This is a rush transcript from "The Story," September 24, 2019. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
MARTHA MACCALLUM, ANCHOR: This is a Fox News Alert. In moments, the White House will respond tonight here on “The Story” for the very first time to the launch of a formal impeachment inquiry into the President of the United States.
White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley, standing by, live in our studio.
Good evening, everybody. I'm Martha MacCallum, and this is a big story tonight.
Nancy Pelosi, now going where she had here to for not wanted to go all through the last 2-1/2 years of the Mueller investigation, pushing back against this idea. But she tonight made this explosive announcement just a while ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI, D-CALIF.: The actions of the Trump presidencies revealed dishonorable fact of the President's betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of our national security, and betrayal of the integrity of our elections. The president must be held accountable, no one is above the law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: So, the President, of course, responding many times on Twitter today. He called this, in all caps, "Presidential Harassment!" Tweeted, they never even saw the transcript of his call with the Ukrainian President. He says, when that happens, all will see that it was, "totally appropriate." More reaction I said, from the White House in just a moment.
Plus, Republican Senator John Kennedy, and former Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, both standing by to way in this evening on all of this.
But first, Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell, he was in a closed-door meeting with Speaker Pelosi, just before she made this very big announcement. And he sits on the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees.
Congressman Swalwell, thank you very much for being here tonight.
REP. ERIC SWALWELL, D-CALIF.: Of course. Good evening, Martha.
MACCALLUM: So, that -- the President authorized the full release of the transcript of his conversation. Did you want to see that maybe before going this, this full step?
SWALWELL: What we want to see, Martha, is the whistle-blower complaint where the inspector general said, it's urgent and it's credible. And he's blocking that.
MACCALLUM: And you're going to see that too. Yes. I mean, you're going to.
SWALWELL: No, we're not -- there's no promise that we will see that.
MACCALLUM: Well, you have I.G.'s going to testify, the DNI's going to testify.
SWALWELL: No, incorrect. Incorrect. Incorrect.
MACCALLUM: And you're going to see this transcript.
SWALWELL: No, not true. Not true. That's not true. They have, so far, said, they're not going to give that to us. We're going to get testimony from the director of National Intelligence.
SWALWELL: But they have not produced the whistleblower. So, the law says, then there's no discretion here, when you have an urgent and credible complaint, Congress has to hear about it.
But, again, put that aside, you have the president's own words saying, he had a phone call where he invited help -- actually, directed help to the Ukrainians -- on his opponent.
MACCALLUM: Absolutely, he said that.
MACCALLUM: So, here is the way I see it. When you ask -- when you ask a foreign government for help, you owe them something. Which means, one day, you may have to put another country's interests ahead of America's interests, which to me is betrayal. Something our founders going back to (INAUDIBLE) of this country have worked it.
MACCALLUM: No, I hear you. I hear you, Congressman Swalwell. But I'm just saying, are you putting the cart before the horse just a tiny bit here? You know, why not just take a deep breath and wait until you can see the phone call?
MACCALLUM: And you're absolutely right, the President said that he did discuss the Biden investigation and wanting that. We're going to talk to the White House about that and ask them about that in just a moment.
But just this -- you know, do you have any hesitation given the gravity of this, and given the fact that if you go down this road, and you know, the President said, oh, keep climbing up that ladder, because it's going to be a little embarrassing when you get a look at it.
MACCALLUM: If that turns out to be the case after the Mueller fell -- investigation fell kind of flat, wouldn't that be a little bit of a difficult pill to swallow?
SWALWELL: Yes. Well, we already have the President's admission. He's copped to the crime. So, we don't really need the whistle-blower report.
SWALWELL: I think it will add color to the investigation.
SWALWELL: But when you have a president telling George Stephanopoulos, I would still take dirt from a foreign government. And then, saying he -- admitting that he asked a foreign government to help him, I mean, that's urgent and credible in and of itself.
And when the President's own inspector general appointed by the President says that this is a five-alarm fire essentially with that.
MACCALLUM: He did. Well, he says it was credible.
MACCALLUM: He didn't say, five-alarm fire. He said -- he said it was a credible claim. He found it credible and I absolutely agree with you.
MACCALLUM: That means that there's -- that you need to follow through with it. Do you think it's odd that the whistle-blower who wrote that report did not hear it firsthand? Does that trouble you at all?
SWALWELL: Do you -- I mean, I don't know if that's the case. The inspector general, who we interviewed, said that he could not tell us anything about it because the President's director of national intelligence told him (INAUDIBLE).
MACCALLUM: Well, there are reports that he -- there are several reports that it was not -- he wasn't on the call, he didn't hear it firsthand.
MACCALLUM: If that is the case, and -- you know, we'll find out, would that be troublesome to you and might you want to recheck the effort to sort of jump the gun here?
SWALWELL: So, what I can tell you from the inspector general's testimony to the Intelligence Committee is that when they have an investigation like this, they seek to corroborate with the whistleblower said.
SWALWELL: I can't speak to this particular investigation. But, the inspector general said, he would not have told the director of national intelligence to send this to Congress unless he did a 14 day long thorough investigation. And after his investigation, he still found the complaint urgent and credible.
MACCALLUM: OK. And you feel that, that is enough. What about the argument that divulging these conversations, cuts into the president's ability to talk to foreign leaders.
MACCALLUM: Are you concerned about that and the precedent that, that could set moving forward under a democratic president or anyone else down the line?
SWALWELL: Absolutely, but this president has a prior in the sense that -- you know, if you let him off the hook, you know, give him the benefit of the doubt that this is a businessman running for president, he didn't understand the gravity of -- you know, embracing the help from the Russians or asking them to hack.
Well, he should have learned his lesson from the debacle that we went through with the Mueller investigation and what that revealed. Now, he still doing it. And so, what is the -- a whistleblower have to do?
MACCALLUM: But that report revealed no collusion. So, I guess, you know, after that was done, he won -- his take away was that he hadn't done anything wrong.
SWALWELL: Well, that -- it revealed -- yes. But it also revealed that we have never written laws because we never imagined that a president would draw themselves so -- or a candidate would draw themselves so close to an investigation.
But again, if that had never happened, if he had never worked with the Russians or embraced their help, or obstructed justice or took money from a foreign nationals, this act alone would be impeachable.
MACCALLUM: Would be enough. OK. I hear what you're saying.
MACCALLUM: Now, what if there's no way to prove that there was any quid pro quo? Because, as again -- I say again, you haven't seen the transcript yet.
MACCALLUM: And Nancy Pelosi marched out in front of the cameras and made this enormous announcement today. So, you guys are out there.
MACCALLUM: I mean, you're out there on the limb. And so, if there's no quid pro quo, if you can't prove in the investigation that anything was -- a value was traded for that nudge to do that investigation.
MACCALLUM: How will that sit with you?
SWALWELL: Quid pro quo is not needed. And when you listen to the President's own words, by asking the Ukrainians to do this -- when you ask somebody to do something, you owe them something in the future. That's enough.
And again, our founders, they imagine that foreign governments would seek to work in our elections, and they did everything they could to try and stop that from happening.
SWALWELL: But again, when you're dealing with the Ukrainians, you need to know this, they depend on us economically, militarily, and for our credibility. So, even if you're just talking around military aid, and telling them to do something, they know what's going on there.
MACCALLUM: And you feel that it -- I get it. All right. You know, the campaign -- the Trump campaign has said they think this is going to be helpful to them in the end because they think you guys are barking up the wrong tree and people are tired of all the impeachment talk. Are you concerned about that, before I let you go?
SWALWELL: I'm not looking at the politics of this. In fact, doing nothing would only bring worse behavior from the President. And doing nothing would reduce the standard of conduct for future presidents. And so, we can think about that.
MACCALLUM: All right. Congressman Swalwell, thank you very much.
SWALWELL: Thanks, Martha. (INAUDIBLE).
MACCALLUM: Good to see you tonight. As we mentioned, President Trump announcing that he will release the complete fully declassified and unredacted transcript of his July phone call with the Ukrainian President, tomorrow.
Fox News has learned that the DOJ lawyers, as well as, lawyers in the White House have advised the White House officials that they should do that. Here now exclusively is one of those officials. Hogan Gidley, White House deputy -- White House principal deputy press secretary.
Hogan, thank you very much for being here.
HOGAN GIDLEY, WHITE HOUSE PRINCIPAL DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: Thanks so much for your time.
MACCALLUM: Good to have you here for today.
GIDLEY: Absolutely, always.
MACCALLUM: Will the report -- because there's already a lot of scuttlebutt that is not going to be complete. Will it be complete and unredacted? Can you verify that here tonight?
GIDLEY: Absolutely. That's what the President said and that's what he has the authority to do. He's going to release it unredacted in totality. We want the American people to see this. We want the American people to understand that the media and Democrats pushed a Russian hoax for three years with no evidence, and they're doing it all over again. The President has done nothing wrong.
But remember the media and the Democrats -- and let's be fair, that's kind of synonymous, they want this to be true so badly. You saw it tonight with Nancy Pelosi. They didn't even wait for any of the evidence that they've been clamoring for now for days. And he went ahead and said it now.
MACCALLUM: Well, you heard Eric Swalwell. He said -- he said the President has already admitted to something that he says is an impeachable offense. When you ask a foreign leader to give you a little help with some oppo research on one of your -- one of your political rivals, that, that is an impeachable offense.
GIDLEY: He is absolutely putting a little bit more meat on the bone compared to what Donald Trump actually said.
MACCALLUM: How so?
GIDLEY: He mentioned that in a call and you will see that tomorrow.
GIDLEY: They are taking -- they are --
MACCALLUM: Have you seen the transcript?
GIDLEY: I have seen the transcript absolutely.
MACCALLUM: You've read the entire thing?
GIDLEY: Absolutely, in its entirety. Obviously, can't talk about it on the show because the information is classified until we declassify it and release is sometime tomorrow.
MACCALLUM: OK. So, but let me ask you this. Will there be any mention on the call that the money that was withheld from Ukraine was dangled in return for help with investigating Hunter and Joe Biden?
GIDLEY: Right. I can't get into what's into the document yet. Will be -- will be declassified. What the world will see tomorrow is what Donald Trump, said today in his tweet. There was no pressure, there was no quid pro quo.
And remember, this has moved all over the place. First, it was they wanted to see the transcript. Now, they're saying, we're going to release -- now, we said, we'll release the transcript. We want everyone to see exactly what's in this document, to understand the President's conversation was perfect. There was nothing wrong with it.
MACCALLUM: Were they joking?
MACCALLUM: I mean, is it going to be like, oh, it was all really light- hearted. Is that -- is that the answer.
GIDLEY: Again, I'm not going to characterize it. You'll see it tomorrow. I'm not going to get ahead of that.
But now they're saying, we don't want that, we just want what the whistleblower had to say.
So, they don't want the actual evidence of the phone call, they want someone's characterization who may or may not have seen this in person and heard at third hand.
MACCALLUM: So, you heard Nancy Pelosi today, and you heard Congressman Swalwell. They both said it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter if there's no quid pro quo because everybody understands that Ukraine needs support from the United States.
Hundreds of millions of dollars was being withheld, then the President had this phone call, and then, a couple of weeks later, that money was released. They're saying, you don't --
GIDLEY: Right, it's --
MACCALLUM: It doesn't need to be spelled out, nobody expects anybody to be that dumb. But everybody understands the broader context here. And that, that is enough.
GIDLEY: Right. What is interesting for me is to watch Democrats say, all of these things about how Ukraine needs aid. When Barack Obama, all he did was given blankets and pillows.
This President is the one who actually gave them a lethal aid, in fact, to fight back against Russia, which is way more than Barack Obama ever did.
MACCALLUM: That's true, but then, withheld it -- withheld the aid, and then, want it, and had the conversation, and then, afterwards, it was released. That's the important part here.
GIDLEY: It is. But it's --
MACCALLUM: For the purpose of this conversation.
GIDLEY: But let's be very clear about what the President is doing as president, and what he ran on and won on this topic, which was making sure every dollar that taxpayers paid into the government was spent wisely. He wants other countries to pay their fair share. He did that at NATO when people won't paying two percent of GDP.
MACCALLUM: So, you're saying that's the reason that he was withholding?
GIDLEY: I'm not saying anything about the reason of this. You'll see it tomorrow and the world can decide.
GIDLEY: But the fact is, he has done nothing wrong. This will be proven again and the Democrats and the media who are complicit and compliant with everything the Democrats want are going to be made fools of yet again.
MACCALLUM: So, you feel very confident that when people -- because I think that with all of these things, everything's open to interpretation. So, are you saying that this transcript which you have read is just absolutely beyond anybody's ability to twist it one way or the other? It' perfectly clear?
GIDLEY: I'm just -- what I'm saying is, it baffles the mind how many time Democrats are going to go down this road and keep walking into these massive left hooks from Donald Trump.
MACCALLUM: All right.
GIDLEY: They keep setting themselves up with no evidence, pushing lies on the American people, only be proven wrong time and time again. And look, Mueller proved them wrong. The hours of testimony proved them wrong. Attorney General Barr, prove them wrong. Corey Lewandowski proves them wrong.
MACCALLUM: All right, let me ask you this. That there's some reporting --
GIDLEY: Everyone proves them wrong, and they're still pushing this lies without evidence.
MACCALLUM: I understand -- understood. There's some reporting today that there was a debate within the White House about whether or not this should be released. That Secretary Pompeo and Mr. Mulvaney were both on the side of, no, this should not be released.
And that Bill Barr, the Attorney General wanted it to be released. So, why were those two significant players saying I wouldn't let this go?
GIDLEY: Listen, I'm not going to speak on behalf of Attorney General Barr. I'm not going to speak on behalf of Secretary Pompeo, and I'm definitely not going to speak about internal deliberations. We have the White House.
But the fact is, the people didn't vote for our cabinet. They voted for Donald Trump. He's the one who makes these calls and he is so sick and tired of watching his reputation attacked and people trying to destroy him without any evidence whatsoever, and this is going to prove.
Yet again he's vindicated, and yet again, Democrats have overreached and completely ruined what could be some actual good things to accomplish for the American people.
And look these attacks, they don't hurt Donald Trump. He continues to win and continues to do things in a positive way for the American people. It hurts average Americans out there who want something done on guns. This is going to be very difficult now to move forward on that matters.
MACCALLUM: There's no doubt that there's -- it going to take up all the oxygen in the room for any -- anything that could be getting done.
GIDLEY: Difficult on infrastructure, (INAUDIBLE) crisis. Right. So, remember in the State of the Union, he gave them the option. Is this going to be -- to be about impeachment or is this going to be about legislation?
GIDLEY: And they have completely chosen the path.
MACCALLUM: All right. I got one last question for you. Why one day after the Mueller albatross is lifted off the President's back, and he's free to move on with the rest of his presidency, does he get on the phone with the President of Ukraine and start talking about Biden, about the next election? Why? Why would he do that? It just seems to fly in the face of any good sense whatsoever.
GIDLEY: Again, I feel like when you see this transcript, the President is going to be vindicated. It's going to be proven he's done nothing wrong. I can't talk about what's in it yet, obviously, because it's not declassified.
MACCALLUM: So, is he saying, the Mueller thing is over and now, gee, you know what I should ask you, why don't you go look into Biden?
GIDLEY: Now, look, we all understand what's going on here. Joe Biden has some serious issues in his past. The media have completely ignored it. They're not talking about it at all, except for trying to jump off of Joe Biden to attack Donald Trump.
Joe Biden is the one who's done things wrong. He's absolutely bragged about it on national television. The President has done nothing wrong and you're going to see that tomorrow.
MACCALLUM: Well, I think there's no doubt that all the focus on this and the impeachment proceeding will shine more light on the Biden issue. And I know Rudy Giuliani has said, tomorrow starts, from his perspective, the introduction of the China side of the question where it comes to Joe Biden, and we'll cover it all.
GIDLEY: And you know what --
MACCALLUM: We'll cover it all the way through.
GIDLEY: It's about time someone looks into it.
MACCALLUM: All right, Hogan, thank you very much for being here tonight for taking the questions.
GIDLEY: Thank you.
MACCALLUM: We appreciate you being here.
GIDLEY: Thank you.
MACCALLUM: So let's turn now to Republican Senator John Kennedy, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Senator, good to have you with us tonight. You've been listening to this conversation. Where do you think this whole thing is going?
SEN. JOHN KENNEDY, R-LA: A couple of points, Martha. Number one, I'm not sure what Speaker Pelosi said today. I was under the impression that Mr. Nadler was already conducting an impeachment.
MACCALLUM: Yes, that's a good point.
KENNEDY: I don't think he's been playing Candy Crush over there from last year. Number two, I listened to my good friend Congressman Swalwell have his 19th nervous breakdown on your show. I just got to wait and see what the transcript shows.
I will say this. I think they're going to be two investigations. There's currently going to be an investigation of President Trump's conversation with President Zelensky. But there's also going to be an investigation, if not by the Republicans, by Vice President Biden's federal candidates of Mr. Hunter Biden, who I don't know.
But what we do know is that a Ukrainian oligarch hired mister -- young Mr. Biden and paid him $600,000 a year, gave his law firm a boatload of money. And I don't think the American people believe the oligarch got mister -- young Mr. Biden's name off of zip recruiter? I mean, I think if you believe that, you may have a checkup from the neck up.
MACCALLUM: Well, you know -- I mean, there been some digging around into this. There hasn't been any wrongdoing found thus far. But you know, I mean, the question is obviously, still open. And Joe Biden says he never discussed any of this with this his son.
KENNEDY: I'm not measuring it but I will get it this way. If a guy robs a bank, and on the way to jail, the cops beat the living Hades out of him, should you investigate the cop? Sure. But you're all going -- also going to go back and investigate the bank robbery.
Now, I'm not accusing anybody of robbing a bank or beating up anybody. I'm just saying, I think there's going to be two investigations here. Final point, I think some of my Democratic friends are in good faith. I don't have enough facts to agree with them and I don't want at this point.
But I think other of my Democratic friends just can't accept the fact that the American people chose Donald Trump to be president. It's called democracy. And my advice to them, I say this gently, fill out a hurt feelings report and let's move on. As you pointed out, we've got a lot of issues that are at least as important as who said what to whom.
And final point, I hope the White House has contacted President Zelensky to get his permission to release this transcript.
MACCALLUM: They have.
KENNEDY: Because I don't want my conversations with world leaders to be transcribed and released to the public.
MACCALLUM: Yes, that's a good point.
KENNEDY: You know why? Because world leaders aren't going to talk to me anymore.
MACCALLUM: Yes. Well, apparently Secretary Pompeo, the State Department, has cleared this release with the leader of Ukraine, Mr. Zelensky, and he is OK with it, which may tell us a little bit more about that as well.
You know, in terms of the process here, and the way that it works, you have a whistleblower who goes to the Inspectors General of the intelligence agencies, he's concerned about, apparently about what someone told me was said -- told him, excuse me -- was said on the conversation.
There's reports that it's secondhand, we'll see. Then he's learned enough by it to pass it up to the DNI and begin the process, which is that after a certain number of days, seven after the first 14, I believe, it has to be turned over to Congress.
And Nancy Pelosi says that in and of itself, is egregious and is a breakdown of policy and the way that this should happen.
KENNEDY: Can I stop you for a second? Can I stop you for a second?
MACCALLUM: Yes, go ahead.
KENNEDY: You left out one salient fact. Yes, we have a whistleblower. Yes, he wasn't there, at secondhand. But the whistleblower or someone on his behalf leaked it to the press. What does that remind you of? That reminds me of the Russian investigation.
Look, I'm not saying there's nothing here. We're going to get the transcript tomorrow and we'll find out. But this is -- we're starting to see a pattern here. And all I'm saying is Congressman Swalwell who I have great respect for, before you get all moved up, let's wait and see what the transcript says, number one, and number two, I think I can say pretty confidently we're going to have two investigations.
We're going to have one of the President, that's the House's, right. And number two, we're going to have one of the vice president. Now, I don't know whether that'll be by the FBI, by Republicans in the Senate, or by Vice President Biden's fellow candidates, but that part's not going away.
MACCALLUM: Senator Kennedy, thank you. Great to have you here tonight, sir.
KENNEDY: Thanks, Martha.
MACCALLUM: You bet. So President Trump insists that he has nothing to hide on this phone call and that it will be released in totality unredacted tomorrow, and that the American people will see it when it comes out, the phone call with the Ukrainian President. But Speaker Pelosi today insisted that he is in violation of the Constitution. And here she is talking about what I just mentioned.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PELOSI: The actions taken today by the President has seriously violated the Constitution, especially when the President says article two says I can do whatever I want.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: So here is the former Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker. Good to have you here. Matt, as we were just coming to you, there's a report out of Politico that says that the whistleblower report will also be released by the end of the week.
We heard Congressman Swalwell saying, you know, he doesn't care so much about the actual transcript but he definitely wanted to see the whistleblower's report. So now it sounds like both are going to come out. What do you think?
MATTHEW WHITAKER, FORMER ACTING ATTORNEY GENERAL: Yes, I heard him say that. And as a former prosecutor, obviously, I wouldn't allege a crime or say somebody committed a crime or violated the Constitution, especially if I hadn't seen the facts and the underlying evidence.
MACCALLUM: Generally, that's the way it goes, right?
WHITAKER: Yes. These House Democrats appear to just want an impeachment so desperately that they're willing to ignore what the facts could be in order to, you know, satisfy their breathless desire for impeachment. It's really extraordinary.
And then, you know, the President does have broad discretion under article two of the Constitution. And I can't see anywhere where the President can't have a broad discussion with a foreign leader. You know, those international relations power were bested in him.
MACCALLUM: Even if it's a request to investigate your political opponent in the next presidential election?
WHITAKER: Well, Martha, you know, I think what we're going to see tomorrow is the desire of this president to stamp out political corruption across the world, including in the former Soviet satellite states, like the Ukraine, the Balkans, and other where, where political corruption is rampant.
And so, you know, that's why I mean, things need to be investigated and these (AUDIO GAP) Biden and Joe Biden, I think, should be investing (AUDIO GAP) corruption. (AUDIO GAP) I think it's kind of lost on a lot of people, what we're really talking about here.
MACCALLUM: OK. Your signal is breaking up a little bit so we lost a little bit of what you said. But just, you know, one last thought in terms of how this moves forward. The Department of Justice, apparently, the Attorney General was behind or was supportive of releasing this transcript.
WHITAKER: Yes. I think Bill Barr is always going to be for transparency, especially coming out of what they did in the whole Russia investigation. So I would expect we'll see full transparency and Bill Barr is standing for that, and really, all these investigations.
MACCALLUM: And just one more time. If there was that question about help, you know, election help, or, you know, being -- getting some information out about Joe Biden, as a former A.G., would that be troublesome to you in terms of the bar that would need to be met for impeachment?
WHITAKER: Well, one of the things I learned as acting attorney general, as a former U.S. Attorney, you don't speculate about facts you don't know. I would -- but in this situation, I think the President was probably talking about making sure that Ukraine stamps out political corruption that came out of their prior administration.
MACCALLUM: All right, we'll see when it all comes out. Thank you very much, Matt Whitaker. Good to see you tonight.
WHITAKER: Thank you.
MACCALLUM: So tonight, another breaking story at this hour. Iran now firing back at the president after President Trump uses a global stage to put the "bloodlust regime" on notice. General Jack Keane here to give us an update on all of that from the U.N., very busy day there today in New York City next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT: No responsible government should subsidize Iran's bloodlust. As long as Iran's menacing behavior continues, sanctions will not be lifted. They will be tightened. Iran's leaders will have turned a proud nation into just another cautionary tale of what happens when a ruling class abandons his people and embarks on a crusade for personal power and riches.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: So as the impeachment battle rages on tonight, in Washington and all across the country, there is another big story that breaking a short time ago. Iran's President Hassan Rouhani now firing back in an exclusive interview with Fox News Chris Wallace tonight hours after President Trump slammed the Islamic republican -- Republic as "one of the greatest threats facing peace-loving nations." Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HASSAN ROUHANI, PRESIDENT, IRAN (through translator): The country that is present and flying over the airspace of and bombarding the soil of the country of Syria without permission of the government is the United States of America.
And today America, unfortunately, is the supporter of terrorism in our region. And wherever America has gone, terrorism has expanded in that -- in their wake.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: Joining me now General Jack Keane, chairman for the Institute of the Study of War and Fox News senior strategic analyst. General Keane, always good to have you with us especially on a day like today when there were so much happening at the U.N.
He says he flipped the script. He said, look, everybody says we are the leading sponsors of terror but that's not the way we see it from where we sit in Iran.
JACK KEANE, SENIOR STRATEGIC ANALYST: Yes, I mean, what he has in common with other authoritarian repressive regimes is how consistently and persistently they lie in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary and they never, ever give up on it.
And this guy is lying right through his teeth and has been lying just about every single day he's been in office and that's part of what we are really dealing with here, is a fundamentally authoritarian regime who wants to control his people but has huge ambitions to dominate and control the Middle East. And they have largely succeeded at accomplishing a portion of that.
MACCALLUM: So, you know, as the president is trying to rally the allies around an effort to stick with us in this front in terms of the sanctions on Iran and new pressure and perhaps reopening a kind of agreement that is a better agreement.
President Rouhani says he wants the Persian Gulf to control the Persian Gulf, he wants the countries that are around the Persian Gulf to be in charge of it and to form their kind of coalition against everybody else who wants to use that area.
KEANE: That's a boldfaced lie again. I mean, he wants to control it all himself. You know, what's really happening is we are on a very different but parallel paths. Here we have the United States as escalating sanctions, crippling the economy of Iran as its intermediate goal to eventually force them into negotiations and conduct a better nuclear deal, that's kind of the path the United States is on.
The Iranians have not accepted that. Today they have not negotiated and don't intend to negotiate and they believe their path is better. So, what's their path? Their path is out of their old playbook, it always has been, to escalate kinetic actions and that's what they've been doing.
Three drones they've shot down. Sabotage in seizing ships, attacking oil pumps pipeline. And now one of the largest oil fields in the world. All escalating actions and tensions for what reason? To get the world community to pressure the United States to reduce sanctions and it's not working.
And it actually is backfiring on them because I think they're somewhat brain-dead. Can you imagine doing these 10 days before the U.N. national assembly is meeting with most of the presidents of the world coming here and they are all going to talk together and in comes the United States with absolute bonafide declassified evidence that the Iranians pulled the trigger on the strikes.
And now as opposed to isolating the president of the United States and what he's trying to accomplish, the nations of the world are moving too.
MACCALLUM: They're pushing everyone together against him.
KEANE: So, here's Iran being further politically, diplomatically, and economically isolated, and that is a good thing.
MACCALLUM: Yes. One of the interesting messages that the president had today was, you know, sort of a big picture look at how to -- how to help people in your country, how to be a good country. This is what he said about that, watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT: If you want freedom, take pride in your country. If you want democracy, hold onto your sovereignty, and if you want peace, love your nation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: I mean, to me, when I heard that, I thought this is a message to these dictators who have treated their own people horribly. You know, all of the power in Iran lies within this leadership. They're not sharing any of the wealth from the JCPOA agreement. You know that many didn't trickle down, people in Iran know that. They know that they are being taken to the cleaners, I think, most of them, right?
KEANE: Yes. I mean, the civil unrest in the country is growing rather dramatically. Actually, they hold signs, stop spending money in Syria and in Yemen. I mean, the Iranian people know what is happening. I mean, --
MACCALLUM: Are they going to overthrow? Is there any hope that, you know, that kind of message --
KEANE: Well, certainly we would hope that's the case, but I think world pressure on Iranians is what is actually needed. And what they have in common with China, with North Korea, even with Russia, is this repression of their societies and it's the thing that's the weakest about the country.
KEANE: It is their Achilles' heel and the president knows that and previous presidents have known this as well to trigger that Achilles' heel and make sure the people haven't given up hope. That there's a world out there that understands the suffering that has taken place there.
And then I think U.S. policy is trying to do everything it can to bring other countries in the world to put pressure, to confront the Iranians, stop the advance in the Middle East and let's get back to the table and negotiate a deal that makes some sense, that has ballistic missiles are not going to be developed and if you're going to have nuclear power, not weapons, then there should be any time anywhere inspections -- and we're not going to put up with this aggressive malign behavior doing in the region as well.
MACCALLUM: Well, it's interesting that the allies talking again, the president is right in the center now of this negotiation and where this goes from here it feels like. General Jack Keane, thank you. Great to see you tonight.
KEANE: Good talking to you, Martha.
MACCALLUM: Thank you for being here.
So, when we come back, a live report from Capitol Hill with the breakdown of the next apps in Congress after today's impeachment inquiry begins and how it plays out in a Republican-controlled Senate with Florida Senator Marco Rubio, next.
MACCALLUM: All right, so as you know Speaker Pelosi launched a formal impeachment inquiry into President Trump today but it could be a bit of an uphill battle in Congress to get to the articles of impeachment phase.
In moments, Republican Senator Marco Rubio. But first, our Capitol Hill producer Chad Pergram with what lies ahead in Washington and he is the man who knows. Chad, walk us through this.
CHAD PERGRAM, SENIOR PRODUCER: Thank you. Well, Liberals tonight feel vindicated. You know, I spoke on Friday afternoon with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the freshman Democrat from New York and she was a little bit dejected on Friday afternoon, saying she didn't think that they were moving fast enough on impeachment.
Tonight, she was singing a different tune, she said this is exactly what they were calling for.
Now I also spoke earlier with Al Green, Democrat from Texas. No one has been trying to impeach president longer than Al Green, almost since President Trump took office, and tonight, he was almost (Inaudible).
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. AL GREEN, D-TX: I feel that I'm being vindicated. It was lonely, but it's not as lonely as it has been. I think this is being driven by history now. I don't think that we have control. I think that events have taken control and it will happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PERGRAM: Now Jeff Van Drew is a freshman Democrat from New Jersey. He flipped a district from red to blue, that's a battleground district that could be in play in 2020. He's a little bit skeptical, listen to Van Drew.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JEFF VAN DREW (D-NJ): I'm supportive of obviously investigating as we have been. I'm concerned about going into an impeachment because, as I've also stated before, it could split the country apart. At this point in time I do not support impeachment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PERGRAM: Now Tom Emmer is a Republican from Minnesota, he chairs what is called the NRCC, the National Republican Campaign Congressional committee and what he said today was, quote, "Democrats have lost their sanity and remaining credibility with the American people. Make no mistake, backing impeachment will cost Democrats their majority in 2020."
So, Republicans are going to try to flip this on people like Jeff Van Drew in 2020.
I also spoke with Kurt Schrader, he's a moderate Democrat from Oregon, one of the most conservative Democrats in the House and asked him what he thought after Nancy Pelosi made her announcement. He said I'm going to -- I don't know, I'm going to have to think about that, but he said I don't want to tear the country apart. Martha.
MACCALLUM: All right. Chad, thank you very much. Chad Pergram on the Hill.
Here now exclusively on that and other big stories today, Senator Marco Rubio, a member of the Senate foreign relations committee. Senator, good to see you tonight. Thank you for being here.
SEN. MARCO RUBIO, R-FLA.: Thank you.
MACCALLUM: Obviously, a few things to talk about but I want to get your reaction first to this decision by Nancy Pelosi today.
RUBIO: First of all, the term impeachment has lost all meaning. It's thrown around cavalierly. Impeachment is an extraordinary measure. It's an extraordinary remedy. It basically means we are going to throw out the results of the last election and I would think that at a minimum, it's divisive. It divides the country deeply and it takes a tremendous amount of energy.
While you're working on something like that, you're not getting anything else done like funding the government as an example, which is something we should be doing around here.
And so, the question becomes if you're going to do something that extraordinary and that divisive, shouldn't, before you go out running your mouth about it, you have some facts before you, shouldn't you wait, for example, before the transcript of this call comes out.
Shouldn't you wait to see if after we talk to the director of national intelligence, after we talk to the inspector general, after potentially we get a chance to see, as I hope we do, the complaint that's been filed.
And you saw and I think all the members, but some of the members that came out in the hallways after that decision and they were saying we need to do this because I don't like the president's policies. Well, not liking the president's policies are not grounds for impeachment, they are grounds for campaigning against him next year. But --
MACCALLUM: But what about the -- Senator, what about what he did admit to, the president, he said yes, he did bring up Joe Biden and the possibility of an investigation on the phone with him. And obviously he's the front runner, at least at this point, and the 2020 election. Do you have any problem with him bringing that up with the prime minister of Ukraine?
RUBIO: Sure, I don't think you should have done that and I've said that. But that's different from saying -- but that's not what they're saying. They're not just -- what I'm hearing voices out there saying is not only did he bring it up, but there's a quid pro quo.
Well, there is no evidence of that, maybe there will be, but right now there isn't --
MACCALLUM: Yes. That remains to be seen.
RUBIO: And I think it's important. Look, this is not something you throw around lightly and I'm not saying -- we'll see what the facts are. I'm not taking a position one way or the other. The position I'm taking right now is we want to know facts. We want to see the transcript of that call, we are going to wait until we get more facts, we have both of those relevant individuals --
RUBIO: -- coming in the intelligence committee that I sit on --
RUBIO: -- and that's what they should be based on.
MACCALLUM: OK. I want to ask you about Hong Kong because I know that it's an important subject to you. What we've been watching unfold there. Here's the president talking about Hong Kong today at the U.N. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We are also carefully monitoring the situation in Hong Kong. The world fully expects that the Chinese government will honor its binding treaty made with the British and registered with the United Nations in which China commits to protect Hong Kong's freedom, legal system, and Democratic ways of life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: Some observers wish the president -- they want him to be stronger on this issue of China and Hong Kong. What did you think about that statement, was that enough for you?
RUBIO: Those are pretty strong words and that happens to be the correct position.
Look, the Chinese right now are trying to do a trade deal, an agreement with the United States. They are trying -- they are going over the world talking about how they are the defenders of the international system.
What Hong Kong proves is the Chinese communist party is not someone you can trust in any deal. You can find the best deal in the world, they proven, not just on Hong Kong, but how they treat their illegitimate claims to the South China Sea and other measures that they easily violate these deals when it's convenient upon them.
The second point that I would make is the reason why the United States treats Hong Kong differently, meaning we don't put tariffs on stuff out of Hong Kong, we don't subject them to the same scrutiny, is because Hong Kong is supposed to be autonomous.
If Hong Kong is no longer autonomous, then it should no longer receive the -- China should no longer receive the benefits of that autonomy. And I have the bill that will require and I believe will pass the Senate and the House and that the president will sign, that requires the Department of State to go every year and certify whether or not Hong Kong remains autonomous.
MACCALLUM: All right. We'll watch that bill as it moves through. Before I let you go, quickly, this is a picture of the Venezuelan delegate at the U.N. today reading Simon Bolivar and basically snubbing the president as he spoke today with regards to Venezuela, what do you think about that?
RUBIO: Well, it's par for the course, but that's not the Venezuelan representative. It's a representative of a crime family, the Maduro regime, a legitimate government of Venezuela, the one that we and 50 some odd countries recognize which is the Guaido government.
And by the way, yesterday, a major development, 16 countries in the western hemisphere invoke the Rio Treaty, which means they now have a legal framework for them to impose the same sanctions that America has imposed on that regime, so that regime is more isolated, and in more trouble than ever.
MACCALLUM: Yes. The president definitely put a hand out to the people of Venezuela today in support and we will see where that goes as well. Senator Rubio, thank you. Always good to see you, sir. Thank you for being here.
RUBIO: Thank you. Thanks.
MACCALLUM: You bet. So, this part of “The Story” breaking tonight, now the Wall Street Journal is also confirming this evening that the White House will release the whistleblower complaint. The whistleblower report, by the end of the week.
You heard Congressman Swalwell earlier in the show saying that that is what he wanted to see and now indeed that will be released and he and everybody else will get a look at it.
Coming up next, will the opening of this impeachment inquiry backfire politically for Democrats come 2020?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: And I mean, if she does that, they all say that's a positive for me from the election. You could also say who needs it, it's bad for the country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: So let's ask these guys, Chris Stirewalt and Marc Thiessen, how all of this, what a tangled web today, right? How it plays out in 2020 when we come back.
MACCALLUM: So, President Trump will soon release the transcript of the big phone call that we've been talking about all day with the Ukrainian president. And tonight, 406 days from election day, the RNC is calling on Joe Biden to release his calls with foreign leaders so that the American people will have answers on his son's business dealings in those countries.
Here is the former vice president, who's been quite fired up about all of this earlier today, watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, D-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The president does not comply with such a request to the Congress. He continues to obstruct Congress and flaunt the law. Donald Trump will leave Congress, in my view, no choice but to initiate impeachment. That would be a tragedy. But a tragedy of his own making.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: Here now, Chris Stirewalt, Fox News politics editor, and Marc Thiessen, American Enterprise Institute scholar and a Fox News contributor. Great to see you both.
MARC THIESSEN, CONTRIBUTOR: Good to be with you, Martha.
MACCALLUM: So, Chris, about four months out from the Iowa caucuses and this is going to be THE STORY for really all through that period, no doubt.
CHRIS STIREWALT, POLITICS EDITOR: Very much so, and this is also, you see, the Trump campaign, the president himself wanting a sort of redo of 2016. Looking for dirt on Biden overseas, trying to say that he and his family are crooked, trying to turn his very negative story for the president overall into a positive by at least pointing out the stuff on Biden.
The question is do the Democrats -- do they dig in on this too? To Biden's rivals say even though its ill-gotten gains, but we still want to take advantage of it and raise these questions about this sort of ethically obtuse, shady-looking business activities of Joe Biden's son.
MACCALLUM: So, that's a good question. I think that's interesting. That's a good question, Chris. Here's Beto O'Rourke, who, you know, never, like all the candidates doesn't want to miss an opportunity to get some attention on this story today. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FMR. REP. BETO O'ROURKE, D-TX, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: To those who are holding out, I just want them to know that history will judge all of us and our accountability for how we acquit ourselves at this defining moment of truth could not be more important.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: So, Marc, it's classic, right?
THIESSEN: Yes, it's classic and it's not just Beto, it's everybody. I mean, you know, everybody has taken off -- all the defenders are off of the race here.
Look, this is going to do more damage to Joe Biden than it does to Donald Trump. Donald Trump is at least flexing like he is pretty confident releasing these transcripts and releasing the --
MACCALLUM: We'll see, right?
THIESSEN: We'll see how that comes out. But I'll tell you who is going to be hurting the most is Joe Biden. It was just on your show a few moments ago that Senator Kennedy said there's going to be an investigation of the president and there's going to be an investigation of the vice president because he had a clear conflict of interest in having his son Hunter working for a natural gas company at the same time that he was urging Ukraine --
THIESSEN: -- to produce more natural gas, and so what's going to happen is Republicans are going to call up Hunter Biden to testify. And they're going to call up all the Obama -- all the Obama administration aides who warned - - who are quoted in the New Yorker as saying they warned the vice president that Hunter Biden cost to the conflict of interest.
And they are going to call up ethics experts, nonpartisan ethics expert who are going to say that what the vice president did was a conflict of interest under federal ethics regulations and that's going to be very bad for Joe Biden.
MACCALLUM: Yes, I think you're right. It clearly stirred the hornet's nest on this whole Hunter Biden story, which I think we all knew was going to come out eventually in terms of some kind of scrutiny into these issues. Right.
But, Chris, you know, maybe it accelerates it, maybe it gets him through that earlier in the cycle, and maybe it helps him to move past it, is that possible?
STIREWALT: I think Democrats are very leery about using a Trump story line against Joe Biden. I think they would love to. I think that if Elizabeth Warren thought that there was a way that she could take maximum advantage of this --
STIREWALT: -- without looking like she was doing Trump's bidding, I think she absolutely would.
STIREWALT: But unfortunately, for her and unfortunately for the rest of the Democrats this actually puts sort of a protective cone around Joe Biden for a little bit because the harder Trump goes after Biden, you don't want to appear to be piling on and this actually gives them a little cushion from his fellow Democrats.
MACCALLUM: Yes. Let me get to both of you, a very quick reaction to what Brad Parscale, the campaign manager said today, he was elated about all of this.
He said, "They're trying to turn on Joe Biden's handling to Trump problem. The misguided Democrat impeachment strategy is meant to appease their rabid extreme leftist base but it will only serve to embolden and energize President Trump's supporters and create a landslide victory for the president."
Quick thought on that, Marc.
THIESSEN: Yes. I mean, that's pretty strong language, but look, I think this is going to backfire more for the Democrats --
THIESSEN: -- than it does for Republicans.
MACCALLUM: Ten seconds, Chris.
STIREWALT: Who knows? I mean, who can say?
MACCALLUM: Thank you.
STIREWALT: Who would try to say what's going to happen, so we just get to tune in every night and watch it all unfold.
MACCALLUM: All right. Thanks, guys. Good to see you. More of “The Story” coming up next.
MACCALLUM: What a day. That is “The Story,” a busy one at that on this Tuesday, September 24, 2019. But you know what? “The Story” is going to go on tomorrow and the day after that, and we'll see you here tomorrow at seven. Good night, everybody.
Content and Programming Copyright 2019 Fox News Network, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Copyright 2019 ASC Services II Media, LLC. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.