This is a rush transcript from "The Story," Decemer 26, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

ED HENRY, CORRESPONDENT: Brett, good to see you.

That's a fun story. Welcome everybody. Breaking tonight, can we call it the Trump rally from Wall Street to the world stage? The president seems to be back on offense tonight.

Early this week, his critics were mocking the president for that Dow dive on Christmas Eve. NBC News was claiming he'd be the first commander-in- chief to skip a holiday trip to see our men and women in uniform since 2002. And the President himself was tweeting about being well, home alone at the White House. Well, what a difference a couple of days make.

Good evening, everybody. I'm Ed Henry, in for Martha MacCallum. Hope you had a wonderful Christmas here at home today. In a stunning reversal, the stock markets saw its biggest daily point gain ever. That's right, ever.

In abroad, the president who's been under fire for never visiting a combat zone as president did just that. Boarding a secret overnight flight from Maryland to Iraq to surprise troops on the ground there and thank them for spending Christmas far, far, from home.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: The reason I'm here today is to personally thank you and every service member throughout this region for the near elimination of the ISIS territorial caliphate in Iraq and in Syria. Two years ago when I became president, they were a very dominant group. They were very dominant. Today, they're not so dominant anymore.


HENRY: Not so dominant. You hear the cheers, the selfies, the handshakes, lots of smiles at Al Asad Airbase as the President and First Lady Melania Trump spent three hours on the ground there. President also used the visit to take the reins back perhaps, on border security. Just days ago, he seemed to be backtracking about the wall.


TRUMP: A barrier, wall, or steel slats, whatever you want to call it. It's all the same.


HENRY: But earlier today, he appeared to return to campaign mode and was talking tough.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How long do you think the shutdown will last, Mr. President?

TRUMP: Whatever it takes. I mean, we'll going to have a wall. We'll going to have safety.


HENRY: Well, in moments, Homeland Security Committee member Congressman Peter King joins me live with more on this historic trip. And more importantly perhaps, what comes next in the showdown over the wall. But first, our senior political correspondent Mike Emanuel was live in Washington with more on the president's secret visit. Good evening, Mike.

MIKE EMANUEL, CORRESPONDENT: Ed, good evening. President Trump's visit to Iraq is a traditional move by a commander-in-chief during a holiday period to thank our troops for their service a long way from home.

The president and first lady's visit was full of secrecy with their security obviously a concern. This president has made withdrawing the United States from Foreign Wars a priority. This location in Iraq is significant as U.S. and coalition forces have been successful in retaking Mosul and liberating significant territory across the border in Syria.

And the president noted the great job American troops have done in taking the fight to ISIS.


TRUMP: I looked at a map and two years ago it was a lot of red all over that map. But now you have a couple little spots and that's happening very quickly.


EMANUEL: The president and first lady are due to make a second stop before heading back to the White House before leaving. The commander in chief told troops there, he does not plan to withdraw from Iraq. He says, he sees using it as a military base to launch operations in Syria and against the Islamic state.

An important part of the commander-in-chief's visit to a combat zone was clearly focused on saying thank you to our men and women in uniform.


TRUMP: We came to Al Assad this year. Our eternal gratitude for everything you do to keep America safe, strong, and free.


EMANUEL: This trip also comes as the president's defense secretary Jim Mattis is on his way out. Mattis announce his resignation last week and was highly critical, the president's foreign policy. So the president bumped up the change at the Pentagon to New Year's Day about two months early.

The president's critics like actress Alyssa Milano tweeted this afternoon, "Trump becomes the first president since 2002 not to visit troops at Christmas time." Too soon, the president was on his way. A day after calling troops around the world to wish them a Merry Christmas, he went to see some in person. Ed?

HENRY: All right, Mike Emanuel, good job at you. Appreciate it. Here now, Republican Congressman Peter King who serves on the House Homeland Security Committee. Good evening, sir. Merry Christmas.

REP. PETER KING, R-N.Y.: Thank you, Ed. You too.

HENRY: You know as Mike said, it wasn't just Hollywood stars. You had NBC News, and his critics again thinking they've got the president corner. Look at this headline, sir. "NBC News, Trump becomes first president since 2002 not to visit troops at Christmastime." Meanwhile, within hours he's in the air doing just that, sir.

KING: Yes. I know President Trump's gets angry at the media for their biased reporting. But many ways, they're as best ally because they always overshoot, they always exaggerate, and they always put him in a position where he ends up on top.

So, again, this does show though the rush to judgment the media always has against President Trump. And again, he would even plan on going anyway, but this, again, outsmarted the media that was not his main motive that certainly the way it worked out.

HENRY: So congressman, on a more important policy decision which is something that some Republicans have been upset about, as well, which is about pulling troops out of Syria, as well as half the troops out of Afghanistan. I wonder if his critics, as well, maybe jumped to conclusions at the front and thought, "Aha! This is a huge mistake without hearing the details."

Listen to what the president said -- or I'm sorry, this is actually a quote from a story about what he said on the ground in Iraq. He said, "If we see something happening with ISIS that we don't like, we can hit them so fast and so hard. They really won't know what the hell happened. We've knocked them silly."

So, the idea being that the troops that are still there, are thousands of about 5,200 are in Iraq and could help in Syria. Isn't that an idea that perhaps the critics were overshooting at first again, sir?

KING: I think it certainly serves to mitigate some of the concerns. I'll be honest with you yet. I disagree with this policy to come out of Syria the way it was done. But again, if I think if he articulates this and continues to that the fact our troops in Iraq can be used in Syria if they have to be, that would go a long way to alleviate and to mitigate some of the concerns that people had about Iraq because ISIS still is very dangerous.

And I don't want to create a vacuum that the Russians, the Iranians can fill. But again, the fact that he showed his willingness to use the American troops in Iraq to carry out a mission in Syria if they have to if ISIS develops again. To me, didn't go a considerable way toward alleviating that concern.

HENRY: On the other hand, when he talks about the fact that ISIS -- when he took the presidency, he had territory about the size of Ohio. He talked about those red dots on the map and now they have about one person of that, sir. Is this a victory he has not gotten credit for?

KING: Right. Oh, yes. Definitely. Well, listen, he has done a phenomenal job in going after terrorism, on taking some of the restrictions of the military, on giving the generals and the military the power and the authority they need. Now, this has been overwhelmingly successful what he has done against ISIS.

I just -- my only question was I think there's still a remnant of ISIS and it could be resurrected. But having said that, no, this has been a really the great untold story of the last two years is the devastating impact that this president has had on ISIS. Remember, several years ago, ISIS, the unstoppable force. They had the caliphate.

HENRY: Right.

KING: They were marching -- you know, right from the Middle East, and now, they are -- again, I'm far, far, far, less potent force than they were. And the president deserves full credit for that. Absolutely.

HENRY: All right. Congressman, let's bring it back here at home now. Though as you know, the president also had some in his own party concerned about the policy on immigration. And was he faltering a bit was he softening on the push for a wall? Did he alleviate some doubts today by saying, whatever it takes, there's going to be a wall?

KING: Yes, he did. Let me tell you where I'm coming from. I strongly support the wall. I -- in fact, I was one of the authors of the bill back in 2006, which passed the Congress calling for 700 miles of security. And it wasn't supported by many Democrats at the time.

So, the Democrats are being totally hypocritical. I just have a thing against government shutdowns. I think they end up being kind of productive. But now that we're in it, I think it's important for the president and the Democrats to come to the table, find a way to negotiate a compromise here. But to me, the wall is essential. I wouldn't have shut down the government over it. But it is shut down now.

So, let's find a way out of it, and it should be done by the Democrats conceding that there has to be a wall.

HENRY: So --

KING: The president is right about that.

HENRY: Congressman, I got 30 seconds. What's next then? How does the president get out of this as you say, you support his push for the wall, you're glad you did that, but you're not excited about the government being partially shut down.

KING: Right.

HENRY: Democrats don't seem to want to negotiate with him.

KING: No, and I think your president, what they can do is make it was -- which I think Mick Mulvaney is sort of into that. They can make some concessions as far as the total amount. And then, I would also suggest that perhaps the year, we probably could also do something on DACA.

But in return for that, the Democrats will have to commit to the wall. Otherwise, the president, I don't see how he gets out of this, otherwise. I don't see the end game without that.

HENRY: All right. Congressman Peter King, we appreciate you coming in.

KING: Thank you, Ed. Thank you.

HENRY: Here now, Jason Riley, Wall Street Journal columnist, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. And Jessica Tarlov. She's a Democratic strategist and senior director of research at She's also, of course, a Fox News contributor. Good to see you both.


HENRY: Good to see you. Jason, the president had some concerns among Republicans both with the Syria policy as just mentioned, as well as the wall. Has he alleviated some of those concerns in his own party?

JASON RILEY, COLUMNIST, WALL STREET JOURNAL: What do you mean, with the trip over -- overseas as he alleviate those concern?

HENRY: Yes, the trip may be changing the subject a bit but also while over they are making it clear, A, that he's had a big victory on ISIS when you look at the territory that they had when he took president -- the presidency, and where they are now. But also making clear to reporters there, after be seeming to be on defense he's been in the week, talking to be home alone at the White House.

He got out of the White House, he goes over to seeing the troops. But says look, whatever it takes we're going to have the wall.

RILEY: I think, that was the right thing to do. I'm glad he went I think it is a morale booster for our men and women in uniform. And in the current context I think, it was important trip to. With the Mattis resignation. Mattis is someone and some of the other officials that are leaving, who was in very high held in very high regard by the rank and file in the military.

And I think it was important to reinsure our men and women in uniform that he has their back, that he has the best interest of the country in mind. And also, as the previous interview with Representative King, showed there is some skepticism about how he handled that pull out, of the announcement -- of the timing of the announcement and who he shared this information with ahead of time.

HENRY: Absolutely.

RILEY: And it's not just in the House. You have people like Tom Cotton, the Senate. Big supporter of Trump, nevertheless was very critical of this move.

Henry: Yes.

RILEY: So, yes. I do think he did a little bit to reassure them. But I think there is some more work to be done.

HENRY: That's right. Sure. Now, Jessica, obviously one positive trip doesn't erase the fact that he has real difficulties perhaps ahead finding who's the next defense secretary dealing the fact that James Mattis left in a very messy way. We can't sweep that under the carpet.

On the other hand, don't some of his critics look a little silly by saying he's the first one not to visit the troops when they didn't throw this together in three or four hours because of a tweet. This had to be in the works.

TARLOV: Yes, and I will just admit right up front that I fell for it, as well. So, I'm putting that out there. I didn't think that he was leaving, I thought he was all alone there ruining Christmas for seven-year-olds all over the country. And I was thrilled to see that he did though --


HENRY: We're going to get to that later in the show, believe me.

TARLOV: OK, good. But it was -- it was a great thing for the troops when I do see now that Newsweek is reporting that because of a video that he posted, he's revealed the identities of members of SEAL Team Five, who are there on covert operations. That's something I'm sure we'll hear more about as the evening progresses.

But no doubt this was the right thing to do, bringing Melania, as well. There aren't many first ladies that actually go into conflict zones. It seemed to be a very meaningful experience for those who are there.

But to Jason's point, I don't think it alleviates concerns over the pullout from Syria. When he was addressing the troops, he said, "You know, I said to the generals who are in Syria, you got six months. And then, I gave him six months. And I said, you got six months, and now you just got to get out of there.

I don't know what kind of policy that is. And Jim Mattis clearly didn't know what kind of policy that is. So that's outstanding.

HENRY: Yes. Jason and Jessica, I want you to hear something that Maxine Waters said on Sunday.


REP. MAXINE WATERS, D-CALIF.: I'm not surprised that anything that the president may do or say. I have warned America from the beginning that this president is not worthy, he should not be there, that he cannot be trusted, he's a liar, he's despicable. We need to get rid of this president.


HENRY: Jason, even if the president did not handle the shutdown perfectly, how does he negotiate with a Democratic Party that has leaders like Maxine Waters saying he's a liar, he needs to get out.

RILEY: Well, you're not going to negotiate with Maxine Waters. But she can be a thorn in his side. She's going to be head of one of these committees that will have oversight duties and come January. So, he's someone -- she's someone -- he is going to have to deal with eventually.

But in terms of the shutdown. And I think both sides still think they have something to gain politically from this. The Democrats enjoy accusing people who support border security of being racist. They think that helps them with their base and Trump thinks that his base wants to see him to continue to be engaged on this issue.

And so, he -- I think he is become convinced that if he doesn't get some of this funding for his wall, he is jeopardizing his reelection chances, frankly. And so, I think you're going to see them continue to push it.


HENRY: Yes. All right, let's give Jessica -- yes. Jessica, just give you a fair chance to get in here. I realize that Pelosi and Schumer are the leaders who are negotiating on the shutdown. But Maxine Waters is going to be a committee chair. Yes.


TARLOV: Right, but the committee is aren't incredibly powerful. Yes, absolutely. But I would say, when you look at what President Obama had to do when he was dealing with Trey Gowdy, Mark Meadows, Devin Nunez, et cetera, they don't sound all that different maybe in tone than Maxine Waters. But the content of what they were saying -- you know, people who were out there with the lock her up stuff and going after Democrats in a very politically motivated way whether it was the IRS hearings, Benghazi or any of the others. I don't think it's that dissimilar from what's going on right now with Maxine Waters.

And Jerry Nadler has said that he is not going for impeachment. And there are real concerns here about what the Trump -- members of the Trump administration, cabinet members, and his own family have done in terms of taking advantage of the office.


TARLOV: And they should be investigated.

HENRY: Well, one person's political hearings is another person's oversight, I suppose, depending on who's in power. Jessica, Jason, I appreciate you both coming up.

TARLOV: Yes. Thanks a lot.

HENRY: Thank you. Up next, new calls for the President to go it alone to get the wall. Could he use executive power to bypass Congress and get the money he needs to just go ahead and build it?


SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: But the President is committed to making sure that one way or another whether it's through Congress or other measures that we protect our borders and he's looking at a number of different ways in order to do that.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How long do you think the shutdown will last, Mr. President?

TRUMP: Whatever it takes. I mean, we got to have a wall. We're going to have safety. We need safety for our country.


HENRY: President Trump there vowing to finally deliver on a border wall despite that standstill in Washington over how to get it funded and reopen the government. Some now saying the President should exercise his executive power to bypass Congress altogether writing, "He has the funds available and the authority to build the wall on his own. The only question is whether the President Trump will finally start taking advice from those who actually support his goals rather than continuing to trust the internal obstructionist.

Joining me now is the author of that piece Brett Dekker. He's an Assistant Professor of Business at Defiance College and co-author of the book The Conservative Case for Trump. Good evening. Good to have you tonight.

BRETT DECKER, PROFESSOR, DEFIANCE COLLEGE: Hey, Merry Christmas, Ed. Great to be on.

HENRY: All right, Merry Christmas. So let's explain first what do you believe the President can and cannot do with his executive power?

DECKER: Yes, sure. That's the fundamental question is a couple weeks ago the White House put out a directive to the executive branch agencies asking if they could find pots of money that they could use to build the wall and there's money all over the executive branch that can be used, right? The federal budgets $4 trillion and people are claiming they're -- they don't have nickels to rub together to come up with $5 billion.

So there are all these different initiatives and I think the one I find the most interesting, there are $200 billion in loans that the Department of Agriculture gives out for rural development. And these are basically like bank loans where rural -- they give loans out to rural communities to build fire stations, even walls, retaining walls. So these get paid back. They have a super low default rate so they'd be very attractive to you know, to be part of an investment portfolio.

HENRY: So it may be attractive --


HENRY: Right. But you know the Congress has to authorize issues and pots of money as you say and then appropriate it. So the President's own acting chief of staff at the White House has said that they can't just move money around that quickly. Do you believe that they just don't understand the process or as you say there are people on the inside who are undermining the President somehow?

DECKER: Yes, I mean, people who are against the President's agenda or is going to be may said they're always going to come up with reasons why you can't do anything. But there's always this fight between presidents and Congress over how an executive can spend money that's already been allocated or is already out there. So -- even George Washington fought with Congress over it.

So, I think what the what the President has to do is just do it, right? Obama sent $1.7 billion to Iran in cash. Well, that didn't get approved by Congress. So --

HENRY: Yes. Where'd he get that? Congress obviously did not authorize or appropriate that. Pardon me. You talked about -- Congress clearly didn't appropriate that money that cash to go to Iran.

DECKER: Sure. And you know during the Bush administration, lots of war funding was moved around. There are kind of lot lots of sort of secret operation. So I think -- this is something President Trump was elected to do, something about immigration. Congress, can't even pass a budget right, let alone do anything on a control controversial issue like the wall. So I think President Trump needs to kind of just do it and force the issue. Other presidents do this and get away with it so I think this president needs to do it and I think it's --

HENRY: But should you do it -- pardon me. I know we have difference in the satellite there, but it should the President just do it? That's what some Democrats were saying to Harry Reid a few years ago about the nuclear option with judicial nominations and it backfired on them. I seem to remember Republicans shouting at President Obama about overstepping his executive power on DACA and other issues. Would this blow up in the Republicans face if the President starts moving money around?

DECKER: You know, I think the -- I think actually it's a great question. I think it's actually the opposite. I think what's going to blow up in Republicans faces both in Congress and the White House is if they don't do something about immigration. Their majorities and President Trump's election were based on addressing this issue. President Trump said you get the wall built in this first two years. Well, the two years are up. Democrats are in control of the house in January. No funding is going to pass in the next two years with a divide in Congress so I think this is the President's only option.

HENRY: Brett, you certainly right. With Democrats in charge of the House, they're not going to be funding the wall, at least not to the levels the President wants and there is a lot of frustration the president's old party about Republicans running the House and not getting that job done. Brett, we appreciate you coming in tonight.

DECKER: Great. Thanks for having me on.

HENRY: All right, up next, the new poll from Democrats showing they'd settle for just about anyone on the ballot in 2020 except Hillary Clinton. Former Pennsylvania Governor and DNC Chair Ed Rendell is here live as well as Karl Rove. They're coming up next.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you want to run again?




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There was a pause.

CLINTON: Well, I'd like to be president.




HENRY: 2019 is not even officially here but the race to 2020 already heating up. And if Hillary Clinton is considering another run for president, she may want to think again. New poll finds a staggering 70 percent of Democrats and Independents do not think she should be on the ballot. A mere 15 percent would be excited to see her run again. Here now former Governor of Pennsylvania Ed Rendell. He also of course formerly served as Chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Good evening, Ed.


HENRY: Pretty direct message to Hillary Clinton, isn't it?

RENDELL: Yes, I don't think she has any intention of running. I think she was right. She would like to be president. Somewhat I like to be president, I just don't want to run for it. If I woke up tomorrow and found I was president, I wouldn't resign.

HENRY: Yes. There's a lot of people who might feel that way. Something caught my eye today in Vanity Fair. They posted a story saying that there may be a little trouble in paradise between Joe Biden and Barack Obama. Specifically that you know, as you know, Barack Obama has been meeting with Beto O'Rourke and others. Obama world insiders describe that former Vice President is upset not specifically by Obama's conversation with O'Rourke but the fact that he has been meeting with a whole series. The former President's willingness to talk to other Democratic contenders while Biden is still deciding whether to run himself.

So you can see both sides of this. Biden wants everyone to sort of freeze, but Ed, you know better than anyone as a former DNC chair, there may be a dozen, 15 other Democrats ready to jump in on their own.

RENDELL: Sure. But I'm not sure that report is correct. But even if it is, my advice to Joe Biden is the fact that the President meets with other contenders doesn't mean that he's endorsing them or going to be for them and not for Joe. I am sort of the elder statesman of Pennsylvania Democrats and I meet with anybody who wants to run for office.

Even if I know I'm supporting an opponent I will meet with that person and tell them what type of campaign I think he or she should run. I tell them how I think they should go about it. How they should plan for the general election if they win the primary. So, I don't think you can read too much into that.

HENRY: So, but Ed, as an elder statesman as your party -- in your party as you say, the party has been moving further and further left. You see people like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and others, not just her rising in the party. When Claire McCaskill, who was just ousted in Missouri saying wait a second, don't forget about white working-class voters.

RENDELL: Right. And that's played into Joe Biden's long suit. We will have trouble winning if we don't get back some of those white working-class Democrats who voted for Donald Trump. The best person in our field without any shadow of a doubt to bring them back is Joe Biden.

And I want to correct you on one degree. The party has elected some people who are on the left -- far left side of the spectrum. But most of the governors who were elected, Democrats took back seven governors each were moderate leftist centered Democrats.

So, I don't think this was a wave of progressive people getting elected. Most of the congresspeople who got elected--

HENRY: Sure.

RENDELL: -- the new 40 who took back Republican seats weren't far out left-wingers. They were left to center moderates. So, I don't think the party has moved. The party understands that we've got to win and there are certain things on their far-left agenda that I would love to see happen but aren't going to happen and we can't lie to people.

HENRY: Yes. And I want to give you a platform for that. You just wrote an op-ed where you were talking about infrastructure and other issues. The fact that President Trump has talked about, Democratic Senate Leader Chuck Schumer has talked about and your advice to your party is look, don't get lost in all these investigations but are they going to listen?

Because you've seen the report in Axios and elsewhere that there are literally dozens of subpoenas that when you say your party is not moving to the left, but, sir, there are dozens of subpoenas they have ready to go to just go after the president on literally every issue.

RENDELL: Well, I don't think that's a leftist or center issue. But if we do that and I heard there were 85 different subjects we were looking at for possible investigations, we do that at our peril.

We've now got control of the Congress and the American people say OK, guys, what do you propose to do about the challenges facing the nation? We should legislate more than investigate. We should pass an infrastructure bill. It doesn't even matter if the Senate passes it or the president signs it. It will be out there saying this is what we do if we get control of the government.

We should pass an immigration reform bill. We should pass amendments to Obamacare if Obamacare is upheld by the courts as I think it will be. We should pass real legislation directed at real problems. That's the way to win voters.

Investigations, we've got Robert Mueller and a very talented team.


RENDELL: We should investigate the things that are not in the Mueller purview. But legislate, legislate, legislate rather than just investigate, investigate, investigate.

HENRY: All right. We'll see if they take your advice. Ed Rendell, I appreciate you coming in tonight.

RENDELL: Thanks very much.

HENRY: All right. Let's turn now to Karl Rove. A former deputy of staff to President George W. Bush of course, and a Fox News contributor. Good to see you, Karl.


HENRY: Merry Christmas to you as well. Hope the family is well. And I wonder what say you about the Democratic Party and whether they move left or not?

ROVE: Well, I think Governor Rendell put a little bit of a gloss on it. Yes, most -- many of the Democrats were elected to governorships and purple states where moderate to left of center but even in the House races like Kansas, suburban Kansas City, a seat in Kansas was won by a left-winger.

In Dallas, Pete Sessions was knocked off by a candidate who spent the primary extolling his left-wing views in the general election disclaiming them.

So, I think the jury is yet out on how strong that class of 40 is going to be but my sense is yes, the Democratic Party is moving to the left. More people identify as liberals, if you were identified as moderate and virtually nobody in the Democratic Party identifies themselves as conservatives. And that said, that trend has been entrained for a while and has only gotten more pronounced.

HENRY: So, Karl, beyond what it means for Nancy Pelosi and her caucus in the House as they take power in 2019, what does it mean for 2020 when you've got Bernie Sanders talking about running again, Elizabeth Warren and yes, there are going to be some centrists as a well in fairness to Ed Rendell, but there seems like there's a lot of candidates on the left fighting for votes and fighting for the hearts and minds of the Democratic Party.

ROVE: I think you've got to look at it from two different ways. First of all, what's going to be the impact on the legislative process? And I think Rendell is, Governor Rendell is absolutely right. If Democrats would be smart to legislate, not investigate.

But the left wing of the Democratic Party, and I put this in my column tomorrow in the Wall Street Journal, that the left wing of the Democratic Party beliefs that compromise is bad and that anybody who negotiates, Democrats who negotiate are potential traitors.

And so, there's going to be a real pressure from the grassroots of the Democratic Party to investigate, investigate, impeach, impeach and not legislate and legislate as Governor Rendell talked about.

But the other one is what's going to happen in the 2020 presidential election in the Democratic primary and there could be a moderate Democrat, a moderately liberal Democrat who emerges who doesn't buy into the left- wing agenda who could become a serious contender because the left could be split up among, you know, several -- you know, a number of highly credible left-wing candidates.

And so there might be a way available for somebody. Well, I doubt it because there he's got, he was elected as a mayor of New York as a Republican but there might be room for a Mitch Landrieu or maybe even Joe Biden will pick that lane to running rather than trying to sort of out- Bernie Sanders. Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren or Kamala Harris.


ROVE: He may say, you know what, I'm going to run as a unifier, as somebody who will work with Republicans and Democrats. I'm going to serve one term and I'm going to put the country in the right direction and then retire to Delaware. That could be an appealing message because everybody else is slicing up the left wing of the Democratic Party.

HENRY: Karl, there's one other person, I've got 30 seconds, who seems to already be running, that's Donald Trump. What's your advice to him tonight about the government shutdown and what's ahead with the wall?

ROVE: Well, I wrote about it in my column tomorrow. You know, this that you've got to have an end strategy and the president, by having that highly visible session in the Oval Office, highly unusual, made it hard for Democrats to sort of wiggle out of those positions.

And we saw Nancy Pelosi basically taunt him over the issue if you can't get Republican votes. We've got Schumer in that meeting saying, you know, we don't, the wall was ineffective. I mean, as you know, Ed, from watching it, making legislation is sausage-making and that's not a pretty sight for the public to see sometimes. Better to try and see if you can cut those deals in the back, in the back room and then bring them out and have everybody explain.

I think the answer is both parties ought to wake up and realize it's to their advantage to find a compromise in which each side get something. Otherwise the Democrats are going to introduce themselves as the new arty, majority party in the House by depicting themselves as unnecessary obstructionist.

HENRY: All right. Karl Rove, I appreciate your insight tonight.

ROVE: Thank you, Ed.

HENRY: Up next, an anti-Trump Women's March canceled as controversial ties come to light between organizers and Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.


LOUIS FARRAKHAN, LEADER, NATION OF ISLAM: White folks are going down and Farrakhan by God's grace has pulled the cover off of that satanic Jew.



HENRY: Tonight, new controversies surrounding the national Women's March movement after accusations of anti-Semitism plague some of its leaders and organizers. And one major city decided to pull the plug.

Our chief correspondent national -- nationally, Jonathan Hunt has the story from our west coast newsroom. Good evening, Jonathan.


The split in the national organization has been building for some time. And this appears to be a result of that split. Although the Chicago Women's March organizers insist, they are canceling the January 19th march purely because they put so much time and effort into a similar midterm elections march in November dubbed to the march to the polls.

But cracks in the leadership began appearing in February when one of the founders, Tamika Mallory, attended the Nation of Islam savior's day gathering at which Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan said this.


FARRAKHAN: White folks are going down.


FARRAKHAN: And Satan is going down! And Farrakhan, by God's grace, has pulled the cover off of that satanic Jew.


HUNT: Now the backlash against Farrakhan and Mallory for seeming to endorse such statements simply by attending was swift. Mallory's full response did not come until March when she wrote on her Twitter feed. Quote, "It seems I am not being clear. I am and always have been against all forms of racism. I am committed to ending anti-black racism, anti- Semitism, homophobia and transphobia. This is why I helped create an intersectional movement to bring groups together."

But for co-founder Teresa Shook, that was not enough. And just last month she called on the entire Women's March leadership to resign, saying quote, "They have followed anti-Semitism, anti-LGBTQIA sentiment and hateful racist rhetoric to become a part of the platform by their refusal to separate themselves from groups that espouse these racist, hateful beliefs."

Now millions around the globe attended the first Women's Marches in January 2017 following President Trump's inauguration. And despite this cancellation of the march in Chicago, marches and rallies are still scheduled to be held in Washington, D.C., and dozens of other cities across the country and around the world on January 19th. Ed?

HENRY: Jonathan Hunt live in Los Angeles, thank you, Jonathan. Still ahead, the New York Times accused of being a gossip rag found in the supermarket checkout aisle. After an uncorroborated report involving President Trumps medical exemption during the Vietnam War. Howie Kurtz breaks down the story next.


TRUMP: The New York Times essentially apologized after I won the election because their coverage was so bad and it was so wrong and they were losing so many subscribers.



HENRY: New questions tonight about a New York Times front-page story that sounds a little more like a hit piece frankly, claiming a Queen's podiatrist helped Donald Trump avoid military service in Vietnam by diagnosing him in bone spurs in 1968 as a, quote, unquote, "favor to his dad to avoid the draft."

Now buried deep within the story however, some lines k that might bring a little credibility into question there including, quote, "no paper evidence has been found to help corroborate the version of events. Dr. Braunstein's daughter said their father left no medical records with the family and a doctor who purchased his practice said he was unaware of any documents related to Mr. Trump."

It goes on to say, quote, "The daughters, both Democrats, say they are not fans of Mr. Trump."

Here now is Howie Kurtz, the host of Media Buzz. And Howie, I can think of only one thing. Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?

HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: Ed, Donald Trump may have like thousands of other affluent kids, you know, come up with medical reasons to dodge the Vietnam draft.


KURTZ: But this story doesn't confirm that. You read some of the key passages, let me read a couple more. This doctor, first of all, Br. Braunstein has been dead for more than a decade. No paper evidence, you read that.

One of the two daughters of Dr. Braunstein who was interviewed says the implication from her father was that Trump didn't have bone spurs. Quote, "I don't know if he examined him. I don't know." Implication. No paper evidences. I worked in newspapers for a long time, I would have thrown that story back and say you haven't got it.

HENRY: And Howie, it wasn't just buried on the inside. I've got here it's on the front page, a foot doctor. A foot doctor, quote, unquote, "favor may have helped Trump avoid Vietnam." Why in the world do this -- how in the world does this get on the front page of the New York Times?

KURTZ: Well, the critics of the paper would say this reflects as sort of a continuing anti-Trump animus. I'm not faulting reporters or trying to go and get the story. But there is such a thing as a standard of proof that you have to meet particularly involving a president, particularly involving an accusation.

Remember, George W. Bush went through this with Dan Rather and CBS, and whether he was AWOL.

HENRY: Sure.

KURTZ: And that turned out to be basically essentially fabricated. And so, I just think it's a story that shouldn't have been published by the newspaper that talks about only publishing things that are fit to print.

HENRY: And why now when the idea during the campaign had been out there, that the president had avoided service in Vietnam? Timing a little suspicious to you that, an hour, a few hours after this hits the front page of the New York Times the president for the first time as commander-in- chief winds up in a war zone, is that unconnected?

KURTZ: Well, I don't think the Times editors knew that President Trump was going to Iraq. I do think this is a period of time when the media are talking about chaos, shut down, stock market plummeting until today, pulling out of Syria. It's almost like, a pylon effect. Now I don't know if that was connected but it seems like this was one more, you know, brick to throw to the president.

HENRY: That seems like a good point that maybe it was a pylon.

let's shift to something else. I mention this at the top of the show with Jessica Tarlov. Another media -- interesting media moment, the president has this conversation with some kids, he's tracking Santa Claus on Christmas Eve and this is something all presidents do.

And he has a conversation with a 7-year-old kid about whether it's marginal or not that Santa Claus is real. The Post in courier down in South Carolina does a mini investigation, tracks the girl down and says some of her friends are not sure. I'm thinking to myself as a media person, why in the world are we even spending any time on this?

But bigger than that, you can answer that and weave in the NBC News tweets, which is much more serious. NBC News decides to tweet out the president has become the first commander-in-chief to not visit the troops over the holidays. You see it there. He becomes the first president since '02 not to visit troops at Christmas time. This is a tweet they post Tuesday and hours later he's in Iraq and this was something that was in the works. Ad you can't just throw it together. They were planning this out for some time. How could they put that up--


KURTZ: Not great time. Maybe NBC should have waited until New Year's Day but on Santa gate, look, what the president said to the 7-year-old was clumsy. But some of his opponents want to put it in the articles of impeachment. If the reaction has been such an overreaction that it's just stunning to me.

It's like this is a classic press. If everything is an 11 then nothing is 11. And by the way the kid got her gifts, she still believes in Santa and so her Christmas wasn't ruined and the journalists have nothing to jump on. That was their gift.

HENRY: Howie Kurtz, we hope you had a wonderful Christmas and we will certainly be watching your program--


KURTZ: Same to you.

HENRY: -- this Sunday as we do every Sunday. Good to see you, Howie.

KURTZ: Thanks.

HENRY: Up next, Democratic socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's Christmas message for the American people.


HENRY: Incoming Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez playing a little politics on Christmas. The Democratic socialist tweeting out a series of jabs at what she called anti-immigrant pundits, including this one. Quote, "Merry Christmas, everyone. Here's to a holiday filled with happiness, family, and love for all people, including refugees, babies in mangers and their parents."

Robert Jeffress is the pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas and a Fox News contributor. Good evening and merry Christmas, sir.

ROBERT JEFFRESS, CONTRIBUTOR: Thank you, ed. Merry Christmas to you.

HENRY: How do you react with the congressman-elect said?

JEFFRESS: Well, this is just the latest attempt by the left to pervert the Christmas story to turn Jesus into a refugee baby in order to push their no borders, open borders immigration policy.

An Ed, there are two problems with doing that. First of all, there is nothing in the biblical text that suggests that Mary, Joseph, and Jesus came to Egypt to flee Herod illegally. And they certainly didn't come in a caravan of 5,000 threatening Egyptian sovereignty.

But the bigger problem, Ed, is the attempt by the left to demonize President Trump for doing what the bible says is his responsibility, and that is protecting citizens. You know, I preached President Trump's inauguration sermon and I use the text about God telling Nehemiah to build a wall around Jerusalem. I said, Mr. President, God is not against building walls. The bible says even heaven is going to have a wall around it. Not everybody is going to be allowed in.

HENRY: Pastor, you mentioned people mangling the Christmas story. Here is Democratic Congressman Luis Gutierrez at a hearing, I believe, last week. Watch.


REP. LUIS GUTIERREZ, D-ILL.: During Christmas? A time in which we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, a Jesus Christ who had to flee for his life with Mary and Joseph. Thank God there wasn't a wall that stopped him from seeking refuge in Egypt. Thank God that wall wasn't there and thank God there wasn't an administration like this or he would have, too, have perished.


HENRY: There it is again, using a story for political purposes.

JEFFRESS: Yes. And I tell you, he needs to stick to what he's doing. And stop trying to interpret the bible. I mean, even in elementary school child knows the story that it was God who told Joseph to go to Egypt. He told him to do it. I'll guarantee you, had there been a wall around Egypt, God would have obliterated it or sent Joseph someplace else. This is absolutely insanity on the part of the left.

HENRY: Last question, I mentioned this earlier, Democratic Senator, outgoing Senator Claire McCaskill has said -- I know you don't always get into politics sometimes, but Claire McCaskill is saying, look, Ocasio- Cortez and others on the left may be the darlings but maybe pulling that party a little too far to the left.

JEFFRESS: Well, I think they are pulling them too far to the left. But I think that will help President Trump. And look, Ed, let's be clear. The bible says we should be compassionate to those in need. And that's the responsibility at the church. At my church, we don't check people's immigration cards or green cards but the government is not a church.

God has given the government the responsibility, Romans 13 says to protect its citizens, and we ought to celebrate the fact that we have a president who is willing to keep this country safe instead of demonizing him.

HENRY: Pastor Robert Jeffress, we have to leave it right there. Merry Christmas and happy New Year to you, sir.

JEFFRESS: Merry Christmas to you, Ed.

HENRY: All right. That's the Story on this Wednesday night. Let me know what you thought of tonight's show on Twitter at Ed Henry. I'll see you again tomorrow night at seven. Tucker Carlson is up next.

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