Sen. Graham details 'odd' Susan Rice email on Russia probe

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This is a rush transcript from "The Story," February 12, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

MARTHA MACCALLUM, FOX NEWS CHANNEL HOST: Good evening, Bret, thanks a lot. So, breaking tonight on THE STORY, there are some new questions this evening about the Clinton campaign and the Obama White House and what they may have been doing during the 2016 election. This comes as Democrats wait for the redactions on their memo so they can release it. And also -- and that is an answer to the FISA abuse memo by Congressman Nunes, as you remember from last week. But Senators Lindsey Graham and Chuck Grassley dropped a bomb last week. They handed over a criminal referral for Christopher Steele written well before the original memo that appears to substantiate and back up what the Nunes memo puts forward.

Senator Graham is here tonight to explain what he found and wrote in that original as well as some new things. But in the original included this, that Christopher Steele leaked information to the media while he was working for the FBI, which is not allowed; and that Clinton allies, Sydney Blumenthal and Cody Shearer, were feeding opposition research ostensibly for the Clinton campaign to the State Department, which made its way over to the FBI. Today, New York Post Editorial Writer, Michael Goodwin, wrote this about the whole thing: 'It increasingly appears that the Clinton machine was the secret original source of virtually all the allegations about Trump and Russia, that led to the FBI investigation.' Joining me now with some new revelations and a new letter tonight is Senator Lindsey Graham. Senator Graham, good to have you with us this evening.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, R, SOUTH CAROLINA: Thank you. That was a mouthful.

MACCALLUM: Yes, it certainly was. I hope it makes sense.

GRAHAM: There will be a test at the end of this segment, folks.

MACCALLUM: Exact there'll be a quiz over that. And not only that but now, we're going to lay some new information on top of all of this because you have put out a new memo today that highlights an e-mail that Susan Rice, Advisor to President Obama, wrote to herself on inauguration day 2017. Can you explain to us what you found there?

GRAHAM: Yes. I found an odd and disturbing e-mail from Susan Rice at 12:15 on January the 20th, the day of inauguration. She e-mails herself about a meeting that occurred on January the 5th in the oval office. And she says in the e-mail that the president was being briefed by the intelligence community about Russian hacking in the 2016 election and he had a follow-on brief meeting with Sally Yates, Jim Comey, herself, and Vice President Biden. And she quotes what the president said; now, this is the email to herself about a meeting with the president on January the 5th: 'President Obama began the conversation by stressing his continued commitment to ensuring that every aspect of this issue -- the Russian investigation -- is handled by the intelligence and law enforcement community by the book -- in parenthesis, by the book. The president stressed that he is not asking about initiating, or instructing anything from a law enforcement perspective. He reiterated that our law enforcement team needs to proceed as it normally would by the book. ' So, she's sending herself an email talking about a conversation on January the 5th, with a president reassuring herself and I guess the president that this would be done by the book. I think that's odd and disturbing because we know that the investigation regarding the Trump campaign was anything but by the book.

MACCALLUM: So, why do you think she -- has she responded to your letter, first of all?

GRAHAM: We sent a letter to her saying did you email yourself -- usually if you email yourself it's about to pick up something, not about a conversation that seems to be very self-serving when the president is telling the law enforcement intel community. When you look at Trump associates do it by the book. This meeting was on January the 5th; the email was sent on January the 20th. So, what I'm worried about is this an effort by the president to basically get himself on the record through Susan Rice to make sure that from his point of view everything was done by the book.

The question is: did the president know anything about the FISA warrant application? Did Susan Rice know that the warrant application included a dossier from Mr. Steele, when he was on the payroll of the Democratic Party, coming from Russian sources that he was a political operative being paid by the Democratic Party, and that the information in the FISA warrant application was a dossier that was political in nature and that Mr. Steele hated President Trump, Candidate Trump, and was trying to do everything he could to beat him. That's not exactly by the book.

MACCALLUM: You know, it's interesting, because when you speak about that in the way that she wrote it, it reminds me in a way of, you know, prior protestations on the part of President Obama where he wanted to insist, you know, during the IRS investigation, for example, and also during the Hillary Clinton investigation that he was absolutely not involved in any of it and that he, in both cases, believed that there would be no law-breaking found in any way. So, perhaps, you know, there's an effort to be on the record about this as well that Susan Rice wanted to document.

GRAHAM: No question. I mean, it's the oddest thing in the world to send an e-mail to yourself on inauguration day about a conversation held on January the 5th where the president tells the law enforcement community and the intel community. Now, when you look at this Russian stuff, you need to do it by the book. That's an odd thing to be saying on January the 5th. Number one, why should he have to say that, to begin with? Number two, what brought on that conversation on January the 5th? They knew they were going to be out of power just in days. They sent an email trail showing the president was instructing everybody doing it by the book. And when you look at what happened, it was an abuse of power not by the book. So, this is really odd.

MACCALLUM: It also brings to mind the New York Times story, which was written about how, you know, the Obama administration was concerned. They wanted to make sure that the little, you know, tea leaves were left for the Russia investigation. And they lowered the ability for people to be engaged in that in terms of there, you know, classification. And they wanted to make sure that as many people as possible saw what they saw as the clues out there that there was something untoward with the Trump campaign and Russia. Is that connected to this, do you think?

GRAHAM: Well, they were going to leave bread crumbs, you know, to make sure that people could follow the Russian efforts to undermine the 2016 election. What did Comey say when the president allegedly told him: I want you to do it by the book? Do you think Comey mentioned to the president that the chief source of information regarding a FISA warrant on Carter Page came from that paid operative of the Democratic Party, Mr. Steele who's on the payroll of Fusion GPS that was being paid by the Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party, that the dossier came from Russian sources, very unreliable and still hasn't been verified, that the number four guy in the FBI, Mr. Ohr's wife worked at Fusion GPS who did the research for Mr. Steele? Do you think he told the president any of that? This is the oddest conversation I can imagine. Why are they talking about doing things by the book on January the 5th and what did Comey say when he was told to do it by the book?

MACCALLUM: Senator Graham, thank you very much. We will follow this with great interest as we have throughout. We thank you for being here tonight. Thank you, senator.

GRAHAM: Thank you.

MACCALLUM: So, here now with more, Judge Andrew Napolitano, Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst. You were listening to all of that, judge. What do you make of it?

ANDREW NAPOLITANO, FOX NEWS SENIOR JUDICIAL ANALYST: I think he's up to something very serious. This is probably an effort by Susan Rice to reconstruct history, to make Barack Obama appear as though he was ignorant of the fray fomented by his administration to undermine the incoming president and his hands were absolutely clean. I mean, this is the same Barack Obama who told our Chris Wallace he didn't talk to anybody in the Justice Department about any of the investigations and, yet, we know from the e-mails from Peter Strzok and Lisa Page the two FBI people -- not e- mails whose texts we have seen hundreds of Times POTUS written in 2016 to the references to Barack Obama wants to know all about this. So, there's some real --

MACCALLUM: Because the understanding that we have is if that was with regard to the Russia investigation.

NAPOLITANO: Yes. So, there's a serious disconnect there. They must have learned something in the waning minutes of the Obama administration which made them worry that what we now know they were doing would be discovered. So, in an effort to reconstruct history, she writes herself a memo. By the way, dear Susan Rice, don't forget that Barack Obama said I want this done by the book and he said it back on January 5th. Nobody would believe this. No rational jury.

MACCALLUM: He's writing it on January 5th or January 6th. But on inauguration day to go back and, you know, make sure that while you're still in office, some of these things are on the record. I mean, her explanation may be as simple, you know, I'm writing a book. And I forgot about that meeting, I wanted to make sure I had it in my record by e- mailing things to myself.

NAPOLITANO: It could very well be. What Senator Graham would love to find out -- what we all would like to find out is: what communications made their way to her between January 5th and January 20th? The day Donald Trump becomes President and Barack Obama is no longer president, which caused her to write this. Did it come through the State Department, that it comes from character Cody Shearer who really is more Chris Steele than Chris Steele is, in terms of feeding information from the Democrats to law enforcement and to intel. There's a lot more here to be found. But Senator Graham and his colleagues are to be commended for having found this and gone directly to Susan Rice and to her lawyers. I saw the letter to her and to her lawyers earlier today.

MACCALLUM: We'll see where it goes. Judge, thank you very much. Good to see you tonight.

NAPOLITANO: You're welcome.

MACCALLUM: So, joining me now, Tammy Bruce, a Columnist at the Washington Times and a Fox News Contributor; and Philippe Reines, a Former Advisor to Hillary Clinton. Thank you, both for being here tonight.

TAMMY BRUCE, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR AND COLUMNIST AT THE WASHINGTON TIMES: Hi there.

PHILIPPE REINES, FORMER ADVISOR TO HILLARY CLINTON: Thank you.

MACCALLUM: Felipe, let me go to you first on this. What do you make of it?

REINES: Well, I think Senator Graham was being at best disingenuous and your previous guest worse than that. Let's be very clear about something, during the transition when you say something by the book maybe it means by the book. Second of all, we're all forgetting that Mike Flynn was under investigation. The Obama White House during transition warned the Trump incoming administration multiple Times that there was a problem with Mike Flynn. That was a concern of theirs, and that is something they articulated. And by the way, Donald Trump fired Mike Flynn within 23 days of it.

Second of all, in terms of all these conversations and stuff, here's what I don't get. So, Hillary Clinton and Philippe Reines at the Clinton Campaign, and the Obama White House, and Loretta Lynch were all just fenagling and puppeting to get things the way we want. Somehow, that works out to be Jim Comey releasing the worst statement of all time in July of 2016 -- effort being public that we were being investigated by the FBI. Then, they shift to Trump; no one knows they're shifting to Trump. Fast forward to October, Comey at the worst Time brings it up again, still not saying anything about Trump. How on Earth can you say the logic there exists that we --

MACCALLUM: Well, I mean, it's possible that it backfired. You know, that the assumption was that Hillary Clinton would win and that, you know, they were working to discredit Donald Trump, the candidate, along the way just in case --

REINES: Why would we allow the investigation start in the first place if we could just turn it off?

MACCALLUM: Well, let me make Tammy weigh in here. Tammy, what do you think?

BRUCE: Look, I think that there's a -- we're in an age now where, you know, there's rhetoric and there's spin. But now, we're dealing with some facts on the ground that -- frankly, I'm also surprised. The Republicans are not famous really, for getting anything done. And I'm really impressed that some of these committees are actually delivery of information. So, you can look at Michael Goodwin, as an example at the New York Post; Fox News Contributor, Mollie Hemingway, at the Federalist, with the details of the moment by moment, report by report, fact by fact about how this has unfolded and how the Clinton Team, the Clinton machine has been involved from the beginning. Now, again, people expect rhetoric, they expect certain kinds of spin.

But now, the difference is now these days is that there's a variety of information of media outlets where the Democrats and liberals -- or the establishment in general, including some of the Republicans don't control all of the information that's coming out. So, people now are not just reliant on rhetoric that they might hear on television, but they also have other sources that they can go to with an amazing amount of details -- like that letter to Susan Rice. We've seen it. We've actually seen the letter. That is something maybe 10 years ago, the American people wouldn't even see. So, we're seeing at the very basic dynamic, at least some kind of shenanigans, some funny business that's leading up to this.

REINES: And how is being by the book, shenanigans?

BRUCE: And we're hoping that the committees and that this investigation will make a difference.

MACCALLUM: Philippe. Yes. I mean, the reason that by the book, I guess, is getting attention was in quotes. They're wondering why she wrote it on January 20th on inauguration day rather than January 5th or January 6th when this meeting took place.

REINES: I think no matter what Susan Rice wrote, no matter what font she used or her syntax, we'd be having this conversation about it. And as far as Michael Goodwin is concerned, I think the most interesting part of that column was the fact that he -- even as negative he gets and how every time he can take two paths, he takes the more conspiratorial, he acknowledges that George Papadopoulos is the reason that there is an investigation started. And we're conflating the investigation starting and the FISA warrant. The investigation started either late spring or early summer, and that was based on George Papadopoulos, period.

BRUCE: Well, I think that there is always going to be an excuse or at least a trigger that allows to you move down a dynamic. And when it comes to conspiracies, the Democrats have their, of course, with -- a conspiracies that are debunked between Donald Trump and the Russians.

REINES: We are clearly the biggest idiots in the world.

BRUCE: Well, I'll tell you, the other thing about this, the transition between the fifth and the 20th, but this notion of being by the book, one has to ask and I think this is Senator Graham's point, was something also said in that meeting that was memorialized where the president was informed or at least had an inclination of what had been going on for the entire year previously. Why was that meeting where he would challenge them to be by the book not done in the summer of 2016? See, this is the strange timing. That kind of dynamic.

REINES: Because the White House made a decision.

MACCALLUM: Quickly.

REINES: President Obama made a decision not to announce that there was Russian meddling. How do you, in any way, that's by the book. That's by the book and that hurt Hillary Clinton, not Donald Trump.

MACCALLUM: We got to leave it there. Thank you, guys. Good to see you both tonight.

BRUCE: Thanks, Martha.

REINES: Thank you.

MACCALLUM: So, trying to making sense of this now deleted a tweet from NBC about North Korean cheerleaders at the Olympics calling North Korean cheerleaders, 'satisfying '. This is so satisfying to watch, it says. While many appear to be in a dangerous 'la la land ' as they witness the barrage of North Korean propaganda at the games.

Just look at this photo. This is South Korea, all lit up at the bottom there, and there's North Korea in the dark except for Pyongyang. And ask about this man and whether or not he is the one that we need to remain focused on.

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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You try to steal coal from a railroad car to barter for a few scraps of food. He woke up as a train ran over his limbs.

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MACCALLUM: So, the Olympic Games never fail to produce a few special athletes that the entire country in the world starts to get behind. But this time around, it seems that much of the adulation, at least so far, at least from the media, is being directed at something bizarrely different -- the brutal dictatorship of North Korea. Kim Jong-un's sister, a powerful player in her brother's clearly savage regime is emerging as something of a darling of the games with American news outlets calling her 'captivating '. Many also fawning over North Korea's cheerleaders going so far as to praise their fashion sense. All this while they slam Vice President Pence for basically not being nicer to the regime during the games.

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JOHN KING, CNN: Kim Jong Un's sister, the first member of the regime to come into the south since the war and the United States essentially saying to its ally, no, no, no, no.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE, ABC NEWS: Never perceived American jab that the Korean peace overtures the vice president's special guest at the Olympics the father of Otto Warmbier.

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN: Does this suggest to you that, you know, the North Koreans are a lot more rational than we think.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This certainly, I think, when you talk about optics, North Korea is coming out of it extremely well.

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MACCALLUM: Trace Gallagher in our West Coast Newsroom with the backstory tonight. Hi, Trace.

TRACE GALLAGHER, FOX NEWS CHANNEL HOST: Hi, Martha. Major media outlets are coming under fire for a combination of things, and there is the glowing coverage of North Korea's cheerleaders that you pointed out that 'USA Today ' said quoting, 'proved to be one of the most indelible memories of these Olympics '. And then, there's the high praise for Kim Jong-un's sister Kim Yo-jong, who the Washington Post called "a woman with a Sphinx- like smile ', or the New York headline that read: 'Sister turns on the charm '. And for every stellar North Korea comment came a dig at the U.S., including CNN using a North Korean source to go after Vice President Mike Pence. Watch this.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE, CNN: The biggest insult the North Koreans say was that the vice president chose to stay seated and he didn't clap when the Unified Korean Olympian team came out during the ceremonies. My source called it an undignified act that degraded the status of the United States.

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GALLAGHER: And yet, CNN chose not to have a U.S. source balance that statement. Even a commentary on CBS, which is not exactly a Trump-adoring network pointed out the following 'everyone knows the press hates President Trump, but who knew they hated him enough to make a hero out of one of the most deadly dictators in history?' A dictator, by the way, who is believed ordered the assassination of his own half-brother. And according to South Korea, a dictator who publicly executes thousands of his own citizens to keep the population in line?

A 2014 United Nations report also detailed, quote: ' unspeakable atrocities inflicted on political prisoners in North Korea where three Americans are still being held.' 59-year-old Tony Kim; 55-year-old, Kim Hok-song; and 64-year-old, Kim Dong-chul, all serving long terms for alleged hostile acts against the north, charges that human rights groups call bogus. And who can forget the treatment of Otto Warmbier who was sent home to die after suffering severe brain damage in a North Korean prison? Many North Korean defectors have also documented the horrific living conditions, including a man named Ji Seong-ho, who we met at this year's State of the Union address. Watch.

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TRUMP: One day, he tried to steal coal from a railroad car to barter for a few scraps of food which were very hard to get. In the process, he passed out on the train tracks exhausted from hunger. He woke up as a train ran over his limbs.

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GALLAGHER: Coming out, quite a contrast, Martha, to the glamorous North Korea headlines, coming out of the Winter Olympics. Martha.

MACCALLUM: Trace, thank you very much. Good reminders there. Here now, Bill Bennett, Host of "The Bill Bennett" podcast and a Former Education Secretary under President Reagan, he is also a Fox News Contributor. Bill, it's good to see you tonight. It seems that you know, they are pretty much eating out of the hands of the North Koreans because they've played this perfectly in terms of presenting themselves in a way that, certainly, the regime is absolutely not to be represented.

BILL BENNETT, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR AND FORMER EDUCATION SECRETARY UNDER PRESIDENT REAGAN: Yes, I think a line from Shakespeare -- we will go to them most counterfeitly. You know, we all knew the media preferred the liberals and the Democrats to Trump and Pence and Republicans. But we didn't know they preferred the North Koreans, at least on this occasion to Mike Pence. Really, a disgusting and disheartening. Kim Yo-jong, the sister of Kim Jong Un, who charmed everyone. I will concede, she is better looking than her brother. That's not hard.

MACCALLUM: Better haircut.

BENNETT: She's in charge of prepping -- Yes. OK. Well, yes, you noticed that. She's in charge of propaganda in this terrorist and totalitarian state. I don't know if anyone else had this thought, Martha, did you? When you saw that photo of her sitting right behind Mrs. Pence, didn't you get nervous? I mean, I got worried that she or one of her handlers might lean over and, you know, do something to the vice president or Mrs. Pence. Remember, this is the crowd, you know, that killed his half-brother, Kim Jong-un's half-brother in an airport. I wouldn't put anything past these. I assume Secret Service had things totally under control, but the to criticize Mike Pence --

MACCALLUM: You know, you got to imagine that for secret service that it was not an optimum situation, and something that no doubt --

BENNETT: Exactly.

MACCALLUM: they weren't too comfortable with. I want to show you this quote from a 'USA Today ' piece today by David Meeks: 'By declining to stand and recognize athletes of the Korean Unified Team as they walked during the opening ceremony, Pence not only offended the host country, he sent a message that the Trump administration, not even common courtesy matters more than childish politics.' Your thoughts.

BENNETT: Well, childish politics may, in fact, at the end of the story here, may be leading to something. Supposing all these things that the North Koreans are doing are not head fakes. Maybe they really do want to sit down and talk. And Mike Pence's last comments were, you know, we're not going to ease up. We're not going to ease up on the sanctions. By the way, the sanctions are beginning to have their effect. But he said, if they want to talk, we'll talk. The other thing, you know, you mentioned. You showed the cheerleaders and the cheer squad and all.

I thought compared to a good group from Texas, high school, they were pretty amateurish. But, you know, remember, because as I was watching, I was thinking what about defection? What if some of these people want to defect like that brave soldier, you know, who they found in such horrible shape in terms of what was inside him from eating the North Korean diet. Supposing they want to defect? Then, you realize they can't defect because the punishment for defection, if you're a young person or an old person, is three generations of your family will go to their version of the Gulag. So, if you're a young person, like many of them were, it would be your parents, your grandparents, and perhaps your infant children or child.

MACCALLUM: Unbelievable.

BENNETT: This is a brutal and horrible regime and the press should never forget that.

MACCALLUM: I just want to put up this tweet from Willie Geist, who took an opportunity to actually do some real sort of journalistic assessment here, and he seems to be standing out in the crowd at NBC. He says, 'I can report South Koreans and here in Pyeongchang are not enthralled with Kim Yo-jong and the North Korean cheerleaders as it seems many of the media are back home. Something about North Korea killing, starving, and imprison its people while threatening South Korea with nuclear annihilation.' I mean, this is a journalistic opportunity for the people who are there covering this to shed light. We've seen tragedies before at Olympics. I mean, these are Times when these countries come together and when the reality is of what exists in the world can be talked about and pointed out. It's a great effect.

BENNETT: Yes. What about kids, Martha, in school who haven't learned anything about South Korea or North Korea, or who think socialism is preferable to capitalism as we saw in the last survey. So, here's an opportunity to teach some geography and what's behind the geography, the different systems, and political systems. They hear all the swooning about the cheerleaders and about Kim Yo-jong, and they'd say, well, they seem like perfectly decent people. Here's educational opportunity; what we call a teachable moment that was lost if you were listening to a lot of the mainstream media. Shame on them.

MACCALLUM: That's a great point, as always. Bill Bennett, thank you so much. Good to see you tonight, sir.

BENNETT: Thank you, Martha, thank you.

MACCALLUM: So, President Trump's speaking to the forgotten men and women who he addressed during the campaign in his infrastructure plan.

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TRUMP: It provides $50 billion for rural infrastructure, who have really been left out.

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MACCALLUM: This, as we mark 50 years since Robert F. Kennedy's poverty tour. So, why are so many of those Kennedy Democrats, now Trump Republicans? It's a fascinating political shift. We will talk about that coming up next. And Israel and Iran battle in the skies; where is this heading?

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MARTHA MACCALLUM, THE STORY HOST: So today, for the first time since December, President Trump spoke to Russia president, Vladimir Putin, specifically about Middle East peace negotiations ahead of Putin's meeting with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas. Just last month, as you may remember, Mahmoud Abbas turned down a meeting with Vice President Mike Pence. This, as tensions continue to grow across the region, over the weekend, more fighting broke out when an Iranian drone entered Israeli airspace and one of the Israeli teams responding to it was shot out of the sky by a Syrian missile. Shortly after, Israel retaliated by disseminating 12 nearby bases in Syria, all of them with ties to Iran. Here now to sort this out for us, Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner commentary writer and host of the McLaughlin Group. Tom, good to see you tonight. What is the most important take away, do you think, from what happened over the weekend between Israel and Iran?

TOM ROGAN, WASHINGTON EXAMINER COMMENTARY WRITER: Thank you for having me on, Martha. I think there're two points. First of all, it shows that Prime Minister Netanyahu is very clearly trying to draw or trying to enforce, quite frankly, Israel's red line. He has said they would take action of this disagree before. Secondly though, I think it's important to recognize that Syrian air defenses seemed to have improved. And who is Syria's main military benefactor? That is Vladimir Putin of Russia, so there is a connection point here of broader regional ramifications. And Israel, very clearly, trying to send a message to Iran and to Syria that if you try to exert more pressure on us, we will make the costs higher for you than they are for us.

MACCALLUM: Yeah. I mean, obviously, a lot of delicate diplomacy and discussions going on here as you point out, Vladimir Putin sort of on the other side of this equation, clearly. And then you have the discontent over the Trump administration's decision to declare Jerusalem the capital of Israel as Secretary Tillerson heads over there. So lay out for us what we should be watching on that trip as well.

ROGAN: Well, I think it's quite clear that Prime Minister Netanyahu, there was a recent vote in the Israeli cabinet which, again, people sometimes think that Prime Minister Netanyahu, as much as President Trump is the leader of the Republican Party, is the leader of the Israeli government. He is on paper. But he leads a coalition that is quite fractious. And there are parties that are much more predisposed to not making concessions to the Palestinians, perhaps he would be. So I think what you will see from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is an effort to try and say, look, the United States has moved our embassy to Jerusalem, a major concession. It is now time for you to make concessions. And we will see whether Prime Minister Netanyahu can take more formative steps there. If not, I think the peace process goes on hold for the foreseeable future, and certainly there are elements in Israeli politics and on the hard line elements with some of the Palestinian parties, most notably who would like that outcome.

MACCALLUM: Quickly, do you expect that we're going to see more of the kind of military action that we saw over the weekend?

ROGAN: Yes, I do because the Iranians will keep pushing. Fortunately though, the Israelis, I think, have an understanding of the need to enforce this red line. Next time I think you'll see strikes inside Damascus. They'll go for the defense headquarters because the Israelis, again, with their redline they tend to enforce them.

MACCALLUM: Tense times. Tom Rogan, great to have you with us tonight. Thanks, Tom.

ROGAN: Thank you.

MACCALLUM: So coming up, the Obama's unveil their official portraits. So what do you think when you see it? That's one of them. We're going to talk about that in a moment. Plus, Senator Robert Kennedy's devotion to the poorest amongst us in Appalachia, and on Indian reservation, but many voters devoted to the Kennedy's and to the Democratic Party. But in 2016, many of those voters became Trump Republicans. So where are those voters headed as we get towards the midterm. Charles Hurt and former congressman, Patrick Kennedy, join me next on that.

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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Nice. I'll put it on, right?

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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: It provides $50 billion for rural infrastructure who have really been left out. The rural folks have been left out, including broadband internet access, which they don't have, and they want it. And the farmers want it.

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MACCALLUM: President Trump speaking of the forgotten men and women that he talked about so much on the campaign. Americans living in rural communities, blue collar workers who feel ignored or betrayed by politicians. These voters were bedrock for Democrats until recent years. It was 50 years ago that Senator Robert F. Kennedy took a tour across the United States reaching out and taking on poverty as USA Today puts it, quote, what was Kennedy country is Trump country. Children of Kennedy Democrats are Trump Republicans. And for those inspired by RFK in 1968, which should be a happy anniversary is instead an occasion to puzzle a drastic reversal of political fortune. Patrick Kennedy, former Rhode Island congressman and nephew of the late Robert F. Kennedy joins me now. Good to have you with us tonight, Patrick. Thanks for joining us again.

PATRICK KENNEDY, FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: Thank you, Martha.

MACCALLUM: What goes through your mind as you hear that quote from USA Today?

KENNEDY: Well, unfortunately, there are parts of this country that have never seemed to do well and the people in those parts of the country know when they look at how other Americans are living that they're not keeping pace and that there is something fundamentally unjust and wrong with how this country leaves them behind. The feelings that my Uncle Bobby faced when he visited those areas, hardest hit, and every economy where people felt that they were left out, left behind are really the same feelings, I think that President Trump found when he visited those areas. So the one consistency is that the people in those areas have for good reason felt that they've been left behind in the pursuit of the American dream.

MACCALLUM: Yeah. I want to play a sound bite from Hillary Clinton when she was confronted by a coal miner during the campaign that might speak a lot. Let's watch.

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UNINDENTIFIED MALE: I just want to know how you can say you're going to put a lot of coal miners out of jobs, and then come in here and tell us how you're going to be our friend.

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, I'm -- I don't know how to explain it other than what I said was totally out of context from what I meant because I have been talking about helping coal country for a very long time.

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MACCALLUM: So there's a disconnect in an area that as I said was such a strong hold for Democrats. So, I'm interested in your assessment of how Democrats lost this group and, of course, I'm sure they're working hard to get them back, but how do you think they lost them?

KENNEDY: Well, I, first of all, think that my Uncle Robert Kennedy, certainly in the minds' eye of most historians was someone who could connect with people on a very human level and evoke the kind of spiritual leadership that is so wanting in America today especially. People found him genuine and his concerns for them and their economic deprivation authentic. And that's what I think connected them so much to Robert Kennedy's America. I think it's crucial in this day and age for us not to have a particular ideology where we say, oh, we'll give you these things and expect you to vote for us because I don't think in this day and age people vote on those terms. I think they vote in a very real way for who they can connect with on an emotional level. And certainly, for Robert Kennedy, people of Appalachia and Indian country certainly connected with Robert Kennedy on an emotional level.

MACCALLUM: All right. Patrick, thank you very much. Good to have you with us tonight.

KENNEDY: Thank you, Martha.

MACCALLUM: So here now with more, Charles Hurt, political columnist for the Washington Times and a Fox News contributor. Charlie, good to have you tonight. You know, I think it's very interesting when you look back 50 years and you look at -- I don't think that Democrats right now are seen as the party of the poor or the party that is really trying to eradicate poverty. And I don't know if anyone is doing that successfully right now. But that is clearly the way that they used to be seen and that isn't what we saw in the 2016 election.

CHARLES HURT, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: No, it is. And they certainly have sort of lost much of their reputation for that. I think it's largely because the Democratic Party today can be very patronizing and looks at people like those very people that you're highlighting that voted for -- that supported Robert Kennedy 50 years ago and Donald Trump today. They looked at those people and thought that they were looking for handouts. The Democratic Party today, the Kennedy brothers would not recognize the Democratic Party today. You would not have a Democrat today say ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country. And that's very much because the Democratic Party has become the party of class warfare and handouts. They make economic agreements with voters. You vote for us, we'll give you certain things. That's not -- that's not the party of the works progress or the works project administration. The Kennedys and before that, FDR, they believed in work. And all that seems to be gone from the Democratic Party today. And you look at a guy like Donald Trump and that video you showed him violating the cardinal rule of politicians, you never put a hat on in public. Of course, he puts that thing on and starts shoveling. It was the fact that he was talking about work and those people -- that those people that he was targeting there they want to work is what they're looking for, and he responded to that.

MACCALLUM: And they're proud. You know, people are proud of work and doing well. And they want a chance to be able to do that and provide for themselves and their families. It's going to be interesting to see if they feel that those promises were kept to them as we move forward and we don't have to answer that quite yet.

HURT: Absolutely. With the economy going the way it is. It certainly puts it in that favor anyway.

MACCALLUM: OK. Good, Charlie. Nice to see you. Good to see you.

HURT: Thank you, Martha.

MACCALLUM: So coming up in a moment, a modern new portrait of former first lady, Michelle Obama, it was unveiled today. Every former president and first lady had these portraits done. So what is everybody saying about this new portrayal when Dana Loesch joins us to react.

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MACCALLUM: So today was the day new portraits of President Obama and former first lady, Michelle Obama, generating some mixed reviews, as these things always do. Critics on social media specifically taking aim at Michelle Obama's modern depiction by artist Amy Sherald. Some people saying it doesn't really look that much like the former first lady. Here now Dana Loesch, nationally syndicated radio hosts as you know. Dana, good to see you, thanks for being here tonight.

DANA LOESCH, NATIONALY SYNDICATED RADIO HOST: Good to be with you, Martha.

MACCALLUM: You know this is something we watch whenever a president leaves office after a year or so. They unveil the portraits and everybody critiques them as we do in America. There's President Bush in his, which I think is actually a very nice portrait. And there's Laura Bush. Laura Bush's portrait also beautiful. And then we have the Clintons on the left and right there. You can see their moment when it was unveiled. No doubt when they do this, Dana, you know, the person who's -- nobody likes the portrait of themselves completely, I would imagine. You feel like it doesn't look like you. And we have Michelle Obama looking at hers.

LOESCH: Right.

MACCALLUM: What do you think?

LOESCH: These are your forever portraits and this goes -- these portraits go in the national portrait gallery. And it's just -- I mean kudos to them, I guess, for not doing the whole thing where they're just holding papers and grabbing the back of a chair. But I'll start with the former president's, he's fighting with kudzu. I mean, he's floating, ivy, kudzu, whatever it is. He's floating in a cloud of kudzu.

(CROSSTALK)

MACCALLUM: Now we're all looking at it. Go ahead.

LOESCH: Yeah, yeah. I mean, he's floating in this cloud of kudzu. He's competing with the background. And I know that Mr. Wiley the artist of this particular portrait, I don't know, someone said that it's kind of form a leg and just go and street cast people and combine them with visually hyper luxurious background. It feels like you're fighting to pay attention to him as oppose to the background. But his likeness really does look like him. I like the way the sunlight is playing on his face, you know.

MACCALLUM: And to his credit he said that he asked him to give him smaller ears and less gray hair and but they didn't.

LOESCH: Right.

MACCALLUM: Do that. But I like the modern-ness of them.

LOESCH: They should have toned down the.

MACCALLUM: I know we have a little delay so that's why it sounds like we're stepping on each other. But I like the modern nature of both of these. I think they're interesting to look at. And I think it's good to sort of push the edge of the portrait a little bit. But in terms of Michelle Obama, what do you think of hers?

LOESCH: It doesn't look like her. I agree with what Twitter said. It looks like Regina King. It doesn't look like the first lady. And the perspective is kind of -- I don't know, just the proportions are wrong. And I know that some people say, well, that's just artist styling. I sometimes think that stylized painting is what artist say when they can't master perspective because her shoulder is not in real life bigger than her head and, I mean, come on. It looks cold, flat and sterile, and regardless of whether you like her or not as a person, or politician's wife, or policy proposer, that doesn't suit her personality. Her personality is not cold and sterile and flat. And that painting looks like it is incredibly flat. And it doesn't even look like her. That's the thing. If it was just her likeness, it looks like napoleon dynamite when he got done shaving her upper lip. He decided to paint the former first lady.

MACCALLUM: Thank you, Dana, stepping in as art critic tonight. Good to see you. Thanks so much. Coming up next, the high flying American teenager who charmed the world brought home gold and tattled on his loved ones, after this.

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MACCALLUM: My favorite story of the day, team USA bringing home the gold. The first medal went to 17-year-old, Red Gerard, in the men's slopestyle snowboard. He was born in 2000, folks, to make you feel old. Seventeen of his friends and family came to South Korea, made the long trip to cheer him on, and it seems like they're having a pretty good time. He said to reporters this morning, quote, I got a snapchat this morning at 8:30 when I was taking the bus up and they were all shot gunning beers on the way to the mountain. That's a family after my own heart. Congratulations, Red, way to go. That is our story tonight. We will see you back here tomorrow night at 7:00. My friend Tucker Carlson is coming up next.

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