Bill Browder speaks out about uncovering Russian corruption
This is a rush transcript from "The Story," July 12, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
MARTHA MACCALLUM, "THE STORY" HOST: Tonight, President Trump is now speaking out about his relationship with Vladimir Putin and a different explanation for the Russia meetings is now emerging. The players in this drama could fill a spy novel, but there's one American who says he knows exactly what Natalia Veselnitskaya was up to, and that she has been at it for years. He's here exclusively on "The Story" with us tonight. Good evening, everybody. I'm Martha MacCallum.
His name is Bill Browder, and he will join us in moments from an undisclosed location because he believes Putin and his associates have been out to get him for some time. Browder said his colleague uncovered massive theft and corruption by Putin's Kremlin; his friend was then tortured and killed in Russia, and he believes that all that leads us back to why the Russian lawyer wanted very much to sit down with Donald Jr. Bill Browder tells us what he knows and then we will get reaction to all of this tonight from Charles Krauthammer, who is back with us this evening. First, Trace Gallagher lays it out for us live in our West Coast Newsroom. Trace.
TRACE GALLAGHER, FOX NEWS CHANNEL ANCHOR: Martha, the Donald Trump Jr.'s legal team says that his meeting with Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, was a set up on behalf of Fusion GPS. That's a U.S. firm that helped produce the infamous and now debunked Trump dossier, which offered salacious but phony details about President Trump's connection to the Russians. Fusion GPS denies any involvement with the meeting, but their role, if any, will certainly come up during next week's hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
A hearing that was scheduled before the Trump Jr. emails went public and was prompted by a complaint from the financier, Bill Browder. As you mentioned, Browder and his Attorney, Sergei Magnitsky, helped uncover the Russian corruption and human rights violations that led to the Magnitsky Act, which imposes sanctions on dozens of wealthy Russians, along with the individuals involved in Magnitsky's death. Vladimir Putin was so furious over the act being passed that in return he banned Russian children from being adopted by U.S. families.
Browder now accuses Fusion GPS of waging an influence campaign against him to put an end to the Magnitsky Act. But the biggest Browder bombshell is his claim that Natalia Veselnitskaya, who says she has no ties to the Kremlin, is, in fact, an agent of the Russian government who was trying to convince the Trump campaign to change U.S. policy on Russia. Veselnitskaya has been a vocal opponent of the Magnitsky Act, specifically the ban on adoptions.
But Browder says in her meeting with Trump Jr., she was acting as Putin's proxy to repeal the act saying the meeting was "an attempt by the Russian government to repeal sanctions that annoyed them by going to the next possible president of the United States." For now, the Judiciary Committee only plans on hearing from the Department of Justice and Bill Browder. But Senator Dianne Feinstein has called on Donald Trump Jr. himself to also testify. Martha.
MACCALLUM: Trace, thank you very much. So, here now is Bill Browder with his side of the story. Bill, good evening to you, and thank you for joining us tonight. You worked extensively in Russia, had huge business and investments there at one point and all of that went south when you feel corruption was uncovered by you, and then by your friend Magnitsky, who was subsequently murdered in a jail cell, correct?
BILL BROWDER, CEO, HERMITAGE CAPITAL MANAGEMENT: That's right. I was the largest foreign investor in Russia. I uncovered corruption; they got angry with me for uncovering corruption and expelled me from the country, my offices were raided, they seized my documents, they use the documents to steal $231 million of taxes that we paid. My lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, uncovered, exposed it. He was then taken into custody, tortured for 358 days, and killed seven years ago at the age of 37, and I've been on a mission to get justice for him ever since.
MACCALLUM: So, how does all of that lead to the meeting that was recently uncovered in this e-mail chain between Natalia Veselnitskaya and Donald Trump Jr.?
BROWDER: Well, it became clearer that I wasn't going to get any justice in Russia because it's such a corrupt country, so I sought to get justice outside of Russia. And the justice that I sought to get was to freeze the assets and ban the visas of the people who were involved in the murder of Sergei Magnitsky, and the people who do similar crimes. And I took this idea to the U.S. Congress in 2010, and it ended up becoming the Magnitsky Law in 2012, and it imposes visa sanctions and asset freezes on human rights violators from Russia. Vladimir Putin is absolutely furious, and he ended up making it his single largest foreign policy priority to stop it.
Now, the other thing that we did was, we tracked down the money from the crime, and we found some of that money in the United States. We reported it to the Department of Justice, they opened up a criminal case and the defendant who showed up was a Russian by the name of Dennis Katsav. And Dennis Katsav was represented by Natalia Veselnitskaya, and she then has embarked on a three-year campaign to try to overturn the Magnitsky Act. And it's been a well-financed campaign, they've hired the best lawyers, the best lobbyists, the best public relations professionals, and they've gone all over Capitol Hill. And they eventually found their way to the possible next president of the United States back in 2016 by meeting the son of Donald Trump.
MACCALLUM: So, when you heard about that meeting -- let me just interject. When you heard about the meeting that took place, and she described it, you know, that she got there, and you know, she sort of was incoherent and was, you know, sort of telling them all these stories, and I thought, you know, this is a complete waste of time. This is not what we are here for, they were told that there was some dirt on Hillary Clinton, they were curious to hear what it might be, and then they -- you know, the meeting sort of quickly ended and it was a waste of time. Does that add up to you?
BROWDER: Well, I mean, basically, these people have been going around knocking on every door. I mean, I'm sure that they're not the only people who thought she was a waste of time because she hasn't achieved any of her objectives. But it doesn't mean, it hasn't been for lack of trying. So, they went to Congress and try to do the same thing, they went and try to take Sergei Magnitsky's names off of the global Magnitsky Act, and they ended up getting one sympathetic member of the House of Representatives, Dana Rohrabacher, to sponsor that amendment. And when it went to vote, every single other member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee shut him down. So, these people will try everything; the Russians will try 100 things in the hope that one of them works, and this is just one of those hundred things, as far as I can tell.
MACCALLUM: So, you know, let me ask you this, in terms of the connection though, that a lot of people are drawing from all of this that, oh, you know, there must be some kind of nefarious connection between the Trump campaign, and you know, Russians sort of manipulation of our electoral system, and that maybe there was a quid pro quo, and something was promised. You know, do you think this is more isolated to, you know, a very intense lobbying effort that employs this woman, who you believe is connected to the Kremlin, to sort of sway their opinion, or do you see something more than that here?
BROWDER: I think this is pretty straightforward as far as I can tell. I think they probably made a dozen different attempts to get to Trump, and I think they probably made a dozen different attempts to get to Hillary Clinton. They were looking for anybody who was going to be in power to hear them out, and hope that that person would be sympathetic to them. Now, these people aren't stupid, they look and study their targets carefully.
They look for what they might want, and they try to come up with some type of -- they're not stupid, they understand that if they're going to ask for something big like the repeal of the major human rights bill, they've got to offer something in return, and so they've to come up with something. Obviously, what they came up with didn't make a lot of sense and it all fizzled out, but that's how these guys operate -- they go to KGB school to learn this type of stuff.
MACCALLUM: Bill Browder, thank you very much. Very interesting to talk to you tonight, thanks for being here, sir.
BROWDER: Thank you.
MACCALLUM: So, meanwhile, President Trump is set to leave the White House any minute now. He will be headed to Paris; he will meet with French President Emmanuel Macron, and before he did, the president sat down with Pat Robertson where the subject of Vladimir Putin came up. Watch his response.
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PAT ROBERTSON, CEO, REGENT UNIVERSITY: I know he said what he wants, what do you think his game is?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, he wants what's good for Russia, and I want what's good for the United States. And I think, like in a case like Syria, where we can get together and do a cease-fire, and there are other cases, there are many other cases where getting along can be a very positive thing. But always Putin is going to want Russia, and Trump is going to want the United States, and that's the way it is. People said, oh, they shouldn't get along, well, who are the people that are saying that? I think we got along very, very well. We're a tremendously powerful nuclear power, and so are they. It doesn't make sense not to have some kind of a relationship.
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MACCALLUM: Here now, syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer, also a Fox News contributor. Charles, good evening to you; you've been listening to all of this and the Pat Robertson interview was well. What are your thoughts?
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR AND SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, I think what your interview with Browder illustrates, is who the pawn was in this game. That lawyer was not a Trump apologist. We're trying to say earlier in the week, just some do-gooder human rights activist who was trying to help Russian orphans. She's an agent of the Russian government going after this act, which is about human rights, and the purpose is to punish the people in the Putin circle who tortured him and killed him. And I think it's one of the few acts of sanctions that works well because it doesn't have the whole population, it hits the bad guys and their associates. And that's why Putin despises it, and she was used as a pawn in this episode; it doesn't change anything about what was in the chain of Donald Trump Jr. e-mails, which indicates that he was offered dirt from a foreign hostile power, and he went for it.
MACCALLUM: In terms of the actions of the Trump administration, because they have sought to lift some of the sanctions and members of Congress want to keep them. And clearly, Bill Browder wants to make sure that these sanctions stay in place. You know, sort of serving that line does not help them in this whole story at all.
KRAUTHAMMER: Well, the Trump administration action on sanctions has been really zigzagged and inconsistent. The Senate wants to stop on really hard sanctions, overwhelming vote to do it, the administration has resisted. The irony is that that happened in the Obama administration, where they tried to slap on hard sanctions and the administration resisted as well. So, there's a pattern that continues here. I think there's no policy, really. Trump in that interview said we try to get along. Fine, of course, we try to get along. The cease-fire in Syria may be a good thing, we don't know how it'll work out, but that so far is the only fruit of his diplomacy.
MACCALLUM: When you and I spoke yesterday, you talked about, you know, the naivete of Donald Trump Jr., being a lousy excuse. You know, 24 hours later, how does this story look to you? Is this something that administration gets through, or is it just the beginning of more of these stories that could likely keep dropping and cause them a lot of trouble in getting anything done?
KRAUTHAMMER: I think it's likely there are more stories. But even if there were none, the damage done by this story is enormous. And the reason is, that for six months the administration touted the line that there's no collusion, that's a Democratic exaggeration, it's a delusion on their part, it's calumny on their part, there's nothing here. I supported that line because there was no evidence for it, but now you see the evidence loud and clear.
An email that says, the Russian government is supporting your father as part of the effort, we got dirt, we're going to get this. The state prosecutor with documents to support that, we want you to take the meeting, and what does he say? I love it. I love it, are deadly words. Even if it didn't pan out, that doesn't matter. Attempted collusion is still collusion, and that's why I think it undermined the entire story that collusion was a fiction. I always said I don't see any collusion, but I'm open to empirical evidence, this is the first empirical evidence.
MACCALLUM: Charles Krauthammer, thank you very much. Charles, we'll see you next time.
KRAUTHAMMER: My pleasure.
MACCALLUM: So, still ahead tonight, the White House is hitting back at the critics of Donald Trump Jr.; their message? Hillary Clinton allies, like this one pictured here, did the same thing. We're going to show you exactly what that story is. Also, a growing trend on college campuses: right-wing speakers blocked often by violent means from sharing their views with students. Dr. Charles Murray is one of those voices, and he joins us here tonight to address what he calls spoiled college students.
Plus, more on the case of Penn State sophomore Timothy Piazza, dead after a fraternity hazing gone very wrong. Now, the courtroom is where the next stage of this is being decided about his panicked fraternity brothers and what they did. One of them saying that night, I don't think you fully compress the situation, he looked expletive dead. More of that when we come back.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. How old is he?
RYAN MCCANN, MEMBER, BETA THETA PI FRATERNITY: He is 19? Yes, he's 19 years old.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And was he breathing?
MCCANN: He is breathing.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Was there any alcohol or anything involved, do you know?
MCCANN: Yes, there is.
MACCALLUM: So now, tonight's backstory, the White House on offense against what the president calls a "disgraceful double standard." Team Trump pointing out that Democrats own alleged coordination happened with foreign governments. Watch this.
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DR. SEBASTIAN GORKA, DEPUTY ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: I do know for a fact that Democratic Party operatives went to the Ukrainian embassy to coordinate oppositional research and attacks against our campaign. So, that's a story.
DONALD TRUMP JR. SON OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The double standard is upsetting. I mean, you see it every day. I'd love to rant and rave about it, but candidly right now, with everything that's going on. I think that people see it.
JAY SEKULOW, ATTORNEY FOR PRESIDENT TRUMP: Is anybody saying, by the way, why didn't the DNC? Why didn't the DNC have their operatives meeting with Ukrainians, and actually getting information? Why is that not one standard and this is another?
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MACCALLUM: Kristin Fisher, live in Washington tonight with the backstory on the DNC's alleged ties to the Ukraine. Watch.
KRISTIN FISHER, FOX NEWS CHANNEL PRESENTER: Well, Martha, this all stems from a political article back in January. It found that Ukrainian government officials have tried to help Hillary Clinton and hurt then- candidate Donald Trump during the campaign. Sound familiar? So, instead of allegations about the Trump campaign colluding with Russia, this is about the Clinton campaign possibly colluding with Ukraine; one of Russia's biggest adversaries.
Now, at the center of the story is the Ukrainian-American woman named Alexandra Chalupa. She is a veteran Democratic operative who used to work in the Clinton White House. And in 2016, while consulting for the DNC, she reportedly met with the Ukrainian Ambassadors at the embassy in Washington to discuss Paul Manafort's ties to Russia. And that conversation took place right before Manafort was brought on as Mr. Trump's campaign chairman. And a few days later, Chalupa, reportedly briefed the DNC staff about it.
According to Politico, "Ukrainian efforts had an impact in the race helping to force Manafort's resignation, and advancing the narrative that Trump campaign was deeply connected to Russia." But it goes on to say that, "they were far less concerted or centrally directed than Russia's alleged hacking in the dissemination of Democratic emails." Now, remember, U.S. Intelligence officials have concluded that Russia hacking was personally directed by President Putin, but there's little evidence of a similar top-down effort by Ukraine, so that's the difference. Still, the Trump administration is seizing on the similarities. They claim that this constitutes clear and active coordination between the DNC and a foreign government. Martha.
MACCALLUM: Kristin, thank you very much. Kristin Fisher, live in Washington tonight. So, here now: Emily Tisch-Sussman, Campaign Director for the Center for American Progress Action Fund; and Katie Pavlich, news editor for Townhall.com and a Fox News contributor. So, Emily, let me start with you. You know, obviously, the egregious part of that, is that there was coordination with a foreign government.
EMILY TISCH-SUSSMAN, CAMPAIGN DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS ACTION FUND: Look, the DNC has categorically denied this. The DNC research director said they've never been in contact in 4-1/2 years with any foreign government. That does not change the fact that what Donald Trump Jr., did was probably collusion, and admitted to it. He had first lied about it. I think it's important that we talk about the timeline. First, he said the meeting never happened, then, he said it was about adoption, and then, he said, oh, yes, it was to get dirt, but it was actually fine that it was to get dirt. These are just the things that we know about. This showed time and time again from the Trump administration, people very, very close to the president, meeting with Russian officials and lying about it. And we can't depart from the fact.
MACCALLUM: Katie, what you think you might
KATIE PAVLICH, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR AND NEWS EDITOR FOR TOWNHALL.COM: Well, we know that the collusion between the Ukrainian government and officials from the government happened because when Donald Trump was elected the Ukrainian president had to save face, and go into damage control and ask for forgiveness for colluding with his campaign opponent. And that doesn't make what Donald Trump Jr., did right, but it certainly shows the double standard in the sense that this was reported out by Politico in an investigation, the rest of the media did not attach on to it like we would've seen, and as we have seen with them attaching onto the lack of evidence with the Trump campaign colluding with Russia.
And on the point of Donald Trump Jr., look, just because this is now coming out and there's a double standard here, doesn't make it right. In the sense that -- you look at it and say look, if this is the initial argument that the Trump campaign and Donald Jr., were going to make, they can say, initially, not after all of the changes in the story, look, Hillary can't campaign, coordinated with the Ukrainian government; we did too, that's how politics works; move on, both sides do it. But instead, there's this repeated walk back and repeated change of story, which certainly damages their credibility, especially after months of trying to get over the story in the White House.
MACCALLUM: Yes, it does. And you know, Emily, if they had done that, if they had come up from the beginning and said, you know, we had this meeting, this person came to us, we didn't know it was about, no information was exchanged, do you think that would have helped them now? And you know, when you think back to the period of these campaigns, right? You had Paul Manafort, and all those stories about, you know, who he was connected to.
I mean, you know, it looks like we have sort of entered a phase -- I mean, we obviously entered the phase, where there's almost no limitation to how far this oppo-research goes. And I think these campaigns almost feel like, you know, if you don't push it to the absolute limit, you're an idiot, right? If you're not taking advantage of every single piece of dirt that you could possibly find on the other side, you are, in some ways, almost not doing our job. On a broader picture, what you think about that, Emily?
SUSSMAN: Look -- I mean, that scares me. That scares me.
MACCALLUM: It's scary, I agree.
SUSSMAN: That's the state that we're in right now. If we do not draw a line at foreign powers that we are in opposition with, meddling in the election and we say --
MACCALLUM: So, why is it different to talk to the Ukraine than the Russian government?
SUSSMAN: Look, your own reporting just came and the report just before this. It was top-down from the Russian government versus a rogue operative, who actually didn't work for the DNC.
MACCALLUM: So, can you now -- let me ask you something. So, it is a completely off-limits to discuss any of this with any foreign government? Is that always wrong?
SUSSMAN: Look, I don't think any government who's trying to meddle in the U.S. election should be talking to the son and adviser of a presidential candidate.
MACCALLUM: You shouldn't talk to Ukrainians and you shouldn't Russians across the board, Katie?
SUSSMAN: It does -- look, it does seem off-limits. Any instance that we have of a foreign government meddling that does seem off.
PAVLICH: The difference here is while we do all coverage from months of the alleged Trump campaign collusion between the Russians, now we have evidence, I guess, of a 20 minute meeting that happened when there's far more evidence on the other side of meetings at the Embassy in Washington D.C., between officials from the Ukraine government, the DNC, and then Clinton campaign. And so, moving forward --
SUSSMAN: No, no. Not the Clinton campaign, an individual operative. And I actually think it's very important.
PAVLICH: That's what the investigation said.
The Politico writer who wrote that story said, it was incredibly clear that she was meeting in her personal capacity.
PAVLICH: At the U.S. Embassy.
MACCALLUM: All right. We've got to leave it there. Thank you very much today, good to see you both.
SUSSMAN: Thank you.
MACCALLUM: So, still ahead tonight, we're going to take you inside the courtroom of the Penn State hazing death case as the lawyers are now clashing. Ahead, we speak exclusively with the woman who was prosecuting this case. Plus, remember this scene? Students at Middlebury College, shouting down a Conservative Speaker after he was invited to speak at their campus; that Speaker was Dr. Charles Murray and he's here to talk, safe spaces, no place on whether universities can be saved when we come back.
MACCALLUM: For months, and really, for years, we have witnessed efforts by a small but vocal minority on college campuses to silence conservatives. There's protest, and many cases, some these have broken into the kind of violence that you saw there in Brooklyn, California back in February.
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MACCALLUM: That went well, right? That protest at Middlebury College earlier this year, where Dr. Charles Murray were shouted down from a podium, a professor who escorted him off of campus was injured in the course of all that. Her hair was pulled, her neck was twisted. She ended up in a neck brace for a little bit. So maybe it's not so surprising that according to this new poll a majority of Republicans, 58 percent now believe that colleges and universities have a negative effect on the country, only 36 percent see them as a positive. That's pretty sad. So here now, the man subjected to that campus reaction that we've just showed you, Dr. Charles Murray, an American enterprise institute scholar. Dr. Murray, great to have you with us.
CHARLES MURRAY, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE SCHOLAR: Happy to see you.
MACCALLUM: And, obviously, this goes into a lot of the work and the things that you talked about recently, that number probably doesn't surprise you all that much.
MURRAY: No. It surprises me in this sense, that universities should be popular places. Historically we think of universities as teaching kids and making great discoveries and all that. And what I think has happened that creates that result of disapproval is a lot of colleges, a lot of departments in colleges have taken up social justice as their cause. It's no longer the search for truth, it's advancing an agenda, and it's obviously a left agenda and conservatives are reacting.
MACCALLUM: And when you look at the numbers for Democrats, they feel an overwhelmingly positive feeling about what's going-on on university campuses. And it goes to the heart of the division that is so deep in this country. We talked about this a lot on the show in terms of -- you know, people even picking neighborhoods and towns based on their political leaning and not wanting to be even at the grocery store with somebody who disagrees with them.
MURRAY: Exactly, let alone go out to dinner with somebody who disagrees with you, and this attitude that if somebody is on the other side, they must be evil.
MACCALLUM: Evil, right.
MURRAY: And I've got to say, this is prevalent on both sides of the political aisle and it's poisonous.
MACCALLUM: So in terms of our institutions, you know the media, obviously, has been hit very hard in this as well, churches in this country also sort of experiencing this deep division. Is there anything that can be done to change it, or are we so dug in that there's really no turning back here?
MURRAY: We sure don't have any policy solutions that I can think of. You know, you're starting to hear voices that are trying to cut across the divide. There is a man at New York University named Jonathan -- who is a social psychologist who has brought out into the open the degree of which sociology and psychology are dominated by one political ideological viewpoint. And he himself, he's not a conservative, is trying to form a group that has people from all parts of the ideological spectrum in the academy who talk to each other. And who say, you know what, it's part of the university to disagree about issues, but that doesn't mean you have to hate each other.
MACCALLUM: Yeah, I don't know how you get an education unless you hear both sides, and then you can arrive at your own conclusion based on a solid argument, which is what Middlebury was trying to do when they brought you in, that it didn't work out very well.
MURRAY: You know, the audience that we have right now listening to us, I guess that you ask what's the solution? The solution is for all of us to just back off in terms of demonizing people we disagree with. So whether you're on twitter or you're on Facebook, it's got to start with us. The politicians can't lead us back to a civil dialogue again, there has to be some kind of, I don't know what you would call it, a great awakening, about the importance of civility and dialogue as part of America's tradition.
MACCALLUM: I've to ask you this quick question before you leave, and it's kind of a big topic. I read that you said you're agnostic when it comes to religion, but you said I'm increasingly shaky in my unbelief.
MURRAY: Yeah. As I've gotten older I have -- couple of things had happened. One is doing a book called Human Accomplishment, I became aware of what a positive force Christianity had been in western civilization. And then also, as I've gotten older and watched my wife, who is much further along on this, I decided that there is a lot of things that need to be taken very seriously that I didn't take very seriously for too long in the spiritual realm.
MACCALLUM: Very interesting. Dr. Charles Murray, come back, it's always good to talk to you, thank you very much, sir.
MURRAY: Thank you.
MACCALLUM: So tonight, a new and positive update on how house majority whip Steve Scalise is doing. Stick around for that. We've got the latest information from the hospital tonight just ahead. And new details from the court battle over the death of Penn State fraternity pledge, young Timothy Piazza, defense attorney scrambling to undo damage from texts like these from the frat president, quote, at the end of the day, I'm accountable for it all. Up next, The Story speaks exclusively with the woman who's prosecuting this case. We'll be right back with more on The Story.
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UNINDENTIFIED FEMALE: What's going on today?
UNINDENTIFIED MALE: We have a friend who's unconscious. He hasn't moved. He's probably going to need an ambulance.
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MACCALLUM: Unfortunately, that 911 call came at least 12 hours too late to save Timothy Piazza. The Penn State student died at a fraternity hazing ritual back in February, and now tensions are really boiling over in the courtroom. The attorneys have been shouting at each other and it has basically been two gut wrenching days for the parents of Tim Piazza. Visibly emotional at these proceedings, sometimes crying, who can blame them. As these text messages are read aloud in court, such as this one from the fraternity's pledge master who said to his girlfriend, seemingly more concerned with his own wellbeing, texting, quote, I do not want to go to jail for this. Trace Gallagher, latest details on this from our West Coast newsroom tonight. Trace?
TRACE GALLAGHER, FOX NEWS: Martha, defense attorney said nobody forced 19- year-old Timothy Piazza to drink so much that his blood alcohol level was four times the legal limit, which led to at least one fall down on a flight of stairs and several other falls on to his head. A Piazza family lawyer says the 18 fraternity members plotted and executed the binge drinking through a hazing ritual called the gauntlet, and that Beta Theta Pi president Brendan Young knew that hazing rituals were dangerous and against the fraternity's national policies when he texted the pledge master saying, quote, if anything goes wrong with the pledges this semester, then both us are effed. Lawyers say the members also try to cover up their involvement, and when 911 finally was called, nobody mentioned the fall.
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UNINDENTIFIED FEMALE: How old is he?
UNINDENTIFIED MALE: He's 19, 19-years-old.
UNINDENTIFIED FEMALE: And was he breathing?
UNINDENTIFIED MALE: He is breathing.
UNINDENTIFIED FEMALE: Was there any alcohol or anything involve that you know?
UNINDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, there is.
UNINDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right. We'll get somebody over there, OK? If anything changes, call back and let us know.
UNINDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you very much. Good bye.
UNINDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're welcome. Bye-bye.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GALLAGHER: The prosecution cited text messages as proof that Piazza's death was no accident. One saying, quote, it's not the fact that he drank. He drank because we hazed him, too, main word being hazed. And the chapter president writing, quote, I don't think you fully comprehend the situation, he looked effing dead. Piazza's father released a statement saying the fraternity members showed no remorse in court and the hearing have, quote, tried our patience as we listen to seven defense lawyers each attempting to justify the unjustifiable, and each attempting to shift the focus, shift the blame, and shift the responsibility from the men who they represent. This hearing is to see if there's enough evidence to take this to trial.
MACCALLUM: Incredible. Trace, thank you so much. Joining me now Centre County district attorney and lead prosecutor in the Timothy Piazza case, Stacy Parks Miller. Stacy, thank you for being here tonight. We have shown so much of this evidence over the course of the last few months that it's pretty difficult to understand a scenario where there's not enough evidence to go forward with these charges, involuntary manslaughter is the strongest of them. What is the bar for that, and are you, as your opponent claims, overcharging in this case?
STACY PARKS MILLER, CENTRE COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Absolutely not. People have to remember, too, that this went through a grand jury in Pennsylvania, and the sitting grand jury already found probable cause. I don't know why Pennsylvania's structure is such that once that happens you have to go through another preliminary hearing and reprove it, and many other states that would be the end of it. Probable cause has already been found once.
MACCALLUM: Yeah. But that's what you have to do.
MILLER: I don't like the law -- yeah, right. We'd already been through the exercise.
MACCALLUM: All right. So in terms of involuntary manslaughter, going back to that, the strongest charge, what would you have to prove in this case to get that?
MILLER: Yeah. It's actually a very lower bar that the defense attorney continues to try to present to confuse the judge and the public. They constantly say my client didn't intend to hurt Mr. Piazza, we're not claiming that. Involuntary manslaughter is simply -- unintentionally causing a death through reckless behavior. And the behavior here was wildly reckless. Reckless simply means behavior outside the norms that a reasonable person would practice. And there's no question in our minds in the case that we're presenting is deliberately holding an event which makes someone fatally drunk and risk death is reckless, it's outside the norm, a reasonable person would practice.
MILLER: Unintentionally, but led to the death.
MACCALLUM: I'm sorry we have a little bit of a delay, I don't mean to be stepping on you, so I just want to apologize for that. But you have to prove that they forced him to drink unsafe amounts, correct?
MILLER: No, no. That's another complete misnomer. It doesn't have to be forced. It is simply that they engaged in reckless behavior. And in this particular case, it simply that they planned an event in which they deliberately supplied enough alcohol in which people got to fatal levels of drunkenness. It does not matter if you voluntarily consumed it or not. And manslaughter, in fact, says in the definition, they can be engaging in legal or illegal acts with the recklessness. Here it was illegal acts, it was hazing and furnishing.
MACCALLUM: I mean, when you read through these text messages, and you read the preparations, and you hear some of them say, you know, that every time they're upping the ante and we better be careful because maybe we're going too far with this. We're going to get these guys so effed up, as they say, some of them expressed concerned about it. But when you think about it, in some ways, the alcohol almost doesn't even have to matter, he fell down a flight of stairs and he was left there and nobody called an ambulance for 12 hours. In some ways the alcohol becomes less important than the injuries and the fact that these, you know, practically adults, didn't do anything, right?
MILLER: Well, yeah. There's a river -- this case is a river and there are river rocks in it. One of the big rocks is he does take a very serious obvious fall, and falls repeatedly, and falls twice, and they don't get him aid. But the river starts when they get him so drunk he can't protect himself. And our pathologist, part of the case is an opinion that he died as a result of severe inebriation which caused his fall. So it's a chain that is linked. And in Pennsylvania, the hazing part of it has right in the definition that the person's consent to the behavior is not a defense because they realize that to be part of a group people will engage in things, so the whole idea that he consented or went along with it will not be a legal defense for them no matter how much they talk about it.
MACCALLUM: It's been a rough few days for the family, and our hearts go out to them. Stacy, thank you very much for being here. We'll be following this case throughout the summer as it progresses, thanks for your time tonight.
MILLER: Thank you for following it. Thank you.
MACCALLUM: So moments ago, President Trump leaving the White House, this is a brand-new video from just a little while ago. He has boarded Air Force One on a flight to Paris to celebrate Bastille Day. He was invited to do so with the French president, Emmanuel Macron. That trip could provide a bit of a recess that is probably thoroughly wanted at this point, and to get back to the agenda that the president wants to pursue. Also tonight, an illegal immigrant removed from this country seven times, got behind the wheel, drunk, according to these reports, and killed a father of three.
That tragic story next on The Story.
MACCALLUM: So here some other stories that we're watching tonight. Fox News confirming that Congressman Steve Scalise is out of ICU tonight. He's spending the past week -- he did, rather, in intensive care. He's been battling an infection. He's been in the D.C. hospital for almost a month now after being shot during a congressional baseball practice by a man targeting Republican. The congressman condition does remain serious. Sources tell Fox News that he's likely to have at least two more surgeries, and we wish him well.
An illegal immigrant removed from the U.S. seven times accused of killing a father of three in a fiery Nebraska crash, prosecutors say Nemias Garcia- Velasco, a Mexican citizen with a criminal past, drank 12 beers and then got behind the wheel, driving his van a 100 miles an hour into a guard rail, burst into flames, and killed the passenger, Silvano Torres. If convicted, Garcia-Velasco faces, finally, 20 years in prison.
So moments ago we showed you the scene at the White House as President Trump headed off to Paris for meetings with the French president as the nation -- as that nation celebrates Bastille Day. The trip comes perhaps in an opportune time as there are suggestions that there's quite a bit of drama among west wing staffers. President Trump responded to those reports with this. The White House is functioning perfectly, focused on health care, tax cuts, reform, and many other things. I've very little time for watching TV, he said. Chris Stirewalt is our Fox News politics editor and he joins us now. How does that spin work for you, Chris?
CHRIS STIREWALT, FOX NEWS POLITICS EDITOR: I always have time to watch "The Story." I just want to point that out.
MACCALLUM: So glad, especially when you're on.
STIREWALT: Yes, that's the best part. So obviously, that doesn't comport with the other reporting -- it doesn't comport with what we see. So what we see is the president says that, basically, he learned about his son meeting with the Russians on the news. That he didn't know anything about it before. That's what he said today. That's what his lawyer said this morning. And what makes that pretty astonishing is the fact that it was, according to the New York Times, his son-in-law Jared Kushner whose legal team found out about the meeting and then disclosed it. That's not a good look when you have those kinds of factions inside your own family, inside your own White House. When you have that going on, that doesn't look like an organization that can function, and that is probably the first thing that they have to get taken care of.
STIREWALT: Everybody needs to disclose exactly what they know about everything to somebody, to the lawyers, to the White House counsel, to the president himself. Everybody has to say everything, and then they got to get it out.
MACCALLUM: Yeah. As you pointed out in your piece today, you know, that's the way these things go. This is the moment, or maybe the moment should have been quite a while ago, where everybody comes forward and goes, you know what, I did have one meeting that you should know about.
STIREWALT: Yeah, exactly.
MACCALLUM: . but you're saying that because there's so many factions in the west wing that they can even do that, they don't trust each other.
STIREWALT: Right. And if you have that level of distrust, if you have mistrust of that magnitude, and then, of course, there're stories out today that the family coming out against Reince Priebus -- this is the old saw, every time there's a problem in the west wing, you see all of these stories that comes out, oh, Reince Priebus, mark for death, blah, blah, blah, blah. But none of this goes to the larger issue, and a larger issue is that the president at some point has to say I trust this guy, and you need to tell him everything you know about this right now because we're going to be done with this, no more surprises.
MACCALLUM: Management issues. Chris, thank you so much.
STIREWALT: You bet.
MACCALLUM: We'll take a quick break and we'll be back with tonight's great story. What Clint Eastwood has plan for three American heroes who helped stop a terror attack that saved countless lives.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNINDENTIFIED MALE: Saw a guy entering the train with an A.K. and a handgun, and I just looked over at Spencer and said, let's go, go, and he jumped up and I followed behind him by about three seconds.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: What a story, right? That was a national guardsmen, Alek Skarlatos, back in August of 2015, and this we think is a great story. Skarlatos and two of his best childhood friends were on a trip, Spencer Stone and Anthony Sadler. They became international heroes after jumping into action on a high-speed train in France, and they stop a terrorist in his tracks. You all remember those pictures. So now, in another crazy turn, they will now play themselves on the silver screen and be directed by Clint Eastwood in the movie 1517 to Paris. It's a film based on the book that they wrote about the attack, production started this week. No word on when it will hit theaters, but we love this story and we plan to go see it. So have a great night, everybody. We will see you back here on "The Story" tomorrow night. Tucker Carlson is up next.
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