Gowdy: No amount of context will change content of Strzok-Page texts

This is a rush transcript from "The Story," December 2, 2019. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

Martha MacCallum: 
Hello there, Bret. Good evening to you. Good evening, everybody. I am Martha MacCallum, and we are in New York. Good to be back. Two big stories that are breaking this evening as we get new reaction to this report. And as we speak, the lawmakers are getting their first look really at this report that is expected to serve as the basis for articles of impeachment. It's going to be a big week, and we are just getting started. So, stay with me, here. Also, we await the findings of the origins of the Russia investigation. That's going to start rolling out next week. But that's why this is so relevant today. Former FBI lawyer Lisa Page has broken her silence, and the president tonight comes out swinging. Trey Gowdy and Newt Gingrich are here to react. First to Trey Gowdy, who in June of 2018 laid out his case that these two FBI agents -- Strzok and Page -- whose text messages caused a firestorm -- he made the argument -- were acting with political bias. Watch.

Trey Gowdy:
The same Peter Strzok who wrote the bigoted nonsense of "Trump -- Trump's a disaster; I had no idea how de-stabilizing his presidency would be" -- we have the same FBI agent, Lisa Page, and the same FBI agent Peter Strzok working on the Clinton email investigation, the Russia probe, and on Mueller's team.

Martha MacCallum:
Former federal prosecutor and former Oversight Committee chair, Trey Gowdy, joins me now exclusively. Trey, good to see you tonight. Thank you very much for being here.

Trace Gallagher:
Yes, ma'am. Thank you.

Martha MacCallum:
So, Lisa Page is tired of being quiet. She said, "I'm not going to be quiet anymore. I'm tired of -- I get a gut punch" -- she says -- "every time I hear the president mention me at a rally or in a Tweet." And she wants everybody to know that these were taken out of context. So, I want to start by putting some of these up on the screen, to -- just to remind everybody what these text messages said. Number one: "Trump is not ever going to become president, right? Right!?" Exclamation point, question mark. "No, he won't," answered Peter Strzok. "We'll stop it." Then it goes on to say, "There's no way he gets elected." That's from Peter Strzok. "But I'm afraid we can't take that risk. It's like an insurance policy in the unlikely event that you die before you're 40." So, Trey Gowdy, we still don't know -- based on this article -- what they were talking about; what that insurance policy was and what their plan was.

Trace Gallagher:
Well, I think we have an idea what that insurance policy was. We asked her about it. Remember, Martha, we deposed her when I was still in Congress. And it was some unusual analysis of whether or not to burn a source. She did not think Donald Trump was going to win the election in November. But when she says things need to be put in context, the word "loathsome" really doesn't need to be put in context. And when you say somebody will be a national security disaster, that doesn't need to be put in context. These texts have been out there for -- what -- almost two years now. So, your viewers are smart enough to read them and know that the lead FBI agent and the lead FBI lawyer were both biased against Donald Trump. That's who was investigating him in 2016. I'm not sure how she thinks context is going to improve that.

Martha MacCallum:
So, you had an exchange with Peter Strzok, who tried to give you some of the context of these text messages. And you kind of shut him down. Here's that moment.

Peter Strzok:
It's important to take those texts in the context of how they were written and what they meant.

Trey Gowdy:
Someone may ask you that question, Agent Strzok, but I didn't.

Peter Strzok:
What I can tell you is that text, in no way, suggested that I or the FBI would take any action to influence the candidacy --

Trey Gowdy:
Hey, that is a fantastic answer to a question nobody asked.

Martha MacCallum:
So, they both say that when you look at the context, that, you know, they've been unfairly portrayed; you know, that these text messages were about something other than they appear to be about. Why didn't you want to know more about that in that moment?

Trace Gallagher:
Well, I'd already spent a day with Peter Strzok before that public hearing, which is one of the longest days of my life. So --

Martha MacCallum:
[laughs]

Trace Gallagher:
-- I've already heard every explanation he has. And when your answer -- when you say, "We'll stop it," and you want to try to convince people that "we" really is not the plural for "I" -- that he didn't mean "we;" he meant something else -- I think his explanation to us was, "What I meant by that was the American people will stop it." Now, granted, he's not having a conversation with the American people; he's having a conversation with Lisa Page. Martha, they were talking about impeachment before even Adam Schiff was talking about impeachment. Remember, Trump had just won in November, and they're already swapping reading lists, including "All the President's Men," and musing wantonly about impeachment. This is the same Peter Strzok -- keep in mind: he didn't want to be on an investigation into what a foreign country did to us in 2016. That wasn't enough for him. If it wasn't impeachment, he wanted to -- nothing to do with it. So, again put yourself in Donald Trump's shoes. You're being investigated -- in fact, the investigation has begun by a guy who says he can smell your supporters, will do anything he can to stop it. They think you're loathsome; they think you're an effing idiot.

Martha MacCallum:
Yeah.

Trace Gallagher:
That's who is dispassionately investigating someone. No wonder he's got so little confidence in the FBI right now.


Martha MacCallum:
What about the freedom of speech? Because she says, "Look, this had no impact on my work whatsoever. But I'm an American citizen. No one can take away my right to say what I want to say when I'm offline and away from work, and that's all this is. It didn't impact my work at all."

Trace Gallagher:
Yeah. You know, two points on that. Yeah. She does have freedom of speech, and we have the freedom to reject what she said and tell her we don't believe it. But the broader point is this -- I mean, keep in mind, Strzok and Page, and the Democrat -- the D.C. Media's argument is, "Yeah, they were biased. Yeah, they said terrible things, but it had no impact on the outcome." In other words, Trump was treated fairly in the end. Now, contrast that with what Trump's gone through with impeachment. Now, the Democrats are saying even though there were no investigations of the server or the Bidens, and even though the aid was released, they're now hyper-focused on the process. It's the phone call. That's all that matters. So, to Democrats, all's well that ends well if it's Peter Strzok and Lisa Page. But if you get the aid and there's no investigation, that's not enough; it still may be impeachable, just because we didn't like your process. That's duplicity. It's a double standard, and that's why the American people, I think, are completely --

Martha MacCallum:
[affirmative]

Trace Gallagher:
-- unmoved thus far by the impeachment hearings of Chairman Schiff.

Martha MacCallum:
So, you've seen the GOP response to the beginnings of this impeachment process, which is rolling out this week. And just to summarize it, they basically say that the process is unfair. They say that they think this is an unimpeachable event -- this phone call on July 25th with the Ukrainian president -- and that President Trump had every reason to be concerned about corruption in Ukraine. They think the Democrats are setting a bad precedent. And here's what Adam Schiff just put out, in terms of his response to the GOP this evening, as they go back and forth. He says, "The minority dismisses this as just part of the president's outside-the-Beltway thinking. It's more accurately outside the law and constitution and a violation of his oath of office." Your thoughts on that before I let you go tonight?

Trace Gallagher:
Well, what I think, Martha -- I just celebrated Thanksgiving. I got a big family. I haven't met a single, solitary person in my family -- or outside my family -- whose mind has changed as Adam Schiff began these impeachment hearings.

Martha MacCallum:
[affirmative]

Trace Gallagher:
No one's mind has changed. So, he's not going to be removed from office. This is not about removing Donald Trump from office, because they know they're not going to be successful. It's about shifting it to the Senate, where you can put people like Cory Gardner, and Martha McSally, and Tom Tillis in a really tough spot. If they can win the Senate -- even if they lose the White House in 2020 -- then he is a neutered president. And I've always thought this is much more about the Senate than it is removing someone from office, because they're not going to get a conviction in the Senate trial.

Martha MacCallum:
All right. Before I let you go, any chance that you're going to become the personal attorney to the president if they make a change in that office with Rudy Giuliani?

Trace Gallagher:
I would have needed to start a long time ago. Yeah. There are depositions to read. There's evidence to consider. There are witnesses to examine. They haven't even let Pat Cipollone or Jay Sekulow -- those are two really good lawyers; the president has two really good lawyers -- they haven't let them participate in it. I was an average lawyer, but I did it for a long time, and I need to participate to be able to effectively represent someone. You can't do it starting on January the 1st, going into a trial on January the 4th.

Martha MacCallum:
All right.

Trace Gallagher:
You just can't do it.

Martha MacCallum:
Trey Gowdy. We'll be seeing you soon. Thank you very much. Good to see you tonight.

Trace Gallagher:
Yes, ma'am.

Martha MacCallum:
So, also here, joining me this evening, listening to all of this and watching the breaking news this evening, Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House and a Fox News contributor. Sir, good to have you with us, as always. Thanks for being here tonight, Newt.

Newt Gingrich:
Good to be with you.

Martha MacCallum:
What's your reaction to what we've seen so far? The GOP put out their assessment of this information -- this report that's going to probably formulate soon into articles of impeachment.

Newt Gingrich:
Look, if facts matter, the GOP analysis is very compelling. But I think, with Adam Schiff and with the Democrats, facts don't matter. They wanted to impeach Trump -- many of them wanted to impeach Trump before he was even sworn in. The Washington Post reported, on the very day of Trump's inaugural, that there was already an effort underway for impeachment. I think Schiff is totally dishonest, totally unreliable, and I don't take anything he puts out seriously. He lied to the country over and over again, about the Russian relationship. He's just plain wrong. He's now run a totally one-sided kangaroo court. They'll issue their report. If you're a left-wing Democrat, that report will be terrific. You'll love it. I think, if you're an independent --

Martha MacCallum:
Yeah.

Newt Gingrich:
-- voter --

Martha MacCallum:
Well --

Newt Gingrich:
-- you're probably going to look at it very carefully.

Martha MacCallum:
-- you know, I mean, that's the problem that they're stuck with at this point, right? Because Nancy Pelosi didn't want to go down this road.

Newt Gingrich:
[laughs]

Martha MacCallum:
She knew that this wasn't going to turn into, you know, magically into a bipartisan effort to oust the president -- or that it was probably pretty unlikely. And then, she decided to move forward. So, we really are stuck where we were when this whole thing began, the whole process of watching these hearings with Fiona Hill, and Colonel Vindman, and all the others that we watched kind of parade through that room was to change somebody's mind, Newt, and it doesn't appear to have done that so far.

Newt Gingrich:
Well, you know, I've never understood why the Democrats who control only the House thought starting this dance made any sense because let's they say vote impeachment and if they do they're going to put 31 Democrats who are from districts that Trump carried in real danger of being wiped out next year, which would frankly make Kevin McCarthy speaker which I think would be a good deal, but let's say they do pass impeachment it goes to the Senate. Lindsey Graham, the chairman of the judiciary committee's already said he wants to invite Hunter Biden. He wants to invite Joe Biden. He'd like to invite Adam Schiff. I mean, that -- the Senate hearings will wash away anything the Democrats accomplish in the House and by the time it's all over Trump will be vindicated. He will not be convicted. He will still be president. In the interim --

Martha MacCallum:
You don't think you're really going to see any of those three people testify in the Senate, though, do you?

Newt Gingrich:
Well, if they get a subpoena it'll be interesting to watch and see how they explain -- you know, how do you explain as a candidate for president in the case of Biden you're not going to show up? If you're Hunter Biden, what's your defense?

Martha MacCallum:
If they're going to say it's unfair. They're going to say the same exact thing that the White House says that the whole process is unfair, that now it's on the other foot.

Newt Gingrich:
That's fine.

Martha MacCallum:
And they don't want to do it. I want to play one thing for you from Representative Zoe Lofgren who was on over the weekend.

Newt Gingrich:
Okay.

Martha MacCallum:
Because you've said that you think this is, you know, a whole lot of nothing and she was around during the Watergate process as well, the Clinton impeachment, which you were also obviously very involved in. Here's what she says about the severity of this.

Zoe Lofgren:
If you take a look at the -- what the founding fathers were concerned about, it was the interference by foreign governments in our political system that was one of their gravest concerns. Nixon's behavior didn't fall into that range. So, in that way this conduct is more serious.

Martha MacCallum:
She says this is way worse than Watergate.

Newt Gingrich:
Well, look, she has it exactly backwards. The argument is that Trump was interfering in the Ukraine not that Ukraine was interfering in the United States. So, she has the whole thing totally backwards. The objective reality is --

Martha MacCallum:
No. She's suggesting that the president asked for help with his future election in 2020 and she says that she believes that is more egregious.

Newt Gingrich:
You know, I think first of all you've had the Ukrainian president say over and over again he did not think there was a quid pro quo. He did not think he was under any pressure. Now, he's the person who if they had a complaint who ought to be on the side of the Democrats. He just -- the Ukrainian president says she's wrong but also remember this which is what makes this whole thing so goofy. For eight years President Obama did not offer any help militarily to Ukraine. Trump comes in. Trump is helping Ukraine. He is getting them weapons. He gets a thank you call from the newly elected president of Ukraine and the Democrats are arguing over whether or not there was a one or two-month delay in getting the weapons there. Trump actually has been helping them which Obama didn't do for eight years.

Martha MacCallum:
That’s the great iron.

Newt Gingrich:
But the Democrats are mad at Trump. It's a -- wild.

Martha MacCallum:
Newt, thank you. Always good to see you.

Newt Gingrich:
Thank you.

Martha MacCallum:
Thanks for being here tonight. Coming up next, the Iranian regime unleashes unprecedent brutality against its own people killing as many as 450, the numbers are not accurate and are all over the place at this point in just a matter of weeks, wounding thousands of others. We're going to speak exclusively to the Iranian activist who is in direct contact with protestors on the ground sharing never-before-seen videos and images, including this from a 27-year-old protestor minutes before he was shot in the head by Iranian security forces.

[clip playing]

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Martha MacCallum:
All right. So, while there's so much focus on impeachment we cannot lose sight of what is unfolding right now in Iran, something big and potentially game changing is going on. Reports and evidence that the regime has killed more than 200 protestors in the most brutal crackdown that we've seen in 40 years. Author and activist Masih Alinejad lives here but she is one of the most powerful voices challenging the regime in Iran. Her movement known as "My Stealthy Freedom," documents women who were brave enough to shed their hijab and be photographed. Many of them are now in prison. She makes this comparison. "Once the Berlin Wall fell communism was finished. Once this wall of black cloth is removed the Islamic Republic and its discredited political ideology will be gone." Likely because of her activism her brother, a graphic artist and father in Tehran, was taken prisoner. He recorded this video just before he was arrested.

[clip playing]

Joining me now, Masih Alinejad. How hard is it for you to watch your brother in that video, Masih?

Masih Alinejad:
It's not easy. I don't want to talk about my brother from the beginning because it's not easy.

Martha MacCallum:
I know. I know. And, you know, he asked you to continue, to be strong and that's what you are doing. And people in these protests are sending you thousands of messages because as you said to me in the break the social media is their weapon.

Masih Alinejad:
Yes.

Martha MacCallum:
Tell me about that.

Masih Alinejad:
So, we just had one of the most violent demonstrations in Iran and more than 500 people got killed. The protests actually started just because of the increase gasoline. But immediately, the first day, it went beyond that. And people were actually chanting against the Islamic Republic. One of the young men who was joining the protest with his mother, he actually called his mom and said, “Mom, people are everywhere. They are chanting against the Islamic Republic. They are chanting against the clerics.” His name was Puyyah [spelled phonetically]. He was 27 years old. And he was filming the whole protest. And then immediately, he got shot in head in front of his mother. So, I interviewed many families of these victims. They are like my brother. They are like my sister. Yeah, from the beginning, I didn’t expect you to show my brother’s video. But when I hear the family of the victims, they are brave. You won’t believe me. You have to hear their voices. They knew the risk. So, they took the streets because they have a message. They want to get rid of the Islamic Republic.
 
Martha MacCallum:
So, let me ask you this, because we all saw what happened in 2009. Is it different now? Do you think there’s a chance that the regime could be toppled by this movement?
 
Masih Alinejad:
Martha, this time is totally different. People became their own leader. They took to the street. They risked their lives. And they had the message, which you hear through the videos. That is actually why the government shut down in Tehran. Why? Because they didn’t want the rest of the world to hear the message, you know? And our president, I mean, I say “our president,” the Islamic republic’s president --
 
Martha MacCallum:
Yes.
 
Masih Alinejad:
-- and the foreign minister Javad Zarif. They use Twitter. They use Facebook. They use Instagram to mislead the rest of the world.
 
Martha MacCallum:
Yeah. Put up this from Javad Zarif. He says Secretary Pompeo once again admits the economic terrorism on Iran is designed to starve, and in the case of medical supplies, kill our innocent citizens. So, he’s saying, “It’s not our fault, the, you know, leadership in Iran. It’s the United States’ fault.”
 
Masih Alinejad:
Let me tell you something. If the government needs money because of sanction, my question, clear question is this: why didn’t they cut the budget of religious institutions? Or a huge amount of money goes to, you know, clerics, goes to morality priests beating up women in the street; goes to Friday prayers; goes to, you know, the children of Rouhani, Rouhani, the supreme leader of Iran. Why they didn’t cut the budget of, you know, religious institutions? Instead, they increased the price of petrol because from this decision, the poor got poorer and the rich got richer --
 
Martha MacCallum:
Well, it’s not working very well for them. 
 
Masih Alinejad:
It --
 
Martha MacCallum:
It’s backfiring because now they have incensed all these people. And one of the things that’s interesting is who the protestors are, you know? What economic strata are they from and is that different than it was last time?

Masih Alinejad:
I have to say that if Javad Zarif claims that people -- this is the result of the American government, why don’t we hear any single slogan against America in the streets of Iran and across Iran? So, that is why I have to say that people are suffering from corruption. People actually are witnessing that we don’t have money, but the government send the money to Gaza, to Syria, to Lebanon. That is the main slogan in the streets of, you know, the protests that we hear.
 
Martha MacCallum:
So, what can the rest of the world do?
 
Masih Alinejad:
That’s a good question.
 
Martha MacCallum:
We see what’s happening in Hong Kong. And we see the waving of flags and, you know, President Trump just signed on to the condemnation of the attacks on those protestors. What can our government, what can President Trump do?
 
Masih Alinejad:
That’s a very good question. I am actually here to send a message of many people that I am in touch with now, the families of the victims that I am in touch with them. They want, first, they need an international committee to do an investigation independent investigation -- investigation these -- to do investigate these crimes. And second, we want, you know, the U.S> government to push the United Nations to actually make an open investigation. Because we don’t have internet. Second, we need the international technology. We need Twitter. This is the right time to stand up for Iranian people. Iranian people are banned from accessing Twitter, from accessing Instagram, Facebook, then why, the supreme leader of Iran, the president of Iran, the foreign minister of Iran, using this social media? We need them to, you know, the Twitter and Facebook to ban these criminals. And last one, we -- this is very important. We want actually the rest of the world to make our government accountable. We need the U.N., the E.U., to understand that this is the right time. We want to find a legal way to bring the Islamic Republic in justice. When I see the president of Iran coming to Chris Wallace show, when CNN, you know, interviewed them --
 
Martha MacCallum:
[affirmative]
 
Masih Alinejad:
-- they’re treating them like normal leaders. They are not. They are criminals. The massacre happened in Mahshahr.

[41 Kate]

Masih Alinejad:
This -- the massacre happened in Mahshahr. The -- you know, more than 7,000 people got arrested. I want the rest of the world to answer this simple question. If American people are banned only one day from internet, what would you do? The whole country, Iran --
 
Martha MacCallum:
Uprising in the streets, there’s no doubt about it. No.
 
Masih Alinejad:
That’s what people of Iran are doing.
 
Martha MacCallum:
And as you say, that is the strongest weapon that we have. And we saw it during, you know, April period way back when in Eastern Europe. And now, this is a movement that has another moment in history that could be seen. So, I encourage everybody to follow you and to take a look at the videos that you are posting of these victims, because it is absolutely atrocious. Masih, thank you.
 
Masih Alinejad:
Thank you so much.
 
Martha MacCallum:
And I hope you’ll come back and keep us posted. Good to see you tonight. Thank you very much for being here.
 
Masih Alinejad:
Thank you for having me.
 
Martha MacCallum:
Coming up next, the battle between Bloomberg and Trump campaigns, as Trump bans Bloomberg news from their events. We’re going to speak exclusively to a senior advisor of the Bloomberg campaign coming up next.
 
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Martha MacCallum:
Things are moving right along, because we're just 62 days now from the Iowa caucuses, if you can believe it. And the battle of the billionaires, in some respect, has begun. The Trump team announced today that because Bloomberg News is covering the Bloomberg and Trump campaigns differently, that this is going to be their policy. Campaign manager Brad Parscale said since they have declared their bias openly, the Trump campaign will no longer credential representatives of Bloomberg News for rallies or other campaign events. "We will determine whether to engage with individual reporters or answer inquiries from Bloomberg News on a case-by-case basis." That's going to remain the policy of the Trump campaign until Bloomberg News rescinds that decision. John Micklethwait, Bloomberg News editor-in-chief, responded with a statement of his own: "The accusation of bias couldn't be further from the truth. We have covered Donald Trump fairly and in an unbiased way since he became a candidate in 2015, and we will continue to do so despite the restrictions imposed by the Trump campaign. So, here now, Tim O'Brien, senior advisor to Bloomberg 2020. Tim, good to have you with us tonight. Thank you for being here. You were --

Tim O’Brien:
Thank you, Martha.

Martha MacCallum:
-- on the opinion side at Bloomberg, and have now gone over to join the campaign, and you've worked on a lot of different news organizations over the years -- New York Times, Wall Street Journal. Do you think it was a mistake from Bloomberg News to issue that original statement, saying that they would not do any investigative reporting on Mike Bloomberg in the course of this -- or the other Dems -- but they would of the Trump campaign?

Tim O’Brien:
Well, you know, I think what's interesting is that it only took about a week for Mike Bloomberg to get inside Donald Trump's head. You know, the president is already targeting Mike Bloomberg and targeting Mike Bloomberg's background -- because I think he recognizes that Mike Bloomberg is going to be a formidable threat.

Martha MacCallum:
But hold on. That's not my question --


Tim O’Brien:
I think, in terms of how the --

Martha MacCallum:
I know you're a good reporter, so you won't mind if I hold you to --

Tim O’Brien:
No, I was about to address that.

Martha MacCallum:
-- the question. Okay.

Tim O’Brien:
I was about –

Martha MacCallum:
Do you think it was a mistake --

Tim O’Brien:
Yeah, yeah.

Martha MacCallum:
-- for Bloomberg News to do that in the first place?

Tim O’Brien:
I think that Bloomberg News is in a very difficult position here, in terms of how to address this. It's a pretty unprecedented situation. They had already had ongoing reporting of President Trump. They needed to figure out how to cover the Democrats and Mike Bloomberg as well. And Mike Bloomberg left that decision with the newsroom, and I think they'll continue to sort that out.

Martha MacCallum:
But why not just say -- and just one last question on this -- why not just say, "Look, we're a news organization. We're going to cover the whole story, and Mike Bloomberg would want us to. He's not worried about anything, and we're going to dig around, and we're going to see what we can find on all the candidates, including him and the Democrats." Wouldn't that have been the right posture for a news organization?

Tim O’Brien:
In the same way that Fox has dug around on Rupert Murdoch over the years, or --

Martha MacCallum:
He's not running for president.

Tim O’Brien:
-- new --

Martha MacCallum:
[laughs] No. I'm saying --

Tim O’Brien:
Well, he's been very --

Martha MacCallum:
-- "We're covering the campaign" -- and if --

Tim O’Brien:
-- involved in every presidential election --

Martha MacCallum:
-- and I -- my guess is that if we -- if he were running for president, he would say, "You guys do your job, and I'm going to stay out of it." And it seems to me that that's the --

Tim O’Brien:
But -- well, and I think --

Martha MacCallum:
-- right approach.

Tim O’Brien:
-- though, that's -- those -- that's the directives that Mike Bloomberg left with the newsroom. And he certainly -- that's what he left with the commentary section --

Martha MacCallum:
Yeah.

Tim O’Brien:
-- as well. And he left it up to those folks to decide. So, I think, you know, to a certain extent, I think this is Trump trying to distract people from the real issue, which is that he knows that Mike Bloomberg is going to be a formidable threat to him in this campaign. Mike Bloomberg is a problem-solver. Mike Bloomberg wants to bring quality healthcare to a broad swath of Americans who are concerned about whether or not they can afford to get healthcare for themselves and their children. He's aware that manufacturing workers and farmers are struggling. People want authentic national security, and they want an adult in the White House.

Martha MacCallum:
Let me ask you something about the -- you know, there's some talk today that -- you could see a quadruple split in the first four states. You could see Pete Buttigieg --

Tim O’Brien:
Right.

Martha MacCallum:
-- perhaps win Iowa, maybe Elizabeth Warren wins New Hampshire. Joe Biden wins South Carolina. Bernie Sanders perhaps wins Nevada. Is that a scenario that you guys are hoping for? Because that would sort of, in some ways, neutralize those early states that you're not playing in.

Tim O’Brien:
Well, I -- you know, I do think Democratic voters are very split among their current choices, and I think you're seeing that reflecting -- reflected in the polling that you just pointed to. And I think what, I think, voters are looking for is someone who can unify the party in the strongest way to take on Donald Trump in 2020, and I think that's why Mike Bloomberg got into this race.

Tim O’Brien:
-- into this race.

Martha MacCallum:
All right. Tim O'Brien, thank you for being here. We look forward to talking with you as --

Tim O’Brien:
Thanks, Martha.

Martha MacCallum:
-- all of this progresses. Good to see you tonight. Thank you.

So, when we come back -- news that is just breaking -- that Bill Barr is distancing himself somewhat from the IG report, according to these early reports -- and that's going to spark a lot of controversy; so we're going to update you on that breaking news moments ago, when we come back. Stick with us.

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Martha MacCallum:
So, it's kind of a big deal. Breaking moments ago, the Washington Post is reporting tonight that Attorney General Bill Barr does not accept a key finding in the IG Michael Horowitz's upcoming report on the origins of the Russia probe. That is expected to conclude that the FBI did have sufficient information to justify an investigation into the Trump campaign, something that Attorney General Barr reportedly -- according to this Washington Post report -- does not agree with. The Washington Post says it's not yet clear how Barr will make that objection known, but how Barr will make that objection known but spokespeople for the DOJ, FBI, and the inspector general have so far declined to comment on the apparent daylight between the Horowitz report and the attorney general. So that is the big story. We're going to keep following that as it develops.

In the meantime, Mexican authorities making new arrests in the massacre of nine Americans in Mexico last month. Six children and three adults, members of the Mormon LeBaron family were killed after they were ambushed by drug cartels. The women and children were shot. They were burned alive. It was a horrific scene. Courageous children escaped into the nearby woods and now maybe a little bit of the justice process is beginning to turn its wheels here. Breaking news correspondent Trace Gallagher here in New York with the story. Good to see you, Trace.

Trace Gallagher:
You, too, Martha. The Mexican attorney general says a person they arrested last month in connection with the Mormon family massacre gave them key information that led to the arrests of multiple other suspects. A well-known Mexican newspaper says the government arrested three suspects and that two of them are leaders of local criminal gangs, meaning they are part of gangs affiliated with the powerful and brutal Juarez cartel, but Julian LeBaron, a relative of the Mormon victims who were shot and killed, says he believes the men taken into custody are nothing more than low-level thugs and that Mexican president Manuel Andres Lopez Obrador needs to do as he promised and reign in the cartels. Look.

[clip playing]

Male Speaker:
If we are not capable of defending life in our country, we are never going to become a civilized country, much less a free country. We are here to defend life, defend the freedoms of our families, and we know that we won't achieve this unless we all work together so that we can all be free.

Trace Gallagher:
And on that note the Mormon community met with the Mexican president today to talk about the issue of cartels and safety. Unclear if anything resulted but it comes on the heels of more violence this weekend when 14 alleged cartel gunmen driving armored trucks attacked and shot up a series of government buildings then got into a gun battle with Mexican police. In all, 22 people killed including four police officers. On this side of the border President Trump is strongly considering designating Mexican drug cartels as terrorist organizations, a move the Mexican government rejected as an unnecessary incursion into its sovereignty and a move that many Mexicans believe will lead to U.S. military action. U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr is scheduled to meet with President Lopez Obrador in Mexico City this week to discuss the parameters of a terrorist designation. The attorney general apparently has his hands full. Martha.

Martha MacCallum:
He sure does. He sure does. A hundred people killed every day in Mexico. It is just getting out of control. Thank you, Trace.

Trace Gallagher:
Yep.

Martha MacCallum:
Next up, extraordinary scenes on the streets of Hong Kong as protesters take to the street to thank President Trump for his support with their movement. Look at that poster they created of him. He's got to like that I would assume, right? They've been waving American flags. They've been singing the Star-Spangled Banner. It's really quite something. And tonight, China's sending a message back. Republican Senator Jim Lankford up next.

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Martha MacCallum:
Another very big story tonight as China retaliates against the United States for our support of the Hong Kong protestors. The Chinese government is now barring the U.S. military from using Hong Kong's ports. This move comes after President Trump signed the bill of support causing an outpouring of support in the streets for Americans among the Hong Kong protestors. Joining me now Oklahoma Senator James Lankford, a member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee. Senator, thank you very much for being here tonight.

James Lankford:
Glad to be with you.

Martha MacCallum:
People in these crowds saying thank you for not forsaking us. Thank you for supporting us. How important is this sort of relationship between the United States and these Hong Kong protestors?

James Lankford:
The relationship between Hong Kong and the United States goes a long way back but it's a basic principle. The United States stands up for freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of free protest, freedom of the press. These are basic values that we stand up for and we should continue to stand up for those anywhere they are in the world and for the people of Hong Kong, they just want the right to vote and the right to speak and to live free. We should stand with them for that and we are.

Martha MacCallum:
Where is this going, do you think? I mean, we were talking about Iran, you know, in the prior segment and when you watch the rumblings now there's so much obsession with impeachment in the country right now, or at least in Washington and a few other places, but what about what could be going on here? What do you see when you look into the crystal ball with China and Hong Kong?

James Lankford:
Yeah, exceptionally difficult to be able to see. This has gone on for months at this point and no one saw this going on this long, but Hong Kong just had its first election since the protests began and it overwhelmingly swung towards those protestors on the streets and those individuals speaking out for freedom. Completely throughout the pro-China government that was there in the past and so we're watching a pretty significant moment. People forget, though, the Chinese military is lined up along the border just outside of Hong Kong and they could march in at any moment and the reason Congress passed and the president signed that bill was to be able to send a clear message to China, do not march your military into Hong Kong. And so we made a very clear statement.

Martha MacCallum:
And what's the impact -- pardon me. What's the impact when you look at these, you know, posters of a muscly President Trump and these pictures that they're waving? What do you think President Xi goes -- what goes through his mind as he looks at this and he sees President Trump being marched on posters down the streets in Hong Kong?

James Lankford:
Well, I hope that he has a little bit of a shiver of freedom, the same thing that Gorbachev had decades ago when Ronald Reagan stood up and said let -- "Tear down this wall," and be able to speak for the people in eastern Berlin and be able to say -- allow them to be able to have freedom. Xi should be aware that there are billion -- there are a billion people in his country that are longing to be free as well.

Martha MacCallum:
And he talks about crushing people's bones. I want to ask you a question before I let you go because I know you've done a lot of work on this waste project. What have you found in the government waste? I'm sure it's taken, you know, it's volumes full, but what are some of the most egregious examples, and what can we do? Or does anyone care anymore about this debt?
 
James Lankford:
I’m a little bit afraid that people have stopped caring --
 
Martha MacCallum:
Yeah.
 
James Lankford:
-- about waste and loss in government. The economy is so good, people are making more money, inflation’s down, all those things. And so, people have lost the focus on wasting government and trying to be able to bring down debt and deficit. So, this is our fifth annual report. And we brought up things like about $2 million that we sent to the Russians to be able to study sea lions. We looked at $11 million that were given to people that had passed away in Puerto Rico for social security benefits. And we found some really big issues that are out there. There’s a huge waste. And one of our Medicare programs, dealing with prescription drugs is $22 billion. It affects the consumers and affects the taxpayers both in that situation. So, there’s a lot of areas that we focused in on, that we want to just let people know about. They can go to our website, lankford.senate.gov, or just jameslankford.com. If they all go to lankford.senate.gov --
 
Martha MacCallum:
Right.
 
James Lankford:
-- they get all the information there on it.
 
Martha MacCallum:
Well, it’s important. And I think there’s a lot of people that get very fired up about it. So, thank you for sharing that with us tonight. Senator Lankford, good to see you this evening.
 
James Lankford:
Good to see you as well.
 
Martha MacCallum:
You bet. So, coming up next, why Californians are flocking to Texas, and what it could mean for the push from Democrats to turn that state blue in 2020. Brian Kilmeade’s here, up late tonight, right after this.
 
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Male Speaker:
We strongly believe that Texas is a battleground. This present is underwater in Texas. I think we can compete.
 
Martha MacCallum:
Is that true? Is Texas a battleground? Did you think you’d ever hear those words? Democrats appear confident that they can flip the deep red state in 2020, in part because of the number of Californians that have moved there. According to the Census Bureau data, Texas is the most popular destination for Californians fleeing the Golden State, and over 86,000 of them moved there last year. My next guest has spent a lot of time in the Lone Star State writing and researching and talking to people on the ground there about his new book, “Sam Houston and the Alamo Avengers: The Texas Victory that Changed American History.” It’s a wonderful book, and it’s Brian’s latest wonderful book. So, you definitely want to pick that up. Good to see you, tonight, Brian.
 
Brian Kilmeade:
Thank you so much, Martha.
 
Martha MacCallum:
So, is Texas turning blue?
 
Brian Kilmeade:
Well, I’ve been in seven cities over the last 10 days and over the last two years, probably been back and forth about 14 times. And it’s the common question I get. The people of Texas are worried it’s changing. But I’ve talked to experts along the way, some non-partisan, some partisan. In fact, I talked to Governor Rick Perry two hours ago. And I said, “Listen, you’re out of politics now. Just be honest.” He said, “Brian, I’m glad you asked me this question because I’ve been getting it since 2001. And guess what? Nothing’s changed.” But your great staff has helped me assemble some stats. 28 million in Texas, you have seven million have moved there between 2002 to 2010, and then they added another seven million. Some have moved out. Overall, in California, in net gain, they’ve gained 283,000 over the last 10 years. What they’re finding is people just assume liberal people are leaving a liberal state to go to a conservative state for low taxes. They’re not taking into account that sometimes conservatives feeling they’re overwhelmed by liberals are going to a conservative state for low taxes and new opportunity. The latest example? Charles Schwab. What did they announce? “We’re out of San Francisco. We’re tired --“
 
Martha MacCallum:
Yeah.
 
Brian Kilmeade:
"-- of stepping over homeless. We’re tired of free health care for them and not for my family --“
 
Martha MacCallum:
Didn’t Phil Mickelson go from one to the other, or he was going to go and he didn’t?
 
Brian Kilmeade:
He was going to go, and he got blowback because --
 
Martha MacCallum:
Yeah.
 
Brian Kilmeade:
-- he wanted to pay less taxes.
 
Martha MacCallum:
Yeah. Melania Trump is from Texas, right [laughs]?
 
Brian Kilmeade:
I don’t think so.
 
Martha MacCallum:
That was a trick question. 
 
Brian Kilmeade:
Yeah.
 
Martha MacCallum:
No, she’s not. But she is decorating the White House.
 
Brian Kilmeade:
Right.
 
Martha MacCallum:
And doing a love job for which she never gets any credit.
 
Brian Kilmeade:
I think so.
 
Martha MacCallum:
I mean, it’s just beautiful.

Brian Kilmeade:
Why -- why --
 
Martha MacCallum:
I mean, this is a totally unbiased opinion. Just, you know, you look at it. It’s pretty. You’ve got a couple of the New York Times slamming the video saying they don’t see her face enough because it’s not welcoming enough. And Daily Beast says, “Melania Trump’s joyless Christmas is back to haunt your” whatever. Whatever.
 
Brian Kilmeade:
On First Watch, last year, she got some blowback. And I expected to see this horrific scene inside Christmas, people screaming. 
 
Martha MacCallum:
[laughs]

Brian Kilmeade:
And I was invited to Donald Trump’s Christmas party for the press, which is quite unique, where he comes down the stairs --
 
Martha MacCallum:
Are there a lot of people there? I wasn’t there [laughs].
 
Brian Kilmeade:
-- waves and goes back. Yeah. Everyone -- you get basically the -- you get a spread like --
 
Martha MacCallum:
We used to all get invited.
 
Brian Kilmeade:
No, it’s great.
 
Martha MacCallum:
Everybody on all sides.
 
Brian Kilmeade:
Listen, I’m honored to walk in the White House. It’s great to see the staff. But we’re used to having a picture with the president. He is --
 
Martha MacCallum:
Can’t do that. Why not?
 
Brian Kilmeade:
He’s not treated fairly by the press, he doesn’t feel, and he came down the stairs --
 
Martha MacCallum:
All right.

Brian Kilmeade:
-- waved and said goodbye.

Martha MacCallum:
All right. Apostrophes have been under assault. And people don’t know how to use them. And now this 96-year-old gentleman who ran the Apostrophe Society is retiring. So, I don’t know what we’re going to do with this kind of stuff. It’s the law. Tell me what’s wrong with that picture.
 
Brian Kilmeade:
His name is John Richards.
 
Martha MacCallum:
Thank you.
 
Brian Kilmeade:
And John Richards, 10 years ago, said, “I’m going to start putting apostrophes back, making cool again, because people are abusing it.”
 
Martha MacCallum:
Yeah.
 
Brian Kilmeade:
And he wanted -- he made it --
 
Martha MacCallum:
What’s wrong with that picture?
 
Brian Kilmeade:
Well, the -- what’s wrong with that picture?
 
Martha MacCallum:
It’s the law.
 
Brian Kilmeade:
Yeah, it’s the law. There’s no apostrophe “s”.
 
Martha MacCallum:
Thank you.
 
Brian Kilmeade:
Because you what they say? People today are less concerned about punctuation --
 
Martha MacCallum:
It’s ridiculous.
 
Brian Kilmeade:
-- more concerned about look and label.
 
Martha MacCallum:
Show them another put. Put another one up. This is what’s wrong with America right now. No heavy trucks. No heavy trucks possessive of --
 
Brian Kilmeade:
All right.
 
Martha MacCallum:
-- something that’s not there.
 
Brian Kilmeade:
Can I make you sad?
 
Martha MacCallum:
Yes.
 
Brian Kilmeade:
In the beginning, when he started --
 
Martha MacCallum:
Please don’t.
 
Brian Kilmeade:
-- pointing this out --
 
Martha MacCallum:
Yes.
 
Brian Kilmeade:
And pointed out people started writing him letters from around the room. And now they stopped. And you know what he said? People don’t care.
 
Martha MacCallum:
Look, “open Sundays.” This is the kind of stuff that drives me insane when I see things like that. I’m a typo crazy.
 
Brian Kilmeade:
So, you could take over the -- take over the organization.
 
Martha MacCallum:
Yes, I’m going to take over the apostrophe -- thank you.
 
Brian Kilmeade:
You have so much free time.
 
Martha MacCallum:
[laughs] That’s The Story. Thanks, Brian.
 
Brian Kilmeade:
Thank you.
 
Martha MacCallum:
For December 2, we’ll see you back here tomorrow. Tucker Carlson’s taking over from D.C. right now. Bye, everybody.

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