Senate Intelligence Committee finds no evidence of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign

This is a rush transcript from "The Story," February 12, 2019. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

MARTHA MACCALLUM, HOST: Thank you, Bret. Developing tonight, this from the bipartisan Senate Intel investigation into the Trump campaign and Russia that has gone on now for two years, and as interviewed over 200 people, and is apparently winding down.


SEN. RICHARD BURR, R-N.C.: I'm not sure how to put it any clearer than I've said it before. We have no factual evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.


MACCALLUM: So back when the Republican side of the House Intel Committee produced the same finding, it was met with this reaction from Democrats.


REP. JACKIE SPEIER, D-CALIF.: This report was cooked before it was ever baked. And it is a truly desperate attempt, I think, by the majority.

REP. ERIC SWALWELL, D-CALIF.: This incomplete inaccurate reports only invites hackings.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF, D-CALIF.: This is no way to run investigation. It is only a way to go through the motions to give the pretense of trying to find the truth.


MACCALLUM: All right. So, now we wait for the third leg of this investigation from Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Fox News chief intelligence correspondent Catherine Herridge reports tonight from Capitol Hill, with where this stands now. Hi, Catherine.

CATHERINE HERRIDGE, CHIEF INTELLIGENCE CORRESPONDENT: Well, thank you, Martha. The Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee and the ranking Democrat both say publicly that they have more questions and they want to talk to more witnesses. But all signs indicate that the investigation is winding down.

No one is talking about hard evidence of collusion. Though Democrats say they continue to be concerned about what they characterize as suspicious contacts between Russians and the Trump campaign.

And also tonight, there may be new legal exposure for the president's former personal attorney Michael Cohen. After his lawyer, Lanny Davis issued this statement. "The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has accepted Mr. Cohen's request for postponement of tomorrow," that's Tuesday's hearing, "due to post-surgery medical needs. A future date will be announced by the committee."

The issue is that Cohen who was last on The Hill two years ago, according to Senator Burr was seen publicly over the weekend. And also, Monday night indicating that maybe he wasn't that sick after all. Here's Senator Burr speaking late today to reporters.


BURR: I can assure you that any good rule that might have existed in the committee with Michael Cohen has now gone. The way he's positioning himself not coming to the committee, we may hope -- we may help him go to prison.


HERRIDGE: And in the last few minutes, Martha, we have received an updated statement from Lanny Davis, addressing a Senator Burr's criticism. It says that Mr. Cohen does have post-surgery shoulder pain. And that Senator Burr and this is a little bit cheeky this response should understand that it's still possible to be in pain and have a dinner out at the restaurant with his wife and his children.

But the bottom line is that there was a subpoena for Michael Cohen to appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee today. And he did not appear, and the timeline is now very short for him to do so because he begins his prison term in early March. Martha.

MACCALLUM: Catherine, thank you very much.

HERRIDGE: You're welcome.

MACCALLUM: Joining me now, Sean Spicer, former White House press secretary and senior advisor for America First Action. And Juan Williams, Fox News political analyst, and co-host of "THE FIVE". Gentlemen, thank you both for being here this evening.

Juan, let me just get your reaction, first of all, you know, you saw that the response when the in -- when the Republican side House Intel report came out. And now you have Chairman Burr, saying that he doesn't see anything in terms of the most important elements they were looking for here.

JUAN WILLIAMS, POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, in the case of the House Committee, Devin Nunez, the congressman of California was the leader there. And there was lots of suspicion and, in fact, he was coordinating not only the investigation but statements that were with the White House -- with the Trump White House. And I think that's why, Martha, you saw that group of people, the Democrats saying they did not have confidence in the findings.

I think it's very different with the report coming from the Senate. I think that what we've seen from Richard Burr of North Carolina, Mark Warner of Virginia, is an investigation -- it has a high level of credibility. And when they say they can't find any evidence of collusion, I think it carries a great deal of weight. I would make one point to you very quickly that I think there's say that there is no collusion, doesn't mean there's no conspiracy.

I think we know that from intelligence officials and others that there were efforts by the Russians to interfere in our election and to help Donald Trump.

MACCALLUM: Sean, what do you think?

SEAN SPICER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I almost entirely agreed with one until the very end. But look, this thing's been going on for two years. As you mentioned, 200 witnesses, 300,000 documents were produced.

And this was the statement of Chairman Richard Burr, "If we write a report based upon the facts that we have, then we don't have anything that would suggest that there was collusion by the Trump campaign in Russia," full stop. That's the bipartisan conclusion of that -- of that committee.


SPICER: And I agree with Juan, it was done in a bipartisan fashion, it carries a lot of credibility.

MACCALLUM: Yes -- you know, you look at --

SPICER: And I think, at some point -- but I think at some point that look, the reality is, is that Democrats have been in search of a reason why they lost this election.

The bottom line is they ran a poor campaign. Hillary ran a poor campaign, Donald Trump spoke to so many forgotten Americans, and we ran a campaign that most people didn't think -- didn't give us the respect that we deserve.

The bottom line is we won they lost. And the collusion that they've been searching for to make up the excuse as to why they lost doesn't exist.

MACCALLUM: Well, as I said in the beginning, we wait for Robert Mueller's report. And we will see what is in there. And even Senator Burr left the caveat at that there could be -- you know, something else that comes up along the way. But as you point out, Sean, they've been at this a long time. They've been looking -- you know, under every rock, they can find for two years. And I thought this was an interesting comment by the president's former attorney John Dowd, who said, "I would be shocked if there is a report or anything other than we're done from Robert Mueller." Would that shock you, Juan?

WILIAMS: Well, no, I expect the report. But I got to say, I'm on the outside of this. I know that Mueller as a prosecutor has no obligation to provide a report. Essentially, when he indicts people and he's indicted I think they're 33 plus, including that large group of Russians.

But also indict -- when he indicts, that's his basic report to the people. Here is what I know and here is who I'm going after. I must quickly say in response to what Sean was saying, you know, I think there are lots of Republicans who even if there was a proof of coordination and conspiracy, say we shouldn't impeach this president.

I -- but, if there's obstruction, it's only like a third of Republicans who say that could be a basis.


MACCALLUM: But to put off that -- that's Juan is referring to, just so everybody has. This is the Washington Post poll. If the Mueller report concludes that Trump tried to interfere with the probe in a way that amounts to obstruction of justice, would you support an effort to impeach Trump? And 60 percent in this Washington Post poll say no.

WILLIAMS: Of Republican voters?

MACCALLUM: Yes. Correct.


SPICER: But again, there's -- we keep trying to find it, if then. So, if there's no collusion that if he did this, and if he did this, the bottom line is, so far, two out of the three entities looking into this, say there's no collusion.

My guess is that we go three for three. But we've got it, we're losing sight of the bigger fact. And this is something else that Mueller has a charge with. Which is making sure that any entity, foreign or domestic that tried to interfere with our election is brought to justice.

He's already indicted over 20 individuals who did that. And we need to make sure that we don't lose focus. There was no collusion, but we need to take steps to make sure that every entity that tries to interfere with our election understands that they will be caught and brought to justice. And that is similar -- that is also part of Mueller's charge. So, I believe that there will be a report --


MACCALLUM: Well, I mean, that was the original -- that was the original mandate.

SPICER: It was, but Democrats didn't want to focus on it.

MACCALLUM: You know, the problem is that it has bled far beyond that. We also know that there's -- there are investigations going on in New York. They're investigating the family, the finances every single thing that they can get their hands on.

I thought this was interesting, though John Dowd did an interview with the investigation, a podcast for ABC Radio. And he was asked, and this was one of the reasons, you know, why there was a bit of disagreement on the legal team about whether or not the president should answer questions verbally or should sit down.

And here -- here's what John Dowd said. I wanted to get your thoughts on this Sean, and then -- and then, Juan.


JOHN DOWD, FORMER ATTORNEY FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE: He couldn't do it. There's no way he could -- I mean, we'd have to script it. In my questioning him our talking to him, he question -- you know, first question, easy. Second question, easy. Third question, he wasn't sure. And he doesn't like being unsure. So, he'll guess. There is your trap right.


MACCALLUM: Since that make sense to you, does that add up to you with the president that you worked for, Sean?

SPICER: I don't think it's just the president, I think with any witness. I mean, if you're not 100 percent sure of an answer, that's where they start to entrap you. The way that if you don't answer it in a -- in a way that's exactly how you're supposed to, then they go down a rabbit hole. And they start saying, "Well, if you didn't know that, did you know this, and did you know that?

I think its sage advice that he was given because once you started going down one hole, and the bottom line is in one touched on this a little bit with his answer, which is once there was no collusion, then was it a conspiracy? Was there this?


SPICER: Did you not pay this, did you not do this? I think that what we've got to remember is that when the Democrats l find out that there was no collusion, they're not going to admit that they were wrong. They're going to pivot to the next thing, and that's the reality. Look for that.

Because once they strike out, and go three out of three that there was no collusion you need the House to Senator Mueller, they're going to move on to something else. But they won't admit that they were wrong on the first charge, they're going to find the next one, and the next one, and the next one, until they can find something that sticks in their opinion.

MACCALLUM: Yes. I got to leave there -- I got to leave there. Thank you, gentlemen. Great to see you both tonight. Thank you very much.

WILLIAMS: You're welcome.

MACCALLUM: So, Brit Hume coming up next on the scandals embroiling Virginia's top political leaders. Should they stay or should they go?


MACCALLUM: So tonight, Virginia Democrats are under even more increasing scrutiny as the rape allegations against the lieutenant governor there, surface in Facebook messages that were obtained by Fox News.

And Governor Northam, who has been in hot water pretty much every time he's tried to clean up the blackface mess that he's in is now starting a listening tour. In moments, Brit Hume. But first, Trace Gallagher on what we're learning tonight. Good evening, Trace.

TRACE GALLAGHER, CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Martha. The Facebook messages are from Meredith Watson, she is the second woman to accuse Justin Fairfax of sexual assault when they were students at Duke University. And they show that in March 2017, Watson was commenting on Fairfax's candidacy, and telling her context about the alleged rape.

On March 19th, 2017 Watson writes quoting here, "This is absolutely disgusting! This dude raped me." An unknown contact response, "Was it reported? And is there something that could be said?" Meredith Watson responded that she didn't report the Fairfax assault because a year earlier when she accused then Duke basketball star Corey Maggette of raping her, Watson claims, Duke University discouraged her from reporting it.

Duke says it is now reviewing what policies were in place at the time and Corey Maggette who played in the NBA until 2013 and now works for Fox Sports denies the allegation, though Fox Sports is looking into the claim.

And Meredith Watson says when Maggette assaulted her, one of the people she confided in was her friend Justin Fairfax. She claims Fairfax later told her the reason he assaulted her is because he knew she'd be too afraid to say anything. Fairfax denies the allegation. During the Virginia 2017 election, Watson also wrote on Facebook "of course I want to say something he shouldn't be running for office. I just don't know what I can do.

The unknown contact advises Watson to report it anonymously to which Watson says "nothing is anonymous anymore. Besides, anonymous allegations carry no weight. And on Election Day, Watson wrote to a contact "I see you've been promoting Justin Fairfax on Facebook despite knowing he raped me which is mind-blowing to me. Are you seriously voting for him today? #MeToo.

Meredith Watson hasn't detailed the alleged rape but did say it was similar to Vanessa Tyson. That's the first accuser who says Justin Fairfax forced her to perform oral sex. And we should note that while the pressure is increasing on Fairfax, it is decreasing on Virginia Governor Ralph Northam as Northam begins his listening/apology tour.

A new Washington Post Char School poll says 58 percent of African-American residents in Virginia want Northam to stay, only 37 percent want him to resign. Martha?

MACCALLUM: Trace, thank you very much. Joining me in Brit Hume, Fox News Senior Political Analyst. Brit, good evening to you. Tough times in your beloved home state of Virginia. What do you make of this latest information here tonight?

BRIT HUME, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Martha, I've been covering this stuff, politics, one way or another for more than I have a century and I have never seen anything like this. This is the most remarkable confluence of events coming together that I've ever seen.

I mean, we're looking here now at three leading politicians, the governor, the lieutenant governor, and the attorney general of the state of Virginia against whom allegations and indeed in the case of a couple of them factual charges are -- have come out that would unhorse any one of them. But because all three of them have been charged in the way they've been charged, and under the circumstances it looks to me at the moment as if all three may very well survive.

Northam looks like he's not going anywhere for sure. His situation looks to be getting stronger. If he doesn't go down, that's hard to see how the attorney general who was involved in a blackface incident is going to down because of his. In the middle -- in the middle of it all, you have Justin Fairfax, the lieutenant governor who would be next in line to succeed Northam who stands accused by two different women of sexual assault but the mechanism for getting him out of office, he's denying the charges, seems not to exist.

Impeachment looks like a long shot because it's supposed to be four things that you did while in office. It's a little bit like a building held up by three pillars, and all of them begin to crumble, and then they seem to fall together in just such a way that they are -- that the whole thing remains standing, and the situation looks --

MACCALLUM: And yes -- but let's lower -- it stands much lower. It falls to the ground and it is an incredible group of circumstances. The only recourse legally would be these women bring criminal charges which the statute of limitations does not run out on. And that of course would present potentially a different situation for Justin Fairfax.

I want to get your thoughts on governor Northam listening tour. He has signaled that he would be willing to take down all the Confederate statues as you know, sort of I don't know, some sort of penance, I guess. He's been given a reading list of things that he's supposed to read by his staff including the Case for Reparations by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Roots by Alex Haley.

He's also just announced that he is restoring the civil rights of 10,992 Virginians who were previously convicted of a felony because everyone deserves a second chance.

HUME: Well, he's -- look, this is a guy who's asking for a second chance himself in a big way. So these are kind of predictable political steps that he can take. It looks like the African American community is at least a majority over that's standing behind him, and you know I think he may end up pandering like mad to that section of the electorate but that -- I think that could only improve his standing politically.

So I mean, my sense is he gets stronger by the day in terms of surviving in office. I'm not sure that he's going to be as you know, what will become his governorship but he will be there. And of course what the Democrats nationally are looking at, Martha, is if these three guys are still in office in Virginia having been charged as they have and having in the case of Northam and the Attorney General having acknowledged these blackface incidents, the effect that that may have one the ability of the Democrats they used the race issue as they have done against the Republicans may be diminished.

And of course the #MeToo movement is looking at this this lieutenant governor with a jaundice eye as well I would think and we'll see how all that plays out. But this is -- this is looks like an ongoing problem for the Democrats and because of the way this it's all falling into place, it doesn't look like any of these guys is going anywhere for now.

MACCALLUM: I want to play a sound bite for you from President Trump talking about the new representative from Minnesota Ilhan Omar. He called on her to resign or to lose her committee -- her spot on the committee. Watch this.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT: Congressman Omar is terrible what she said and I think she should either resign from Congress or she should certainly resign from the House Foreign Affairs Committee.


MACCALLUM: What do think about the President suggesting that?

HUME: Well, you know, he's not the first person to suggest that because you recall -- remember when Steve King knew the hardcore Republican conservative from Iowa was caught up in some racially insensitive comments. The leadership in the Republican Party in the House -- this wasn't his first episode it should be noted of that kind -- but the leadership stripped him of his committee assignments.

So they kind of set this precedent which leaves the Democrats open to the accusation that they're not doing as much about their member who got out of line on this issue as the Republicans did about theirs. So that's that that may give that charge some resonance at least -- at least among some elements of the -- of the body politic and it shows you that there's no issue too small for the president to pick up on.

MACCALLUM: Yes, exactly. And her issue was anti-Semitism, I should mention which I didn't on the way in there. Brit, thank you very much. Good to see you tonight.

HUME: You bet, Martha, thank you.

MACCALLUM: So coming up tonight, all eyes on President Trump as we await his next move on the border. Is he going to scrap the deal that was presented to him for not going far enough? What are their options does he have? Congressman Tom Reed and John Garamendi a Republican and a Democrat involved in these negotiations will be up next right after this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Would you consider declaring national emergency to build the wall?

TRUMP: I consider everything. I'm considering everything. You know, we already have national emergencies out there.



MACCALLUM: So there's a look at the White House tonight where the President is no doubt thinking about whether or not he's going to sign this immigration compromise deal that was reached by Republicans and Democrats and avoid another shutdown which could happen as soon as Friday. Among other things, this new deal would allocate $1,375,000 for 55 miles of more -- of new wall, new fence, whatever you want to call it, along the southern border.

But now there may be another deal on the table. The President tweeted this moments ago. "Was just presented the concept and parameters of the border security deal by hard-working Senator Richard Shelby looking over all aspects knowing that this will be hooked up with lots of money from other sources will be getting almost $23 billion for border security. Regardless of wall money, it is being built as we speak."

Here now with the inside story two congressmen involved in the border deal negotiations, Republican Tom Reed and Democrat John Garamendi. Gentlemen, welcome. Thank you very much for being here. Congressman Reed, let me start with you what do you think -- what does he mean by that? What does the president mean by that?

REP. TOM REED, R-N.Y.: Yes. I think what the President's looking at is the money that's in the appropriations process not to get to inside D.C. but this is money that can be reprogrammed, that can be looked at for national security use. And I think what the President is doing is coupling this deal with those resources and committing the first priority that we should all be, protecting our border.

REP. JOHN GARAMENDI, D-CALIF.: Tom, you and I have been working together in harmony but that's not a harmonious statement. Those additional money beyond the $1.3 are projects that have already been appropriate and these are civil works projects and military construction projects that were deemed by Congress by the military by communities across America that were necessary to recover from the various disasters and to prevent flooding in the future. In my own area, it's about $2.5 billion, absolutely essential flood control programs.

MACCALLUM: Well, let me ask you this -- let me ask you. You both -- this for Congressman Reed, sir, would the money that the President is talking about take away from disaster relief were rebuilding money? Is that true?

REED: Yes, there there's different pots of money that could be reprogrammed and put towards border security, not just at the border but across the whole spectrum of border security. So you know, I understand the concern that John is raising. It's a legitimate concern. But these this money is on the table and let's put it to use to protect our fellow American citizens.

GARAMENDI: Tom, we've worked so closely together but the reality is that money has been appropriated for specific projects, some $4 billion in Houston, Texas to repair the levees and the dams in Houston, another $2 billion in Puerto Rico, money in Florida, money in California. All of it absolutely essential to protect lives in the communities all across the nation.

Could the President do it? He'd have to declare a desire a national emergency to do so. At least in the Army Corps of Engineers, there is some military construction projects that have in the past been re-allocated for work in Afghanistan and Iraq. But once again all of these are deemed to be highest priority by local communities, by states, as well as by -- in the military.

MACCALLUM: Understood, but really in the scheme of things, the gap that exists between the $5.7 billion that he wanted in the $1.3 close to $1.4 that is in this deal could potentially be closed with transfer authority funds that are taking from some other projects and moved as the money is moved around. Are you saying, John Garamendi that would be a deal breaker for you if that gap was close that way?

GARAMENDI: Well, I think it's a one-two punch. The first punch would be the signing of the current legislation that has been the compromised by the committee. The second punch would come later. But I will tell you, there will be a huge outcry and there will be lawsuits left, right, and center --


MACCALLUM: Because you don't want the border to be secured?

GARAMENDI: No, not at all. I want people to be protected, protected with these flood control projects, with the disaster relief money --

MACCALLUM: All right

GARAMENDI: -- that we have already held the hearings, made the determination that these projects are essential for the protection of life throughout the United States.

MACCALLUM: Last quick thought, Congressman Reed.


REED: But I think the first -- but I think the first step needs to be recognized. And I think that's where there's a (Inaudible). Let's avert the shutdown, move this issue to $1.3 billion that we have agreed to --


REED: -- that seems to be a reasonable proposal that I can support and then move on to this other issue. But first and foremost, let's take care that this week --


MACCALLUM: Would Republican support for this bill fall apart if the president sticks to his word there?

REED: Well, I think there is support from the center out approach on this compromise because I think there's many of us who want to avert the shutdown, get the money going to the border to secure the border, as well as border security improvement and elsewhere which is also going to be --


MACCALLUM: Congressman Reed --

GARAMENDI: Let me -- just one thing here.

MACCALLUM: Real quick.

GARAMENDI: One thing here is that the process of legislation goes forward, this is not the end of the process. If the president has projects that he thinks are critically important, come to the legislature and we'll talk about funding those things. And it's quite possible some or maybe all of them would be funded.

MACCALLUM: All right. Congressman Garamendi and Congressman Reed, good to have both of you with us tonight. Come back, hope you come back.

REED: Thank you.

GARAMENDI: Thank you.

MACCALLUM: Thank you very much, gentleman. Good to see you tonight.

So, my next guest wrote in a piece today that the president has other options that is disposable, for at his disposal, I should say, that don't involve a national emergency.

Marc Thiessen, American Enterprise Institute scholar and Fox News contributor. Marc, always good to have you with us. Good evening to you.

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

MACCALLUM: So, what do you unravel in the president's latest tweet and does it speak to exactly what you wrote about today?

THIESSEN: I hope so. Look, it's obvious that he's leaning towards agreeing to the deal. That would be a good decision because the deal is not going to get better with a second shutdown, if anything it will get worse.

And a national emergency would be a mistake. You just saw Democratic congressman talking about some of these projects in his district that would get - that would get defunded. There are also Republican congressmen and Republican senators who would object because their projects are being defunded. They want -- they need that money for their districts.

And on top of that if you declare a national emergency to circumvent Congress to pay for the border wall, what's to stop a liberal Democrat one day from declaring climate change is in the national emergency and implementing the green new deal. So, we don't want to set that precedent.

But there is a way that the president can get the full $5.7 billion without a shutdown and without national emergency. And that is by shifting the debate away from the shutdown and towards the sequester.

So, in December of this year, there is going to be an automatic sequester of spending if Congress doesn't act. If the president doesn't improve increasing the spending cap, the Budget Control Act that President Obama signed in 2011 has been, is going to go into effect.

And if he, if Trump doesn't agree to lift those spending caps, then there is going to be an automatic $55 billion reduction in domestic spending that Democrats consider priority. There'll also be a $71 billion cut in defense which won't make conservatives happy.

But Democrats are going to have to decide. And there is no shutdown involved. There is just an automatic reduction in spending. Are we willing to sacrifice $55 million in domestic spending to deny Donald Trump a measly $5.7 billion for the border wall? So, right now --


MACCALLUM: Yes. But Marc, let me just jump in with the question here.


MACCALLUM: I mean, couldn't they all decide if they want to delay again when the sequester kicks in, kick the can down the road some more they are pretty good at that.

THIESSEN: It requires the president, it requires an agreement by the Congress to increase the budget caps over the sequester. The sequester is the baseline. That's what happens if nobody acts.

So, two years ago, they lifted the budget caps and added money for defense and added money for domestic spending. That expires in December. So, if no action is taken the cuts are automatic. Congress doesn't have to vote. The only way it stops --


MACCALLUM: Interesting.

THIESSEN: -- is if they pass something and the president signs it. And he could say to the Democrats you want that $55 billion, you got to give me my border wall.

MACCALLUM: Fascinating. Thank you, Marc. Good to see you as always.

THIESSEN: Thank you, Martha.

MACCALLUM: Great piece today.

THIESSEN: So, is 2020 Democratic contender Cory Booker trying to impart his vegan animal-free diet on the rest of us? He says that eggs he discovered do not align with his spirit. What else did he say? Right after this. Stay with us.


SEN. CORY BOOKER, D-N.J.: So, this is the vegan food, I'm serving to the Congressional Black Caucus. So, guys, what do you think of the food?



BOOKER: It is awful? What are you missing, what are you missing on that plate, though?



MACCALLUM: We have a Fox News alert for you. Tonight in New York we are just learning that there was a shooting and a robbery at a cell phone store. One of those shot, a New York City police detective has been pronounced dead at the scene, a 19-year veteran of the force, an NYPD sergeant was seriously wounded, the gunman was also shot and taken into custody. This killing marks the first for the NYPD in line of duty for 2019.

Infamous Mexican drug lord Joaquin El Chapo Guzman now facing life in prison. A jury found him guilty today in a dramatic moment in the courtroom on all 10 counts for his role in one of the most vicious cartels in history.

Trace Gallagher live in our West Coast newsroom with all the details tonight and the back story. Hi, Trace.

TRACE GALLAGHER, CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Martha. For El Chapo the first count was the biggest domino because it affirms that he was the leader of the brutal Sinaloa drug cartel and that he conspired to commit murder. That's also the account that mandates life in prison.

The jury of four men, and eight women announced their decision on day six of deliberations at the courthouse in Brooklyn. And as the verdict was read, court observers say El Chapo wearing a gray suit remained emotionless as did his wife. But prosecutors and the drug enforcement administration were related. Watch.


RAY DONOVAN, SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE, DEA: El Chapo was a man behind the curtain. He pulled all the strings. He directed all of the production, the smuggling, the transportation, distribution of billions upon billions of dollars' worth of narcotics into the United States.


GALLAGHER: Texas Senator Ted Cruz also chimed in on Twitter, quote, "America's justice system prevailed today in convicting Joaquin Guzman on all 10 counts. U.S. prosecutors are seeking $14 billion in drug profits and other assets from El Chapo which should go towards funding our wall to secure the border."

El Chapo's 12-week trial included 56 witnesses, 14 of whom were once close associates of the drug lord. But the defense painted them as a group of liars and criminals who would do anything to save their own next. Though, today, the defense did acknowledge the power of the government's case. Watch.


JEFFREY LICHTMAN, EL CHAPO'S ATTORNEY: The case was obvious. Anybody who witnessed it could see how utterly and completely overwhelming the amount of evidence was.

We obviously I don't think anybody would doubt that we fought like hell.


GALLAGHER: El Chapo extradited to the U.S. in 2017. In 2015 he escaped through a hole in his prison cell that leads to mile-long lighted tunnel. He remained on the run for more than six months.

In 2001, he escaped from jail in a laundry bin and lived in his mountain hideaway for more than a decade. This time around it's likely that Joaquin Guzman will be taken to the super max prison in Colorado. That's the nation's most secure facility, Martha.

MACCALLUM: What a story. Trace, thank you very much.

So, 2020 presidential hopeful Cory Booker weighing in on the American diet and what he calls the tragic reality of meat and cheese in the United States. Karl Rove and Jessica O'Connell coming up next.


MACCALLUM: Twenty-twenty presidential hopeful Cory Booker appears to be the first Democrat to make diet part of his overall campaign message. In a new interview with the Edge news magazine, that's one of your favorites I know, Booker says, quote, "you see the planet earth moving towards what is the standard American diet. The tragic reality is that the planet simply can't sustained billions of people consuming industrially produced animal agricultural because of the environmental impact."

Booker he doesn't want to ban meat and cheese, rather raise awareness about vegan alternatives. Adding, "I've seen incredible vegan cheese shops popping up across the country and my friends who are lovers of cheese cannot tell the difference.

Joining me lover of cheese, Karl Rove, former chief of staff under President George W. Bush and a Fox News contributor, and Jessica O'Connell, a former Democratic National Committee CEO and partner at NEWCO Strategies. Jessica, I'm not sure how you feel about meat and cheese.

JESS O'CONNELL, PARTNER, NEWCO STRATEGIES: I love both of them both so you can't take away my cheese.

MACCALLUM: So, what do you think about Cory Booker starting off of this message?

O'CONNELL: This is not some sort of platform that Senator Booker is going to run on. He was asked about this to a particular magazine. And I think that, look, we're divided country on many issues. This isn't really going to be one of them. This is a health decision that he makes for his life, I think we can all appreciate the freedom in choosing what you want to eat. We know President Trump eats a lot of hamburgers.


MACCALLUM: We know --

O'CONNELL: Senator Booker apparently eats --

MACCALLUM: -- George Bush did not like broccoli.

O'CONNELL: well, yes, exactly. I mean, Senator -- Senator Booker apparently eats a lot of veggies. I eat cereal for dinner a lot. I mean, listen, it's not -- I'm not making a judgment call about this.

MACCALLUM: That's a good admission, you heard it here. So, I just want to show you this other quote about eggs because it's interesting. Suddenly eating those eggs for me was something that didn't align with my spirit and I could feel it. I finally just made a decision that I was going to become vegan. I remember my last nonvegan meal was election day November 2014. That's about when you turn vegan too, Karl, right?

KARL ROVE, CONTRIBUTOR: Well, you know, no. I don't like eggplant but I don't go on attacking people who grow eggplant by describing the standard American diet or claiming that its industrial produced animal agricultural or it's a very powerful, wealthy, large corporate interests that are behind our diet as Senator Booker said in his -- in his interview.

Look, this is a political agenda. Everybody is entitled to pick their own food, but when you pick your own food, you don't need to go out and denigrate people whose eating habits are different than you are by claiming that there is some shadowy conspiracy behind it.

And they are literally destroying the planet is what he said in here. And not only that but look, Mr. Scientific Senator Spartacus he said, this is, we are clearing land in order for agricultural purposes. Well, he hasn't been looking at the science.

University of Maryland did a study that showed that surprisingly deforestation and the tropical regions had been offset by reforesting in Asia, Europe and the North America. So, we now have more trees today than we had 35 years ago and it keeps getting better every year.

So, he's entitled to his own food choices. Just don't lecture me about, you know, me eating a steak or eating a potato and having cheese. It doesn't -- it gets made -- you know, it gets made with milk from either a goat or somebody else. I mean, it's really weird, I thought, very weird.

MACCALLUM: Well, you know, when you look at sort of the big picture, Jessica, of some of what we've heard so far in these platforms. You've heard about, you know, taking away health insurance. You've heard about this vegan message that Cory Booker is putting out there.

I think back to Michael Bloomberg in New York City, you know, banning sugary drinks and you couldn't drink something that was bigger than this or that. Trans fats, he wanted to also eliminate. You know, is this a message, do you think, so far in terms of what's surfacing from these Democratic candidates, that something is going to resonate with a wide group of Americans across the country?

O'CONNELL: Look, again, I don't think Senator Booker is going to run on a platform of this, I think that he was asked the question --


MACCALLUM: But what about taking away health insurance or taxing people who, you know, there's 70 percent tax rate, taxing the wealthy. What about all of those messages?

O'CONNELL: Yes. Look, I think that Democrats and Republicans have to come together to help build a community that is healthy, nationwide. And I think there are real questions about the environmental impact on some of these things. There were real questions about the health impacts.

We have diabetes epidemic and we have to look at the causes behind that but that's something that we have to come together to work on. This isn't going to be something that's solved by the extremes on either side. It's going to be something that we come together to help make a healthier America.

MACCALLUM: I do want to ask you both different topics --


ROVE: May I disagree with that?

MACCALLUM: Yes. Yes, you may, Karl.

ROVE: It's not -- it's not going to be settled by us coming together. It's going to be decided by people making decisions about their own lives and coming to a recognition that they need to live healthier lives. We don't, however, need a nanny sate.

And what Senator Booker pointed to in that interview was the nanny state where condemning people because of what they eat. And also, I thought very dangerously suggesting that agriculture in America is a bad thing. We're feeding the world. There are people around the world who are living healthier and longer because of American agricultural, growing things, raising things and selling them abroad.

And the idea that somehow the agriculture in America today is bad for both the environment and for the planet is just ridiculous.


O'CONNELL: I don't think Senator Booker was --

MACCALLUM: Yes. He said he wanted to make the existing form of the food industry obsolete which will certainly upset a lot of people in that.

I've got to go. We're not going to get to Governor Cuomo and Amazon, but we'll save it for next time. Thank you very much, Jessica and Karl. good to see you both.

O'CONNELL: Thanks, Martha.


ROVE: You bet.

MACCALLUM: So still ahead tonight, new details on the racy text messages between Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and his girlfriend Linda Sanchez and how she may have played a role in this private messaging becoming public.

Howie Kurtz has the scoop, the very latest on this tonight from his reporting after this. Don't go anywhere.


MACCALLUM: What a story this is, the salacious text message saga between Jeff Bezos and his girlfriend, Lauren Sanchez, takes an interesting turn tonight after being widely assumed that Sanchez's brother, Michael, was the source of the leak to the National Enquirer.

My next guest has new reporting that suggest that Bezos' girlfriend had intimate details shared of their relationship with several of her friends. And even had the contents of her computer downloaded onto an assistance computer for safekeeping, so who is to blame the circle widened?

Joining me now Media Buzz host, Howard Kurtz. Howie, good to see you tonight. Thank you for being here. So, she shared some of these messages with her friends, and her assistant had access to almost everything on her computer.

HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: Right. And this is a bit of a game changer, because the source close to the couple confirms that to me, the investigators for Bezos know this to be true. It pretty much knocks down the theory that somebody's phone was hacked before the leak of the salacious material to the National Enquirer.

And it also means that in these high stakes who done it, you know, how the supermarket tell they get a hold of this stuff, and at a time when Bezos is accusing the Enquirer of blackmail, and the tabloid is denying it, we have a different playing field here because a number of people could have been responsible for that leak.

MACCALLUM: AMI has to keep those clean because of the agreement that they entered into with the federal government over the whole Trump issue, and the two women that were paid off to silence their stories, are they in more trouble because of this development, or less?

KURTZ: Well, it depends on exactly how the American Media, the parent company of the Enquirer got a hold of this stuff, there is no hacking involved, and probably it was done lawfully. The question of blackmail or extortion as Bezos charges is a separate situation.

But by the way, the notion that Lauren Sanchez's brother, Michael Sanchez is a Hollywood talent manager, was somehow responsible of this, it didn't just sort of bubble up out of nowhere.

Sources at AMI and even the lawyer for David Pecker, the Enquirer owner, who is a close friend of President Trump, have kind of tried to finger him. But Michael Sanchez told me on the record that there are, in fact, multiple suspects and he has not never seen any of the salacious pictures or text, and that in fact, any attempt to implicate him this is 100 percent false. Those are his words.

MACCALLUM: So, the other part of this story that's been swirling around is that he has friends in the Trump circle, and that perhaps he was using this story against Jeff Bezos because President Trump and Jeff Bezos aren't exactly the best of friends, to nail him through the National Enquirer.

KURTZ: Yes. Could this get any weirder? Even if it were a movie. So, Michael Sanchez is a Trump supporter, he is friendly with both Carter Page and Roger Stone, two of the people who had been caught up in the Mueller investigation. Stone, of course, pleading not guilty to criminal charges.

But what Sanchez maintains -- or what I'm told is that he communicated with both of them for advice on security after the Enquirer leak not some crazy conspiracy theory that Stone and Page were involved in the Enquirer leak.

And even I've seen correspondents, Martha, suggesting that Michael Sanchez tried to set up a meeting in a secure location, maybe even aboard a plane between Carter Page, Jeff Bezos himself, and Bezos' top security guy. That never materialized, but it does show you many subplots there are here, as now federal prosecutors are going to have to determine in part because of that immunity deal you mentioned just who did what to whom.

MACCALLUM: Yes. Not to mention the obvious, which is Stone shared text messages shared with several people, including assistance when you are in the middle of this kind of situation. Howie, thank you.

KURTZ: Not in this digital world.

MACCALLUM: Thank you very much, Howie.

KURTZ: Good to see you.

MACCALLUM: See you next time. That is “The Story” on this Tuesday night. Thanks for being with us tonight.

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