Ex-CIA director Brennan backs down from from calling Trump's claims of no collusion 'hogwash'

This is a rush transcript from "The Story," March 26, 2019. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

MARTHA MACCALLUM, HOST: That is right. Wow, that was some video. John, thank you very much.

ROBERTS: You bet.

MACCALLUM: All right everybody. This is “The Story.” Brand new developments in the queasy curveballs in the Jussie Smollett case tonight. In a scene that had everybody scratching their heads.

The state's attorney, throughout the findings of their own law enforcement and a grand jury. Just suddenly dropped all the charges against him.

Good evening, everybody. I'm Martha MacCallum. Jussie Smollett, to the shock of the Chicago police, cleared all -- of all 16 counts against him. You remember, just weeks ago, the Chicago police said that the actor had made up the whole hate crime allegedly to advance his career.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

EDDIE JOHNSON, SUPERINTENDENT, CHICAGO POLICE DEPARTMENT: Jussie Smollett took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MACCALLUM: And that gentleman, the police commissioner is standing by that today. But, Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx, who by the way recused herself from the whole case, early on, she stepped aside from the whole thing.

But she then came out through her people and let him go. The city's mayor, Rahm Emanuel and the police superintendent were not amused. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHNSON: Do I think justice was served? No.

RAHM EMANUEL, MAYOR OF CHICAGO, ILLINOIS: This is a whitewash of justice. If you're in a position of influence and power, you'll get treated one way, other people will be treated another way. Mr. Smollett is still saying that he is innocent. Is there no decency in this man?

JOHNSON: At the end of the day, this Mr. Smollett who committed this hoax, period.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MACCALLUM: Trace Gallagher, live in our West Coast newsroom tonight with the growing fallout about all of this, this evening. Hi, Trace.

TRACE GALLAGHER, CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Martha. Legal experts across the country, say it is highly unusual for a state's attorney to completely back down from a strong case without uncovering new evidence or new witness testimony.

Yet the assistant state's attorney Joseph Magats, who dropped the charges made it sound like this stuff happens every day. Saying, Jussie Smollett was treated like any other defendant who has no felony criminal background and was not involved in a violent crime.

Yet, the very same assistant state's attorney says this should not be interpreted as Smollett being innocent. And he says the prosecutor's office stands behind the Chicago police investigation. A bold statement considering Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson and the lead investigator, both say the case was rock solid.

But today, Jussie Smollett wasn't about to take responsibility. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JUSSIE SMOLLETT, AMERICAN ACTOR, EMPIRE: I've been truthful and consistent on every single level since day. I would not be my mother's son if I was capable of one drop of what I have been accused of.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GALLAGHER: Adding insult to Chicago police injury, the "rock-solid" case against the actor will never see the light of day because it's been sealed. And Smollett will not be required to perform additional community service, will not have to avoid further charges or fulfill any other conditions. Though his $10,000 bond was forfeited, which is not nearly good enough for the Chicago mayor. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

EMANUEL: $10,000 doesn't even come close to what the city spent in resources to actually look over the camera, gather all the data guide for all information that actually brought the indictment by the grand jury.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GALLAGHER: A police spokesperson put the cost of the investigation in the hundreds of thousands with the final tab still being tallied. And it's notable, the only reason the Assistant State's Attorney Joseph Magats is the lead prosecutor, in this case, is because State's Attorney Kim Foxx recused herself over, "questions of impartiality".

Turns out, weeks ago, a former aide to Michelle Obama called Foxx saying, Jussie Smollett's family wanted her help in getting the investigation turned over to the FBI. Fox responded quoting here, "Spoke to Superintendent Johnson. I convinced him to reach out to the FBI to ask that they take over the investigation.

Foxx, then sent nearly the same message to a Smollett family member who responded, "Oh my God, this would be a huge victory." The case was never turned over, but the Chicago Police Union is now renewing calls for a federal investigation into Foxx's interference and what they call suspicious conduct from the beginning. Martha.

MACCALLUM: New developments tonight. Trace, thank you very much. So, here now, Martin Private, the Chicago police union vice president, who has blasted State Attorney Kim Foxx's decision to drop these charges. And is renewing calls for a federal investigation into her handling of the case as Trace just mentioned.

Sir, good to have you with us this evening. What do you think happened here?

MARTIN PREIB, VICE PRESIDENT, CHICAGO FRATERNAL ORDER OF POLICE: Something very dark and suspicious. You know, this is not the first time we've attacked Foxx administration since she came into office. There's something -- there's a lot here that investigative reporters definitely need to work with.

And we -- you know, we definitely believe that the federal authorities should investigate what happened here and look at the evidence. And we certainly hope that Mayor Emanuel's strong rhetoric will translate into the same call for a federal investigation.

MACCALLUM: So, let's put up on the screen the explanation for the decision to drop the charges. It says, "After reviewing all the facts and circumstances of this case, including Mr. Smollett's volunteer service in the community an agreement to forfeit his bond to the city of Chicago, we believe this outcome is a just disposition and appropriate resolution to this case," she says.

So, essentially, it looks like it's not an exoneration note. But it says because he's done -- you know, some nice community service, good things for the city, and because the $10,000 bond is going to be given back to the city of Chicago, there -- they're just going to call it a done deal.

PREIB: It's complete nonsense. It doesn't mean anything, it doesn't address the issues. You know, we've gotten this from Foxx on several key cases. It's just kind of a Chicago doublespeak.

The good thing about all this is that the national media gets a really clear window into how the criminal justice system works, or I should say, doesn't work in Chicago. This is -- this is an example of -- you know how things work in this city. And it's ludicrous, it's ridiculous, and -- but, but that's the reality of things in Chicago.

MACCALLUM: I want to play one more sound bite from Jussie Smollett today who was very clear in how he felt about all of this. He clearly felt that he was vindicated and that he had expressed his innocence all along, and stood by it. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SMOLLETT: I would also like to thank the State of Illinois for attempting to do what's right. But make no mistakes, I will always continue to fight for the justice equality and betterment of marginalized people everywhere.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MACCALLUM: All right. So, he says they're going to continue to fight for justice of marginalized people everywhere. I'm not sure what that means in terms of his case. We know that the two brothers in terms of the police investigation were found to have -- they spoke out about what he said what they said he asked them to do to create this hoax in their mind that was what they spoke out about.

So, what happens now? I mean, you know, if he says this happened, who did this to him and where does the investigation go now?

PREIB: Well, well, OK. But let's ask a few basic questions before that. If you were innocent and you were being charged with all this, wouldn't you want to go to court and prove your innocence?

MACCALLUM: Absolutely.

PREIB: Wouldn't a trial be the place where you would want to go and just destroy your accusers?

MACCALLUM: 100 percent.

PREIB: But when you have a prosecutor -- when you have a prosecutor who's willing to bail you out -- you know, his statements are really just laughing at the system. And -- you know, he disguises them in the traditional rhetoric of social justice and what not. But that's a common trope in Chicago. Some of the worst --

(CROSSTALK)

MACCALLUM: Yes, I mean it's a very general statement. He's not saying -- I mean, he's saying that he was the victim of a hate crime. He's standing by the beginning of that story.

PREIB: Yes.

MACCALLUM: And yet, he professes no outrage about what happened to him, we're finding the people who actually did it, if in case, you know, if in fact, that's what happened.

Martin, we got to leave it there. Thank you very much. We're going to stay on it. Good to see you tonight, sir. Thank you.

PREIB: Thank you very much.

MACCALLUM: So President Trump's campaign says that Democrats who alleged collusion time and time again on television should not be booked by T.V. producers anymore. Congressman Eric Swalwell is one of the people who's on that list. He's here to respond to that live tonight.

Plus, ranking Intel member, Devin Nunes, coming up next

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT: While Mueller report was great, it could not have been better and said no obstruction, no collusion, it could not have been better.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MACCALLUM: My next guest doesn't necessarily agree with the assessment of the Mueller report by the president. He stands by his previous statements that evidence of collusion exists, and says that if the president has a problem with that, he can bring on the lawsuit.

House Intelligence Committee member Eric Swalwell, joins me now. Congressman, good to see you tonight. Thank you very much for being here.

REP. ERIC SWALWELL, D-CALIF.: Good evening.

MACCALLUM: As we mentioned on the way in here, the president -- the White House has put you on a list of people who should either not be booked on television. And if they are booked on television, I should be pressed. What do you say about that?

SWALWELL: You can press me, Martha. That's your job, and my job is --

(CROSSTALK)

MACCALLUM: Well, yes, we do. Regardless of what they say. So, go ahead.

SWALWELL: Yes. Well, first, I would say, the person who the Washington Post has found to have told over 6,000 lies should not be telling anyone who should -- you know, who can and cannot go on T.V.

Secondly, you know, to the president, I say, the only person who has been caught lying about Russia is the president. He said he had no business dealings with the Russia. We have now learned that he had dealings going all the way up to and beyond the primary.

But, what's most important is I actually think your first segment which is you and your guests expressed outrage, which I think was justified about the Smollett outcome where the charges were dismissed, yet, we all believe we know what happened because of the evidence that exists in the case.

MACCALLUM: So, you feel the same way today about the Mueller report.

SWALWELL: Well, what I mean, Martha is that I saw evidence and the country has seen evidence of collusion. Bob Mueller has said that he can't prove it beyond a reasonable doubt which I accept but it doesn't mean that there wasn't collusion.

MACCALLUM: All right, but one of the big difference is between -- one of the big difference is between the first segment and this one is that you've had two years of investigation, 2,800 subpoenas 500 lawyers -- 500 interviews, you've had 19 lawyers who've been working on this, some of the top lawyers in the country have worked on it so there's a very big difference between the Smollett case which never saw the light of day and what we have watched over the past couple of years.

I want to play this sound bite of view on January 18th, 2019 speaking with Chris Matthews. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST, MSNBC: And you believe the President right now has been an agent of the Russians.

SWALWELL: Yes, I think there's more evidence than there isn't.

MATTHEWS: Agent?

SWALWELL: Yes. And I think all the arrows point in that direction. I haven't seen a single piece of evidence that he's not.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MACCALLUM: So you -- do you still believe that the President is a Russian agent?

SWALWELL: I think he acts on Russia's behalf and he puts Russia's interests ahead too often of America's interests.

MACCALLUM: Do you think that was too strong a word to call the President of the United States of America a Russian agent? I mean, that is a very strong charge and you said you had evidence to back that up. Do you stand by that?

SWALWELL: Yes. The evidence is that he seeks to reduce the role of NATO. That's Russia's position. He has pulled us out of Syria. That's Russia's position. He accepts that Russia --

MACCALLUM: He has also ramped up our defensive -- offensive help against Ukraine.

SWALWELL: Well, do you -- would you like me to finish, Martha, because I've got more. I've got more if you want me to keep going.

MACCALLUM: Well, so far -- OK, go ahead. And these are all reasons that you believe the President of the United States is a Russian agent?

SWALWELL: Acts on their behalf.

MACCALLUM: Let me just ask you this. So now you're changing -- acts on their behalf but -- so do you --

SWALWELL: Agency is acting on someone's behalf.

MACCALLUM: Is that what you really meant when you call the President a Russian agent?

SWALWELL: But let me -- let's not go back and forth on agency. Let's go through the evidence which is he has pulled back sanctions against Russia.

MACCALLUM: Well, I just feel like in the light of what -- of the Mueller finding that maybe --

SWALWELL: I don't think you want me to finish, Martha.

MACCALLUM: -- it's time for a little bit of retrospective about what you said --

SWALWELL: But I don't think you want me to lay out the evidence because I can lay out the evidence.

MACCALLUM: Go ahead. Mueller laid out you know, 2,800 subpoenas in two years of evidence, but if you've got something he didn't find, let's hear it.

SWALWELL: Do you -- do you like the way that he works with Russia and kicks interpreters out of the room or destroys their notes?

MACCALLUM: It's not a question of what I like or don't like --

SWALWELL: Do you think that's how a president should act?

MACCALLUM: We're talking about the original charge which was that the President of the United States in your words was a Russian agent and that he had worked with the Russian government through his campaign to throw an American election.

So now there's all these kinds of revisions being made to the argument. And I think that just as a country, all of us regardless of your politics need to go, OK, we all waited for this report. Let's look at this report and I know you want to see it in full and so do I and so do I think most people in this country, but isn't it time for a little bit of reflection on everything that's happened?

SWALWELL: Donald Trump acts at Russia's behalf. When he meets with Vladimir Putin, he won't tell the country what was said and he destroyed -- and he essentially took the notes from the interpreter. That really worries me and I think Martha it should worry you too.

But just because he's not been criminally indicted for collusion, doesn't mean he has conducted colluding types of behavior with the Russians. And again going back to your earlier segment, you're outraged because a person wasn't charged with a crime although you think you know what happened.

I'm upset and I think a lot of people are upset because we've seen this president have his campaign, take meetings with the Russians were dirt was offered, we've seen the president say on a stage Russia keep hacking, and we've seen the president constantly lie about his contacts with Russia.

I agree what Bob Mueller -- I accept his report that the president did not commit criminal collusion but if the best day of his presidency is that he's not been indicted for criminal collusion, we still have problems, and that's what I think should be addressed by seeing the full Mueller report.

MACCALLUM: OK. I mean, obviously it's very different than the Smollett situation. And the reason that I'm upset is because there was no process at all. That's what should bother everybody when they look at that case. In this case we have had two years of exhaustive process which I think have exhausted the country. And all I'm saying is that I think --

SWALWELL: An I think -- and I think you and I agree --

MACCALLUM: -- it's time to sort of look at it and say --

SWALWELL: Let's see that process.

MACCALLUM: -- that maybe it jumped over your skis a little bit.

SWALWELL: Let's see the evidence behind that process.

MACCALLUM: Would you -- would you say that? That you -- so there's nothing -- I don't want to put words in your mouth. Do you think there's anything at this point that you regret having said or that you think might have been going too far?

SWALWELL: No. I feel very strongly that no candidate, no president-elect, no president should have conducted themselves the way that Donald Trump has with Russia. He's drawn us so close to a foreign adversary. And I'm going to do everything I can as long as I'm in power to always put the United States first.

MACCALLUM: So it doesn't bother you that the -- that the Clinton campaign paid for a dossier to be put together by someone who had all kinds of ties to intelligence and put together something that turned out to be not necessarily factual?

SWALWELL: Which part -- which part of it hasn't been proved factual?

MACCALLUM: Well, Christopher Steele himself said it was not a finished work product. And you know, everyone analysis --

SWALWELL: He doesn't say it wasn't factual though.

MACCALLUM: Well, I mean --

SWALWELL: Which part was not proved factual?

MACCALLUM: I mean, are you serious?

SWALWELL: Yes. Tell me. I'm here. Tell me.

MACCALLUM: So you think that the dossier --

SWALWELL: Which part wasn't proved to be factual?

MACCALLUM: OK, for one thing Michael Cohen said he never went to Prague, do you agree with that?

SWALWELL: But which part has been proved not to be factual?

MACCALLUM: Well, there were basically you know, a few main tenants of it. One of them was this salacious story about what happened in a hotel. None of that has proved to be to be factual. The meeting that Cohen supposedly took in Prague was also proved to not have happened. He testified that under oath in front of Congress that he's never been to Prague.

SWALWELL: So, hold on. So now you accept what Michael Cohen said. Because if you accept that Michael Cohen said about Prague, then I think you also have to accept that Michael Cohen saw Donald Trump talked to Roger Stone where Roger Stone said the WikiLeaks attack is happening. So if you're accepting that then you accept that Donald Trump knew about the Russian interference campaigned. And that's the issue here, Martha, is I think you want to have it both ways, and you can't.

MACCALLUM: Well, you can be on record as standing by what was found in the dossier. I think that there's you know, a lot of evidence --

SWALWELL: You can't hold up Michael Cohen to be a saint when he didn't go to Prague but didn't say he's lying when he said he heard Roger Stone.

MACCALLUM: I didn't say -- I never say he was a saint. I'm just talking about what he testified in front of Congress. Look, all I can do is look at the facts of what we have laid out and all of this testimony, and take from it what I think any normal person would take from it.

SWALWELL: I think, Martha, you and I would both agree, let's see the full report as soon as possible. The President surely is exonerated when he release that immediately.

MACCALLUM: Well, I agree on that. We can absolutely agree on that. OK, we look forward to that. And when we do I would love to have you back and we'll talk about it some more.

SWALWELL: And keep pressing me. I love coming on your show.

MACCALLUM: That was a spirited conversation. I appreciate you being here. Thank you very much, Congressman. Good to see you tonight.

SWALWELL: My pleasure.

MACCALLUM: You bet. So here to take this to the next step here, Congressman Devin Nunes, the top Republican on the House Intel Committee and one of the leading critics of the Mueller probe from the beginning. Good to have you with us tonight. I guess, first of all, any response that you have to what your fellow congressman said just now?

REP. DEVIN NUNES, R-CALIF.: No, I actually think you should just give them the entire show because the American people will see what they voted for. This is what I've been dealing with for the last two years is that there's always a Russian ghost somewhere. It's like trying to find that Chupacabra, you know, like the mythical animal that came from Puerto Rico that supposedly people see out in the southwest.

They're like a bunch of Chupacabra hunters, Martha. They've never seen it, they've never had any evidence, they've said they had more than circumstantial evidence, they said they've had direct evidence. The truth of the matter is the people who colluded with the Russians were the Democrats.

The Democrats paid Christopher Steele, a former British spy to get dirt on Trump from Russia. That's just a fact.

MACCALLUM: All right. So you want to continue this investigation. What is it -- you know, you say that you're working on a criminal referral now to the DOJ, what do you think needs to happen now in terms of following through on what you're talking about?

NUNES: The best thing that could possibly happen -- we'll make our criminal referral, basically people that lied to Congress, perjury, criminal conspiracy. There'll be -- you know, once we get it all done, we'll make it as much of public as possible that'll probably be hopeful by the end of next week.

But also what needs to happen is we need full transparency in this matter, full transparency. So you know, there was a lot of -- the FBI and DOJ have claimed falsely that this investigation started in July of 2016, late July 2016. That was a lie. So we need to know all the informants, everybody that they were running into the Trump campaign, because look what happened here is wrong.

The FBI and Department of Justice should not be able to use counterintelligence capabilities that are used to target terrorists and other bad guys around the globe against political parties. Republicans and Democrats should agree political opposition research from one candidate should not be used to let the nation's top spy capabilities be used against political parties.

MACCALLUM: I want to talk to more about that so I hope you'll come back. Congressman Devein Nunes, thank you very much.

NUNES: I will, Martha. Thank you.

MACCALLUM: Good to see you tonight.

NUNES: Thank you.

MACCALLUM: So after exoneration, should the White House pardon former Trump aides who got entangled in Mueller's investigation? My next guest says that if he is granted one, he would gladly accept. George Papadopoulos with his story coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MACCALLUM: President Trump facing new questions tonight on whether or not to issue pardons now to those in his orbit who were swept up in the Mueller investigation after the report yielded no evidence of collusion. My next guest is a former Trump Campaign Adviser who was charged in the Special Counsel probe, the first person charge. He pled guilty to lying to the FBI, served 12 days in a federal prison, and now his lawyers have formally asked the president for a pardon.

Here now, George Papadopoulos author of the new book Deep State Target: How I got Caught in the Crosshairs of the Plot to Bring Down President Trump. Good to have you here, George.

GEORGE PAPADOPOULOS, FORMER CAMPAIGN ADVISER, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: Thanks for having me.

MACCALLUM: Welcome back to the -- to the program. So you know, when you listen to a lot of folks talk about this they'll say yes, but all these people pled guilty to lying about their interaction with Russians. And they point to you and say you know, you did that. You were meeting with all these shady characters and bars in Europe and London and they were telling you they had information on Hillary Clinton with you. What were you doing and why would you lie about that? It doesn't look good?

PAPADOPOULOS: Yes. So basically, that was the initial fake story that came out over the last two years that unfortunately brainwashed most of America about like you just said, about me going around meeting these shady characters and just up being up to no good. That's actually not what happened.

And part of the reason I was one of four witnesses that was invited to testify in front of the House Oversight Committee a couple months ago was especially because I have a real story to tell and it has to do with FISA surveillance abuse and actual just overall abuse of the previous administration and foreign governments, not the Russians but unfortunately U.S. allies, the U.K. and Australia.

So what happened essentially was I got pinned in my first interview with the FBI in which I'm sitting there. I made a mistake dealing with this professor named Joseph Mifsud who I wanted the simply distance myself from him to the campaign and President Trump because it was my fault. I was trying to arrange a meeting with Vladimir Putin and Trump, where Trump obviously wanted to have some sort of relationship with Russia. This individual promise that he could make it happen.

MACCALLUM: So, you are thinking I'm the young guy on this team --

PAPADOPOULOS: Yes.

MACCALLUM: I'm going to come back with this, you know, like, well, I'm going to get you this meeting with this foreign leader. Did you think that wasn't a good idea?

PAPADOPOULOS: You know, looking back on it, it probably wasn't a good idea. I did actually succeed in introducing Trump to the Egyptian president later on. So that was part of my job. I mean, I was a foreign policy adviser. My job was to basically help write his speeches and introduce him to foreign leaders.

I failed to do it with the Russian dealer, I succeeded with the Egyptian but the main point is this. This professor who got me in this all this trouble, the FBI falsely characterized this person as a Russian asset or Russian agent.

We now have overwhelming evidence that this was no Russian asset and this person was actually a western intelligence asset sent to meet with me to basically sabotage me and try therefore to sabotage Trump and the rest of the campaign.

Fortunately, it didn't work. I had a tremendous instincts that just didn't allow whatever this ploy was to work out in the --

(CROSSTALK)

MACCALLUM: They thought this guy could soften you up and then they could get an intro to the campaign through you.

PAPADOPOULOS: Yes.

MACCALLUM: But then they asked you to wear a wire against him. So, what do you make of that?

PAPADOPOULOS: Yes. That was one of the most bizarre events of my entire life actually, let alone of the last three years. I testified about this in front of the committee. I'm very happy that my testimony is out public so everyone they can go and read it for themselves.

But I -- the FBI by the time they asked me to wear a wire and go to London and join them in some sort of bizarre operation to catch this guy knew I hadn't seen him in a year. Why would I call somebody I haven't seen in a year and start just talking to him in a strange manner and tried to meet him in London and say hey, let's just start talking all over again?

It was very shady. It made absolutely no sense and fortunately, with the evidence we now have that this professor was actually working on behalf of western intelligence. The whole thing looks like a complete set up and thank God I didn't wear that wire.

MACCALLUM: It go similar suspicions about some of the other gentlemen that you spoke to that.

PAPADOPOULOS: Yes.

MACCALLUM: They may be also were in on this --

PAPADOPOULOS: Yes.

MACCALLUM: -- plot to sort of entrap you into this situation. Do you think you are going to get a pardon from President Trump?

PAPADOPOULOS: I have no idea. I have no expectation for it. My lawyers, I know my lawyers have formally applied for one and if I'm granted one it would be a tremendous honor, and of course --

(CROSSTALK)

MACCALLUM: You already spent 12 days in federal prison, which I'm sure was not a picnic.

PAPADOPOULOS: Yes.

MACCALLUM: But you'd like to have that off your record.

PAPADOPOULOS: Yes. I mean, I definitely would. It'd be nice to move on with my life. And my wife would certainly like to kind of forget this --

(CROSSTALK)

MACCALLUM: To get it behind.

PAPADOPOULOS: -- chapter and let get this behind us.

MACCALLUM: All right. I hope you come back to talk some much. George, thank you very much.

(CROSSTALK)

PAPADOPOULOS: Thank you so much for having me.

MACCALLUM: Congratulations on your book.

PAPADOPOULOS: Thank you so much.

MACCALLUM: George Papadopoulos. So, the Green New Deal got its first test today in Congress. And how that turned out? Coming up, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MACCALLUM: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's Green New Deal had its first test today on the United States Senate floor, a procedural vote to determine whether the sweeping climate change bill should advance to debate.

But it failed with a vote of zero to 57. Forty-three Democrats voted present, sort of a protest vote in that respect of what they were calling a sham political ploy on the part of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Here now is Mollie Hemingway, senior editor for the Federalist and a Fox News contributor. And Ed Rendell, the former Pennsylvania governor and former DNC chairman. Good to have both of you with us. Thank you very much for being here.

Ed, what was your take on this today?

FMR. GOV. ED RENDELL, D-PENN.: Just a despicable ploy by the Republican Senate leadership. We didn't get a vote on Merrick Garland, a very qualified Supreme Court nominee for an entire year. But they put this up for a vote.

This never was a bill, it's aspirational. It was never meant to be a bill. It hasn't been casted out. And every American ought to adhere to the aspirations of the Green New Deal because it says climate change is real and if we don't accept that and start doing something about it, we're cooked.

MACCALLUM: It's interesting. You know, Mollie, does Ed have a point there about, you know, sort of going through the motions on this thing and whether or not that's fair?

MOLLIE HEMINGWAY, CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it was definitely a stunt, but a highly effective one. The Green New Deal is this main signature policy goal of quite a few people in the Democratic Party. They say that the earth is going to end in 12 years unless action is taken. There are some pretty hyperbolic claims.

If it's true that the earth is going to end in 12 years, you don't present. You don't wait to talk and start working on legislation that would fix these things.

So it is. It was a way to highlight the unseriousness of the legislation and also to highlight for a lot of people that the Democratic Party is having a bit of a division. It has some really exciting younger people who have rather policy goals and then it has some older more seasoned members who understand that that pushing those policy goals might be no way to effectively win an election.

MACCALLUM: Yes. Here is a little sound from Mike Lee on the floor and then we'll get AOC's reaction. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MIKE LEE, R-UT: Critics might quibble with this depiction of the climactic battle of the Cold War because while some in real life, there was no climactic battle.

This image has as much to do with overcoming communism in the 20th century as the Green New Deal has to do with overcoming climate change in the 21st.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MACCALLUM: So, he is essentially saying it's a fantasy and it has got Ronald Reagan riding on a dinosaur. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said this in response. "Like many other women and working people I occasionally suffer from imposter syndrome, those small moments especially on hard days where you wonder if the haters are right. But then they do things like this to clear it out. If this guy can be a senator you can do anything." She says, Ed.

RENDELL: Well, look, Americans ought to be outraged. Why didn't they vote for the up-and-down vote on Merrick Garland for a year? That was a serious nomination of a serious qualified judge appointed by the president of the United States. And then they bring this, it's not a bill. It's not legislation. Nobody has --

(CROSSTALK)

MACCALLUM: And I guess, Ed, the point is that you've got Cory Booker, you've got Kamala Harris, you have, you know, serious candidates for the presidency of the United States who have said that they support this. So why not support it when given the opportunity to do so, is the argument?

RENDELL: You will have a chance to do that on the political forum, in the debate forum. But you don't bring something which is an aspirational resolution. You don't bring that up for a "yes" or "no" vote. It's plain politics for the Senate procedure.

(CROSSTALK)

MACCALLUM: So you are just patently against the whole, you know, what Mollie said was a stunt. Mollie, President Obama sort of chimed in a little bit and said, you know, bold ideas are great but you have to be sure you can pay for them. Last thought?

HEMINGWAY: Exactly. I think this is what the Democrats are trying to let people know that you need more than just exciting ideas you -- from that part of their caucus that is pushing some of this. They need to have much better action plans before these things are brought to debate.

MACCALLUM: Ed Rendell, thank you very much.

RENDELL: Absolutely, absolutely.

MACCALLUM: Mollie Hemingway, thank you. Thank you, both. Great to have you here tonight.

So, coming up, Russia's response to the Mueller report with General Jack Keane, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT: We should be guided by facts. Can you name a single fact of that that would definitely prove the collusion? This is utter nonsense.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MACCALLUM: Just back in July, Vladimir Putin defiant that his country did not collude with President Trump. And tonight, Russia is embracing the end of the probe with sentiments of glee and vindication.

One Russian senator saying the media played a shameful role in this incendiary campaign built on lies. The conspiracy theorists have been discredited. The Kremlin responding simply, "it's hard to find a black cat in a dark room, especially if it's not there."

Here now, General Jack Keane, Fox News senior strategic analyst and chairman of the Institute for the Study of War. General, it looks like they missed a significant part of the Barr summary.

JACK KEANE, SENIOR STRATEGIC ANALYST: Yes. I mean, the goal of the Russians to think because Trump is clear, therefore, they are cleared.

Mueller indicted 25 Russians who were conducting a disinformation campaign against the American electorate, hacking into the Democratic National Committee, and also leaking e-mails out to the American public through WikiLeaks. That's why there are 25 indictments out there.

Moreover, and I'm thankful for this, they try to penetrate the Trump campaign.

(CROSSTALK)

MACCALLUM: Absolutely.

KEANE: And the people around him.

MACCALLUM: Look at George Papadopoulos who we just talk to. It's clear they tried to.

KEANE: And Mueller came out and said unequivocally, not a single American colluded with the Russians despite their many attempts. These guys, these Russians are the most prolific bold face liars on the planet. That is the absolute truth of it.

The facts and the evidence never deter them. Civilian airline in Ukraine shot down by proxies of the Russians. The investigation produces a debris from a Russian missile. They still deny on it.

Syrians using chemical weapons against their own people. U.N. independent inspection confirmed that the Syrians use chemical weapons against their own people, Russians still denying it to this day.

This team, this Trump team around the president knows that clear eyed Russians are liars, they're thugs, they're killers. And every single day Russia is working against U.S. national interest around the world.

MACCALLUM: So, another example of that. You have two planes that just landed with Russian soldiers in Venezuela. I thought it's interesting John Bolton made a comment about, you know, that they are -- Maduro is calling in thugs and Juan Guaido is calling in humanitarian assistance.

KEANE: Yes. Well, you know, I think Russia is bullied by the success like what they have with the military intervention into Syria. It was their first out of region operation in 35 years since Afghanistan and they have - - let's be fair about it -- have successfully propped up the Assad regime.

So here they are again, boldly operating in the western hemisphere this time trying to prop up the Maduro regime. Now, a hundred people, soldiers and equipment is not a military intervention yet. But thankfully the Trump administration is calling them out for what they are doing.

And clearly, they are meddling. They are heavily invested in Venezuela, Martha. They want a military base, they also are economically tied to Venezuela and they've made some significant investments there as have the Chinese.

MACCALLUM: Yes.

KEANE: The Iranians are also backers of Maduro. So clearly, this situation is getting more complicated. The stakes are getting higher to be sure. I don't believe military action is likely yet, the countries in the region will have to have consensus on that. I don't think for a minute the United States would act unilaterally on a military operation without that kind of senses. But the situation is getting worse.

MACCALLUM: Let's stay tuned with your help. General, thank you very much.

KEANE: Yes. Good talking to you, Martha.

MACCALLUM: You, too. So, Brit Hume is up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN BRENNAN, FORMER UNITED STATES CIA DIRECTOR: These are things with the Russians and this is what speaks to collusion.

And I did say that it rises too and exceeds the level of high crimes and misdemeanors. And there is nothing short of treasonous.

I don't that Robert Mueller will want to have that dramatic flair of the Ides of March when he is going to be delivering what I think are going to be his indictments, the final indictments as well as the report.

I smell more indictments.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MACCALLUM: So that was the former head of the Central Intelligence Agency, John Brennan making his opinion on Russian collusion very clear, even writing an op-ed that Mr. Trump's claims of no collusion are in a word hogwash. But he is singing a very different tune at this point. This was him today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRENNAN: Well, why not if I receive bad information. But I think I suspected that there was more than there actually was. I am relieved that it has been determined that there was not a criminal conspiracy with the Russian government over our election.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MACCALLUM: That was on Monday. Joining me now Fox News senior political analyst, Brit Hume. Brit, welcome. good to have you with us tonight. It is stunning to watch how far out John Brennan, he is the former CIA director was willing to go before Mueller's report was finished.

BRIT HUME, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. And every word he spoke during this whole period carry the sort of the implicit sense that he as, you know, the former CIA chief was somebody who is in the know, who had some special knowledge and who should be taken seriously.

And boy, was he, by certain news outlets and it turns out that he was utterly and completely wrong. From the get-go he was wrong. He must read the whole situation and he led other -- not, thankfully not our news organization but many others down a path towards a dead end and that is where this has ended up.

I'm glad to hear him say that he got it wrong. But it's an -- it's too little, too late in his case in my view.

MACCALLUM: This is a tweet that he put out today.

"While the Trump campaign engagements with the Russians were highly inappropriate, we need to accept Special Counsel Mueller's finding that evidence of criminality was not established."

And he did as you say, Brit, he said is one of the few who was speaking the way he was speaking who says that he's glad to hear that the investigation cleared the American president of any of this kind of nefarious entanglement.

HUME Yes. A lot of other media have gone to the new corner to defend themselves now. And the new line seems to be is, hey, what did you want us to do? Not cover the story? It was a big story and it was an important story and we were just reporters covering the story.

That's what Jeff Zucker was saying over at CNN. You heard that from Margaret Sullivan in The Washington Post and a number of others. And the trouble with it is that that misses the entire point. Yes, they were -- some of this reporting that was done was bad.

There were number of bad stories. We had CNN had to, you know, got caught out a couple of times. We had the Daily Beast saying Mueller is telling us that he's got Trump on conclusion.

The list of bad stories is fairly long. But beyond that it wasn't that they were covering a story, it was the sheer volume of the coverage, and the sheer weight given to it. Every little turn and detail in the story convey the unmistakable sense that this was going somewhere and it was going to unearth something very serious about our president and his campaign.

It was bound to turn out that way. You couldn't escape it. It was everywhere, it was all around you. And it wasn't just the news columns. It was the editorial pages. It was the commentators on television and in print.

MACCALLUM: Yes.

HUME: And they were nearly all pointing in the same direction and the mainstream media and they got it wrong, completely wrong.

MACCALLUM: Here is Joe Scarborough, who is. you know, one of those who was listening to John Brennan. And it strikes me as you're talking, Brit, that you know, he was a person of great authority. He was the former head of the CIA.

HUME: Right.

MACCALLUM: And he was telling all of them every single day that, you know, with sort of a twinkle in his eye, look, I know what's going on here, folks, so you can come along on this ride with me and you will not be disappointed. Here is Joe Scarborough.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST, MSNBC: So, save your breath, all right? We're not going to divert our eyes. This president lies more than any other president in the United States.

We're not going to divert our eyes. Damn the torpedoes. Full steam ahead. Follow the story where it leads us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HUME: Well, I'm all for following this where it leads as long as you are leading it in the right direction. It led, in this case, it led to a dead end. I don't know what he is so proud of and so defiant about. I mean, wasn't his program, one of the ones which is leading the charge on this where John Brennan had an audience many times? I think so.

And you know, and the White House put out that notice yesterday suggesting to producers that you not put some of these people who got it so wrong so often on all the time. I don't like we should take care our booking instructions from the White House, but the list that the people that they mentioned there were people who got it wrong, over and over again.

And you know, and it might not be a bad idea for journalists who are worried about what happened here to say, well maybe we shouldn't listen to these people in the future. Maybe we shouldn't have them on so much. Not because the White House says it but because of the record they composed.

MACCALLUM: You know, there's piece in The New York Times today by David Brooks and he was saying that he felt like people like Beto O'Rourke and John Brennan owe the president a public apology. If you call someone a traitor and it turns out that you lacked evidence for that charge, and the only decent things to do is apologize. Do you think he'll be waiting a long time?

HUME: Well, the rate this is going, I certainly think so. Although you're beginning to hear from certain seasoned politicians and even some liberal journalists this idea of come on, folks, this is a dead horse.

Stop beating it, particularly to Democratic politicians. Stop beating it, move on to things that people care more about because, you know, we got an election coming up and you want to have something to run on beyond an investigation that turned up essentially nothing.

MACCALLUM: When the full report comes out, everybody is going to go over it with a fine-tooth comb and then I think there will be arguments that will be made. You know, see, this is where, you know, Barr misinterpreted Mueller on this point, in that point. I mean, that's inevitable, Brit.

HUME: Certainly, it's inevitable. But I'm not sure it's politically probable for that to occur. I don't think I would be stunned to find out that Barr in any consequential way misrepresented Mueller's findings.

MACCALLUM: Yes, I would too.

HUME: I don't sense that's going to happen. Barr has been around a long time.

MACCALLUM: Yes.

HUME: He's independent. He's had this job before. He doesn't need it.

MACCALLUM: Absolutely.

HUME: He has no reason to risk his own reputation at this stage.

MACCALLUM: And it's worth pointing out that Rod Rosenstein was with his every single step of the way.

HUME: Yes.

MACCALLUM: And the two of them together decided that there was no -- nowhere to go with the obstruction.

HUME: Yes. And I suspect that Bob Mueller was on board whether at least --

MACCALLUM: Yes.

HUME: -- he was not prepared to disagree with it. Mind you one oher thing we heard tonight. We keep hearing that this didn't rise --

(CROSSTALK)

MACCALLUM: I've got to go.

HUME: -- to the level of criminality. Mueller's statement was pretty emphatic. He did not find collusion. He didn't say up to meaning of the statute or any of that.

MACCALLUM: We've got to leave it there. Brit, thank you very much.

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