This is a rush transcript from "The Story," December 18, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
MARTHA MACCALLUM, HOST: Hey there, Bret. Thank you very much. So, the hallmarks of the Trump White House over the past two years all coming to ahead this evening.
Good evening, everybody. I'm Martha MacCallum so on the one end you've got the border wall. President Trump's signature campaign promise in jeopardy as the White House is now saying that they're flexible on the funding for the wall.
Democrats rejecting the latest offer, and the jockeying continues tonight. We're going to talk about that. On the other, the Mueller probe. Today, U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan in the face of all the experts. Saying that he would give former NSA adviser Michael Flynn zero time. The judge clearly had other ideas today. He blasted Flynn in the courtroom.
Gestured to the flag to make his point. Saying that his actions as a foreign agent for Turkey undermine everything this flag over here stands for. "Arguably," he said, "you sold your country out." At one point, even asking the prosecutor if Flynn's actions could be considered treason, which attorney Jonathan Turley found shocking.
Writing this tonight, "It is so wildly out of place that it could have been viewed as an attempt by the judge at being facetious. The man in front of Sullivan was accused of lying in an FBI interview, even though the FBI agents who interviewed Flynn did not believe that his false statements were intentional."
Turley also points out in his piece this evening that the judge had to walk back statements about Flynn being a foreign agent while serving as national security adviser because the prosecutors did not find that to be the case in terms of timing on all that.
Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey weighs in, in just a moment. Also tonight, transcripts from James Comey's second testy interview with House investigators. Texas Congressman John Ratcliffe, a member of the House Judiciary Committee was in the room, questioned former director Comey, and joins me now.
Good to see you tonight, Congressman. Welcome, thanks for being here.
REP. JOHN RATCLIFFE, R-TX: Hi, Martha. Good to be with you.
MACCALLUM: What was your takeaway? What was the big point of what you were asking James Comey about, and what did you learn?
RATCLIFFE: Well, Martha, we continued to focus on the disparity and the dichotomy in which the same conduct was treated differently by Jim Comey's FBI in the Hillary Clinton investigation versus the Trump-Russia investigation.
And so, we spent a lot of time probing former director Comey about why all of the departures from FBI protocols with very few exceptions seemed to work in favor of Hillary Clinton and the folks associated with her and to the detriment of Donald Trump and the folks associated with him.
MACCALLUM: We know what he says about that. He shakes his finger and says that -- you know, Republicans ought to be ashamed of themselves that he is just tired of hearing about Hillary Clinton's e-mails that, that is so yesterday. So, why do you still think that this is so important?
RATCLIFFE: Well, you know, it's hard to argue with a witness like Jim Comey who's always right. You know, Martha, I have to confess. You know, I've lost all objectivity with regard to former director Comey in part, because I was one of the folks that was defending him two years ago when all of this stuff started to happen.
RATCLIFFE: But he's turned out to be every bit as duplicitous and sanctimonious as folks told me that he was. So, you know, we're just asking questions, we're trying to get a transcript of what really happened so that folks are treated equally under the law. And I think folks looking at this objectively and fairly see that.
I don't mind if Jim Comey is a partisan, but don't pretend to be a fair and impartial umpire saying that on a one side of your mouth while out of the other side of your mouth, you're telling people to use their last breath to stop Donald Trump and Republicans, and to vote Democrat into campaign door- to-door for Democratic candidates. It's disingenuous.
MACCALLUM: So, let me ask you this. One of the things that you were pressing on, we've been going through these transcripts and looking at some of the back-and-forth that you had with him. And you were talking to him about whether or not President Obama was part of any of those back-and- forth e-mail exchanges with Hillary Clinton. And what happened to those e- mails.
He claimed, no, there was never any classified information that flowed between President Obama who at times used a pseudonym, I guess, on some of his e-mails -- correct me if I'm wrong on that to Hillary Clinton.
RATCLIFFE: Right. He said he didn't recall if there was classified information. But we were really trying to find out about the communications and as you saw, Martha, he confirmed that President Obama was communicating with former Secretary Clinton on an unclassified, unauthorized server, at least, at one point in time, while Secretary Clinton was in Russia.
So, it was fair to ask those questions. That wasn't any information that he volunteered. And so, we were really trying to probe into that. Because again, the question here was, "Was classified information mishandled?" And really the question that we had was why wasn't Hillary Clinton asked about that?
RATCLIFFE: She wasn't asked a single question in her interview about conversations or communications with the president.
MACCALLUM: Yes, I mean, it's a -- it's a fair question and something that many people have brought up to me, and I think have discussed, you know, on their own. Wanting to know whether or not President Obama had any knowledge of this server or whether or not he received any information like that. You also press down on the date of the tarmac meeting between Loretta Lynch and Bill Clinton.
And then, as meeting that happened the very next day and information that director Comey asked his people to pull for him right after that meeting happened, what happened with that exchange?
RATCLIFFE: June 27, 2016, Loretta Lynch meets on a tarmac with Bill Clinton. Director Comey asks for all of the e-mails between Secretary Clinton and President Obama. The exoneration memo that Jim Comey had written was changed to delete any references to President Obama from his public remarks.
And three days later, the FBI sent a team of prosecutors and investigators into question Hillary Clinton. She didn't get a single question about the meeting between Loretta Lynch and her husband. She didn't get a single question about her communications with Barack Obama on an unsecured unclassified server.
These are questions that every American would have asked right out of the gate. Director Comey didn't know why they were asked, didn't know if it was a good -- didn't have a good excuse for why no one in that room asked those questions. He didn't follow up with Loretta Lynch. He didn't follow up with President Obama. He didn't follow up with Secretary Clinton.
MACCALLUM: Very -- I mean, surprising. It raises a lot of questions. I think those are very fair questions. And did he take those questions well? Was he, he wasn't responsive apparently.
RATCLIFFE: He didn't. You know, Jim Comey gets red in the face and angry anytime you raise any questions that would question whether his conduct or his decisions raise doubt about his integrity.
You know, the story always has to end the same with former director Comey. He always has to be right and he always has to be the hero in the end. And he doesn't think it's fair if you ask questions that would have the story end any other way.
And I think, it's really sad and unfortunate and -- you know, he walked out of that interview yesterday and was asked if he thought he had any fault or blamed for damage to the FBI in the last few years? And he said none whatsoever.
MACCALLUM: He said, no.
RATCLIFFE: That's the perfect sign off for former director Jim Comey. I think that's his legacy.
MACCALLUM: Congressman Ratcliffe, thank you. Great to have you with us tonight.
RATCLIFFE: You bet.
MACCALLUM: Joining me now, Judge Michael Mukasey, former attorney general under President George W. Bush. Good to have you here this evening.
MICHAEL MUKASEY, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES: Good to be here.
MACCALLUM: You know, I want to go back to the topic that I brought up in the intro with regard to Michael Flynn and the judge. What a difference a day makes. I mean, everybody believed that this was going to be zero sentence. This judge had a lot to say. What did you make of it?
MUKASEY: What I made of it was that it was just bizarre in my experience. I've never -- there was only one judge that I ever saw and do things like that, and he was in a southern district to New York and was known to be off his rocker.
These judges are generally restrained in their comments. Generally, they don't take on either defendants or lawyers in that fashion because it's not a fair fight. And everybody knows that instinctively.
He suggested that Flynn was guilty of treason and backed off that, he suggested that he was an unregistered agent while in the White House, he backed off that.
MACCALLUM: Those are two facts that he just simply was wrong on when he was berating him, which seems very unusual. I just want to mention that we just got some information that Michael Flynn has been asked to surrender his passport and not to leave the area of a 50-mile circumference around Washington D.C. Your thoughts on that.
MUKASEY: That's the kind of precaution that's usually taken with somebody who's a risk of flight. And I don't know whether that was done at the behest of the government, or simply by the judge spontaneously.
But again, it's -- it suggests an over-the-top approach to this case. Look, Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to making a false statement to the FBI. Serious crime. But, let's put it in proportion. The agents to whom he made that statement knew the truth. They weren't misled.
The damage that resulted from it was nil. The damage possibly from false statements to other officials including the vice president was arguably substantial, but temporary.
MACCALLUM: And that's why he was let go the White House.
MUKASEY: That's why he was fired from the White House. But that's not why he was prosecuted. The crime for which he was prosecuted was the false statements to the agents.
He was not prosecuted for anything having to do with Turkey. And it would be really questionable whether the judge could take that into account as related conduct on a sentence. So, the reason for bringing that up frankly mystifies me.
MACCALLUM: What about it what was revealed in terms of Michael Flynn's discussions with the Russian ambassador and his relationship with this entity in Turkey. It is -- you know, and I think it's kind of a dirty secret of Washington that a lot of people get paid by foreign governments. They're supposed to register as a foreign agent in order to be aboveboard about that.
But apparently, the rules are a little bit squishy about what means you have to register, and that means you don't have to register.
MUKASEY: I think that getting paid by Turkey to have conversations with people in the government is lobbying. And yes, you have to register for that. But it's a far cry from that to say that he was a foreign agent in the White House when that relationship stopped beforehand.
And it's also not the crime for which he was being prosecuted. If they were going to prosecute him for that, they could have.
MACCALLUM: I can't help wondering if this judge was unhappy with the press, or unhappy with the suggestion that he was absolutely going to give him zero time, no matter what. He's a federal judge, he has the right to evaluate this.
The president tweeted this morning this, "Good luck today in court. General Flynn. Will be interesting to see what he has to say, despite tremendous pressure being put on him, about Russian collusion in our great and obviously highly successful political campaign. No collusion." From the president. Was that bad move?
MUKASEY: By the president?
MUKASEY: I don't think it was the wisest move in the world, nor do I think it was the wisest move in the world for Flynn's lawyers to attack the government's tactics. Although they were I think improper.
But when the government submits a memo urging that you not be sent to jail. There's no point in --
MACCALLUM: Hold your fire, keep your mouth shut and wait until you see the judge, right?
MUKASEY: Right. You go in front of the judge you say, I'm sorry, you get your no time.
MUKASEY: And then, if you want to go out and talk about what the government did or not, fine, that's after the sentence. But you don't submit a memo before the sentence attacking the government.
MACCALLUM: So, it was that the reason that this judge behaved the way he did today? Was he unhappy?
MUKASEY: I don't -- I don't read minds. Particularly, at a distance. I have no idea why -- whether he was unhappy and if so, why?
But I think that what he said in court was way beyond or judges normally do.
MACCALLUM: Judge Mukasey, thank you. Good to see you tonight. Thanks for being here.
MUKASEY: Good to be with you.
MACCALLUM: So, coming up next, the White House says the shutdown can be avoided if Democrats are willing to compromise.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We are continuing to have constant and regular conversations with the Hill. I'm not going to negotiate here. We've laid out clearly what our parameters are with members of Congress. We want to know what they can pass.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: So, will they come to the table? Democrat Senator Chris Coons up next on what his party plans to do.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANDERS: We have other ways that we can get to that $5 billion. At the end of the day, we don't want to shut down the government. We want to shut down the border from illegal immigration, from drugs coming into this country, and make sure we know who's coming and why they're coming.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: Sarah Sanders earlier hinting at a compromise as Friday's looming government shutdown deadline is drawing near. Their position characterized as extremely flexible today by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell but the impasse over border funding on Capitol Hill is raging on tonight with Democrats saying no thanks to the GOP's latest offer.
Here now on that Democratic Senator Chris Coons of Delaware. He serves on both the Judiciary and Foreign Relations Committee. Senator, thank you for being here. Good to have you here tonight. So what is -- what's the parameters of the deal that you don't like and why don't you like it?
SEN. CHRIS COONS, D-DEL.: Well, Martha, I'm so encouraged to hear that we're actually beginning to make progress here. In recent days the only person who has said publicly they were cheering for his shutdown was President Trump who was insisting on $5 billion this year in additional wall investments or he was threatening to shut down the government over the holidays.
Now we're beginning detailed negotiations about what more might be needed in order to get a border security investment that the President would accept and that would allow us to complete our appropriations work for this year. On a bipartisan basis, we've made more progress and gotten farther in our annual appropriations process this year than any of the eight years I've been here.
That's something I know Majority Leader McConnell and Minority Leader Schumer have wanted us to complete that work this year.
MACCALLUM: Well, let me ask you because --
COONS: Where I have a problem --
MACCALLUM: Go ahead.
COONS: Where I have a problem is with the proposal for an undefined billion-dollar slush fund that the President could spend any way he chose on internal enforcement, on hiring more agents, on building the border wall. I think you just ran a clip from Senator Collins of Maine talking about a ten-year plan costing in total 25 billion that would be managed by the Department of Homeland Security over a decade. That was part of a broad bold bill on immigration that I voted for and co-sponsored earlier this year but it accomplished some other big things in immigration reform. I think that's the sort --
MACCALLUM: So you like -- you like the bill that Collins proposed. You know, I'm going to play it because we weren't -- you were listening to it in the break with me so let's play it so everyone else can hear it.
COONS: Great. Thank you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. SUSAN COLLINS, R-ME: I've urged the administration and some of my colleagues so take a look at a plan that we put together earlier this year that would give the President the full $25 billion that he wants for border security that goes beyond just some physical barriers like the wall and divide that up in $2.5 billion a year which is what I believe the Department of Homeland Security can efficiently spend and wisely spend.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: All right, so that's $25 billion over a period of time, over ten years.
COONS: Ten years. Right.
MACCALLUM: 46 of the 49 Democratic senators were in favor of it. We also remember another moment in time when Democrats were in favor of $25 billion to spend on border security. So why is five such a big hurdle A, and B, can the plan described by Susan Collins pass?
COONS: Well, the only reason the plan described by Susan Collins, the bill that I worked with her on and co-sponsored didn't pass was because of active lobbying against that bill by President Trump and a number of conservative Republican senators.
That got 52 votes on the floor of the Senate and -- excuse me -- got 54 votes on the floor of the Senate earlier this year. It also had a pathway to citizenship for DREAMers. So it was a broad bill that had detailed plans not just for a single concrete wall across the whole border but for investments in monitoring security, in double fencing --
MACCALLUM: Yes, but I can't -- you know, I can't help but think -- it always sounds to me, you know, when you really break down what the President says, he talks about using technology, he talks about -- it sounds like you're all talking about the same thing. Democrats say we want border security and the President says he wants a secure border.
COONS: That's right.
MACCALLUM: So both sides want it so that people aren't climbing over the fences and you know, putting small children under the walls, so that there's entry points. So why can't you all just get together and work this out?
COONS: That's a great question, Martha. I'll tell you, the only person who was saying I have to have $5 billion or I'm going to shut down the government this week was President Trump.
MACCALLUM: But he's not saying that now.
COONS: Hopefully at this point, Martha --
MACCALLUM: Not saying that now. Much to the dismay of some of his supporters --
COONS: Hopefully at this point -- at this point, having moved past that, we can reach an accommodation that has a defined plan for what it is the money will be invested in that will actually contribute to border security. To the extent we're talking about a single concrete wall, that doesn't have support broadly enough to get through the Senate and the House.
MACCALLUM: What difference does it make of what it's made of? This is another thing I don't understand. People say, oh, well the money that was spent, it wasn't spent on a wall. It was spent on shoring up a very strong fence -- looks like a wall. I was there. It looked like a wall. So what difference does it make what the word is, what you call it?
COONS: Now, what matters is whether the money's being spent wisely and efficiently or not --
MACCALLUM: It works. And if it works.
COONS: -- if it works or if it doesn't. and one of the things I commend Senator Collins for really focusing on in our immigration policy working group earlier this year which had two dozen senators participating at different points was getting the Department of Homeland Security to come in and describe to us what they can efficiently spend per year, what kinds of technologies they want to deliver, and then had accountability back to the Senate for reporting what they spent it on and what the outcome was.
What is the latest proposal on the table today was another billion dollars in addition to the $1.6 billion that's in the bill now that would just be money that the President could spend as he wished? Some oversight and some accountability is appropriate here.
MACCALLUM: So the money that's spent on illegal immigration goes way over what is being proposed for a border wall. Does that bother you?
COONS: What bothers --
MACCALLUM: I mean, you know, the concern about the money being spent just seems kind of you know, it seems willy-nilly. It seems like if you don't like an idea then you don't want to spend the money. But everybody spends so much money all the time.
COONS: Marth, I'm one of the senators who has worked tirelessly with Republican colleagues to come up with a bipartisan solution to our broken immigration system. That includes making progress on resolving the status of folks who are here through things like the DREAMer program and investing in border security. I do think we can get this done in a bipartisan way. Let me take one moment before we end and give some hope to your viewers.
The first vote has just been called a few minutes ago in a Comprehensive Criminal Justice Reform Bill. This is a bill that has the sponsorship or the support of the Fraternal Order of Police, of the National Association of Evangelicals, of Catholic Charities, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Heritage Action, and the ACLU.
You've got Republicans and Democrats in the Senate and the House supporting this bill. I expect it will pass later tonight after six votes and President Trump has said he will sign it. Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law was a key force in getting this bill to this point.
I think this will make a real difference in making our criminal justice system at the federal level focus more on reducing sentences, making sure that folks who belong in jail or in jail and those who can be improved in terms of their behavior and who can return to society safely, it gives an opportunity for relief valve for folks who are currently serving overly long sentences for minor nonviolent drug-related crimes.
MACCALLUM: We are watching --
COONS: I think this is a big step forward and I just hope that while we're arguing over spending and over budget -- excuse me -- over border security, I just wanted your viewers to know there is also significant progress being made tonight on a bipartisan bill that has been years in the making and has broad support.
MACCALLUM: Thank you. We're watching it. We had a live picture up of that vote as it's going on and we're going to continue to have live coverage of it throughout the evening. We're also going to get Ben Shapiro to weigh in on that bill as well in a little while. Senator Coons, always good to talk to you, sir. Thank you for being here.
COONS: Thank you, Martha.
MACCALLUM: You bet. So when we come back, never-before-heard audio of the vile threats that Senator Susan Collins received during the Kavanaugh process.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't be a dumb (BLEEP). Don't be a stupid (BLEEP) hypocrite. If you care at all about women's stories, vote no on Kavanaugh. Don't be a dumb (BLEEP). (BLEEP) you also.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: Those messages are unreal. I heard many of them, too many of them actually. That's just a sample. Ben Shapiro, coming up next. He's got a big announcement so come back.
MACCALLUM: Now to an exclusive. One of the biggest stories of 2018 was the tortured confirmation process of now Justice Kavanaugh.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTINE BLASEY FORD, ACCUSER OF JUSTICE KAVANAUGH: I was pushed onto the bed and Brett got on top of me. I believed he was going to rape me.
BRETT KAVANAUGH, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE, SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES: I've never sexually assaulted anyone. Not in high school, not in college, not ever.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: The story has exclusively obtained tonight from Senator Susan Collins' vile e-mails that she received when she became the deciding vote. Vicious callers trying to pressure and intimidate her at her office. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you vote for him, you are setting a -- feckless, feckless, feckless woman standing there letting Trump and his appointees steal healthcare from millions of Americans, steal the right to choose what women do with their bodies. You are so (muted). You will go down in history as the most naive person ever to be in Congress. You (muted) naive woman.
(END VOICE CLIP)
MACCALLUM: That's enough. That's enough. You get the idea, right? We also now know that she was sent packages with notes that said they contained ricin and anthrax to her home where she and her husband live in Maine. Thankfully, they did not, but that's what she was going through during those 48 to 72 hours that she was making up her mind.
She told me today that she never once wavered as she went through that process. She thought it was interesting that people thought that that kind of message would dissuade her from doing what she felt was right, in the end.
Ben Shapiro is here to talk about that. Also, the president has promised to build a wall and developments in that and a surprising announcement, as well. Ben, good to see you. Good evening.
BEN SHAPIRO, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, DAILYWIRE.COM: Thanks for having me.
MACCALUM: So, your thoughts, I mean, it's hard to listen to those, I wish we didn't--
MACCALLUM: -- run it for so long, but it's hard to listen to them. What are your thoughts on what's going on in America when that's the way that people voice their desire to their senator?
SHAPIRO: I mean, obviously, people are more interested in basically venting their feelings than they are actually effectuating change. That they are much more interested in making themselves heard, than in actually getting other people to listen to them.
And then there is an obvious irony to all of these people calling up Susan Collins and basically slandering her in every conceivable way, a feckless woman, using sexist slurs to rip her for supposedly being too sexist to listen to Christine Blasey Ford--
MACCALLUM: Yes, great point.
SHAPIRO: -- in the Kavanaugh hearings. I mean, all of it is absurd. But it speaks to, I think a rising rage that Americans are feeling across the aisle. And I think that goes to a lack of social fabric. I think that we are coming apart at the seams in a lot of ways, and we are filling that with anger and political tribalism.
MACCALUM: You know, it was also pointed out today by the Senate ethics complaint -- I'm sorry, the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust, it's called FACT, and they look at the least ethical behavior that happens on the Hill, and they claimed, according to their look at all of this, that the two least ethical members of the Senate were Senators Warren and Harris, who sent campaign fund-raising e-mails before the Senate vote on the Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Specifically, those e-mails stated their official role and positions in the ongoing confirmation progress, and then they said donate now and contribute, which is against the rules, Ben.
SHAPIRO: Yes. I mean, and it's plainly morally disgusting, as well. I mean, you're in a middle of a contentious hearing over whether a crime did or did not happen years ago, and you are sending out fund-raisers on your own behalf in the middle of that?
Even as Senator Kamala Harris, for example, was going out there and making completely unwarranted charges about Judge Kavanaugh. And it really was an astonishing display.
Politics has become blood sport for so many people these days, including the people who are in Congress. And let's be frank about this, Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren were doing this because they are both running for president in 2020. It had nothing to do with principle, it had nothing to do with decency, it had nothing to do with due process. It was a disgusting display from beginning to end.
MACCALUM: And Claire McCaskill said she thinks it's one of the reasons that she lost her race, the way that her party handled that whole progress.
I want to get your thoughts on the wall, because obviously this is central to what the president ran on, securing the border. And at this point, we are hearing moments ago, that it sounds like Senator Shelby, basically they've reached a kick the can down the road agreement. I know that's a real shock. So, it looks like they are going to deal with funding the government in the New Year. That's the big braking news. Surprise. Surprise.
SHAPIRO: Yes, it always tends it to be a bluff when people talk government shutdown. What's kind of shocking about this is Chuck Schumer tried this exact same tactic back in January 2018, and it went so badly for him that he ended up backing off.
It seems to me, that if the president really wanted to press the issue, there are ways to press the issue right here, especially given the fact that he's not going to get another shot at this.
SHAPIRO: I mean, once the Democrats are in charge of the House then the chance that he gets anything remotely resembling anything like border funding completely dissipates, especially in the midst of investigations they are sure to launch against him.
There president I think should have taken a stronger position here. I think that his supporters have the right to be upset with that. The wall has not been built. It doesn't look like the wall is going to be built, and all the promises notwithstanding.
Now, if the president doesn't take some pretty dramatic action on that, this was his number one campaign progress, it has not happened, it has not materialized.
MACDONALD: And you pointed out in your podcast today, that it's interesting that he is allowing the wall as he envisioned it to slip away. And I think, you know, in a perfect world, which I just discussed with Chris Coons, there is border security. They are securing the border, and I think that they really agree on it more than they disagree on it, and maybe we will get somewhere on that.
But you find it ironic that they are passing this criminal justice reform, and that the president was, you know, very big on law enforcement and law and order, but this is what he is in favor of.
SHAPIRO: I mean, it's definitely interesting that at the same time we're talking what not getting the funding for the border wall, we're talking about e passing criminal justice reform, which, I mean, at the very least is controversial in how many criminals it's going to end up letting out of prison, whether or not those people ended up being safe on the streets is actually an open question and a matter of open debate inside the Republican caucus.
It's definitely a bizarre move by President Trump. Maybe he is trying to reach out to the middle in preparation for 2020, or maybe this is just incoherence, whatever it is. I think the president he's been fond of using the bully pulpit in the past for particular things he cares about.
It seems to me that if he cares about the wall, if he cares about border security, if he cares about law and order, then this would be a great time for him to get on the stump and talk about it.
MACCALUM: Well, you want to get on something and talk about something, and you have a big announcement, so tell us what you are rolling out tonight.
SHAPIRO: Yes. So, coming out in March, we have a brand-new book, it's called "The Right Side of History" and I'm really excited to share the cover with you. I think a really important book. It really is about the whole in our heart that's been left by the abandonment of Judeo-Christian values, as well as the basic concept of reason in modern America.
And how we're filling that with rage and anger and tribalism, and how we really need to create a new social fabric built around the eternal principles that are enshrined in the Constitution but have roots that are thousands of years older than that.
MACCALUM: How do you get them back?
SHAPIRO: Well, I think the way you get them back is first by addressing the lack of them. We are not living in a society that is grounded in a moral vision.
And if we don't go back to the basics, if we don't relearn our bible, if we don't relearn heiress title, if we don't relearn our federalist papers, then we are basically, taking all of the gains of western civilization without understanding how we came to this point in the first place. And then, we're ripping away the fruits of the tree that we are standing on the branch of. I mean, you do that the tree is toppled one. That's what we're seeing happening right now.
MACCALUM: So, how, you know -- I mean, you are a dad. How do you try to do that with your children?
SHAPIRO: Well, first of all, I inculcate them certain basic values. They are made in God's image. They are unique individuals made in God's image. That they have the capacity to reason. And that, the best way to work in the world is to work through that reason in trying to interpret a predictable universe that you can understand. That you have the capacity to get together with others and make a difference. But you are never allowed to force your views on other people.
Now this is used to be basic American principles and if we don't inculcate them in our kids from the time that they are born and then enriched them with that continuing message over time, then everything starts to fall apart. We lose what bound us together in the first place.
MACCALUM: Ben, thanks. We'll talk to you soon. Good to have you here tonight.
SHAPIRO: Thanks so much.
MACCALLUM: So, this Thursday, an exclusive interview with Senator Susan Collins and her response to those messages that were left for her and what she went through in order to reach her decision in that vote. Things she has never talked about before and that's why we called it the untold story from Susan Collins, one of the biggest stories of the year. What really went on in the background. Thursday night at 7 p.m.
Also, up next tonight, a fresh look at the rules of engagement after the case of this former Green Beret who has been charged with murder, has sparked a national conversation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JULIE GOLSTEYN, MATTHEW GOLSTEYN'S WIFE: The characterization of my husband that is out there is absolutely incongruent with the person he is. This is absolutely disgusting how they're portraying him as a cold-blooded murderer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: Tonight, there are some new questions in the case of Major Matthew Golsteyn, a former Green Beret and Silver Star recipient now facing murder charges after admitting to killing a suspected Taliban bomb maker in 2010.
Joining me now is Tom Kenniff, a criminal lawyer, Iraq war veteran, former officer in the Army National Guard JAG Corps. Tom, always good to talk to about this kind of story. And I think, you know, people listen to the story and they just, they can't believe it.
This is a decorated war hero who was trying to protect his own men, he said that he had the experience in the past of letting, you know, these guys go, and then they just came back around once they realized who they were working with, within the Afghan army. They came back to kill them. And he didn't want that to happen.
THOMAS KENNIFF, CRIMINAL LAWYER: He also all the time that has passed. I remember going on nine years now. And, of course, there is no statute of limitations for murder, which is one of the problems that the major is facing here.
And, of course, everybody is going back to the statements is, what board of prosecutors will construe as admission, they made both on television, and apparently, in this interview that he did for employment with the CIA where he was hooked up to a lie detector test, and that lie detector test itself wouldn't be admissible in a general courts-martial, but the statements themselves that he made could be used as admission against him, whatever it is he supposedly said regarding this killing.
So, you know, there's a lot of moving parts here. And obviously, him being a Green Beret and a member of the Special Forces. I mean, no one can really imagine what combat veterans are going through at that time.
KENNIFF: Let alone combat veterans, you know, not JAG--
MACCALUM: And this is in Marja in Helmand province. I mean, you were in Iraq.
MACCALLUM: We had Geraldo here the other night who was reporting from the war zone at that time just saying, it was absolute chaos. You know, that everything -- you know, there were IEDs blowing up under our vehicles on a daily basis. And that he just he felt so strongly that this -- that this guy is a hero and that he should not be held responsible for this.
KENNIFF: Absolute chaos. And then a lot of people felt that under the Obama administration, maybe even under the later portions of the Bush administration after Abu Gorab, and so forth, that a lot of these heroes were being asked to fight this war with one hand tied behind their back. Because the rules of engagement, the military rules for the use of force were becoming so restrictive that it really put them in an untenable situation.
Of course, that would not justify a cold-blooded killing of a detainee in custody, if that's what this was. But it's not clear that that's what it was, and I think we all know that it wasn't.
MACCALUM: I want to play a quick sound bite from his wife and just get a quick thought from you out of that. Let's watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOLSTEYN: I would also like to say that this is the army of Manning and Bergdahl.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
GOLSTEYN: And if those are the kinds of people that we want in the army, that's what we are going to end up with. Because who are we going to have in our ranks if this is what we do to our good men?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KENNIFF: She makes a great point. And one thing I want to point out is, you know, the charges in this case they have been preferred to courts- martial. There is still due process that will occur before this case could ever get to courts-martial. There's something called an article 32 here, which is sort of the military's equivalent of a grand jury or a felony hearing where a military officer is going to review these allegations for probable cause.
That officer can make a determination that there is no probable cause, which then the general -- the commanding general will have to either agree to follow or not. He can also make findings and mitigation, determined that look, there perhaps was misconduct here, but it doesn't rise to the level of where this hero should be facing a general court-martial where he could get either life in prison or even the death penalty, for that matter.
MACCALUM: Admiral Tom, thank you very much. KENNIFF: Thank you.
MACCALLUM: Good to have you here tonight. So, coming up next, President Trump's plans to overhaul controversial Obama-era guidelines on how children are disciplined in schools. Former education secretary Bill Bennett, up next.
MACCALUM: Tonight, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos continues to chip away at President Obama's controversial school policies. During his administration, schools were basically told that punishment such as detention or suspension sometimes unfairly targeted minorities.
But many teachers complain that with those punishments off the table, it was then difficult to keep students in line, and presented a challenge to learning and focusing for the students who were behaving.
In some cases, teachers were even the targets of physical attack and felt that it was too tough to maintain control in their classrooms under those rules, or lack thereof. But the Trump administration now wants to roll some of them back.
Trace Gallagher has the story for us tonight from the west coast newsroom.
TRACE GALLAGHER, CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Martha. The federal school safety report is 177 pages and replete with policy recommendations, like expanding mental health services and school security protocols, but its primary focus is rescinding Obama administration guidelines on discipline.
Remember, back in 2013, '14, then Education Secretary Arnie Duncan and the administration argued that teachers were discriminating against students of color by punishing them at higher rates than white students. They argued it fostered a, quote, "school to prison pipeline."
The administration then sends school districts a letter warning that they could be subject to civil rights investigations.
Two years later, a New York school survey focusing on schools that served predominantly students of color, reportedly showed dramatic deterioration from the 2013, '14 school year to the 2014, '15 school year.
For example, physical fighting increased at 50 percent of schools, and decreased that only 14 percent, and peer respect got worse, at 58 percent of schools, and improved just 19 percent.
USA Today says that during that same time frame, schools in St. Paul, Minnesota, said that assaults against teachers and other school staff had tripled. The school safety commission report says the Obama guidance, quoting here, "sent the unfortunate message that the federal government, rather than teachers and local administrators, best handle school discipline."
And a Charleston, South Carolina teacher summed it up more bluntly, quoting, "Once the kid finds out he can F you, flip over a table and he won't get suspended, that's that."
And it's important to note that instead of being expelled or arrested after numerous incidents of bad behavior, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz was placed in an alternative program. Even though Cruz is white and his program had nothing to do with Obama-era guidance, Florida Senator Marco Rubio said it shows that failing to report troubled students to law enforcement can have dangerous repercussions.
Today at the White House, some parents of those who lost children in the Parkland shooting praised the report. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RYAN PETTY, LOST DAUGHTER IN PARKLAND SHOOTING: My hope is that rather than fighting over the things we don't like or we think are missing, that as a nation, we will come together and focus on the things we do agree on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GALLAGHER: Critics of the report say it was prompted by the Parkland shooting, and yet does nothing to address gun violence. Though it does offer some recommendations for school districts that planned to arm teachers. Martha?
MACCALUM: Trace, thank you very much. Here now, Bill Bennett, served as education secretary under President Reagan, also a Fox News contributor and author of "The True Saint Nicholas: Why He Matters to Christmas" which we'll get to in just a moment. Bill, your thoughts on these changes from Betsy DeVos?
BILL BENNETT, CONTRIBUTOR: I think they are correct. I think the commission and Secretary DeVos did the right thing. You had a situation getting out of hand. The New York Times did a big story on this today, and blamed the commission, and said they ignored what happened at Parkland. In fact, they actually learned the lessons from Parkland.
The murderer, Mr. Cruz should have been handed over to the police. He did several things that were illegal and threatening, but under the atmosphere created by the Obama-era guidelines, leniency was the order of the day.
There are real concerns about the school to prison pipeline, and they can and should be addressed. They are best addressed with good programs and by sound policies made at the local level. But simply to take the blunt instrument that the Obama administration did and said, if you have 20 black students and 10 white students, that means you must discipline them in those exact proportions, fails to take into account a student differences, family differences, background differences, and the like.
Teachers and administrators have to have the discretion to act when they think they should. They didn't act in the case of Parkland, and that cost the lives of a number of people.
MACCALUM: Yes. And we think about them this Christmas, those families are going to have a very tough Christmas.
BENNETT: Yes, we do.
MACCALUM: No doubt.
BENNETT: Yes, we do.
MACCALLUM: And speaking of Christmas, you have written a book about the true spirit of Saint Nicholas, and the idea that not a lot of people know who he really is.
BENNETT: Right. This is a happier story.
MACCALLUM: It certainly it.
BENNETT: This is the true Saint. Nicholas, he was a real guy. The story begins, as it must, as a lot of good stories began, Martha, once upon a time. This is a real guy, Nicholas, living in Patara which is now in Turkey. His parents died when he was quite young, left him some money. He was very thoughtful man, and a generous man, and a man with a great heart.
So, he took pity on some of the poor people in town, particularly a gentleman who had three daughters, and none could get married because they didn't have the dowry sufficient at the time. So, one night--
MACCALUM: We're going to leave it there.
BENNETT: -- late at night and he did--
MACCALLUM: We'll be right back.
MACCALUM: I'm going to be on the naughty list for cutting off Bill Bennett. The book is the - "The True Saint Nicholas: Why He Matters to Christmas. We will see you back here tomorrow night at 7. Tucker's up next.
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