This is a rush transcript from "The Story," February 27, 2019. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
MARTHA MACCALLUM, HOST: It feels like you just crossed the river. Thank you very much, Bret. Good to see you tonight. And breaking this evening, developments just coming out on what a deal may look like with North Korea? And perhaps an end to the Korean War.
And tonight, two nuclear powers. India and Pakistan taking down planes and shooting across the border in an unnerving face off.
But in Washington today, there was a war of words that exploded when Michael Cohen who was headed to prison for lying to Congress in part, late into his former boss of 10 years.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER LAWYER TO DONALD TRUMP: He is a racist. He is a conman, and he is a cheat.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: Good evening, everybody. I'm Martha MacCallum, and this is “The Story.” The president's former attorney and self-declared fixer implicated the president in hush money payments. Instead, he was aware of communications with WikiLeaks. But Cohen said he did not have any evidence that the president had ever colluded with Russia during the election. The central question of the entire investigation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COHEN: The questions have been raised about whether I know of direct evidence that Mr. Trump or his campaign colluded with Russia. I do not. And I want to be clear.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: Republicans slammed Cohen's credibility.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JIM JORDAN, R-OH: Mr. Cohen committed for four, four distinct federal crimes over a period of several years. He was motivated to do so by personal greed, and repeatedly, repeatedly used his power and influence for deceptive ends, but the Democrats don't care. They don't care. They just want to use you, Mr. Cohen. You're their patsy today.
They got to find somebody, somewhere to say something so they can try to remove the president from office.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: Great lineup tonight. Trey Gowdy, former chairman of that committee that Michael Cohen appeared before today. But first, Democratic Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney. He sits on the House Intel Committee, which will be questioning Cohen behind closed doors tomorrow.
Sir, welcome. Good to have you back on the program tonight. So, what jumped out at you? What do you -- what do you want to ask him tomorrow?
REP. SEAN MALONEY, D-N.Y.: Well, our focus as you know is on the Russia side of this.
MALONEY: But what jumped out to me today was that Michael Cohen showed up with hard documentary evidence of the president's involvement in a conspiracy to violate campaign finance laws and that there was an effort to conceal that. To obstruct it and cover it up.
And unfortunately, for those who want to discount Mr. Cohen, he brought documents that seemed to back that up. That's a very serious charge and that's new.
MACCALLUM: Yes, well, that's part of the ongoing investigation. And, of course, there is going to be a lot of question about that. He also said that he did not have any that the president is never directed him to make that payment.
He said, he understood that, that was what the president wanted based on what he said. But that is clearly part of the ongoing investigation. What did you think of the fact that he said that he, he did not see any collusion between Russia and the Trump administration, which obviously was the motive behind forming a special counsel in the first place?
MALONEY: Look, that's an important piece of testimony for Mr. Cohen. We're obviously, going to go into that in greater detail in an executive session behind closed doors tomorrow in the Intel committee. I want to understand that better. But I think it's all of -- all of this is just testimony from one witness.
MALONEY: This witness has credibility problems. We should take it with a grain of salt. That's why I think the documents that show the president's involvement in a conspiracy to violate federal campaign finance laws, is very serious.
MACCALLUM: So, what you say that from --
MALONEY: Similarly, similarly.
MACCALLUM: Go ahead.
MALONEY: Excuse me, similarly, I think that if Mr. Cohen's testimony is that he's unaware of collusion with Russia and doesn't have any documents. We should take that seriously too. But it's only one piece of the puzzle.
MACCALLUM: Are you -- are you willing to say at this point based on what you've seen and heard that there wasn't any collusion with Russia and you've heard that the head of the Senate Intel Committee chairman Burr, say that he hasn't seen that.
Is that -- you know, is that where we are right now? Do you agree with that?
MALONEY: I think I would resist the temptation of every new cycle to try to pronounce a complete understanding of what has happened. That gets everybody into all kinds of trouble. We had one day's testimony today in some eye-popping revelations and evidence of criminal conduct by the president of the United States.
I'm going to let Robert Mueller complete his work, and we're going to do our work on the House Intelligence Committee. And I'm going to keep my powder dry on any conclusions about those issues of Russia collusion until we've done that.
MACCALLUM: All right. It has been going off for two years, and there have been hundreds of interviews, and hundreds of 302's and tons of testimony.
MALONEY: Well, that's right. No, that's right. Right.
MACCALLUM: So, eventually I guess we will get to be able to draw some conclusions. But --
MALONEY: Well, excuse me, excuse me, excuse me -- it has been going on for two years.
MALONEY: And that is -- that is about the same amount of time, the Benghazi investigation went on. But the fact of the matter is, is that we're going to get a report. So what do you say we wait and find out what it says?
MACCALLUM: Absolutely, we're all waiting for that report. Absolutely. So, you know, in terms of the criticism that you heard from Jim Jordan, he basically said that is this -- is this all you've got?
You've got a witness here who -- you know, the Mueller investigation has been through with for a long time. The Southern District of New York does not apparently have him cooperating. I think that's one of the questions that everybody wants to know the answer to. So, I guess what's the value at this point of Michael Cohen's testimony to you?
MALONEY: Well, well, if all you've got means documents -- hard documents and evidence of the president's involvement in a conspiracy -- criminal conspiracy to violate federal campaign finance laws --
MACCALLUM: Well, that's an ongoing investigation, not a conclusion, correct?
MALONEY: Excuse me, excuse me. If that's what my colleague Jim Jordan means about all we got is evidence that the president is involved in the criminal conspiracy, I don't know what he's talking about. And I don't know why any serious person wouldn't at least be interested in whether that's true or not.
Now, like I said, I'm not jumping to any conclusions. And on the Russia, we need to do our work and get to the bottom of it. But I think that's very serious.
MACCALLUM: All right, I've got one final question for you. Nancy Pelosi said she didn't watch today. And you know, you look at the polls of Americans both CNN and Fox put the number at around 50 percent of people who do not want to see the president impeached.
Do you think that -- you know, is that the groundwork that's being laid here to continue investigation and investigation that might possibly form a grounds for impeachment?
MALONEY: Well, Nancy Pelosi probably didn't watch today because we passed the universal background checks through the House today which is supported by over 90 percent of the American people to do something real on gun safety. And that's the important work we're doing.
So, we can walk and chew gum at the same time. I think the polling on things that you're talking about is not really that relevant until we have the final report from Robert Mueller and until we've done the work on the investigation that was not done clearly last year.
I mean, every day that we get more information, the initial report the Republicans put out is an embarrassment. So, we need to get the facts and we need to be fair, and then we can reach some conclusions.
MACCALLUM: Thank you very much, Congressman Maloney, from New York. Good to see you tonight.
MALONEY: My pleasure.
MACCALLUM: So, here to respond to that, former House Oversight Committee chairman and Fox News contributor, Trey Gowdy. Mr. Gowdy, thank you very much for being here tonight.
TREY GOWDY, CONTRIBUTOR: Yes ma'am.
MACCALLUM: Your reaction I guess, first of all, to what Representative Maloney had to say about today.
GOWDY: Well, you know, Sean said their focus is on Russia and then immediately he went to the stripper and the centerfold. So, I just heard him say it, "Our focus is on Russia and then the next words out of his mouth we're Stormy Daniel and Karen McDougal.
So, that -- and also, he wants to wait on a report. And yet, 60 of his colleagues have already voted to move forward with impeachment. They wait no, nothing. Collusion, that's what started this entire investigation. That's the seminal question and is the one thing Michael Cohen's actually been consistent on.
GOWDY: In October of 2017, he said there was no evidence of conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia, and he said it again today. But Democrats don't want to hear that -- they don't want to hear that, so now they want to move to an FEC violation.
MACCALLUM: All right. So, a couple of the big items that came out today, was this moment with regard to a conversation that Roger Stone had with President Trump on speaker phone in his office. Let's watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COHEN: He was a presidential candidate who knew that Roger Stone was talking with Julian Assange about a WikiLeaks drop on Democratic National Committee e-mails.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: What do you think of that moment?
GOWDY: Well, you know, there are always three aspects to that. There's the hacking of the server, the hacking of John Podesta's e-mail, and then the dissemination of that information. Which is why I asked Michael Cohen that question two years ago. "Do you have any evidence that the president or the campaign was connected with the dissemination?"
GOWDY: Let's assume and I -- I'd be careful doing this, but let's assume that Michael Cohen is telling the truth. What crime was committed? What crime is it listening to Roger Stone, say, "I think WikiLeaks is about to do what they tweeted they were going to do, and dump a bunch of documents."
MACCALLUM: Right. Good point. How about this moment when he talked about Adam Schiff and Chairman Cummings. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COHEN: We spoke with Chairman Cummings and the party.
REP. JODY HICE, R-GA: With chairman Schiff?
COHEN: I spoke with the chairman Schiff. I spoke to Mr. Schiff about topics that were going to be raised at the upcoming hearing.
HICE: Whoa, not just what time you show up? Actually, what you're going to talk about?
REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS, D-MD: The gentleman time got expired.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: What was that all about?
GOWDY: I think Jimmy had it about right. Wow. And it's not wow that Adam and Cummings talked to a witness. The real wow for me, I mean, I expect them to try to do that. The real wow for me was the Washington Post, The New York Times, POLITICO, The Hill -- their reaction when Republicans were accused of talking to witnesses. It was front-page information, Elijah and Adam went nuts.
If there was even an insinuation that a Republican chairman had talked to a witness, I want you to count how many articles you see tomorrow about Schiff and Cummings prepping Cohen before he comes to Congress. You won't find a one.
MACCALLUM: That's remarkable. You know, one of the other take a ways today was a lot of questions that were raised about this Southern District of New York investigation. And Allen Weisselberg, who was the CFO of the Trump Organization worked very closely in this circle that Michael Cohen was in -- he mentioned him several times, he's a cooperating witness in that investigation.
What -- you know, what did you make of the fact that Elijah Cummings when he walked out, said -- you know, that he felt that there was evidence that the president is under a criminal investigation here in New York.
GOWDY: For an FEC violation? I guess --
MACCALLUM: And potentially -- you know, other financial improprieties is the suggestion of what Michael Cohen said he couldn't talk about some of it. But the word that was -- you know, mentioned was fraud and the like.
GOWDY: Well, the Southern District thinks so little of Michael Cohen that they're going to let him go to the Bureau of Prisons, without ever using him as a witness. And Bob Mueller thinks so little of Michael Cohen, and that they're going to let him go to the Federal Bureau of Prisons without ever using him as a witness, in fact, Mueller did something he never does.
He actually spoke. He actually corrected Michael Cohen and his lawyers. So, the fact that Congress would allow someone that, that no real serious investigation considers a witness to come be their star witness, shows how far Congress has fallen.
And it breaks my heart to say that. I care about the institution. But to call a convicted perjurer, as your first witness, it was stunning to watch.
MACCALLUM: I want to ask you one thing before I let you go. This is a tweet from Congressman Matt Gaetz, yesterday, which he has since taken down. It says, "Hey Michael Cohen, do your wife and father-in-law know about your girlfriends? Maybe tonight would be a good time for a chat. Wonder if she'll remain faithful when you're in prison. She's about to learn a lot."
He took that down as I said. Was that -- was that an error on his part?
GOWDY: It was more than an error. It's indefensible. It's not persuasive. You know, the president has a lot of really provocative allies, like Matt. He could stay to have a few more persuasive allies.
People like John Radcliffe, Elise Stefanik, people who can actually make the case. But threatening a witness, then I'm going to leave the criminality to others. But threatening a witness like that in a tweet, you're not helping the person you're trying to help. You actually look guilty as hell when you do things like that. So, I'm glad he put took it down, but he never should put it up.
MACCALLUM: All right, we're going to speak with him tomorrow night. And ask him some questions about that as well. Thank you very much.
MACCALLUM: Trey Gowdy. Always good to see you, sir.
GOWDY: Yes, ma'am. Thank you.
MACCALLUM: You bet.
GOWDY: Yes, ma'am.
MACCALLUM: So, “The Story” continues right here with the first reaction from the Trump administration to what happened today when Kellyanne Conway joins us next.
MACCALLUM: The Whitehouse not too happy with the fact that the Cohen testimony which was already delayed three times was then scheduled for the same day as the President's historic summit in Vietnam. But the administration did point out yesterday that the President would be watching what unfolded in the House Oversight Committee.
Moments ago I asked Kellyanne Conway about that. And breaking news tonight on the new approach to a deal with North Korea.
MACCALLUM: Here now Kellyanne Conway, Counselor to the President. Kellyanne, good evening to you. Did the President watch the testimony today of Michael Cohen?
KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: Well, he's aware of the testimony. As you know there's a 12 hour time difference and the president is embarking on a major historic second summit today so he'll be well rested for that and fully engaged.
MACCALLUM: So you don't -- you don't know if he watched or not?
CONWAY: I think he's seen parts of it, absolutely. I don't know that anybody who watched it for all nine straight hours. I certainly didn't. I was busy here today but I saw plenty of it. And I think also, Martha, I mean, the one thing I would -- I would really say to everyone is that this goes beyond you know, reminding everybody that Michael Cohen has lied before.
It's also the things that he's saying don't comport with somebody who was bragging about and trying to rich himself while Donald Trump was president based on his connection with the president and his belief in those president's policies and actions. So there's a lot of I think revisionist history here for Mr. Cohen in his testimony today as well.
MACCALLUM: I have a couple of other questions that I do want to ask you. Elijah Cummings, when he came out, he said that it appears that the President did commit a crime while he was in office based on the checks that everyone was shown that the president wrote while he was president to cover that expense and repay Michael Cohen.
CONWAY: And the operative words there is it appears. In other words, if this were actually a court proceeding, if this were a trial, there would have been cross-examination. I haven't practiced law in many years but I would have said to Mr. Cohen, you see this check? Did you ever receive another check like this? It was the only check. What did those checks say? What were they for?
MACCALLUM: Well, he said he was going to produce all 11 checks that add up to $130,000.
CONWAY: Well, no, no, no. Not for that -- no, Martha, my point is not for that alleged transaction, but over the course of his time in working for the Trump Organization, in other words, was this a pattern in practice for somebody who was in the employee to receive retainer checks or be reimbursed for other expenses.
I think it proves nothing and here is why. Michael Cohen admitted today that the President never directed him lie, never directed that he "spoke in code. And that if you're around the President long enough, you know what the President is asking you to do without him asking you to do it." That's a bunch f nonsense to someone who's been around the president every single day for three straight years now. He's pretty direct. You see those days, he is very direct.
MACCALLUM: Understood. Well, then let me ask you this question. Is he concerned -- is the President concerned about this investigation that we did learn a little bit more about today with regards to the Southern District of New York looking into financial improprieties and Allen Weisselberg his former seat a CFO who is a cooperating witness in that case?
CONWAY: Look, the Democrats are after three things today. They're saying that the President knew about the Trump Tower meeting. They're saying that he knew about WikiLeaks from Roger Stone. They've all said that's not true and that this hush money was somehow meant to -- there was a worry that it would affect the election. Where is the evidence of that?
Martha, you had so many false accusers coming out. As you know every single day the president talking about them then being interviewed at length on networks and cable stations giving them some kind of --
MACCALLUM: No, I understand all that but I'm asking you about a separate question. I'm asking you about whether or not the President or the White House is concerned about the outstanding criminal investigation as -- that is ongoing into the President in the Southern District of New York.
CONWAY: It's nothing that -- it's nothing that concerns me or that I work on here any day of the week at the White House, Martha. I know the President has said there'd be a red line involved in delving into his finances for no legitimate reason and you heard Mr. Cohen today, he said he's in "constant contact" with the Southern District. And so we'll see what happens here.
But remember, this all started as a hunt for collusion with Russia. And the chief witness today for the Democrats say for the 2020 Democrats, they say they were busy raising money off for the testimony today while it was happening. The chief argument that they made that there was collusion with Russia was not proven today and Mr. Cohen himself said today he has no evidence of that.
MACCALLUM: That is true. Last question. Susan Rice wrote that the President could learn some lessons from the Iran Deal which the President has railed against. She said the United States and North Korea will need to agree on a series of steps that would build mutual confidence as part of a roadmap to full denuclearization. The model for this approach, anathema as it is to Mr. Trump is the Iran nuclear negotiations.
And tonight we're learning that there is according to some reporting no longer a demand on the part of U.S. negotiators for a full accounting of nuclear and ballistic missiles. Is that accurate?
CONWAY: The President said this is a process, Martha. Nobody expects that they're going to walk away tomorrow with a complete deal on the complete denuclearization verifiable, irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. This is a process. These countries have been at war for 70 years. They've been building up their nuclear capability. I would have to push back on Ms. Rice though.
The President is the one who took us out of the Iran deal. He thought it was a horrible deal for this country and for our friend Israel and I don't know that he would use that as a model. Also she's just somebody who lied about what happened in Benghazi. She said it was because of a videotape went on five Sunday shows and lied about that. So thanks for the advice but I think the President will continue forward with the summit today with Chairman Kim while sanctions remain in place, Martha.
Nobody is kidding themselves. If North Korea is not going to denuclearize, that is the demand that's on the table from this president. And in return maybe there's some economic development for North Koreans if in fact, their Chairman does what he says he's going to do or does what the president is demanding that he do. But thanks for even covering Vietnam and this historic second summit because I don't even know that we deserve a split screen of events today.
What the President is doing, I mean, two months from now, the President is going to be seen the Oval Office Michael Cohen is going to be sitting in jail. So I think this split screen was overdone today by most in the media.
MACCALLUM: Kellyanne Conway, thank you very much, Kellyanne. Good to speak with you tonight.
MACCALLUM: Coming up next --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
IVANKA TRUMP, DAUGHTER OF PRESIDENT TRUMP: People want to work for what they get. So I think this idea of a guaranteed minimum is not something most people want.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: Ivanka Trump and others in the administration being shamed by some in the media who say that they don't know the meaning of hard work. Governor Huckabee's daughter serves in that administration of course and he would like to respond to that coming up next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CUMMINGS: And I'm hoping that all of us can get back to this democracy that we want and that we should be passing on our children.
And hopefully, this portion of your destiny would lead to a better, a better, a better, Michael Cohen, a better Donald Trump, a better United States of America.
And we have got get back to normal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: Passionate message from the Chairman of the House Oversight Committee at the close of that hearing today on Capitol Hill, a hearing that shocked onlookers at times with moments like this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. RASHIDA TLAIB, D-MICH.: The fact that someone would actually use a prop, a black woman in this chamber, in this committee is a lone racist in itself.
REP. MARK MEADOWS, R-N.C.: My nieces and nephews are people of color to indicate that I asked someone who is a personal friend of the Trump family who has worked for him, who knows this particular individual that she's coming in to be a prop, it's racist to suggest that I asked her to come in here for that reason.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: Wow, that was an incredible exchange today. Here now, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, a Fox News Contributor as well.
Governor, good to see you tonight. You know, two things. I thought that the close that Elijah Cummings did was very powerful in calling sort of on the better angels of our nature because it just gets so ugly everywhere these days. And then that exchange. And they should be referring to, and I think we have a picture of this moment.
Lynne Patton who was a longtime associate an employee and she's worked with the Trump family and the business for many, many years. She came into the hearing basically to vouch for her boss with her presence. What did you think of all of that, governor?
MIKE HUCKABEE, CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I'm going to say I thought that Chairman Cummings put it very well in the closing statements. And it was frankly the high point --
HUCKABEE: -- of what was a day of testimony from Michael Cohen that was lower than a snake's belly at the Dead Sea. It was really a very disappointing day to hear him being given that kind of platform. But I thought the chairman did a great job of showing civility to Mark Meadows --
HUCKABEE: -- and to calling down the congresswoman who made that ridiculous statement. The same congresswoman who publicly shouted out that she had told her son, her teenage son, that she was going to speaking of Trump, impeach the M.F. That's what she's basically wired for. And I thought that exchange between Congressman Meadows and Chairman Cummings was a high mark of civility and I commend Chairman Cummings for his --
HUCKABEE: -- manner of bringing it to conclusion.
MACCALLUM: I agree. I hope that those new members of Congress were watching that because the two of them were talking about their friendship. They disagree on things from time to time, but they are close friends and I thought that was a moment that I hope everybody saw in today's hearing.
I want to ask you about another topic here that sort of speaks to the Trump administration. This is a chair headline for The Washington Post. And it goes back to his statement that Ivanka Trump made about the fact that she believes that people want to work to elevate themselves.
It says, "Ivanka Trump doesn't understand work. No one in the Trump administration does."
And here is Trevor Noah talking about the same subject. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TREVOR NOAH, COMEDIAN: Are you (muted) me right now? Ivanka Trump says the things she's learned in life is that people want to work for what they get, really? The woman whose resume just daddy, I need a job now, that woman, really?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUCKABEE: It's a sexist misogynist remark to say that about Ivanka who has worked very hard. She didn't get to choose her parents who are rich any more than I got to choose mine who were dirt poor. But it's not about how we come into this world, it's what we do with what we have been given. She has taken the privilege of life that she has been born into. But she has worked hard.
And I don't think anybody who has been around her can say that she's not a remarkable entrepreneur and a business woman and a delightfully wonderful human being.
I resent the kind of comment and I would tell you this, I do believe people want to work. I grew up wanting to work. I didn't want somebody handing me something. I don't resent that I grew up poor. I'm grateful for it because it made me hungry.
And yes, I'm the only male in my entire family upstream from me who had ever graduated high school. But I didn't grow up hating people who had more stuff than me. I just grew up thinking that I lived in America and if I worked hard, I could maybe end up doing a little better than the folks above me had done.
MACCALLUM: Yes. There is a scorn element because, as you say, she didn't choose the family that she was born into.
HUCKABEE: No, she didn't.
MACCALLUM: But she probably she doesn't have to work at all, probably. And she chooses every day to work and now she works for the administration, of course. But there is sort of a bit of back and forth cropping up between Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who said, you know, that she worked as a waitress, she says a living wage is not a gift, it's a right.
And Ivanka Trump said that she believes that you don't want to have a minimum guarantee of money for people who are unwilling to work. Thought on that.
HUCKABEE: Well, I think it's ridiculous to talk about a minimum wage. Why don't we talk about a maximum wage? And to get to a maximum wage, you work hard, you get a good education, you find out something that you can do better than other people. And then no matter where you started --
MACCALLUM: We are talking about minimum guarantee of income, right? I just want to be clear.
HUCKABEE: Yes. But that's -- why -- that defies the market economy. I'm glad we don't have that. I'm glad that instead of talking about the minimum, I mean, what should the minimum be? Why should it be? Why is it, 20,000, 30,000, why not $300,000? I mean, if we are going to make it a minimum let's make it a darn good one and give everybody status than can give. You know, that's the ridiculousness of this.
MACCALLUM: This is the -- this is the matter.
HUCKABEE: It sounds good until you break it down and it's absurd.
MACCALLUM: Thank you, governor. Always good to see you, sir. See you soon.
HUCKABEE: Thanks, Martha. Good to talk to you.
MACCALLUM: Do you remember this?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EDDIE JOHNSON, SUPERINTENDENT, CHICAGO POLICE DEPARTMENT: I just wish that the families of gun violence in this city got this much attention. Because that's who really deserves the amount of attention that we are giving to this particular incident.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: One mother says her son is gone, and she wants Jussie Smollett to hear his story.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ELLEN PAGE, ACTRESS: This is what happens. If you are in a position of power and you hate people. That you spend your career trying to cause suffering, what do you think is going to happen? People are going to be beaten on the street. I am lucky to have this time and privilege to say this. This needs to (muted) stop.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: Well that was the actress Ellen Page. She was blaming Vice President Pence for what she thought happened to Jussie Smollett. But now she says it doesn't matter if Smollett story turns out to be false.
She writes this. "I ask you not to question our pain, do not draw into question our trauma but to maintain wholeheartedly that hate violence exists. The merits of one case should not and cannot call that into question. The media coverage does not convey the reality and totality of the cruelty and danger we face. This is a story that must be told." She writes.
My next guest says that there is a different story to be told as well. In 2017, her son Jeremy, her only child was murdered in Chicago. To this day, his case has never been solved.
Joining me now is Carmia Tang. She says she is disgusted by the media attention that Jussie Smollett got and she wants her son's killer found.
Carmia, first of all, we are so sorry for what happened to your family and what happened to your son who I know was just a handsome young man, a football player, he was on the dean's list and he was the center of your life. Why do you say that you are disgusted by the coverage that the Smollett case received?
CARMIA TANG, SON KILLED IN 2017 IN CHICAGO: Well, first of all I want to say thank you for having me. I'm disgusted because of this notoriety. He received 12 detectives on the case. He got extra media attention where we have over 750 unsolved murders in the city of Chicago.
We have 13,000 cases of DNA backlog in the city of Chicago. So, I think that if the allege attack is not real, he wasted so much police time, valuable time. And we didn't get the effort, we didn't get 12 detectives on our cases so it's an outrage to me.
MACCALLUM: Well, I'm just curious what do you think about what the actress Ellen Page wrote. You know, she really went out on a limb assuming that the Jussie Smollett story was accurate and we are still waiting for the final story to be written on all of that. But she says don't let that cloud effect that the hate crime happens all the time.
TANG: Well, of course I don't know anybody to be a victim of crime, no matter what their race, religion, gender, lifestyle. So, of course, if the allege attack was true, we don't want anyone to be hurt on the streets of Chicago, but we don't want anyone because of notoriety to get special treatment as well.
We have an epidemic with loss lives in Chicago and then we have all these unsolved cases. A 17 percent case solve for rape and murder. That's unacceptable.
MACCALLUM: It is. I just want to put up on the screen. These are 2017, the most recent poll numbers that we have. Chicago murders 660. And there is the nationwide numbers for hate crimes, over 17,200 nationwide murders, 17,200 plus.
You know, what was your, I'm just, what was your reaction. I can't imagine because you are waiting for, you know, some kind of action on your son's case. And how frustrating is that? You know, what do you, what's life like? What do you do to try to get attention his -- to get attention in the police department to solving his case?
TANG: Well, first of all, it's more than just frustrating. It's a hurt feeling because it makes me feel like my son didn't matter. It's a hard feeling. It's tons and hundreds of mothers and families that wants answers to their loved one's death. And to see so much media attention and so much police attention to one crime.
MACCALLUM: Before I let you go --
TANG: It's a hurt feeling.
MACCALLUM: I cannot imagine what you have been through. And I know you don't know fully the circumstances. He was shot in his car, correct? Tell me a little bit about Jeremy before we -- before I let you go, Carmia.
TANG: Well, Jeremy was the only child. He was exactly like his mom, he was a class clown. He loved to dance. He was a good kid. You know, he was a typical teenager. I'm not going to say he was perfect, but he was a good kid, respectable kid. And he was my heart. And you know, he was -- I know that his case isn't considered high-profile but he is a high-profile person to me.
MACCALLUM: Carmia, thank you very much for being here tonight. And please let us know. We want you to get some action on this case. And I know you want it solved, you want to find his killer. And we hope you do. Thank you very much. We are so sorry for your loss.
TANG: Thank you for having me.
MACCALLUM: Thank you, Carmia.
We will be right back with more. Jesse Watters joins me right after this.
MACCALLUM: So, former Vice President Joe Biden may just have given the biggest hint so far as to whether or not he is going to get in. Everybody is waiting for his decision for 2020.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: We just had a family meeting with all the grandkids too. And there is a consensus that I should, they want, they the most important people in my life, want me to run. I have not made a final decision, but don't be surprised.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: Don't be surprised, don't be surprised. Surprise, it's Wednesdays with Watters. Why does it -- why is it always like this? Why does it have to be the hemming and hawing and the dance and maybe I will and my family want to but I haven't decided.
JESSE WATTERS, HOST: Well, he can't win that's why he's not getting in. And this is a direct quote from his team, ready? This is what he said "We are taking a look at whether or not the alleged appeal I have is even real."
So, Biden doesn't even know if people like him. And that's why the president calls him the 1 percent show.
I think what's going on here is Joe Biden they say is a strong front runner but a strong front runner can clear the field. And the last time I checked there's about 30,000 Democrats running for president. He just doesn't have it. He doesn't have the base. He doesn't have the fund-raising appeal. And I think he should just stay in the private sector, make a little money, because the Trump economy is pretty good.
MACCALLUM: Well, that's why he -- he has to wrestle with the idea that he's already run twice. That if he gets in, he might lose in the primary.
WATTERS: He'll go down hard.
MACCALLUM: I's a pretty difficult thing to live with when he's had a career like Joe Biden has had.
WATTERS: And I agree he should go out on a high note. If you call the Obama administration a high note. I don't think he's savvy enough to navigate the identity politics, minefield that the Democratic Party is going to be. I mean, he's a clumsy, old white guy. He's not --
MACCALLUM: Yes. But I mean, if you look at the midterms --
WATTERS: -- politically athletic enough.
MACCALLUM: -- you had, you know, moderate Democrats winning in some of the most highly populous markets in the country. So, he looks at that and says, you know, I don't have to be way out there on the end with, you know, with the Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's. You know, more of the people will be with me here in the middle.
WATTERS: I don't think there is a middle anymore in the Democratic Party. The whole field is so far left.
MACCALLUM: I don't know.
WATTERS: If he wants to run as the moderate, Joe, go for it but I think he will be eaten alive.
MACCALLUM: All right. So, speaking of that, not really, it's just a segue, could that work?
WATTERS: I think so. We don't know where we are going to.
MACCALLUM: Let's talk about Elizabeth Warren, who has now, and I'm very suspicious of this. I just want to say this up front. There is a, quote, "mixed blood tribe in Oregon who is offering her membership in their tribe." It's called the Una tribe, the Una Nation, I should say, it was founded after they were rejected in 2000 by existing Native American tribes for not meeting bloodline requirements. So, it sounds if it's real, it sounds like they might have something in common.
WATTERS: I don't think this is real.
MACCALLUM: You don't?
WATTERS: The Una Nation?
MACCALLUM: The Una Nation.
WATTERS: And the guy that is in charge of the Una Nation his name is King Richard.
MACCALLUM: King Richard like the third.
WATTERS: Right. And he refers to himself --
MACCALLUM: Show some respect.
WATTERS: -- as your majesty. Sorry. Your majesty. I think it's a hoax. I think she is being trolled.
MACCALLUM: You think she's being trolled?
WATTERS: I think she's being trolled.
MACCALLUM: I think the possibility that is pretty good.
WATTERS: Yes. No chance. And sorry to the Una Nation if I'm disparaging your true identity.
MACCALLUM: We will see.
WATTERS: But I just don't buy it.
MACCALLUM: Yes. We'd like to know if the Una Nation is out there and you are legitimate and you'd love to speak to us. Jesse would love to have you in his show.
WATTERS: Yes. Your majesty King Richard, Watters World on the weekends.
MACCALLUM: All right. Beto O'Rourke sounds like he is, I think he is at the end.
MACCALLUM: I mean, let's just show what do we have here. We have, this is according to sources. Bero O'Rourke has decided not to run for Senate next year against John Cornyn who is the incumbent which some people have been sort of courting him to do. So that it is a pretty big signal.
If he says I'm not going to run for Senate, I already did that.
MACCALLUM: It didn't go very well in the state of Texas but I have a lot of nationwide appeal. And then he says, as "Amy and I have made a decision about how we can best serve our country. We are excited to share it with everyone soon."
WATTERS: The big tease. Well, I mean, he's a top-tier Democrat. He polls really well, top five in pretty much every poll.
WATTERS: Tall, handsome and can raise a lot of money, pretty uplifting but I mean, he said kneeling during the national anthem was patriotic. He said we need to tear down the walls on the border and he wore a dress in the punk band back in the day. I think Trump is going to stop this guy in a locker. He is weird now, he is writing poetry, it's kind of dark visiting the Dennis --
MACCALLUM: What did you say about sitting in the locker?
WATTERS: He stops him in a locker.
WATTERS: You know, it's like what you do to kids in middle school.
MACCALLUM: That does not sound nice.
WATTERS: No, it's not going to be good for Beto.
MACCALLUM: It does not sound nice.
WATTERS: Thank you, Jesse.
WATTERS: You're welcome.
MACCALLUM: All right. A live look outside Kim Jong-un hotel where we are expecting to see him momentarily. We are going to go live to Vietnam. There are some breaking news in the story after this.
MACCALLUM: Almost 8 a.m. in the morning in Hanoi, Vietnam and things are starting to happen there. This the site of the Trump-Kim summit that you're looking at right now, as well as President Trump's hotel. He's expected to depart within the next 30 minutes en route to the bilateral meeting. He is also expected to host a news conference on the summit latest tonight.
And correspondent Kristin Fisher is live in Hanoi, Vietnam tonight with the latest. Kristin?
KRISTIN FISHER, CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning for me, good evening for you, Martha. You know, the security here in Hanoi is very tight this morning.
President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will begin meeting in almost exactly an hour at a hotel just a few blocks away from here. It's the same hotel where the two had dinner last night before they sat down to eat. Kim Jong-un and President Trump had about 20 minutes of one-on-one time. We don't know what exactly was -- what was discussed, but listen to t how they described it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KIM JONG-UN, NORTH KOREAN LEADER (through translator): We had exchanged a very interesting dialogue with each other for about 30 minutes.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT: If you could have heard that dialogue. What you would say for that dialogue, you know, it's good.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FISHER: So, we've witnessed all the historic firsts of the Singapore comment. We've had the first big photo ops of this summit. Now it's time for the really tough negotiations to begin in earnest.
If a serious agreement on denuclearization or some kind of peace treaty is actually going to come out of the summit here in Hanoi then it's going to be taking place over the next few hours.
Now some possibilities include allowing inspectors to observe the dismantlement of North Korea's Yongbyon nuclear facility, opening liaison offices in the U.S. and North Korea, formally ending the Korean War and possibly easing U.S. sanctions before North Korea fully denuclearizes.
Now, there is a joint agreement signing ceremony on the official schedule. It's slated to take place at 2 a.m. Eastern Time, 2 p.m. local time here in Vietnam. White House officials so far won't say what exactly it is that they are going to be signing perhaps, because the details are still being hashed out. But Martha, one thing is for sure, and that is that it's going to be a fascinating few hours here in Hanoi. Martha?
MACCALLUM: That is for sure. You are in the center of the action. Kristin Fisher right near the summit site this evening. Kristin, thank you very much for being here. We will be watching throughout the evening as all of this develops there.
Well, some suggestion in reports earlier tonight that the United States negotiators might be considering an option that would allow for some denuclearization to happen with perhaps, with lifting some of the sanctions. As Kellyanne Conway said earlier, it is going to be a process, and in every deal, there are potential concessions to be made.
But there will be a lot of discussion about whether or not any concessions that are made are the best way to go about achieving the goals here in Vietnam.
We will be watching throughout the night and that is “The Story” on a busy Wednesday night. We will be right back here tomorrow night at 7:00, exclusive interviews with Newt Gingrich and Jim Jordan.
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