This is a rush transcript from "The Story," August 9, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
MARTHA MACCALLUM, HOST: And breaking tonight in New York, reports of newly uncovered e-mails paint a disturbing picture tonight of a Department of Justice official's bizarre ties to the author of the anti-Trump dossier.
Raising new questions about why they were talking to each other at all? And what impact it had on triggering the Russia probe.
Good evening, everybody. I'm Martha MacCallum. Good to be back here in New York with you, tonight. The e-mails reportedly revealed that Christopher Steele was keeping in touch with top DOJ official Bruce Ohr as he was compiling the dossier.
In fact, the two met several times during the dossier's creation. And at one point, as a sidebar, Steele was lobbying Ohr on behalf of a Russian oligarch trying to gain entry for him to the United States.
So, if the name Bruce Ohr, sounds familiar as you followed this whole story with us along the way, it's because at the end of last year he was demoted at DOJ. Didn't lose his job, he was demoted amid an ongoing investigation into his contacts with Steele and Fusion GPS where his wife worked.
Lots to dive into on that story tonight. Also this evening, the reportedly softening relationship between Rod Rosenstein and President Trump. And another intriguing story is Hope Hicks, coming back to the White House. We will get to all that. But first, we begin with Ed Henry, live at the White House with the backstory on the dossier bombshell. Good to see you tonight, Ed.
ED HENRY, FOX NEWS CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Martha, great to see you. What a tangled web, web they were weaving. People associated with that opposition research firm, Fusing GPS that was hired by Hillary Clinton's campaign and the DNC to dig up dirt on President Trump and Russia.
It turns out that people associated with that firm were actually working to go to bat for a Russian oligarch. As you mentioned, at the middle of all this is that Justice Department official Bruce Ohr, he was in close contact with the former British Spy Christopher Steele who was putting together the dossier for Fusion GPS alleging that the president's team was colluding with the Russians.
But as you noted this new correspondence obtained by The Hill newspaper, show Steele himself was lobbying Ohr to help the Russian oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, get a visa.
Now, Deripaska was blocked from traveling to the U.S. more than a decade ago because of suspected ties to Russian mob leaders. In February 2016, before the election, Steele e-mailed Ohr that the oligarch had gotten a visa and added, "It would be helpful you could monitor it and let me know if any complications arise."
Ohr at justice responded, "To the extent I can, I will keep an eye on this situation." Significant in part because under questioning from Republican Senator Tom Cotton, earlier this year, the FBI director Christopher Wray testified he could only discuss that connection in a classified setting. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TOM COTTON, R-ARK., SENATE COMMITTEE ON ARMED SERVICES: Do you know if Christopher Steele worked for Oleg Deripaska?
CHRISTOPHER WRAY, DIRECTOR, FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION: That's not something I can answer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HENRY: Now, remember as well that Ohr's wife Nellie, was on the payroll of Fusion GPS. Fox News contributor Byron York is reporting in The Washington Examiner that Ohr's log show, he and his wife met with Steele for breakfast on July 30th, 2016.
Interesting timing Because Steele finishes different pieces of that dossier on July 19th and July 26th right before the breakfast. Then, right before the election on the morning of October 18th, Steele had pressing business with Bruce Ohr.
E-mailing, "If you're in Washington today, I have something quite urgent I would like to discuss with you preferably by Skype, even before work if you can." Now, Ohr said, they should connect right away. Steele wrote back, "Thanks, Bruce. Two minutes."
That same day, October 18th, Steele finished another installment of the dossier that went after former Trump campaign advisor Carter page for alleged ties to Russia. Then on October 19th and 20th, there were more installments of the dossier zeroing in on allegations against Paul Manafort.
The bottom line is all these strands suggest that as the president has been tweeting in recent days that there may have been collusion or connections on the other side of all of this dealing with Russia that have simply not been investigated yet, Martha.
MACCALLUM: Ed, thank you very much. So, here now with more on this Bryan Lanza, who is the former communications director for President Trump's transition team, he is now the managing director of mercury lobbying firm which currently does work for an independent board member of Oleg Deripaska's energy company.
Also, tonight, joining me Mo Elleithee former Democratic National Committee spokesperson, and executive director of Georgetown Institute of Politics. And he is also a Fox News contributor. Gentlemen, welcome. Good to see both of you tonight.
MO ELLEITHEE, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Thank you.
MACCALLUM: Mo, I want to start with you does that disturb you the story that Ed laid up?
ELLEITHEE: I mean, look it is a convoluted story. And I don't really --
MACCALLUM: What's convoluted about it?
ELLEITHEE: There's a lot of twists and turns in this thing, just as there has been with every step of this -- of this investigation from the beginning. So, are there questions to be asked? Sure. Should we look into them? Sure. Should we use this as an effort to discount the bigger investigation that's going on? Absolutely, not. I think -- you know --
MACCALLUM: But let me just ask you the basic -- one of the basic questions here which is does it concern you that a member of the Department of Justice who was a deputy to Rod Rosenstein or to Loretta Lynch at the time, does it disturb you that he would have had a constant talking relationship while Christopher Steele was doing the dossier, and his wife, meanwhile, was working for Fusion GPS who was also involved in putting together the dossier? Does that bother you?
ELLEITHEE: My understanding is at the time, Christopher Steele was still on the -- on the FBI payroll. If my reading of the -- of the story in the sequence have advanced.
MACCALLUM: No, I believe he had been fired by them.
BRYAN LANZA, FORMER COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, TRUMP'S TRANSITION TEAM: Fire from lying and leaked.
MACCALLUM: Yes, for leak -- leaking to the press.
ELLEITHEE: By at the time -- at the time of the -- at the -- my understanding is that the relationship went way back. Like I said, it's a -- its --
MACCALLUM: Well, the relationship goes all the way up to the election, because they're still talking before the election and in fact, right after.
ELLEITHEE: Yes. So look, there's a lot of questions that I think are worth asking but I don't think it's going to be -- I think there got a lot of people that are going to try to use this as further -- in -- as further fuel to try to discredit the bigger investigation.
MACCALLUM: Understood. But wouldn't you want -- let me just stick with Mo for a second, and I'm going to get to Bryan. But wouldn't you want to know, if you -- if you're very interested as I assume you are, in whether or not there was collusion between either campaign in Russia.
Then, the answer to these questions would be very important because the question that Senator Cotton asked was Oleg Deripaska paying Christopher Steele to work on his behalf? Now he is also someone who is suspected of potentially being one of the sources for the dossier.
So, would you consider that a form of concern or potentially even something that might suggest that there was collusion?
ELLEITHEE: I have -- I have always said, Martha, and you know that's having been on your show many, many times that I want investigation to play out. I want -- I want -- I want people to stop trying to shut down the investigation, and any questions that come of it regardless of what direction it goes.
ELLEITHEE: I think that's the difference between some of us and some on the other side that says we should just shut it all down. Let's let this thing play out and see where it takes us.
MACCALLUM: OK. Now, Bryan, we need to clear up what you do.
LANZA: All right.
MACCALLUM: Because you used to be a Trump communications director, and now you're involved with a firm that is trying to help lift the sanctions against the firm that Oleg Deripaska, his Russian firm is working with, and involved with. But you're not representing him personally? Can you clear that up?
LANZA: Correct. Yes, you'll basically what I do is I work for Lord Greg Barker, who's an independent board member of EN+, who's under sanctions, and EN+ is trying to shed along with the board member. You know, Lord Barker, were trying to shed Deripaska from the company's leadership, and from the company's board.
MACCALLUM: So, if you can remove Deripaska from the company, then you're hoping that this company will get some sanctions relief. Is that true?
LANZA: Correct. Well, is according to the sanctions that were listed, if those two things play -- if those two things take place, the U.S. government will lift sanctions.
MACCALLUM: That it's possible is considered -- it to be considered.
LANZA: Correct, yes. Well, that the benchmark that they said.
MACCALLUM: Now, why would -- every -- you know, people at home visit, this story is very complicated, as Mo, said, and that is true, it is.
Oleg Deripaska is not -- you know, somebody that most people are familiar with. So, he has obviously had some kind of relationship with Christopher Steele who put together the dossier. He also had some kind of relationship with Paul Manafort who was the campaign manager of the Trump campaign, I believe when you were there.
MACCALLUM: What do -- what do people need to understand about this guy?
LANZA: You know, I don't know a lot about him. You know, what I do know is that -- you know, his relationship with Chris Steele brings a lot of cause and concern. I mean, if you look at what the Clinton campaign did, they hired a foreign agent in Chris Steele to make contacts with his Russian government contacts, and his Russian friends, which is Oleg Deripaska and the Russian government.
I mean, that gives me concern because that's his interference. That says conspiracy to interfere in an American election by foreign agents, A, you know, this British national, and B, you know these Russian officials that he claimed to get this information from.
And to and to -- you know, put descent. And so, descent inside our -- inside our political arena. And I think that's -- that should cause a lot of people concerned, and I do what to get --
MACCALLUM: But you also had a relationship with Paul Manafort who was the campaign manager.
LANZA: Sure. I mean, what his relationship with Paul is his relations. I have no -- I have no context or any idea what their relationship is.
MACCALLUM: This guy's obviously had his hand in a lot of different pots on both sides of the fence.
MACCALLUM: And we need to learn a lot more about that. Let me just swing forward to a couple of other quick topics here. Rod Rosenstein and the president, Mo. Apparently, there's been a softening in that relationship, their reports are that they talked several times a week. What do you make of that and is that significant?
ELLEITHEE: Well, I -- look, if the president is going to stop trying to get Rod Rosenstein fire, or talking about that, that's a good thing -- that's a good thing.
Look, I think it shows how transactional the president is when Rod Rosenstein gives him -- does things that he likes, he will praise him. When he does things that he doesn't like, like not shutting down this investigation, he goes after him.
I mean, just this morning, he went after once again the witch hunt. The witch hunt that, that Rod Rosenstein is apparently -- you know -- you know, not shutting down for. And so, so, I think it's a transactional thing but if there's a slowing down of the war on Rosenstein and the DOJ, then that's a good thing.
MACCALLUM: Yes, Bryan, there's a report that the White House is not in favor of the Republican leaders in the House who are trying to subpoena Rod Rosenstein. That they -- you know, that perhaps, they're discouraging that and sort of having a better relationship with him, as I said.
LANZA: You know, I think, if you -- look, like the president has always said, he wants this investigation to go forward, he's made the staff available to answer as many questions as possible, they turned in over millions of documents.
I think, what the president wants is a speedy resolution to this investigation. And his frustration with the Deputy Attorney General is that he feels the process isn't going fast enough.
I mean, from our perspective, you know, you've interviewed everybody, you've reviewed all the documents, you see everybody's e-mails, you know, let's come to a resolution. I think you hear it Mayor Rudy Giuliani talking about this thing being resolved soon.
I think we've had enough time when you people have seen enough underneath all these rocks to come up with the conclusion and let's get there already.
MACCALLUM: Just a few seconds left, Bryan, and the questions for you, Hope Hicks, do you expect that she will rejoin the Trump campaign or the Trump White House in either capacity?
ELLEITHEE: You know, I think the White House and the campaign would be lucky to have her. You know, somebody who worked alongside, Hope, I think she's a -- she's an added value to any organization she's going to be a part of.
Specifically, this administration with her understanding of the president and how he views the media. It's -- it was a loss when she left, and if in when she returns, it will be a tremendous gain for this administration in campaign.
MACCALLUM: Yes. Reports are that she has been talking to a lot of high- level operations, you know, some on Wall Street, and some in other places in New York City that would like to have her, probably work for them, as well. So we'll see what happens with that.
LANZA: She'll succeed at anything she touches.
MACCALLUM: Bryan Lanza, thank you. Mo Elleithee, thank you very much. Good to see you both, gentlemen.
LANZA: Thank you.
MACCALLUM: So, how about this, the president's plan to create a space force. Former NASA astronaut and International Space Station Commander Scott Kelly joins me next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT: We will take the first bold steps to ensure our security on earth and in outer space with renewed American strength.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PENCE: The time has come to write to the next great chapter in the history of our armed forces, to prepare for the next battlefield, where America's best and bravest will be called to deter and defeat a new generation of threats to our people, to our nation. The time has come to establish the United States Space Force.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: That was Vice President Pence today at the Pentagon moving a step closer to the reality of a U.S. Space Force by the year 2020 which is right around the corner. The Vice President describing it as the sixth branch of the military that would defend against space-related national security risk including attacks on American GPS and communication satellites. Joining me now is Scott Kelly, former fighter pilot, astronaut, and Commander of the International Space Station who once set the American record for the total number of days in space. Scott, great to have you here. Thank you very much for being here tonight.
So explain to me what your take is on this. The President obviously is passionate about this idea. He's talked about it a lot. He says he doesn't want us to fall behind China or Russia when it comes to potential warfare of any kind, cyber or otherwise in space.
SCOTT KELLY, FORMER COMMANDER, INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION: Well, I think that is a good idea not falling behind. You know, I also think we currently have a great capability within the U.S. military in the U.S. Air Force and you know adding another layer of government bureaucracy to the tune of $8 billion initially is probably not a good use of our taxpayer dollars.
MACCALLUM: So tell me a little bit about how -- you're saying we this already exists. How does it exist? There's -- the Air Force has what's called Space Command within it right and I think there's about 30,000 people that work on that. Is it possible that what they're considering is you know, sort of dividing them off and creating their own branch so that there's not redundancy?
KELLY: Well, we used to have a something called a Space Command and in 2002, it was put back into the Air Force because it wasn't working like they expected it to. And now we're talking about something much larger, something much more expensive, an independent capability outside of the other branches of the service to operate and for me when this was mentioned it was all kind of a head-scratcher.
MACCALLUM: So you know, in terms of -- I was listening to another former astronaut earlier today who was talking about you know, being prepared for the future and looking at the future of warfare and I think about you know, all of the sort of science-fiction ideas that we see in many ways, some of them playing out. You think about drones you know, I think about some of even you know superheroes like Ironman and then you look at some of the new military uniforms and creations to protect people that are similar to those kinds of things. So don't we need to be thinking about potentially a future where there might be that kind of warfare?
KELLY: Absolutely. And we usually have experts that get together and discuss these things and panels and you know not just one person saying we should have a new branch of the military. It just to me doesn't it's not logical.
MACCALLUM: It sounds like what bothers you is that the President's like sort of just put it out there which he just want to do at times.
KELLY: And then you know, that was you know, a little bit troublesome. And then today to see that his campaign is going to sell Space Force swag, I mean, to me that tells you pretty much what the reason behind this was is that it's political. You know, it's not a capability that the leaders in our country the military --
MACCALLUM: But like talking to you because you know, I mean I get that you don't -- you don't want to add bureaucracy, that's what I'm hearing. You don't want to grow the size of our of our military unnecessarily. I think everybody can agree with that. But in terms of the need for something to you know, combat what has been described as you know North Korea, Iran, Russia, all pursuing weapons to jam and blind and disabled our navigation and communication satellites via electronic attacks from the ground, is there a need for us to be more advanced in these ways?
MACCALLUM: So what's wrong with making it the Space Force?
KELLY: Because we already have it. We already have the U.S. Air Force that has the bureaucracy built into it that we don't have to add a new bureaucracy that does most of what we're talking about already.
MACCALLUM: What do you think is the biggest threat that would be considered part of what either branch could do?
KELLY: You know, my concern is you know, we're the leader of the free world and as soon as we say hey we're going to have this new branch of the military, we're going to weaponize space, it's really easy when you have a country that can put a satellite into low-earth orbit for them to do damage to the space environment, very, very simple. You know, if you can launch the satellite into space, you can launch a lot of space debris that can you know garbage up the environment for the future and I think our country needs to set the example. And we already have a very good capability with the U.S. Air Force and to be spending initially $8 billion on something we sort of already have --
MACCALLUM: So are we able to adequately protect our satellite systems and our GPS systems and in terms of cyber warfare, you think we can adequately do that already?
KELLY: I think if we couldn't, then leaders in our country and leaders in the military for the last you know, 25 years -- I was in the Navy for 25 years -- 20 at NASA, I never heard anyone say we need a new branch of the Armed Services to protect against these kinds of threats because we currently have that.
MACCALLUM: All right, Scott Kelly, good to see you, sir. Thank you very much for serving our country in space and on the ground. Good to see you. Thank you very much. All right, coming up tonight, CNN's White House Reporter Jim Acosta said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIM ACOSTA, CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, CNN: And we're not supposed to be the story. You know, that's not why I'm out there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: Our Wall Street Journal panel joins us in a moment. Mary O'Grady, Dan Henninger, and Shelby Holliday all here coming up next.
MACCALLUM: So depending on whom you ask, this week's primary is -- were great signs for either Democrats or the grand old party. So which is it? Karl Rove in The Wall Street Journal today just like a page apart, he wrote the Blue Wave may be receiving. Tuesday's elections show that the GOP has a fighting chance to keep the House. But then you turn the page and the Journal's editorial board disagrees writing "the red wave illusion evidence builds of major GOP losses in November." So who is right? Who better to bring in than Mary O'Grady Wall Street Journal Editorial Board Member, Daniel Henninger, the Deputy Editor of the Editorial Page and a Fox News Contributor and Shelby Holliday is the Journal's Senior Video Reporter. Great to have all of you here.
MARY O'GRADY, EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBER, WALL STREET JOURNAL: Good to be here.
MACCALLUM: Let me start in the middle. Dan, which is it?
DANIEL HENNINGER, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I would say it sounds like a surfing contest doesn't it. And if the Republicans are looking for a red wave, I think they're still out there paddling away. I mean, let's start with the baseline. Ohio 12, Troy Balderson should have won by a lot more than he did. He ended up in a virtual dead heat in a heavily weighted Republican district. Most of the remaining Republican seats that are competitive are much less heavily Republican than Ohio 12. Then you go out to Washington State where Cathy McMorris Rodgers runs from a district that Trump carried by 12 points, she didn't get above 50 percent in the jungle primary. These are not good signs for the Republicans, Martha. And if something is going on out there in these suburban districts that is siphoning votes away from the Republicans.
MACCALLUM: What is it?
O'GRADY: Well, I agree that neither one of those were we're good for the Republicans. However, I would say that first of all you have to remember that in Midterms, the incumbent is not favored so you know they are automatically are going at a disadvantage. But add on to the fact that turnout really matters here. And the Republican turnout was not there, it was an August primary an August election in Ohio. There was not a good Republican turnout so it's possible you get a better turnout when you come to November because people are actually waiting for the election.
But I agree with them I think it's a bad signal because I think that you know so much of what Trump depends on is that independent voter that's really not part of his base but is voting for a Republican because they don't like Hillary.
MACCALLUM: Yes, I mean, you look at the Democratic rural voter as someone who crossed over and voted for Trump in many cases in places like western Pennsylvania and Ohio and Michigan, and then you look at the you know, the GOP voter who came out in ways that they didn't before for President Trump. His numbers are good. I wonder if people aren't paying attention really until after Labor Day perhaps, Shelby.
SHELBY HOLLIDAY, SENIOR VIDEO REPORTER, WALL STREET JOURNAL: That might be the case. I mean, I'm also reminded of Georgia Sixth District. I was down there and that was an interesting -- that was high turnout. There was a lot of enthusiasm among the Democrats but also Republican suburban moms who didn't really love the messaging coming out of the White House and they decided they were going to vote for Jon Ossoff. He was a young candidate, he was pretty fiscally moderate so he appealed to Republicans. That could be a recipe for Democrats but it doesn't look like that's the way Democrats are going in the way of the Midterms. It looks like they're heading more left. That could be a problem and I think ultimately yes, while these races are very tight, Republicans are still winning them.
MACCALLUM: Interesting. I mean, you know, Bernie Sanders backed some candidates who didn't do that well. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is sort of the sweetheart of the progressive movement right now, this Democratic Socialist Movement. Here she is sort of backing up her ideas on CNN. It was last night -- it was last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ, D-CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE, NEW YORK: We write unlimited blank checks for war, we write a two -- we just wrote a $2 trillion check for that tax cut, the GOP tax cut, and nobody asks those folks how are they going to pay for it. We only have empty pockets when it comes to the morally right things to do but when it comes to tax cuts for billionaires and when it comes to unlimited war, we seem to be able to be to invent that number -- that money very easily.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: Socialism and inventing money.
O'GRADY: She could run under a banner that says why can't everything be free, you know.
MACCALLUM: But it's not free. That's the problem, right?
O'GRADY: I mean, that's her speech is basically that everything should be free and if it's not free it's because somehow the establishment is keeping people from it. It's preposterous and I don't think it's so surprising that you have a person like this but it is surprising that you have people voting for her, buying into that.
I mean, the Medicare for all idea that she has would cost something north of $32 trillion for the next decade. It's simply not affordable when you make things free for everyone, demand will always outstrip supply.
MACCALLUM: All right. Let's turn to the media. Jim Acosta has -- I don't think -- I think a lot of people didn't know Jim Acosta's name before he became a reporter covering the White House for CNN during the Trump White House.
Here he is talking about his perspective on journalism and on covering the president, and the importance of all of that in covering politics with Stephen Colbert last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN: Do you worry that the president points at you all so much and that there's a natural need to respond as a human being that you end up being the story when that's not really the goal of your journalism?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Right. And we're not supposed to be the story. You know, that's not why I'm out there, you know, I get accused of that from time to time. And my attitude is, listen, I'm allowed to care about this country just as much as anybody else.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DANIEL HENNINGER, DEPUTY EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: If he is not part of the story, what's he doing on Colbert sitting like a celebrity? I mean, I think what happened here, Martha, is that a lot of the, to be sure, Trump took it to these journalists, he has attacked the press, he has attacked the media.
That's his modus operandi. He did that to the people he was running against in the Republican primaries, they lost it. And I think some of these journalists have lost it as well.
Look, if you ascend to your -- to the point in American journalists and the press where you are a White House reporter, you have to have enough professional self-discipline not to start wearing your heart on your sleeve in front of these press conferences. And some of the questions Jim Acosta they are questions. They are statements and assertions to Sarah Sanders.
MACCALLUM: Let's take a look at some of those.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: Mr. President, will you stop calling us the enemy of the people, sir? Will you stop calling the press the enemy of the people, sir?
The president of the United States should not refer to us as the enemy of the people and all I'm asking you to do, sir, is to acknowledge that right now and right here.
Maybe we should go out. All journalists should go on Pennsylvania Avenue and chant we're not the enemy of the people, because I'm tired of this, honestly, Brooke. I'm tired of this. It is not right, it is not fair, it is not just.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'GRADY: Well, you know, a reporter, I think is down to us, a reporter has a responsibility to report the story and not to get his own personal views in it. He's not an opinion writer, if he wants to write opinion he should change jobs.
MACCALLUM: I always think of Dorothy (Ph), who also went to tell me when I -- years ago when I work to the journal that, you know, in the old days, you know, reporters didn't have bylines.
MACCALLUM: Right? It wasn't until that, I mean, that long ago that reporters didn't had bylines because it was never about them. It's supposed to be about them. It's supposed to be about reporting the story. And really when you are doing a good job of it, your reporting is what speaks, not your voice and not your, you know, personality and you becoming a minor celebrity.
O'GRADY: Right. It's also not good for the news organization.
O'GRADY: One of the things that's going on here is that it's eroding the trust of the audience because they don't know if the news they are getting is just being filtered through his own--
MACCALLUM: Well, he even said after the president--
SHELBY HOLLIDAY, REPORTER, WALL STREET JOURNAL: Well, the issue is that the viewers at that point sort of are forced to take aside. It's become a battle and it's one versus the other. I'm all for reporters asking tough questions.
HOLLIDAY: But when you make it that combative, you have to wonder is it productive? Because reporters in the White House press briefing room are there to get answers.
MACCALLUM: Is the president at fault at all though? Because that's what Acosta would say.
HOLLIDAY: Well, there are two sides to the story. But it's not productive for journalism.
HENNINGER: The president has -- no question about it.
HENNINGER: He's calling them the enemies of the people. But if you have a fight at a newspaper, you let the publisher handle it or you let the people running the network. The reporters on the beat in the White House press room are not the ones who should be taking the battle to the president.
MACCALLUM: Mary, Dan, Shelby, great to see you all. Thank you very much.
O'GRADY: Great to be here.
MACCALLUM: So she was forced out of Iran for speaking against the mullahs, now they have made her family come out in Iran and publicly condemn her. She has a message for President Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MASIH ALINEJAD, IRANIAN ACTIVIST: So, we, the women of Iran, breaking the laws every day to just be ourselves and I'm a master criminal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: So, as President Trump issues warnings to countries doing business with Iran and snaps back the sanctions on the brutal regime, one brave activist is speaking out. Describing how Iran is trying to destroy her family.
Masih Alinejad was threatened just for writing about women's rights and against the rules imposed by the regime. Eventually she was forced to leave her homeland and she is here next in a story exclusive tonight.
But first Trace Gallagher live in our west coast newsroom gives us the back story. Hi, Trace.
TRACE GALLAGHER, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Martha. Even when she lived in Iran, Masih Alinejad says as a journalist she was highly critical of her country's leaders routinely calling out then-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his regime for mismanagement and corruption.
In the New York Times, Alinejad writes that she was often threatened and intimidated when until finally her press credentials were revoked. In 2009, she fled her homeland first to the U.K., then to the U.S. but her anti- Iranian stance remained steady.
In 2014 she began a campaign against Iran's laws forcing women to wear hijabs or veils and even though she was out of the regime's reach her activism resulted in threats against her family and their livelihoods.
She says on the Iranian version of 60 Minutes, her sister seen here, disowned her, saying that Masih had crossed a red line when she publicly challenged the Iran supreme leader.
But despite being threatened, exiled, and ostracized, the Guardian writes that Masih is, quote, "fun, noisy, and opinionated and worst of all, for the people who run her country, unafraid."
Here's Alinejad in 2016 at the Women in the World New York summit. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALINEJAD: So, we, the women of Iran breaking the laws every day to just be ourselves. And I'm a master criminal, why? Because the government of Iran thinks that I have too much hair, I have too much voice and I'm have too much of a woman.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GALLAGHER: She recalls that before the Iranian Revolution in 1979 women were equals, they could play sports, go to the gym, there were even female judges. She says her parent's support of the revolution because they were poor and thought it would lead to better jobs, it did not.
A decade after leaving Iran, Alinejad has millions of followers on Facebook, but her parents still don't have the internet. She says she talks to her mom every few weeks but doesn't know if she will ever see her family again.
She says Iran is like her childhood backyard, dark. And so her plea to women there is to open their eyes wide to make the darkness disappear. Martha?
MACCALLUM: Thank you very much, Trace. Here now, Masih Alinejad, Iranian activist and author of "The Wind in my Hair" which you say is illegal to feel the wind in your hair in Iran.
ALINEJAD: It's a crime to feel the wind in your hair. But I want to say that actually we are fighting against the philosophy behind hijab, we are fighting for choice for, you know, freedom to choose what we want to wear.
But this I mean, for probably who doesn't know that we are actually not fighting against this small piece of cloth. We are changeling the main foundational block of the Islamic republic of Iran.
We are challenging one of the main pillars of the Islamic. That is why actually they are really scared of us and the campaign that I, you know, have in Iran and that is why they brought my family in Iranian TV to disowned me publicly.
MACCALLUM: What did your sister -- I saw that you reacted when you see that video of your sister, what goes through you and what did you she say about you?
ALINEJAD: You know, because I haven't seen them for nine years and that was actually the first time that I saw my sister's face. I wanted to just turn off the audio and see, you know, my sister's face. That's all.
But the thing is, you know, they brought my sister on TV to break me because I'm out of their reach. And they know that through my campaign, the millions of Iranian women are, you know, breaking the law every day and showing their civil disobedience.
Rich men, especially the Islamic republic officials they are really scared of strong women, and now women in Iran they are leading the movement. The movement gaining momentum.
MACCALLUM: You start a movement called White Wednesdays.
ALINEJAD: Yes, yes.
MACCALLUM: Tell everybody what that is.
ALINEJAD: Yes. White Wednesday is a peaceful movement where women take off their headscarves and walking in public which is a punishable crime to challenge the Islamic republic of Iran. And because there is that Iran protest taking place in Iran right now, and women are in front. That scares the government.
So that is why, you know, they didn't want to break me, they wanted to break the women who were actually there inside Iran and they dare to challenge the Islamic republic of Iran. That was their goal.
MACCALLUM: I mean, it's extraordinary when you think about the changes, and you talk about the changes since 1979, I mean, this was a very forward, highly educated, sophisticated culture.
MACCALLUM: And when the mullahs came in and cracked down, they took all of that freedom away from all of you. Do you think we are at a moment now where that could change again? Could the reverse of 1979 happen in Iran?
ALINEJAD: Let me tell you something. The revolution itself became the revolution against women. Each woman in Iran if they want to have freedom they have to start their own revolution, which, you know, I did.
I started my own revolution from my family's kitchen. Before the revolution we have female singers. Women were allowed to, you know, participate in any kind of sports that they want, we had the freedom of choice. We want -- we were allowed to choose what we wanted to wear.
Women -- we had judges, you know. We had ministers, we had all of the social freedom. But right now, women, they have to fight for their basic rights but they still have more than 60 percent of university. We occupy the university places. But this is the government actually count of like second class citizen.
But I have hope, I'm not hopeless because every individual woman they became their own, you know, leader. They are not waiting for anyone to come and save them, to come and rescue them. They are the warriors instead of being like victim.
MACCALLUM: I want to play a sound bite from President Trump and get your thoughts on what he says here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I want to deliver a message to the long-suffering people of Iran. The people of America stand with you, the future of Iran belongs to its people. They are the rightful heirs of a rich culture and an ancient land.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: What is your message to President Trump, how can he and his administration and Americans help you in your cause?
ALINEJAD: Look, I am a woman rights activist. What is important for me is human rights. And Donald Trump actually said that he is going to support the people of Iran. First, I want him to remove the Iranian people from travel ban.
ALINEJAD: Because sanctions hurt the Iranian people. I want him to sanction the officials who oppressed people, who kill people, who torture people to death. I want him to ban, you know, the Islamic republic officials and their children who are here in America because these are the troublemakers.
I want him to ban and, you know, sanction the Islamic republic main propaganda tool. The Iranian television, the Revolutionary Guard because people are suffering from lack of electricity, lack of water. They took the street of Iran like 18 states in Iran and they are chanting against the whole regime and now this sanction is hurting the people.
MACCALLUM: I'm almost out of time. I could talk to you for hours. But you know, in terms of the money, right, from the Iran deal, and where ended up going and supporting these different, you know, military adventurism against Gaza and Syria and elsewhere.
ALINEJAD: That is why the people are in the street. They are asking where the money go.
MACCALLUM: But is that powerful enough to tip the balance? Are we at a tipping point potentially do you think?
ALINEJAD: I strongly believe that. When Donald Trump comes, you know, first threatening Iran with military action and then said that I can have negotiation, I want to say that if you are going to sit down with the Iranian government and then they accept and come out with a deal, nuclear deal, then everybody is going to forget about human rights?
This is what actually the European Union did. Before, you know, the member of the European Union going to Iran for during the talk they said that we want to meet the human rights activist. But after the deal, they totally ignored human rights.
This is what has been missing and Donald Trump actually missed a great opportunity. Right now, he could, you know, ban the Islamic officials, he could sanction the Revolutionary Guard and that is the way you care about human rights.
MACCALLUM: We will see. Thank you very much, Masih and good to meet you.
ALINEJAD: Thank you so much for having me.
MACCALLUM: The book is called "The Wind in my Hair, My Fight for Freedom in Modern Iran."
Coming up next, Defense Secretary James Mattis once said be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet. But his real thoughts on war and on people may come as an even bigger shock.
Jim Proser is here with an in-depth and unknown back story of the renowned general, coming up next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What keeps you awake at night?
JAMES MATTIS, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Nothing. I keep other people awake at night.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: It is true that there are very few people in America today who are more admired than Defense Secretary James 'Mad Dog' as his nickname is known, Mattis. A marine who served more than four decades in the military, only to continue serving his country as the first confirmed member of President Trump's cabinet with a vote of 98 to 1.
In an extremely polarized Senate and environment, we've all seen what happened with the judges, that did not happen with General Mattis. So what is the real secret to this man? To understanding General Mattis.
With an answer to that, Jim Proser, author of "No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy: The Life of General James Mattis." Why the title, Jim, straight there?
JIM PROSER, AUTHOR, NO BETTER FRIEND, NO WORSE ENEMY: Well, he adapted that from the Roman emperor and commander Lucius Sulla. And it typifies his ability to be both a competent war fighter and a compassionate peacemaker.
MACCALLUM: So yu talk about that a lot that he is obviously, he is a very scholarly individual.
MACCALLUM: He is an extremely educated man, extraordinarily smart and knows his history--
MACCALLUM: -- inside and out. And that informs his feelings of compassion- -
MACCALLUM: -- in war as well as his commitment to results.
MACCALLUM: To winning.
PROSER: Yes. Well, he studied war, he is a student of war but in that study he understood that the purpose of war is to win the hearts and minds of the people. So he has always made very clear to the marines under his command that the people are the prize and that as he likes to say, there's a, be polite, be professional, but be prepared to kill everyone you meet.
MACCALLUM: You know, in the beginning of the book you talk about a Christmas night when he was on duty and they expected that he wouldn't be on duty because of the Christmas night and one of the reasons that he's able to do that is that he walked away from the most significant relationship in his life with his fiance Alice.
MACCALLUM: Who he left before they got married. What's the significance of Alice to understanding General Mattis?
PROSER: Well, I think he recognized at that point that there was his level of commitment to the Marine Corps and to the nation would preclude a full and complete marriage. And the woman he loved recognized that. And I think he came to agree with that. And so he assume marriage for then a life of leading his marines.
MACCALLUM: You know, it's remarkable, you know, his commitment. What about his relationship with the president?
PROSER: Well, James Mattis I think is living proof that Donald Trump is neither unethical nor incompetent. If he were, he wouldn't spend 10 minutes in the same room, General Mattis wouldn't.
So I think people can be reassured that they are in good hands with General Mattis. And he wouldn't even -- he doesn't seek the spotlight, so he wouldn't bring out any disagreements with the commander-in-chief but he also wouldn't serve any one who was not up to the job.
MACCALLUM: Very interesting. It's a great book. "No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy: The Life of General James Mattis." Fantastic insight. Jim Proser, thank you very much.
PROSER: Thank you.
MACCALLUM: Good to have you here tonight.
PROSER: I appreciate it.
MACCALLUM: We'll be right back.
MACCALLUM: So that's The Story on this Thursday night. Good to have you with us tonight. I will see you tomorrow night. I'll be live in Washington, D.C. I will also be making a special appearance with Guy Benson on his radio show tomorrow night around 5 o'clock from Washington, D.C., as well. Have a great night, everybody. Tucker Carlson is up next.
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