This is a rush transcript from "The Story with Martha MacCallum," February 13, 2020. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: That's it for "The Special Report." Fair, balanced and sill unafraid "The Story" gets hosted by Ed Henry starts right now. Morning, evening with you at all.
ED HENRY, FOX NEWS HOST: Yes, that's right but great to see you again.
BAIER: You too.
HENRY: Good evening, everybody. I'm Ed Henry in for Martha MacCallum in this "The Story" palpable concern tonight among House Democrats particularly in battleground states in swing districts who are now fearing for their political lives. Bernie Sanders is their party's nominee.
One top democrat telling Fox "It's bad" we're having conversations about how to deal about this. A top fundraiser for Barack Obama's 2012 reelection telling "The Wall Street Journal" there is nothing but anxiety for moderate Democrats who are feeling the burn.
But a new Quinnipiac poll tells a different story in a hypothetical head- to-head matchup, Sanders actually beats the President by eight points. The only candidate performing better than Bernie, Mike Bloomberg and The New York billionaire was on the President's radar again today or at least in his Twitter feed.
The President writing, "Mini Mike is a 5'4 mass of dead energy and a tiny version of Jeb Lou energy Bush. Bloomberg fired back charging the President is a carnival barking clown" and the feud escalated from there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We all know Trump is a bully. But I know how to deal with bullies. I come from New York just like him, and I'm not afraid of Donald Trump and he knows it. That's why he keeps tweeting about me. Thank you, Donald, keep sending it in. I love it?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes, he has got money. They spent $2 billion on me, Hillary Clinton and mostly negative ads. And I won. And I won really easily. He is so deficient in so many ways that I think he would be easier than Bernie.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HENRY: The President speaking on the radio there with our own Geraldo Rivera now since 1972 no candidate from either party has gone on to win the nomination after placing below second in both Iowa and New Hampshire. Two states Bloomberg did not even play. But maybe he is playing by a different set of rules.
Thanks to his $60 billion empire. A campaign so lavish it offers entry level workers 70,000 bucks a year and furnished apartments. And despite recently under eclipse of racially charged comments about stop and frisk and other matters. He continues to pick up endorsements from leaders in the black community a demographic clearly up for grabs among 2020 Democrats.
So is the battle of the billionaires about to explode? Joining me now live Jason Meister he is a member of the Trump 2020 Advisory Board and Juan Williams, of course, a Fox News Political Analyst and HOST of "The Five". Gentleman thanks for coming in.
JASON MEISTER, TRUMP 2020 CAMPAIGN ADVISORY BOARD: Thanks for having me.
HENRY: Jason the President see to be spending a lot time focused on Michael Bloomberg. Is he concerned about the money he is spending?
MEISTER: No. I don't think so. I think President Trump goes after his political rivals. He went after all of them. Going after Mike Bloomberg on Twitter is just what the President does. But, look, I don't think Mike Bloomberg really has a chance against President Trump because he is a coastal elitist, okay?
He has a lot of money. He is a successful businessman in his own right and no one can take that from him. But you have to connect with the voters in this country. And I don't think Bloomberg has what it takes to connect with the voters on in the middle of the country. He will connect with liberals in California. He will connect with liberals in New York, but he is not going to connect with the majority of this country mainly because is he a nanny state liberal. He will take their soda and he will take their guns.
HENRY: Okay, that's your case. And he has not done a lot of retail politics as an open. Also questions about whether he is going to connect with black voters. The latest controversy now what he said in 2008 about the hideous practice of red linings? Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BLPOOMBERG: Red lining if you remember was the term where banks took whole neighborhoods and said people in these neighborhoods are poor. They are not going to be able to pay off their mortgages. Tell your sales men don't go into those areas and then Congress got involved as local elect officials as well and said that's not fair.
These people should be able to get credit. Once you started pushing in that direction, banks started making more and more loans where the credit of the person buying the house wasn't as good as you would like.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HENRY: Juan, when he says Congress said "These people should be able to get credit" are you comfortable with a potential Democratic nominee saying that?
JUAN WILLIAMS, FOX NEWS HOST: No. I think it's offensive and also not true. It's not just that minorities were able to get loans. Clearly, if you look at some of the states, I think in specific places like Miami or Phoenix, a lot of people were buying second homes or flipping homes and they weren't minorities. They were people trying to do business. Trying to make some money who had money in their pockets. So, again, to me, it's vilification of minorities and offensive.
HENRY: And so how is he going to connect with black voters?
WILLIAMS: Well, I think what the big thing here is can you beat Donald Trump? That's the number one priority for Democratic voters and what people see is that the President is attacking Mike Bloomberg because has so much in the way of resources. And I think that's why the President is antagonized and tweeting about him.
The President has come up with mini mike and the box to stand on and all the rest because he sees Mike Bloomberg now has the opportunity to move into that centrist lane, given Joe Biden's stumbles. If he moves into that centrist lane, he sees the same number that you put up, the numbers from Quinnipiac that show he is the guy with the best lead over Donald Trump.
HENRY: I'm going to let you in here Jason, real quick to Bloomberg Campaign Spokesperson said Mike saying about red lining that something bad, the financial crisis followed something good, which is the fight against red lining he was part of as a Mayor. He attacked predatory lending as Mayor and helped other cities craft innovative strategies to reduce evictions as a philanthropist and he has detailed plans for how to help a million more black families buy a house. Do you buy that?
MEISTER: I don't buy it. And I think these comments are challenging for Bloomberg. And when you look at the African-American population in this country and what Trump has done for them and that group of people, it's tremendous.
The unemployment rate levels for the blacks and Hispanics, I think that President Trump has a real chance to break some serious ground in that community come 2020. But I think going back to Bloomberg, look, I'm a New Yorker, okay. I can tell you from firsthand as his two terms as Mayor and by the way we also had De Blasio for two terms and that doesn't say a lot about New Yorkers.
HENRY: Doesn't have anything to do with Bloomberg.
HENRY: But the point I'm making is that Bloomberg really is a nanny state liberal. He cared more about the salt in my hamburger than salting in the New York City streets during a blizzard. That's not going to fly in flyover country.
HENRY: So how would a man like this be the savior for the Democratic Party? Can he be?
WILLAMS: Yes because he can Beat Trump. I keep making it--
WILLIAMS: The number one issue is that he according to the polls clearly has an advantage over Trump.
HENRY: But is it just a cheque? We have heard from days and days now the key here is black voters in the primary. Let Juan finish and then I will let you.
WILLIAMS: Yes he is making these comments, but again remember, the other day someone says to me remember what happened in Virginia where you had a Governor with black face. Black voters have come back and support of that Governor. And I think that you have these offensive comments.
I think Mayor Bloomberg's campaign is having with a deal with them and speak to them. They are offensive without a doubt. But I think he can make up that ground as long as he, given the tremendous amount of money he has, is able to say I'm your best candidate to beat Donald Trump. Don't forget all the endorsements that he has been getting. He is getting a tremendous amount of endorsements from black voters.
HENRY: So money is just going to wash away?
MEISTER: Look at what Juan is saying. He is saying it's about the checkbook, right? He has the resources. You have a broken party. You have a self-acclaimed socialist on one hand. Who has done very well in Iowa and in New Hampshire and you have Mayor Bloomberg, with all the cheque book resources he has. This party is completely broken. And there is no centrist place in the Democrat Party today and that's why I think Bloomberg is not going to have the--
WILLIAMS: I think he is a centrist.
MEISTER: He is centrist.
WILLIAMS: You can say he is socialist.
MEISTER: He is a nanny state liberal. Even he is a centralist.
WILLIAMS: Even he will say to Donald Trump I'm the real billionaire in this race. I built a business. What are you doing?
HENRY: Let the Democratic Party, Juan, final point, has spent so much time challenging the President on race. How do you do that if Michael Bloomberg is your nominee?
WILLIAMS: I think easily.
HENRY: Easily after red lining comments and after the stop and frisk?
WILLIAMS: I think, yes those are the specific issues that Michael Bloomberg has to deal with the black community. But overwhelmingly let's not have any confusion here. You ask black voters. Don't ask Jason or ask me, just ask black voters you can see it is 90 percent opposition to Donald Trump.
HENRY: Last point?
MEISTER: Trump in 2016 got more of the African-American community voting for him than both Romney and McCain combined. I think that number will get even further in 2020 because of what he has done in the African-American community.
HENRY: We shall see. Jason and Juan, we appreciate you both come in. In the meantime, Attorney General William Barr standing his ground tonight after being attacked relentlessly for intervening in Roger Stone's sentencing recommendation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I'm not going to be bullied or influenced by anybody and I said whether it's Congress, newspaper, editorial boards or the President. I'm going to do what I think is right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HENRY: Republican Mark Meadows still ahead on that along with Democrat Eric Swalwell who is leaving the door open on a whole new impeachment probe.
HENRY: China tonight reporting a sharp increase in Coronavirus cases. 60,000 people have now tested positive worldwide including 15 right here in America. Our Chief Breaking News Correspondent Trace Gallagher has the story tonight. Trace?
TRACE GALLAGHER, FOX CHIEF BREAKING NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Good evening Ed, for weeks, China has been accused censuring information and downplaying the severity and the outbreak in these new numbers certainly will not ease that skepticism.
Consider that in just 24 hours the death toll jumped 25 percent from 1113 to 1367. The number of cases worldwide also skyrocketed, jumping more than 59,000. That is up 15,000 in a single day. The World Health Organization says this does not represent a surge of new infections, but, rather, a new way of counting.
Previously confirmation of the illness could only come from the laboratory test results. Now the standard has been lowered to clinical diagnosis, meaning a doctor using a lung imaging machine can also declare that a patient has Coronavirus.
The hope here is to identify cases faster and then treat them faster. Experts say the numbers also reflect a crush of people in China seeking treatment. Meantime here in the U.S., the 15th case of Coronavirus has now been confirmed. It's also the first case in Texas.
The new patient was among a group of evacuees already under federal quarantine at Lack Land Air Force Base near San Antonio. That group recently took a trip to Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the risk to the general public remains very low. But there will likely be additional cases among those who have come back from Wuhan. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CAPTAIN JENNIFER MCQUISTON, DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: We are still within the potential incubation period for Coronavirus for people coming out of Wuhan in city in China. We continue to monitor these passengers every day twice a day with temperature checks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GALLAGHER: The 14 other cases are in California, Wisconsin, Arizona, Massachusetts, Illinois, and Washington state where the first case was diagnosed. We should note that man has already been released from the hospital. Ed?
HENRY: Trace Gallagher, thank you. President Trump meanwhile, demanding New York stop harassing him with unnecessary lawsuits just moments before coming face-to-face with the State's Governor. Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf was inside that meeting joins me exclusively on the showdown next.
HENRY: President Trump today coming face to face with a long-time critic. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo amid and made an intensifying feud over New York's Green Light Law that grants driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants and prevents U.S. customs and border protections from accessing the DMV data base.
In moments we speak exclusively with the Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf who was inside the meeting but first to White House Correspondent Kevin Corke with the details, good evening, Kevin.
KEVIN CORKE, FOX NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Ed great to be with you. You are right, it is so important to point this out this all stems from the fed's decision to cancel New Yorker's access to global entry another trusted traveler programs because of the state's decision to issue drivers licenses to non-citizens and, again, restrict the access to that information by DHS and other federal agencies.
And the New Yorkers say this is really costing them and I mean big time. Look it, they say 50,000 individuals have been conditionally approved for global entry. Well, that's not going to happen now. 30,000 currently pending and get this, 175,000 could see their privileges expire and not be able to reenroll unless something has happened here between the two sides.
Governor Cuomo held a news conference before leaving for Washington in its meeting with the President today. He insists that there is no other reason for DHS to suspend the trusted traveler and global entry programs other than politics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): It's all politics. And it's retaliation and it's reprisal because it really upset that we give licenses to undocumented people. That's why we have our license program. But, if they think they are going to extort New York into giving them the database of undocumented people, they're wrong. I will never do that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CORKE: Says he will never do that. But the White House remains defiant tonight calling this a matter of public safety and simply making sure that trusted travelers are, in fact, properly vetted.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANIE GRISHAM, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think that it's unfortunate that they are calling - making this about politics. This is about the security of our country and the American people and nothing else. Information sharing is very, very important between states and the federal government specifically DHS and ICE.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CORKE: Stephanie Grisham speaking there then the Governor has said, Ed that he would be willing to amend this idea of access to some information and some material but he says if they can't figure out a way to make this all work, they might even sue. Ed, back to you.
HENRY: Kevin Corke, thank you. Here now exclusively Chad Wolf, he is the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security. Mr. Secretary, thanks for coming in.
CHAD WOLF, ACTING HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: Thank you, Ed.
HENRY: It is sure that Democratic Governor. He says you are guilty of extortion.
WOLF: Well, I think that's just totally inaccurate. This is about security and it's not about politics. I have been absolutely clear with the Governor and any other New York state individual or lawmaker that I talk with. CVP needs access to this data base to run their security checks on trusted travelers. It's that plain and simple. There is no politics about it. They cut off access. We need it back to totally vet these individuals.
HENRY: And in fact the Sheriff's Association here in New York State seems to be backing you I want to point out. They say to that the Governor our inability under the law to share this DMV data with federal immigration officers jeopardizes the safety of those police officers.
We find it offensive that in order to avail our own deputies of this DMV data that they need for their own safe operations we were coerced into signing a nondisclosure agreement with jeopardizes the safety of our federal partners.
We've seen police officers, as you know, law enforcement all around this country targeted. We see it all the time. Is this adding to that? How desperate is the situation?
WOLF: Yes, I believe it is. I think what we have seen over the last week or so is a number of law enforcement associations and officials in the state of New York come out against this law because of how who dangerous it is.
Again, it restricts information sharing with DHS across the board. Again, that's not only for trusted traveler programs that we are talking about here it is also for customs enforcement it is also for national security and law enforcement purposes.
An individual coming into the country CVP officers need this information to determine is this a legitimate person coming in or do we need to take a closer look at that we are only able to do that if we share information.
So after 9/11 this is what 9/11 was all about. One of the lessons learned was we needed to share information. We need to tear down these silos. We don't need to be building these up to keep information from law enforcement officials.
HENRY: We mentioned, pardon me that the President was tweeting about how he wants to get rid of these lawsuits, New York State coming after him in various ways. The Governor did an interview where he went further. And not just attacking the President but going after you. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: You are knocking on the door saying I will burn down the house if you don't give me entry? I will give you entry for the TTP enrollees on the case-by-case basis. Don't burn down the house. They said I'm burning down the house anyway, all right? So now they're just arsonists.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HENRY: How do you respond to that?
WOLF: Well, I would say I'm not sure why you passed the law to begin with. So they passed law back July of 19 and it took effect in December. And so they clearly knew what they were doing. They clearly knew the impacts of this and I'm not sure that they really fully understood it.
So we continue to work with. Look, we want to find a solution to this. The solution requires them to turn on access so that we can vet trusted travelers. I have been very clear about that. I will continue to be very clear about that.
This is about law enforcement. This is about security. This is about the ability to connect those dots and to share that information. And, again, it's particularly interesting coming from New York again, from where 9/11 occurred. We want to make sure that we share information and not continue to withhold information.
HENRY: Safety paramount, no doubt. You might also be interested in when you talk about New York officials coming after you, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the Congresswoman, is tweeting tonight: Trump is publicly admitting that he is holding global entry for New Yorkers hostage in exchange for dropping lawsuits against him and his families law-breaking behavior. Those are her words.
This is corrupt, illegal and authoritarian. I hope Collins and Murkowski are proud of their votes. She is of course referring to the impeachment trial not guilty and rest. Susan Collins saying the President learned his lesson about quid pro quos. How do you respond to this one?
WOLF: This is their talking point. They keep bringing it back to talking politics. It has nothing to do with politics. It has to do with security. The President understands that I believe the Governor understands that which is why he is now allowing access or at least providing that option for us to vet trusted travelers.
So, it's beyond politics. It's about security and whether DHS has the ability to do their job or not. And, again, we see a number of states. We have five other states that are withholding information from DHS.
So it's a very dangerous precedent that we're setting here and the department, again, needs this information and New York is the only state and I think that bears repeating the only state that prohibits information- sharing with both ICE and CVP officials trying to do their job. Law enforcement, customs, and vetting trusted travelers the only state.
HENRY: Those officials have an important job keeping this country safe you do as well Mr. Secretary that's why we appreciate your time tonight. Thank you.
WOLF: Thank you.
HENRY: In the meantime the Senate today voting to limit President Trump's authority to take military action against Iran. Republican Senator Kevin Cramer strongly opposed that measure and stood up for the President's power. He's on deck to explain why he thinks the Senate just inflicted major damage on our national security.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We just took out the world's top terrorist Qassem Soleimani, ending his evil reign of terror forever.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HENRY: President Trump just this week touting the killing of Iranian terror leader Qassem Soleimani who was killed in a drone strike ordered by the commander-in-chief just last month.
Today, though, the Senate passed a measure to prevent the president from taking similar action in the future passing a new war powers resolution by vote of 55 to 45.
My next guest voted no on that measure. He is Republican Senator Kevin Cramer from North Dakota. He joins me live now. Senator, thanks for coming in.
SEN. KEVIN CRAMER (R-ND): My pleasure. Thank you, Ed.
HENRY: What is your biggest fear about this measure?
CRAMER: Well, my biggest fear about it is I think it actually weakens the United States position and certainly weakens the president's hand as he deals with Iran and others, frankly, in the region.
The other thing about it, while it's a good discussion to have as we talk about article one powers, separation of powers. What the Constitution says about who has the power to declare war, the president hasn't declared war.
Soleimani was shot and killed while he was in Iraq. It was in response to recent events that took the life of Americans and tried to take the life of many more in our embassy.
CRAMER: So, it was justified. And I think this resolution frankly does more to embarrass the president than it does to make Americans safer. And, I think it could have the unintended consequence of demoralizing troops who, you know, who need to know that the president can have their back --
HENRY: Senator --
CRAMER: -- and may wonder that.
HENRY: In fact, didn't Democrats after the president took out this terror leader, we heard Democrats suggesting it was a bad idea. It was going to backfire, blow up in our faces and spark a war with Tehran that never materialized?
CRAMER: In fact, just the opposite happened. And it deescalated. Remember, any escalation in the conflict between the United States and Iran has been at the hands of Iran. And, in fact, President Trump was quite patient with Iran when they took out, you know, took out our drone, you might recall. He didn't respond when at least didn't respond with any, you know, kinetic action. Same when they fired at other assets, whether it's ships in the straits or, you know --
HENRY: He considered airstrikes, as you know and pulled back.
CRAMER: They did. They didn't pull back. That's exactly right, which I think was appropriate. But when they crossed that line of taking a human life, an American life and attacking our embassy, and, remember, too --
CRAMER: -- that he was in Iraq. He was not in Iran. I think all of that is justified and I think some of the people who voted for the resolution believe it was justified. I heard Mike Lee say that in fact on Fox News earlier today.
CRAMER: But what we're doing with this resolution, I mean, we are not at war with Iran. We're not -- I don't think we're likely to be at war with Iran.
CRAMER: It really restates what the Constitution already says and the Constitution is more than adequate to, you know, to that task.
HENRY: But, Senator --
CRAMER: Because what do we do every other country pass AUMF resolution on Canada --
CRAMER: -- or, you know, North Korea? I mean, you know, we shouldn't preempt the Constitution.
HENRY: But if your position makes so much sense why didn't Mike Lee and several other Republicans join you?
HENRY: Instead, Mike Lee, Rand Paul and others in a Republican led Senate as you know --
HENRY: -- challenged the president. Why?
CRAMER: So, I think, Ed, because there is a lot of pent up frustration with this -- with the general issue of war powers. The fact that we continue to take action based on 2001 and 2002 AUMFs, those are reasonable positions. They are reasonable frustrations. And we ought to have a reasonable discussion about them.
I just don't like it in the context of this conflict that we have right now. Because there is so much at stake in the Middle East, including Iran.
CRAMER: But particularly Iraq and the other countries. So, to me, it was just a matter of context.
HENRY: Senator, I've got 30 seconds left.
HENRY: The president going back to 2016 in the campaign promised to end the so-called endless wars. Mike Lee and others are now saying they want to see Afghanistan end. Can this president get there while still protecting and making sure -- America and making sure that it's not a terrorist safe haven?
CRAMER: Well, it depends on what end -- you know, what you think end means. We just had a hearing this week on Afghanistan in the armed services committee.
I think it's clear that to keep it safe we are doing much less in Afghanistan, you know, with U.S. troops and much depending much more on Afghan troops. We need to continue that but we can't completely pull out and leave all the important work that's already been done --
CRAMER: -- go, you know, a little backwards. So.
HENRY: Well, Senator, we still have thousands of troops as you note in harm's way.
HENRY: You are tackling a big subject tonight. We appreciate you coming in and talk about it.
CRAMER: My pleasure. Thank you for the opportunity, Ed.
HENRY: All right. Thank you, Senator.
Still ahead, new comments from Attorney General William Barr defending his role in the Roger Stone case while urging the president to stop tweeting about it.
Plus, new pleas from Democrats to get behind anybody but Bernie.
HENRY: The possibility of having a Democratic socialist at the top of the presidential ticket being met with push back tonight from some skittish Democrats who fear Bernie Sanders stands no chance of beating President Trump.
Washington Post columnist Max Boot writing, please, Democrats, do the smart thing and coalesce quickly around one of the three moderates, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar or Mike Bloomberg who is still standing after the first two contests. Joe Biden, he writes, is down for the count. The future of our democracy might depend on it.
Here now Guy Benson, host of the Buy Benson show and a Fox News contributor. Good evening, Guy.
GUY BENSON, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Hey, Ed.
HENRY: This freak out that's playing out is fascinating to watch in part because when they talk about, hey, get a moderate to save us like Amy Klobuchar. If you look at her Senate voting record it's actually quite liberal. But just compared to Bernie Sanders, it's not that liberal.
And in the case of Pete Buttigieg he says he'd be the most progressive president ever yet they are trying to call him a moderate.
BENSON: It's all relative. I guess relative to Bernie Sanders a socialist, many people are moderates. I think most of these people are in fact quite liberal. You are definitely right about that, Ed.
But this whole freak out is fascinating for more than one reason to believe. One of them is it's giving me PTSD and these flashbacks to four years ago, where I remember lots of things that I wrote and tweeted and said about consolidation and if we don't consolidate someone is going to get the nomination.
Because I was very much a critic of candidate Donald Trump. And there were all these different machinations and ideas that people had. And ultimately, it didn't work when people would drop out of the race. A lot of folk's second choice was actually Donald Trump.
So, I think sometimes elites getting all concerned and telling people what has to happen and when, it doesn't work out quite that well.
HENRY: Well, it's interesting you say that because in the end obviously Donald Trump not only got the nomination for the Republicans but won the presidency.
HENRY: And so, when Speaker Pelosi as the Democratic leader was pressed about all of this today, she said what, me, worry? Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): We are calm, cool and collected. This is not -- I mean, just because some people may be speaking out about not liking one candidate or another. That's the Democratic way. It's politics. It's a messy business.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HENRY: Is she right? That this might play out well for the Democrats or is she maybe little more nervous than she is letting on.
BENSON: Calm, cool, and collected so much so that she is ripping up pages of the State of the Union address. That's Nancy. Look, I think that if she had her way, she would absolutely want to help nudge voters away from Bernie Sanders.
You hear the freak out from not just columnists like Matt Boot -- Max Boot who used to be a conservative and now is a liberal. He used to tell conservatives how to think. Now he is trying to tell liberals how to think and vote which I think is --
HENRY: Because he doesn't like the president.
BENSON: Right. But I think Pelosi is looking at this situation and saying maybe it's not useful for me to weigh in on this. Let people decide what they're going to do. Don't put my thumb on the scale but some of her members, some of those moderate members who are majority makers, they are blabbing to reporters all over this town --
BENSON: -- saying we cannot have Bernie at the top of the ticket or I am totally cooked. She definitely knows that but she recognizes, I think, that the establishment going too hard against a guy like Bernie could actually strengthen him and again, that's the Trump effect.
HENRY: Give him more fuel, perhaps. Finally, speaking of freak outs. Interesting what's happening in Nevada where you have the caucuses coming up. It's the next big contest for Democrats and the culinary union is so powerful. Restaurant workers, casino workers, the rest. And interesting that you might think they would be for Bernie Sanders and who keeps talking about working people.
But they came out today in Las Vegas and said we're not going to endorse anyone because, in part, some of their members are freaking out that Bernie Sanders with Medicare for all government run healthcare might take away their generous Cadillac healthcare plan that they've gotten private health insurance.
So here you have people on the left saying, hey, let's have government, you know, Medicare for all. It will be great for you. And union workers are saying wait a second. That's not better than I have now.
BENSON: Not might, would. Medicare for all, single payer healthcare would eliminate the healthcare plans of these union workers.
So, there are two really interesting things happening with this non- endorsement from the culinary union. Number one, they are, I think, driving home and underscoring the massive political risk of single payer healthcare, Medicare for all.
One hundred eighty million people would be uprooted from the healthcare that they have. Most people are satisfied with the healthcare that they have including these union workers.
Bernie Sanders and AOC and Liz Warren and that whole crowd say no, the wand is waived. The government takes over.
BENSON: That's all gone. The other thing is Bernie bros, some of his hard- core supporters were so angry --
BENSON: -- about them these facts about healthcare they swarmed them with threats and all sorts of intimidation. And that really ticked off the union guys. Good work, Bernie bros.
HENRY: It may backfire not just there in Nevada but in other places where he needs union support where it's going to be interesting to watch it. Guy Benson, we appreciate you coming.
BENSON: You bet.
HENRY: In the meantime, Attorney General William Barr comes out blazing against some of those attacks like this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PELOSI: The attorney general has stoop to such levels. He's lied to Congress, which he will be in contempt. He has engaged in these activities. What a sad disappointment to our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HENRY: Well, Republican Congressman Mark Meadows you see him there. He's got something to say about that. But so does Democrat Eric Swalwell. He is leaving the door open to another impeachment probe. That is next.
HENRY: Attorney General William Barr tonight defending his handling of the Roger Stone case, maintaining his department's recommendation of a lesser sense for Roger Stone came without any consultation at all from the White House but adding that President Trump should stay out of it and stop tweeting about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARR: The president has never asked me to do anything in a criminal case. However, to have public statements and tweets made about the department, about our people in the department, our men and women here, about cases pending in the department, and about judges before whom we have cases make it impossible for me to do my job.
I have not discussed the Roger Stone case at the White House. The fact that the tweets are out there and correspond to things we are doing at the department sort of give grist to the mill and that's why I think it's time to stop the tweeting about Department of Justice criminal cases.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HENRY: Here now Republican Congressman Mark Meadows a member of the House oversight committee, a key ally of the president. Congressman, thanks for coming in.
REP. MARK MEADOWS (R-NC): Great to be with you, Ed, thanks.
HENRY: The attorney general seems to be saying directly to the president stay out of this.
MEADOWS: Well, you know, it's real easy for the attorney general to opine on the president's social media tactics but the very fact that we are talking about Roger Stone and the fact that the original sentencing guidelines from the DOJ were inappropriate was highlighted by the President of the United States.
That being said, General Barr is doing a good job of trying to restore the confidence in the Department of Justice and FBI after a debacle in the whole Mueller investigation. And so, I know that he will call the balls and strikes as he already has. But ultimately, the president is right to call out this injustice.
HENRY: Sure. I see that you believe it's an injustice. But you are looking backward to what happened at the FBI and the Justice Department before. What about looking forward? The attorney general seems to be sending a message to the president who nominated him. I can't do my job if you are going to interfere.
MEADOWS: Well, listen, he is not interfering. What he did was make a comment about what he saw was wrong. And so, there is no interference. In fact, in that particular lead in that General Barr was saying that they have not discussed this and that that was not part of it. And so, he is not actually interfering in that.
But the other important thing is we do have to look backwards. We have to look at the context of the last three years of a truly partisan investigation that was based on conspiracies that were not actually there and, yet, you hear Eric Swalwell talking about he wants to do another impeachment based on this?
Listen, they have a difficult enough time getting an app to count votes in Iowa, let alone trying to weigh in on this.
HENRY: We will give the congressman, Eric Swalwell, who is here standing by a chance to respond to that in a moment. In the meantime, here is Speaker Pelosi demanding a new investigation. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PELOSI: We also saw the president this week demonstrate once again that he has no respect for the rule of law. This is the abuse of power that the president is again trying to manipulate federal law enforcement to serve his political interest.
A.G. Barr has deeply damaged the rule of law by withdrawing the DOJ's sentencing recommendation. This all must be investigated.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HENRY: How do you respond to the speaker?
MEADOWS: Listen, the speaker loves to criticize General Barr, loves to double down on her criticism of President Trump. But she has been consistent in both of those things.
Here is the interesting thing is, as she looks at it and we are talking about the rule of law. What about the FISA abuse and the hearings that should come out of that? What about what we've had with Inspector General Horowitz? There is not a single hearing on Capitol Hill. They turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to all of that.
So, if we want to get to the bottom of it and help --
MEADOWS: -- A.G. Barr actually restore confidence, let's actually do that and start getting to the bottom of what went wrong with all the FISA abuse.
HENRY: Well, to your point, John Durham, as you know the U.S. attorney from Connecticut is taking a look at all of that. We'll see what he does or does not do in the months ahead.
In the meantime, last question. It's not just Speaker Pelosi pressuring the president. John Kelly, as you know, his former chief of staff gave a speech where he talked about Colonel Vindman, among other things, he said, he did exactly what we teach them to do from cradle to grave. He went and told his boss what he just heard. He is talking about Ukraine.
His -- the president's former chief of staff is suggesting that some of these firings are sending a chilling message. How do you respond?
MEADOWS: Well, General Kelly is wrong about that. I happen to be in seven hours of deposition with Lieutenant Colonel Vindman. He didn't go to his boss. He didn't go to the chain of command. He picked up the phone and called someone else outside of the NSC.
So, with all due respect to General Kelly he is just wrong on Lieutenant Colonel Vindman. The president was right to have him escorted out. There needs -- others that need to be escorted out as well.
HENRY: Congressman Mark Meadows, we appreciate you coming in.
MEADOWS: Thank you.
HENRY: Here now as we mentioned in fairness, Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell. He is a member of the House judiciary and intelligence committee. He joins me here in New York. Congressman, thanks for coming in.
REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA): Yes. The bus is going to need a wheel alignment. Everyone keeps getting thrown under it. You know, all these heroes of the Trump administration. John Kelly, Bill Barr, now they are the villains. I think that's just a theme we see.
HENRY: Your name was invoked --
HENRY: -- by Congressman Meadows, so you get a chance to respond.
SWALWELL: Yes. What I have said all along is that, just because the president was acquitted doesn't mean we're not going to use the tools we have to hold him accountable. We learned in the impeachment inquiry when we launched the investigation, Ukraine got the aid.
Now we did it to hold him accountable. We wanted future presidents to know that the standard was not lowered. But we also learned when you check the president, the right thing ends up happening.
So, we're not taking any of our options off the table. None of us wake up to work on impeachment. And if the president is listening, we want to work with you on prescription drugs, background checks, and infrastructure. And I would strike a deal on any of those.
HENRY: But we're going to get to that question of impeachment and other issues of the day.
HENRY: Here is the president today with our own Geraldo Rivera talking about the Roger Stone case. He said what they did to Roger Stone was a disgrace. We actually have the sound. Let's do it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: What did they did to Roger Stone was a disgrace in terms of everything. Right from the beginning. Twenty-nine FBI agents loaded up with the most powerful rifles and machine guns.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HENRY: Congressman, it's been pointed out people sometimes get convicted for rape in this country and get four or five years in prison. He is going to get nine years in prison? How is that fair?
SWALWELL: Well, he lied to Congress and he kept updating his story by sending multiple letters up to us.
HENRY: But is lying to Congress worse than raping somebody?
SWALWELL: No. I prosecuted rapist and they should go away for the rest of their lives, as far as I'm concerned.
HENRY: So how is that fair is my question.
SWALWELL: I'm not going to compare his case to a rapist case.
HENRY: But let's compare.
HENRY: We should compare apples to apples. If you get four or five years for raping someone --
HENRY: -- how is it that lying to Congress -- which you should not do --
HENRY: -- to be clear. How can you get nine years for that and four or five years for raping someone?
SWALWELL: Anyone who gets four to five years for raping someone that's wrong. I don't support that. I'd speak out against this.
Roger Stone lied to Congress to protect the president. And he actually falls within the guidelines. And the reason I think that the prosecutors are arguing, you know for the sentence is, one, we reward people who accept responsibility early in the proceeding.
But if you go to trial, and remember, he didn't just go to trial. He was posting, you know, threats towards the judge during the trial and he had to be admonished for that. I think this should fall under the judge's discretion, and prosecutors, they should be able to make the recommendation without the president interfering.
HENRY: But the judge can overrule the president, can overrule the attorney general, right --
SWALWELL: That's right.
HENRY: -- and still do nine years or even, I'm told by Andy McCarthy and other legal analysts, even more than nine years. So, what's all the controversy about if the judge can overrule everyone anyway?
SWALWELL: Well, the president can still pardon him. Right? And also --
HENRY: Down the road. That's a big if.
SWALWELL: Show me the time that Bill Barr, you know, overruled a prosecutor and say, hey, this young black kid who is going to get disproportionately high sentence for, you know, crack cocaine. That's not right.
HENRY: But that's a --
SWALWELL: He is just doing that for the president.
HENRY: But pardon me, the judge, though.
HENRY: The federal judge here, regardless of what you attack with William Barr, the judge can say I still say nine years. Correct?
SWALWELL: That's right. Yes.
HENRY: OK. So, finally, impeachment. If you are upset about this and you don't think the president should intervene in the Roger Stone case, how could it rise to the level of an impeachable offense? Didn't we just go through that?
SWALWELL: I'm saying we are going to investigate this. That's what we're doing on the judiciary committee. Again, we check him. We stop his corruption. That's what we've learned.
But what we also are seeing here is the president could just pardon Roger Stone, that would be wrong. But the fact that he is not doing that, and instead he is trying to show us the power he has that he can --
SWALWELL: -- infect the department of justice with his corruption --
HENRY: But you are raising the suspect of a pardon over and over when we don't know if he is going to pardon him or not. We heard that as well about Manafort again and again. Democrats said he is going to pardon Manafort. He never did.
SWALWELL: I think this is -- this is worse that he is actually trying to have the Department of Justice do his dirty work because now you have infected a, you know, a department that is supposed to be independent with the president's corruption.
HENRY: When you said a moment ago and you just said it again. Corruption by the president. When, in fact, the judge can still send Roger Stone to jail for nine years. How is it corruption?
SWALWELL: Because the prosecutor's recommendation has great weight with the judges. And the prosecutor, and if you can help a friend, you also have prosecutors who can hurt your enemy. And the fact that the president would do either is what should be concerning for all.
HENRY: We're going to see how it plays out. Congressman, we appreciate you coming in, sir.
SWALWELL: Thanks, Ed.
HENRY: Thank you.
That is The Story for Thursday, February 13th, 2020. But, as always, The Story continues. I will see you again tomorrow morning on America's Newsroom at 9 a.m. We will also be back here. I'll be filling in for Martha tomorrow night at 7 p.m. We'll see you tomorrow night on The Story.
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