Gowdy: Barr being held in contempt over documents he has no legal obligation to turn over

This is a rush transcript from "The Story," July 17, 2019. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

MARTHA MACCALLUM, ANCHOR: That's for sure. Busy day and busy night. Thank you, Bret. Good to see you.

So, tonight -- welcome everybody. I expect President Trump to come out swinging against the values and the policies of women known as the Squad. He has doubled down on his criticism of them, and in front of this crowd tonight in just a short moment, we expect to North Carolina that he will likely triple down this evening. Saying the Democrats have no policy agenda and that they are getting nothing done.

His polls have been on the rise lately, for which today, he thanked the quote -- this is what he called them, "vicious young socialist congresswoman." This battle and nights like tonight are revving up his base and his database as well as they get information on Facebook, and all of that going at these events.

It comes at a time when Democrats are struggling to get on the same page. And the candidates are getting swamped by the attention that goes to these four women right now. No, doubt the president's focus on them is magnifying that. And he's eating it up. A short time ago he was asked if he is enjoying this fight.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT: I'm enjoying it because I have to get the word out to the American people. And you have to enjoy what you do.


MACCALLUM: And here is why. Watch.


GAYLE KING, CHIEF ANCHOR, CBS NEWS: Are you speaking to Nancy Pelosi?

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ, D-N.Y.: Our teams are, are in communication. Our chiefs are meet --

KING: But shouldn't it be a face-to-face?

REP. RASHIDA TLAIB, D-MICH: She is Speaker of the House. She can ask for a meeting to sit down with us for clarification. Acknowledge the fact that we are women of color, so when you do single us out, be aware of that and what you're doing-especially because some of us are getting death threats because some of us are being singled out in many ways because of our backgrounds.

MACCALLUM: Wow. Very tense stuff there. So, Sean Spicer and Richard Goodstein are standing by for more on the fallout of all of this tonight as we get ready for this rally, which we will take live. But first, we're going to go to Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Senator, good to have you here tonight. What goes to your mind as you listen to the sort of warning, it sounds like from Rashida Tlaib and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez towards their Speaker?

SEN. JOHN KENNEDY, R-LA: Well, I try to never get between a dog and a fire hydrant, but it's clear that Speaker Pelosi is having trouble with some members of her -- of her caucus. We've known for a while, Martha, that they're really two Speakers of the House. One, of course, is speaker Pelosi, but there's also a shadow Speaker Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez, and I suppose you could add the other three members of the so-called, Squad, as well.

MACCALLUM: You're not referring to those women as dogs just to clarify, I hear that that's metaphorical, I assume.

KENNEDY: I'm sorry I didn't hear.

MACCALLUM: Yes, I said, you're not referring to those women as dogs, I assume, because somebody will accuse you of that when you talk about a dog -- dogs and a fire hydrant. I just wanted to give you a second to clarify.

KENNEDY: Well, that's correct. Yes, I'm not calling anybody a dog that's what we call a metaphor.

MACCALLUM: It's a metaphor, exactly. So, you said that only a fool argues with fools or something to that effect.


MACCALLUM: You know, do you expect -- do you think that the president needs to sort of clarify anything that he said when he goes out there tonight, and do you expect that he will?

KENNEDY: Well, my original advice for what it's worth was for the president not to engage. Now, I saw, I think, I know some disagree with that, but when you argue with a fool, it just means there too.

I've always believed that you -- when your opponent is destroying himself, you shouldn't -- or herself, you shouldn't interrupt. The so-called Squad is doing a pretty good job of destroying the Democratic Party, which frankly I hate to see.

I think, having a strong Tea Party system is healthy for America. But the point I'm trying to make is that if I didn't know better, I would think that four congresswomen were GOP plants. They're doing such a good job of moving the Democratic Party to the --


KENNEDY: To the left so far that they're about to fall over the cliff.

MACCALLUM: You know, it's interesting. They are new to Congress, they're getting an enormous amount of attention because they throw out --


KENNEDY: It's more than that -- it's more than that.

MACCALLUM: Yes, go ahead.

KENNEDY: You know, that the Congress -- look, this is America. The congresswomen are entitled to their opinions. But I'm also entitled to mine, and they represent in my judgment a lot of what's wrong with Washington, D.C. on both sides of the aisle. The congresswomen think that they are smarter and more virtuous than the rest of -- than ordinary Americans.

And that they think that -- I think Secretary Clinton during the campaign called us deplorables. The congresswoman think that only government -- more government can make America great.

Government has never made America great, its ordinary people doing extraordinary things that has made America great. I'd also point out that calling someone a racist has become customary here in Washington, D.C. I don't think you see it in the rest of America.

I mean, I listen to the Democratic debates. If you don't support school busing, you're a racist. If you believe in enforcing America's laws including but not limited to its immigration laws, you're a racist.

If you believe that America should stand up for itself you're a racist. If you don't support reparations because you think it's a policy that makes no sense and can't be efficiently or effectively implemented, you're a racist. And most of the ordinary Americans I know --



KENNEDY: They're not racist and they're not misogynistic, and they're not ignorant.

MACCALLUM: Yes. I mean, one of the things that we're going to talk about in a moment is just sort of where are -- you know, Democrats who don't agree with any of the things that you just listed? Where are they left in this process as they move forward and --


KENNEDY: Well, I think they're scared to say anything because they--


MACCALLUM: Yes, I know. I think you're right.

KENNEDY: They have been threatened by the Squad and others that they will be primary.

MACCALLUM: You know, it's --


KENNEDY: And they're all for diversity except, they don't believe in diversity of opinion.

MACCALLUM: There's a story tonight about a trip that Rashida Tlaib, the congresswoman, and Congresswoman Omar are planning to go to Israel, and the question of whether or not Benjamin Netanyahu will allow that or will make any move to try to prevent that, there's no indication yet that he will try to prevent it.

But it's interesting when you look at this question. I just want to play this from Congressman Omar, Congresswoman Omar this morning when she was asked if she regretted any of her anti-Semitic statements. Watch this.


REP. ILHAN OMAR (D-MN): Oftentimes there are things that you might say might not hold weight for you, but to someone else, right? The way that we hear and consume information is very different than how the next person might.

KING: So, you don't regret your words either?

OMAR: I do not.


MACCALLUM: She does not. How does that sit with you, sir?

KENNEDY: Well, I rest my case. I mean, Congresswoman Pressley, it hasn't been reported by many members in the media, but she gave a speech last week. She said and I'm going to quote, "We don't need any more queers who don't want to be a queer voice."

I was very -- I was very offended by that. Look it up, she said it. You won't find it in the mainstream media. Now, am I calling her a homophobe? No. But I was -- I was offended by that. But yet, her hand is not called when she says things like that.

MACCALLUM: Senator, thank you. I know you're going to be watching this rally as we watch the president sort of latest response to all of this.

KENNEDY: No. Actually, I'm not -- I'm not. I just started -- I just started watching Breaking Bad. And I'm on the 9th episode. I'm about two years behind, so I'm going to go watch episode 10.

MACCALLUM: You know, what, more power to you, sir. Because I started it after it ended and watched it pretty much straight through. It's really good. So, you're going to have some good entertainment tonight, I promise you.

KENNEDY: It is way cool. Way cool.

MACCALLUM: Thank you, it's awesome. Thank you so much, Senator. Good to see you tonight.

KENNEDY: Thank you.

MACCALLUM: All right. Let's bring in Sean Spicer and Richard Goodstein who are not going to be watching Breaking Bad tonight.

Who are going to be watching what we're watching as we move forward this evening. That was so funny. Good to see you both tonight. Thank you very much for being here.


MACCALLUM: So, you know, in terms of the dilemma that Democrats sort of find themselves in right now, Richard Goodstein. I want to show you a quote from a piece by Thomas Friedman of the New York Times today.

The title of which is Trump's Going To Get Re-elected, Isn't He? And this is what Friedman says. He says, "I was shocked." When -- he talking about watching the first Democratic debate, and he says, basically he's looking for his candidate among this crowd.

And he says, "I was shocked that so many candidates in the party want to get rid of private health insurance, we're ready to decriminalize illegal entry into our country, support providing comprehensive health care to undocumented immigrants." And he says, "I was shocked by how feeble the front-runner Joe Biden's response to the attack from Kamala Harris was, and to the more extreme ideas promoted by those to his left."

Things sort of getting underway here, Mike Pence. But can you give me answer to that, Richard Goodstein, if you will? Do you agree with Tom Friedman?

GOODSTEIN: I actually generally do. He did miss one person, Michael Bennett, who George, will just wrote a very glowing column in support of, who took issue with most of those positions. He's also at one percent. But, I do think we're the Democrats going at the presidential candidate level is unhelpful.

But I think, everything that you just discussed with the senator misses the fact that the single biggest caucus of Democrats are the new Dems, 103 of them. That those new Dems were responsible for flipping the House from red to blue.


GOODSTEIN: And that in the generic ballot today, Democrats beat Republicans who would you vote for Congress by almost nine points. So, whatever the Squad is doing -- and Joe Biden's beating the president by nine, 10, 11, in all these polls. So, I agree, it's bad news. And yet, it's not really kind of taking hold or reminds me of what the wrap was about a caravans and the run-up to the 18 election. I think the public's past that stuff. That's my opinion.

MACCALLUM: Which churned out to be -- to exist, by the way. Let me bring in Sean Spicer here, is the vice president sort of gets things warmed up here for the crowd. Sean, you know, your thoughts on that assessment because he calls Joe Biden feeble, by the way, which is the same word that the president is using for him. And I don't think that's too good for the front-runner.

SEAN SPICER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: No. I mean, look, I think right now you've got the proverbial tail wagging the dog of the Democratic Party. These four freshmen are defining what these longtime politicians have to respond to. It's amazing to me, I mean, Joe Biden's been in politics since 1973. And he is now taking his cues from a freshman Democrat, this 29 years old to talk about what he wants to be for president.

What used to be -- and I know, Richard made a good point that all these people who got them the majority. But the reality is that moderate and Blue Dog Democrats have gone from being in an endangered species in the Democratic Party to being extinct.

The agenda is being driven by these four freshman members of Congress. And it is an agenda that is going further and further towards socialism embracing all of these things that, that in order for a Democratic candidate for president to get ahead, they do not have to embrace but they have to one-up.

And so, as they do that, and I disagree with Richard. Right now, a poll means nothing. I mean, look at where Donald Trump was last cycle at this time.


SPICER: The reality is, is that when you have the frontrunners of the Democratic Party having to embrace and figure out how to one-up this run to the progressive, socialist left, they're going to have a big problem when it comes to explaining themselves to the -- to the American public in general.

MACCALLUM: Yes. You know, Richard, but it's very interesting to me what learn, well, Friedman is arguing is that he wants at this next debate, he wants one of them to step forward and say, "You know what, I'm not for any of those things that we just listed. I believe that if you cross the border illegally, that you have broken the law, I believe that if you like your health insurance, you can keep it."

I mean, Joe Biden, for example, could really stand out if he steps forward and says, "You know what, I don't agree with what they're saying on either side of me." I mean, there's a lane there for somebody who's willing to step into it.

GOODSTEIN: Right. And again, what happened last cycle shows that there's a real kind of audience just among Democrats forget the national vote -- you know, voters kind of generally for somebody who runs in that moderate lane. And it -- I agree it's kind of surprising so far that Biden's not kind of forthrightly claiming that for himself. I would say that we've had one controlled experiment proof that the moderates are in control.


GOODSTEIN: Border funding was a showdown between moderates and the liberals? And the moderates won, and Pelosi backed them.

MACCALLUM: Yes, I think -- I think on The Hill, that's absolutely true. But I'm talking about on the stage and the people who are going to run against President Trump.

GOODSTEIN: I couldn't agree more.

MACCALLUM: And he's about to go out there, and you know, sort of paint your entire party as -- you know, being in line with these -- with these four women, and frankly, so far what we've seen on the debate stage doesn't really negate that statement.


MACCALLUM: It sort of stands up.

GOODSTEIN: And what still odd is though, with the economy doing as well as it is, and with no new wars and everything, that Donald Trump is in low 40s in his head.


GOODSTEIN: I agree with Sean, the polls aren't worth much, but they're not nothing. I just say.

MACCALLUM: Sean, let me get Sean in here, real quick because I got to go right now the Vice President. Real quick, Sean.

SPICER: The problem is, look, you got to listen to what Richard said. There is somebody occupying that lane. It's Michael Bennett, and he's at one percent. The people who are making up the constituency that will determine the primary and caucus goes for the Democratic Party aren't in that lane.

They're in the crazy left-wing shoulder, right? They're not even in a lane, they're on -- they are literally driving on the crazy shoulder of that highway. And so, the problem is that people who could win a general election by being in the moderate progressive pragmatic lane aren't able to win a caucus or primary in the current Democratic Party.

MACCALLUM: Yes, well, what we're seeing right now is that Biden is losing traction. Sanders is losing traction, Harris is moving up as she's ahead in California of Biden. And I'm watching South Carolina because the newer poll that show there are going to be very interesting to keep an eye on. Gentleman, thank you.

Stick around. We're going to watch this as it unfolds, but we're going to keep an eye on this, of course, and the other big story tonight as a small victory in the House after Democrats including the women that we just talked about called to impeach President Trump this week.


TLAIB: I urge House leadership, many of my colleagues to take action to impeach this lawless president today.

OMAR: It's time for us to impeach this president.

OCASIO-CORTEZ: I support impeaching this president.


TLAIB: We're going to go in there and we're going to impeach the (BLEEP).


MACCALLUM: Remember that? All right, so Texas Congressman Al Green has been behind this charge for quite some time. This is the third time they try to do it. But today, the House voted 332-95 to kill the articles of impeachment that were actually introduced on the floor for the very first time since the president took office.

Now, the next opportunity to lay groundwork for this is going to be the Mueller hearing. Will they leave breadcrumbs that Democrats grab onto? Joining me now, Congressman Devin Nunes, ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee. Sir, very good to have you with us this evening.

REP. DEVIN NUNES, R-CALIF.: Great to be with you, Martha.

MACCALLUM: You know, with regard to the Mueller hearings which are scheduled to take place next week, first of all, by the way, do you think they're actually going to happen?

NUNES: I do. I have a pretty strong confidence level that Mueller is going to appear. He's had enough time now to get briefed up. They expanded the time he's going to be here. So he's going to do a three-hour hearing and a two-hour hearing, two different committees.

MACCALLUM: All right. You know, in terms of what you expect in those hearings and what you think Republicans are going to be doing, you said recently that you believe that Democrats have been back-channeling Robert Mueller in order to sort of in order to give him some ideas some helpful phrases that he could drop during this that might give them the momentum that they need to keep moving forward on the Russia probe.

NUNES: Yes, I really expect the worst because Bob Mueller does not have to show up. So he's doing this on his own free will. That tells me the last time he operated on his own free will, everyone forgets, Barr came out with a memo, was very clear about the decisions that he had made, and then a few days later, Mueller decided on his own to go out and hold a nine-minute press conference.

So I am very concerned and I think we should expect the worst because he only has to say a couple of things and the rest of the media -- I'm not saying you here at Fox, but 90 percent of the media will take one little phrase and run with it and try to run towards impeachment.

MACCALLUM: You know, I mean, we can't -- obviously we are not you know, psychologist, but I'm just curious you know, as you look at the history of Robert Mueller, it's been a long history in Washington, D.C., he didn't have to do this, as you say.

So something is motivating him, or someone is motivating him, perhaps the people who worked very hard on this project for two years would definitely want you know, sort of their legacy to be understood in a way that perhaps is more favorable to the findings that they feel were substantial if not indictable.

NUNES: Well, the whole report is a joke. And you know, look, I know there was no collusion, and I know there was no obstruction, and so in that sense, it was fine. However, there shouldn't -- this whole investigation was an obstruction of justice trap. It was a trap and I hope people understand why.

Mueller, when he walked in the door, knew there was no evidence of collusion and conspiracy, and they knew the only thing they have on obstruction of justice was Comey's memos. I mean, Comey illegally leaked those memos to the press and for what? In order to try to get a special counsel. So you know --

MACCALLUM: Which he admitted.

NUNES: -- sitting this investigation open -- yes, which he admitted. So sitting with this open for two years, to me, I think people should look at this as an obstruction of justice trap and then you know, you can go through for the $40 million that we spent on this report.

There are so many holes in this report. It was -- it was heavy on rhetoric and I would say it kind of read like a bad Russian spy novel.

MACCALLUM: Well, you know, folks on the other side of the aisle say exactly the opposite. They believe that most people haven't read the report. They think lot of Republicans haven't read the report, and they believe that this is an opportunity to sort of keep it alive and to -- and that once you know, they ask their questions of Robert Mueller, sort of detailing some of those ten instances that were laid out in terms of possible obstruction, and then you know, we who have read it know that when you get through the explanation, it says but you know, but that is not what we found, ultimately, or it was indeterminable.

NUNES: Believe me, we have went through this line by line, and that is how we know that especially in the collusion chapter, the collusion volume, he repeats himself. The report repeats itself several times. And one of the concerns that we are going to have is that we expect someone who spent all this money to be able to answer the underlying questions to what built that collusion document.

Because remember, they had crazy things in that document. I'll just -- I'll just give you one quick one that somehow the Republican Party tried to weaken its platform. That was a conspiracy theory. It's been debunked. There's no evidence for that. Why was it even in Mueller's report?

And on the same hand, they don't even look at Glenn Simpson and Fusion GPS that were behind this infamous Trump Tower meeting that was held where there was like an 18-minute meeting with a Russian lawyer. Guess what? She was meeting the day on, the day before, the day after, with who, Glenn Simpson with Fusion GPS? These are questions that Mueller needs to answer.

MACCALLUM: No, I hear you. I hear you on -- you know, we've talked about them -- we've talked about them with you in the past. You know, but when you look at -- you know, so tell me how you think that will go?

So Republicans ask basically the question that you just ask. What do you expect Robert Mueller is going to say, that wasn't my mandate, that wasn't what we are doing. There are other investigations that are doing that. I mean, isn't that likely what he'll say?

NUNES: I think the American people need to know, look, if we are worried about his mandate originally was to look that there was any Russian involvement in elections. Now, if you looked at the Trump Tower meeting, wouldn't you want to know what -- who the Russian lawyer -- what other Americans that Russian lawyer was meeting with? Like why did that Russian lawyer just to decide to go to the Trump Tower meeting?

I mean, those are basic questions that we would expect an investigator to ask and I -- and my guess is he's either not going to answer or they didn't interview Fusion GPS which would be really bad.

MACCALLUM: We'll see. That's something we're going to be watching very closely over the next few days. Chairman Nunez, thank you very much. Good to see you tonight.

NUNES: Thanks, Martha,

MACCALLUM: So while we await the president in North Carolina this evening, we're going to bring in Trey Gowdy, former Chairman of the House Oversight Committee and now a Fox News Contributor. Good to see you this evening, sir.

I want to ask you about the contempt that two members of the Bush administration were held in tonight. We've only got about a minute or two we think before the President comes out. Your thoughts on the contempt proceedings for Bill Barr and also for the Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

TREY GOWDY, CONTRIBUTOR: I'll do it quickly. I mean, Barr is ostensibly being held in contempt for not turning over our document he has no legal obligation to turn over. In fact, it'd be against the law to do so. The counter-argument is you guys held Eric Holder in contempt. We did, 400 days after we asked for the documents.

Here's the good thing that Wilbur Ross and Eric Holder and William Barr have in common right now. Nobody cares what Congress does. What we saw yesterday, they can't even enforce their own house rules against their own members. So there used to be a stigma attached to being held in contempt of Congress. There aren't no more. So I would tell Bill Barr, your reputation as an incredible lawyer is intact. Don't give it another thought.

MACCALLUM: And what would you say to anyone who would say to you well, you know, because you guys held Eric Holder in contempt and Lois Lerner in contempt, you sort of -- and it you know, ended up not amounting to anything, that is what changed the contempt game.

GOWDY: Well, Lois Lerner was contemptuous of Congress. Eric Holder, 400 days, I've wanted the documents, not the drama. Keep in mind, Martha, we were still looking for the documents in 2018 long after Holder and long after President Obama were gone. We still wanted the documents.

You've given Barr 100 days, 100 days. We gave Holder four times that. With respect to Wilbur Ross on the census, I think the administration mishandled it and they do have some explaining to do. It'd be nice to explain it in front of a fair jury that has not already made up its mind.

But when 60 Democrats vote to impeach you before Mueller has issued a single consonant or vowel in his report, that isn't a fair jury.

MACCALLUM: And they wrote a letter together asking Congress essentially to sort of discuss it further to open the dialogue, to you know, have an opportunity to go further down this road before this contempt hearing.

And you know, some look at this situation and say you know, Nancy Pelosi doesn't want to go through the impeachment process with President Trump. She sees that as a political dead end, but these are sort of the little things that she can do to sort of appear some of those who would like her to go down that road that keeps that whole story alive.

GOWDY: Yes. There's some of that that goes on both sides. Remember Boehner and Ryan had another group. They weren't the squad but it was called the Freedom Caucus and they wanted to impeach Rod Rosenstein, and they wanted to hold John Koskinen -- but they wanted to impeach John Koskinen the IRS Commissioner.

So it happens which Congress has worked itself into obscurity, irrelevance. When you can go on the floor of the House as the president say, I'm going to do it with or without you, and Congress stands up in cheers, you have rendered that branch of government feckless and irrelevant. Congratulations, the House doesn't matter anymore. White House and Senate, the House doesn't matter.

MACCALLUM: Can you just give me a quick thought as you know, we're going to jump in here in a second when the president actually starts speaking. I guess he's going to start speaking now.

GOWDY: I hear you.

MACCALLUM: So there he is in North Carolina. Stand by, we'll watch this together and we'll see -- we'll jump back in a few minutes. We'll see how -- we'll see what we can further here. President Trump.


MACCALLUM: President Trump in Greenville, North Carolina tonight laying out his case for what he sees as great successes of his presidency, also going one by one through the women known as the squad and delineating why he thinks they are so negative for the country.

That's “The Story,” Wednesday, July 17, 2019.

Tucker takes over from here.

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