Rep. Collins: Democrats are making Barr out to be the bad guy because their story line was wrong

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

MARTHA MACCALLUM, HOST: Thank you, Mike. Good evening to you. All right everybody.


SEN. JEANNE SHAHEEN, D-N.H.: You're not suggesting, though, that spying occurred?

WILLIAM BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I don't. Well, I guess you could -- I think there is a spying did occur.


MACCALLUM: Jaws dropped in that moment in Bill Barr's prior testimony. But tonight, the New York Times is starting to do some digging into a story that many have thought was worth pursuing for some time. We've reported on this angle quite a bit here on “The Story.”

Also, Representative Devin Nunes, just one example of somebody who was lambasted by the media for suggesting that perhaps, there might have been an effort by U.S. intelligence to bait members in the Trump campaign, and give reason to keep digging.

Tonight, The Times writes of the meeting which we've talked about before at the London hotel between George Papadopoulos, a young newly affiliated member of the Trump policy team at the time, where he has long claimed, he felt like it was a setup like he was being framed.

So, this tonight is the reporting from the New York Times. "The American governments affiliation with the woman there, who said her name with Azra Turk, is one previously reported -- unreported detail of an operation that has become a political flashpoint in the face of accusations by President Trump and his allies that American law enforcement and intelligence officials spied on his campaign to undermine his electoral chances. Last year, he called it Spygate," they write.

"The decision to use Ms. Turk in the operation aimed at a presidential campaign official -- George Papadopoulos, shows the level of alarm inside the FBI," they write, "during a frantic period when the bureau was trying to determine the scope of Russia's attempts to disrupt the 2016 election, but also gives ammunition to Mr. Trump and his allies for their spying claims." We will unravel this.

Good evening, everybody. I'm Martha MacCallum, and this is “The Story.” Marc Thiessen, Dan Henninger, and Marie Harf are standing by for more on this new development tonight.

But first, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, Congressman Doug Collins. Sir, good to see you tonight. Thank you very much for being here.

REP. DOUG COLLINS, R-GA: All right, Martha. Good to be with you.

MACCALLUM: I guess first, I want to ask you about what happened today in your committee before we get back to that story with the panel. But I do want to get your reaction to the fact that -- you know, others in the media are starting to dig into the possibility that perhaps, there were plans by U.S. intelligence to start to attach themselves to the Trump campaign to see what they could find out.

COLLINS: I think, we're finally seeing the media come to around what many of us have been saying all along, how did we get here? That's the permanent storyline here, how do we get here?

And I think now that the Mueller report is out, there's no longer debated breath anticipation that the president did something wrong, and it was colluding, and there was an obstruction. And now, they're having to move on. And now, they're actually going back and saying, well that wasn't a story. Well, what is the story?

Maybe those Republicans who we thought were crazy, and then, everybody else was saying, oh they're just chasing wild stories are now actually being seen is true. They're actually going back and actually doing real reporting and saying, what happened at a Department of Justice, it went from one investigation to another in the middle of a presidential campaign, and why did it start?

I think Bill Barr is made reference to this, he's made reference to wanting to get to the beginning of it. And it's actually glad to -- and glad to see that some of the media who have in the past have been critical of the efforts are now actually saying, hey maybe something is up here.

MACCALLUM: Yes, we're going to talk more about that with the panel. I do want to ask you a little bit about what happened today in the House Judiciary Committee. Nancy Pelosi outside of that committee called Bill Barr a liar. He vehemently rejected that notion.

The idea that, that is being pushed forward that Bill Barr, the Attorney General of the United States is working as a protector for the president. What do you say to that?

COLLINS: I think it's a shame that the Speaker of the House was -- would call a sitting cabinet member a liar. Especially, when out really doubt how much she's actually watching, except from a very surface level going on. Because I'll absolutely tell you, the chairman of our committee is doing nothing but a circus run of making Bill Barr be the -- now, the straw man, the boogeyman if you would. Because all of their dreams fell apart when Mueller came out.

When there was no collusion by anyone, there was no charged obstruction, their dreams of impeachment died. And so now, they are in a panic mode to say, well, why could this be? We always thought Barr was going to be fine, we thought Mueller was the gold standard. Everything was fine.

And so, if Mueller is still their gold standard they're holding on to, then someone has to be the bad guy, and Bill Barr, who has answered every one of their questions that they wanted, who has cooked for everything he's supposed to have done, they were making him out to be the bad guy.

And really, it's a shame of the Democrats are now trying to make him out to be the bad guys simply because their storyline was wrong.

MACCALLUM: You know, it's interesting that there was pushback today from the attorneys at the White House. Because, you know, I wonder in this whole thing, I knew Democrats obviously were disappointed with the -- with the Attorney General. But you wonder if they weren't actually more disappointed with Robert Mueller. Because Robert Mueller did not deliver on obstruction. And when they read the report, they clearly feel that he should have.

So, the attorneys including Emmet Flood from the White House wrote a letter, sent it to Bill Barr on their analysis of the legal basis of the report -- the special counsel's report. And in it, they talked about the fact that there's -- there are lines in this report written by the folks who put it together, who, you know, the president has gone after a lot on Twitter as being unfair to him. And saying that they did not -- in the report, it says, "We did not exonerate the president."

Here is what Emmet Flood wrote, "Prosecutors simply are not in the business of establishing innocence. In the American justice system, innocence is presumed. There is never a need for prosecutors to conclusively determine it." What do you say to that?

COLLINS: I'd say what is exactly right. I would say in this for a while, and I think that was a concerning part. For Democrats who want to say that Bill Barr tried to skew the report or do whatever and then, here there's this misunderstanding with claiming him and Robert Mueller through a letter or anything else.

He stated the facts correctly. He said that there was no collusion, he stated there is no charge to obstruction. And he even included the line that was actually in the Mueller report -- I thought was rather interesting for a career prosecutor to say, "We don't exonerate."

I'm not sure he's ever come out. I'd love to go back and look at a lot of his past writings or any prosecutors past writings to say, you know, at the end of this, we're not exonerating. We didn't charge, we're not exonerated. Emmet Flood is exactly right, prosecutors are not in the business of exonerating. They're either finding enough to charge or they're not finding enough to charge and they move on.

This is a concern and I think it's really interesting to me though for Democrats to play on this right now, they can't have everybody be the bad person here. They've got at least holdout hope that they can find something in this report or something going along that they can actually take and make political haze so they can tarnish the president. So, they can't make everybody the bad guy at this point.

MACCALLUM: All right. So, obviously, Bill Barr did not show up at your committee today. You called it a circus in there. And you said that they were trying to make it look like an impeachment hearing of Bill Barr, what did you mean by that?

COLLINS: Well, here is what they did, is they had the chance. And the chairman today, my chairman took away my right to question Bill Barr. He took away the right of every member of that committee to question Bill Barr because he had this idea of having a circus stunt called putting a staff member to ask questions.

At the end, I guess to catch the Attorney General may be in some discrepancy that they thought he said, and have it looked like an impeachment hearing. For over 200 years, there's never ever been a staff member asked questions in an oversight hearing in the House Judiciary Committee outside of impeachment.

So, here is what they're going out and say, they say, well, it's an impeachment, we had staff here to make the assumption that this is a part of an impeachment investigation to smallify their base that dislikes the president, and members who dislike the president.

So, they wanted it to appear like an impeachment hearing instead of just doing the oversight that our committee is supposed to be doing. And if you don't believe they thought it was a circus, a member brought chicken to the actual hearing today.


MACCALLUM: Yes, I saw pictures of that. (INAUDIBLE)

COLLINS: They believe is a circus. That is a joke. That is sad.

MACCALLUM: Doug Collins, sir, thank you very much. Congressman, good to see you tonight.

COLLINS: Martha, good to see you as well. Thank you.

MACCALLUM: You bet. So, also here with me, Marc Thiessen, an AIE scholar. Dan Henninger, deputy editor of The Wall Street Journal editorial page. Both are Fox News contributors. And Marie Harf, Fox News Analyst and former State Department spokesperson under President Obama. Great to have all of you with us this evening.

MARC THIESSEN, CONTRIBUTOR: Good to be with you, Martha.

MACCALLUM: So, I want to go back to this New York Times story. And sort of that, the big headline here that they say is that the reporting of this makes -- so it should -- you know, just to kind of step back here for a second.

George Papadopoulos felt and he's written about it, and he talked about it here that there was a setup going on. That somebody was trying to dangle information in front of him in order to kind of ensnare him in and set him up to make it look like he was working with the Russians. Now, the FBI and the indications in this story are that the U.S. intelligence officers say, "No, no, no, we were suspicious that there was something going on. So, we planted somebody in there to find out if it was true."

It's a chicken or egg question about what came first, Marc Thiessen.


MACCALLUM: But the New York Times tonight is acknowledging that this young woman who was at this meeting, who Papadopoulos said to his credit, this is no research assistant to Stefan Halper, this woman, she's up to something. They've admitted tonight that she was indeed a government agent.

THIESSEN: Absolutely. Look, I mean, the Democrats were apoplectic when Attorney General Barr said that there was spying taking place. Well, it turns out he was 100 percent correct. If this isn't spying, I don't know what spying is.

And the reality -- and what's fascinating about the New York Times story, if you read it, she asked him the question, was the Trump campaign working with the Russians? Pretty direct question.

And now, 2-1/2 years, and $25 million later, we finally have the answer. No, they were not working with the Russians. So, now we need to get to the bottom of how did we spend 2-1/2 years and $25 million chasing a conspiracy theory down a rabbit hole? Because they weren't working with the Russians. That is a question that the American people deserve an answer to now, now that we have a definitive response to the -- I think from Mueller about the conspiracy.

And the -- and one of the reasons perhaps that the Democrats are going after Barr so hard is because, in both his testimony the other day and a few weeks ago, he said he's going to get to the bottom of that.


MACCALLUM: Yes, and they also know that he --

THIESSEN: And they probably want to discredit him because he's going to start -- because it's going to start coming back to them.


TIESSEN: It's going to go start coming back to the Obama administration, and we want to know who was in charge of this, and how this started.

MACCALLUM: And you got Michael Horowitz's report coming out in May or June as well. Which I think is where, you know, some of this is starting to bubble up from.

Marie, you worked for the CIA. What do you -- what do you make of this story?

MARIE HARF, ANALYST: It was interesting, Martha. In that same testimony that you played at the beginning, William Barr was asked by Dick Durbin if he had any evidence that there was anything improper done during the Russia investigation. And Barr responded emphatically, he said, no.

So, Durbin said, what are you looking into? And Barr said, well, I have questions. And it's fair to have questions. But Barr was very clear that while we may have questions, we have no evidence of impropriety and I'm sure Barr knew about this New York Times thing that's being reported tonight.

I think, Martha, taking a step back to 2016, the U.S. intelligence community and the FBI were getting multiple pieces of information and concerning reports about Russians trying to infiltrate campaigns here, and about certain things that were taking place. And it was their responsibility to make sure no Americans were working with them.

I want all the facts too, I want to see the FISA warrants, I want to see all of the documents because I believe when they come out, it will show that the FBI was right to be concerned and that this investigation was right to undertake.

MACCALLUM: Well, they just determine in this entire to your report that there was actually no collusion. But we know that they were -- you know, testing the waters with some of these folks early on.

Dan Henninger, what's your -- what's your take? Your paper and your pages have done extensive research on all of this.

DAN HENNINGER, CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I do think it all goes back to it is precipitated by that April 10th testimony by Bill Barr in which he said, "I think I'm going to look into whether there was spying or surveillance. That had to have sent shockwaves across Washington, given the fact that there are so many people that were involved with the Russian collusion narrative, which emerged in January of 2017, connected to the Steele dossier, and as Marc described, we went it gone -- went through 18 months to two years of relentless reporting.

And let's be clear about this. I mean, yes, there was a -- we're looking into whether the Russians were meddling in the election. But the Russian collusion narrative was not about that. It was about whether the Trump campaign was actively involved with the Russians to essentially steal the 2016 election.

And so now, you've got the New York Times admitting that back in September 2016, an FBI handler was sitting down with George Papadopoulos in a bar in London, directly asking him whether the Russians were involved with the Trump campaign.

MACCALLUM: Yes, and then, she's e-mailing him and saying, "I'm so excited about the -- what the future holds for us, let's meet for drinks again." Clearly trying to lure him in.

And I just want to make one other point. Let's bring up this Hillary Clinton on Rachel Maddow last night, who definitely wants to make sure that the focus of all of this stays in one place. Watch this.


HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: But this is part of their whole technique to divert attention from what the real story is. The real story is the Russians interfered in our election, and Trump committed obstruction of justice. That's the real story.


MACCALLUM: You got that, Marc?

THIESSEN: Got that. Yes, Hillary Clinton is really good at focusing on what the real story is. I mean, look, the reality is, is that she and Rachel Maddow have been pushing this Russia conspiracy -- truther conspiracy for years, and it turns out not to be true. That's the real story.

The real story is, after all this -- Donald Trump just spent the last 2-1/2 years having members of Congress, former intelligence officials in the Obama administration, top officials from the previous administration calling him a traitor, calling him a Russian agent, saying that he -- that he conspired, betrayed our country, and was in, in a scandal worse than Watergate, and it was all untrue. It was all untrue. So, we need to find out what -- was there a corrupt motive for this investigation?

And the question -- we need an answer to the question that Lindsey Graham asked in that April hearing, is if this was a counterintelligence operation, why didn't they go to the target and tell him?


THIESSEN: Because when they did -- when it was Dianne Feinstein have a Chinese spy --


MACCALLUM: That's exactly right. Yes, that's what I just thinking.

THIESSEN: Why isn't they go to her? They went to her?

MACCALLUM: Let me bring in -- let me bring in, Marie on that. Because, gosh, it would have saved everybody a lot of time, and energy, and money, and investigations if they had just said with all the concerns that they clearly had, as you point out. Look, Donald Trump, candidate, we are very concerned about this person, this person, and this person. We think that Russian intelligence is trying to break -- is trying to -- you know, trying to snap them into your campaign. Wouldn't that have been the right thing to do, Marie?

HARF: It's a good question. What we know the FBI did do was go to the Trump campaign in the summer of 2016 and say generally speaking, foreign adversaries like Russia are going to try and meddle in this election. And if anyone reaches out to you from those countries, you should tell the FBI. They told the Trump campaign that. We know that. We also know the Trump campaign never told the FBI when in fact those entities reached out to them.

And I also think just as Americans, we can look at the Mueller report and say yes, there was no conspiracy that he found. I think we should also be worried that he lays out in great detail that a campaign was at least willing to explore working with Russia, knew they would benefit from it. That's outlined in detail in the Mueller report. And then an administration tried at multiple points to shut down that investigation into what was going on.

There may be no criminality in terms of collusion here, but as Americans, we should actually take a hard look at what's in the report.

MACCALLUM: I hear -- I hear what you're saying. And I'm going to get Dan Henninger the last word because if they raise that question, they have to also raise the question about why Hillary Clinton's campaign was hiring Christopher Steele who was also working with Russian operatives at that point, Dan.

HENNINGER: And I think that's exactly what Bill Barr is going to look into, what was the origins of the Christopher Steele Dossier, and that is why I'm suggesting the people who paid for that, the Democrat -- the Clinton campaign have got to be very nervous about this Barr investigation into what was the origin of all of this collusion era starting around at least the middle of 2016 and onward.

Obviously, there was a lot of activity taking place connected to the Trump campaign, directed possibly by the Russians. And Bill Barr and Michael Horowitz it looks like are trying to get to the bottom of that. I think that will be bigger than the Mueller report.

MACCALLUM: And I just want to point out that the briefing that Marie points out was a basic briefing that was given also to Hillary Clinton at that time. So she could have said you know, we have also reached out to people and we are also in contact with some people in Russia as well. So that was an opportunity for both sides at that point.

Thank you all. Great to have -- great to have you all here tonight. Thank you.

HENNINGER: Thank you.

MACCALLUM: So moments ago, National Security Advisor John Bolton tweeting, "Maduro is undermining the Constitution and territorial integrity of Venezuela by allowing foreign countries to arm colectivos to repress innocent Venezuelans. The Venezuelan military's role in Venezuela's transition to democracy is vital. It must protect the people of Venezuela."

Where's that going? And next, the campaign trail claims that just landed Joe Biden four Pinocchios from the Washington Post. We'll find out what that was when we come back.


MACCALLUM: So President Trump says that his tax cuts are a major win for all Americans. But the 2020 mudslinging is now well underway as you know, and Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden says the only people who benefited were those at the top.


JOE BIDEN, D-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There's $2 trillion tax cut lights last year. Did you feel it? Did you get anything from it? Of course not, of course not. All of it went to folks at the top in corporations.


MACCALLUM: So the Washington Post which likes to fact-check these things, they did that they kind of demolished this claim by the former vice president. They gave it four Pinocchios noting "most Americans received a tax cut. They may not have noticed it but that's no excuse for saying they never got one.

Here now Steve Hilton, Host of the "Next Revolution" and Leslie Marshall Democratic Analyst and Fox News Contributor. Leslie and Steve, great to see both of you. Thank you for being here tonight. Leslie, what do you make of the fact that they gave that four Pinocchios at the Washington Post?

LESLIE MARSHALL, CONTRIBUTOR: I'm not surprised but it hinged on one word instead of all he should have said most. And the reason I look at that as Washington Post itself who did this fact-checking talked about in a recent article more than $6 billion reductions across the board, especially for middle-income families.

And when you just look at the IRS reports in the first a second week of reporting, over eight percent reduction, third week over 16 percent. That averages out, Martha, to about $539.00 per household.

So did some Americans, a lot of Americans and maybe even you know many Americans, most Americans get a tax break that they didn't feel as Joe Biden said, did you feel it, yes. But did many Americans have to pay more not get something back and not feel the benefit of that legislation, absolutely?

MACCALLUM: I think one of the reasons that people didn't get as much in the refund is because it was taken out of their -- out of their payroll tax. So it was taken out before that process began, Steve. Is that your understanding and what do you -- what do you think about this story?

STEVE HILTON, HOST: Yes, I think that there's two aspects, there's the personal tax cut. And Biden's claim there is flat-out false as the Washington Post and others have pointed out. But the deeper point is actually the ignorance that he showed and really applies to the corporate tax cut which was a big part of the package.

Because the impact of that is actually to encourage companies to invest more in machinery and in expansion plans. That's what's happened. That leads to higher worker productivity and more jobs. And that's why you're seeing record low unemployment and wages rising after decades of stagnation. That's how American workers are feeling it.

MACCALLUM: Let's take a look at the CNN poll -- CNN poll that shows that 56 percent of Americans approve of the President's handling of the economy. Obviously, that's going to be a tough data point heading into this for Democrats, Leslie.

And Steve you know, makes an interesting point because you know, a lot of the changes that were made at corporations and some of the small businesses where they got to take depreciation on new equipment, they're building new plants, they're doing a lot of things that allow them to hire a lot more people.

So that's why you have such a low unemployment rate in the country and that's why a lot of people I guess are you know, 56 percent are saying that they are feeling it in Joe Biden's words.

MARSHALL: I think we're going to see that poll change. Let me point out three quick things. To Steve's point, absolutely, when you look at stats. But that's not what former Vice President Joe Biden is talking about and that's not what people vote on if you look at the data. It's not the stats, it's how they feel. You can have record low unemployment, but if they don't feel financially more sound, that's not necessarily going to work going into 2020.

Secondly, the economy is slowing down and looks like it will, economic forecasting, continue to into 2020. And then lastly on that --

MACCALLUM: It's not slowing down. You have 3.2 percent GDP. It was a full percentage point higher than predicted. And most of the economists that I watched on Fox Business channel are saying you know, we thought it was going to slow down but now it looks like it's not.

HILTON: And they do feel it, Lesley, because consumer confidence is going up.


MARSHALL: If you wait a minute -- if you wait a minute -- if you wait a minute, it changes. And then lastly, one big issue that we're forgetting that's part of the economy and under the umbrella of the category economy is health care. And that's something that they don't always coupled into these polls.

MACCALLUM: I got to give Steve the last words because I feel like I jerked him. Steve, last word and then we got to go.

HILTON: They are feeling it, Lesley, because consumer confidence which is part of the economic revival is going up and up and up. People are feeling it. They're spending because they're being hired more, unemployment sound, they got jobs, and wages are going up, incomes are going up. It's all moving in the right direction.

MACCALLUM: All right, I got to go. We're going to know when they walk in and they pull the lever, how they feel about the economy and we'll see. That remains to be seen. Thank you both. Great to see you.

HILTON: Thanks, Martha.

MACCALLUM: So still ahead tonight on “The Story,” the untold story of Taya Kyle. How she's keeping the legacy of her husband, American sniper Chris Kyle alive, it's very moving. Please stick around to see Taya tonight. And Mark Eiglarsh on the courtroom drama involving Empire actor Jussie Smollett.


MACCALLUM: Boy, another twist in the legal saga of the "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett.

At a hearing today, the judge, who is going to determine whether a special prosecutor should be appointed to look into the state's attorney Kim Foxx who decided to dump the whole case and nobody could figure out why. That other judge is now facing calls to recuse himself because now he has a possible conflict of interest.

Trace Gallagher sorts it all out for us from our West Coast newsroom tonight. Hey, Trace.


Today in court, Judge LeRoy K. Martin Jr. said he was ready to rule on whether to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the handling of the Jussie Smollett case. But then the woman who petition for a special counsel, former appellate court judge Sheila O'Brien put the brakes on by asking the judge to recuse himself because his son works for the Cook County state's attorney Kim Foxx.

Judge Martin was clearly unhappy called the request unusual but agreed to consider it, so for at least the next weeks, the legal jockeying goes on.

Former Judge O'Brien is fighting for a special prosecutor because she says there is a, quote, "perception that justice was not served here, that Mr. Smollett received special treatment."

States attorney Kim Foxx filed the motion arguing that a special prosecutor might duplicate or interfere with the investigation now underway by the Cook County inspector general. So, Foxx is now against the special prosecutor.

But in late March she wrote an op-ed in the Chicago Tribune saying she was in favor of it, quoting, "Let me state publicly and clearly that I welcome an outside nonpolitical review of how we handled this matter. I am not perfect, nor is any other prosecutor out there, but ensuring that I, and my office have our community's trust is paramount."

Foxx has also filed a motion to prevent the release of original files and documents from her and her top deputy Joseph Magats, saying that former Judge O'Brien's request for information violates state law that prosecutors be allowed wide discretion in decisions about whether to charge or dismiss cases.

Remember, Jussie Smollett was facing 16 felony counts for allegedly staging a hate crime, crime hoax. And days after the state's attorney's office laid out very compelling evidence against Jussie Smollett, the charges were suddenly dropped.

Kim Foxx and her deputy Joseph Magats were not in court today, saying, they were not bound by subpoenas mandating their presence. Martha?

MACCALLUM: Trace, thank you very much. Here now with more, Mark Eighlarsh, former prosecutor, now a criminal defense attorney. Mark, good to see you tonight.


MACCALLUM: You say that she doesn't really want this investigation into what she did because --


EIGHLARSH: Of course not.

MACCALLUM: -- she can't stand -- she can't substantiate it.

EIGHLARSH: Yes. Bring it on, she says in that op-ed piece which I read thoroughly several times. Wait, you really want to look into what I did? No, no, no, I didn't really mean that.

You want an independent review, Ms. Knoxx? I'll give you one right now. I've been in the system for 26 years and yes, you have wide latitude but to plausibly analogize what Jussie Smollett to someone who nearly burns a draft card shows that either something nefarious was going on behind the scenes, or you have horrible judgment, in which case, you fail the people of Illinois.

MACCALLUM: What about the police department? I mean, the police stand by the evidence that they brought into this case. I mean, you know, and I'm wondering, if Jussie Smollett still says that he's innocent and that he was attacked, where are the, you know, where are these people and what about the two guys who said that gave all of the evidence over and said they set him up to attack him?

I mean, you know, if this story didn't happen, if it happened the way Jussie Smollett says it did and she had every reason to drop this case, prove it.

EIGHLARSH: Right. No, she screwed up again. How dare she put him in a position to be able to frame, you know, claim that he has been framed like the Mona Lisa? The guy is guilty. She had evidence beyond a reasonable doubt, and what we get for? Ten grand? He forfeited his bond and he can go around pointing his finger and playing the victim? That should not have happened.

He should have paid back for all the weeks that they worked on this case and ignored the homicides that were going on in Chicago following his folks and apologized to all future victims who will now be facing greater scrutiny because of what he did, Martha.

MACCALLUM: And also, you know, apologize to the Chicago Police Department --


EIGHLARSH: Absolutely.

MACCALLUM: -- for handing them out to dry and not having their back. I mean, isn't that the way it's supposed to work?

EIGHLARSH: Absolutely, how she handled it was horrible. I would get over that just for a second if I felt the outcome was right. I don't know Ms. Knoxx. I don't know this guy Smollett --


EIGHLARSH: I've got nothing against Foxx.


EIGHLARSH: You know what? With two X's, because one is not enough. Listen, I don't know these people, I have nothing against them. But objectively you look within the system and to say this is like pulling a fire alarm is just erroneous.


EIGHLARSH: I don't know any prosecutor who would do what she did.

MACCALLUM: Thank you. Good to see you tonight.

EIGHLARSH: Thank you, Martha.

MACCALLUM: We're going to watch it.

So, he has been called America's most well-known priest. A giant in the Catholic Church, an influencer of world leaders and a father to many. The incredible story of Reverend Theodore Hesburgh now brought to life on the big screen as a unifier we can all learn from.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Father Hesburgh had an extraordinary ability to reach across lives.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We all ought to be protesting against many of the things we see in modern life.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I heard from some he was a very progressive liberal, from some, he was a very conservative man of his cloth.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One of the most influential man in this country actually.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think I am trying to be. I know a lot of people. A lot of this is just power of friendship.



MACCALLUM: He was one of the most influential figures in American history. And tonight, a powerful new documentary on Reverend Theodore Hesburgh, known as Father Ted, long time president of the University of Notre Dame, advisor to U.S. presidents, envoy to popes, and mediator to some of the most pressing issues and moments of our history. Here is a clip from Hesburgh.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hesburgh was a priest in his cradle, you can't understand him apart from his commitment to his priesthood.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Being a priest is a fairly isolated life. There is no family, there are no kids to raise, there is no wife to care of, there are no grandkids, and so it freed him to be a father to all people.


MACCALLUM: Here now, Patrick Creadon, the director, of "Hesburgh" which opens nationwide tomorrow. I have seen it, it is excellent, it is such a fascinating story for anybody of any faith. Why do you -- why is it so important to tell Father Ted story in these turbulent times in our country?

PATRICK CREADON, DIRECTOR, HESBURGH: I think we have a crisis of leadership in our country right now. I think we have a leadership community, if you will, that is not willing to reach across the aisle, not willing to find common ground between the two camps.

There's a lot of blame to go around, it's not one person or one party. But I think we have a culture within our leaders that is it's off-putting, it's saddening, it's very disheartening, and I think in particular, I think young people in our country look around and say, we are better than this. We need more role models as a leader to kind of show us that there is another style of leading. And I think that's what Father Ted do.


MACCALLUM: As we are seeing that other clip before people didn't know if he was a Republican or Democrat, he advised presidents on both sides.


MACCALLUM: This is a moment from his work in the Civil Rights movement. Watch this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Father Hesburgh was asked to join at Martin Luther King in Chicago. He wasn't worried about the controversy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: His only response was, when do you want me there?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was putting his moral weight behind Martin Luther King and what he was trying to do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All that we cherish in the face of the great dream of America demands a dedication to the dignity of man, the God-given dignity of every human being.


MACCALLUM: I mean, putting that moral weight and he -- and time and time again in your films, he sort of, drops everything and says, well, if I can be -- if I can help --


MACCALLUM: -- to bring these people together then I'm going to go do it.

CREADON: Yes. He was a great problem solver. He loved getting people together, finding common ground, and figuring out how to solve whatever issue was with one hand.

I think we -- I think we need more people like that. And I think our current elected officials should try to embrace this idea, that a little bit of kindness, a little bit of patience goes a real long way. I think without those qualities, it's very difficult to solve the problems that need to be solved.

MACCALLUM: Yes. There all some of those individuals out there and when you meet them, you know, you want to encourage that, and you know, I think this is, it gives substance to that argument.

This is a fascinating moment when he was working behind the scenes on the Cold War with Russia. Watch this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The world's two nuclear superpowers under one roof and they wouldn't speak to each other. But as a delegate of the Vatican, I could talk to the Russians without stirring up controversy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, distinguished delegates, I would first of all like to associate myself with the kind and gracious words of the distinguished delegate of the Soviet Union.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What we need to do to diminish this threat is build bridges between Russia and the United States. They were pleased to have a mediator, even if they didn't believe in the Catholic Church, but they respected him as a man of religion.


MACCALLUM: I mean, he had ways of, you know, -- tell everybody really quick, I just have a minute left, he brought everybody up to a fishing cabin.

CREADON: He did.

MACCALLUM: And got them to talk.

CREADON: Yes. So, the Civil Rights Commission was formed in 1957. There are only six people on the commission and even the six of them couldn't figure out what to do. They were fighting amongst themselves, let alone the rest of the country figuring out what to do with Civil Rights.

Father Ted found an airplane, sent everyone up to Wisconsin and then went fishing for the weekend. And at the end of that fishing trip, they handed President Eisenhower their 12 recommendations. Those recommendations became the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

So, it's that human, that kind touch that he had that was put to use for 50 years in American history. It's really an incredible --


MACCALLUM: Well, it's a good -- it's a good lesson. I hope people are listening and I hope they will put everyone on the plane and send them fishing and get them to solve the immigration issue, that would be great.

Pat Creadon, thank you so much for being here.


CREADON: Very nice to be here.

MACCALLUM: The movie is "Hesburgh." Nationwide release tomorrow. Congratulations.

CREADON: Thanks, Martha.

MACCALLUM: It's a great achievement. Good to see you tonight, Pat.

CREADON: Thank you.

MACCALLUM: So, coming up next, the untold story of Taya Kyle. How she's writing the next chapters of life since the passing of her American sniper husband Chris Kyle.


MACCALLUM: How would you describe your relationship with him now?

TAYA KYLE, CHRIS KYLE'S WIFE: With Chris? That's a great question. Yes. It's wow, that's a really deep question. Nobody has asked me that. It kind of makes my heart rate go up. You know, it's a beautiful relationship, and I do feel him with me.



MACCALLUM: Hard to believe it's been six years since American sniper Chris Kyle was shot and killed by one of his fellow veterans suffering from PTSD.

Since then, his wife has worked tirelessly to keep Chris' memory alive. Recently writing a new book, "American Spirit," it tells the stories of everyday American heroes also navigating their way through grief.

This is the untold story of Taya Kyle.


MACCALLUM: What lessons have you learned about it and what have you, what do you share in the book about that?

KYLE: I think the biggest thing for me with grief is that it's such an individual process, such a personal experience because you may go through all stages at some point but at different levels. So, it's not predictable.

And the biggest life lesson for me, I don't think that God created this mess, I think somebody chose evil, and he sees you through it. That's my faith and that's how that plays in.

And I noticed that I'm a different person for having gone through it. It's the first time that I really couldn't plan it. Right? I couldn't even attempt to plan it because grief has a way of surprising you constantly.

One day you wake up and you are just better, or one day you wake up and you are worse than you were six months ago in a certain way. Thinking that way taught me to let go and just accept that I am on a journey that I can't predict.

MACCALLUM: When you say you are a different person now, what do you mean?

KYLE: You know, Chris' tombstone has mine next to it. I realize that there is a part of me that did that. I am a different person. I don't have the same perspective I used to have. Little things don't bother me the way that they used to.

I know what a big problem is and I know what's -- I know what a blessing it is to have strength. So "American Spirit" one of the reasons I was so driven to do this book is that when you look at obstacles and when you look at problems sometimes as it's the end of us or it's going to ruin us or our children or people we love, what I've learned is it's OK.

It really is OK for people to be in a state of despair as long as somebody else shows up. Personal connection is what blesses everyone.

MACCALLUM: How would you describe -- this might sound like an odd question, but how would you describe your relationship with him now?

KYLE: With Chris? That's a great question. Yes. It's wow, that's a really deep question. Nobody has asked me that. It kind of makes my heart rate go up. You know, it's a beautiful relationship, and I do feel him with me.

I had a counselor one time asked me, because somebody was asking me why I can't even think about dating, and I had all the logical reasons and you know, I'm too busy, I can't this, I can't that, whatever.

And I watched myself through it and I think I understand now, it's just that I wanted the dream. Right? And I had it. And so, it's the idea of somebody else taking that space is still really hard for me because it just, I think it makes me accept it on a different level.

Right now, I can say, yes, he still with us, it's good, it's not the same, but we made this far, we're healthy, you know, I'm feeling like I like life again, and that's genuinely only been the truth for about six months.

The place that Chris had I haven't quite figured out because I know it's not the place he was. And I still want that, but I know he's not there, and I think, it's just, you know, obviously, I have to -- I have to get to a place where it's just OK and I know logically, and I've counseled people through finding someone else. I've encouraged them to find someone else.

I told Chris I would want him to find someone else if I died. I know that all logically, it's just emotionally I have to get to that place where I can admit that I don't have what I wanted, but it can look differently.

MACCALLUM: But you can see that maybe you might get there eventually?

KYLE: I think it's cowardly not to, yes. And I think that if anything, I don't want to be a coward. Right? But I just, yes, I don't get it. So, I think I just have to have the courage to show up if I ever have that magnetism or that draw.

MACCALLUM: I wanted to ask you, there's a lot of, you know, sort of regular folks who are doing extraordinary things in your book, and then there are some famous folks who are also part of this book. I'm a big Zac Brown fan. So, I just wanted to hear a little bit about the story of the camp and why you included Zac in the book.

KYLE: Yes. So, I've been fascinated when I meet people. Zac Brown was saying, you know, there are two things I knew I wanted to do in life. One was music and the other was starting a camp and that to me, the story behind this, Martha, is so cool because he went to camp as a kid and that summer camp changed his life.

Now he has a camp, and he gets military kids there. Chris Kyle Foundation has supported the state-of-the art obstacle course that we can use with our, you know, couples and kids. He also helps kids with disabilities and everything he does a super cutting-edge, super high level.

He raises tons of money to do things that are different. I just keep thinking, when people wonder if what they do matters, I think you have to look back and say, you can be the camp counselor for Zac Brown, right?


KYLE: And you let him know what you do that sparks that love.

MACCALLUM: Absolutely.

KYLE: For somebody else.


MACCALLUM: No, that's such a great point.

KYLE: Yes.

MACCALLUM: Because kids remember unique moments in their lives and sometimes, I think the person who triggered that moment doesn't remember it themselves.

KYLE: Right.

MACCALLUM: You know, but as a child and growing up, those moments can be a life-changing.

Taya, thank you. Good to see you.

KYLE: Thank you.

MACCALLUM: Good to see you today.

KYLE: Thank you.


MACCALLUM: She is so great, right? She is so inspiring. We love Taya Kyle. More on “The Story.” Coming up next.


MACCALLUM: That is “The Story” on this Thursday night. You can listen to the unedited version of my interview with Taya Kyle at on our podcast. We will see you back here tomorrow -

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