Published October 11, 2019
This is a rush transcript from "The Story," October 11, 2019. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
MARTHA MACCALLUM, ANCHOR: Yes, that's a tough part of the story for all of us today, Bret. And I will never forget working with Shep all these years, and the body of work that he put together and the coverage that he did is something that we're all really proud of, and we are going to miss him.
I will never forget when I did a royal wedding coverage that I think he did somewhat for grudgingly, but about halfway through that coverage -- I think we had him, you know. He was like, wow! This is actually very moving, I'm really glad I'm here.
So, yes, tough day for all of us, Bret. Thanks. Good to see you tonight as always.
BAIER: Yes. See you, Martha.
MACCALLUM: All right. But the story goes on as we always say here. Good evening, everybody. I'm Martha MacCallum, and this is “The Story” tonight.
A story that is somewhat tough to follow and it is getting more complex by the day. Today, the Wall Street Journal's Kim Strassel believes that, that is by design. We're going to get to that part of the story in just a moment.
But today, Ambassador Yovanovitch, testified about why she was pushed out of her post in Ukraine and sent home to the United States. Her testimony behind closed doors and that follows a pattern that we have seen both sides then come out and try to spin what happened in there, and what they heard. We're going to show you what the Democrats said, and we're going to talk to a Republican about what he heard in there as well.
By the way, there will be many more of these closed-door testimonies that will happen over the coming days if featuring some of the individuals that you see there on the screen as we move forward.
Now, Kim Strassel, today in the Wall Street Journal wrote that there's an effort, she believes, "seeking to weave dozens of obscure Ukrainian and U.S. names into a crazy quilt of corruption. Readers have no time to keep track of all the Vlads, envoys, and meetings in Spain, and that is the point," she writes. The goal is to cover up -- is to cover the Trump administration in ugly, says Kim Strassel.
But, I thought it'd be interesting those back at desks. Here are some parts of one exchange that we have on all of this regarding the former ambassador to Ukraine, and it comes straight from the transcript of the president's July 25th call with his Ukrainian counterpart, which we all have read many times now. President Trump, says this about the ambassador. We pulled out that specific part.
"The woman was bad news and the people she was dealing with in Ukraine were bad news. So, I just want to let you know that," he says to President Zelensky. Zelensky, then, when he gets to the part of talking about the ambassador replies, "I agree with you 100 percent. Her attitude towards me was far from the best as she admired the previous president and she was on his side," said President Zelensky of Ukraine to which the president said, "Well, she's going to go through some things," too which I think she might agree today as she started that process.
So, let's bring in our chief national correspondent Ed Henry, covering this story throughout the day. Ed, good to see you tonight.
ED HENRY, CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Martha, good to see you. Breaking tonight as well, the Democrat Adam Schiff, fired off a letter just a short time ago declaring his committee in the next few weeks is going to continue the impeachment probe with a sense of urgency.
In his words, they will actually accelerate that probe. Assigned Democrats appear to be moving closer to meeting the rumored target of trying to impeach President Trump by Thanksgiving.
The president spoiling for the fight, blasting Schiff and Nancy Pelosi as dishonest do-nothing Democrats. His words at a large campaign rally in Minnesota last night the president labeling this an insane impeachment witch-hunt and warning his millions of supporters all around the country that his opponents want to, "erase your vote like it never existed."
Now, the latest clash came last night while that rally was taking place. Democrats say they were told the White House was going to block the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch from talking voluntarily.
So, today, Democrats subpoenaed her to testify behind closed doors. She testified the president's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani was bad-mouthing her for allegedly being disloyal to President Trump and appearing to help protect Hunter Biden from scrutiny of his business dealings there.
Now, Yovanovitch fired back in testimony obtained by Fox that she told embassy staff to ignore the president's orders, that wasn't true, she said. She told lawmakers, "I am proud of my work in Ukraine. The U.S. Embassy, under my leadership, represented and advanced the policies of the U.S. government as articulated first by the Obama administration and then the Trump administration."
Democrats clearly trying to tie the president's decision to push her out of the post to their claims that the president should be impeached over efforts to get the Ukrainians to strongly scrutinize former Vice President Joe Biden.
But the president says, he just wanted them to look into corruption. And a short time ago, at a trade meeting with Chinese officials, he was blunt again about saying he's not telling the Chinese to investigate the Biden family, but he's not opposed to them investigating it either. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT: I have not brought up Joe Biden. China can do whatever they want with respect to the buttons. China can do whatever they want with respect to one. And I have billion dollars going to somebody that's up to China. But we do have to look into corruption but no one has not been brought up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HENRY: That $1.5 billion reference to Hunter Biden's dealings. And in the letter just released by Adam Schiff, he fired back that Democrats will, "continue and accelerate" our efforts to get more witnesses that you mentioned a moment ago, Martha, to come in, move closer to impeachment. Though that may play right into the president's hands that they're going to stop at nothing to try and get him. Martha.
MACCALLUM: Ed, thank you very much. Ed Henry, reporting tonight. My next guest is a Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee who was in today's closed-door hearing.
Pennsylvania Congressman Scott Perry joins me now. Congressman, good to see you this evening.
REP. SCOTT PERRY, R-PENN.: Good to see you, Martha.
MACCALLUM: So, what did you hear in there and what's your takeaway?
PERRY: Well, my takeaway is this. Unfortunately, in the ever-changing rule situation here, I can't tell you what happened in, in that room all day, and it's as a matter of fact, just to let you and your viewers know, it's still ongoing.
But I can tell you this, we have a president that is interested in rooting out corruption in the United States of America. And the one that was elected in Ukraine by 70 percent was also interested in it. And at about the same time that, that the new president of Ukraine was elected, the ambassador, the current serving ambassador was relieved.
And there's a reason for that because rooting out corruption is important. And if it's not getting done, and you don't have the confidence of the country that, that you're serving in as the ambassador, then a change has to be made, and I think that's the important part of this.
MACCALLUM: Well, she claims in the statement that was released that she never put together a do not prosecute list of people. And that she does not know what is being spoken of her. She said she's been falsely maligned and that she has never had anything but the best interest of the country at heart. Here is Denny Heck, one of your colleagues on the Hill, Democrat colleague on the Hill. Here is what he said about it when he came out. Want to get your thoughts.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DENNY HECK, D-WASH.: I just sat through eight hours that went like a New York second. It was that amazing, that powerful, that impactful, and I just feel very fortunate to have been there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: What's your reaction?
PERRY: Well, I sat in the -- in the same -- in the same hearing and quite honestly, a lot of it was second-hand information. No really direct knowledge and wow, we certainly find her situation lamentable for her personally. There are bigger issues here for the country, for both countries at stake, and we have to get to all the facts of them, and the fact that this is happening in secret.
Quite honestly, the fact that this is happening in the secure area where nobody can see and that this should actually be a hearing in the Foreign Affairs Committee because we're talking about a united -- a diplomat from the United States lends the other issue to this which is the American people should see what's happening here.
There's nothing I would like more for than, than for you, and the rest of America to see the transcript from today's proceedings and the transcript from last week's proceedings.
But that's not being allowed, except in certain circumstances where portions of it are leaked out very strategically. But they're not being leaked out by the minority party -- the Republican Party, they're being leaked out elsewhere.
MACCALLUM: You know, I mean that is obviously a problem that's inherent in the way this whole thing is playing out. I mean, there -- it feels very carefully orchestrated that, you know, these hearings go on, and on, and on, for hours. And then, people come out and sort of tell their side of the story, and we're going to hear more of that next week.
But you know the president has said that there needs to be transparency in this. And obviously, he feels like that would -- that would benefit him. But I can't believe that it wouldn't benefit both sides to a great extent.
So, I mean, how much of a push is there to do this differently and will there become a time when these people will be testifying in public because this is sort of the deposition phase of this process, now?
PERRY: Well, that's exactly what it is and we're pushing as hard as we can. But unfortunately, we can't affect the change. It has to come from the majority. And so, the American people have to say, listen, if this is that important -- and I think it is, impeachment is no small matter. Then, let's do this out in the open and let's all decide for ourselves based on the testimony of individuals from both sides. Let's -- let each side see the discovery, call their witnesses, ask the questions, do it out in the open where the American people can see so they can decide as opposed to just a few members of Congress sitting in a secret room in Washington D.C. -- that's absurd.
MACCALLUM: Mr. Perry, thank you very much.
PERRY: Thank you.
MACCALLUM: Good to have you here tonight. So, also joining me this evening, Byron York, chief political correspondent for the Washington Examiner and a Fox News Contributor.
Byron, good to see you as always.
BYRON YORK, CONTRIBUTOR: Hi, Martha.
MACCALLUM: There's a lot of-- there -- you know, Kim Strassel is right. There's a lot of names, a lot of people to follow here. You've got the Ukrainian ambassador, then, next week we're going to hear from the ambassador to the E.U., we're also going to hear from a Russia specialist, Fiona Hill, who is said to be someone that could be somewhat unpleasant for the White House when she tells her story.
What are you hearing about what's to come? And what do you think about the suggestion that some of this is smoke and mirrors?
YORK: Well, I think what we just saw is really important because the committee is going to hear from those people, but we are not going to hear from those people. These are being conducted in secret. And just to add a little information to this, what I understand is because the Democrats issued a quickie subpoena to Marie Yovanovitch this morning that made this technically a deposition, there are tighter rules for secrecy.
So, you saw what you just saw with Representative Perry, where it comes out and says, I'm sorry, I can't talk about it.
Meanwhile, meanwhile, Marie Yovanovitch writes a pretty detailed statement denying all of the allegations against her, and accusing others of wrongdoing. And that gets out and sort of stands as the version of the story today.
A Republicans asking challenging questions, did she have trouble answering or did she perform beautifully? We don't know.
MACCALLUM: Yes. It would be good to know.
YORK: Yes, it would.
MACCALLUM: Because there's also a lot of things being thrown around there about that she was -- you know, sort of trash-talking the president, one side says. But we don't know whether or not that's actually true.
MACCALLUM: And what the sources on that she said she wasn't. So, there's a lot of stuff that we're trying to, you know, figure out as we get through all of this. One of the things I do think is interesting is what I brought up in the introduction which is the actual exchange about this ambassador that we have from the transcript in the phone call between the president and President Zelensky.
And Zelensky, says basically, I'm glad you gave me a heads up about your ambassador because I don't think that she was on my side and I don't think she was going to be helpful because I think she was loyal to the prior president. I think that's pretty, pretty relevant.
YORK: Absolutely, and its -- and it's going to be a very big issue whether the president recalled this ambassador, didn't fire her. He recalled her from her posting early. Whether there was a good reason to do that or not, and this has now become really tangled up with this Rudy Giuliani, Lev Parnas, and Igor Fruman issue.
YORK: Because these are a couple of sketchy characters involved in this and we really don't know what was going on, what were they urging, was anybody really listening to them? Was money exchanged? I mean, there are actual real questions now about them and also what Rudy Giuliani might have known about it.
MACCALLUM: Yes, there's campaign finance accusations against them and the suggestion is that they were funneling money in to try to get her removed. I mean, it really is -- you know, it goes into a lot of deep territory there.
You know, what about this suggestion which I think it's a really lost in the shuffle in this story that the president of Ukraine said that he didn't know that the military aid had been held up when they had that conversation.
In fact, you didn't hear about it for another month after. So, it makes it a little difficult to make the quid pro quo argument as Strassel points out in her piece. If the person who is -- you know, being offered this for that doesn't know, what the -- what the first part of the equation is that the military has been held up?
YORK: That's right. And that's what Republicans have been saying since the very first moment they released the rough transcript of the phone call. That there really was not a quid pro quo. And if there's not a quid pro quo, then what is there?
MACCALLUM: Byron York, always good to have you here. Thank you very much.
YORK: Thank you, Martha.
MACCALLUM: Good to see you tonight. We'll be talking to you next week, I'm sure, as this saga moves on. And when we come back, new information from the Trump adviser tasked with investigating Joe and Hunter Biden's business ties in China.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: There was a lot of friction between the United States and China, and now it's a lovefest. That's a good thing. But that's good for China, and it's good for us, but it's good for the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: Pretty big day in phase one of President Trump's deal with China. It looks like some headway is being made and the market clearly liked it today.
Take a look. Dow up 300 points, S&P and NASDAQ up over one percent a piece, and so all three were up big for the week. Good week in the markets. China, of course, has been all over the stories that we have been covering this week as the NBA battle continues to raise questions, deep questions about our relationship between the two countries. More on that coming up with our panel. But there was also this moment from President Trump on Joe Biden. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: China should start an investigation into the Biden's. Because what happened in China is just about as bad as what happened with Ukraine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: So here now an outside advisor to President Trump on China, Michael Pillsbury, Director of the Center of Chinese Strategy for the Hudson Institute. Michael, thank you very much. Good to have you back here tonight, Dr. Pillsbury.
MICHAEL PILLSBURY, DIRECTOR, CENTER ON CHINESE STRATEGY HUDSON INSTITUTE: Thanks.
MACCALLUM: Let's start with the trade deal.
MACCALLUM: How significant is it? Because as optimistic as everyone wants to be about this, and the markets, you know, clearly felt very good about it, we've been down this road before. Intellectual property is in this deal. The forced transfer of technology which is a huge part of this is in the next phase to come, right? What's your assessment?
PILLSBURY: Oh, I thought it was a big success. It should be celebrated by everybody. I think it's going to have an effect around the world on stock markets, not just in our own, but elsewhere. It's a way of breaking down the problem into phases. This is -- this is new and from what I've understood, it's President Trump's own idea to have phase one, phase two, put as much as we can get the Chinese to agree to now into phase one.
Of course, there's still another month to work it out, but then to leave the tougher issues for phase two. This is an enormous breakthrough. I was just very proud of the president for what he's done.
MACCALLUM: Well, I mean, that's very encouraging. You know, I guess -- it's interesting that it was so public this time and as you say that it was broken down into phases. Because the last time it was sort of all more behind closed doors and I don't think the deal was going to happen.
And then suddenly, the take is that the Chinese said no to parts of the -- of the deal that the president thought were done. So does this forced their hand a little bit having it be so public?
PILLSBURY: Yes, it does as a matter of fact. He repeatedly called on Vice Premier Liu He to say something, and Liu He did in Mandarin so I understood it. He's involving the Chinese back home in this deal. And part of what the Chinese had to do this time, which was very good thing, they brought a lot more people than usual.
They brought the equivalent of the chairman of the Federal Reserve. They've got Mr. Yi, Governor Yi who Steve Mnuchin referred to. That's part of the reason this currency deal can be so successful. So overall, you can imagine, Martha, the opposite that we just keep on haggling back and forth and have no progress. Markets start to slide around the world, more and more talk of U.S. containment will have -- would have happened in Beijing.
So the way the President is doing this, he's pocketing the concessions the Chinese have made and they've been significant. He sweetening the pie himself in several ways, but he's leaving it till he meets with Xi Jinping in Santiago, Chile in about five weeks. So things that don't get solved, Martha, in the next four or five weeks, they will be solved face to face with President Xi. And that's the way to do it in a dictatorship like China.
MACCALLUM: Yes, fascinating to watch this unfold. With regard to what the President said in the soundbite before we came to you, Michael, with the Biden investigation, you said a couple of things about this, this week, and I want to just give you an opportunity to sort of, you know, tell us, you know, where you stand on it, because it was a little bit confusing.
PILLSBURY: There have been some fake news, Martha.
MACCALLUM: The first -- the first one was with Lou Dobbs on Wednesday night. And you said, I tried to bring up the topic. Here's the soundbite. Let's play it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PILLSBURY: I tried to bring up the topic in Beijing. They've just told me what happened with Hunter Biden. I've never seen them get so secretive in my entire life. They would discuss ICBM warheads sooner than talk about what Hunter Biden was doing in China with senate -- with Vice President Biden. That's a big area now where the Chinese know. They don't want any American probe into what happened with Hunter Biden.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: And then after that, in an exchange with a Financial Times reporter, you said actually I got quite a bit of background on Hunter Biden from the Chinese. So which is it is the question. Did you get a lot of information from them or were they tightlipped?
PILLSBURY: Good question. I only saw scholars, I didn't see the government. I didn't get -- they didn't know much about Hunter Biden. They don't want to talk about it. That's what I was telling Lou Dobbs. We were talking about the election prospects, what are Joe Biden's chances to become president, what about the palm of his son, and then that's what the Chinese scholars didn't want to talk about.
What's going on with the Financial Times is a little more sinister. I've known this reporter for 20 years. He's a great guy. When he posted that e-mail to kind of show that I had said that I got information from the Chinese, he left out really important sentence in the e-mail.
The next sentence down below, that quote me, which is accurate, was I would say this in the future if you had me in your column called lunch with the FT. It was an imaginary hypothetical idea that I got information on Hunter Biden from the Chinese, completely false to put it out the way he did.
MACCALLUM: Well, if that's the case, he needs to -- he needs to release the complete context of that, if that's the case.
MACCALLUM: So call on him tonight to do that, to put up that full context.
PILLSBURY: One more inch below -- one more inch below and you see the line.
MACCALLUM: Has the President asked you to look into the Biden's and to push China to do so?
PILLSBURY: No, no. The President asked me about trade and overall strategy toward China and how they perceive him. It has nothing to do with Hunter Biden. I am very interested in Hunter Biden though, because I hadn't realized how else he's been involved with Chinese who are now in jail one here in one in China.
This is not my own work though. This is the brilliant work of Peter Schweizer. He has an op-ed yesterday, Martha, in the New York Post with all the details.
MACCALLUM: We have spoken to him about that and we will continue to in the future.
PILLSBURY: But I'm not Peter Schweizer.
MACCALLUM: Thank you, Dr. Michael Pillsbury. Good to see you tonight, sir. Thanks for being here.
PILLSBURY: Thanks, Martha.
MACCALLUM: You bet. Coming up next, Elizabeth Warren's plan to just tweak capitalism, make it you know, just a little bit better around the edges, and what kind of effect it might have on American businesses according to Liz Peek when we come back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don't think capitalists are bad people?
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN, D-MASS., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am a capitalist. Come on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: So we've seen Elizabeth Warren from moving up in the polls, she's got increasing support for 2020, but the Wall Street Journal today noting that all of her talk of remaking capitalism as we know it does not sit so well with people who run and work in businesses across the country.
They report her battle against business "No front runner has issued so comprehensive and indictment as Miss Warren and no front runner has proposed such sweeping changes to how businesses would operate. That, in turn, has led to some nervousness among executives."
Here now, Liz Peek, our awesome Fox News Contributor. Liz, what do you make of that?
LIZ PEEK, CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think they're completely right to be worried. What Elizabeth Warren intends to do is put the government bureaucrats in effect in power guiding American corporations what to invest in, how corporate CEOs should be paid, what they should do with their stock once they received it.
She also interestingly, wants to control -- have the federal government control corporate political donations, that people should be able to vote on that, etcetera. It's an incredible change. And it's sort of mystifying because right now, wages are going up, American businesses doing well. And she is basically anti-profit.
She talks about herself as a capitalist. I have no idea what she means. I mean, she really doesn't like the bedrock of capitalism, which is profits.
MACCALLUM: Let's play a quick sound bite from Liz Warren here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN, D-MASS., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: -- we want to reign in the tech giants, we want to reign in the billionaires, we want to reign in the companies that think they get to roll over everyone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARTHA MACCALLUM, ANCHOR: What's interesting to me there is that, you know, those are areas on both coasts, right, New York and Silicon Valley that usually are the biggest supporters of leading Democratic candidates, so she's kind of biting the hand that could feed her eventually if she --
LIZ PEEK, CONTRIBUTOR: She totally is and it sort of interesting too because those are our biggest and best corporations, our most innovative corporations around the world. America leads in big tech. Yes, they have made some missteps. But really, break them up for what?
I mean, you have to really have to ask consumers is there a monopoly power created in big tech that really has disadvantaged consumers? Google is free. Does anyone mind that Google owns so much of the search market? No. People don't mind that.
Again, regulation, yes, it's coming for big tech but she -- again, it's all about control, Martha. She really wants the government in control of not only big tech but American corporate life and I think it's a disaster for the economy if she gets elected.
And by the way, that's why business executives are not going to be giving money to her.
MACCALLUM: It sit on her hands.
PEEK: Yes, exactly.
MACCALLUM: Is what they've said so far. Liz, thank you very much.
PEEK: Thank you.
MACCALLUM: It's great to see you as always. Liz Peek joining us tonight.
Yet another new bombshell in the Harvey Weinstein scandal and a potential cover-up at NBC News. One of the reporters at the forefront, breaking news tonight coming up.
MACCALLUM: Writer Ronan Farrow claims that NBC tried to kill the Harvey Weinstein story when he was breaking it. Now the Peacock network is under fire for its handling of Matt Lauer's multiple allegations, of the allegations against him, I should say.
Farrow details in his new book that the network negotiated multiple hush money settlements for years to protect the Today Show cohost. The investigative journalist speaking out for the very first time since releasing bombshell experts from his new book.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RONAN FARROW, JOURNALIST: What we show in this book with a paper rail with documents is that there were multiple secret settlements and nondisclosures being struck with women at NBC News.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But those were --
FARROW: There were seven nondisclosure agreements, multiple ones of those were with Matt Lauer's accusers. This is years before this incident with Brooke Nevils and the firing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: That's news in the story. Here with me now, Elizabeth Wagmeister, senior correspondent of Variety who first broke Lauer's accusations story. You've been on this all along, Elizabeth. Great to have you with us tonight.
ELIZABETH WAGMEISTER, SENIOR CORRESPONDENT, VARIETY: Thank you, Martha.
MACCALLUM: I guess first of all, you know, let's put up the Andy Lack statement because I want to get your reaction to this. They are pushing back against this.
"The first moment we learned of it was the 9th of November 27, 2017, and he was fired in 24 hours. Any suggestion that we knew prior to that evening or tried to cover up any aspect of Lauer's conduct is absolutely false and offensive."
So, obviously, what Ronan Farrow just said in that statement are very much at odds, Elizabeth.
WAGMEISTER: Very much at odds, and you know, it feels like deja vu because when I broke this story along with Ramin Setoodeh, my colleague at Variety back in 2017, this is what we were hearing and this is of course what we are asked.
And our original reporting which was the story with the first allegations from women against Matt Lauer, our story came out the day that he was fired. We had reigned in that story that we heard from numerous women, numerous sources that complaints were made at NBC and they fell on deaf years. That obviously happened before the night that he was fired.
MACCALLUM: So, the women that you spoke to for your story, they have tried to pursue this within the company and they gotten nowhere?
WAGMEISTER: We were told from these women that they had spoken about it to superiors, to colleagues that was in our original reporting from two years ago.
MACCALLUM: OK. The other really interesting account here is from Rich McHugh who worked with Ronan Farrow at NBC when they were trying to produce these stories on Harvey Weinstein and then the Matt Lauer story which follows.
Here's what Rich McHugh said in Vanity Fair. "What I faced -- what I faced from my bosses at NBC, though, felt worse than being spied on by Weinstein's paid thugs. The network had protected itself and Matt Lauer with precisely the same legal tactics that Weinstein had used for years to cover up his own sexual misconduct."
WAGMEISTER: That's quite a statement --
WAGMEISTER: -- because we know that Ronan Farrow has been saying that he was followed by people that Weinstein covered -- or that he hired and that he almost moved out of his house, that he was told by sources to buy a gun.
So, for Rich McHugh to say that what he faced from NBC was worse than that --
MACCALLUM: Was worse.
WAGMEISTER: -- is quite a statement. So, as you said, he did write a piece for Vanity Fair, he went into great detail of what he and Ronan alleged. They -- you know, NBC of course is saying the story was not ready to be reported.
They say that not only was it ready to be reported, but that legal at NBC had cleared it. They said they were ready to have women go on the record; they were ready to do an interview with Rose McGowan. They say that they have --
MACCALLUM: Yes. Their side is pretty persuasive in terms of the sources that they have and what they had locked down. Why was NBC remind everybody, why would NBC care if the Harvey Weinstein story came to light? Why would they be against that?
WAGMEISTER: So again, what NBC is saying because I do have to present both sides, of course as a journalist.
WAGMEISTER: They are saying the story was not ready to be reported, that's why they did not want the Weinstein story to go forward. Now what Ronan Farrow and his producer Rich McHugh are saying is that remember, Weinstein of course is -- was the mogul of Hollywood and that he did not want NBC to uncover anything bad about him so NBC allegedly struck a deal of sorts with him not to report on him at all.
Now Noah Oppenheim who was the president of NBC, he's also a screenwriter, he wrote the movie "Jackie" that starred Natalie Portman so he has Hollywood ties. So, Ronan Farrow this is what he claims he is alleging what NBC did not want to upset Harvey Weinstein.
Now he even goes further to say it's all full circle and intertwined with Matt Lauer because Ronan Farrow is essentially suggesting. And he said on this morning on Good Morning America, he says he carefully lays this out in the book but all signs point to it was kind of a tangled web that was all woven together that Harvey Weinstein basically threatened that he would spill the beans about Matt Lauer if they spilled the beans about his sexual harassment.
MACCALLUM: My God. Ugly, ugly all around. Thank you very much, Elizabeth. Good to see you tonight.
WAGMEISTER: Thank you for having me.
MACCALLUM: Great reporting as always. Good to have you. When we come back, Jonathan Morris and Guy Benson on a new push by some Democratic presidential candidates to revoke churches' tax-exempt status if they refused to perform same-sex marriages.
MACCALLUM: Some prominent Democrats now say that churches and other religious institutions should lose their tax-exempt status if they don't support gay marriage. Listen to two 2020 Democratic presidential candidates at an LGBT town hall last night. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think religious institutions like colleges, churches, charities, should they lose their tax-exempt status if they oppose same-sex marriage?
FMR. REP. BETO O'ROURKE, D-TX, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes.
O'ROURKE: There can be no reward, no benefit, no tax break for anyone or any institution, any organization in America that denies the full human rights and a full civil right of every single one of us.
JULIAN CASTRO, D-FORMER HUD SECRETARY, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes. The need to follow the law. People can have their own individual religious beliefs but we are not going to discriminate against people just because of who they are.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: So those comments prompting backlash including from Florida Senator Rick Scott who tweeted, "Beto O'Rourke admitted what we've known for a long time. Democrats don't care about religious liberty," as he says. This is not about gay marriage. This is about a complete disregard for the freedoms guaranteed in our Constitution."
So, obviously, a lot of legal and political issues here. Here now, Jonathan Morris, Fox News religious analyst and former Catholic priest, and Guy Benson, Townhall.com political editor and a Fox News contributor. Good to have both of you here, gentlemen. Thank you very much.
GUY BENSON, CONTRIBUTOR: Hi, Martha.
MACCALLUM: Guy, let me start with you for a lot of reasons I'm interested to get your take on this. What do you think?
BENSON: Well, Martha, I'm in favor of gay marriage as literally as that can possibly exist. I got married just a few weeks ago to my husband. So I am on the record in favor of same-sex message.
BENSON: But I am not on board at all with this from Beto O'Rourke. I think constitutionally it is clearly a massive violation. I think this would go nine nothing at the Supreme Court. It is a punitive action by the government to enforce something frankly that would impinge on the free exercise of religion.
We are talking about churches here, mosques, it's really quite extreme.
BENSON: But also, just politically in terms of public opinion, the way that gay marriage went from quite unpopular to now a significant majority opinion was by arguing fairness and equality. And you know, sort of our loved doesn't affect you, let's just be treated equally. And a lot of Americans said, actually yes, that sounds right to us.
If you turn it around that and say now it's time for punishment from the government if you don't get in line with this new secular orthodoxy. I think that that really would rub a lot of people the wrong way including many supporters of gay marriage.
MACCALLUM: Very interesting. Jonathan, what do you think?
JONATHAN MORRIS, RELIGION ANALYST: Well, you know, we often hear about the separation of church and state. Whenever somebody, for example, publicly affirms their faith in the public square. There is a group that they have all sorts of outcry that says, come on, that's supposed to be left inside the halls of the church, or inside your own home, but don't bring it out because we are mixing up religion and politics, that's not good.
Well, this is the example of the government wanting to get inside our churches and say what we can or cannot preach, what we can and cannot believe. because after all these are -- there are not for profit organizations. So, what are they going to tax?
What they're really going to tax are the buildings and they are going to take those buildings away. They are going to tax St. Patrick's Cathedral just a few blocks away. They are going to the Catholic Church, for example, and have to pay millions and millions of dollars to have a church.
So, what we are seeing here is a total -- I found that extremely revealing that they were showing their cards. What they want to do is have this terrible infusion of government into religion and there is no separation there of church and state.
MACCALLUM: I mean, it's an interesting point. It certainly would be lucrative for the government if they lost that tax-exempt status. Here is one legal perspective from religious liberty attorney Luke Goodrich.
He says it's "Blatantly unconstitutional. Churches and ministries should be allowed to hold centuries-old belief without fear of government retribution," Guy.
You know, I guess it raises some questions for some people about religious tax exemption at institutions and why that exist in the first place.
MACCALLUM: What are your thoughts on that?
BENSON: Well, I think just to another political point I was thinking about what we just heard in the previous answer, it's not like, I think probably when Beto was giving this answer and he got a big round of applause from this very left-wing audience --
MACCALLUM: Yes, he did.
BENSON: -- a bunch of white progressives I think are probably on board for this because they have in mind as the bogeyman here, you know, white Evangelical Christians who support Donald Trump. But I wonder if Beto O'Rourke on the campaign trail went down to some southern black Baptist churches and gave that exact same message --
MORRI: Good point.
BENSON: -- or up to Dearborn, Michigan and hey, imams at your mosque, I hope that you are OK with gay marriage because if you are not there is something coming your way from the government.
BENSON: There are key element of this country that are not --
MACCALLUM: Good point.
BENSON: -- right wing Republicans who I think deeply would have a problem with this, and of course, I agree with the constitutional point to your last question, Martha.
MACCALLUM: All right. Real quick, Jonathan, final thought?
MORRIS: Well, imagine if this weren't gay marriage. What if this were any church that is not in favor of abortion, they should have their tax-exempt status taken away. Or we could go we could give all sorts of examples. But this is their -- this is their move. And it's a very dangerous one I think both politically but also constitutionally.
MACCALLUM: All right. Guys, thank you very much. Guy and Jonathan, good to see you both tonight.
BENSON: You bet.
MACCALLUM: Coming up, it is ladies' night on Chelsea Clinton's possible future in politics. And one NBC coach's very controversial response to a question about China's human rights record. Coming up next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE KERR, COACH, GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS: None of us are perfect. People in China didn't ask me about, you know, people owning AR-15s and mowing each other down in a mall.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: So big topic this week. How does an NBA coach defend doing business in China considering the communist party's questionable record, to say the least, on human rights? Here is how Steve Kerr, very outspoken coach of the Golden State Warriors, big defender of people speaking their mind on human rights issues here in the United States answer that question today. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KERR: Nor has our record of human rights abuses come up either, you know. Things that our country needs to look at and resolve. That hasn't come up either. So, none of us are perfect. People in China didn't ask me about people owning AR-15s and mowing each other down in a mall.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: All right. Hot topic. Fox News correspondent Laura Ingle, former press secretary for House Democrats, Rochelle Ritchie, and Fox News contributor, Lisa Boothe. Lisa, I'm going to start with you on that. What's your reaction?
LISA BOOTHE, CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think it just goes to show you especially at a time where we're seeing a lot of businesses sort of take action on different social issues and sort of take political positions, it kind of demonstrates it's really all about the bottom line, right? And they only do it if it's in the interest of the bottom line.
And clearly, it was not with the tweet about China and then the subsequent reaction we've seen from the NBA, Steve Kerr as well as some of the players.
I think another thing it shows as well is how beholden so many American companies are to China and the way that uses access to their market to control in sense here. And we've seen this whether it's Marriott firing an employee for liking a post to pathetic Tibet, or we see with the Hollywood industry as well pulling scenes from movies to accommodate China and to not to anger them so that they are allowed to have their movie play there. And it's kind of scary actually and I think it's something for Americans to think about.
MACCALLUM: What do you guys think about this equivalency between human rights in the United States and human rights in China, Laura?
LAURA INGLE, CORRESPONDENT: You know, I covered the NBA for Sacramento when I was a radio reporter there. I went to Japan with the Sacramento Kings. So, I watched internationally how important these voices are. He has a popular voice. He has a very big voice. He spokes out often. And I think that, you know, people do listen to what he says.
So, when you're listening to him talking about this, it's a contradiction for many fans of his. Saying, look, you are speaking about this, but the NBA isn't doing anything about participating in China. So, you know, fans are kind on the sidelines wondering who to root for in this particular scenario.
ROCHELLE RITCHIE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: You know, I look at this situation and I just find it a little bit hypocritical for people that are sort of in a way condemning Steve Kerr in his comments.
Because if you think about it our leadership, our elected officials in the White House have rubbed shoulders with Kim Jong-un who is also doing very horrific things in North Korea --
MACCALLUM: Good point.
RITCHIE: -- and there just hasn't been this sort of outcry against that. I think that it is fair to sort of point out these criticisms because pointing out these criticisms is what makes our country so great. And that's why all of four of us are able to sit here now. Because someone said it's not fair to discriminate against women. It's not fair to fair to discriminate against African-Americans. And so, I think these criticisms of our own country make us better.
MACCALLUM: Yes. I do want to watch the Hong Kong protestors waving American flags, you know, I think they're calling out to all of us.
MACCALLUM: And to respond.
BOOTHE: We're singing the (Inaudible).
MACCALLUM: And I think there is a responsibility with that as well. So, I mean, I get where you're coming from.
Let's take away this moment from the town hall last night with Elizabeth Warren and a questioner name Morgan Cox. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN COX, CHAIR, HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN BOARD OF DIRECTORS: A supporter approaches you and says, Senator, I am old fashioned and my faith teaches me that marriage is between one man and one woman. What is your response?
WARREN: Well, I'm going to assume it's a guy who said that and I'm going to say then just marry one woman.
WARREN: I'm cool with that. Assuming you can find one.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: What do you read into that, Lisa?
BOOTHE: Well, so I think it's not just that. I mean, it's also this segment, you know, it's also talking about what we say from Beto O'Rourke threatening to take away tax exempt status from certain religious groups as well.
So, I think it's much broader than this. And a lot of people question why Evangelical Christians can like President Trump particularly with a colorful past. And part of that is we see this animosity from a lot of people on the left towards Christians, towards Evangelicals.
We've seen it in line of questioning whether it's Kamala Harris questioning a district court judge nominee over the Knights of Columbus affiliation or from Bernie Sanders as well. To some of the comments we saw last night like Beto. And you know, that's why.
MACCALLUM: Yes. I mean, there is definitely implicit snarkiness, you know, like, well, I'm sure this person who feels this way couldn't even find a way, Rochelle.
BOOTHE: Or the --
RITCHIE: Well, yes. I think yes, that is kind of what she was saying. But I think it was very goofy. I think it was just, it was a good moment for her. I think she had 90,000 retweets and 20,000 likes with this. So, look, I mean, it was a good moment for her.
INGLE: I spoke to somebody who was there covering it and she said that everybody in that room and in the spin room next door really took it for what it was. That they thought it was a joke. But obviously a lot of people didn't think it was a joke.
And you look at the latest Pew Research of how many Christians there are in America, over 173 million. That is a lot of votes.
MACCALLUM: Yes. We are -- we're out of time but I just want to get like really quick. Do you think that Chelsea Clinton could win a congressional seat in New York in her district?
INGLE: She certainly has.
BOOTHE: She would have an (Inaudible) and a ton of cash though to access to a lot of donors.
INGLE: I'd rather do that than be a reporter, I'll tell you that.
MACCALLUM: All right, guys. Thank you very much. Good to see you all tonight.
BOOTHE: Happy Friday.
MACCALLUM: That is The Story of Friday, October 11th, 2019. But as always, The Story goes on and on. And we will see you back here on Monday night at 7. Have a great weekend, everybody.
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