Schlapp: Trump wants nominee who will uphold Constitution

This is a rush transcript from "The Story," June 27, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

MARTHA MACCALLUM, HOST: Tonight, we go live to the White House for late-breaking developments in the search for a new Supreme Court justice at this hour.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We have a list of 25 people that I actually had during my election. I had to 20 image, you know, I added five. So, it will be somebody from that list. So, we have now welded them to about 25 people.


MACCALLUM: That after today's stunning resignation from Justice Anthony Kennedy that has Democrats reeling about what this means for the future of the country. Good evening everybody, I'm Martha MacCallum, and this is a big story.

Justice Kennedy's decision gives conservatives led by President Trump a solid grip on the highest court in the land potentially for a generation. Conservatives are elated at that, liberals not so much.


CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST, MSNBC: But if he gets replaced by a hard-line social conservative, it is -- there -- the Democratic leadership will have hell to pay.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, LEGAL ANALYST, CNN: And Roe v. Wade is doomed. It is gone because Donald Trump won the election.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is important are the issues that will change if a president's nominee is going to go through that changes, the course of our history today.


MACCALLUM: So, the president said today that the process of picking this nominee will begin immediately. Joining me now, assistant to the president and senior advisor for strategic communications, Mercedes Schlapp. Mercedes, good to see you tonight. Thank you for being here.


MACCALLUM: Obviously, a big day. Did you have a heads up that this was coming? Did the -- because a lot of people were surprised.

SCHLAPP: Well, a Supreme Court Justice Kennedy, came over to the White House, spoke with the president about his retirement. Obviously, the president was incredibly thankful for Justice Kennedy's distinguished service. And for what he -- his fine work that he's done on the Supreme Court.

We know, Justice Kennedy has been one to fight for, and vote for support religious liberties and freedom of speech. And also, as well has been a champion of state rights and judicial restraint. So, it's -- he's going to be a big loss to the Supreme Court. And --


MACCALLUM: You're heard some of those -- excuse me, some of those voices, aghast at the possibility that Roe v. Wade could be overturned given what will likely be the new composition of this Court. Is that something that the president would like to see? SCHLAPP: Well, at the end of the day, the president is going to pick the most qualified candidate. In the mold of Justice Gorsuch, as we know, Justice Gorsuch has been one who's been respected on both sides of the aisle. He received, obviously, the highest rating from the American Bar Association.

Someone incredibly qualified, and that's what the president is going to look for. A very qualified candidate who's going to uphold the Constitution. As we know, when it comes to the judicial system, it's one that has to interpret the law, not make the law. And when we've seen in so many cases in many of these activist judges across the country it's that of activism in the courts.

And so, for the president, this idea of ensuring that we have a qualified individual who's going to uphold the Constitution, ensure that there's judicial restraint, and keep the court where it is, I think that's the priority for this president.

MACCALLUM: Yes. All right, so, you're not going to tell me whether or not that's a litmus test for this president in terms of judges and in terms of what he's looking for overturning what he (INAUDIBLE).

SCHLAPP: Well, as you know, the president is going to most likely pick from that list of 25.


SCHLAPP: And again, I think we got to look at it from the sense that it's from the mold of Justice Gorsuch, someone who is incredibly respected in the legal field, and someone who obviously received the highest rating from the American Bar Association, and that's what he's looking for. Someone incredibly qualified, who's going to uphold the Constitution, and that's a priority that he hired.

MACCALLUM: Yes. All right, two more questions for you. Timeline, what should we expect? How quickly is this going to happen?

SCHLAPP: Well, I think the president is obviously looking to interview these particular candidates. You know, he wants to move quickly on this. As we know, and we saw this even -- you know, along the lines of Gorsuch, it's too took a three -- about a three-month process by the time. He had his hearing and was -- he was obviously nominated, had his hearing and was confirmed.

President wants to move on this quickly. And so, he is -- he is expecting Congress to move in that direction. We're looking to see obviously when you looked at, for example, Elena Kagan in 2010, where the Democrats was three months before the midterm elections, and they were able to get her confirmed because they knew that there was no reason for there to be a holdup and to simply get her confirmed.

So, the goal here, here is not to play politics but to ensure that this vacancy is filled on the Supreme Court.

MACCALLUM: All right. What (INAUDIBLE) is going to fire up the base. Put your political hat on for a moment here. Is this something that you think helps Republicans as they head into the November elections?

SCHLAPP: Look, I think at the end of the day for the president, he wants to ensure that we have a Supreme Court justice put in place. We don't want to see this vacancy. I think it's very important that the Democrats cooperate with Republicans on ensuring that we have a Supreme Court justice in place.


MACCALLUM: I'm sure that's going to happen. That's going to be an easy process, no doubt, as it going to go swimmingly.

SCHLAPP: But they should follow -- they should follow along the lines of 2010 in the Elena Kagan's confirmation were, in fact, they were able to confirm Elena Kagan, three months before the midterm elections.

We don't need a whole -- you know this is a process that we want --


MACCALLUM: That was pre-Merrick Garland. I don't think they're in the same mood these days. Mercedes --

SCHLAPP: Well, the Democrats obstructionist, if they continue down that path, obviously, that's going to continue to hurt them along the way. Especially when you're seeing that President Trump's agenda is winning. And, in fact, when he -- when he puts his name behind it, and it's where we know that his policies are winning and why Republicans can be so successful.

MACCALLUM: Mercedes Schlapp, always good to see you. Thank you very much.

SCHLAPP: Great to see you, too. Thank you.

MACCALLUM: So, interesting to remember that Kennedy was not President Reagan's first choice. In fact, he was his third choice. First was Robert Bork, which we all remember that sparks a brutal Senate battle, he was defeated.

His second pick was Douglas Ginsberg, who withdrew after admitting that he had smoked marijuana which obviously, is no longer a benchmark from pretty much anything in the country.

And then, came Kennedy, who was viewed as the consensus nominee.


RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT: Justice Kennedy's career has been marked by his devotion to a simple, straightforward and enduring principle that we are a government of laws not of men. Our Constitution, our form of government is built on a bedrock value. Self- government, yes. But self-government with a purpose which is individual liberty.


MACCALLUM: Today, Andrew Napolitano is our senior news -- Fox News senior judicial analyst. Can you believe there was a time when you could get bumped from this whole process for smoking pot? And you look at what's going on now in the country?


MACCALLUM: Simpler times, right?


MACCALLUM: I know that you, obviously, have thought a lot about this process. And the last time around you spoke to the president about the process, and he shed some light on what his thinking is, on how he approaches this question.

And I would think it could go pretty quickly given the fact that he did it not too long ago, and he's pretty familiar with these players.

NAPOLITANO: I think, he's going to narrow the list of 25 down to three. I think he will interview those three personally, and I think he will choose which one of the three he wants, and go with that person.

MACCALLUM: Who do you think those three are?

NAPOLITANO: He -- I don't know honestly, who they are. But I know their characteristics. They are all pro-life, they all believe in something called judicial humility, which is the recognition that the judiciary is the third branch of government. That the presidency and the Congress are more important. That they set public policy that it's not the job of judges to set public policy, but just to interpret the law and to apply the Constitution to the laws that the Congress has written. A sort of deference if you will to the primacy of the other two branches.


NAPOLITANO: I know the president is going to be interested in that because of the many topics he and I discussed. When he eventually made the great decision to select then, Judge Neil Gorsuch, this was the one that interested him the most. What is this judicial humility? How do we find it? And I can tell you now that the teams of people that are working for him are already reviewing the judicial decisions of those on 25 on the list looking for judicial humility.

MACCALLUM: I was told, look for a female Gorsuch. A female Judge Gorsuch, and someone who is on the younger side who will be around hopefully, God willing for a long time.

NAPOLITANO: That is my fellow Notre Dame or Judge Amy Coney Barrett, who was just appointed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit which sits in -- which sits in Chicago.

I knew you were going to -- you're going to lure me into talking about names. She was added to the list just two months ago without any knowledge of what Justice Kennedy was going to do, the president on his own said, put her on the list. She's already a sitting Appellate Court judge and they put her on this list.

MACCALLUM: Yes. She is I think, 49 years old. She might be 47 years old.


MACCALLUM: And she -- you know, people who have been watching this, she had an interesting exchange with Al Franken, as I remember. So, I wonder if -- you know, they go back and watch that, and say, you know, she's already somebody who's got a little bit of controversy with some of the Senators. She's not there anymore, of course.

NAPOLITANO: She had an -- she had an interesting exchange with Senator Dianne Feinstein.


NAPOLITANO: Who basically said, "You're too Catholic."

MACCALLUM: That's right.

NAPOLITANO: Too Catholic to be in the court. You know that was rejected. She was actually, admonished even by other Democrats for saying that. And Judge Barrett was confirmed.

The issue was going to be abortion. As I indicated to you, everybody on that list is pro-life. Anthony Kennedy is Roman Catholic, but not pro- life. So, that number, the five to four, the four to five, the five to four on the -- on the pro-life issue will change.

MACCALLUM: Fascinating. Judge, great to have you here all day and tonight, as well. Thank you, so much.

NAPOLITANO: Pleasure, Martha.

MACCALLUM: Here now, Marc Thiessen, former chief speechwriter for President George W Bush, and Fox News contributor. And Mark Penn, who served as advisor to the Clintons, working as a pollster for this -- for six years, he is chairman of the Harris Poll.

Mark, let's get a Democrats voice in here as we look at this. What do you make of it?

MARK PENN, CHAIRMAN, HARRIS POLL: Well, I think the issues here are going to be abortion, marriage equality. It is a nominee someone who is going to put those rulings at risk. I think Judge Napolitano didn't mention stare decisis. Will they continue those rulings where we will be in for social upheaval? If it looks like social upheaval, Democrats are going to -- I think, pull out all the stops and Republicans will pay a very heavy price with women at the ballot box.

MACCALLUM: Interesting. Mark, when you look back at the history of GOP presidents picks --


MACCALLUM: They have not been as good at picking people who are ideologically aligned with them. As Democrats have, they have a pretty stellar record in the people that they have picked.


MACCALLUM: But you look at Judge Souter, Judge Kennedy, going back -- you know, Earl Warren, is also on that list of people who ended up being very different judges than the Republican presidents who pick them.

THIESSEN: Yes. So, Donald Trump needs to break with Republican precedent then, because the Democrats are betting 1,000 when it comes to putting judges on the court that toe the line -- the liberal line. Whereas, Republicans have placed a lot of judges on the court that ended up defecting to the liberal block.

Justice Kennedy, among them who was a regular -- a regular -- regularly voted on some issues with the liberal block. So, that's one, there's two reasons why this is an absolute nightmare for Democrats. Number -- it's both -- its bit of nightmare judicially, it's a nightmare politically.

Judicially, the Gorsuch nomination basically preserved the status quo. They took an opportunity away from them from moving the court to the left. Gorsuch replaces. Scalia, that's the status quo ante from before that nomination. But this moves the court to the -- to the further to the right because Justice Kennedy was that swing mode in a lot of cases. And we're going to have now if Trump does his job correctly and picks from that list on justice who does not defect the way Kennedy did.

Now, politically, it's a disaster because that this is coming just as the Democrats are trying to take back the United States Senate. There are five Democrats running in states that Donald Trump won by double digits. And this is a nightmare for them because they have to know -- this is the last thing they want to be talking about for the next -- for the next three or four months because they can't win no matter what they do. They have to present themselves as a centrist in order to -- in order to win their seats.

If they vote again for the Trump Supreme Court nominee, the left will crucify them. If they vote against the Trump nominee, the right will crucify on the movement. So, there is no safe harbor for these people, this is an absolute political disaster for Democrats.


MACCALLUM: Joe Manchin, already came out today and saying, "Well, you know, we're going to look at over." You know, clearly, this is not the thing that they wanted to happen between now and the November election. Just one other interesting note and this really does put Justice Roberts in sort of the swing seat. If he did not necessarily vote the way Republicans wanted him to on the healthcare vote. But other than that he's been pretty consistent, but it kind of puts him potentially in the swing vote.

Let's go to the pollster. Mark, you know, how -- what would you advise Democrats who want to keep those Senate seats about how they handle this conundrum?

PENN: Well, I think, Democrats are going to be looking to get those moms back who already have a lot of questions about the Republicans and the administration. And so, I think they're going to -- if there isn't a nominee here who like, like Gorsuch, really has to be confirmed because they're so clean in terms of their personal history.

I think they're going to vote against. And I think that's what you're going to see happen here. I think the nightmare scenario for President Trump is that he puts out a nominee, the nominee gets borked. And there won't be time for a second nominee here.

MACCALLUM: But how can the nominee get borked? I mean, how would that work politically?

THIESSEN: Don't talk like to me, borked.

PENN: Well, I think, politically, if so much of a fusses raised about an issue, it won't be marijuana anymore. I think the president would probably be well advised to pick a woman, and that will take a lot of issues, I think off the table and probably, good -- be good for him politically if he does that.

But, if the nominee gets into trouble, then, there's not going to be time for a second. And then, we will go to the election with this is the number-one issue, and that is good for Democrats, bad for Republicans.

MACCALLUM: That's great, great point. That's can be fascinating to watch. Thanks you guys, great to see you tonight.

THIESSEN: Thank you.

MACCALLUM: Still ahead, Peter Strzok is still at this hour on the hot seat behind closed doors. He has been enduring hours and hours of questioning behind closed doors on Capitol Hill, where we are told that he did answer questions about what he meant when he said that he would stop President Trump's election.

Fascinating stuff, House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte was inside the hearing, he joins me next. Plus, a young New York socialist is likely to be elected to Congress in November, and there is a lot of joy staying over that in some corners. Ben Shapiro has his hot take after the break.


ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ, D-CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE, NEW YORK: I get to Washington not just alone, but with an entire caucus of newly elected progressives that don't take corporate PAC money.



MACCALLUM: Still ahead, Peter Strzok is still at this hour on the hot seat behind closed doors. He has been enduring hours and hours of questioning behind closed doors on Capitol Hill where we are told that he did answer questions about what he meant when he said that he would stop President Trump's election. Fascinating stuff, House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte was inside the hearing. He joins me next. Plus a young New York socialist is likely to be elected to Congress in November and there's a lot of rejoicing over that in some corners. Ben Shapiro has his hot take after the break.


CORTEZ: I get to Washington not just alone but with an entire caucus of newly elected progressives that don't take corporate PAC money.



MACCALLUM: A candidate in New York, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America has won her primary in a stunning upset.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're talking about ICE should be abolished, you know, you want government jobs, you know, guarantee government jobs. What do you say to people who say that this is just too much?

CORTEZ: Well, I think what we've seen is that working-class Americans want a clear champion and there is nothing radical about moral clarity.


MACCALLUM: The DSA as it is known believes in the abolition of capitalism in favor of an economy run by the workers or the state. Of course, this is only a primary but make no mistake, this win is being heralded as the start of a movement.


JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST, MSNBC: She has a message that the Democrats have not had.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She came out of nowhere and it is a message that people on Washington are already waking up and taken the note.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a sign she is not -- I think she's not an anomaly, she's not a glitch. She is a feature of a fight to come within the Democratic Party.


MACCALLUM: So to stain for corporations and capitalism appears to be gaining traction in some ways in America. According to recent polling, just 42 percent of young people support the idea of capitalism and socialism gets 33 percent among young voters. Earlier tonight I spoke with Ben Shapiro, editor-in-chief of The Daily Wire.


MACCALLUM: What do you make of this? Is it an anomaly or do you think this is a movement?

BEN SHAPIRO, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, THE DAILY WIRE: No, I do think this is a movement. I think the next wave of Democrats are going to be much closer to Bernie Sanders brand Democrats and even Nancy Pelosi brand Democrats. And what you see here is the sort of howling at the moon branch of the Democratic Party in which they throw out whatever radical proposal they want and then suggest that this is truly authentic. The moral clarity lies in making proposals that are completely untenable that will never be paid for. You know, this person was on MSNBC this morning and she was asked specifically about how she pays for all of this and she proceeded to blab for a solid two minutes without giving an answer to that question because she doesn't have a way of paying for any of this. But of course, the Democratic base has decided that it is much more important to have somebody who is virtually signaling about why everybody should have a government job and why housing should be government provided than to actually have candidates who have policies that can never be implemented.

MACCALLUM: Yes, she was talking about President Trump also earlier on MSNBC and calling him an authoritarian hyper-capitalist, is the way that she termed him. And you know, when you look back, let's look at this thought from President Trump and the difference in President Obama is how they approach capitalism.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT: If you've got a business that -- you didn't build that, somebody else made that happen.

TRUMP: Nobody's cut regulations like we have. Nobody has created tax cuts like we have.


MACCALLUM: I mean, it can't be sharper voices that are more different on this issue than we've had in the last two presidents. Ben?

SHAPIRO: No question but -- and I think that's what the Democrats are picking on is the fact that the Democrats have always been moving in this direction at least they have been significantly in the past eight years. There's a reason Bernie Sanders came very close to knocking off Hillary Clinton in primaries and it is pathetic to say that a near-octogenarian is the wave of the future but I think that Bernie Sanders has a lot more acolytes among the other thirty crowd that Hillary Clinton ever did and this is pretty good proof of that. I thought that this was you know, particularly ironic, Lin-Manuel Miranda who I think is a genius. I thought Hamilton was wonderful. But I think it's interesting that someone who essentially wrote a musical that is a love letter to the founding fathers and to the Federalist Papers and to Alexander Hamilton is applauding. He's saying congratulations to you, you know, for this woman who is essentially you know, not essentially, she's put herself out there as a socialist. What do you make of that?

SHAPIRO: Yes, and you know she's as radical as can be but again, it is very easy to virtue signal about policies that have no impact and they're never implemented. Bernie Sanders never did anything in the Senate until he ran for president and I highly doubt that any of the policies that are espoused by Ocasio-Sanchez are really going to result in anything real here because it's easy to go home and say that big government is going to solve all your problems when it comes time to hash out the actual legislation, it's going to be pretty difficult to get that stuff passed. The Democrats who were so all-fired eager about the new wave of the Democratic future, they may find that this is not the mainstream. This is a New York district. It has been a Democratic district for 20 odd years, I mean longer than that but the person she replaced had been a ten-term Congressperson. So it's not as though winning a Democratic primary means you're the wave of the future all across America. It means you won a Democratic Party in New York for goodness sake.

MACCALLUM: Yes, well Joe Crowley didn't show up for the debate. He might be rethinking that at this point. I have about a minute left with you, Ben, and I do want to ask your reaction to the huge news today, the resignation of Justice Kennedy and what you think.

SHAPIRO: I mean it's just astonishing obviously. I was really not expecting that Justice Kennedy would step down given that he's the swing vote and it gives President Trump an enormous opportunity to remake the court in a conservative constitutionalist image for a full generation which is again, President Trump has been both lucky and good and he has an opportunity now that he's been lucky to be good again here.

MACCALLUM: Yes. Well, I know you -- well maybe you didn't suggest yourself but you did suggest.

SHAPIRO: Yes, I'll take it if I'm nominated, I'll take it.

MACCALLUM: Why not, right?

SHAPIRO: The confirmation hearings would be lit.

MACCALLUM: Exactly they would be. I think it was Ann Coulter who first suggested back when you were 21 when you were law student at Harvard that you would actually make an excellent Supreme Court Justice. And as you pointed out today, you'd have a pretty good long run at it most likely.

SHAPIRO: Yes, exactly. Maybe I'd be there for a solid 60 years so Mr. President, if you're looking for somebody who's going to have several decades on the court longer than anybody else you're looking at, I'll throw my hat in the ring. If not, I'll just cry myself.

MACCALLUM: You know what, my Twitter feed is just blowing right now with people who are just jumping on board. Thank you so much, Ben. It's always great to see you. Thanks so much.

SHAPIRO: Good to see you.


MACCALLUM: So President Trump on the move again tonight. He has just landed in North Dakota as we see Air Force One on the tarmac this evening. He's getting ready for another rally that's going to happen in about 35 minutes from now. And tonight they look to be on time so we'll be following that closely. And coming up tonight, new satellite pictures raising serious questions about the commitments that President Trump got from North Korea. General Jack Keane breaks it down next. Plus, how did now former FBI agent Peter Strzok explain his text messages under what we understand was very tense questioning in there. House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte was in the room. He led it and he tells us next.


REP. MARK MEADOWS (R), NORTH CAROLINA: I don't know how you read the text, I don't know how any reasonable person reads the text that would suggest that there's no bias.


MACCALLUM: And there is the President just stepping off Air Force One moments ago. A live look at Fargo, North Dakota where he is for a rally for Republican Congressman Kevin Cramer who is running against Heidi Heitkamp. This is clearly one of the races to watch. He would like to see Congressman Cramer replace Heidi Heitkamp but President Trump won North Dakota by a 36-point margin. So he has obviously a very strong base there and it's obviously an interesting dilemma now for Heidi Heitkamp and others.

We talked about like Joe Manchin and Joe Donnelly who live in red states and are Democrats running for reelection in the Senate.

So, tonight, the president is going to speak at a venue that we are told holds about 6,000 people. And we would expect -- and there is John Kelly, the chief of staff getting off the plane as well. We would expect that we will hear something probably about the Supreme Court pick that came up today, also several could Supreme Court decisions that went President Trump's a way that we can also talk about this evening as he tries to rally this crowd.

So, also some changes at the White House this evening, we are told that that Bill Shine, former co-president of Fox News will be taking over a position in communications. The chief of communication spot has been held open for several months and we understand that the former executive of Fox News, the former co-president, as I said, will be taking over a very high level position at the White House.

So, lots of decisions being made there. And we see the beast as it is called parked outside of Air Force One ready to take the president over to the North Dakota rally. As soon as that gets underway, we will take you there live.

Breaking tonight out of Capitol Hill, nine hours and counting. FBI agent Peter Strzok, the top agent, this person's name is so familiar to everyone I think across America now, he was central to the Clinton e-mail investigation and the Russia probe. He testified today behind closed doors about those anti-Trump texts that were uncovered that he and his girlfriend Lisa Page, who was also working on the case, sent each other in voluminous amounts.

So he was grilled during this closed door session. House judiciary and oversight committees were in there. He reportedly defended those texts as part of an intimate conversation.

Here now with more on what happened behind the scene, the man who led the questioning today of Peter Strzok, chairman of House judiciary committee, Bob Goodlatte. Chairman, good to see you this evening. Thank you very much for being here.

REP. BOB GOODLATTE, R-VA.: Good to be with you, Martha and your viewers.

MACCALLUM: So thank you. So what did you hear in there from Peter Strzok today?

GOODLATTE: Well, it's a confidential briefing but I can tell you this, that we are now in the 10th hour and we have still many more questions to ask. However, unfortunately, the FBI counsel in the room has instructed Mr. Strzok not to answer many, many questions, and that's going to be a serious problem moving forward.

So we'll be raising questions with the FBI and with the Department of Justice about why it is that their counsel is instructing Mr. Strzok not to answer questions.


MACCALLUM: Can you give us a sense of what kind of questions he declined to answer?

GOODLATTE: These were questions that are essential to our investigation related to primarily -- I mean, we are asking questions about his central role in both the investigations related to Hillary Clinton and the investigations related to the Trump campaign and so-called Russia collusion.

And these are questions not about the substance of that second investigation, but about the process of his getting involved in that. And they are advising him not to answer those questions. I think that's inappropriate and certainly not helpful to our investigation in the Congress.

MACCALLUM: So I would surmise that the nature of those questions had something to do with the initiation of all of this and whether or not he authorized or initiated any informants to try to interact with members of the Trump campaign or to try to create a pretext for an investigation. Were questions along those lines answered today?

GOODLATTE: There were lots of questions like that and as I say, the FBI is instructing Mr. Strzok not to answer many, many questions. At this point I can't get into the details but it is a very serious concern.

MACCALLUM: Can you characterize his demeanor for me? Is that fair to ask?

GOODLATTE: Well, I think that one of the things I can say is that he has answered many questions regarding the hateful nature of many, many, many texts that he exchanged with Lisa Page, and in doing so, his answers to his explanations for those answers, those questions about that hateful attitude, are not believable.

MACCALLUM: Yes. You are referring to the texts among many where he said that he would stop President Trump, and also the other pivotal text message where they discussed an insurance policy against what they would saw as an unfortunate possibility that President Trump could become president. Did he refer to those as an intimate conversation that did not reflect on his work?

GOODLATTE: Again, I can't comment on the substance of his answers but I can say that he had many, many other texts that are now available to the public where he uses many hateful comments, obscenities, not just about then candidate Donald Trump now President Trump, but other people involved in this matter and groups of people, in his explanation for those are not believable.

MACCALLUM: Yes. Well, we're going to look forward to that and also his public testimony which we understand is coming. Before I let you go, the bill that was known as Goodlatte II immigration bill went down today. But I did see you say that you felt that you've had 223, I think GOP votes in favor of this immigration reform when you took it across the two bills.


MACCALLUM: Can you bring something together that can pass?

GOODLATTE: Well, we are disappointed that neither of those two bills passed, but the great news is that we now have 223 Republican members of the House. A majority of the House of Representatives itself who have voted for one of these two measures.

The first one got many more votes than the second one and I know there are many members of Congress from different vantage points who are already talking about working together to find the votes to make some adjustments to one of those bills, probably the first bill that could bring us to the majority on one bill.

That's the key. We shouldn't be voting on two bills, even if they are both my bill. We should vote on one bill and not vote on it until we have that consensus.

MACCALLUM: Yes. We'll be watching that closely. Chairman Goodlatte, always good to see you, sir. Thank you very much for being with us tonight.

GOODLATTE: Thanks, Martha.

MACCALLUM: So tonight, President Trump's decision to meet with Vladimir Putin is not going over so well with some folks. The G7 folks in particular. But, they have all met with him. Why General Jack Keane says they are wrong, coming up next.


MACCALLUM: The White House and the Kremlin have agreed to a summit and it is expected to happen next month. It would be the first formal sit down between President Trump and Vladimir Putin. The President Trump saying that the meeting would be good for the world.


TRUMP: I have said it from day one, getting along with Russia and with China and with everybody is a very good thing. It's good for the world. It's good for us. It's good for everybody. So we'll probably be meeting sometime around my trip to Europe.


MACCALLUM: So some of our European allies are expressing some dismay at the suggestion. General Jack Keane is the chairman of the Institute for the Study of War and a Fox News senior strategic analyst. General, good to see you as always.


MACCALLUM: Why do they have a problem with it, and should they?

KEANE: Well, I sort of empathize with their feelings. Certainly Putin has earned the status of international pariah on your show, I refer to him as a thug and a killer. And a meeting like this does give him a sense of legitimacy on the world stage that he so desperately craves mostly for his audience at home.

But the reality is to this, Martha, the issues are just so serious facing the international community, thousands are dead in Ukraine, hundreds of thousands have died in Syria and Putin has enabled both of that and the killing goes on.

Meddling in European elections and the U.S. elections are back door assistance to North Korea while all of our negotiations are going on, and he's doing that. And he's backing the Iranians as well.

These are big issues and I think it's very appropriate for President Trump to sit down, eyeball to eyeball, with this man. This powerful man who is influencing these negative events in the world and see if we can make some progress.

MACCALLUM: I mean, many of these leaders have sat down with him themselves, and the president believes that this is a way forward in terms of opening the conversation to talk about the Ukraine, to talk about Crimea, to talk about their activities in Syria. How productive could it be potentially though?

KEANE: Yes, I think that has a lot to do with the president and his style. What I think about is, is that he believes based on his business background, having a personal relationship is a start. And then you go into negotiations.

I think he uses President Xi, and I think we should use it as a framework to look at what's going on in the president's head. He knew full well that President Xi is trampling all over our interest and our allies interest. He was brief in detail on that before we ever met him but he wanted to have a personal relationship to discuss these tough issues and get them on the table.

And he keeps referring to Xi as my dear friend, he's a great leader, and the rest of it. But look at that, he got Xi to make progress on North Korea. Now we don't know the final outcome yet. That's going to be determined. But there has been considerable progress to this point.

I think President Trump uses that as a framework. Listen, I'm going to talk to Putin, thug and killer for sure. And I'm to see if we can make some progress on this establish some rapport. I think that's where he's coming from.

MACCALLUM: Just a half minute left but you know, the satellite images make it look like North Korea is adding to their facilities, not taking them away. And they have also not returned any of the remains of our military whose lives were lost there during the war.

KEANE: Yes. Well, I'm not going to foreclose yet on the fact that North Korea is not going to denuclearize and they are going to follow for everything that they said, you know, with President Trump at the Singapore summit.

Well, first of all, on what you just showed to the audience that's an outside look and definitely something has been added to be sure. Inside, we don't know. So we don't know where we're going with North Korea. They've got to identify and locate all of the nuclear missiles and all the nuclear capability. And if they don't do that then we are going to walk away.

MACCALLUM: General Jack Keane, always good to talk to you, sir. Thank you.

KEANE: OK, Martha. Take care.

MACCALLUM: You, too.

President Trump is on his way to a hockey arena in Fargo, North Dakota for another rally tonight. It's going to get underway very shortly. We'll take you there live as soon as it happens.

But first, the two front runners about to face off in tomorrow night's Fox News debate for the Republican nomination for governor of Florida. This is a big important race. They joined me for a preview, next.


MACCALLUM: Big night tomorrow night, Bret and I are going to be in Florida moderating a debate between the gubernatorial candidates. One a Florida congressman, the other, the Florida agriculture commissioner.

According to the latest Fox News poll, Adam Putnam leads Congressman Ron DeSantis with 32 percent of the vote. Both candidates are here live this evening with a preview. We begin with the Florida commissioner of agriculture. Good to see you tonight, Mr. Putnam. Thank you for being here. President Trump has endorsed--


ADAM PUTNAM, R-FLA., GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: Looking forward to having you in Orlando.

MACCALLUM: So are we. We can't wait to get there.

As you well know President Trump has endorsed your opponent here. Does that matter to you?

PUTNAM: Well, certainly I'm proud of everything that the president is doing to save Floridians money with Trump tax cuts. I'm thrilled that he's going to have second pick on the United States Supreme Court so that we are going to get more decisions like we've had for the last couple of days. And I'm excited to share my vision for putting Florida first, Florida jobs, Florida safety and security and Florida families first.

MACCALLUM: So why do you think he chose DeSantis over you?

PUTNAM: Well, look, it doesn't -- it's not a great surprise to me that the two have built a relationship over Washington issues, but I'm focused on Florida issues.

A conservative pro-business vision for the future of the State of Florida. One that certainly is going to help make America great again, but it begins with the third largest state. And the third largest state is on our roll.

Our unemployment rate is under 4 percent, we're setting new records for tourism and we got a thousand new people a day moving to Florida from high tax high bureaucracy states like Illinois, New Jersey, New York, and California.

And we are going to continue to build on that strong foundation, put vocational and technical training back into our schools and continue to diversify our economy and make good job stay here in Florida.

MACCALLUM: Yes. You point out a lot of achievements that have happened under Rick Scott, his time as governor. Where do you separate from him? You know, is there anything that you say, well, I wouldn't do this the way that Rick Scott did it?

PUTNAM: Well, Governor Scott has been an exceptional turnaround CEO for Florida. Eight years ago, when Governor Scott and all of us came in to office, Governor Scott, you know, the unemployment rate in Florida was almost 12 percent. Today it's 3.8.

The Wall Street Journal and Time magazine were writing Florida's obituary and saying that tourism was broken, our growth model was broken and wouldn't come back and that our real estate market would never recover.

And putting conservative pro-business policies in place, we're an economic engine for the nation and a magnet for talent from around the world. So Governor Scott if he does a fraction for the United States Senate of what he has done for the great State of Florida, it's going to be an amazing thing to observe and Washington doesn't know what's coming his way.

MACCALLUM: All right. Adam Putnam, good to have you here tonight, sir. And we look to speaking with you more tomorrow evening. So, thank you very much for being here.

PUTNAM: Thank you.

MACCALLUM: Now let's go over to Representative Ron DeSantis, also a Florida gubernatorial candidate. Congressman DeSantis, good to have you with us this evening. You saw the poll numbers that we put up there, why do you think that is?

REP. RON DESANTIS, R-FLA.: Well, Martha, my opponent has got a lot of special interest money. They've been raining down, I think $11 million over the last three months. I've just now started our ad campaign. Obviously we got the endorsement by the president. He had tweeted for me in December which was great, but a lot of people I wasn't even a candidate then. A lot of people don't even remember that.

So this is a fresh reminder that the president of the United States has identified me as a guy who would be the best leader for the State of Florida. And if you look around the country there are very few, if nay primaries, contested primaries with no incumbent where the president has been willing to do that.

And so I think that's a testament to the leadership I've demonstrated in my time in the Congress, as well as in the military and back from McKay (Ph) in Florida. So, I'm very honored to have his support and I think that your debate is going to be a focal point where people start to really focus and really scrutinize the candidates going forward.

MACCALLUM: Yes. Leaping so, too, it has had that impact in the past so we are looking very much forward to doing it. Tell me what you think the defining issue is between you and Adam Putman?

DESANTIS: Well, I'm an Iraq veteran, I have a proven conservative record and I'm endorsed by Donald Trump. I think Commissioner Putnam has been in office since he was 22 years old. He is a career politician, he is an insider transactional type Republican. I'm a principled conservative and I think Florida voters are much more in sync with them in terms of what they want to see.

I mean, Adam Putnam he supported the Wall Street bailout. He supported Obama's cash for clunkers. He supported the Obama-Schumer immigration amnesty which was the biggest amnesty in history would have lowered wages for Americans. I was not for any of those things.

And so are you in touch with what Florida voters want, and I think my record is, and I think he has not been.

MACCALLUM: So in terms of, obviously you both have to be the candidate, and to win in this primary there is five -- it's a very crowded Democratic field on the other side. In terms of running against that person if you get that privilege to do that, who do you think is going to be and how will you run against them?

DESANTIS: I have no idea who it's going to be. I think it's a total Charlie foxtrot over there and I like watching it because I hope they tear each other apart.

But here's the issue, Martha. We need to build up the success that Governor Scott has had, and really cement Florida as the place to be for job creation, for education reform.

And then, we're talking about Justice Kennedy the next governor in all likelihood is going to get to replace three liberal state Supreme Court justices. I am the most well qualified to be able to do that.

If the Democrats want to run on turning us into Illinois or New York, let them try to do that. Florida voters do not want that.

MACCALLUM: All right. General, thank you very much. To both of you. We'll give Mr. Putnam a chance tomorrow night to respond to some of those things that you laid out there, and we're glad you're both here. We're very much looking forward to it. Thanks to you guys.


MACCALLUM: Thank you very much, gentlemen.

All right. So as we showed you just a moment ago, there is the hockey arena in North Dakota. The president obviously traveling the country trying to have a big impact on these elections.

Congressman Cramer versus Heidi Heitkamp for the Senate seat in North Dakota. We'll take you there live, next.


MACCALLUM: So the room is waiting at the hockey arena in North Dakota. President Trump about to step on the stage. And here is a tee to what you are likely to see in tomorrow morning favorite news, it's the Daily News, never a big fan of President Trump but that's the way that they have described for the story that happened today.

And the fact that Justice Anthony Kennedy is about to step down from the court, so no doubt the president will address that in some way. The fact that he's got another vacancy, second, since his time as president of United States.

And he's hoping to rally people for Congressman Cramer in North Dakota. Heidi Heitkamp is going to be in a very tight race there. So we'll be watching closely as the president arrives. We'll bring you there live. Have a great night, everybody. I'll see you in Florida.

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