Chris Stirewalt recaps West Virginia GOP Senate debate

This is a rush transcript from "The Story," May 1, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

MARTHA MACCALLUM, THE STORY HOST: A fiery debate to kick off the 2018 midterms here in Morgantown, West Virginia, tonight. The three top Republican candidates face off to decide which one of them will take on incumbent Democrat Joe Manchin come November. Good evening, everybody. I'm Martha MacCallum. Tonight, just a preview of what we can expect over the coming months and weeks as we watch this all play out across the country. It will be a battle to the finish line as Republicans try to hold onto their majority in congress, and Democrats try to sway voters by countering conservatives and the Trump White House. West Virginia is just 1 of 4 states that is heading to the polls this coming Tuesday night, May 8th. Indiana, Ohio, North Carolina, all have big races to watch, which Bret and I will be covering for you that evening. All of those states carried by President Trump in 2016. So, here in West Virginia, the Fox News power rankings say it is a toss-up between Democrats and Republicans. And tonight, this race really just got a whole lot more interesting.


PATRICK MORRISEY, R, WEST VIRGINIA SENATE CANDIDATE: I have the conservative West Virginia values. If you look at Mr. -- the congressman, he actually has been very liberal if you go Obamacare, checkbox, he supported. Hillary, he went and rallied for Hillary. Nancy Pelosi, John Kerry, Planned Parenthood spending, just a couple weeks ago. Evans, you should be ashamed of yourself for that outrageous vote killing the unborn.


EVAN JENKINS, R, WEST VIRGINIA SENATE CANDIDATE: Joe Manchin is on the Chuck Schumer team. He's sitting there with Elizabeth Warren, with Bernie Sanders. He's got a 70, 80 percent voting record with them. That's not West Virginia. I welcome the opportunity to take on Joe Manchin this November, and replace him and bring a much-needed Republican vote to the United States senate.

BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Mr. Blankenship, isn't it true that you lived in Nevada? You pay taxes in Nevada? And, in fact, your probation officer is in Nevada, and yet you're running for U.S. senate in West Virginia.

DON BLANKENSHIP, R, WEST VIRGINIA SENATE CANDIDATE: Yeah. I pay probably more taxes than anybody on the stage to West Virginia.

BAIER: If Joe Manchin comes after you for living in Nevada, what do you say?

BLANKENSHIP: That he's living in D.C. too long.



MACCALLUM: Interesting night. Chris Stirewalt, West Virginia native, and Fox News politics editor live outside the theater tonight. Chris, I'm interested in how you think these gentlemen did up there tonight.

CHRIS STIREWALT, FOX NEWS POLITICS EDITOR: I tell you, we had to come inside because they're still rocking out. I don't think they want to go home. They had so much fun with you guys. But, I've got to tell you, I think Blankenship, probably, did himself a world of good tonight. He didn't talk as much as the other two, but he was substantive in his answers. And he was down in the polls coming in here, and maybe did OK. Especially, on that Mitch McConnell answer.

MACCALLUM: Yeah. Let's take a look at one of the other very interesting moments from tonight when the candidates were asked to raise their hands when it came to the majority leader. Watch.


BAIER: Please raise your hand if you would support Mitch McConnell for Republican leader in the senate.



MACCALLUM: No hands, Chris. No hands up there.

STIREWALT: And Blankenship was headed for the deck. So, it was interesting when you listen to the answer from Jenkins and Morrisey, they were leaving their options open. They said, look, you know, I'm not going to support him today, but maybe I'm going to vote for him. Where Blankenship is telling these are primary voters. These -- the Republicans, Republicans, and he said no. And that will mean something.

MACCALLUM: Let's take a look at one more moment here, Chris. And Bret is about to join in as well and get a look at this. Let's see one more moment from tonight. Let's watch.


MORRISEY: I have the conservative West Virginia values. If you look at Mr. -- the congressman, he actually has been very liberal if you go Obamacare, checkbox, he supported. Hillary, he went and rallied for Hillary. Nancy Pelosi, John Kerry, Planned Parenthood spending, just a couple weeks ago. Evans, you should be ashamed of yourself for that outrageous vote killing the unborn.


MACCALLUM: Pretty hot out there. Let's bring in my co-anchor, Bret Baier, who helped moderate this evening. We worked on it together all week, really, coming up with the questions for tonight, and, of course, the chief political anchor at Fox News. So, tell me what -- what do you think -- it's interesting, Morrisey and Jenkins, in particular, were really going at each other.

BAIER: Really going at each other. I do want to clarify one thing. There is a Morgantown, West Virginia, song that they took from Rocky Top, Tennessee, and it says Morgantown instead. So, there was a correct song play, it's just.

MACCALLUM: It did give Evans Jenkins another opportunity to say how proud he is to be from West Virginia.



BAIER: But, I thought it was interesting to watch the dynamic between Morrisey and Jenkins. Obviously, Blankenship had some interesting lines. And, listen, don't take away the possibility that West Virginia could go with an outsider. I mean, obviously, Donald Trump plays well here. You saw how they tried to out-Trumped each other all night long. At 87 percent approval they're going to do that.

MACCALLUM: And the fascinating thing to watch, if indeed, tonight is good for Don Blankenship. When they look at the polls and everybody sorts it out is what the Republican is going to do back in Washington, because they went through a similar exercise in Alabama and it didn't work out so well. Don Blankenship doesn't want to be compared to Roy Moore, but that the comparison that's made because of his time in prison. And where would they come down if they started to see him take off?

BAIER: I don't know. You know, Don Blankenship is not Roy Moore. He's got some one-liners. He's got some, you know, outside, you know, positioning. I think the traditional bet is to go with the congressman here, you would think. But, I think this is going to be a close race. As you look at our poll, it's -- you know, it's anybody's game.

MACCALLUM: Absolutely. Morrisey and Jenkins fairly thinks that they are - - you know, if people are going to choose one or the other of them if they're not going to Blankenship route, and they were clearly trying to define themselves in a very strong way tonight, so interesting -- final thoughts, Chris Stirewalt?

STIREWALT: They were to mean to each other. They were to embittering. And they were at each other constantly, too many negatives. They're driving up each other's negatives, and they will pay a price for that.

MACCALLUM: We will see. Thank you so much, Chris Stirewalt, native West Virginian, rocky top kind of guy. Thank you, Chris. That was fun. All right. So, still ahead tonight, we've got a lot coming up on The Story. Kim Jong-un taking more positive steps today towards a peace deal, but should President Trump trust this man? Former secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, has one word and she will join us live in just a moment. Plus, the big question tonight, who is behind the stunning leak of questions that Special Counsel Mueller wants to ask President Trump, and what does it mean for the future of this investigation? Chief national correspondent, Ed Henry, and constitutional attorney, Jonathan Turley, take that on right after the break.


MACCALLUM: Speculation is running wild tonight over who was behind the latest bombshell leak in the special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russian collusion. In a stunning development, we now know at least some of the questions of the special counsel and how he wants to grill President Trump if he gets the opportunity. But how does this monumental leak happen? Fingers are pointing in all directions tonight with some, if you can believe it, straight at the president, himself, or perhaps some of his people. Chief national correspondent, Ed Henry, live with all of this tonight at the White House as it unfolds. Hi, Ed.

ED HENRY, FOX NEWS CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Martha, great to see you. It may be hard to pin this leak on Special Counsel Robert Mueller, because senior White House sources are telling me tonight, he and his lawyers are unlikely suspects over at the special counsel team because all of these questions tip their hand publicly about where they're going. Instead, insiders close to the process focusing on the part of the time story saying this list of questions was compiled by the president's lawyers lead at the time by John Dowd after a series of meetings with Mueller. Dowd, tonight, told me, quote, it's not me, pal. But, note, he left the president's legal team earlier this year after including Mueller's long list of questions could put the president in legal jeopardy if he sat for an interview. This leak is widely seen as an attempt to sabotage that interview.

The Times added the leak was a person outside the current legal team, meaning it could not be White House lawyer, Ty Cobb, or the new outside lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, since they're not on -- since they're currently on the team. John Dowd is not on the team. Now, I'm told Cobb and Giuliani are both privately saying they still want the president to find a way to do an interview to try and end this probe. The idea that the president himself leaked it seems remote because he has been pushing to do an interview too. And who ever leaked this list of questions seems to want to scuttle an interview because there are at least four dozen questions that frame this as a pile on. Mueller pressing for answers about the president's meetings with James Comey, Michael Flynn, Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Plus, questions about whether he spoke to lawyer Michael Cohen about real estate deals in Russia, which we've seem to cross the red line the president established about his business.

And, if the president was the leaker he seemed to disguise it, tweeting, quote, so disgraceful. The questions concerning the Russian witch hunt were leaked to the media. No questions on collusion. Oh, I see, you have a made up phony crime, collusion, that never existed and an investigation begun with illegally leaked classified information. Nice. Meanwhile, Republican, Trey Gowdy, Bob Goodlatte, are probing some of James Comey's leaks, sending a letter to Sessions. Deputy Attorney General Rob Rosenstein seeking documents on a friend, Daniel Richmond, that Comey used as a go-between to get out some of his memos. Rosenstein, by the way, fired back today at house Republicans preparing articles of impeachment against him saying that the Justice Department, in his words, will not be extorted. I can tell you Republican Mark Meadows has fire back at that and said that Rosenstein should focus on facts, not rhetoric, Martha.

MACCALLUM: Ed, thank you very much. Good to see you tonight. So, joining me now, Jonathan Turley, constitutional law attorney and law professor at George Washington University. Jonathan, good evening to you.


MACCALLUM: When these questions started pouring out, we all poured through them to try to figure out what they tell us about the direction of this investigation. What was your overall take away with the tenor of these questions and what he's going for?

TURLEY: Well, first of all, the release of these questions was a very aggressive act, and it's most likely someone who doesn't want the interview to occur. You don't poison the well that you intend to drink from. And that's what this was an effort to do, to show that the questions were brought to possibly justify a refusal by the president to sit down with Mueller. Otherwise, most of the questions, I'd say 90 percent were highly predictable. If you were to sit down and write out the questions about three months after Mueller was appointed, most of these questions would be those questions. Now, there are some that do cross that redline that Ed was talking about going into business dealings, but those are largely dealing that we knew were on the radar screen from Moscow.

I actually think the president could deal with these questions. He could be properly prepared. Where he has to be concerned are the sleeper questions, the ones that look like they're innocuous or housekeeping. For example, when did he first learn about the Trump Tower meeting? He has denied knowing about that before the meeting, so has Donald Trump Jr. The Democrats are trying to establish that it was Trump who was the so-called blocked caller referred to in the house committee report investigation. They did not determine that number. Mueller may have. He has subpoena authority and he could have determined who made that call at a critical point when that meeting was being discussed.

MACCALLUM: Yeah. I mean, it's fascinating. When you look at some of these, they are very open-ended, and we all know the way that the president likes to answer questions, and sometimes, you know, ramble into different territory. They're not specific. They're not questions that would be answered with a yes or no. Do you think that is a set up for him?

TURLEY: Well, I think there may be a set up here. Whenever you go into these things you have to assume that it could be a perjury trap. That doesn't mean you have to fall in it. I've done a lot of depositions that are a lot more complex than this. He has very good attorneys that will be there with him. If he preps, if he prepares with those attorneys and listens to them, yes, I think he could get through this. I also agree with them that the alternative is not particularly appealing. If he decides to bunker down, then Mueller could hit him with a subpoena. He could challenge that in federal court, but I think you would lose. Now, does he want that to be the media being generated going into the midterm elections? That's a tough call to make. And it will come at costs.

MACCALLUM: Jonathan, always good to talk to you. Thank you very much for joining us tonight.

TURLEY: Thanks, Martha.

MACCALLUM: You bet. Jonathan Turley. Coming up next.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: So far, whether you look at the Clinton administration, or the Bush administration, or the Obama administration, it never worked out. That was the time to have settled this problem, not now.


MACCALLUM: So, what does the former secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, think about that? And, really the whole picture for the Trump campaign right now. A lot going on with North Korea and Syria. We're going to talk to her about that when she joins me live, next.


CONDOLEEZZA RICE, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: The sooner that North Korea would choose to unconditionally come back to the table it would be the betterment of everyone.




TRUMP: I want to get peace. The main thing. We want to get peace. So, we're setting up meetings right now and I think it's probably going to be announced over the next couple of days, location and date.


MACCALLUM: That was President Trump earlier today saying that he wants peace out of the upcoming summit with North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un. My next guest was the last secretary of state to negotiate with the rogue regime, Condoleezza Rice. Served as secretary of state under President George W. Bush. She's also the author of the new book, Political Risk, how businesses and organization can anticipate global insecurity, which is a pretty full-time job for a lot of companies out there right now. Condoleezza, good to see you tonight.

RICE: Good to see you, too.

MACCALLUM: Thank you so much for being with us.

RICE: Good to see you too, Martha.

MACCALLUM: So, I want to begin -- there have been so much change, obviously, in the past few weeks, over the past months, when you look at North Korea, when you look at decisions being made in Syria. So, I want to ask you just a broad question, as you watch this president in action, how do you think President Trump is doing on the world stage?

RICE: I think on a number of these issues he's doing really quite well. And his administration is breaking some china, to be sure, and doing things in ways that perhaps others might not do them. But, you can't argue, for instance, with North Korea, that they're, actually, perhaps going to get results. I'll tell you, when I first heard that the president had on the spot accepted an offer from Kim Jong Un to meet, I thought, oh, my goodness, what is he doing? And then, I thought, well, you know, nothing else has worked. So, maybe, you should give it a try.

And I do think that then-CIA director, now Secretary Pompeo having gone to Pyongyang, we didn't even know about it. That shows some skills to pull that diplomacy off. And so, they've got a real opportunity. I hope the president really is well-prepared for Kim Jong Un, who is a different kind of guy and will try to exploit loopholes. And we have to remember, the nature of the regime. This is a brutal regime. But, if they can get on the road to denuclearization and on the road to peace on the Korean peninsula, terrific, it will be great.

MACCALLUM: You make such a great point. I mean, I think in this moment there's so much focus on he and the leader from South Korea, you know, hopping over the curve, and everything looks, sort of, happy and go lucky. But, you know, you think back to Otto Warmbier. You think back to the half-brother who was assassinated in the airport. What would you advise -- if you were to advise the president about this meeting, what would you say to him?

RICE: I would say, first and foremost, try to set the tone, set the table, but then let the details be negotiated by your experts, by your secretary, by others, because there are a lot of other countries that have something at stake here. I mean, the Japanese have a lot at stake. I wouldn't be in a hurry to make pledges about what's going to happen with American troops on the Korean peninsula. Because American troops in Korea are stabilizing force, not just in Korea, but in the region as a whole. I would also be very certain that you're getting good step-by-step ways to get inspectors into North Korea. We don't actually have very good intelligence about the North Korean program and having inspectors on the ground can help. So, take your time. Go ahead and set the table, but don't try to get too much done in that first meeting because you don't want to raise expectations and disappoint them. This is a real opportunity. This is a real opening, but it has to be exploited in the right way.

MACCALLUM: President Bush, obviously, has been very careful in his comments about this administration, and he's always said that he respects the job of the next president and there's only one president at a time. But, President Trump sometimes takes a shot at former presidents with regard to how they handle these things. Here's a sound bite as an example.


TRUMP: Other presidents should have solved this problem long before I got here. They've been talking for 25 years, and you know what happened? Nothing. The Bush administration did nothing.


MACCALLUM: Well, what goes through your mind when you hear that?

RICE: What goes through my mind when you hear that is you have to respect your predecessors and how difficult some of the issues that they dealt with were. What has changed here and I think what has given President Trump the upper hand is that when the North Koreans got close to a nuclear weapon and delivery system that could reach the United States, people actually began to believe, and he deserves credit for this. People actually began to believe that the United States was not going to tolerate that, that we would go to war on the peninsula rather than allow that to happen. And, I do think it got the attention of the Chinese in ways that, frankly, we were unable to do. But, I would say that there is still a long road between where we are now and the verifiable denuclearization of North Korea. And I just want to repeat, this is a truly awful regime. And one has to be very careful that you don't lose sight of that. So, yes, I wish that other administrations had solved it. This is hard stuff, and I think the president is going to find out it's hard stuff.

MACCALLUM: Indeed, it is hard stuff. Political Risk is also hard stuff right now. That's the name of your new book. The title of your new book. And you give some really fascinating examples, Facebook, you know, companies that are dealing with things that they never had to deal with before. Tell us what we should know about 'Political Risk.'

RICE: Well, 'Political Risk' is an effort to say to companies and organizations the sources of political risk are now multiplying. It was once in the 70's that you worried about some socialist dictator expropriating your property. That's not your problem now. Your problem is a great power like Russia behaving badly, interfering in American elections, and using a social media platform. Actually, using the social media platform and then bringing disparaged on that social media company. And so, that's a different kind of political risk. You have what happen to United Airlines. Everybody with a cell phone is a reporter. Everybody with a cell phone can document that conditions. When you have supply chains that are reaching all the way into China and we've got talks of a trade war, you're at risk. So, the sources are multiplying. Be careful. Be on your P's and Q's. Watch for what's coming around the corner.

MACCALLUM: Good advice. Former secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice. Thank you so much. Great to see you tonight.

RICE: Great to see you too, Martha.

MACCALLUM: That is our story from West Virginia. Morgantown, West Virginia, tonight at the Metropolitan Theater. The site of many primary debates. And here to come as we follow them across the country in the 2018 midterms. Next Tuesday, May 8th, Bret and I will be covering the primary elections in four states. Tucker is up next in D.C.

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