Legal, political fallout from Trump tweet on 2016 meeting

This is a rush transcript from "The Story," August 6, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SANDRA SMITH, GUEST HOST: Breaking tonight, the media launches an all-out assault on President Trump but forgets about facts.


JOY REID, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, MSNBC: Donald Trump can't keep his little Twitter finger still, and he might have stumbled into a complete game-changer -- to game-changer in Russiagate.

WOLF BLITZER, HOST, CNN: Dirt and deceit. The President outright admitting the Trump Tower meeting with the Russians whispered dirt on Hillary Clinton.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This just further in meshes him into not collusion but a conspiracy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All this back and forth to basically have this President of the United States as an unindicted co-conspirator in this.


SMITH: A single tweet, Sunday, setting off a firestorm of debate. The problem is nothing the president said is new. Good evening everybody. I'm Sandra Smith, in for Martha MacCallum. This is the tweet that set off the frenzy.

"Fake news reporting a complete fabrication that I am concerned about the meeting my wonderful son Donald had in Trump Tower. This was a meeting to get information on an opponent, totally legal and done all the time in politics. And it went nowhere. I did not know about it."

Critics say this is the first time the president has acknowledged that the purpose of his son's controversial 2016 meeting with Russian officials was to get damaging information about Hillary Clinton. But he has, in fact, acknowledged that before. Listen to this from July 2017.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Most people would have taken that meeting. It's called opposition research or even research into your opponent. I've had many people, I have only been in politics for two years. But I've had many people call up, Oh, gee, we have information on this factor or this person, or, frankly, Hillary.


SMITH: So, is this a new Russia bombshell or something the president has been saying for over a year now? Chief national correspondent Ed Henry is live at the White House with the real story. Ed, good evening.

ED HENRY, FOX NEWS CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Sandra, good to see you. Amid all of President Trump's many tweets, this is remarkable because it's unprecedented for a commander-in-chief in the middle of a criminal investigation to acknowledge he himself had not told the truth basically about the focus of such a critical meeting.

The president acknowledging, again, as you said, the real purpose was not discussing Russian adoptions but getting dirt on Hillary Clinton from a Russian lawyer with ties to the Kremlin at that 2016 meeting with Donald Trump Junior, Jared Kushner, and then, campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who, of course, is now on trial for separate bank and tax fraud charges.

A significant tweet as the president's legal team closes in on a decision about whether or not to do an interview with Special Counsel Robert Mueller. But as you noted, what most of the media is ignoring is another critical fact which is this is not really a new development.

The president had already made this admission about the true purpose of the Trump Tower meeting more than a year ago at a news conference with the French president where he noted gathering oppo research is hardly a big deal.


TRUMP: That's very standard in politics. Politics is not the nicest business in the world, but it's very standard where they have information and you take the information. I think the press made a very big deal over something that really a lot of people would do.


HENRY: Now, former Bush White House speechwriter Marc Thiessen, notes Clinton's campaign was even more aggressive about getting dirt on candidate Trump, though through former British spy Christopher Steele and the opposition research firm, you'll remember Fusion GPS.

Thiessen, writing, "The result was a salacious dossier, whose sources included a 'senior Russian Foreign Ministry figure', and a 'former top- level Intel officer still active in the Kremlin.' Steele's work, remember was paid for by Clinton's presidential campaign and the DNC. That means, a paid agent of the Clinton camp, approached Russian officials for damaging material on Trump."

Now, Thiessen added that of Michael Cohen or another Trump associate had hired Christopher Steele to dig up dirt that it's unlikely that pundits here in Washington would be giving President Trump, a pass, a double standard that may explain why the Trump legal team doesn't want him to sit with Robert Mueller, Sandra?

SMITH: Ed Henry, covering it all from the White House for us tonight. Thank you. Here now, Judge Andrew Napolitano. Fox News senior judicial analyst, Judge.


SMITH: Thank you for being here tonight.

NAPOLITANO: Of course.

SMITH: There's a lot of stuff being a thrown around. So, start first with clearing up collusion versus conspiracy, these are big words and have completely different meaning.

NAPOLITANO: There is no such legal concept as collusion. The word does not appear in any federal statute that's relevant to this case. So, when someone says collusion is not a crime, and therefore, nobody involved in the -- in the Trump Tower meeting committed a crime, that's a false premise because it presumes that collusion is worth investigating.

Since it doesn't exist, you can't -- you can't analyze it. So, here's what the statute prohibits. Federal law prohibits the receipt by people running a campaign of information or anything of value from a foreign person entity or government. It prohibits soliciting that and it prohibits agreeing to solicit it.

The agreement is called a conspiracy, an agreement to do something wrong. So, there's three potential crimes here, soliciting the information, receiving the information, or agreeing to receive the information.

SMITH: But the president making it very clear in that tweet. Nothing came of that meeting, and he didn't know about it.

NAPOLITANO: That's the problem for defense lawyers in conspiracy cases. They don't have to be successful because the essence of the crime is the agreement, not the acts, not the agreement contemplates if you follow me.

So, if the people in Trump Tower agreed to receive dirt on Hillary from Russian person's entities, or the Russian government, it doesn't matter if they never received it because the agreement is what is the crime. And I suggest to you that is what Bob Mueller is looking at, and that's the problem. Not so much for the president but for his son and for the others who participated within that meeting.

SMITH: OK. So, despite the media frenzy if you will, over this tweet, this is nothing new and the president said something very similar before. So, what are you able to conclude from what you have seen?

NAPOLITANO: That the president should be worried about his son. His son testified in secret under oath to the United States Senate. We don't know what that testimony was. Did he tell them what he told the public? Which is that this was about Russian adoptions? Or did he tell them what he told his father which is that this was about Hillary?

SMITH: ABC chief legal analyst Dan Abrams, makes a similar point that draws a stronger conclusion from it. And it's this, watch.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One denial the president is sticking to right now, is that he didn't know anything about that Trump Tower meeting.

DAN ABRAMS, CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST, ABC NEWS: He has to stick to that part because if he says he knew about the meeting, that almost certainly means Donald Junior lied in front of Congress. And I think that that would almost certainly mean that Donald Junior would get indicted.


NAPOLITANO: Why I agree with Dan? If the president admits that he knew about the meeting, then the president did something that both Ken Starr and the Nixon prosecutors Archibald Cox, says was an impeachable offense. And that is using the instruments of the government to lie to the American public.

The instruments of the government would be Air Force One, where he was when he dictated the statement saying it was just about Russian adoptions. So, the president's knowledge is key here to drawing the president into this. But it is not key to drawing Donald Junior and he's already in.

SMITH: Judge Andrew Napolitano, thank you for being here tonight.

NAPOLITANO: You're welcome.

SMITH: Great to get your expertise on that. Here now, Michael Caputo, former Trump campaign senior advisor. And Jonah Goldberg, National Review senior editor, and a Fox News contributor.

Jonah, I know a lot of people at home are having a hard time keeping track of who said what, and when people said what, and who was when, where? So, what conclusion can you draw from all of this?

JONAH GOLDBERG, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: It's a hot mess. I think Judge Napolitano had it pretty well. I think that the collusion cuts both ways in -- for the -- in President Trump's favor and against him because it's not a legal term, right? Because it is not a crime, I think that this meeting does qualify as collusion.

But therefore, what, right? You then have to actually say, OK, well, it was collusion. But, to what end? What actual crimes were violated? Right now, we don't have any evidence that the president violated any crimes. But I do think that Don Jr. is in significant trouble.

I also think that this tweet that the president put out, you're right, it's kind of old news, but it does underscore the fact that this White House, this president lied for a very long time about the nature of the meeting, the existence of the meeting.

And now all of a sudden, he's sort of taken the O.J. position was -- you know -- you know, I -- if I didn't do it, but if I did, it's no sort of -- it's no big deal. Or at least, the Clinton position on that kind of thing.

And I think that this constricts the zone of plausible arguments that the president can make. And it undermines his credibility and it probably, is gives Mueller more stuff to chew on rather than that.

SMITH: To that point, Michael, is the president doing himself any favors at with these tweets?

MICHAEL CAPUTO, FORMER SENIOR ADVISOR TO DONALD TRUMP CAMPAIGN: Well, you know, back when the president was planning his presidential campaign in 2014, he told me he was going to be doing a lot of his communications via tweet. It kind of frightened me a little bit and I wasn't really in favor of all this communication by Twitter.

But you know, as it comes around, he's done a tremendous amount of work and the tremendous a lot of good has come out of his tweet on other topics. I'll tell you when he did this a year ago --


SMITH: But specifically, Michael, tweeting on something so close to the heart of the Mueller probe is my question.

CAPUTO: Right, when he did this a year ago -- when he did this a year ago, I cringed then, and, and I cringed now. I mean, obviously would be best if he didn't tweeted about something so close to the center of this investigation.

And certainly, so close to really what amounts to the only meeting where senior officials actually had contact with someone who was representing the Russian government in a -- in a campaign conversation.

You know, this was probably not a very good meeting to have in a -- in a well-staffed presidential campaign. This request would have been bucked to the general counsel's office, or maybe the opposition research office. But certainly not to the candidates so, on, or daughter, or wife.

So, we're in a place we are, because the campaign was small and lean and mean. But we don't -- I think, need to be talking about it as much. And we need to see this thing investigated more fully. Yet, I don't -- these tweets aren't, aren't really all that helpful.

SMITH: Well, Jonah, if you read the headlines that were out today, you think that we had some brand new information from the president's tweet. At Huffington Post, Trump finally admits his campaign colluded with Russia at Trump Tower meeting.

I mean, it -- I mean, there are dozens of headlines like that. The media really went into a frenzy over this. And really did anything change.

GOLDBERG: No, I don't think anything changed, although, again you know, we had for a very long time the president and a lot of his biggest booster is saying it is an outrageous slander and conspiracy theory to say that there was any collusion and that there was any contact.

And now, the thing is, "Yes, I did it, but it happens all of the time." That is not great messaging for the president. I'm sure that Rudy Giuliani spends big chunks of his days chained smoking cigarettes, white knuckling it, just hoping that another tweet doesn't show up. Because it constrains the amount of -- it constrains the kinds of arguments that he can make.

And yet, the press goes crazy, the media goes nuts. That is, you know, this is all catnip for the guys at MSNBC. But that doesn't mean Trump is helping himself when he does that in Twitter.

SMITH: It's not just the media, Adam Schiff, a Democrat -- ranking Democrat, there's plenty of evidence, he says of collusion in plain sight. Michael, last word to you.

CAPUTO: It's really hard to tell the difference between Adam Schiff and a member of the media. And with the fact that they go into a tizzy and, you know, and an outrage of the week and start wringing their hands like it's the end of the world, it really -- you know.

I think most of the viewer's here and all of us that are on the show right now understand that this is the way they act, this is the way they're moving forward, they're always going to do this, this Trump derangement syndrome. In fact, Adam Schiff, just as much as it infects the news media.

SMITH: Michael Caputo and Jonah Goldberg, great to have both of you on the program tonight. Thank you.

GOLDBERG: Thank you.

SMITH: Well, up next, a shocking new twist in the search for Mollie Tibbetts.


ROB TIBBETTS, FATHER OF MOLLIE TIBBETTS: My belief is that she left willingly with someone she knows.


SMITH: The missing college student's father is speaking out only to Fox News about what he thinks really happened to his daughter. The new developments that just changed this story.

Plus, the extremist group Antifa inciting violence and destruction while countering a peaceful protest by conservatives. My next guest got caught up in the middle of it while getting it all on camera. How he got out of it alive, next.


SMITH: Breaking tonight, a shocking new revelation in the search for missing University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts. Her father telling Fox News exclusively he believes his daughter is still alive and that it's possible she left willingly with somebody she knows. Here's Rob Tibbetts.


TIBBETTS: Early on, I wasn't as hopeful as I am now but I think the circumstances of this disappearance are so unusual that the solution will be even more unusual. You know, it's totally speculation on my part but I think that Mollie is with someone that she knows that is in over their head, that there was some kind of a misunderstanding about the nature of their relationship and at this point, they don't know how to get out from under this. My two sense is that no one went into that house to hurt her. My belief is that she left willingly with someone she knows.


SMITH: Mollie Tibbetts was last seen in Brooklyn, Iowa on July 18th. The family encourages anyone with any information to call CrimeStoppers at 1- 800-452-1111. Antifa protests turned violent. Members of the extremist groups smashing windows of a Marine Corps Recruiting Office damaging dozens of vehicles even throwing explosives at police. In a moment we'll talk to a man who got caught in the middle of the melee but we begin with Trace Gallagher live in our West Coast newsroom with the story. Good evening, Trace.

TRACE GALLAGHER, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Good evening, Sandra. As violent as this March already was, you should know police confiscated dozens of banned weapons including knives, metal pipes, and slingshots. 20 people were also arrested for possessing those weapons so this could easily have turned bloody. The standoff itself pitted a group of proton conservatives calling themselves anti-Marxist against a much larger group of anti-fascists better known as the radical leftist group Antifa. The reason the conservative group was heavily outnumbered is because they're the ones who scheduled the March then canceled it. But some of them showed up anyway including Kyle Harris who claims he was called a Nazi. Watch.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The only thing I could see those hate that's being spread here is by the opposite end when these Parliament are demonized as a group of people of fascists (INAUDIBLE)


GALLAGHER: Harris was then reportedly surrounded and shouted down by Antifa. Berkeley police say they're looking at videotapes to identify more suspects that for now are only identifying the troublemakers as "an extremist element of a large group." The witnesses and social media posts say the large group of protesters most of whom were wearing masks were, in fact, Antifa who proceeded to throw fireworks at police officers and smash the windows of a U.S. Marine Corps Recruiting Office. Watch some of this. And then there was the social media post showing an Antifa member wearing all-black sucker-punched someone he was apparently having a heated conversation with. At one point, authorities even used flashbang devices to break up the feuds. Police say it was all aimed at keeping the peace.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As we've seen over the past year or so, some of these demonstrations have turned violent. We don't want anyone to get hurt today.


GALLAGHER: And aside from some minor injuries, the police were mostly successful and this march came just one day after demonstrators clashed with police in Portland, Oregon. Of course, the violence in Portland from anti-fascists and those who opposed Immigrations and Customs Enforcement or ICE have become daily occurrences. Sandra?

SMITH: Trace Gallagher on our West Coast Newsroom, thank you. Here now exclusively the filmmaker who caught this all on camera. Ford Fischer, Co- founder, Editor-in-Chief of News2Share. To be clear, all the video we were just showing, it was yours. You saw a little credit up in the top corner. You were standing in the middle of all this. What did you see?

FORD FISCHER, CO-FOUNDER, NEWS2SHARE: Right. So basically, I started at Martin Luther King Park which was where the actual no to Marxism event was taking place. And there were a number of counterdemonstrators, not all of them Antifa but broadly along the left wing who were -- who were arguing with them and getting into some small scuffles. But a really large group of hundreds of kind of as you described Antifa type people using a black bloc tactic where they all dress uniformly in black made their way over to this and police were attempting to repel them with flash grenades and the like. And so, when I went to follow this, most of the other media basically was retreating from it because the police couldn't get to where the Antifa were.

They were actually moving fences from a construction site to block off the police and they were moving very fast kind of destroying property along the way. And so, from across the street, I was able to film and zoom in really tight as they did get proceed to smash a Marine Corps Recruiting Office. And then after that, somebody threw a lit torch into a dumpster basically trying to create a dumpster fire. When that happened, when I filmed that one individual called on a walkie-talkie to bring over five other Antifa people and they basically confronted me and said get out of here. The police aren't here so they can't help you.

SMITH: So you were threatened?

FISCHER: Essentially -- so essentially threatening me that I would need to leave and ultimately I ended up kind of getting sort of lost and my News Director Alejandro Alvarez had to --

SMITH: So you stayed after that?

FISCHER: Well, I made my way back to the original protest. The original protest was -- had relatively little violence. There was a lot of people yelling at each other and arguing. Most of the violence and kind of property destruction was this scene of Antifa type individuals who were participating kind of on the outskirts but not right there at MLK Park.

SMITH: Why did you want to do this? Why were you on the ground filming this?

FISCHER: So my outlet is kind of about live streaming where I like to cover an event from beginning to end and really just show the truth of the matter because the reality is that there are bad actors on every side. People make good decisions, bad decisions, ugly decisions and so by having an account of what happens from beginning to end, I think that that's really important to help people understand it. Like I appreciate being on the on the news here but this will only be you know, a few minutes of talking about it. But someone being able to watch a live stream beginning to end and just seeing in raw footage what happens, I think that that's really important to try to understand these sorts of situations. That's was why I was in --

SMITH: So what did you see on the ground there that you don't think is reported in the media?

FISCHER: Well, I think that the media really, really likes to focus on the optics of the violence, of people breaking windows but I also think it's important to film the sorts of arguments and conversations that are happening between the two side.

SMITH: Like what?

FISCHER: They're there were hours of arguments between people at the note of Marxism rally and then there was actually a group called like the Revolutionary Communists or something like that in Berkeley and they were actually arguing. They were arguing ideology to some extent and in many cases they were ending up you know pushing each other -- you know, around to some extent but they were trying to actually push ideology onto each other and I think that that can end up being a little bit hard for the media to see when it's more fun to watch people fight.

SMITH: Were worried at any point that you're weren't going to get out of there safely?

FISCHER: Yes, I mean, when I was told by the black bloc basically to leave don't continue recording us, I did and frankly I have no doubt that I would have been hurt had I -- had I not left.

SMITH: Well, Ford Fischer, we have seen your video, we've been playing it while we've been talking and it has been spreading and a lot of people are seeking out that that video footage because it was dangerous to get it. Thank you for coming on the program tonight to tell your story and what you saw.

FISCHER: I really appreciate it. Thank you.

SMITH: Thank you. Up next, new calls for Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to resign in the wake of the most violent weekend on record this year.


MAYOR RAHM EMANUEL, D-CHICAGO: We have a heavy heart. Our souls are burdened.


SMITH: Reverend Gregory Livingston is among those calling for Rahm Emmanuel's resignation, his response next. Plus, why a high stakes race in Ohio tomorrow could be the barometer for the power of the President in November.


TRUMP: Troy Balderson, he is the guy. They're talking about this blue wave. I think it could be a red wave. I tell you what, really I think it could be a red wave.


SMITH: 60 hours, at least 70 people injured 11 shot to death. We're not talking about a war zone, this is Chicago. The weekend crime spree crippling a city already battling a crisis. Just last week protesters took to the streets demanding the resignation of Mayor Rahm Emanuel citing his inability to get the city's gun crime under control. Today in a rare move the embattled mayor and the police superintendent delivering a message for the community.


EMANUEL: What happened this weekend did not happen in every neighborhood in Chicago but it's unacceptable to happen in any neighborhood in Chicago. Therefore, all of us who love the city and call it home have a responsibility to heal our neighborhoods.

EDDIE JOHNSON, SUPERINTENDENT, CHICAGO POLICE DEPARTMENT: I hear people holding us accountable all the time. I never hear people saying, these individuals out here in the streets need to stop pulling the trigger. I never heard it.


SMITH: Here now, Reverend Gregory Livingston's president and CEO of Coalition for a New Chicago. He was one of the organizers in the protest against Mayor Emanuel last week. Our beloved Chicago, what is happening there, Reverend?

GREGORY LIVINGSTON, PRESIDENT & CEO, COALITION FOR A NEW CHICAGO: Well, first of all I want to extend my condolences to the families and the victims this weekend. All the victims really, our prayers and support are with them.

But, Sandra, Chicago was out of control. Our violence right now is the 21st century version of the Chicago fire of 1871. And Mayor Emanuel and his handpicked superintendent Eddie Johnson have admitted just in that press conference that they cannot handle what they have been entrusted, voted in and appointed to do.

And we must make changes immediately because this violence will be epidemic and there are reasons that it is so violent, but it is reaching epidemic proportions. And this mayhem this weekend is really beyond me. And you know, the emotionalism that he shows, that the crocodile he cries are bloody because he wipes them with bloody hands.

SMITH: Well, after the great Chicago fire, we all know those of us born and raised in that city, it's the second city because it rebuilt itself.


SMITH: Can the city, can it be fixed? What needs to happen to bring Chicago back to the beautiful city it once was?

LIVINGSTON: Well, Chicago is indeed a tale of two cities and it is the legacy of an intentional segregation that basically on one side insulates one part of the population and causes desperation on another part of the population. And this creates a dynamic tension throughout the city.

So you have those on the south and west side and challenge then disadvantage areas that are basically seeing from the Rahm administration as being undesirables. What do I mean, you closed down 50 schools at one time the most massive school closing in American history, you closed down mental health centers. You just, you know, ripping assets away from the community, but then there is a surplus on the other side.

So, we want to intentionally desegregate the city, so before the blood flow become so great that there is really nothing that can be done. So, we--


SMITH: We can't see another weekend like this.


SMITH: And I know you are calling on Rahm Emanuel's resignation.


SMITH: There's not another election till February and we know that that rates for the mayor of Chicago is heating up. The former police superintendent, Gary McCarthy, he wants the job. But for now, we can't have another weekend like this. What do they need to do right now?

LIVINGSTON: Well, that's why the people has to take -- we have to the take the power in our hands. That's one of the great things about being an American, the people do have power. We give our elected officials power but we can take that power back.

One of the things we are looking to do here, Sandra, is that in order for the friends of Rahm Emanuel, the decision-makers around him because I don't care what he says, he's not going to deliver on any promises that he makes.

We've already seen that when the city was set ablaze basically with the Lacquan McDonald riots for his cover-up of that murder in order that he could get reelected. So we have to hit deep into the pocket. So we are looking at, we are talking about this on Labor Day, to shut down O'Hare airport, stop the ingress--


SMITH: Reverend, I got have to challenge you on that--


SMITH: -- because in that last protest to shut down Lake Shore Drive. That doesn't help the city of Chicago, either people need to get to work. They need to get home to see their kids, the city wasn't happy about that either.

LIVINGSTON: Well, that's true. And you know, the reason I have the march on that date, on Thursday, was basically to have historical context. Because yesterday was the 52nd anniversary of Martin Luther King's march through Marquette Park, through hostile crowds that had him in the head with bricks.

Now when he did that march he didn't have Richard Jay Daley sanctioned, he didn't have the police chief strategizing with him, he did it will because it was the right thing to do.

And what that was, is that, we must have awaken our other brothers and sisters in the city and let them know there are people here that are desperate that are hurting that are broking.

In other words, we have to redistribute the pain, make others uncomfortable, redistribute the anguish, and also redistribute the dormant hope.

Our task in having these marches and these demonstrations, first of all, before people can do anything we have to inspire the uninspired, we have to reignite them, reignite them because as long as they are just dormant and they're dead in their consciousness, you know, they are not going to do anything.

SMITH: Reverend Gregory Livingston, thank you for coming on the program tonight. We wish for the best for the people in that city and we do not want to see another weekend like this. We love that city.

LIVINGSTON: Chicago needs help and we are asking for it right now. We need help.

SMITH: Yes. We'll keep watching all of it. Thank you, reverend.

LIVINGSTON: Thank you.

SMITH: Coming, as President Trump makes good on his promise to get tougher on Iran, angry mobs are flooding the streets of Tehran. But this time they are not chanting death to America, but death to the dictator. Is a regime change possible?

Governor Mike Huckabee is here on that. And at this time tomorrow we should have the results of a special election in Ohio that could have big implications for the whole country in November. What to watch and what's at stake, after the break.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: A vote for Troy's opponent is a vote for open borders, which equal massive crime, like they don't care about him. They don't care about the crime. They don't care about your military and they don't care about your vets.




TRUMP: To continue our incredible success we must elect more Republicans and we must elect Troy Balderson. We have to elect troy.


TRUMP: So get your friends, get your neighbors, get your family and get out and vote for troy on Tuesday.


SMITH: President Trump in Ohio over the weekend campaigning for Republican Troy Balderson who is in the fight of his life in tomorrow's special election.

The latest polls show Balderson, a state senator with just a one point lead over the Democrat and attorney Danny O'Connor for the congressional seat in Ohio's 12th district. The race is being closely watched as Trump carried this district by 11 points back in 2016.

The Fox News power ranking has now rate the Ohio 12 a tossup.

Kristin Fisher is live in Columbus, Ohio tonight with more on this. Good evening, Kristin.

KRISTIN FISHER, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: good evening, Sandra. This is widely viewed as Balderson's race to lose. The last time a Democrat won this district was nearly four decades ago, and yet here we are, election eve and this race is razor tight.

Even if Balderson is able to squeak out a win here in Ohio, the state's governor says that this race the fact that this race is so close should be very telling and troubling for Republicans heading into the midterm.


GOV. JOHN KASICH, R-OHIO: It doesn't bode well for the Republican Party because this should be shouldn't even be contested.


FISHER: Now Governor Kasich's concern that the president's support could hurt Balderson with one of the constituency he needs most, white well- educated women who live in the suburbs of Columbus. But Balderson is banking on the president strong economic message and his ability to get voters to the polls tomorrow.


TROY BALDERSON, R-CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE, OHIO: I need your volunteer hours, your enthusiasm, and most importantly, I need your vote August 7th.


BALDERSON: So I can go to Congress and represent you and fight alongside this good man, this great man, President Trump, to make America great again.


FISHER: Now Balderson's opponent is Democrat Danny O'Connor. At just 31 years old he would be the youngest member of Congress. He's out raised and outspent Balderson, he's also been very careful to criticize Nancy Pelosi and not criticize President Trump.

He's trying to appeal to those Republicans who don't like the president and his policies. One month ago the polls had him 10 points behind Balderson and now, Sandra, he is just one point away, well within that margin of error.

SMITH: Kristin Fisher in Columbus, Ohio, thank you.

Well, joining me now is Tom Bevan, co-founder of Real Clear Politics. What should we be watching, Tom?

TOM BEVAN, CO-FOUNDER, REAL CLEAR POLITICS: Well, this is all going to come down to turn out. And as a reporter just mentioned, Sandra, it's the suburbs of Columbus, Franklin County that's where third of the vote is going to be cast of was cast in 2016, and that's the area where Balderson - - or President Trump did the worst, right?

It's well-educated suburbanites who used to vote Republican who switch and voted for Clinton in the last election. And that's where he needs to -- Democrats need to turn that power if they want Danny O'Connor to win, and that's where Balderson has to really -- he needs a rural vote obviously but he needs to have votes in that area as well if he wants to pull the race out. It's going to be very, very close.

SMITH: Tom, what's at stake in this race?

BEVAN: Well, look, I mean, the typical caveat is not to read too much into special elections because they are special, but this one given its proximity to the general election, we're less than 100 days out now, given that the history of this district, which as a reporter just mentioned has not been won by a Democrat in decades.

And given President Trump's appearance over the weekend and him putting his clout on the line as sort of a general election setting now, it makes it that much more important. And I think of Republicans lose this seat it will confirm that they are in a boatload of trouble come November and they should batten down the hatches because it will probably signal that a Democratic wave is coming if not already there.

SMITH: The president has indicated perhaps it's a red wave that is coming. He sounds rather optimistic. What is the turnout of this race which we very well could have the results of this race this time tomorrow evening. What does that say about President Trump's influence, less than 100 days out from the midterm elections?

BEVAN: Well, I mean, that remains to be seen. I mean, Trump has done a good job moving the needle in primaries for certain candidates, but, in general election settings like Pennsylvania's special election, Pennsylvania 18 earlier, where Conor Lamb the Democrat defeated Rick Saccone, the Republicans. Trump won to that district. He campaigned for Saccone and it didn't work out.

So Trump is not having -- this is the conundrum for Trump. He has this bond, he fires up his supporters but can he fire them up to turn out for an average Republican, a generic Republican whoever is running in a certain district.

That's the question. So far he hasn't been able to do it, and if he's not able to do it here in this district that does not bode well for all these Republicans that are running in swing districts in November.

SMITH: And how important is it that the president stays on what many members of the GOP see as the winning message for their party and that is the economy?

BEVAN: Well, certainly I think Republicans would like to see Trump hammering the economy. He does that, I mean, he sporadically goes off message and tweets about Robert Mueller and other things which I think makes them nervous.

But the economy is, look, it's a double-edged sword for Republicans. On one hand it's great, and that's the message they want to see. On the other hand because the economy is so good, voters can turn to different things like education and health care where they don't have an advantage.

So it cut both ways. But at the bottom line, at the end of the day, this is about Democrats being energized against -- going out and turning out and voting against Trump and the question is whether the Republicans can match that energy and enthusiasm. And so far they haven't been unable -- it doesn't seem like they've been able to do it but that's the big question.

SMITH: All right, Tom, so any predictions based on the most recent polling, considering we could have those results 24 hours from now?

BEVAN: Well, we have two polls i last week. One has Balderson up one point and one has O'Connor up at one point. So I think that indicates how close this is going to be.


BEVAN: I think it's going to be -- I think it's going to be very, very tight. It might even be late night tomorrow.

SMITH: And very telling as well. Tom Bevan, thanks for your time tonight.

BEVAN: Thanks, Sandra.

SMITH: Coming up, President Trump snaps back Iran sanctions, but he says he does not want to cripple but change the rogue regime. Is that possible? Governor Mike Huckabee is here with his take, next.


TRUMP: Today's action sends a critical message, the United States no longer makes empty threats. When I make promises, I keep them.




JOHN BOLTON, UNITED STATES NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Well, our policy is not regime change but we want to put unprecedented pressure on the government of Iran to change its behavior, and so far they've shown no indication they are ready to do that.


SMITH: National security advisor John Bolton responding earlier today on America's Newsroom to President Trump hitting Iran with new financial pressure. And renewing tough sanctions lifted under the Obama era nuclear deal. They all go into effect in four hours, at midnight tonight.

Joining me now is Governor Mike Huckabee, a former Republican presidential candidate and now a Fox News contributor. As we await those sanctions to be re-imposed at midnight, Governor, what effect will they have?

FORMER GOV. MIKE HUCKABEE, R-ARK.: I think they will have a profound effect. Already the Iranian people are suffering under this regime and they have since 1979 when the radicals overthrew the shah and staged a coup d'etat.

Since that time there has been very little other than sponsor of terrorism from this government. They are a rogue regime, they killed Americans, they kidnapped Americans, they've sponsored terrorism around the world. And it's time for them to be accountable for that and pay the price. That's what I'm hoping it will happen.

SMITH: The Iranian foreign minister, the Islamic Republic of Iran, I should say, Zarif, he has responded to the administration's move here, Governor and tweeted this. "The Trump administration wants the world to believe it's concerned about the Iranian people. Yet the very first sanctions it re-imposed have cancelled licenses for sales of 200 plus passengers jets under absurd pretext endangering ordinary Iranians. U.S. hypocrisy knows no bounds."

The president says he doesn't want to cripple the regime, he wants to change the rogue regime. Is that possible?

HUCKABEE: Probably not in the long run. I think the administration's position is to right diplomatic move to say we're not trying to change the regime but trying to change the behavior. But the truth is unless the regime is changed, the behavior won't change.

But the proper avenue to see that change is not for the U.S. to go in and over intervene and overthrow the government, it's for the people to do it. And they almost did in 2009.

The Green movement was an uprising, and they were looking for just a little bit of encouragement for the United States and President Obama was absolutely stone cold silent, didn't say a word as a 20-year-old women were bleeding in the streets from gunshot wounds to the head. That's why this regime is embolden. And I think we have to always separate the Iranian people from the Iranian government.

The Persian culture is one of the most advanced and wonderful and just a beautiful culture from centuries. But this bunch of thugs have gone into and they destroyed the antiquities, they've tried to erase the culture and they've absolutely done nothing other than try to take these people back to the seventh century. And it is a sad, sad commentary on what's happened in Iran.

SMITH: The importance of an open dialogue with Iran is a big -- is a big question right now, and a lot of people weighing in on this. But here's the president saying, he's opened a meeting with Iranian leadership. Listen.


TRUMP: I would certainly meet with Iran if they wanted to meet. I do believe that they will probably end up wanting to meet and I'm ready to meet anytime they want to.

SMITH: Should we?

HUCKABEE: Probably not without some conditions and if we do have a meeting I hope the president knows that he can't trust one single thing they say. They've never kept a promise. One thing they've been as consistent, Sandra, since 1979 when they took over the nation. They have not kept one promise, not one that they have made.

So I don't think we could expect them to start being good guys after all these years of being really, really bad guys.

SMITH: Speaking of open dialogue, Senator Rand Paul thinks an open dialogue with Russia is important. I want you to listen to this and get your response to this today.


SEN. RAND PAUL, R-KY.: I'm one who believes in more engagement, that we need to have more cultural exchange and more exchanged between our legislative bodies, more open lines of communication.


SMITH: He has invited Russian lawmakers to Washington, D.C., and according to his statement, they have accepted.

HUCKABEE: It will be interesting to see, I'm sure Adam Schiff will be there because there will be lots of cameras. There's no doubt that he'll show up for it. I just wonder if maybe Bob Mueller is knocking on Rand Paul's door tonight.

It's an interesting concept to take it to a legislative level rather than just the two heads of state. But I think we always have to remember, the Russians are really not going to try to do anything to help us. They're not our friends, we need to wake up every day and look in the mirror and say the Russians are not our friends.

SMITH: Governor Mike Huckabee, always good to talk with you, thank you.

HUCKABEE: Thank you, Sandra.

SMITH: More of THE STORY after this.


SMITH: That is our story on this Monday night. By the results of that special election in Ohio's 12th congressional district, the results should be coming in this hour tomorrow. Join us as those results come in.

Democrat Danny O'Connor trying to beat the Republican Troy Balderson in that state. The GOP has held that for decades. Tune in tomorrow night. We'll see you on "America's Newsroom" tomorrow morning. Here's Tucker.

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