Brazile: Klobuchar had many common sense answers during her town hall

This is a rush transcript from "The Story," May 8, 2019. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

MARTH MACCALLUM, HOST: Breaking tonight. Despite DOJ efforts to negotiate House Judiciary Democrats voting to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress for failing to turn over the unredacted Mueller report and the underlying documents. The president says that he cannot -- they cannot have any of that.

Good evening, everybody. I'm Martha MacCallum.

A lot of news today. A lot to get to in terms of what happens next on this big story in Washington. But we begin tonight here in Milwaukee where 2020 presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar took the stage at our own Fox News town hall to win the battle for heartland voters in a crowded 2020 field.


SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR, D-MINN, 2020 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Now we are at a time of stability in our country. But to me, this means that we are at a moment in time that we should be governing from opportunity and not from chaos.

Everyone in this country should see health care not as a privilege but a right.

I think it's important to run on an optimistic, economic agenda.


MACCALLUM: Here now Chris Stirewalt, Fox News politics editor. Chris, one of the points that we talked about a lot is this is a very crowded field. A, you've really got to stand out. So how did she do?

CHRIS STIREWALT, FOX NEWS DIGITAL POLITICS EDITOR: I think she did herself a heck of a lot of good. I was reminded listening to her answers, then you and Bret put her through her paces. There were a lot of tough questions tonight.

I was reminded tonight why Democrats used to be so dominant in this part of the country because they used to sound like Amy Klobuchar. Right? Her answers, she sounded moderate, she sounded sensible, she sounded reasonable.

Now, Joe Biden, as you talked about tonight, takes up a lot of space in the field. But guys, if you are looking for a Democrat who could win in this state, if you're a Democrat voter who says I wanted somebody who can beat Donald Trump in the upper Midwest, she certainly sounded like that candidate tonight.

MACCALLUM: Yes. It was interesting, you know, when we asked her about where she is right now in the polls, Biden is at 39 percent. And keep in mind, those are national polls. And a lot of name recognition goes into that. She's at 1 percent. She made the point. Look, a lot of people are --


STIREWALT: One point -- 1.3 percent.

MACCALLUM: One point three.

STIREWALT: One point three, that's right.

MACCALLUM: Well, she speaks of three-tenth she didn't know about.

STIREWALT: That's right, that's right, that's right.

MACCALLUM: You know, a lot of times we've seen candidates who are in those lower digits like Barack Obama, like Bill Clinton, come from behind.

STIREWALT: She needs the -- she needs the dynamic of this race to change. There is no way that she gets where she's going from here and she basically owned that fact. Something that has to happen for Joe Biden before something really good can happen for Amy Klobuchar.

Though, she is in position to do that. That lane is there. I think we had underappreciated how many Democrats wanted a return to the traditional values of the party, the party of the working man and woman in this part of the country and she's there. And she's got that.

And I think she made her case tonight. And I think she did it with a lot of humanity. When she talked about her dad, and she talked about what growing up here, and she talked about what life is like, I think she did a really good job in humanizing herself.

MACCALLUM: Yes. I thought she was -- we thought that, you know, that the what's your nickname question might take a beat to figure out. She went to, heartland Amy. Pretty good.

STIREWALT: Heartland Amy.

MACCALLUM: I thought that was a pretty good nickname that she came up with. But the biggest hurdle obviously is the economy. And we played that package, you know, we sent folks out to talk to people, you know. Those people were there. They said they feel like things are going pretty well, they are not sure they want to change gears.

STIREWALT: Nineteen seventy-two, 1984, 1996. Presidents who have problems in other areas, Bill Clinton himself, Democrats know this is true. It's hard to get voters to toss somebody out when the economy is going great guns and it's going great guns right now. Her answers on that were part -- were the weakest part --


STIREWALT: -- of her evening because really, what are you going to say?

MACCALLUM: Yes. You can change the subject.

STIREWALT: You can change the subject.

MACCALLUM: Which is pretty much what we heard on the economy.


MACCALLUM: In terms of that tonight. Chris, thank you very much.

STIREWALT: Thank you.

MACCALLUM: Great to see you tonight and thanks for all your help here --


MACCALLUM: -- in Milwaukee working with the team as we always do. So, Senator Klobuchar faced a question tonight from one of our town hall participants that many in the 2020 field including Joe Biden are grappling with. Watch this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why should progressive support you?

KLOBUCHAR: I am a proven progressive. The last time I checked --


KLOBUCHAR: The last time I checked, if you want to be a progressive and support progressive, then you are supposed to make progress.


MACCALLUM: Here now, Donna Brazile, former chair of the Democratic National Committee and a Fox News contributor. Donna, you are looking at the all of these candidates, you just had a while to sort of listen to Amy Klobuchar. Did she increase her viability in your mind tonight or not?

DONNA BRAZILE, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Absolutely. I think she took advantage of the stage she had today to talk to voters. You know, if I had a nickname for Amy Klobuchar, I'd call her common sense Amy, because many of her answers were just common sense in terms of talking about the economy, the support for public schools, and public school teachers.

I thought she did herself a lot of good, especially for those Democrats who are still shopping for a candidate. She had a lot of items that she checked off the list. And while I think on the economy, she needs to get a little bit more stronger in the future, I think overall she did a great job.

MACCALLUM: But Donna, what's the argument on that? I mean, you look at 3.2 percent, 263,000 jobs, you've got wages going up in the country, unemployment at the lowest rate in 50 years. I mean, I could go on and on with these stats because they were just the facts of what's going on out there.

What would you advise these candidates because they are all going to have to answer that question and as you just said about Amy Klobuchar, she's going to have to come up with something stronger?

BRAZILE: Look, pocketbook issues will be important in 2020. But you know what? Quality of life is also very important. So, it's great that we've got more people working than ever before. It's amazing that our economy is still humming and buzzing after the terrific downfall we had back in 2008.

I think that all the Democrats need to talk about is improving the quality of life for all Americans and making sure that we can pay our bills. And most Americans as you well know, they're working one and two jobs to make ends meet. They're afraid of their own personal situation.

But I do believe that Amy gave a good answer in terms of the tax cuts, what she would keep, what she's fearful of in terms of the deficit. But more importantly, I think that she gave a lot of common-sense answers on those other issues that the American people care about. Health care costs and as well as criminal justice reform.

So, I give her a great, successful rating tonight because I do believe that there are Democrats who are still looking for candidates to back. And Amy Klobuchar showed tonight that she could be in the top 10.

MACCALLUM: Donna, let me ask you this. Because you know, as a prosecutor, there is a bit of a complicated history there when we brought this evening with her and one of the questioners did as well.

She really went after -- she was very tough on crime, that was her whole thing when she was the prosecutor of Hennepin County here over in Minnesota. So, you know, she also has reputation for not prosecuting in certain cases where civilians were killed by police. She did not, you know, sort of prosecute those cases perhaps in the way that some in those communities would have wanted her to.

So how much are those kinds of things in the past, the top prosecutor, going to work in an environment when there's so much discussion about criminal justice reform?

BRAZILE: Well, look, for those individuals who live through the '90s as I did, there was no question that that was law in a decade and it's time for us to take a different look at how we treated nonviolent offenses, how we treated police brutality.

There's so many issues that we have to talk about. She also talked about it's time for a second chance act. We have the criminal justice reform a bipartisan bill that President Trump signed, now it's time for us to take a look at our criminal justice system to see how we can improve it for the future.

We're probably one of the largest western nations with so many people incarcerated. It's time for us to take a look at that. It's costing us not only the livelihoods of those who have committed crimes, those who are victims of crimes, but it's time that we take a different look at this whole process.

MACCALLUM: Donna, thank you very much. Good to see you tonight.

BRAZILE: Hey, I thought you did a great job too.


MACCALLUM: Still ahead this evening -- thanks, Donna.


MACCALLUM: Thank you. We'll see you back there. Thank you.

So, House Democrats are the White House are at war tonight, folks. What happens next in this drama after a House committee votes to hold Attorney General Barr in contempt? And some Democrats are talking about the Crypt jail in the Capitol building which hasn't been used since 1935. I mean, it's unbelievable, we'll be right back with that story.


REP. JERROLD NADLER, D-N.Y.: Attorney General Barr having proved himself to be the personal attorney to President Trump rather than the attorney of the United States.




NADLER: We've talked for a long time about approaching a constitutional crisis. We are now in it. We are now in a constitutional crisis.


MACCALLUM: There you go. Jerry Nadler, the representative, the battle between the White House and Congress is escalating tonight.

House Judiciary Committee voting to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress today. President Trump then asserted executive privilege over the report and the underlying documents.


NADLER: The Trump administration has taken obstruction of Congress to new heights. No person, not the attorney general, and not the president, can be permitted to be above the law.

SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Chairman Nadler is asking the attorney general of the United States to break the law.

The attorney general is protecting information, grand jury information, confidential information that he cannot release.


MACCALLUM: Well, this has escalated in a very dramatic way. Now some Democrats, whether they are joking, some are, may some not about potentially locking-up the attorney general and other members of the Trump administration. Watch this.


REP. NANCY PELOSI, D-CALIF., HOUSE SPEAKER: We do have a jail down there in the basement of the Capitol. But if we were arresting all the people in the administration, we would have overcrowded jail situation. And I'm not for that.

REP. LLOYD DOGGETT, D-TEXAS: If we have a lawless attorney general or a lawless secretary of the treasury or some other official, I'm not willing to throw them in jail but I'm ready to do so.


MACCALLUM: Here now, Congressman Andy Biggs of Arizona, a Republican from Arizona. Serves on that judiciary committee where all of this is going on.

Congressman, good evening to you.


MACCALLUM: What is your reaction to we have watched play out here?

BIGGS: Well, I was quite frankly shocked. I think it was focused on politics rather than law. I feel like at the last two hearings that we've had with the chicken incident and then today, is to me, it is absolutely incredible that my colleagues on the other side of the aisle admit, basically, that they have a subpoena that was overly broad and not constructed properly and then they want to fix that by fixing their motion to hold them in contempt?

That's just not the way it's done. This move outside the parameters of law and the rules is outrageous, quite frankly.

MACCALLUM: It's pretty shocking that they have not gone into read the more unredacted version of this report. If they did that, perhaps if they were going through everything and they said can you know what, this redaction is a concern to us. We'd like to itemize this, would like to discuss it with you. We would like to have the supporting documents on this, perhaps.

This is Representative Hank Johnson of Georgia. Listen to this.


REP. HANK JOHNSON, D-GA.: This is all part of a cover-up. And it is up to this committee to ensure that we get that report because we have lawful responsibilities, constitutional responsibilities, to engage in. One of which is possibly impeachment. How can we impeach without getting the documents?


MACCALLUM: Can you answer that question for him, Congressman?

BIGGS: Well, here's the deal. That's what it's all about. This is all about impeachment and that's what they actually want. You know, the investigation is done, Mr. Mueller has completed it, the report is out there.

And one of the books that they are talking about has 182 pages, only six lines redacted, and yet they want, basically millions of documents. And it's all for impeachment. They don't want Mr. Barr to come in and testify. That's not what this is about. What it is, is they want to lay the groundwork to try to impeach President Trump.

And quite frankly, they are testing the waters to see if it works if the American people would support that. And I just don't think the American people are going to support that.

MACCALLUM: You know, one of the things Senator Klobuchar said this tonight as well, there is this sort of different language is being used with regards to obstruction. It says where there were 10 instances of instruction in the report, but that's not really the case.

There was evidence laid out and then at the end of each of those 10, it sort of says, you know, but we didn't actually find anything in the end on Carter Page and the like. Is that correct or no?

BIGGS: No, you are exactly right. And even as they go through it and they iterate these 10 incidents, they always conclude that there is no obstruction there. They declined to prosecute. They declined to investigate further.


BIGGS: So that's the problem with this.





MACCALLUM: All right. Representative Biggs, thank you very much. Good to have you here tonight, sir.

BIGGS: Thanks, Martha.

MACCALLUM: So, joining me now, Charlie Hurt -- thank you. Charlie Hurt, Washington Times opinion editor, and Mo Elleithee, former DNC spokesperson. Both are Fox News contributors. Gentlemen, thank you both very much for being here.


MACCALLUM: Mo, I want to start with you. There is a suggestion out there today, the editorial in the Wall Street Journal that this is all like, this is the impeachment.

This is the playing out of the whole process because Democrats don't actually want to impeach but they want to do, you know, this very dramatic, take this very dramatic action because they know that impeachment is probably politically not a great move.

MO ELLEITHEE, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: I this it is probably right that impeachment is not politically popular right now. And who knows whether or not it ever will be. But I think what they are doing is fulfilling what they see as their mandate in Congress for accountability.

Mueller served it up to them. In this report, he kicked it to Congress. He didn't say there was no obstruction. He said this could go either way. Congress, now it's your turn. So, I think that's what they are trying to do. There's political upside for it as well.

MACCALLUM: Well, that's a good point. That is a good point. Yes. Charlie, on that point, you know, do you think that he abdicated his responsibility, Robert Mueller, in this report and you know, sort of dumped it all on the attorney general's lap and now he has become, you know, sort of the focus of all of this?

HURT: You know, I don't know if he abdicated his responsibility or not, but let's remember that the only real responsibility a prosecutor has is to either prosecute or not prosecute. He did not prosecute, whether it was on collusion or on obstruction. He did neither.

And I think all of the fighting that we were right now up on Capitol Hill reveals these people to be just fundamentally unserious. They are treating a guy like Bill Barr who I look at him during the testimony, he looks like the only adult on Capitol Hill. Him and Jim Sensenbrenner, the only adult on Capitol Hill and these people are running around with fried chicken and doing all this nonsense.

What upsets them is not what's in the report. What upsets them is what's not in the Mueller report which is a shred of evidence to prove any of this cockamamie story they've been peddling for --


ELLEITHEE: Yes, but --

HURT: -- the past two years. They don't need another lawyer. They need a psychiatrist.

ELLEITHEE: But Charlie, look, I'm a 100 percent with you on the fried chicken thing.

MACCALLUM: Go ahead, Mo.

ELLEITHEE: That was ridiculous. Right? I mean, that looked foolish and was unbecoming of a member of Congress.

MACCALLUM: Embarrassing.

ELLEITHEE: But let's be clear, Barr didn't do himself any favors when Mueller came out and said, hey, you mischaracterized. You did not -- you are not honest with people about our findings and our rulings and totally mischaracterized it.


MACCALLUM: That's not what he said.

ELLEITHEE: That put him in a tough spot.

MACCALLUM: Just for the record. He didn't say he weren't honest about the findings, Mo. I just want to -- he did not argue with the findings.

ELLEITHEE: He was --

MACCALLUM: He said the findings were accurate. He didn't like the whole execution of the way it came out that just to --


ELLEITHEE: He said it mischaracterized.

MACCALLUM: -- just to be on the record there.

ELLEITHEE: The letter specifically said he mischaracterized.

HURT: And again --


MACCALLUM: But not the findings. Not the findings.

HURT: The other reason that it doesn't matter is that Bill Barr then turned right around and did what he did not have to do which is release the whole damn report.

MACCALLUM: All right. I got to go.

ELLEITHEE: All right. Most of it.

MACCALLUM: All right, guys, I go to go. Mo, Charlie, thank you very much.


MACCALLUM: See you soon. More of "The Story" coming up next.


MACCALLUM: That is "The Story" tonight from this Wednesday evening in Milwaukee. We are going to see you back tomorrow night in New York at seven o'clock.

Really great evening. Glad to have Senator Klobuchar with us tonight. Tucker Carlson is in D.C. getting all warmed up and ready for his show.

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