Gowdy: Eric Swalwell helped build the impeachment bandwagon

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This is a rush transcript from "The Story," June 13, 2019. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

MARTHA MACCALLUM, HOST: All right. Good evening, everybody. I'm Martha MacCallum, live in Tempe, Arizona tonight as we move onto the other big stories of the evening at the White House.

One of the most loyal and long-term public faces of President Trump's team is going to stay goodbye. Press secretary Sarah Huckabee-Sanders will leave her post at the end of the month, a job that she calls the honor of a lifetime.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT: She's done an incredible job. We have been through a lot together, and she is tough but she's good. You know, you also have tough and bad, right? She's tough and she's good. She's great.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I loved every minute, even the hard minutes. I've loved it, I love the president, I love the team that I've had an opportunity to work for. The president is surrounded by some of the most incredible and most talented people you could ever imagine.

It's truly the most special experience. The only one I can think of that might top a little bit is the fact that I'm a mom. I have three amazing kids. And I'm going to spend a little more time with them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MACCALLUM: So here now is the man who handed the baton off to Sarah Huckabee Sanders, former White House press secretary Sean Spicer. Sean, good to have you with us this evening. What are your thoughts on this big announcement today?

SEAN SPICER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I watched Sarah's face and I've experience that myself. It's bittersweet. It's an honor of a lifetime to serve in that position. And yet it's taxing. You're spending hours away from your family every day in the morning, in the evening. And to be able to get back to them it's something that you long for.

So, you are excited to go back to your family, to see your friends to reengage and some of the things that you are doing. But you have the honor of a lifetime and you're working with amazing people and it's tough to say goodbye.

MACCALLUM: Yes. And I would imagine there's a flip side to that coin too. There's probably a relief when you get back to your regular life. But I would imagine that you also kind of missed the buzz of being in the White House, and being that close to the leader of the free world.

SPICER: I got to be honest with you, Martha. I haven't missed it one day. And I say that because if you really have --

(CROSSTALK)

MACCALLUM: You didn't miss it at all.

SPICER: And it's not -- it's because I really appreciate the time I have. I've soaked it all in. I've continued to stayed active in politics. I've got a political firm, so I'm engaged in the political sphere.

But I don't because I look at it and I know that I enjoyed and cherished every single day I was there, and when I left it was the right time. And I think Sarah is in the same position.

She served in this position for over two and a half years, she was my principal deputy before that. She was on the campaign before that. And I think for a lot of folks who just look at the tenure in the White House, they forget the transition. They forget that the grueling campaign that we went through.

MACCALLUM: Right.

SPICER: I spent six years at the RNC.

MACCALLUM: Absolutely.

SPICER: So, when you do that, you remember that it's not just been those months and years in public service but the months and years before that as well.

MACCALLUM: So, who would you think steps into her spot now?

SPICER: I knew you were going there. Look, I think there's a lot of talented people the president can choose from. The one thing that's really unique about this administration, it's always important to have chemistry with the principal.

But I think in this particular case, the president is going to want somebody that understands not just his voice but his -- how he wants to interact with the press, how he wants to communicate.

As you can tell between my tenure and Sarah's, that's not always the most traditional way. And he's going to want to make sure that the chemistry is there between whoever he chooses.

So, it's not just a skill set and the experience in dealing with the press which is important. But the ability to communicate his policies and his priorities in a way that he feels is acceptable.

MACCALLUM: So, you are not going to tell me the names of the people that you think might take over. And you know, there are some obvious people that come to mind who are in that department right now perhaps, and it may be some who have worked with some of the other departments in the press --

SPICER: Yes.

MACCALLUM: -- spokespersons positions, who might come to mind that people may think are on the list. The president said that, you know, perhaps Sarah Huckabee Sanders would continue running for governor in Arkansas, a position that her father once held. You know Sarah very well. Do you think something that she aspires to?

SPICER: I know that she's always enjoyed public service and she loves her home State of Arkansas. So how those two things intersect, I don't know. It's been a few hours, I've got -- haven't been hit up for a donation yet so I don't know what her thinking is.

But whether or not she takes a little time in the private sector, I would imagine that public service continues to be something that she will be a part of. She is enjoyed being a part of watching her father go up as lieutenant governor and then governor. She served in the White House.

I think public service, and wanting to give back, wanting to make people's lives better is something that she's always been part of her DNA and I expected in her future as well.

MACCALLUM: well, it's going to be interesting to watch, the reshuffling of the deck in the press secretary position. And also, whether or not she decides to follow in her father's footsteps and get into Arkansas politics as well.

Sean, good to see you tonight. Thank you for being here.

SPICER: Great to see you. Fantastic town hall once again.

MACCALLUM: You bet. Thank you very much. It was interesting tonight, yes.

So, also this evening, the president slamming a report in the New York Times claiming that he was briefed on a, quote, "devastating 17-state poll conducted by his campaign pollster trailing in the public polls from key states, in key states like Texas and Michigan and Pennsylvania. Here is the president's response to that report.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Those polls don't exist. I was just given a meeting with my pollster who I frankly don't even believe in pollsters, if you want to know the truth. You just ran a campaign and whatever it is, it is.

But I just had a meeting with somebody that's a pollster and I'm winning everywhere.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But the president wanted to know more, so a few seconds later, he has to go off the record to call his campaign manager.

TRUMP: Let's call Brad and I wanted to ask him that question, OK?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MACCALLUM: So here now to set the record straight, Kayleigh McEnany, national press secretary for the Trump 2020 presidential campaign, Jim McLaughlin, a Republican pollster who has done polling for President Trump. And Richard Goldstein, Democratic strategist and former Clinton campaign advisor.

Welcome to all of you. Good to have you with us tonight.

RICHARD GOLDSTEIN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Hi, Martha.

MACCALLUM: Kayleigh, let me start with you because everybody saw the polls that came out, Quinnipiac, everybody acknowledges that it is very, very early in this entire process. That when you look at national head-to-head, they can be very misleading at this stage of the game. Nonetheless, there were a lot of polls out there that show that the president is in a competitive race.

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, NATIONAL PRESS SECRETARY, TRUMP 2020 CAMPAIGN: Now let's talk about Quinnipiac. They had Clinton winning Florida by two. She lost Florida to President Trump. They had Clinton winning North Carolina by two, she lost to President Trump by four. They had Clinton winning by six in Pennsylvania, President Trump won Pennsylvania.

I don't put stock in Quinnipiac. Where I put stock is in campaign manager Brad Parscale, a data guru. You just heard President Trump in that clip say call Brad.

There is one person who knew President Trump was going to win. It was Brad Parscale because of his data operation, and our internal polling at the campaign shows again, they define, Democrat, President Trump wins in all 17 swing states. I believe the data that was right, not the data that's consistently wrong.

MACCALLUM: All right. Richard Goodstein, your reaction to all of this?

GOODSTEIN: So, the New York Times's story spoke to the fact that the president said, don't tell anybody what these poll numbers that you just disclosed to me said. So, we are kind of in this Alice in Wonderland thing, we are quite not sure, do we believe what he said to George Stephanopoulos in the face of let's put Quinnipiac aside?

There have been plenty of other public polls in Michigan, the Detroit News, had Biden up by 11. In North Carolina, a local poll had Biden up there. And even the Fox poll had Biden beating Trump by 11.

So, let's take Quinnipiac out of this discussion. The fact is what the president said is just flatly and wildly inconsistent with every other public poll. I'm not saying --

(CROSSTALK)

MCENANY: You wouldn't know, you haven't seen the polling.

GOODSTEIN: I'm not saying he can't win. I'm just saying that what he's saying is just it's widely at odds with every other public poll. That's all.

MACCALLUM: All right. Let me go to Jim McLaughlin. Jim, when you look at, you know, all of these different polls that were just mentioned, is there any -- is there any message that you think that the campaign should pay attention to in them? Are they reflective of anything that would raise some issues that perhaps you would want to address if you are on the campaign?

JIM MCLAUGHLIN, REPUBLICAN POLLSTER: Just like the media gives us a lot of fake news, they give us a lot of fake polls.

And the great thing about Donald Trump is, he proved the polls were wrong last time and he prove the media polls especially wrong. And if you remember what was going on, you had memos that were leaked last time by the campaign manager of Hillary Clinton, was working with the media to rig polls. And that's the same nonsense that's going on right now.

The truth of the matter is many of these polls that are under sampling Republicans and that's why you are getting the numbers that you are getting. For instance, that Texas poll? It was only plus four Republican. In your typical Texas election, and I was polling there last time for the attorney general, and he won by double digits. Republicans outnumbered Democrats by over 12 points down there.

And that's not was what the Quinnipiac poll was reflecting there. And we saw, again, Kayleigh gave you some great examples. Right before election day in Florida last time they had both Rick Scott and Ron DeSantis losing seven points down in Florida. We all know what happened on election day.

MACCALLUM: Yes. I mean, it does, it raises an interesting question because one of the things that has been talked about and I know that, you know, perhaps some of you, Richard might disagree with this point, do people who are Trump voters necessarily answer polls.

And I wonder in the environment that we live in where people are so concerned about privacy on social media and all of that, do people respond to these questions? I mean, how difficult is it to get a very good sample? Kayleigh? And then I want to get Richard's response to that.

MCENANY: Yes, it is difficult for a conventional pollster. I spoke with an internal pollster of ours who said he went out in the aftermath of the election, to many of these states and found the polls were off by about 10 to 12 percent of Trump voters who just wouldn't speak to a pollster.

I just got to say I find it laughable for Richard to act as if he knows what our internal polls say, to have reporters say the president is being mistrustful when they haven't seen the polls.

I spent an hour and a half going through the polls. So is Brad. So as others. But it's laughable for people to concoct to negative news cycle based on a polling they haven't seen, that very few, small handful, I can name them have actually --

(CROSSTALK)

MACCALLUM: So, Kayleigh, what does your internal polling show in Texas? What is the internal poll show in Texas?

MCENANY: It shows in all 17 key states, Texas among them, President Trump beats a define Democrat -- when you say the issues that President Trump stands for, a Democrat head to head, which is the closest proximity you can get to something accurate, not just a head to head, he is winning in all 17 swing states and we believe that to be true.

MACCALLUM: Richard, what do you say to that?

GOODSTEIN: Well, again, note the define thing -- and of course, if you basically go after somebody with the kitchen sink in your polling question and say, so who would you take, that person who we think is horrible --

(CROSSTALK)

MCENANY: That would be laughable to spend a million dollars and screw your own poll.

GOODSTEIN: Listen, we heard in all of 2018 when the Democrats were running way ahead in the generic ballot, what Jim and Kayleigh said, which is, there's this hidden Trump vote. And guess what, when he campaigned for Roy Moore, it didn't exist. When he campaigned for Conor Lamb's opponent, it didn't exist.

And it didn't exist in 2018 the Democrats won nationally by over eight percentage points in House races across the board. So, it just didn't exist.

MACCALLUM: OK. We got to go.

GOODSTEIN: And we'll see whether it is this time.

MCENANY: We will see if people believe in Quinnipiac.

MACCALLUM: Richard, and Kayleigh and Jim, thank you very much, guys.

GOODSTEIN: Thank you.

MCENANY: Thank you.

MCLAUGHLIN: Thank you.

MACCALLUM: Coming up next here from Tempe, Arizona tonight -- thanks, guys -- Democratic Congressman and 2020 candidate Eric Swalwell lays down the gauntlet on impeachment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ERIC SWALWELL, D-CALIF., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: But there is a new urgency now where the president is inviting Russia and others to sabotage our elections, risk are democracies to benefit him. And I don't think we can wait any longer.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MACCALLUM: Trey Gowdy has something that he would like to say in response to that next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: They have information. I think I'd take it. If I thought there was something wrong, I'd go maybe to the FBI, if I thought there was something wrong.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MACCALLUM: That was President Trump unleashing the critics with comments about collecting dirt from foreign adversaries, including Democratic Congressman and 2020 candidate Eric Swalwell who has in the past stop short of calling for impeachment, but now, today, he said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My question is why now? Why are you now calling for impeachment?

SWALWELL: Well, if you were even to give them the benefit of the doubt that it was naive campaign, he was a businessman running for president, didn't really mean it, it's clear that he means it now.

And that to me, is a consciousness of guilt, not just for impeachable offenses for what he's doing now in real time but now it shows that the conduct during the last election was also one that was done with intent. So, I don't think we can wait any longer. Our democracy is at risk.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MACCALLUM: Here now, Trey Gowdy, former House oversight committee chairman and Fox News contributor. Trey, good to see you this evening. What do you make of Eric Swalwell's change of heart on the topic of impeachment?

TREY GOWDY, CONTRIBUTOR: I'm just trying to process the democracy is at risk, so let's impeach a duly elected president for over a crime for which he was not indicted. I'm trying to process how all that works together.

Here's what I can tell you about Eric. He's just not getting on the impeachment bandwagon, he helped build it. He was on the House intelligence committee. They wanted a cloud over this presidency, and they got one.

But he and Schiff had been leading the impeachment train, whether or not he formally called for it or not, his actions have indicated that he wanted Trump to not be president since the inauguration.

MACCALLUM: Well, but do you, you know, go back to what the president said. And we just -- you know, we talked to Joaquin Castro who said that he was really appalled by that comment in the Oval Office. What do you -- what do you take away from the actual content of what the president said in that interview?

GOWDY: A couple of things, number one, I don't know what's meant by the word information. Are you talking about something that's publicly available? In which case, you would need to call the CIA or the FBI?

I am, Martha, a 100 percent confident and hopeful that this president and any other president would call the intelligence community and law enforcement if a foreign adversary would try to impact our election.

I am confident that President Trump said that as much to make the Swalwell's and the Castro's of the world upset. As for any other reason, but the flip side of that is when you do pick up the phone and call, you have to have confidence in who is on the other end of the line.

Let's assume he called in June of 2016. Who would he have gotten? Jim Comey. Someone who spent the last two years saying impeachment is too good for the president? John Brennan, is that who he is supposed to call? A guy that thinks he was treasonous and blown from the dust pin of history.

Well, lead the case agent, Peter Strzok. So, the FBI also has an obligation to be so apolitical and so objective that nobody has any qualms calling them. I feel that way about the FBI. But look, Brennan is still talking about the president, Comey still talking about the president. So, I'm not sure which one of them people expected him to call in 2016.

MACCALLUM: Yes. It's an interesting point. Alyssa Milano who seems to have a lot of influence these days over certain politicians in what's going on, she's an activist and an actress. She said that if this is the norm, we are in big trouble essentially.

There it is. Well, that's it, she said, referring to the president's comments in the Oval Office. If this is our norm, the nation will never recover, Trey.

GOWDY: Is this the same actress that launched the sex strike a couple of weeks ago? I think it's the same one.

(CROSSTALK)

MACCALLUM: Yes, she did, in fact. Yes, she did.

GOWDY: I don't follow her in Twitter. I do know this. We are speaking of treason. I do know this. We have a robust, strong country. We are able to withstand lots of things.

MACCALLUM: Yes.

GOWDY: Including her acting, and a president form who we may disagree with on the issues. I didn't agree with President Obama, but I didn't think it was an existential threat to the democracy. The hyperbole, I don't think it's persuasive. She's entitled to her opinion and I'm entitled to categorically rejecting it and not paying attention to it.

MACCALLUM: Trey Gowdy, always good to see you, sir, from South Carolina tonight. Thank you very much.

GOWDY: Yes, ma'am.

MACCALLUM: We'll see you next time.

GOWDY: Yes, ma'am. Thank you.

MACCALLUM: So, this coming up. Violence erupting in Memphis. At least 100 protesters took to the streets. Dozens of police officers were injured by rocks and pieces of bricks after a young black man is killed by U.S. marshals trying to take him into custody. A live update is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MACCALLUM: More legal trouble tonight for Michael Avenatti who used to represent the porn star Stormy Daniels. The embattled lawyer being sued by a paraplegic former client who says Avenatti secured a $4 million settlement on his behalf and then pocketed the cash. According to him, the former client Geoffrey Johnson has now hired a new attorney to recoup the money, plus, he says, punitive damages.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DANIEL CALLAHAN, ATTORNEY FOR GEOFFREY JOHNSON: We have a situation where Mr. Avenatti has acted so despicably, it's beyond words. And I am here to do my very best to help Mr. Johnson recover that money from Mr. Avenatti and for anybody else who acted in concert to deprive Mr. Johnson of his funds.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MACCALLUM: Avenatti says in a statement "It is unfortunate that he is being used by his Republican Trump supporter lawyer and others as part of a pile on publicity stunt to smear me.

In separate cases, Avenatti faces charges of wire fraud, bank fraud, extortion, and claims that he misappropriated $300,000 of funds from Stormy Daniels.

Also breaking tonight, the city of Memphis is on edge after a night of violent clashes. The chaos erupted after a 20-year-old black man was fatally shot by authorities during a confrontation yesterday.

Now the Memphis Police Department confirming a short time ago, a total of 36 officers suffered injuries due to bricks, and rocks that were thrown at them. Some were even spit on.

And tonight, the authorities are urging the people of that city to stay calm.

Trace Gallagher is in our West Coast newsroom with the story tonight. Trace?

TRACE GALLAGHER, CORESSPONDENT: Martha, at the time of the shooting, U.S. marshals were trying to arrest 20-year-old Brandon Webber on multiple felony warrants including aggravated assault and armed robbery.

The marshals were in the north Memphis neighborhood of Frayser and say Webber, who is black, got into his car, refused to stop and rammed his vehicle into the marshal's vehicle multiple times.

Officers then claim Webber got out of his car with a weapon and that's when they open fired, killing him.

News of Webber's death spread quickly as did a neighborhood protest where residents turned their anger toward Memphis police throwing rocks and other debris at officers, tearing down a brick wall, and also vandalizing both squad cars and the fire department.

At least three dozen Memphis police officers were hurt, though all of the injuries are minor. City officials then began posting on social media, the Memphis mayor saying, quote, "Let me be clear. The aggression shown towards our officers and deputies tonight was unwarranted."

The police chief added, quote, "We will not allow destruction of property, we will not allow acts of vandalism to occur." But county commissioner Tammy Sawyer who is running for mayor said, quote, "Don't judge Frayser without asking a community how it feels to mourn their youth over and over again."

And those who knew Brandon Webber doubted the marshals claim that he was a wanted felon. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TASIA TURNER, BRANDON WEBBER'S FRIEND: They are wrong. And they know they are wrong. They know what they did. And they know they didn't have a reason to do it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GALLAGHER: Police say on June 30 in Hernando, Mississippi Brandon Webber stole a car and shot a driver five times, though the driver survived. The stolen car is the same vehicle Webber used to ram the marshals. A local pastor says that Frayser, Tennessee being portrayed in the national media is not a representation of the true Frayser. Martha?

MACCALLUM: Thank you very much. Thank you, Trace. All right. Before we go tonight, I did refer to Julian Castro as Joaquin just a few moments ago. I apologize for that. That is “The Story” from Tempe, Arizona tonight on this Thursday. “The Story” continues from New York tomorrow night. Tucker is up next.

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