This is a rush transcript from "The Story," April 4, 2019. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
MARTHA MACCALLUM, HOST: All right. Come moments ago, the unofficial kick off of Fox News 2020 coverage of the billionaire CEO who would like to shake this race with an independent run made his case to the American people.
BRET BAIER, HOST: Would you vote for Joe Biden?
HOWARD SCHULTZ, FORMER CEO, STARBUCKS: Well, I'm going to vote for myself.
SCHULTZ: I think the American people want authenticity, honesty and character. In my view there should be no abortion that is in the last trimester.
MACCALLUM: Is your running mate a Republican or Democrat?
SCHULTZ: Boy, I didn't expect that question.
I think that person has to be complementary to my skill base and experience. We'll have to see. I don't know.
MACCALLUM: So now I really want to know what is the answer to that question? Here now Chris Stirewalt, Fox News politics editor. Chris, great to have you with us. You were with us all afternoon. We worked on a lot of questions for this crowd. What did you think? What's your take away?
CHRIS STIREWALT, DIGITAL POLITICS EDITOR: Well, he sounded more like a guy who wants to run for president.
STIREWALT: We've watched the evolution with Schultz a little bit. And you guys were very effective tonight at drawing him out and getting him into that place where it's a little bit cocky, right? Because y got to be a little bit cocky to run for president. He got to say, I'm going to vote for myself, man.
And at the end when he gets into firing them up and talking about it, I heard really for the first time something I had not heard from Howard Schultz before which was a little fire in the belly about really doing this. So, I think this was a good setting. I think -- I think he wants it. I think he wants it.
MACCALLUM: Yes. And I did ask him that at one point because I wanted to know the answer to that question. You know, how much do you want this?
MACCALLUM: And he said I do really want to run. He said that he would run regardless of Joe Biden's situation. Do you believe that?
STIREWALT: Yes. Look, I think the news tonight, the biggest take away is, I think, probably that line. I think him saying no, it's not about who the Democrats nominate, whether it's Joe Biden or anybody else, I'm going to run if I am going to run if I think it's the right choice.
Now he's got himself in a trap, which is I won't be a spoiler and if I'm at 1 percent or this percent of 2 percent.
STIREWALT: It's a little too conditional he has to start walking away from it because like Cortez burned his ships when he got to the new world. When you run for president you got to get in and you got to know that there is no turning back.
MACCALLUM: All right. But you know, I want to get with you the electoral question, right? I mean, you know, just logistically.
MACCALLUM: Because President Trump is, you know, wrapping up all of these states and locking them down for his delegates and his people are running those states. How does an independent even navigate this system?
STIREWALT: So, look, his idea is he can do really well in the suburbs. And look, the guy who gave us the pumpkin spice latte definitely has to know how to connect with suburban voters.
MACCALLUM: Yes, that's true. That's a good point. Right.
STIREWALT: So, he thinks he can do that and he thinks that in places like suburban Dallas or suburban Houston --
STIREWALT: -- that he can connect with a lot of voters who are looking for something different and that he can put a state like that in play. That he could get more than a third of a vote there, that he can win those electoral votes.
It's far-fetched but it starts to look very different if he gets serious and starts pending money and starts going on the campaign trail. Look, Ross Perot wasn't exactly the most endearing and warm creature. But prior to his self-inflicted wounds in 1992, he almost made a go of it.
MACCALLUM: So, after tonight, did it change your opinion as a political analyst at all in terms of how potentially viable he might be or as an independent candidate?
STIREWALT: The guy you drew out and who wanted to play to the crowd tonight --
STIREWALT: -- that guy looks like a guy who could be a contender.
MACCALLUM: Interesting. Very interesting. Chris, thank you.
STIREWALT: Thank you.
MACCALLUM: Great to see you tonight.
STIREWALT: Great job.
MACCALLUM: Thank you.
So, let's go back to New York as we talk about the 2020 field becoming even more crowded. South Bend Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Everybody has to learn how to say Pete Buttigieg, right, is expected to enter soon and he is already starting to apologize for something.
And that is the fact that he in the past used the phrase "all lives matter."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG, D-SOUTH BEND, INDIANA: Unfortunately, it was not obvious to everybody that black lives were valued the same. And so that is the contribution of black lives matter. And it's the reason why since learning about how that phrase was being used to push back on that activism, I have stopped using it in that context.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: All right. So, joining me now, Charlie Hurt, Washington Times opinion editor, and Jehmu Greene, former candidate for chair of the DNC. Both are Fox News contributors. Jehmu, you have been around the party and working on bringing out the vote for your entire career. When you look at Pete Buttigieg, what do you make of his candidacy and what do you make of his comment about all lives matter?
JEHMU GREENE, CONTRIBUTOR: First of all, congrats on stumping the possible candidate with that question. That was fantastic, Martha.
MACCALLUM: Thank you.
GREENE: I actually, I ran against Mayor Pete. We ran against each other for --
MACCALLUM: You do?
GREENE: -- the Democratic National Committee chair position and we traveled to lots of different forums together. My question to Payor Pete to a lot of these, you know, almost running folks, where is the substance?
You know, we've seen from Kamala Harris, a plan to give teachers a pay raise that they so desperately need. We've seen policy positions from Elizabeth Warren that go into so much detail whether it's breaking up Facebook and other tech giants or universal child care.
There is a real issue I have with the attention that Howard Schultz and some of these other B brothers running on the Democratic side the attention they get for the personality versus the substance. Where's the beef?
MACCALLUM: Did you say the B, what did you call them?
GREENE: The B brothers, Biden, Beto, Mayor Pete.
MACCALLUM: Beto, Biden, Buttigieg, OK.
GREENE: Yes, all of them.
MACCALLUM: Yes, I mean, it's interesting. They are stealing a lot of the attention out there. Charlie, what do you think?
CHARLIE HURT, CONTRIBUTOR: Well, of course, also, you know, a good 50 to 60 percent of Democratic voters are behind Biden -- two of the B brothers Biden and Bernie Sanders. And of course, which is kind of strange when you consider --
MACCALLUM: And Beto or Bernie. Bernie, we forgot him.
HURT: Yes. When you consider the fact that you're talking about two of the two oldest people, you know, in the Democratic race, they have been around Washington for decades, they haven't fixed anything. In addition to that you got a party that is built on identity politics. And for two old white guys to be sort of collecting the lion's share of the support at the moment is trouble.
But I tell you, you know, Donald Trump looks at this field and he feels very confident because he sees these Democrats, they're all falling over one another and trying to support things like open borders, or reparations now. Or, you know, all of the live birth abortion. All of these crazy things that are really fringe of the fringe. And if he is going to go into battle for 2020, that's what he wants to be going up against. So, he is he feeling very confident right now.
MACCALLUM: Well, interesting to note that Howard Schultz tonight said he was not in favor of third trimester --
HURT: I was fascinated by that.
MACCALLUM: -- abortion or reparations. So, a lot of alternatives out there for people to think over.
HURT: To me, that was --
HURT: On issues, to me, that was the most interesting thing out of that entire very -- all of it was interesting but to me that was that the most important thing. Because as Jehmu pointed out it was about issues and it was about issues that are important to most people.
GREENE: But you know what? When he said what would make news --
MACCALLUM: Bernie is up next. Real quick, Jehmu, thank you.
GREENE: He said what would make news is his support for universal catastrophic insurance. And I don't think that's going to make news. The politics of it is going to make news. The personality kind of the squabbling the wedge issues and that's a shame because that does benefit Donald Trump.
And so, Democrats need to come together on the substance I think and move away from the personality so much.
MACCALLUM: All right. Jehmu and Charlie, thank you so much. Great to see you both tonight.
HURT: Thank you.
MACCALLUM: Thanks for being here. So coming up next, a story exclusive with the top Republican on the House Ways and Means committee who has blasted Democrats who want President Trump to turn over his tax returns.
Congressman Kevin Brady calls this a misguided rush to impeachment. He is up next.
MACCALLUM: House Democrats are demanding six years of President Trump's tax returns. The chairman of the House Ways and Means committee sending a formal request to the IRS in search of the documentation. The president says he is under audit and is, quote, "not inclined to allow such access." But Democrats claim it's the law.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DAN KILDEE, D-MICH.: This is a specific request to the commissioner of the IRS who is duty bound to follow the law of the United States.
REP. NANCY PELOSI, D-CALIF., SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: The law exists. The law is very clear. The secretary shall furnish, shall, not may, should, could, shall.
REP. JOHN LEWIS, D-GA: By law, we have a right to ask that the president's tax returns for six years be made available.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: So, there you have it. Here now Congressman Kevin Brady of Texas, the top Republican on that same House Ways and Means committee. Good to see you this evening, Congressman Brady. Thank you very much for being here tonight.
You hear the argument from the Democrats they believe that it is their right to request this, that it is their right to request it from the IRS and that Secretary Mnuchin has a responsibility to comply with that. What do you say?
REP. KEVIN BRADY, R-TX: They are wrong and dead wrong. This is unprecedent. Congress has never sought the personal tax information of an individual for purely political reasons. And that's what this is. It ought to worry every American because, by law, you have a fundamental right to privacy to personal information in your taxpayer returns.
Democrats are actually violating that law in order to target the president for purely political reasons.
Here's the worry. If you weaponize the Tax Code for purely political purposes you set a dangerous precedent where future Congresses can target any Americans they see as a political enemy. That's the danger in this request and that's why my point is this is an abuse of the committee's legal authority. They are violating the very law of privacy with this request. It's not a legitimate request.
MACCALLUM: All right. I want to play a sound bite from your colleague on Capitol Hill. Senator John Kennedy. Here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN KENNEDY, R-LA: I think he has at least if you take the president at his word, a legitimate reason for not turning them over. He says he is in the middle of an audit.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Yes.
KENNEDY: And his CPAs say don't turn them over. I think all things being equal.
KENNEDY: I would like to see the president's taxes. You know, I wouldn't be averse to turning over my taxes. I don't have anything to hide.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: What's your reaction to that?
BRADY: Well, I think Senator Kennedy raises one key point here is that, I think Democrats want one standard for the president. They want to rummage around in his tax returns for political purposes but they are certainly not volunteering their own tax returns.
And the truth of the matter is the bigger picture is, again, privacy matters in America. Civil liberties still matter. If Democrats can open this Pandora's box and for purely political reasons, here's what we are going to see a return of the political enemy's list.
MACCALLUM: All right. I understand what you're saying.
BRADY: This law was put in place to protect Americans.
MACCALLUM: In just a moment I'm going to talk to Sean Spicer and Juan Williams. But I have one more question for you. Because I know Juan is going to bring this up. And he is saying that he wants to see the president's tax returns to dispel any of the discussion about payments from foreign countries that might have had something to do with a Moscow tower or anything that might be nefarious along those lines and that that's why he thinks the president should have to turn these over. What would you say to that?
BRADY: Yes, more just fishing on the president. Attempting to discredit him. Truth of the matter is, the president's disclosure returns which he filed shows us he has more than 600 business interests. It tells us what loans he has and at what interest rate and from what amount.
There is the information that Juan or anyone else frankly can work through if they choose at the bottom line of this. This really is just part of the Russia impeachment; the Democrats are just hell bent on.
MACCALLUM: Congressman Kevin Brady, thank you very much, sir. House Ways and Means committee. Good to have you with us here tonight.
BRADY: Thank you.
MACCALLUM: Thank you. So as I mentioned, joining me now, Sean Spicer, senior advisor and spokesman for America First Action and author of "The Briefing." And Juan Williams, co-host of The Five and a Fox News political analyst. Gentlemen, welcome. Good to have both of you with us tonight.
Sean, you know, it's understandable what Kevin Brady was saying about the politicization of all of this. However, the question is still out there that has been out there since 2017 and which Senator Kennedy also said he didn't have anything to hide. Why, why doesn't the president want to disclose these documents that other candidates in the past have turned over? Why not?
SEAN SPICER, SENIOR ADVISOR, AMERICAN FIRST ACTION: Because he doesn't want to. I mean, I think, look, every candidate for federal office including the president filed a personal financial disclosure form that lists all of their assets and their debts in extensive way. You have to check off how much, you know, how many bank accounts you have. How many homes, how many accounts, what loans you have, et cetera, who you owe money to and at what rate. So, all of that is filed.
So, let's be clear that there is plenty of that out there. I think the president understands and the Democrats have proven and Kevin Brady was absolutely right that this is a political fishing expedition.
When they couldn't get him on collusion, now they want to go after him on taxes. But they are not going after him because of some particular reason. They want to go in a fishing expedition and find something that they can hang over his head.
So, they will go through every deduction and everything and say, we got him here, this is how it could be misinterpreted that he took this deduction or filed this.
And the president knows that this is going to be used purely for political purposes and that's why I don't think regardless whether he is under audit or not that he should do what he wants to do. And he understands that this is not being done for altruistic purposes. This is done for weaponizing.
MACCALLUM: Do you believe him, Sean, when he says that he is under audit, that he is still under audit. Do you believe him?
SPICER: Well, I know it because every federal -- every president and vice president since 1970 has been audited by the IRS. That should -- that's not in dispute.
The question is does he want to go a step further or not? I think it's up to him and I think he understands as does everybody, Martha, that he has filed all the appropriate forms but this is not being used for legitimate purposes. It's political -- it's political and it's being weaponized to use --
MACCALLUM: All right. Let me bring Juan --
SPICER: -- because they couldn't get him on the collusion.
MACCALLUM: So, Juan, what do you say to that suggestion from both Sean and also from Congressman Brady that this is just a fishing expedition that it's clear that, you know, Democrats did not get what they wanted out of the Mueller report, at least as far as what they know now.
And so, then they move onto the next thing, yes, we want to keep digging into the personal finances of President Trump and, yes, we'd like to see 10 years or six years of tax returns. What do you say to that?
JUAN WILLIAMS, CO-HOST & POLITICAL ANALYST: This is not about President Trump. This is a precedent that, as Sean rightly said, I think we can go all the way back to Jimmy Carter, every president has given the American people his tax returns. And so, it's not a fishing expedition, Martha.
It's the American people taking a look at what kind of potential conflicts of interest exists for their top leader, the man in the White House, the commander-in-chief.
And in the case of President Trump, the so-called fishing expedition comes down to things like the existing suit about whether or not under the emolument clause of the Constitution in fact he is benefiting from foreign assets and interests in terms of his hotels and properties. That's no fishing expedition.
Given what he has done, given his past as a businessman, the American people have every right to say what is this about, Mr. President? He could relieve all of that pressure and I don't think it's political, I just think it's a clear standard.
SPICER: Can I make a quick point?
MACCALLUM: All right. We got to leave it there. Gentlemen --
SPICER: I'm no C --
MACCALLUM: Real quick.
SPICER: I'm not a CPA. But I will tell you I would assume all that stuff that Juan just talked would be corporate tax returns not personal tax returns.
MACCALLUM: It's unbelievable.
SPICER: So, even the stuff Democrats are looking for probably wouldn't even come through on a personal tax return. Now, again, don't rely on me for tax filing purposes. But I don't think that that's --
MACCALLUM: All right.
SPICER: -- what they are searching for would even be in what they are asking. This is a fishing expedition plain and simple.
WILLIANS: Well, I'll just say for standards --
MACCALLUM: Thank you, gentlemen. I've got to leave it there. Thank you, gentlemen. We'll pick it up another time.
Coming up next --
WILIAMS: Thank you, Martha.
MACCALLUM: Good to see you both tonight. Coming up, next -- thank you. Did a foundation that works to free American hostages get bullied into rescinding a freedom award that they had every intention of giving to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: Now that we are treating every hostage situation with the urgency that it demands that it deserves. In other word, we are treating your family in the way we would want ours treated because as Americans we are indeed all family.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was set to be honored this week for dedication to bringing home Americans who have been held hostage around the world. Until a leading advocacy group abruptly reversed course and rescinded both his award and his invitation to the banquet after reported backlash from media sponsors.
In a statement to Fox News, the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation says that their decision is being mischaracterized and that, quote, "We could not present the award as planned due to the dramatic change in circumstances when the administration did not press for genuine accountability from the Saudi government for the brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi."
Marc Thiessen, American Enterprise Institute scholar and a Fox Mews contributor wrote about this today. Marc, what's your reaction and what do you think is really at work here?
MARC THIESSEN, CONTRIBUTOR: So, first of all, it's not that they just decided to deny Mike Pompeo an award. They offered him the award, they invited him to the banquet then they withdrew the award and disinvited him from the banquet. So that's a slap in the face to the secretary of state and the diplomats who do all this work trying to free American hostages.
Second of all, he deserved the award. The Trump administration has made recovering Americans held in captivity in foreign lands one of its top foreign priorities and they have had more success than almost any administration in recent times.
In two years, they have liberated more than 20 people, including 17 Americans from countries including Yemen, Turkey, North Korea, Egypt, China, Portugal, and Venezuela and also from Taliban control. And they did it, and by the way, that's more than the Obama administration accomplished in eight years they did in two.
And they did it without releasing terrorists from Guantanamo Bay or sending hundreds of millions in unmarked bills on a secret plane to Tehran which only creates incentives for more hostage-taking.
So, this was, quite frankly, their initial instinct was right. This is an award that was well-deserved by this administration and by Secretary Pompeo personally.
MACCALLUM: Well, let me ask you this, just factual, a question about the sequence of events because the Jamal Khashoggi situation happened months ago and I think that some people --
MACCALLUM: -- could understand being upset about the way that that was handled and they would have liked to have seen more push back against the Saudi government for that.
MACCALLUM: But the timing on this seems a little bit strange if indeed they did just rescind the invitation this week.
THIESSEN: Yes. If they felt that strongly about the Khashoggi matter then they should have never offered the award to Pompeo in the first place. But once they did it --
THIESSEN: -- you don't withdraw the award and slap the State Department. It's not just Mike Pompeo, these are career diplomats who are doing this work who he represents. And look, I have problems with the way the Trump administration handled the Khashoggi matter. But the idea that they have not demanded accountability is simply not true.
They imposed sanctions on 17 individuals involved in the murder under the global Magnitsky Act. They revoked visas from 21 people. And we don't know what kind of conversations Secretary Mike Pompeo has had behind closed doors with the Saudi crown prince.
But it seems like some people will not be satisfied until we blow up the entire relationship with Saudi Arabia. And that's not an option. We need Saudi Arabia to counter Iran. There is no other country in the Middle East that can play the role that Saudi Arabia has to play in countering Iran and Iranian influence which is the number one menace to U.S. interest in the Middle East.
So, the idea that we are going to blow up the entire relationship in response to this is not realistic and it's not, quite frankly, the right policy.
MACCALLUM: Marc, thank you very much. Marc Thiessen, good to see you tonight.
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