Families separated at the border: what's really going on?

This is a rush transcript from "The Story," June 15, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

MARTHA MACCALLUM, HOST: Breaking tonight, the president says that if they pass it on the Hill, he will sign it. That as of this evening and that on the heels of this alfresco media gaggle that could happen in the Trump White House and the heat today was on the border.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, do you agree with children being taken away from --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, that's your own policy. That's your own policy, why are you keep trying --

MACCALLUM: The battle intensifying though this evening as the president now says that he would sign either of those two competing bills right now hoping to move past exchanges like this.

TRUMP: The Democrats have to change their law. That's their law. They, of course --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, that's your own policy. That's your own policy, why are you keep trying about, sir?

TRUMP: Quiet, quiet. That's the Democrats' law. We can change it tonight, we can change it right now.


TRUMP: I won't let -- you need their votes, you need their votes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You control those papers of (INAUDIBLE).

TRUMP: No, the Democrat -- excuse me, by one vote, we don't need it. You need 60 votes, we have a one-vote -- excuse me, we need a one vote, we have a one voted we need 60. So, we need 10 votes, we can't get them from the Democrats.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What about (INAUDIBLE). You can't do it to run an executive order.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why you keep telling a piece about it, sir? It's your policy.

TRUMP: Can we do one question at that rink? One question at that rink. The children -- the children can be taken care of quickly, beautifully, and immediately. The Democrats forced that law upon our nation. I hate it, I hate to see separation of parents and children.


MACCALLUM: So, we now know there are almost 2,000 of these children and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi firing back. She called the president today, shameful. Watch.


REP. NANCY PELOSI, D-CALI., HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: He's using children, whether they're dreamers or what's there no children at the border now for political purpose, it's shameful.


MACCALLUM: And Trump supporter, Franklin Graham, as well as the Catholic Bishops are now getting involved in this fight.


FRANKLIN GRAHAM, PRESIDENT, BILLY GRAHAM EVANGELISTIC ASSOCIATION: That I think is so disgraceful, is terrible to see families ripped apart. And I don't support that one bit.


MACCALLUM: But the Attorney General winnowing down the argument. He says, just as kids can't go to jail with their parents when they commit a crime. The same principle is what is happening when they cross illegally. So who's going to win this showdown? Trace Gallagher, live in our West Coast newsroom to tell us what is really going on and what the history is of all of this law at the border. Hey Trace.

TRACE GALLAGHER, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Martha. You know the wheels of the new immigration legislation began turning late yesterday when Republican leaders circulated copies of a discussion draft. Today, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise was supposed to gauge support for the various proposals until as you saw the president withdrew his support.

Now the White House, says it was a misunderstanding and the president does support the legislation which appears to include everything he asked for. Like $25 billion dollars to build the wall. Getting rid of the visa lottery program that leads to what the White House calls chain migration, allowing 1.8 million DACA recipients also known as dreamers to apply for a path to permanent residency, and ending the controversial practice they've all been talking about of separating families detained at the border.

President Trump, blames families being separated on a law passed by Democrats. We don't know of such a law, but there is a 2008 policy called the Alien Transfer Exit Program which was widely used by the Obama administration and resulted in thousands of immigrant families being split up.

But when it comes to public finger-pointing, there appears to be collective amnesia followed by selective outrage. For example, this week, Twitter went crazy over an ACLU report detailing that children of illegal immigrants were quote allegedly beaten, threatened with sexual violence, and repeatedly assaulted while in custody.

One Twitter post said, quoting, "This is Trump's America, disgusting." Another said, "Wow, are you happy Trump fans? This is what you wanted." But apparently, they didn't read the ACLU report very closely considering the incidents allegedly happened between 2009 and 2014.

And over the Memorial Day weekend, former Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau tweeted his outrage over pictures of immigrant children being held in what looked like dog cages. Saying that this is happening right now. Except the pictures are from 2014. Bottom line, children of illegal immigrants have been placed in U.S. immigration shelters for decades and it appears everyone is now ready for it to end. Martha.

MACCALLUM: Trace, thank you very much. Here now, Tammy Bruce, president of the Independent Woman's Voice and a Fox News contributor. Father Jonathan Morris, Fox News religion analyst, and Enrique Acevedo, Univision news anchor.

Enrique, let me start with you. You know, when you look at these pictures and you look at the history of this law, it has been in place for a very long time.

ENRIQUE ACEVEDO, NEWS ANCHOR, NOTICIERO UNIVISION: Well, first of all, I think we can all agree that family separation is cruel, it's inhumane. And in this case is completely unjustifiable. There is no law in our immigration books that says that children can be separated or should be separated from their parents. That's just not the case.

Right now, what we have is a policy implemented by the Trump administration zero tolerance that it has resulted in over 1900 kids being separated from their families in just six weeks.


MACCALLUM: But what -- Enrique, let me ask you this a bit. What do you make of Jeff Sessions explanation when he says -- you know, when a parent commits a crime, the child cannot go to jail with them in order to keep the family together.

And they are saying crossing the border illegally is breaking the law. So, when that happens, unfortunately, temporarily, while the parents go to the process here because they're not going to be caught in released anymore that they have to be separated. So, they are trying to find safe places to hold these children. We saw images of some of those areas, obviously, is a terrible situation for families to be separated.

But it -- you know, when you look at it that way, doesn't -- does that make any sense to you at all?

ACEVEDO: Not at all. I think, there is such a thing as discretion. We're not putting shoplifters behind bars in every case and separating them from their families, and they broke the law. We're not putting people who are in possession of marijuana behind bars in every case and separating them from their children, and they're also breaking the law.

So, there's such a thing as discretion and before zero tolerance was implemented, that was the case with immigrant families. We don't need to separate immigrant families. We don't need to separate almost 2,000 kids from their parents just to make a point and use that as a deterrent as Chief of Staff Kelly and Attorney General Sessions, had said.

MACCALLUM: Tammy, the other thing that Jeff Sessions said about this is that since they sort of became lacks in this program, it was sort of understood by some people who wanted to get into the country that if you come as a family, they will let you through.

So, this is a better way to come, bring your kids, and now, obviously, that changed.

TAMMY BRUCE, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Right. That's one of the problems with the policy for years, is that we effectively subsidize this kind of an approach that people found out that if you have a child, you're going to be caught and released. If you verse is not having a child.

The New York Times reported in April that in fact, these people are admitting this that families brought children knowing that there is a better chance that they would get through and be released and that others. And this is the series dynamic with both unaccompanied minors, and minors, in general, are people posing as parents. So, here we've got the outrage is overcoming the facts.

Now, I'll give you an example, there's three reasons why parents or adults are separated from children. One, they are posing as the parent, and they're not the parent, they're a threat to the child, or they are put into criminal proceedings. This is -- it's not a wholesale division.

ACEVEDO: Which is having the case now in their zero tolerance.

BRUCE: It's a -- it's an -- and so, this is -- are also again. Something that was happening throughout the Obama regime, as well. But it comes down to catch and release. But we've facilitated the choice of a parents and others of bringing children across the border in order to in a way game the system at the border.

This is what the president wants to have stopped, he stated he wants it stopped all of us or outraged that were even in this dynamic. And it comes down to an orderly immigration dynamic and security at the border where we can treat everyone with dignity and people are not encouraged to move into the country in this fashion.

MACCALLUM: All right, let me bring in Father Jonathan. Father Jonathan, you have Catholic bishops and you have Franklin Graham, arguing that these families need to be held together. In fact, the Catholic Bishops going as far -- so far as to say that if anyone is helping to implement this program and is Catholic, they could potentially become excommunicated for being part of it.

JONATHAN MORRIS, FOX NEWS RELIGION ANALYST: OK, that was one bishop who actually suggested that, and I don't think it represents all of them. But the fact is, is that we have 20 percent more children in this situation separated from their children this year compared to last year. So, that's a big deal. So, we have to solve this.

And I don't think we're that far away from solving and both President Trump, as well as the Republicans and the Democrats all, say, "This is an outrageous situation." Whose fault is it? Of course, it's the -- there's people who are faking bringing children over and saying that they're -- that their children that's not.

Of course, there's people who are breaking the law coming over illegally, all of that is bad. But the government has to be bigger than that to say what are we going to do about it because there are children who are there, who are alone, and it is traumatic from them, it's traumatizing for them. And I say this not from a theoretical perspective.

I live in the South Bronx. I see what's happening to these families with these children. And I see children who are here without parents. OK, the parents are definitely not perfect, and they shouldn't be crossing illegally. But the government has to figure out what we're going to do for the sake of these children.

MACCALLUM: All right. So what do -- what do -- what do they do? Do they change the law? Do they incarcerate families together? You know, Enrique, what's the solution because you got the folks who are breaking the law, and there is a law, there is a border. You're not allowed to cross the border illegally. And then, you have I think everyone here in this conversation and outside of it who really understands that this is not an ideal situation the president made that clear himself.

ACEVEDO: I appreciate the question, Martha, because we should be focusing on solutions. And I think the solution is not separating families. There are very few examples of governments using family separation throughout history, and we don't want to be part of that.

And the solution is just not building walls and reducing the legal path for immigrants to come into this country. And again, separating children from their parents. I think the solution has to do with fighting the root causes of immigration with having a wider legal path. So, people can come here and do the jobs that we need them to do.

There are a lot of solutions that we could you know agree on -- in Congress but it seems that the extremes has taken over the debate. And now, there's no space for a comprehensive immigration --

MACCALLUM: So, at this point, you got -- you got a couple of bills that are going to be considered eventually it looks like, that would allow $25 billion dollars to build the wall, as well as a solution to this problem to keep families together.

So, is that a workable solution? Tammy, and then, follow, Jonathan.

BRUCE: Well, let me just say that this is you -- we definitely want especially if it's a misdemeanor dynamic where you can keep up families together within a separate kind of facility, so, you don't have to separate them. And then, that process is very quick as a matter of fact. And then, you can go -- they can go home as a unit, but that becomes the political argument of do they go back home to their home country and others want them released here?

So, that can be very -- a very quick framework of sending -- keeping families together. And once a criminal proceeding is over usually within the same day, and then, sent home. The other framework of -- I mean, this is -- this is the solution I think in general when it comes to how we handle keeping families together while also respecting our laws here at home.

MORRIS: I -- you know, Martha, I think, we have to can't forget that there is tremendous amount of hypocrisy over many different administration's. The fact that we have, we are right now allowing people to come in, giving them work -- no doubt, giving them work, and then, saying, "Hey listen, but you can't be a full members of our society." Because we do not want to do it a verified system.

In our country, we do not want to actually find out who's illegal. And we can't forget that because it's in -- we're taking advantage, and there are children who are growing up right now who have been here in the country for their whole lives, were with families, who simply with the parents are working, but they cannot become full members of society, and it's not helpful.

MACCALLUM: Let's not the politics don't get in the way of a solution because both sides would really rather not have the other side involved to come up with a solution that it seems it's a -- with this very hot debate. So, let's see where it goes, thank you very much for all of you. Great to have you here tonight.

So, still to come, former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, got some very bad news today. And tonight, he is behind bars. So what is this mean going forward?

And the president also saying that the I.G. report exonerated him and proved why he was right to fire James Comey. So Byron York and Victor Davis Hanson, with their takes up next.


TRUMP: I think what he did was a disgrace. I think he goes down as the worst FBI director in history by far, there's nobody closed.




TRUMP: You know, Paul Manafort worked for me for a very short period of time. He worked for Ronald Reagan, he worked for Bob Dole, he worked for John McCain or his firm did. He worked for many other Republicans. He worked for me what, for 49 days or something but very short period of time.
I feel badly for some people because they've gone back 12 years to find things about somebody and I don't think it's right.


MACCALLUM: President Trump speaking out on his former Campaign Chairman's slow fall from grace. Today, in light of new accusations of witness tampering, a federal judge ordered Paul Manafort to be jailed while he waits trial on foreign lobbying charges. As Manafort sits in federal custody tonight, the President taking something of a victory lap in the wake of the DOJ watchdog scathing report on the Clinton probe.


TRUMP: It may be more importantly than anything, it totally exonerates me. James Comey was unfair to the people of this country. I think what he did was a disgrace. I think he goes down as the worst FBI Director in history. I'm amazed that Peter Strzok is still at the FBI.

The I.G. blew it at the very end. He goes point after point about how guilty Hillary is and then he said, but we're not going to do anything about it.


MACCALLUM: Lots to go over here. Here tonight Byron York joins us. Chief Political Correspondent for the Washington Examiner and a Fox News contributor and Victor Davis Hanson senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. Gentlemen, good to have both of you with us tonight. Byron, I'd like to start with you. Paul Manafort, I mean it raises the question of course you know whether or not he's being squeezed, are they putting pressure on him to turn. There's some discussion tonight that Michael Cohen is getting closer to that as well.

BYRON YORK, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well this is kind of maximum pressure on Paul Manafort. The Mueller team has been very tough with Manafort all along. Remember that no-knock raid where FBI agents armed searches -- served a search warrant breaking into his apartment in Alexandria. There's been a lot of this with Manafort. And now this is -- putting him in jail is pretty much the maximum pressure. All of this is based on the idea that Manafort somehow has the smoking gun about Donald Trump that will prove collusion or something like that. But there's no evidence that we actually-- that he has that. Certainly, it hasn't popped up in any other way that we know of in the investigation.

MACCALLUM: Victor, Picture what does this signal to you what they did to Manafort today?

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON, SENIOR FELLOW, HOOVER INSTITUTION: I think two things, Martha. One is that in the United States jurisprudence, we go after a crime and the person who committed is incidental, we go after the crime. But we've inversed the process with Manafort. We start with him as guilty and then we find any crime we can to tag him with the mandate that says it was collusion as Byron pointed out. The second thing is that it raises this disturbing equality under the law issue because if Paul Manafort tampered with witnesses or tried to obstruct justice, then, by all means, let him suffer the full force of the law. But we're looking at an I.G. report where it's pretty clear that Loretta Lynch met with Bill Clinton whose wife was the subject of her investigation at the DOJ and they told us, they didn't want to release that. It was found out by accident, the stealthy meeting, but they asked us to believe that of the 5,000 airports in the United States, they just happened by accident and meet this particular one.

MACCALLUM: Yes, it was accidental. I want to put up what Rudy Giuliani said about the probe today. He said when the whole thing is over, things might get cleaned up with some presidential pardons, Byron. What do you think about that statement?

YORK: Well, what Giuliani is doing is part of the political case that the President is making against Mueller. The President is really doing a two- track defense. On one track is the is the legal case handled by Emmet Flood who you'll notice we never ever hear from in public.

MACCALLUM: Yes, very true.

YORK: But Rudy Giuliani --

MACCALLUM: And on the other hand, we got Rudy Giuliani.

YORK: Exactly. We hear from him a lot. And we heard from the President himself this morning and basically, I think this I.G. report gives them a lot of ammunition because they can say look the FBI, the people who were running this investigation we're just shot through with anti-Trump bias. This whole thing was rigged which is what the President has been saying all along.

MACCALLUM: Yes. You know, the question that the President raises there, Victory, is a good one. Why -- how does Peter Stzrok still have a job? I mean, now that America has looked at all of these text messages and all of this sentiment, you know, it is remarkable and does it signal that we need really to clean house at the FBI? We heard some strong words from Christopher Wray yesterday, but what's required to fix the awful situation that we all read about yesterday?

HANSON: Well, I was disappointed in Christopher Wray because the I.G.'s data maybe wasn't reflected in its conclusions but it was pretty obvious that these FBI people had this disdain for Trump whom they were investigating at that time and even the Trump voter which they compared of some pretty horrible things I can't repeat on T.V. and it's really disturbing because we don't -- we get the impression that these people are never subject to the consequences of their behavior in a way that other people who are under investigation, you and I would be. And so it's a matter of a quality equal application of the law. But there's something -- I want to get back to one last point and that this entire thing was predicated on the premise that Hillary Clinton would have been present. They say that in these exchanges all along. So what we see is questionable even illegal behavior, they were under the assumption when they committed that they would be rewarded for noble service to a noble cause rather than fall under criminal exposure.

MACCALLUM: Which is such a great point, Victor, because even recognizing that verbally, Byron, once you've recognized that the pretense that you're not looking at it through a political lens is gone.

YORK: It was -- it was politicized all the way through. I think one of the FBI agents who actually interviewed, Hillary Clinton said this is in July 2nd of 2016, said I just interviewed the president. So it was politicized from the beginning all the way through the end.

MACCALLUM: You know, so I mean the question I keep hearing a lot is you know, does any of this these findings reopen the case for Hillary Clinton, Byron?

YORK: Probably not. That is something that is actually closed and it would take some really big new evidence to show otherwise.

MACCALLUM: Thank you, gentleman. Great to see you both. Still to come tonight, Hollywood loves to hate the President and one successful filmmaker pretty much had enough so he packed up from a very good career and moved his family to Texas to escape the politics and still be able to make movies that he feels America will love. Plus President Trump doubled down today on his great relationship with Kim Jong-un. What do his military leaders think about that? The new head of the U.S. Coast Guard Admiral Karl Schultz joins me exclusively next.



TRUMP: As commander of the Coast Guard, Atlantic area, Admiral Schultz took responsibility for the Coast Guard response across the gulf coast, the Atlantic and the Caribbean. I have complete confidence that Karl will carry out his new mission with the same talents strength and devotion that have characterized his entire career.


MACCALLUM: That was President Trump swearing-in Admiral Karl Schultz as the new head of the US Coast Guard. He has big shoes to fill. The smallest military branch has a giant mission. To give you a sense, during last year's back-to-back hurricanes, search and rescue efforts by the service saved more than 11,000 lives. The Coast Guard also plays a crucial frontline role in national defense from illegal immigration, to stopping human smugglers, to fighting to keep drug runners from bringing in billions of dollars' worth of opioids to the United States, all with fewer than 40,000 active service duty members in their ranks. Joining me now exclusively for his first interview as Commandant Admiral Karl Shultz. Admiral, congratulations and thank you very much for being here tonight.

ADMIRAL KARL SCHULTZ, COMMANDANT, UNITED STATES COAST GUARD: Well, good evening, Martha, and thanks for the privilege of being here tonight.

MACCALLUM: You know, I think a lot of people they look at that list and I think for many people they're not as familiar with what the Coast Guard does and how important it is to protecting our borders. And we watch the debate over what's going on at the southern border right now. What do you want people to understand about the work that you do there and what you think we need to do in order to make it safer?

SCHULTZ: Well, I think as you mentioned in the intro, Martha, the Coast Guard is the smallest of the five armed services. We're uniquely positioned in the Department of Homeland Security. And in our efforts of the men and women in the Coast Guard are absolutely critical to the homeland security of the nation and the national security. You mentioned border security. You know, on the maritime front, we tend to push and try to push our borders as far away from the U.S. coastline as possible against transnational criminals. Last year we with partner agencies and national -- international partners we were able to stem 223 metric tons of cocaine. That's about 491,000 pounds of cocaine, kept that from American shores.

That's the same illicit narcotics that fuels a lot of the migration that comes out of the tri border or the north interior that's Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. And those are the folks that leave those, you know, challenging places that show up at our southwest border.

MACCALLUM: You're doing amazing work. And you are very busy. In terms of the north part of the globe and to the south, too the ice cutters that you need to function. Tell me a little bit about what you need that perhaps you don't have and we're going to look at some of the action of these ice cutters on the screen. How do we pressure up with what other countries have for this capability?

SCHULTZ: Absolutely, Martha. So the Coast Guard is very relevant in what we call the high latitudes or Polar Regions up in the Arctic. We are operating the sole United States icebreaker, heavy icebreaker, the Polar Star. That ship was built in the 70's, it's more than 40 years old.

With the support of the administration and the Congress we are on our way to build a heavy icebreaker replacement to serve our national interest that's projecting our sovereignty there. We also operate in the Antarctic where we go into the McMurdo Station and allow critical supplies to get in there to attend to the nation's interest in that part of the world as well.

MACCALLUM: You know, I mean, obviously the hurricanes were devastating and your response to them, the coast guard response really turned around in some ways a funding issue that could have been tough for the coast guard. Because the president when he initially came in wanted to cut 1.3 billion from the budget in order to fund the U.S.-Mexico border wall.

But then he was so taken with the work that you all did in the hurricane that he said this and put back the money. Watch.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In last year's historic hurricane season, our coast guard, heroes they are, saved almost 12,000 American lives in that short period. It's an unbelievable number when you think of it. It's an unbelievable number.



MACCALLUM: So in terms of funding, do you feel like have you what you need? I guess you never have enough, right?

SCHULTZ: Well, Martha, I think you mentioned the coast guard is the maritime -- the nation's maritime first responder. And we did, as the president noted, we responded in the system more than 11,000, almost 12,000 people. And you know, the first responder it's really not about the number. It's about who that next person you are about to save is.

But yes, we have an organization that has capital assets where 42,000 active duty strong. There are bills to pay. And my concern coming in is to assure the readiness of the coast guard.

I talk about the coast guard through the lens about being ready, relevant responsible organization. And that's what best gets after the needs of the nation. We're tied, our economic prosperity.


SCHULTZ: Our global influence are tied to our maritime and the coast guard is very much a part of that conversation.

MACCALLUM: Obviously, you are concerned about the enemies that the United States faces. Earlier today the president held sort of an impromptu news conference. And here is what he said about Kim Jong-un.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have heard a lot of bad things about rocket man and suddenly you guys are good friends.

TRUMP: We got along well. We had a good chemistry. I don't know if that's supposed to be popular or politically correct to say, but we really did, we have good chemistry.


MACCALLUM: Does that concern you at all the things that the president is saying about Kim Jong-un that are somewhat positive given his history?

SCHULTZ: Well, Martha, the coast guard plays in its role support in the Department of Defense. On the daily basis across the seven continents we are supporting the six geographic combatant commanders. And in that position I would defer to the Pentagon in terms of what the president speak with North Korea.

But we are very much a part of the plans for any type of contingency or war scenario. And again, we, on a daily basis support those geographic commanders under the Department of Defense.

MACCALLUM: Understood. Sir, thank you very much, Admiral. Good to have you with us and congratulations on the new job. We'll be catching. Thank you, sir.

SCHULTZ: OK. Thank you, Martha.


So while he was working in the White House this morning and it was such a nice day outside. The president suddenly tweeted this. "Wow, I may go outside unannounced." And then what happened was something else on all levels.

Chris Stirewalt joins me next.


MACCALLUM: So President Trump kind of likes to mix it up, if you haven't noticed. And this morning he woke up and thought wow, for the longest time he didn't do any interviews after the Lester Holt experience as you may remember. And then he did several in Singapore and it looks like maybe it felt pretty good.

So on this beautiful day this morning, he and no doubt some on edge secret service folks and some communication team, let's just go outside and chat with the reporters and go for a little walk. And what happened next was, well, watch.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is there a reason crazy dictator.


TRUMP: I will come over here.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think Comey's actions were unfair to Hillary.

TRUMP: If you remember, if you are fair, which most of you aren't--


TRUMP: Quiet, quiet. You don't understand sarcasm.


TRUMP: Who you're with? Who you're with?


TRUMP: You are with CNN? You are the worst.

What you really--


TRUMP: Wait, wait, wait.


MACCALLUM: I mean, is that everybody hopping this morning. Joining me now, Chris Stirewalt, Fox News political editor. Chris, great to see you tonight. You know, we were talking about this interview this morning and you know, we obviously had watched the whole thing and someone said, you know, I mean, can you imagine the reporters talking that way if this was President Bush or President Obama?

Hold on, if this is President Bush or President Obama, this never would have happened. I mean, they didn't sit in the White House and go I think I'm going to take a walk outside and just chat it up with the reporter on this beautiful spring day. What do you think?

CHRIS STIREWALT, DIGITAL POLITICS EDITOR, FOX NEWS: Right. And they also didn't smack the press around like this president does.

MACCALLUM: Not at all.

STIREWALT: And there -- we have to remember, very lightly comparatively. We have to remember that there are people who are in the press corps who are advantaged by being in conflict, open conflict, hostility with this president and this administration.

Just as it is in this administration's benefit, sometimes, to be in open hostility and conflict with what the president calls the lying press it works for them in that way and it works for individual reporters.

But it's bad for the rest of us who are trying to do this in the right way. If you are barking and shouting and fighting and trading insults with the president, how are you getting closer to what we all need which is a clear picture about what's going on?

MACCALLUM: Yes. It's very true. You know, some people, I think, were offended at the way the reporters were shouting the questions at the president. But in many ways, as you point out, Chris, he has sort of set those parameters. You know. I mean, that's the way he functions.

I don't think he walks out at that moment and goes they are so awful, they're so mean, you know. I mean, maybe he says that on the surface. But I mean, he obviously wanted to mix it up out there today. He was heading for Steve Doocy. But he stopped along the way--


MACCALLUM: -- and was happy to engage all these other reporters. I mean, I think he loved what happened this morning. Don't you?

STIREWALT: I would suspect. Especially because, again, it does let him cast those reporters who do things like that in that light and the other thing is, you referenced the Lester Holt interview. After that debacle where the president talked to firing Comey over Russia once he said that they put the kibosh, they put -- and whether it was his legal team or comms team. He put the lid on it hard and we didn't hear much from it.

Now he sat down with Bret, our colleague Bret Baier. He sat down with George Stephanopoulos from ABC. So they are trying out putting the president back out to do some interviews again. And I say it's about time. Let's have it. Let's hear more.

MACCALLUM: Absolutely. We love to speak with him again sometime soon as well. But you know, I think you are absolutely right. Because the legal team has changed for one thing. Rudy Giuliani is the front man there. And he is on all the time.


MACCALLUM: All the time. We will see how that works out and then the communications team has also had, you know, some shifts in it as well with the departure of Hope Hicks and a couple of others.

I want to show you one moment from today and get your thoughts on it because I thought this was interesting. This is about Otto Warmbier and about human rights. Let's watch.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Spoken so passionately about the circumstances that led to Otto Warmbier's death.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In the same breath you are defending now Kim Jong Un's human rights records. How can you do that?

TRUMP: Do you know why? Because I don't want to see a nuclear weapon destroy you, and your family.


MACCALLUM: What did you think of that, Chris?

STIREWALT: Well, I guess I mean, if that's your -- if the standard becomes everything -- everything I do can be excused if it is in the name of protecting your family from being killed in thermal nuclear war. I think we need to get the bar up off the ground a little bit from there.

Look, the president is obviously speaks in hyperbole. He is always to -- he is too effusive in his praising and he is too effusive in his damning when he does it and no matter he always goes to 11.

And when you are talking about Kim Jong-un, he has talked himself into some trouble on this and the salute and all that jazz because he goes over the top with everything. And that leaves him vulnerable. That leaves him open to people saying hey, what happened when -- what happened to this terrible monster that you previously described who now you meet him one time and you say he is great guy?

MACCALLUM: Yes. But when you look at it though, you know, and this is always the difficulty in covering this president. When you look at what he says and what he does, you really have to do both all the time. Right? Because he does have some of these hostages returned. We are in the process of getting the remains returned from the Korean War, which is a very important issue for some of these families.

And, in many ways, Chris, you know, until you start this process, you don't sort of shed light into the dark places where, perhaps, you can get to a point. I mean, this is the policy idea anyway. Where you begin to, perhaps, see a world where the gulags start to open up and the slave camps start to open up. But unless you get to this point where you are talking, the argument is, that's never going to happen.

STIREWALT: There might be a way to talk without praising. There might be a way to talk without being so effusive in praise.

MACCALLUM: But he's giving, you know, it's like a fly catching more, what is it, more honey with more--


STIREWALT: More honey with flies with than vinegar. Yes.

MACCALLUM: Thank you. So I think that, I mean, isn't it -- isn't that what it is?

STIREWALT: Don't salt your--

MACCALLUM: And don't you think this president when he needs the opportunity he will turn around and call him little rocket man if he has to, I think.

STIREWALT: I believe he would say anything at any time depending on the circumstances, absolutely yes. But I'm just saying that when he goes out to scrum with reporters our job in a big way is to hold people accountable for the things that they've said before. OK, you said this, now you are doing that what's the difference here?

Now look, he has an answer, and which is I'm trying to basically his answer is, with the hyperbole taken out, I'm trying to do a deal here so give me a little latitude so that I can try to schmooze this guy and get us what we you want.

MACCALLUM: Exactly. Chris Stirewalt, always good to see you, Chris. Thank you very much.

STIREWALT: Happy Friday.

MACCALLUM: Thank you. You, too. So coming up next, who can forget this?


ROBERT DE NIRO, ACTOR: I'm going to say one thing. (muted) Trump.



MACCALLUM: You know, Hollywood just loves President Trump. Loving, loving, loving the president. Well, maybe not exactly. And one director simply had enough of the lack of political thought diversity in Tinsel town so he left. His very successful career to do movies like this.


DALLAS SONNIER, PRODUCER: The president will give me plenty of guys to look at guys I don't like.


MACCALLUM: Dallas Sonnier joins me next with his take on the entertainment industry in the era of President Trump when we come back.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know the difference between right or wrong? Do you have a moral compass? I knew before you told me that you got an American flag and you probably got more than one. You are a patriot.


MACCALLUM: That movie clip was from film - a filmmaker who is making waves and finding success outside of Los Angeles, producer Dallas Sonnier is backing conventional wisdom in Hollywood. He is forging his own path without personal politics into his work. It's a brave and unusual choice in an industry where open hostility against the president has become sort of the 'it' thing to do. Watch.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When was the last time an actor assassinated a president?

MADONNA, SINGER: Yes, I have thought an awful lot about blowing up the White House.

DE NIRO: I hope there's a couple where I interrogate him then, I arrest him and then I escort him to jail.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You mean, you mean Trump?

DE NIRO: Yes, who do you think I mean?



DE NIRO: This guy, this administration is beyond belief. It has to stop.


MACCALLUM: Here now Dallas Sonnier, movie producer and CEO of Cinestate. Dallas, thanks for being with us tonight. Good to have you with us.

SONNIER: Thank you for having me.

MACCALLUM: You know, it's very interesting reading about your history. Obviously you have had a lot of success, you work in (Inaudible) in Hollywood and doing independent films involved in a lot of work that people there would respect and admire. So what started to happen in your life that you thought, you know what? I'm tired of this whole rap?

SONNIER: Yes, it was two things. First of all, in my Hollywood life and career, I noticed that there was a studio system in place where the writer and director would bring their product to the executives and the studios and ask for financing and the scripts would be put through a diffusion process, the creative executives would put their, you know, derivative notes onto the script.

And what would come out the other side would be something that I didn't really respond to very much, I think as film producers, we need to support the creative vision of the writer and director effusively. Otherwise just not make the movie.


SONNIER: And I think that's kind of period end of story. The other thing that happened was I lost both of my parents in terrible situations of domestic gun violence. And after that happens to one person, you don't have a lot of time for B.S.

MACCALLUM: I'm sure you don't. I'm sure you don't. And when you take a look at the way things are being done in Hollywood and the future that you want to -- you picked up, you brought your family to Texas where you group. And you say that now you have something -- is it called the Tennessee's cousin's rule or Texas cousin's rule how you figure out whether or not something is going to work in the rest of America.

SONNIER: Yes, what I do, my -- both sides of my family is from Louisiana. And what I have is the Louisiana cousin test. And what I'll do is I will text my cousin the name of the actor that I'm about to cast in the movie and if they know who that actor is it tends to give me a good sense of whether the movie will do well in audiences outside of L.A. and New York. So Louisiana cousin test has proven, proven to be--


MACCALLUM: Give me an example of somebody that they would go no, that doesn't -- nothing for me?

SONNIER: Yes, I mean, the example I've given in the past, Timothee Chalamet, for example. Although he is very talented actor and he's nominated.


SONNIER: He just doesn't -- he just doesn't--


MACCALLUM: He is not resonating with the cousins in Tennessee.

SONNIER: He is not resonating with that crowd.

MACCALLUM: So you have a formula basically for making money off these movies. And you say, you know, if you do a movie about someone who, you know, had a family member who was injured or wronged and then they unjustly go to prison and then they come out again, and they go back and, you know, shoot the people who did this to them, you're going to make money on your movie. Depending on how you distribute it?

SONNIER: Yes. Yes. That was -- those were predominantly my previous films with Stone Cold Steve Austin. But if you just make a movie where it is -- it's uncompromising and unforgiving, and doesn't really worry too much about political correctness--


SONNIER: -- or filtering your own personal politics through the film, I think what you'll find is that the movie becomes more authentic and I think that audiences crave authentic experiences and entertaining experiences. So that's what I found and it's proven to be very successful financial model for us.

MACCALLUM: I'm almost out of time. But I just need to squeeze this in. Because you have a movie that you are working on, it's about a girl in a school shooting incident who turns the gun on the shooter and kills him.


MACCALLUM: And you said you might have difficulty casting that role. How is that going?

SONNIER: Yes. It's called run, hide, fight. It's a terrific script about a young girl who decides to fight back instead of run away from a terrible situation. And she leans on her experiences of hunting with her father over the several years that she was a teenager.

And, I found that the script is incredible. People really love it, but the actors have given pause and their managers and agents have sort of at times talked them out of starring in the movie out of fear of backlash. And ultimately, the--


MACCALLUM: Yes. And it's the whole idea of, you know, good person with a gun ending a bad situation for somebody else holding one on innocent people.

Dallas, thank you very much. Very interesting. Good to talk to you.

SONNIER: Thank you.


SONNIER: Thanks for having me.

MACCALLUM: We'll be right back.


MACCALLUM: Finally tonight, President Trump celebrated his 72nd birthday yesterday. Comedian Conan O'Brien thought this is how the commander in chief spent the special day.


CONAN O'BRIEN, COMEDIAN: I'm told Trump had some cake, ate some ice cream, played some golf then remembered it was his birthday.


MACCALLUM: So this is what President Trump actually did.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yesterday was a big day. Not only did the I.G. report come out but it was your birthday.

TRUMP: That's right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you get any good presents?

TRUMP: I got a lot of good kisses and phone calls from people that I would never have gotten phone calls from. I got phone calls from--


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where did you get the kisses from?

TRUMP: From beautiful wife--


TRUMP: -- who is really doing great. She's doing great.


MACCALLUM: That's our story for this week. Have a great weekend, everybody. Tucker Carlson coming up next.


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