Amb. Dennis Ross on Kim Jong Un probing, Gaza protests

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This is a rush transcript from "The Story," May 15, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

MARTHA MACCALLUM, FOX NEWS CHANNEL HOST: Very good to have you in New York tonight, Bret. So, it is election night and we are now less than one hour away from the first polls closing as voters are casting their ballots this evening in four different states. One of them, critical for Democrats if they want to win back control of congress this fall. And as the president ready to make some changes at the White House to stop the latest round of leaks? Sean Spicer has some thoughts on all of this for us tonight and he's coming up next. But first, this Fox News Alert as Kim Jong Un calling President Trump's bluff tonight. We are waiting for direct word now from the president if he chooses to speak in response. What is his next move now that Kim Jong Un appears to be threatening to call off the summit if the United States doesn't stop military exercises with the South? Here's Heather Nauert at the State Department responding.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HEATHER NAUERT, ACTING UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR PUBLIC DIPLOMACY AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS: There are exercises that are legal. They are planned well, well in advance. We have not heard anything from that government.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MACCALLUM: This about face comes on the heels of huge concessions that began at the Olympics and kept right on going through the release of our hostages. So, what is up? Marc Thiessen, Michael Malice, and Ambassador Dennis Ross, who served under five different presidents all here to respond tonight. But first, Kristin Fisher live at the White House with the very latest from there, Kristin.

KRISTIN FISHER, FOX NEWS CHANNEL REPORTER: Hey, Martha. Well, so far, the White House isn't saying much. All they've said is that they're aware of the reports that the North Koreans have canceled talks set for tomorrow with the South Koreans and are threatening to perhaps not show up or perhaps even cancel next month's big summit between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Why? All because of an ongoing joint military drill between the U.S. and South Korea. Now, these kinds of drills are very common. The Pentagon says they're defensive in nature and this one has been planned for months. In fact, the State Department spokeswoman says the North Koreans were well aware of this drill, and that they said they were fine with it. Now, they're not sure what's changed, especially since the North Koreans have not reached out to them.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NAUERT: What we have to go on is what Kim Jong-un has said before, that he understands and appreciates the importance to the United States of having these joint exercises, the Republic of Korea has as well. We've received no formal or even informal notification about anything.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FISHER: So, all the U.S. has to go off of is this statement from North Korea's news agency: "The U.S. will have to undertake careful deliberations about the fate of the planned North Korea-U.S. summit in light of this provocative military ruckus jointly conducted with the South Korean authorities." They also said that these drills are running counter to the positive political development on the Korean Peninsula. Remember, it was just six days ago that President Trump was thanking Kim Jong Un for releasing those three American citizens. So, this really is a very big shift in tone from the North Koreans. The State Department says, it is going to continue going forward with planning and preparing for this big summit in Singapore which, Martha, is exactly four weeks away from tonight.

MACCALLUM: All right. Well, that's four weeks to figure this whole thing out. Here now, Marc Theissen, American Enterprise Institute Scholar and Fox News Contributor; and Michael Malice, Author of "Dear Reader: The Unauthorized Autobiography of Kim Jong-il", Kim Jong Un's father. Good to see both of you tonight. Marc, let me start with you, what do you make of this move?

MARC THIESSEN, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR AND AMERICAN INSTITUTE SCHOLAR: Well, there's a number of possibilities. I mean, one of them can be that Kim Jong Un is looking for a way out of this thing. You know, the fact his Trump has pretty much boxed him in pretty quickly. He accepted the offer for the summit a lot faster than anyone thought. Kim probably wants an agreement like the Iran nuclear deal which has sanctions and cash up front. No real inspection regime, no restrictions on ballistic missiles and the like, and sunset clauses and Trump sent a message last week that that's not going to happen, he doesn't cut deals like that. And then, Secretary Pompeo went out and made a stunning offer, which is to say that if he gives up his nuclear weapons, we will help them gain prosperity on par with that of South Korea. That is a destabilizing offer because if Kim goes to a summit and turns that down, he's responsible for the misery of the North Korean people. So, he may be looking for a way to get out of this thing.

MACCALLUM: Michael, you've been studying this regime for a long time. How do you read this move?

MICHAEL MALICE, AUTHOR: Well, notice that this has been done publicly instead of behind the scenes. It hasn't been -- you know, there's back channels for a long time now between the U.S. and North Korea, and between North Korea and South Korea. The fact that they're not giving us a heads- up even though this exercise has been held since the 70s, at the very least. North Korea always complains about it's a provocation, it was a pause at several points many years ago. So, this is just nonsense. This is their attempt to very effectively humiliate us and also to embarrass us because now you have the State Department going on T.V. and saying we don't know what's going on. That makes us look like fools and that's something that they do very effectively.

MACCALLUM: You know, I can't help but wonder this is sort of the negotiation tool, right? Because a lot of these concessions are things the president has been able to tout, right? They give is this, they give us that. So, you know, Kim Jong Un is a leader. He's a young leader. He's a young leader. He's surrounded by advisors and people who are perhaps pushing back at this idea to a certain extent, and I wonder if some of this isn't just his way, Michael, of saying, you know what, we're coming to the table, and but, you know, we're going to hold a bit back here and now we're a little bit upset about these exercises. It's a bargaining chip.

MALICE: It is a bargaining chip. Again, this is not exercises that just happen overnight, and these are things that have been planned months in advance. North Korea boasting their literature that when necessary, they will slap America across the face. And now, Kim Jong Un can go forward to his people and the propaganda, and say, look, we made fools of them and I stood up to the U.S. and to South Korea at the same time, so don't think I'm weak, and giving up anything.

MACCALLUM: All right. This is John Brennan with his response today to what happened. And he never misses an opportunity to be critical of President Trump, so he took an opportunity this afternoon to do this: "This turn of events is unsurprising since Donald seems enamored with a fire aimed ready policymaking process that is fraught with pitfalls as well as potential disasters. Not sure when if ever Mr. Trump will realize that he is not the smartest man or even the best negotiator in the world -- indeed, far from it. Marc Thiessen.

THIESSEN: That's remarkable. I mean, John Brennan, never misses an opportunity to politicize national security. I mean, there something going on here and we have to figure out what it is. And another possibility, quite frankly, is that Kim Jong Un is probing Donald Trump to see if -- this is a typical North Korean tactic, to make nice and then all of a sudden threaten to take your marbles and go home, and he wants to see can he get Trump to scale back the exercises? Can he get a fissure with South Korea? The South Korean president is a supporter of this sunshine policy. Maybe he sprinkles a little rain on the sunshine policy and it goes away. Or finally, it's possible that Kim is not that strong. We don't know all that much about how solidified he is in his leadership, and this could be a sign of weakness on his part.

MACCALLUM: Here's an interesting headline that came off of CNN. In the middle of all of this, while we were waiting for the White House to respond, this story. Trump sought to evacuate military families from South Korea right before the Olympics. And it goes on, Michael, to sort of describe this back and forth between the Pentagon, and the president right before the Olympics. He said, you know, maybe we should pull these families out because, well, we all remember during that time we had just watched, you know several very provocative missile launches and there was discussion that a military option was perhaps on the table. So, what do you read into that?

MALICE: Well, North Korea when they take hostages, they always have some kind of dubious explanation because then they can later return them in exchange for ransom or whatever. The military (INAUDIBLE) a straight face, look, you know, these are enemies, so we're taking them for a reason. But just let me briefly address Brennan's comment. If you're dealing with nuclear weapons, of course, disaster is on the table. That's exactly why you have those negotiations. So, the idea whether you're going to have these negotiations and it's going to be fine automatically is not good.

MACCALLUM: Marc?

THIESSEN: I agree with that entirely. I mean, look, of course, the only way we can have a successful negotiation -- I mean, Kim has no intention of giving up his nuclear weapons, just like his father had no intention of giving up his nuclear weapons when he duped the Clinton administration. The only way you have a chance of a successful negotiation of any kind is if the threat of military forces on the table and the North Koreans believe it's a live, real threat. So, by definition, any negotiation, the alternative to negotiation is going to be military option.

MACCALLUM: Right. I get that. But they've made a lot of concessions and you see Mike Pompeo, the new Secretary of State, come back and said they had these warm discussions, they've realize they're both working on, you know, behalf of their own country, and they have their own interests at heart. And there seems to be, you know, from a number of folks that we've spoken to over the course of the last week on this, the indication that perhaps Kim Jong Un is looking for a slightly different path for North Korea at this point. And if he wants that, he is going to have to come to the summit, Michael.

MALICE: Well, there is some truth to that and maybe China is putting pressure on the back end. But at the point -- the concern about concessions, it doesn't matter what they say, it matters what they do. We've gotten three hostages. There's 25 million left, which are the North Korean people. So, they can promise us the world but they boast that they lie when necessary to get what they want, and they've done this for many years. They played Russia and China against each other. So, again, these are people who lie, cheat, and steal to maintain their hold in power -- and they have to, because when these countries liberalize, (INAUDIBLE) personally murdered like Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein.

MACCALLUM: Michael Malice and Marc Thiessen, thank you very much.

THIESSEN: Good to see you tonight, Martha.

MACCALLUM: Good to see you both. So, joining me now with more, Ambassador Dennis Ross, former special assistant to President Obama, and former National Security Council senior director. Ambassador Ross, very good to have you with us tonight. Thanks for being here. I want to get your reaction to this breaking news from North Korea and their objection to these exercises. What's your take?

DENNIS ROSS, FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT OBAMA AND FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL SENIOR DIRECTOR: Well, I do think that we're seeing some probing to see what we might do. There also certainly the possibility that he's trying to play upon what is the unmistakable desire of the south to have all this work. And here again, see if he can get something for it, to show he get something even before the summit. I think there's one other possibility. Obviously, here, the president has made it clear, he's looking forward to this, he's building expectations and maybe what you see Kim Jong Un do is also probe to see or at least send a message to the president that this isn't necessarily a given. So, you know, he is I think maneuvering right now. He's going to be kind of a K.G. player when it comes to negotiations and he's testing to see how important this is to the United States.

MACCALLUM: And what do you think President Trump's response should be now?

ROSS: I think the response should be he's serious about discussions, but obviously you can't talk to yourself. So, Kim Jong Un doesn't want to come to the summit, that's his choice.

MACCALLUM: All right. I want to turn your attention to what we have seen playing out in Israel and along the Gaza border. There's been a lot of mixed response in the media with regard to the violence that we saw on the Gaza strip, and here is some of what we have been hearing in that regard. Let's play that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KATY TUR, MSNBC: More than 40 people dead today, and the White House isn't offering condolences, they're not offering any sort of heartfelt comments on the loss of life.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: With these slingshots and burning tires, the protesters, including six children who were reportedly killed today, seem to be losing their lives for nothing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All of those babies are dead. All of those people are dead. There're a lot of folks who are dead today. For what?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MACCALLUM: And here's the response from Ben Shapiro.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BEN SHAPIRO, CONSERVATIVE POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think there are so many media outlets that are acting as propaganda for that is actually quite incredible. Hamas has not been unclear about their intent here. They've been saying for weeks, they want to send literally 100,000 people to storm the border with Israel.

MACCALLUM: What do you think?

ROSS: Well, look, there's no doubt that Hamas is trying to take advantage of this. I think we have to take a step back and say what is it that Hamas is trying to do? And I think there are several things. One, they want to change the subject. They want to divert attention away about what life is like in Gaza, which is, it's awful. And the people in Gaza in no small part, hold Hamas responsible for it. Two, they want to put pressure on Abu Mazin, the President of the Palestinian Authority. He is putting pressure on them economically and when they take on the Israelis this way, they obviously put him in the corner as well. Three, they actually want to stigmatize the Israelis and they don't mind if Palestinians die in the process, a better way to put Israel on the docket. And probably for, they're trying to show that they're, at least, doing something on behalf of the Palestinian movement. So, these are all motivations, none of which relate to doing something for the people of Gaza, all of which relate to Hamas trying to change the position that it's in.

MACCALLUM: I want to play this from Nikki Haley today and get your thoughts at the U.N.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: The common thread in all of this is the disabling conduct of the Iranian regime, a regime that insist on promoting violence throughout the Middle East, while depriving its own people of basic human rights.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MACCALLUM: She walked out before the Palestinian leader spoke there today. What did you think about her comments?

ROSS: Well, I think she is putting what's happening in a broader context. I don't think the Iranians are responsible for what's going on there. I do think they're certainly interested in fomenting it. One of the things the Iranians want to do, especially after the president made the decision on walking away from the JCPOA, is to try to demonstrate that there's a cost. There'll be a cost to us, there'll be a cost for our friends. And this doesn't come cost free. So, are they the ones responsible for it? No. Are they certainly trying to promote it? Absolutely.

MACCALLUM: Ambassador Dennis Ross, thank you. Always good to see you, sir.

ROSS: My pleasure.

MACCALLUM: So, less than one hour until we start to get the polls closing in a race that is crucial for Democrats who want to win back control of Congress this fall. But their numbers have been shrinking in the polls. Chris Stirewalt and Mo Elleithee on where this whole blue wave thing might be going. And President Trump called White House leakers traitors and cowards. So, who is he pointing the finger at, and are they next to be fired? Former White House Communications Director, Sean Spicer, straight ahead.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO PRESIDENT: Some leaks exist to hurt, I guess, colleagues, some leaks exist because they disagree with the policies that are being put forth. But none of them are helpful.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MACCALLUM: So, it is primary night across the United States tonight as the midterm outlook looks to be changing daily as Democrats blue wave prospects, have shrunk in one of the polls. It's around plus three, plus four, plus six in some if you look across them. And a top GOP pack is saying, if the midterms were held today. They think they would keep the house, so are they right? Here's what we find out tonight. Four states on the board: Pennsylvania, Nebraska, Idaho and Oregon, the polls close in less than an hour in Pennsylvania where a current House GOP and Trump supporter, Lou Barletta, hopes to beat fellow Republican Jim Christiana in the primary there to win that nomination, and the winner will go up against incumbent Democratic Senator Bob Casey. The Casey name, obviously, is storied and has a long history in Pennsylvania. So, that's going to be a tough one for Republicans and it is clearly one to watch. Here now, political expert, Chris Stirewalt, Fox News politics editor; and Mo Elleithee, executive director of Georgetown University's Institute for Politics. Gentlemen, great to see both of you tonight.

CHRIS STIREWALT, FOX NEWS POLITICS EDITOR: Howdy, ma'am.

MACCALLUM: Hello there, sir. Chris, let me start with you. Tell me what you're watching closely tonight?

STIREWALT: Well, we in addition to -- so, we've got six races on our Fox News power rankings that are competitive in Pennsylvania. That's six house races. Democrats could come out of there with as many as a net four. Republicans are ceding a lot of territory but it's going to depend a lot on how these primaries go. In the first district, that's a great example, that's one that -- it's a little harder for Democrats to flip as in some incumbent Republican who doesn't have a ton of baggage, so the district is OK. But they're having a tough primary. It's getting better, they have the kind of candidate that national Democrats want. She's a former Republican. She's a moderate. She's a veteran. She's an attorney. She's a young woman. But she's up against an entrenched local force -- a trial lawyer who got a lot money. They've been duking it out. It's races like that that will determine whether the Democrats have the horses they need to knock off Republicans and turn it from a good year to a great year for them.

MACCALLUM: Yes, Mo, one of the things that people are looking at is that there's a flood of Democrats in these primaries. And the concern for your party that there may be too many, that they might dilute each other's chances and cancel each other out.

MO ELLEITHEE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY'S INSTITUTE FOR POLITICS: Oh, I don't know about that. I mean, you know, the fact that there are so many Democratic candidates jumping into these races, right? I mean, there are Democratic candidates running in districts that the party hasn't fielded a candidate in decades in some cases. I think that just, it speaks to the energy that Democrats are feeling right now. And we've been seeing this throughout the course of all these special elections, and now through the primary season where Democratic turnout is up. Oftentimes, significantly outperforming what's been happening in the past.

MACCALLUM: Just a second, Corry Bliss, from the congressional leadership fund, they're going to -- they're trying to keep the house on the Republican side. This is Kevin McCarthy and Paul Ryan's pack. They are feeling pretty optimistic from what they're seeing right now and he's saying that his advice to Democrats, if they want to win, is don't nominate progressives, don't talk about impeachment, and don't talk about Russia. Are you concerned that Democratic candidates are spending too much time on those three things?

ELLEITHEE: No, because I'm actually not hearing that from most Democratic candidates in the races that they're running. If you look at the ads that most Democratic candidates in these competitive seats are running, they're not talking about impeachment and they're not talking about Russia, they're talking primarily about economic issues and bread-and-butter issues and drawing contrast with the Republican candidates. They are going after President Trump pretty aggressively but that's only part of the equation for them. We saw that with Conor Lamb in that special election upset earlier this year, and we're seeing it in a lot of these -- in a lot of these races across the country. So, that's where I expect most of the candidates in these real swing districts like the one we're seeing in Pennsylvania will land.

MACCALLUM: Yes, Chris, Republicans are raising a lot of money. That CLF, $71 million versus $2 million in the same cycle last time around. The American action fund has similar growth. You know, can that money put them over the top in some of these races?

STIREWALT: So, it's good to have national money. National money is great, but it comes with national direction. What the Democrats have, comparably this year, is they have on the race by race level. Democrats have turned out to be better at raising money on the candidate by candidate basis. You saw with Conor Lamb versus Rick Saccone is a good example, where you had all this national, corporate money flowing through a big spigot to try to help him out. Conor Lamb was getting direct money. And generally, generally, there are idiots on every level, but generally speaking the candidates closest -- the people closest to the race are better at knowing what the race needs, so the Democrats do have that going for them.

MACCALLUM: All right. So, Chris, what do you think? You know, when you look at these numbers and the advantage for Democrats has narrowed in polls over the recent weeks, is that meaningful to you?

STIREWALT: So, once upon -- Democrats to a certain degree living with the false expectations that were set at the end of the year when things were just a total garbage buyer for the Republicans. It's been a consistent five, six, seven points -- seven, six, five. It's been right in that space and average, and that's what it is. And if the electoral held today, the Republicans might lose the house, they might keep it by a couple seats, but it would be on par with what we have expected historically to see in presidential first-term midterms. Remember, the average loss of seats is 24, historically speaking. Republicans can only lose 23 and hold on to the house.

MACCALLUM: It's going to be very interesting. Thanks, you guys, great to see you both tonight.

STIREWALT: You bet.

ELLEITHEE: Thanks.

MACCALLUM: So, still ahead, Muqtada al-Sadr was responsible for hundreds of deaths of American servicemen and women in Iraq. So, is this headline from The Washington Post a bit disturbing? Rob O'Neill is here to answer that question. He remembers this killer's work only too well. And last night on the story.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MACCALLUM: Do you expect personnel changes as a result?

CONWAY: I do. Actually, yes, I do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MACCALLUM: Former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer joins me next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CONWAY: I will tell you there's something else that's going on in this White House but not as badly as it was at the beginning where -- it's not so much leaking as using the media to shiv each other, and that was going on quite a bit at the beginning of the administration and its less so now. So, I can't go on more but I had several discussions with the president on this very topic today.

MACCALLUM: Do you expect personnel changes as a result?

CONWAY: I do. Actually, yes, I do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MACCALLUM: That was tantalizing. That was Kellyanne Conway here on 'The Story' last night. The news comes in the wake of several major leaks that if hit the White House hard and sent them scrambling on defense to put an end to this flow. Joining me now, a man who fought a few of these battles himself, and live to tell about it, former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, also the author of the upcoming book: "The Briefing", which we are looking forward to talking to him about as well. So, wow, Sean, people using the media to she shiv each other, Kellyanne said, and she does expect, based on her conversations, it sounded like, with the president, that there's going to be some people who will get fired.

SEAN SPICER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, my wounds have kind of started to heal, so I feel pretty good. She's absolutely right. It is an absolute honor to be able to work at the White House and serve the American people and help implement the president's agenda. And anybody who goes there and leaks, really undermines both the honor that the president has bestowed upon them and the agenda that the president is pursuing on behalf of the American people. And I think Kellyanne is absolutely right. Is that anybody who unauthorized leaks information or shiv another member should be immediately fired and called out.

MACCALLUM: This is like a year and a half. I mean, do you think all these cycles of people in the communications department and all of the -- then John Kelly was brought in and this was going to stop the leaks. And Anthony Scaramucci said he was going to stop the leaks. I mean, what is the problem? I mean, how tough is it to run a, you know, tighter operation?

SPICER: Well, I mean, you can't -- people have very ingenious ways these days with encrypted apps, et cetera, to go after each other. But I think part of the problem too is that you've got a media that's willing to take any story that comes out from anybody that wants to, as Kellyanne put it, shiv one of their fellow employees, so that there's a willing audience out there for people to get retribution or to undermine somebody else's agenda and score political -- petty political points if they don't win their agenda or want to undermine someone else on the team. I think that's sad, that's wrong, and I think Kellyanne, as I mentioned, is right, that people who are caught doing that undermine what this president is working hard to do, and distract from his ability to implement and drive a message that cares about the American people.

MACCALLUM: The big one this week was this woman and what you said about John McCain, very heartless comments, and I guess somebody who doesn't like her shived her as Kellyanne said. What do you think should happen to Ms. Sadler?

SPICER: Well, I'm not privy to the information that happened or exactly what did, but I will tell you this, Senator McCain and anybody who has suffered from any of these horrific diseases should have our utmost sympathy and prayers. And, you know, regardless of the context that's set in, I believe as a catholic that if we make a mistake, we ask for forgiveness and we give for forgiveness. So, if it was said, I would implore her to ask for forgiveness, and those who were hurt by that comment to equally give the forgiveness. But, right now, our thoughts and prayers are with Senator McCain, and all those who suffer from diseases that are taking away from their ability to live a normal and healthy life. And so, I wish we could get over this in a way that honors Senator McCain, and expresses the thoughts and prayers and concerns we have for both him and his family. And that's what I would like to see done.

MACCALLUM: Yeah, I hear you. I agree with you on that. This is John Kelly, the chief of staff, on NPR.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN KELLY, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: In retrospect, I wish I had been here from day one.

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: How so?

KERRY: Well, because, in terms of staffing or serving the president, that first six months was pretty chaotic. There were people hired that maybe shouldn't have been hired. It's not that things were a disaster that first six months, but I believe they could have been better.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MACCALLUM: Do you take that personally, I guess, is the first question? And do you think it would have been better if he had been there from the beginning?

SPICER: Well, I have a ton of respect for General Kelly and his service to our country. I will leave it at that. And just say that the first six months we had a disrupter coming in to this White House who hadn't served in politics before. He wasn't a politician. He brought in a team that really was able to shake things up, and we had some bumpy roads, but we did a lot to succeed for this president and his agenda. I'm proud of the work that we did over those six months. And I think everybody in the White House should stop worrying about what happened in the past and focus on the future and what the president is doing to keep our country safe and make everyone live a better, healthier and more prosperous life.

MACCALLUM: With regard to the chief of staff, General Kelly, he's off on the subject of leaks, about things he said, and then he has to apologize for them. I mean, who is after him in the White House? Who is putting this out there?

SPICER: Well, I'll tell you this, I generally don't -- I wouldn't want to cross a Marine, never mind a four star marine. So, I don't know who's got the guts to do that, but it's probably not a smart move because I think if General Kelly found out they would last about two seconds in the White House. I think, generally speaking, people who leak are people who are losing an argument or a way and want to undermine the person that's winning the argument or undermine their authority. So, I think General Kelly was brought in to bring some discipline and order to a White House, and I think people who are unhappy with the process that he's laid out are probably trying to undermine that authority.

MACCALLUM: Do you hope he stays?

SPICER: I hope that he -- you know, if that's what the president wants. But, I think, ultimately, I want the president and the president's agenda to succeed. I think General Kelly has done a great job as chief of staff. And if you the president and he want to keep going together that's great. But they are tough jobs. It's extremely intense. And I think it's a mutual decision that both of them have to have going forward. But, as long as the president wants him, and he wants to stay, I think it's a great combination so far.

MACCALLUM: Well, you've been writing a book about your time, the briefing, and I asked you, when we were in the break, if you had any PTSD when you were writing the book, and you said it was very cathartic experience. I hope you'll come back soon, Sean, and we'll talk about the book when it comes out. Good to see you.

SPICER: Good to see you, thank you. We'll do.

MACCALLUM: You too, take care. So coming up, take a look at that photo, what do you see?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: The photos are exactly how they were taken. I choose to believe it. I think it's an angel.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MACCALLUM: And also, coming up, a man responsible for explosives that killed and injured hundreds of U.S. military, now being called a maverick in the U.S. press. But that's not exactly how former Navy SEAL, Rob O'Neil, remembers it. He's up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MACCALLUM: A Shiite cleric who was enemy number one during the Iraq War is now leading in the elections in Iraq. Moqtada al-Sadr was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of U.S. forces, but now he is the subject of a report in the Washington Post that called him a, quote, maverick cleric. Trace Gallagher with a clear eyed look at Moqtada al-Sadr back story tonight. Hi, Trace.

TRACE GALLAGHER, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Martha. During the U.S. occupation of Iraq, Moqtada al-Sadr who the Washington Post calls the maverick was in fact enemy number one, attacking and killing American soldiers with AK-47s and rocket propelled grenade launchers. At the time, the Pentagon said al-Sadr Shiite militia known as the Mahdi army had, quote, replaced al-Qaeda in Iraq as the most dangerous accelerant of potentially self-sustaining sectarian violence, and al-Sadr's hatred towards America and its allies was well-documented. Here's the Shiite cleric back in 2011, watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: Iraq is going through difficult times that send people into a panic, disturbed all the people, and was a source of discomfort for all except for our common enemy, America, Israel and Britain. Therefore, repeat after me. No, no America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GALLAGHER: But foreigners, aside, al-Sadr and the Mahdi army were also behind the so-called cleansing of Baghdad, where death squads targeted Sunni neighborhoods, raping and killing civilians by the thousands. The Mahdi army also propagated the widespread corruption that has plagued Iraq for more than a decade. And yet, now, the Mahdi army has renamed itself the peace brigade, and Moqtada al-Sadr's major campaign theme was anticorruption. Even though al-Sadr didn't run as a candidate winning the most seats in the Iraq's parliamentary election, means that he is now in the best position to select the country's next prime minister and shape Iraq's policies going forward, which is significant considering U.S. troops could be in Iraq for some time. Both Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, and the chairman of the joint chiefs, Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford Jr., have said keeping U.S. troops in Iraq is critical to prevent the resurgence of the Islamic state. The question now is how U.S. leaders recalibrate their stance towards the former public enemy number one.

MACCALLUM: That's a great question. Trace, thank you very much. Here now with more, Rob O'Neill, former Navy SEAL, who you may know as the man who killed Osama Bin Laden, and he is the author of the book The Operator. Rob, always good to see you.

ROB O'NEIL, FORMER NAVY SEAL: Great to see you, Martha. Thanks for having me.

MACCALLUM: So, al-Sadr, I mean, that's the way that we remember him, as the number one enemy. Try to take him out many times. I remember lots of reports that he was dead, and he wasn't dead. This is the person who was responsible for very complicated explosive devices that hurt a lot of our people. Why is he being called a maverick?

O'NEIL: He's being called a maverick right now for some reason a lot of people in the media want to -- pretty much go against any agenda that President Trump has. Part of the hashtag thing with the Washington Post is very, very liberal. You know, if they can build him up and maybe looks -- makes President Trump look bad for the Iran nuke deal because this guy is - - he's a Shiite Muslim like the Iranian regime, sort of from different schools of it. But they want to make him look because he's always been involved with everything and he's been really, really good about using parts -- this is religious.

Make no mistake of it. Iran is about the religion, and Moqtada al-Sadr is about the religion. And what he's been able to do is use a religion to sort of lie for different things to get his agenda. He said before he wants -- every time he was surrounded he would hide in a mosque knowing we wouldn't hit the mosque because we don't want to insult Islam. He would like when he's losing -- I want a ceasefire, and then he end it when he wants to win. And now, he's lying to say -- what he's saying is he's not going to support the Iranians because his school of Shiite Islam is about - - respects borders and it respects Iraq -- excuse me, respects Iraq, and supposedly will not let Iran go through Iraq and deal with Syria, which makes it look like he doesn't care about Israel.

But you heard him right there. Number one enemy is America, then Israel, then Britain. So, if he can come forward as a moderate working with -- he uses a lot of the poor to get power, including Sunni to say he wants Iraq back. Then he can work with Hezbollah behind the scenes. If the Iraqi eyes aren't looking at him, he can do a lot of stuff behind a curtain, which he always has done. And he's very, very smart. His family has always been involved. He cleverly escaped assassination in 1999 when his father was actually killed by Saddam Hussein and two of his brothers. So, this guy is no stranger. They like him in Iraq because he never once fled, even during Saddam, he stayed there.

MACCALLUM: And Haider al-Abadi who is the current leader, he may lose, it looks like, to Moqtada al-Sadr's coalition and whoever he puts in place. What will that mean for our U.S. troops who are still the ground there?

O'NEIL: Well, again, Moqtada al-Sadr is saying that he's going to respect the deals that we have between the United States, the coalition and the Iraqis. But he's not going to do that. And then.

MACCALLUM: You know he hasn't change. He says we're now at the peace brigade.

O'NEIL: Well, the peace brigade is formerly known as the Mahdi army, which is pretty much the number one -- they started bringing in Iranian-made explosively formed penetrators, which is the most advanced type of improvised explosive device that killed and maimed hundreds and hundreds of American and coalition forces. That's the Mahdi army. They changed their name to the peace brigade, and naturally the liberal media is all over it. Oh, they're the peace brigade. It must mean they're peaceful. But part of their religion in the Quran that says it doesn't matter what you say with your mouth, is what's in your heart, which means you can get close to them and lie -- tell these nonbelievers what they want to believe, and we'll just turn a blind eye because we take them at face value.

MACCALLUM: Yeah. I mean, it's amazing to look at this guy who was, as I said, our number one enemy, to be called a maverick cleric. You know, maverick is a word that I think most Americans associate with John McCain, it's like, you know, thinking outside the box, the guy who is unconventional, who is going to vote however he wants to vote. That is a very.

O'NEIL: He kind of does that. He kind of thinks outside the box, and he's been involved in Iraq for a long, long time. And he's just telling people what they want to hear. You know, he stood up against the Sunnis, and then -- he didn't mention the death squads who are going through Sunnis towns, and raping, and pillaging, and murdering. And now we can do it again. Again, taking advantage of the poor, taking advantage of the Sunnis, he tells them, you know, you don't want the Iranians to come in to the Sunnis, and he tells the Shiite you don't want ISIS to come back, and I can help you.

(CROSSTALK)

MACCALLUM: Do you think he will win?

O'NEIL: Oh, yeah. It's just a matter of what we should do with him. Yeah, he's going to pick the next prime minister. It won't be him because -- he makes so much money of the poor. He had his own plane, if you believe that. So, he knows what he's doing.

MACCALLUM: Rob, always good to see you.

O'NEIL: Great to see you, too.

MACCALLUM: Rob O'Neil, thanks for being here tonight.

O'NEIL: Thanks, Martha.

MACCALLUM: On this rainy New York City night. He walked all the way here. He's a tough guy. So, what do you see in this picture? Rob sees an angel, right, Rob?

O'NEIL: That's an angel.

MACCALLUM: Up next, we will ask an expert.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MACCALLUM: All right, best story of the night right here, a Michigan couple getting the shock of their lives when they got an alert from their security camera in the driveway.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: It was kind of like really unusual. I've never, ever seen anything like it.

UNINDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was like, wow. I mean, that is an angel.

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: The photos are exactly how they were taken. I choose to believe it. I think it's an angel.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MACCALLUM: Take a good look. Many, including their pastor said that they believe this image, captured by a security camera shows an angel hovering over the family's truck last week. So could it be? And in the next picture, I think we have it, it sort of looks like it has moved to a different part over the truck. So, joining me now is an expert, Pastor Don Piper, who has written about his own experience. He was in a terrible car accident and he says he died and went to heaven and came back. He's the author of People I Met at the Gates of Heaven. Pastor Piper, good to see you tonight. I'm pretty sure that you believe these folks when they say that that's an angel, right?

DON PIPER, PASTOR: I do. I think we're around them all the time. The bible says in Hebrews that we should treat strangers with absolute courtesy because we never know if they are an angel, and what that says is we ought to probably treat each other better as humans. But it also says that angels are everywhere and we may not always know who we're talking to. It could be an angel flying above our truck at anytime, anyplace, anywhere.

MACCALLUM: So, this was a motion activated security camera that they keep attached to their home to look out over their driveway and their car. So, they believe that the motion of this angel that they feel they saw is what set off the motion detector, and they were able to trap it on the video, which you can do if you have one of these cameras. And it is a very stunning, beautiful.

PIPER: Isn't it.

MACCALLUM: Image that they got. But tell me a little bit about your experience, Pastor Piper, because you were in a car crash and you say that you're transported instantly to the gates of heaven. Tell me about that.

PIPER: Exactly. One of the things that happens at the moment of death, and I was killed in a head-on collision with an 18-wheeler, tractor-trailer truck, is that we are absent from this body and present with the lord. If we're prepared to go, I wasn't planning to die that day, but I was ready, and I was transported by angels. And the bible says in Job that we are transported to heaven by angels to Abraham's bosom, and that's another euphemism in the bible for heaven itself. So, we go there by virtue of angels. A lot of people who are with someone who was dying feel like there's a presence in the room and, usually, there is. And I arrived at the gates of heaven and was greeted by people who helped me get to heaven who preceded me in death. So, I was surrounded by a lot of humans, but there were angels everywhere as well. And angels are not just little cherubs playing harps on clouds. These are robust amazing creatures. Some have six wings. Some have four, some have two. Some have none. But I could hear their voices and I could actually hear their wings. That's one of the things that was most stunning and most encouraging and comforting.

MACCALLUM: It is amazing. And you say that when you were there -- I just want to put up a graphic of the number of people according to Gallup who believe in angels, and everybody wants to believe in angels saw 72 percent say they do, and you can see the other numbers there. You say that everyone that you saw when you went to heaven was someone that you knew.

PIPER: They were. I think the people that I did not know in this life were inside. They did not come out to greet me. I think the ones I greeted at the gates of heaven were the people who helped me get there, which, of course, when I came back, that motivated me all the more to try to get people into heaven, because I know those people helped me get there. And the question, ultimately, is who are you going to greet? Who are we going to greet when we go there? I think it's going to be the people we help get there. There was an angel back here on earth when I return. A man climbed in the car of the wreckage because he felt like God told him to. He prayed over the body, and I did return because a lot of people were praying for me who did not already know I was dead. When I came back, I met him three weeks later after I recovered enough to be conscious, and I told him thank you. Thank you for praying for me. And I found that he prayed for me, but I didn't know he held my hand.

MACCALLUM: That's an amazing story. I got to leave it there, but thank you so much for sharing it with us.

PIPER: Absolutely.

MACCALLUM: Good to see you tonight, sir.

PIPER: Honored to be here.

MACCALLUM: Honored to have you. Quote of the night when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MACCALLUM: Author Tom Wolfe died today at the age of 88, known for his unflinching eye on American culture, perhaps best remembered for his portrayal of the sharp contrast of New York City in the 80's. Writing this, quote, Bonfire of the Vanities, he could see the island of Manhattan off to the left. The towers were jammed together so tightly he could feel the mass and stupendous weight. Just think of the millions from all over the globe who yearned to be on that island, that city of ambition, the dense magnetic rock, the irresistible destination of all who insisted on being where all the things were happening. They were among the victors.

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