This is a rush transcript from "The Story," May 17, 2019. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
MARTHA MACCALLUM, HOST: So, everybody, mystery has always surrounded the Mike Flynn story, in one way or other. Right? The president's former national security advisor who was a big supporter from early on in the campaign, many are in the camp that believes he was wronged in this investigation. Others say he should've never been hired by the White House in the first place.
And tonight, who is this mystery person, supposedly linked to the White House or the Congress that supposedly reached out to the former lieutenant general trying to influence his testimony to the Mueller team?
A lot of questions tonight. Good evening, everybody. I'm Martha MacCallum, and this is “The Story.” So, first of all, whoever this person is, they apparently left some evidence in the form of at least one voicemail. According to newly report -- newly released court documents.
And Flynn is back in the spotlight tonight for another reason. A little notice section of the Mueller report reveals that intelligence officials who are under investigation themselves at this point had their eyes on Flynn earlier than anybody thought. So, what does that mean for this whole investigation?
They did that based on his "relationship with the Russian government." The president had this to say about that. "It now seems that General Flynn was under investigation long before it was common knowledge. It would have been impossible for me to know this. But in that, if that was the case, and with me being one of the two people who could become president, why was I not told so that I could make a change?" He writes.
But critics do say that the president was warned in some shape or form in 2017 by his predecessor.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Former President Obama warned then-President-elect Trump against hiring Mike Flynn as his national security adviser. Why didn't he ignore that warning?
SEAN SPICER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, I -- the president doesn't disclose details of meetings that he has, which, in this case, was an hour-long meeting. But it's true that the president made it, and President Obama made it known that he wasn't exactly a fan of General Flynn's.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: Here now, former White House press secretary Sean Spicer, who you saw starring in that sound bite. Good to see you tonight, Sean. You know --
SPICER: Thanks for the flashback.
MACCALLUM: I bet. I bet. We always say have a little PTSD probably from some of that experience. So, talk to me a little bit about your take on Mike Flynn, because there's two camps on Mike Flynn. That he was wronged, or that he never should have been hired in the first place. Where are you?
SPICER: It's a tough question. I think, it all panned out and it worked in the -- it worked its way out. But I think Mike Flynn had come on board early when there weren't a ton of supporters standing by the president. And he stood by the president shoulder-to-shoulder, talking about national security, helping guide the campaign, and articulating a national security policy, and advising the president.
And the president was loyal to him. He had headed the Department of the Defense Intelligence Agency. He was highly qualified, a three-star general. Had spent a lifetime in the -- in the intelligence community, in the army, and I think the president respected his loyalty in his understanding of the intelligence world.
MACCALLUM: Yes. Any thoughts on this question and this was after you left. Because this is after when the investigation was going on. Who -- you know, in Congress or perhaps, in the White House or potentially both, - - Charles Pierce writes in Esquire, "The Congress element is a lovely bit of business. Lindsey Graham? Tom Cotton? Devin Nunez? Some as yet unknown administration tool," that's what he writes, "on someone's staff? The mind reels." What do you say to that, Sean?
SPICER: Well, I think that -- you know, with respect to Flynn, two things come to mind. Number one, there was a -- the comment that you played earlier about General Flynn not being -- Obama or somebody warning him.
And while that was true, we've got to remember the context that was in. After President Obama and every Democrat had accused the president of all sorts of things during the campaign trail, he makes a comment apparently in passing during a meeting that they had. We had plenty of opportunities to be briefed, they had all the intelligence chief come up and briefed us on January 6th.
Why didn't someone pull him aside then? Why didn't one of the intelligence chief say, Mr. President, I need to speak with you briefly, privately, as they did on other matters?
Why did President Obama not follow up with one of his intelligence chiefs? He had made it clear, Obama had fired Flynn. He was clearly not a fan of him. But if it was this big deal --
MACCALLUM: But they differed on the strategy for Iraq and Afghanistan. That was we know one of the problem that they had, with policy --
SPICER: Correct, right. I mean, but -- correct. And so, it's very hard to turn around after a hard-fought campaign, in which you've been very critical of someone, and say, hey, by the way, this advisor that I fired that you brought on board, you should listen to me, you should get rid of him.
SPICER: Well, at that point, the president really wasn't taking a ton of cues from the Democratic Party in the Democratic leadership that it'd lobbed aggressive tactics at him the whole time.
So, there was plenty of opportunity for the intelligence chiefs who were briefing us on other topics to say, Mr. President, I need to tell you something else.
SPICER: And that never happened. And that's important to know. Now, as far as who that person is, Martha, to your first question, I have no idea who it is. But what I do know, is a General Flynn has testified extensively to the Mueller team. And the Mueller team conclusively -- excuse me, conclusively realized at the end that there was no collusion.
That's what the important thing is. And we keep going back and nitpicking parts of this report. But all of this stem from an accusation that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia. And after 2800 --
MACCALLUM: Well, I want to ask you about one more quick question, which is going to put me over a little bit. So, I want to get this in here. This is Chuck Todd talking to the former FBI counsel James Baker, earlier today.
And I just want you to listen to this conversation with regard to when the whole investigation started and these FBI plants and all of that. Listen to this. I just want to get your quick thought on it before we move on.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHUCK TODD, CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, NBC NEWS: You had a few FBI informants. I believe you had somebody that working for the FBI, and also an informant, and Stefan Halper. I understand you -- I understand that.
JAMES BAKER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Yes, I'm not going to comment on that (INAUDIBLE).
TODD: But this gentleman ended up in the White House for a White House meeting as an FBI informant. At some point, did you think, what if we -- it -- that was alarming to me to read that an FBI informant was still sort of actively helping your investigation, but also pretending to be a Trump ally. It -- do you see why under that circumstance, perhaps, why the president is so paranoid?
BAKER: I understand why people are concerned about the power of the FBI and some of the investigative techniques that we use. Again, without confirming or denying the specifics of what you're saying here. And the point is, what were we trying to do, what were we focused on? Again, I'm saying it again, we were focused on what the Russians were up to. Why they were doing it? How they were doing it? We were trying to gather information about that. We were trying to gather information about politics or protected First Amendment activities.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: What's your reaction to that, Sean?
SPICER: Well, what I will say is I'm glad that Attorney General Barr in his conversation today with Bill Hemmer made it very clear that he continues to have more and more questions and he wants to get to the bottom of it.
The attorney general was absolutely right. We need to figure out what's going on. If people are all concerned about whether a foreign entity tipped the scale in our election, and we had a -- extensive report on that, we should be equally concerned as he said about government officials trying to tip the scale. And I applaud the attorney general for what he's doing.
MACCALLUM: And an FBI informant who's in the White House under the guise of being a Trump ally is a very interesting thing to delve into further.
MACCALLUM: Thank you very much, Sean. Good to see you.
SPICER: You bet. Thank you.
MACCALLUM: So, joining me now, Guy Benson, political editor of Town Hall.com, and a Fox News contributor. And Richard Goodstein, Democratic strategist and former advisor to Bill and Hillary Clinton. Welcome to both of you.
GUY BENSON, CONTRIBUTOR: Hello, Martha.
RICHARD GOODSTEIN, FORMER ADVISER, CLINTON CAMPAIGN: Hey, Martha.
MACCALLUM: Good to have you both here. Guy, let me start with you. You know, your -- that sound bite was very interesting to me today in that interview. And part of it, I don't know if Sean could see what was James Baker's reaction where he kind of goes -- yes, I know that doesn't look so good.
BENSON: Yes. Well, the optics obviously that we're learning more about don't look very good, and they do raise these questions. And that's why, Martha, I agree with Sean, what he just said, Bill Barr, the attorney general is doing the right thing here by augmenting, I would say the inspector general report by taking a broader look and assigning a well- respected nonpartisan U.S. attorney from Connecticut to look at how all of this got started in the first place.
BENSON: And whether -- underscore, whether there were any abuses by the intelligence community or the Department of Justice in this entire imbroglio. It's possible that it was all totally properly predicated, that would make me feel better. I just want to see the evidence of that, and if there's contradictory evidence, of course, we need to see that as well.
So, I was a huge supporter, I'm not huge, but a consistent supporter of the Mueller investigation. We needed to know whether there was collusion, we needed to know what the Russian's did.
But there's an entire other side of this controversy that has not been explored and examined properly. That's exactly what's happening now, and I support that as well.
MACCALLUM: Yes, and you know, Richard, the question that the president raises in that in the tweet today, it is different than whether or not people said -- I don't think you should have Mike Flynn in the administration. In fact, Chris Christie also said that to him. It's that he didn't know that he was already under an investigation by U.S. intelligence. And he says, "It would have been helpful to me to have been led in on that little fact."
GOODSTEIN: The people who were responsible for that are not dead. They could be subpoenaed, they could be questioned today. And I don't frankly know why we're kind of doing teeth gnashing about it. Let's bring them forward and ask. Ask why they didn't tell Donald Trump that's having been said, Donald Trump knew his son, and son-in-law and campaign chairman met with Russians to get dirt. Well, we don't know that he knew it, but we know that they did to try to get dirt on Hillary Clinton.
And we know that his campaign chairman met with Russian spies to give the most secret polling data. So, this -- let's correct the record. Mueller did not say there was no collusion.
MACCALLUM: And you know that --
GOODSTEIN: He said, we couldn't establish that there was collusion beyond a reasonable doubt.
MACCALLUM: He said there was no evidence of collusion and they did not find on the -- on obstruction.
GOODSTEIN: No, he did no coordination. He did not say there was no. He said he couldn't establish it.
MACCALLUM: An obstruction they said they couldn't establish it on collusion. They said they found, they did not find evidence of collusion.
GOODSTEIN: I'll send you the quote, he said, "We could not establish that there was collusion."
MACCALLUM: Well, their job is to figure out whether or not there's any crime that is possibly prosecutable, and they said there is no crime that's prosecutable. I don't know what measure you want them to go by, Richard, you know, just sort of like feelings, and you know, you know, but that's their job, to figure out whether or not it's prosecutable.
GOODSTEIN: No. No, no, no. Well, we know, Manafort is a liar, and the Russian is often Russia so we couldn't get to the bottom of it.
MACCALLUM: Do you -- well, and you've made your judgment, clearly. And that's your -- you know, your personal opinion. As your own personal opinion, you have a right to have that, but one's regards what Mueller said that -- you know, then, his job, was that he didn't find any collusion.
Then you move on to the -- you know, the other side of the equation. And that's where we come into this other visit this other potential audio tape of Mike Flynn. Guy, you know, I'm just curious what your thoughts are on that revelation.
BENSON: Well, first of all, I want -- I just want to respond quickly about Mueller. Mueller did get to the bottom of this.
BENSON: He spent $25 or $30 million, and two years getting to the bottom of this, and his conclusion was there was no conspiracy or coordination with both sides working together, i.e. collusion toward a common goal. That did not happen based on the report. We now know that, that issue should be closed and settled.
As for Flynn, I don't think it's an either or Martha. Going back to one of your original questions to Sean Spicer, you know, was Flynn screwed over in this investigation, or should he have never been hired in the first place? It is possible that both of those things are true. I think it was a mistake to hire him not just because of his Russia ties, but he had some very sketchy stuff going on with the Turkish government, and other issues that I think we're potentially compromising.
It was probably a mistake -- a certainly a mistake to hire him. In the first place, he was then fired for lying to the vice president. And it is still also conceivable that he got some raw deal over the course of the investigation. We don't know that yet. But it's not necessarily mutually exclusive. It could be both.
MACCALLUM: All right. One other thing that James Baker said, Richard, and I want to get your thoughts on this. He was asked about Bill Barr, and we don't have time to play it. But he said, you know, "What we need to do is calm down and listen to the actual words that the A.G. is saying, and once we do, it's much less alarming." Do you think that some have overreacted to Bill Barr, given what we saw in the interview that he did with Bill Hemmer?
GOODSTEIN: Andrew Napolitano who appears on this network regularly, he thinks that Bill Barr spoke dishonestly to Congress when he was asked in the House by Congressman Chris, "Did -- were you aware of concerns?" And he said, no. And then, he kind of hemming heart. When he was asked by Kamala Harris, "Did the White House try to suggest that to doing investigations?" And he ended up saying, "No, I don't know."
And so, you know, is that perjury? No. Is it a straight fault? Is what an attorney general, what we expect of him? I don't think it's that either. So, I think he's right. We should calm down.
GOODSTEIN: But I think he needs to kind of be an honest broker, and I think by using the terms that he did with that initial press conference by saying, no collusion and no obstruction, when we saw 10 instances of obstruction, that's not being forthcoming.
MACCALLUM: Well, I got to go. But 10 instances were laid out, and then, at the end of each one of those paragraphs, it says, "But we didn't find anyone who we could prosecute for any of this."
So, I -- we got to go but we will have this conversation again. I'm quite confident. It's good to see you both tonight. Guy, thank you very much.
BENSON: Thanks, Martha.
MACCALLUM: Richard Goodstein. Thanks, good to see you both.
GOODSTEIN: Thank you.
MACCALLUM: Coming up, 2020 Democratic candidate Pete Buttigieg ups his anti in his battle against the vice president. Mike Huckabee and Steve Hilton, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT: The truth of matter is that all of us have our own religious convictions. He has his convictions, I have mine.
MACCALLUM: Presidential candidate and South Bend Indiana Mayor Buttigieg once again criticizing Vice President Mike Pence claiming that the former governor of his state supports homophobic policies that are detrimental to the LGBTQ community. Watch.
HUGH HEWITT, RADIO HOST: Do you really think Mike Pence is homophobic?
MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG, D-SOUTH BEND, IND., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, he advances homophobic policies. I don't know what's in his heart. If you're in public office and you advance homophobic policies, on some level, it doesn't matter whether you do that out of political calculation or whether you do it out of sincere belief, the problem is it's hurting other people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: Here now former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, is a Fox News Contributor, and Steve Hilton Host of the "Next Revolution." Gentlemen, thank you both for being here. We know that the vice president has said that he doesn't really know where this is coming from. He said they had a very good relationship working together in Indiana so he doesn't -- you know, as I said, he doesn't quite get this version of the South Bend Mayor. Mike Huckabee, what do you say?
MIKE HUCKABEE, CONTRIBUTOR: Martha, it's a cheap shot toward the vice-president. He's been nothing but kind and respectful toward Mr. Pete. But the fact is for him to go around and throw out a slur in a pejorative term like homophobic when really Mike Pence's view is exactly the view that was stated by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and even Joe Biden in 2008.
Now they changed their views, but my question is was Barack Obama homophobic prior to 2012 when he finally decided he was for same-sex marriage? Mike Pence is not disrespectful of Mayor Pete but he's true to his convictions as an evangelical Bible-believing Christian. That doesn't make him homophobic. It means that he's faithful to something that he's always believed and adheres to.
That's absurd to say that he's homophobic. If that's true then I guess Mayor Pete is Christophobic toward anyone who believes the Bible more than they believe today's current take on culture.
MACCALLUM: So it's interesting because I'm looking forward to hearing what Chris Wallace is going to ask about this. They have the town hall coming up on Sunday night with Pete Buttigieg before Game of Thrones as Bret Baier pointed out. But we also are looking forward to Steve Hilton's interview with President Trump and here's a little piece of that about Mayor Pete.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE HILTON, HOST: We've got the town hall with Pete Buttigieg.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT: Buttigieg.
HILTON: There you go -- this weekend. Just one thing on him, putting aside policy disagreements, don't you think it's just great to see the fact that you've got a guy there on the stage with his husband and it's normal, it's not --
TRUMP: I think it's absolutely fine. I do.
HILTON: But isn't it a sign of great progress in the country that that's just --
TRUMP: Yes. I think it's great. I think that's something that perhaps some people will have a problem with. I have no problem with it whatsoever. I think it's good.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: Interesting exchange, Steve, very.
HILTON: Well, look, Martha, I think that marriage is literally the most important institution in our society. It's the foundation of a strong society. And it's not just about the social impact, it's got an economic impact too. If you look at every study it shows that children do best in a home with stability there and you're more likely to get that if the parents are married.
And when we talk about marriage these days, I think the big problem is not that gay people are getting married, it's that straight people are not getting married. And so I've always said, I believe in marriage equality. I believe in it so much. I even think straight people should get married if they're planning to have children.
MACCALLUM: Yes. I always think it's very interesting that a lot of the Hollywood folks who are you know, we're so fired up about same-sex marriage and passing it, many of them you know just chose not to get married themselves which made you wonder why they were so you know passionate about the fact that other people should be getting married.
The Equality Act also passed today in the House, and it goes along some of these same lines. Governor Huckabee, what's your reaction to that? It sounds like a great thing, Equality Act, but are you concerned about what's in there?
HUCKABEE: Well, like a lot of things Congress does, the title of it is fine. The problem is it's what's in the bill and it really equates gender identity with the same level of race and that's absurd. It basically guts the idea of religious liberty, it totally upends the Religious Freedom Act of 1993 that gave people conscientious objection as a -- as a legitimate way to deal with issues that offended them in their faith.
Religious liberties the foundation of this country. It is part of the First Amendment of the Constitution. And for Congress to come along and say no, your faith isn't as big and the government is now drawn a circle around, and the government is going to tell you how much faith you can have and where the limits of your faith are. They can't do that according to the First Amendment and that's what this bill would do.
MACCALLUM: All right, gentlemen, I got to leave it there. Steve Hilton, thank you very much. We look forward to your interview with President Trump this weekend. Governor Huckabee, thanks to you as well.
HILTON: Thanks, Martha.
HUCKABEE: Thank you.
MACCALLUM: Coming up next, New York City Mayor and 2020 Democratic candidate Bill de Blasio battling it out with President Trump in another round of fighting words.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO, D-NYC, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He's a con man. That's why I called him Con Don. Guess what, I guess I struck a nerve because not only did he tweet at me, he did his own personal video attacking me and that means my point is getting across.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I can't believe it. I just heard that the worst mayor in the history of New York City and without question the worst mayor in the United States is now running for president. It will never happen. I'm pretty good at predicting things like that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: This is going to be ugly. Bitter war between President Trump and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio continues tonight. And now the latest Democrat to enter the ring is taking a page direct from the Trump playbook to fire back at his 2020 foe.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DE BLASIO: Hey, Con Don, I saw your video and man, you look really low energy and you're getting your facts wrong because crime actually has gone down in New York City five years in a row and our economy is booming. I really think you better rest up because you're going to need it for the election ahead. We're coming for you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: That was fighting words right. Joining me now Jason Meister, Trump 2020 Campaign Advisory Board Member and Zach Friend, former Spokesperson for Obama for America. Great to have both of you with us tonight. You know, I mean this is basically like you know, two guys from New York duking it out and this war of words has already begun. It's interesting to me, Zach, that you know, it seems like a lot of people on Mayor de Blasio side of the political fence are not happy he's running.
ZACH FRIEND, FORMER SPOKESPERSON FOR OBAMA FOR AMERICA: Yes, I don't know what lane Mayor de Blasio is really thinking that he's going to occupy. I mean, the people that have been successful so far at least in early polling like Vice President Biden are really trying to go down a totally different Road and speak more toward the industrial Midwestern voters. I'm not really sure that the tactic that he's taking is really going to work.
MACCALLUM: Well, that's an interesting point. Let's look at what some folks on the street in Iowa said when they were asked about this new candidate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have you ever heard of Mayor Bill de Blasio.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, I don't think I have.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have you ever heard of him?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I haven't.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you from here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, I have not. I'm sorry.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's OK. How about you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, we're brand new to this town.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: We're brand new to this town. He has nothing to do with this town but they don't know who he is, anyway. Jason?
JASON MEISTER, CAMPAIGN ADVISORY BOARD MEMBER, TRUMP 2020: Martha, you just asked New Yorkers. We all know who de Blasio is. He has devastated our city. If you look at homelessness which is up over 50 percent under his watch, if you look at murder rates, if you look at rape rates. I know that he said it's gone down, it's actually plateaued. But murder rates, and rape rates you cannot play with. They're up nearly 10 percent.
This mayor has been the devastation to our city. And really what I think I would take out of this is that there is this debate in this country between socialism and capitalism.
De Blasio has put the experiment of socialism into Manhattan, into New York City, and it has failed miserably under his watch. Look at what he did to Amazon. He chased tens and thousands of jobs out of the city. It devastated the economy. And so, I think that this is really what you have to do is look at New York City when you look at socialism versus capitalism.
MACCALLUM: Well, it's an interesting point, Zach. And you know, you look even like the school charter issue. Mayor Bloomberg really wanted to elevate, you know, increase the number of charters. And then when De Blasio came in, they put $773 million into this renewed schools fund and it went nowhere.
It's done, basically. They lowered the number of charter schools that could start here. What do you make of that sort of broader national issue about the kind of things he's done here and whether or not they are going to sell nationally with the other candidates as well?
ZACH FRIEND, FORMER SPOKESPERSON, OBAMA FOR AMERICA: Martha, that's actually a really key point because what got him elected, and some of what like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez elected, and I'm from California, what may get you elected in California doesn't necessarily play very well in the industrial Midwest.
I mean, we have to be honest that this election will be won in the states that Trump flipped in 2016. A New York City mayor is going to be able to show that he can work toward Pennsylvania and white working-class voters across that spectrum in order to do that. And these kinds of issues that he's run on or currently owns will be difficult to translate into those votes.
MACCALLUM: Yes. I mean, they definitely will, Jason. And you know, so it makes me wonder whether or not -- I mean, first of all, it's like, do you think that all of these folks getting in is good? It's helping Joe Biden?
MEISTER: I do. I think it's helping Joe Biden. I don't think there is a candidate yet that I have seen that is competitive with the president on his record. The economy is soaring, we have got GDP growth, we have historic unemployment for African-Americans, women.
And so, I think it's going to be very difficult. I think they are going to rip each other apart, but I think going back to De Blasio, I think that he really is a miserable candidate for the Democrats. I think that he'll probably make it to the debates, but I just can't see him --
MACCALLUM: Well --
MEISTER: I can't see him making it beyond that point.
MACCALLUM: Charlie Gasparino has reported that he is also a miserable mayor that he hates the job and that he wants to be rid of it. Zach, we'll give you the final thought.
FRIEND: Well, I think that Jason raises a fair point just what will resonate with voters. I think that the president is a lot weaker than he should be and I also think part of that has to do with the fact that the president doesn't know how to sometimes even run on his own record. So, we'll see.
MACCALLUM: All right. Thank you, guys. Jason Meister, and Zach Friend. Good to see you both.
MEISTER: Thank you.
MACCALLUM: Twenty-twenty Democratic candidate Kirsten Gillibrand is threatening to take action against Justices Kavanaugh and Gorsuch in the aftermath of Alabama's abortion ban. We reveal the details in a special edition tonight of ladies' night coming up next. Don't miss it.
MACCALLUM: The Missouri legislature today approving a ban on abortion at eight weeks of pregnancy. This, of course, comes right after Alabama signed the nation's most strict pro-life legislation into law this week.
This is obviously a very hot political topic among the 2020 Democrats, including Kirsten Gillibrand who is now threatening a call for action against Supreme Court Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch over a possible challenge to Roe v. Wade.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND, D-NYC, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: As president of United States, I will not appoint any justice that does not agree that they will not support with the precedent of Roe v. Wade or any other judges. That is the law of the land.
And I think both Gorsuch and Kavanaugh lied to the judiciary committee when they said they would uphold precedent, and if they then go back on the statements they made during their confirmation hearings.
I think we should look towards what we will do to address it. Because we need far more oversight and accountability over the Supreme Court justices. And if they lied in their hearings, then we should take action.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: We should take action, she says. Joining me now for ladies' night, Lisa Boothe, Carley Shimkus, and Jessica Tarlov. Jessica, let me start with you. I mean, first of all, they haven't even ruled on anything.
JESSICA TARLOV, CONTRIBUTOR: Right.
MACCALLUM: And she's already decided that they lied during their judiciary hearing.
TARLOV: The question of precedent is one that Democrats were really harping on. Susan Collins, one of the only pro-choice senators on the Republican side of things made out that she was very concerned of it. We never actually got to the "I will uphold Roe v. Wade." It's always a conversation of precedent.
And then last week, while Brett Kavanaugh did vote with the liberals on the Apple case about the app, he did vote to overturn something it was 40 years of precedent, and that's where these alarm bells come from.
As for Senator Gillibrand, I believe that women's issues is her lane. You've seen a number of candidates kind of pick of their topic. Jay Inslee he is the climate guy. Cory Booker and Eric Swalwell are going for guns. And Kirsten Gillibrand really wants to own this.
She had her legislation about sex assaults in the military, for instance, she was out on the front on with Al Franken, for instance, as well. And I think that's where she's going with this. And I would say -- I would say I want to hear from you guys.
But it's important to also consider that while the pro-life argument is extremely animating for the right, and everyone talks about this, the pro- choice argument is also extremely animating for the left.
TARLOV: And she's really opening to galvanize voters off of this kind of energy.
MACCALLUM: Yes. Carley?
CARLEY SHIMKUS, REPORTER: Neil Gorsuch never said point-blank, to your point --
TARLOV: No one did.
SHIMKUS: -- that he was going to uphold the precedent. He was very careful when he answered that question. He said that it's very important, it's something you have to take very seriously, but he did leave it rather open- ended. So, she is wrong with that.
I totally agree with you with Kirsten Gillibrand and I think other 2020 female Democratic presidential candidates seeing this as something a bit of an opening for them, something where they can really relate to other pro- choice voters on.
And from a strictly political perspective, not a moral one, passing a law that doesn't make an exception for rape or incest that may not even be enforceable is a political win for Democrats because it's something that they can campaign off of --
SHIMKUS: -- and something that people really do vote for it.
SHIMKUS: You know, to oppose.
MACCALLUM: I'm going to jump forward and bring up this Instagram from Emily Ratajkowski who had a very strong statement on this. And here's what she said. She says, "This week, 25 old white men voted to ban abortion in Alabama. These men in power are imposing their wills onto the bodies of women in order to uphold the patriarchy by preventing women of low economic opportunity the right to choose not to reproduce."
I'm not sure why a practically naked picture of her is how she chose to make this statement, but Lisa, it sure got some attention.
LISA BOOTHE, HIGH NOON STRATEGIES PRESIDENT: Well, it makes about as much sense as Alyssa Milano's sex strike --
BOOTHE: -- which never would you think a Hollywood liberal we would be pushing for abstinence. But to Carley's point about the public opinion about the Alabama bill, you could also look at the New York law that basically gives leeway for a third semester abortions which is completely out of step with the majority of Americans.
Only 13 percent of Americans support third trimester abortions, yet I guarantee that Kirsten Gillibrand or Elizabeth Warren are not going be asked those questions along the campaign trail because the media has tipped its hand and has showed its hand the bias on the issue of abortion.
But what I think is important in a lot of these bills and what is happening is the establishment of personhood for the unborn.
BOOTHE: Because Justice Blackmun said in his majority opinion that basically the case for abortion falls apart if personhood is established and science tells us that life begins at conception. So how is it not a human being? And how is it not a person.
SHIMKUS: And that's a conversation.
BOOTHE: And that's what I want to have in this country.
SHIMKUS: The Heartbeat bill is so important because it says that basically makes the case that while a heartbeat is the fundamental core of life. So that's why they're even calling it that.
BOOTHE: When you no longer have a heartbeat, typically that's a sign of death. Right? So how was a heartbeat not a sign of life?
TARLOV: Well, this is, and we talk about this yesterday as well. What is going to happen is it kick it up to the Supreme Court and we're going to finally have to have a discussion about viability? So that's what heartbeat bills do.
We know that there are many women who don't even know that they're pregnant at six weeks at eight weeks. This is why it's so restriction and you're completely right that that is a win for the left, and might distract from a conversation about abortion --
MACCALLUM: Let me ask you something.
TARLOV: -- towards the end of the term.
MACCALLUM: Because I thought it would be very interesting. Kirsten Gillibrand said any Democrat who expects to win the presidency must answer definitively where they stand on this issue. it wasn't long ago that there were plenty of pro-choice Democrats. It seems, you know, is it true, Jessica, in your mind that you absolutely, nobody could be a pro-choice Democrat?
TARLOV: A pro-life Democrat.
MACCALLUM: I mean, a pro-life Democrat.
TARLOV: No. So, it's not possible that that's the case. And actually, remember Tom Perez tried to advance that as a policy for the DNC and there was a lot of pushback. Nancy Pelosi has spoken about this and said, you run your campaigns like you need to, but you need to be politically pro-choice.
MACCALLUM: But they are leaving --
TARLOV: And that means that --
MACCALLUM: -- millions in America gone. It's over for that.
TARLOV: But it doesn't -- I mean, a majority support certainly first trimester abortion. And the conversation of viability usually occurs about 20 weeks.
TARLOV: And that's where you do see a slip of where people are saying, OK, this is a little too late for me.
BOOTHE: This is why I want to have the personhood conversation because science tell you want to follow science? Science tells us that life begins at conception, at fertilization. So how is that baby not a human life and how is taking that baby's life not murder?
MACCALLUM: The other thing that really strikes me in this whole debate, is that since Roe v. Wade, we have technology has shown us so much.
MACCALLUM: We know so much more now about what a 68-week your old fetus, baby -- a spine is forming. Eyeballs. I mean, it's all forming.
SHIMKUS: And that's -- yes.
MACCALLUM: So, it really, I think makes it a much different conversation than it was when Roe v. Wade --
TARLOV: But it's fundamentally about privacy. I understand the technology. That's why you've seen a spike actually in younger people especially leaning towards, I don't want to say becoming pro-life, but being more and more uncomfortable with it because you can't see a sonogram in a different way.
MACCALLUM: Absolutely. Well, that's what it is. I mean, --
TARLOV: But it's a viability question. It's also health of a mother, it's a big factor. And certainly, in later term abortions.
MACCALLUM: I just think that the idea that it's not, that it's not life and a beating heart --
MACCALLUM: -- is getting a lot more difficult.
TARLOV: That's between you and your doctor. I mean, that's what Roe v. Wade.
MACCALLUM: Well, I'm just saying, I mean, if you want to -- if you want to end that life, that's the decision that people are making one or the other. However, you can no longer, I think dispute the fact that it is what it is.
SHIMKUS: And that's why, Martha, I think it's so notable and pretty shocking that there is this -- we were just talking about Emily Ratajkowski, there's a viral social media campaign right now where celebrities are tweeting about their abortion stories.
SHIMKUS: Why they got an abortion, when they got an abortion, when it happened. The pro-choice mantra has always been abortions should be safe, legal, and rare.
TARLOV: Safe, legal, and rare. Yes.
SHIMKUS: The problem with that social media campaign is that it doesn't make it look rare anymore. As a matter of fact, it also makes it seem like they are not celebrating --
MACCALLUM: Very quick last and we got to --
SHIMKUS: -- they are very much highlighting.
BOOTHE: Really quick. If you watch the mainstream media, you have no idea that the country is evenly split in identifying pro-choice and pro-life.
MACCALLUM: That's right.
BOOTHE: And there have been plenty of doctors that stepped forward and say that under no circumstances does a life of the mother require an abortion in the third trimester. Typically, you go for a C-section to save the life of the mother.
TARLOV: But we're talking about --
MACCALLUM: We've got to go. We will have this conversation some more. Thank you for a very thoughtful debate tonight. Thank you, all.
SHIMKUS: Thank you.
MACCALLUM: Coming up next, a Holocaust survivor's emotional reunion with a World War II hero who she says gave her life, liberating her from a German concentration camp, the incredible story of these two people when we return.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DOUG HARVEY, WORLD WAR II VETERAN: I'm so kindhearted, I will take a spider outside rather than squashing it. How was I able to shoot at other people? I don't know whether I ended anybody's life. I really don't know.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But you had a job, you did your job what you had to do.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's right, yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: So, for weeks, we've been bringing you stories of heroism in the lead up of the 75th anniversary of D-Day.
And tonight, the other face of courage, an emotional reunion 74 years in the making. Eighty-nine-year-old Holocaust survivor Sophie Klisman was 10 years old when the Nazis invaded her city in Poland.
This week, came face-to-face with the American soldier of the 84th Infantry Division whose team helped to liberate her from Salzwedel concentration camp in 1945. It was one of three camps that she and her sister survived. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SOPHIE KLISMAN, HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR: Thank you. You gave my life; you gave me a life. I can't believe it.
HARVEY: Well, I was only one of thousands.
KLISMAN: I know.
HARVEY: But I may be the only one left. I can't take credit for the entire 50,000 guys in my division, you know.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: yes.
KLISMAN: Well, but you are one of them.
HARVEY: I was one of them. I was there out.
KLISMAN: And I'm still alive and I'm very fortunate to meet you --
HARVEY: Well --
KLISMAN: -- and to thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: That is just incredible. Joining me now exclusively is Sophie Klisman. Sophie, thank you for being here. Obviously, that was a very emotional moment for you. Tell me about that.
KLISMAN: Yes, it was. And to give you a little idea what it was like to see these soldiers, the American soldiers, the G.I.s, they came into the camp on tanks, trucks, and seeing them was like angels from heaven jumping off these trucks and tanks, coming to open the gates. When they opened the gates, they told us you are free, the war is over.
It was an overwhelming feeling because we never thought that this war, this horror is going to end, and meeting one of them in person was a very emotional feeling. I thanked him for giving us opportunity for a new life. Have a normal life, to be free, and hard to describe.
MACCALLUM: I'm sure.
KLISMAN: I feel myself a very fortunate person to survive the war and what I experienced last week. I just came back from a mission, to France of IDF, and I went back to Poland. It's very difficult to relive Auschwitz. I was in Auschwitz as a very young girl.
And to see the losing my whole family. It was very emotional. But then arriving in Israel, in the IDF jet plane, it was just hard to describe the feeling, the pride. And I met a lot of the young soldiers that are fighting for Israel. They are so brave and courageous.
MACCALLUM: That's amazing.
KLISMAN: We just hope --
MACCALLUM: So, Sophie --
KLISMAN: -- and pray and try to do whatever we can to help them --
MACCALLUM: Yes. I read that some --
KLISMAN -- to have peace in Israel.
MACCALLUM: I'm sorry. Absolutely. And I read that some of the young soldiers who freed you and the others from the camp were in tears when they saw the condition that all of you are in.
KLISMAN: That's right. Because we were starved, tortured, unbelievable cruelty we live through for so many years. So, some of the soldiers that looked at us, we look like living skeletons had tears and cried and tried whatever they had, crackers, or cookies, or chocolates. They would give it to us because it was a very dark period in the world to live through.
And like I said, I'm one of the lucky ones out of my whole family. My sister and I were the only two to survive. I had a lot of aunts, uncles, cousins. Nobody survived.
MACCALLUM: Well, we're looking at this beautiful picture of you and your sister who obviously got each other through. It's just horrifically horrible -- I can't find the words to explain, and only people like you really know.
But I am so grateful that you got the opportunity to meet this soldier and to think him, and we are grateful to you for your strength and your courage and for talking with us tonight. Sophie, thank you so much.
KLISMAN: Thank you for giving me the opportunity. Thank you.
MACCALLUM: Our honor. Our pleasure. Thank you, ma'am. More of “The Story” coming up next.
MACCALLUM: That is “The Story” on this Friday night. Have a great weekend, everybody. We'll see you back here Monday night at seven. Tucker Carlson is up next in Washington, D.C.
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