prevents citizens from getting involved in foreign relations. That law is viewed as facially unconstitutional; it's never been used to convict anyone. And if that was the basis for her asking for an investigation, it really throws her conduct into question. But there is a lot here that probably does concern Flynn a lot -- to a great deal. The reports are that he had been drained financially by the Mueller investigation, had to sell his house, and that they were threatening that his son could also be charged. All of that ended up securing the plea. But since then, there's a lot that's come down, that might be frankly a little bit irritating for him. That, if he was not told that the initial conclusion was that he didn't lie.

MACCALLUM: Yes, admitted to that, and that's going to be problematic for him. And as you say, break the deal, face the wheel; pretty tough to undo.

TURLEY: It is. I have a column tomorrow on The Hill newspaper that goes through this. It's very hard to make this catwalk backwards, once you make the deal. Not only get out of it, but remember, Mueller would also get out of it. He would be free then to load up on charges -- some of which could be quite serious -- and he could go after his son.

MACCALLUM: Jonathan Turley, thank you very much. Great piece. I encourage everybody to read it. And we'll follow it very closely here. Thank you, sir.

TURLEY: Thanks, Martha.

MACCALLUM: So, here with more, Judge Andrew Napolitano, Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst. Judge, you spoke about this forcefully this morning. What do you make of it?

ANDREW NAPOLITANO, FOX NEWS SENIOR JUDICIAL ANALYST: Well, exculpatory evidence is very, very rarely released after a guilty plea. This is evidence that helps the defendant or hurts the government. The reason it's never released is after a guilty plea because a guilty plea is final, it ends the case. The defendant says under oath I did it, which is what General Flynn did here. The interesting and tantalizing question is do defendants ever plead guilty when in fact they are not? The answer is yes. Some judges will accept that because they know the pressures that are on defendants. They don't want to sell their house. They don't want their family to be prosecuted. They want this just to be over with. Some judges, like this one, Judge Sullivan, will not. So, the question now becomes, did the government, did Bob Mueller's prosecutors believe that Mike Flynn was not guilty when they got him to say under oath that he was guilty? This sounds like hair splitting, but it's --

MACCALLUM: But that would be coercion, correct?


MACCALLUM: So, if you're Michael Flynn's attorneys, you're looking at the situation, saying we now have information that we did not have when we allowed our client to plead guilty, when we probably advised him that this was the way to go. If we had the information at that time, we would have taken a different course. Therefore, we need to open this thing back up again and take a look.

NAPOLITANO: OK. But here's the kicker, the order to open up the exculpatory evidence was not as a result of a request from Michael Flynn's lawyers, it was done by the judge on his own. Does he suspect some defect in Michael Flynn's guilty plea? We don't know the answer to that. So, look, it's a very difficult road to hoe, because he said under oath, I did it. So, if he didn't do it, then he lied when he said that. And if he did do it, then he lied to the FBI. Either way, he has a problem here with the court system. I think in my career, twice, I tried to undo guilty pleas, and both times I was reversed by the appellate court. A guilty plea is final.

MACCALLUM: One of the other questions about Michael Flynn that is still out there, and it's another branch of this tree, is what documentation was used to unmask his phone calls, right?

NAPOLITANO: Well, that's very interesting, because --

MACCALLUM: We're going to talk to Carter Page in a moment, but, you know, it's a similar situation.

NAPOLITANO: He may know the answer to that. But Mike Flynn's phone calls showed up in the Washington Post within a very short period of time after they made their way to the West Wing in the tail end of the Obama administration. How did that happen?

MACCALLUM: Yes. Great question. Judge, thank you very much. Good to see you as always.

NAPOLITANO: You're welcome. Thank you.

MACCALLUM: So, coming up next, Catherine Herridge on another breaking story tonight. The next push, the new chapter by Devin Nunes. Remember he said there would more than just the memo? We're now starting to learn what that is. He's looking into the abuse in the Russia investigation. Also, an exclusive interview with one of the first man who was named in that document and target by the U.S. government for surveillance, Carter Page.
Why he believes that the truth is slowly emerging.


PAGE: I'm just thankful that this false intelligence that was put into the bloodstream of the U.S. government was not followed up on, and, you know, President Trump was able to call this out for the complete lies and misinformation that it was.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He criticized Obama, he criticized the FBI. He didn't even criticize Vladimir Putin.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He has been tougher on Russia in the first year than Obama was in eight years combined. He's imposed sanctions. He's taken away properties. He's rebuilt their military. He has done a number of things to put pressure on Russia and to be tough on Russia.


MACCALLUM: The White House fiercely defending claims that the president has been soft on Russia. And tonight, the anti-Trump dossier investigation is entering a brand-new phase with lawmakers threatening to subpoena top officials from the Obama administration. Plus, Special Counsel Robert Mueller, notching another guilty plea -- this one from a lawyer for lying to investigators about his contact with Former Trump Campaign Advisor Rick Gates. Chief Intelligence Correspondent Catherine Herridge live in Washington with all of that on a busy day in the Russia investigation.
Hey, Catherine.

CATHERINE HERRIDGE, FOX NEWS CHANNEL CHIEF INTELLIGENCE CORRESPONDENT: Well, thanks, Martha. With this letter, to current and former intelligence, law enforcement, and State Department officials, the Republican Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee launched phase two of the committee's Trump dossier investigation. Chairman Devin Nunes posed a string of dossier-related questions, covering when officials learned the DNC and Clinton Campaign pay for research by the former British spy, Christopher Steele, as well as how the dossier was used to secure one or more surveillance warrants during the campaign.

Fox News has also learned the questionnaire, including a threat to subpoena information, went to former FBI Director James Comey, Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and Former CIA Director John Brennan among others. The Republican staff memo released earlier this month said the FBI and Justice Department knew about the dossier's Democratic roots when it asked the national security court here in Washington to collect Trump a Carter Page communications. Almost a year later, in May 2017, Brennan testified he still didn't know the whole dossier story.


REP. TREY GOWDY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Director Brennan, do you know who commissioned the Steele dossier?


GOWDY: Do you know if the bureau ever relied on the Steele dossier as any -- as part of any court filings, applications, petitions, pleadings?

BRENNA: I have no awareness.


HERRIDGE: In a separate development today, a London lawyer, Alex Vanderzwan, entered a Washington, D.C., Federal Court and pled guilty to lying to special counsel investigators. Vanderzwan, whose father-in-law is a Russian oligarch suing over the Trump dossier; lies about his communications, two months before the 2016 presidential election with Rick Gates, along with his business partner and Former Trump Chairman Paul Manafort. Gates was indicted on money laundering charges by the special counsel last year. Today, a White House spokesman said the lawyer's guilty plea is a far cry from the special counsel's Russia collusion mandate sort of to speculate the guilty places more pressure on Gates to cut a deal and cooperate with the special counsel against Manafort. But we'll see what develops, Martha.

MACCALLUM: Catherine, thank you very much.

HERRIDGE: You're welcome.

MACCALLUM: So, revelations in the original Nunes memo have raised several questions about the Obama administration's decision to spy on Trump Advisor Carter Page. Remember, he was a foreign policy advisor for a short time to the Trump Campaign from January 2016 to September 2016. He traveled to Russia in July of 2016. He let the campaign know that he was going to take this trip. They said, that's fine; you can take the trip, right? He was later the subject of a FISA surveillance warrant obtained by the FBI and Department of Justice is part of Russia's probe. Carter Page joins me now.
Good to see you, Carter. Thanks for being here. You know, first of all, I want get your reaction to these new developments that we've seen. What went through your mind when you saw the 13 indictments of Russian individuals for attempting to infiltrate campaigns, groups of people, and sort of move the message during the campaign?

PAGE: The funny thing I found out about that is the January 6th, 2017 intel report, DNI report from Mr. Clapper and co., was saying that, you know, it's R.T., and Sputnik, and these very big organizations. And what's interesting about the new case, is that these -- it's really chump change which is, you know, that was being invested. I think Byron York had a great --

MACCALLUM: A million dollars, I think.

PAGE: Well, and actually, you know, in terms of Facebook ads, you know, a couple hundred dollars here or a hundred dollars there. You compare that to broadcasting board of governors. A U.S. federal agency, funding radio for Europe that are putting out these defamatory articles against the, you know, Trump movement, and just complete defamation. So, it's extraordinary. And I'm hoping that, you know, as the -- as they're now entering phase two and the House Intelligence Committee, they'll get to the bottom of all that.

MACCALLUM: So, you're saying that U.S. government entities are doing a much more expansive job at trying to sway political opinion, radio for Europe, other areas, Twitter, all kinds of different places, right?

PAGE: Absolutely. And actually, you know, the defamatory articles against the Trump campaign and myself were there's little links on there. You know, you can tweet this out, or you can send this out via Facebook, LinkedIn.

MACCALLUM: U.S. taxpayer money going to that?

PAGE: Over a hundred million dollars is -- you know, was the budget that year for the broadcasting board of governors getting to radio for Europe.

MACCALLUM: And what about the exchange that we just watched, between Congressman Trey Gowdy and John Brennan, saying that he no idea -- to couldn't respond as to whether or not the dossier was part of what was used as the application to spy on you. Do you believe that?

PAGE: Well, it's pretty crazy. And actually, what I've been having a hard time believing is, going back to the original testimony by Mr. Comey on March 20th last year, where, you know, members of the House Intelligence Committee were reading from that dodgy dossier extensively, and, you know, all the damage that that created, and, you know, challenges it created for our country, and the U.S. government, it's just terrible. I mean, you know, his false answers about Trump Tower was not wiretapped. Well, that's all been proven incorrect based on this new --

PAGE: You said that you believe that when all of this comes apart -- and you believe it is coming apart, I think, right?

PAGE: Big time.

MACCALLUM: That it will set people free. What did you mean by that?

PAGE: I think, you know, our entire country -- you know, if you look at the civil rights abuses that were, you know, taken against me and other members of the Trump movement -- again, all of my communications were hacked and wiretapped for over a year. And you know, you think about the tremendous resources that took, not only in terms of fake news, U.S. government propaganda in 2016, but even with the FBI. You know, the wiretap for me was issued on October 21st, 2016, and was renewed three times, 90 days each. So, that would have gone to October 2017. And it was September 2017 when the FBI was informed about the --

MACCALLUM: Yes, and it could go backwards too. So, do you believe that they were using you as a doorway to get into all of these other Trump communications?

PAGE: Of course.

MACCALLUM: And do you think that they got anything from that?

PAGE: Well, I think, you know, it's the principle of it. I mean, that's the thing. I was a low-level guy, right?

MACCALLUM: Are we going to see at any stage of this that, oh, this actually all comes back to this one phone conversation that started when we got into the Carter Page.

PAGE: Well, the one phone conversation -- you know, it'll be interesting.
I think Chairman Grassley and Chairman Graham on the Senate Judiciary were -- they have some outstanding requests out to members of the Clinton Campaign to get information about their, you know, their operations with the dodgy dossier creator. So, we'll see how that all plays out. And I think that'll really help.

MACCALLUM: You know, we talked about Michael Flynn at the beginning of the show. There are some parallels. His case was unmasked, his communications were unmasked as part of an effort that appeared to have started with Susan Rice in the White House. What do you think about what happened to Michael Flynn.

PAGE: I just feel terrible about all of it. Again, I never met him, I have no relationship with him whatsoever, we never communicated in any way whatsoever. But you know, everything that -- the interference in the 2016 election, and all of the chaos that created starting, you know, when these fake media reports came out in September 2016 and all the chaos that created over the many months following that, you know, part of me feels if that hadn't occurred, then he would've been able to do his job and all these, you know, crazy things --

MACCALLUM: Is there anything you could've done differently?

PAGE: I think fighting back, actually. And you know, look, Don Jr. called me on Tucker's show a "patsy". And to a certain extent, I, a little bit was. You know, I think --


PAGE: If I had fought back more in terms of trying to get the truth out there, you know, earlier, then it might've been potentially helped. But, you know, again, I'm trying to -- I'm a private citizen, and I like to sort of keep a low profile but, you know.

MACCALLUM: Are you suing the U.S. government over what they did?

PAGE: Absolutely. And you know, there's two parts. And again, it goes back to this January 6th, 2017, intel report. They alleged hacking, and they allege false propaganda. I'm focused right now on the false propaganda -- and that's, you know, eminently clear that the U.S. government was funding this big campaign. And so, I'm currently focused on that. All I want from the U.S. government is $1.00, you know, show and to start acting responsibly, you know, particular the department itself.

MACCALLUM: To prove that they were wrong about you.

PAGE: Absolutely. And I think, you know, the fact that Attorney General Sessions is taking steps, you know, I think that's finally turning a corner there. So, I'm quite optimistic.

MACCALLUM: Carter Page, thank you. Good to have you here tonight. Thanks for coming in. So, still ahead tonight, President Trump pushes for a ban on bump stocks as he gets ready to head to Florida for a listening session with kids and teachers in Parkland. Senior Advisor, Mercedes Schlapp on the president's difficult decisions to come as the battle rages over kids, their movement, and who might attempt to co-op it to their own end. Mollie Hemingway and Wendy Osefo on what that impact could be.


EMMA GONZALES, PARKLAND SHOOTING SURVIVOR: -- kids don't know what we're talking about, that we're too you to understand how the government works!
We know!





DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I signed a memorandum directing the attorney general to propose regulations to ban all devices that turn legal weapons into machine guns. We cannot merely take actions that make us feel like we are making a difference. We must actually make a difference.


MACCALLUM: President Trump under increased pressure as he has asked his Attorney General Jeff Sessions to draft a rule banning bump stock devices like those that were used in the Las Vegas massacre. It's likely seen as a good start by gun control advocates, including the young survivors of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, who as we speak have been riding in buses to their state capitol to face down lawmakers and demand a crackdown on gun ownership. But they are not the only survivors speaking out tonight offering potential solutions.

Patrick Neville, a survivor of the first of these disasters, the Columbine Massacre, is now a Colorado state lawmaker, and he says if guns were allowed at his school in 1999 many of his classmates would still be alive.
He's pushing legislation that would allow concealed weapons to be carried in schools. He says, law-abiding citizens should 'defend themselves, and most importantly, our children from the worst-case scenarios.' Mercedes Schlapp is the White House Senior Advisor for Strategic Communications and Assistant to President Trump. Mercedes, good to see you. Thank you for being with us tonight.


MACCALLUM: Is that a viewpoint that the president would agree with, in terms of the possibility of having more armed guards at schools?

SCHLAPP: Well, I have to tell you, the president this week is spending time listening to students, parents, teachers, law enforcement officials, education officials, to come up with the best and long-term solutions for dealing with school safety, and also, tackling the issue of mental illness.
As we know there's a common thread in so many of these shooters, and that is that of mental illness. So, for the president, he's taking this week to have these open and honest discussions with these different individuals, and be able to come up with a solid solution in dealing with these tragedies. As the president has said, no American child should ever feel unsafe in their schools. We believe this is an important priority for this administration. And obviously, he's also talking to governors as well as congressional leaders in order to figure out the best way to deal with this issue.

MARTHA MACCALLUM, THE STORY HOST: Yeah. You know, but in terms of the possibility that what we need is more security at our schools, there's been indication that he is open to certain forms of increasing gun control, that he is understanding of the Cornyn legislation. Does he back the Cornyn legislation?

SCHLAPP: Well, at this point, the president has spoken with Senator Cornyn. Obviously, this is bipartisan legislation. The president recognizes the need of improving the background checks. What we have seen is that we need to fix these gaps in the background check system. Right now, you have the military and the law enforcement where there is this gap that needs to be fixed. And so, while we have not endorsed a particular legislation, we are in discussion with congress, in figuring out the best way forward when it comes to this issue.

MACCALLUM: There was an idea put forth by David French in the National Review, talking about how this really shouldn't be up to the FBI, it should be more locally handled. There should be a way for individual citizens to put together, essentially, documentation, and say I'm concerned about this person, he lives in my house, he has a gun, and that a judge could essentially create a judicially ordained restraining order to take someone's guns away, if they're found to be mentally ill, if they're doing things that are nefarious on social media. Is that an idea that the president would be interested in?

SCHLAPP: Well, clearly, I mean, we need to first enforce our laws. We also need to ensure that we keep guns out of the hands of those who are in danger -- danger of themselves or other people. I mean, we want to make sure that we take away all guns from certain individuals. And that would be those individuals who, again, pose a dangerous threat to themselves or to the community. And that is, obviously, the president at this moment is working closely with the different leaders and the agencies, and our policy team to look at the different options that we have to ensure that these tragedies don't happen again. The president at this point, we've been grieving with those in Parkland. Obviously, for us, watching these students and the horrors that they've experienced, we don't want that to happen again in America.

MACCALLUM: I got to go. But he spent time with Governor Scott. Is the president considering what Governor Scott proposed, which is that Christopher Wray needs to step down or that people need to be fired who handled this situation at the FBI?

SCHLAPP: Look, the president has confidence in Christopher Wray. What I can tell you is yes, there were failures in the system at the local, state and federal level, and we did have those individuals who did see something and said something. Unfortunately, that did not -- there was a breakdown when it came to the FBI and local law enforcement. We need to make sure this doesn't happen again, and there need to be fixes to the system.

MACCALLUM: We look forward to seeing what happens tomorrow. Thank you very much, Mercedes. Good to see you tonight.

SCHLAPP: Thank you so much.

MACCALLUM: Mollie Hemingway joins me now, senior editor of The Federalist and a Fox News contributor, and Wendy Osefo, political commentator and professor at John Hopkins University. Good to see both of you tonight.
Thanks for being here. You know, one of the, sort of, more difficult conversations that's been happening around this is the suggestion that some of these student's grief has been coopted by groups who want to use this horrific situation to push their own way of thinking about guns. Mollie, what do you think about that?

MOLLIE HEMINGWAY, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Yeah. There has been some unfortunate media handling of these traumatized children. They've used them as ways to enact what they always like to do which is a gun control agenda. These children aren't forcing their ways on to CNN, town halls, or the covers of People Magazines. Media are choosing them to put there and used them again as this means by which to shut down debate and keep people from being able to have a conversation about gun control. And it's a type of thing that you don't see extended to all victims of gun violence. When a baseball field full of Republicans was gunned down by a liberal activist, those people who support the second amendment, these Republican members of congress, they weren't given the moral authority to weigh in for all people about what gun control should be. And that's what it should be. Civilized people should be able to have these debates where people weigh the pros and cons of gun control against our constitutional right as explained in the second amendment.

MACCALLUM: Wendy, what do you think about that?

WENDY OSEFO, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think that that was very disingenuous and very disgusting, actually, to make that comment. I have a 15-year-old brother, and every day he goes to school, since this incident happened, with his classmates thinking they are going to die. That is not the media contriving that. That is real feelings of people who go to high school. We may be removed from that because we're a little-bit older, but this is real. These students here are in pain. They're grieving. And for us to think that this is something new, we all know that's not true. The civil rights movement started with students, the student non-violent move.
Students have led the charge for many of our most polarizing issues. And then, another thing is we have to be very mindful to politicalize this because in 1999, we had 3.9 million people who were born, those 3.9 million people if they vote either left or right can swing votes. So this has nothing to do with politicians, this has nothing to do with politics, this has to do in making sure our students go to school every day and they come back home safely.


HEMINGWAY: Well, people on both sides of the aisle tend to use children to advance argument that's actually unsavory when either side does it.
Traumatized children really should not be manipulated by adults at this time. Should they be heard, should they have their voices included?
Absolutely. They shouldn't be put up as ways to shut down debate. These are not -- I mean, they're children. They're not fonts of wisdom. They should still be learning, hopefully, in our government schools about ordered liberty.

MACCALLUM: We heard some fonts of wisdom from one of these young ladies.
I think their voices have been piercing and truthful in many ways. But I hear what you're both saying, but I want everybody at home to understand that nobody is taking anything away from the emotions and the experience of these kids. But we do not want them to be manipulated by anybody. And they look pretty tough. I think most of them are hanging in there pretty well.

HEMINGWAY: They are.

MACCALLUM: Thank you very much, Mollie. Good to see you tonight. Wendy, thank you for being here as well.

OSEFO: Thank you, Martha.

MACCALLUM: So he is only been in office a little more than a year, but a survey of 170 political scientists have ranked President Trump the worst president of all time. We will have reaction from Bill Bennett. Plus, strong political statements today by actor George Clooney and Oprah Winfrey, fueling questions about whether or not these two might be tempted to throw their hat in the ring.


MACCALLUM: We are back. So will there be trouble for Democrats heading into the upcoming midterm election, she said. New stats suggest growing support for the GOP's recent tax overhaul. According to internal polling from the RNC in seven key battleground states where they're looking at all of this to see what the people on the ground are thinking, and it's a lot of numbers. But if you look at this side, right, this is tax reform, those are the net agree numbers, when they, you know, put the disagree up against the agree, all of the people -- those are the positive numbers in Missouri, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Nevada, Ohio and Florida, all, obviously, very important electoral states. Now, let's take a look at infrastructure by an even greater margin in nine battleground states, respondents say that they agree more than they disagree with the support in infrastructure spending, and the net agree numbers are very strong when it comes to infrastructure. All of this comes amid a record fundraising haul for the RNC. Joining me now, Marc Thiessen, Fox News contributor and American Enterprise Institute scholar, and Adrienne Elrod, strategic communications director for Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign. Good to see both of you.


MACCALLUM: So Adrienne, tell me why those numbers don't concern you.

ADRIENNE ELROD, STRATEGIC COMMUNICATION DIRECTOR CLINTON 2016: Well, they don't concern me for a couple of reasons. Number one, this is the RNC's internal polling data, which you just mentioned, so it's obviously.

MACCALLUM: The RNC and DNC both do research. They look at their battleground state.

ELROD: Sure, absolutely.


MACCALLUM: It's their numbers.

ELROD: Sure, OK, absolutely. Secondly, there's plenty of polling out there that show that Americans trust Democrats to handle their views on taxes, to handle infrastructure spending as well. There's a new Quinnipiac poll that just came out that shows that 46 percent of Americans favor Democrats to fight for them on taxes versus 41 for Republicans. So, you're always going to see polling go back and forth. But, you know, Martha, the real issue here is that Republicans should be winning on this issue. They should be winning on taxes. They should be winning on infrastructure spending. They have full control of the house, senate and the White House.
Part of the problem here is that President Trump continually steps on his own message. He, obviously -- the state of the union speech, where he talked a lot about his agenda, which including taxes and infrastructure spending in 2018, got stepped on because he started talking about who clapped for him more the next day.

MACCALLUM: No doubt, that's a frustration for the people that work closely with him. And Marc Thiessen had said it's a frustration for him as well.
Marc, what do you see in these numbers in terms of the bigger picture?

THIESSEN: What I see is a big win for Republicans. Look, when this bill was introduced and was passed in December, 37 percent support, by January it was 46 percent support. And by now it's 51 percent support. Not according to the RNC, Adrienne, according to the New York Times, the failing New York Times, says this is a winner for Republicans. Why is that happening? Because this wasn't just tax cuts, it was tax reform. It was incredibly complicated. So in December people didn't know if they're going to be winners or losers. Now what's happening is people starting to realize the 90 percent of Americans are going to get several thousand dollars -- middle-class Americans will get several thousand dollars back on their taxes, and they're getting it right now because what's happening is with employers are lowering their withholdings. So every American is starting to see who benefits from this tax cut. They're starting to see more money in their paycheck right now. All of a sudden people are waking up and seeing I have more money. This is good for me.

MACCALLUM: And we'll see how that sorts out for them as we head toward the midterm. I'd be remiss if I let you go without asking about George Clooney, right? Because it's the biggest story today. George Clooney has not said that he's considering running for president, but he has said that he and his wife will be at the march for our lives on March 24th in Washington. They gave half a million dollars to the cause. Oprah Winfrey not to be outdone said she agreed with him 100 percent. She threw a half million dollars toward this cause as well, which, of course, gets people wondering, Adrienne, whether or not he's going to be your guy.

ELROD: Look, as much as I would love to see George Clooney win and I'm sure run, I'm sure that millions of women across the country agree with me, I don't.

MACCALLUM: It wouldn't be boring, that's for sure.

ELROD: It wouldn't be boring, that's for sure. Look, George Clooney has
always been a huge donator to philanthropic causes. I'm so impress that he and Amal has given so much to this gun reform effort as well. This is no surprise. I don't think that it means he's going to run for president.

MACCALLUM: Five seconds, Marc, to weigh in.

THIESSEN: Yes. So George Clooney is thinking, look, Trump is a reality star. I'm a real star. If he can be president, so can I. But you know the problem is that they need to get back the Obama voters who they lost in states like Wisconsin, and Michigan, and Pennsylvania and Ohio. And a Hollywood liberal aren't going to get those voters back.

MACCALLUM: That's the real work for the Democrats to be sure. Adrienne, thank you very much. Good to see you, Marc, as always. Thanks you guys.
So the results are in, and political scholars say that it is official, President Trump is the worst president of all time. They all decided this just one year in. Bill Bennett has something he wants you to know about that when we come back.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: And he actually once said I'm the greatest president in the history of our country. And I said does that include Lincoln and Washington? He said yes. I said I love this guy.



MACCALLUM: A little more than a year into the Trump presidency, but the results are already in, it seems, 170 political scholars surveyed by the New York Times ranked him the worst president of all time. Nate Silver, who once worked for the Times, though, said this, it speaks poorly to the field of presidential scholarship that political scientists have Trump ranked the worst president of all time after only one year on the job.
Below presidents, for example, who helped blunder us into the civil war and the Great Depression. So who made the top 10? President Obama shot up 10 spots to number eight. President Bill Clinton slid though a little-bit from eight down to 13th. Earlier tonight, I spoke with Bill Bennett, former education secretary and Fox News contributor.


MACCALLUM: You might as well just throw in the towel, right? They already -- 170 of these political scientists have already decided his fate.

BILL BENNETT, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. But shame on you, you called them scholars, Martha.


BENNETT: Come on.

MACCALLUM: I did air quotes. You might have missed it.


BENNETT: OK, air quotes. I did miss it. Whatever this is this is not scholarship. It is so ridiculous. That's the only word. It's beyond rhyme or reason, rationale or research. After one year. You know, we're in the Olympics period now. This is like everybody gets four jumps after his first jump, which is pretty good, his first year, that's all, he doesn't get three more jumps. We grade him, evaluate him and he's out.
You know, he's out. It's just nuts that Donald Trump would be behind James Buchanan who blunder us into the civil war. Andrew Johnson who tried to go back on reconstruction and told freed slaves they weren't freed anymore. I mean, really atrocious things as president. But this crowd puts him last.
This is a message to parents, Martha, if I might, $40,000, $50,000, $60,000 a year, this is what you get from these so-called scholars at even the so- called best institutions. It's a shame. It really is a shame. There used to be integrity in the academy.

MACCALLUM: I mean it really does blow your mind that they got 170 people to weigh in. You would think many of them would have say, well, how can we answer that question? I mean, it's not as if they were asked, you know, to measure them all on a first-year status, you know. I mean, that might be slightly, you know, scientific or analytical to say let's look at them all in their first year, but they didn't. As you say, you know, Buchanan got a bit of a reprieve. President Obama went eight points up the scale to join the top 10. Do you think historically that he belongs in the top 10?

BENNETT: What exactly did he do over eight years? ObamaCare, which is in tatters. President Trump in one year signed this tax bill, which has a lot of things going on, not just reduction of taxes, but other things that will stimulate the economy. He's appointed first-class federal judges, including a first-class judge in the Supreme Court. Illegal immigration at the border is down. He said he would defeat ISIS. ISIS is very much being defeated, annihilated in the words of General Mattis. That's one year.
But my, gosh, he's got three more. Maybe seven more, God forbid. I don't want the 170 scholars to turn over in their beds here.

MACCALLUM: It's a long haul. And we've seen many times you take a picture of the person who takes the office on day one, and what they look like four years later. It is a job that takes its toll on everybody. But if you could tell President Trump tonight, what would you advise him if he wants to -- not that anyone should care about moving up this list because it is a preposterous gathering, but if you wanted him to take advise to be in the upper echelons of the presidents of this country, what would you tell him to do in the next three?

BENNETT: Well, I would tell him to listen to the people whom he trusts. Get good people around you. But I think he's maturing in the job. I mean, I think he is taking a lot of incoming, and a lot of it he should he should ignore, but some of it he should listen to. The job ages everyone. And in many cases, matures people. And, you know, this is a very strong guy, who's not going to change. He's 70 years old. But the capacity to listen, the capacity to take good counsel, the capacity, perhaps, to pause once in a while might not be the worst thing for him. But, look, I salute the accomplishments. I know about the personal style. We're not going to do anything about the personal style. But, you know, in terms of his policies, you have to give him good grades. After one year. And he's got at least three more left. Come on, judges. Give the guy his other three events.


BENNETT: For Pete's sake.

MACCALLUM: He gets to take that fourth jump down the halfpipe and we'll watch him do that over the course of the years.


MACCALLUM: Bill Bennett, always good to see you, sir. Thank you very much for your time tonight as always.

BENNETT: Thanks, Martha. Thanks very much.


MACCALLUM: Coming up next, a tribute to the junior ROTC cadets who lost their lives in Florida.


MACCALLUM: The U.S. military and Florida governor, Rick Scott, bestowing special honors on the three junior ROTC cadets who lost their lives in last week shooting in Florida. The governor directing members of the Florida National Guard to pay respect to the families of the cadets Alaina Petty, Peter Wang and Martin Duque. The army is awarding them the medal of heroism. Today, 15-year-old Peter Wang was laid to rest. Peter bravely fought to open up a classroom door to allow other students to escape the gunfire to seek shelter during the rampage. Reports say that he was buried in his uniform. Wang had a lifelong goal to attend West Point, and today the academy offered admission to him. A rare move for candidates who actions exemplified the tenant of duty, honor and country. Services also for these three classmates, Carmen Schentrup, remembered as a beautiful, caring, witty 16-year-old, who dream of finding a cure for ALS. Fourteen- year-old Gina Montalto's mom said she was smart, loving, caring. A strong girl who brightened any room she entered. And 14-year-old Cara Loughram, an excellent student, she love the beach and playing with her young cousins. May they rest in peace. That's The Story for tonight. I'm Martha MacCallum. Tucker is up next.

Content and Programming Copyright 2018 Fox News Network, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Copyright 2018 ASC Services II Media, LLC. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.