Swalwell: Disgusting to see Trump use whataboutism at summit

This is a rush transcript from "The Story," July 16, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

MARTHA MACCALLUM, HOST: Breaking tonight, brand new reaction pouring in as we get a deeper look at what happened today in Helsinki.

Good evening, everybody. I'm Martha MacCallum, back in New York tonight.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I would rather take a political risk in pursuit of peace than to risk peace in pursuit of politics. As president, I will always put what is best for America and what is best for the American people.

MACCALLUM: So, that remains the most important question to consider here, and all of what we has watched as the president boiled allies and then backed up Putin, will it make the world a safer place ultimately when all is said and done?

But today, Democrats and Republicans alike were left wincing at times over what was clearly a non-confrontational approach.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): The Russian state has never interfered and is not going to interfere into internal American affairs including election process. Could you name a single fact of that what definitively proved the collusion?

TRUMP: So I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today. He offered to have the people working on the case come and work with their investigators with respect to the 12 people. I think that's an incredible offer. Great, thank you.

PUTIN: I'd like to add something to this, after all, I was an intelligence officer myself, and I do know how dossiers are made up.

TRUMP: The probe is a disaster for our country. I think it's kept us apart. It's kept us separated, there was no collusion at all. It's ridiculous, it's ridiculous what's going on with the probe.

PUTIN: Mr. President, I'll give this ball to you, and now the ball is in your court. All the more that the United States will host to the World Cup in 2026.

TRUMP: That's right, thank you very much. We do host it and we hope we do as good a job. That's very nice that will go to my son Barron, we have no question. In fact, Melania here you go.


MACCALLUM: So, Trump supporters tonight remain split. Newt Gingrich, tweeting, "President Trump must clarify his statements in Helsinki on our intelligence system and Putin. It is the most serious mistake of his presidency and must be corrected immediately. Then, others like Rand Paul came to the president's defense. Watch.


SEN. RAND PAUL, R-KY., FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: I think we need to take a step back and ask ourselves, is it good to have a conversation with your adversaries? The worst part of the Cold War prior to the Cuban missile crisis, Kennedy had a direct line to Khrushchev. That's what I would see this meeting as is renewing engagement and renewing open lines of conversation.


MACCALLUM: So, strategic advantage or disadvantage ultimately? Joining me now, General Jack Keane, Fox News senior strategic analysts, and chairman of the Institute for the Study of War. General, always good to have you with us. We all watched with great interest today and it was quite something. What was your takeaway?

GEN. JACK KEANE (RET.), FOX NEWS SENIOR STRATEGIC ANALYST: Well, first of all, I'm absolutely delighted they got together. It makes all the sense in the world for many -- for many reasons and given the major, major international global security issues that are really on the table between our two countries and our allies. So, that is absolutely a good thing that anybody that argues against that, I think is just dead wrong.

Number two, Putin did what I expected him to do score, propaganda victory and lie his way through every single issue as the hypocrite that he -- that he truly is, and coated those issues in a way that's certainly favorable to Russia and what he is doing.

But really, the stunner for me, and sadly to say, disappointment was in the president's two major mistakes I think he made. One is not to stand behind the intelligence community as everybody's been talking about when the hard evidence, Martha is there that Russia meddled in our election.

There is no doubt about that. We have the goods on these guys. That's the reality of it, the president knows that. And to stand there on a world stage and appease Russia in favor, in disfavor to our intelligence community was the thing that shocked me.


MACCALLUM: Yes. Yes, let me stop you right there before you -- if I may.

KEANE: Will he should a bit of hundred percent behind him.

MACCALLUM: Before you, you get to the second point. Because I want to -- this is a tweet that the president sent afterwards. Because no doubt, he did an interview, then he got on the plane, all of this started to come back to him. And here is what he said when he got on the plane.

"As I said today, and many times before, 'I have GREAT -- all in caps, confidence in my intelligence people.' However, I also recognize that in order to build a brighter future, we cannot exclusively focus on the past as the world's two great nuclear power -- largest nuclear powers, we must get along."

How could he have handled that moment differently, not the -- not that you can hit rewind here?

KEANE: Well, he could have said that.


KEANE: That would have been a lot better. And I think the other thing, one of the things we don't know, Martha, is there was a four hour plus summit where the arm-wrestling took place over these major issues and I expect some very direct and frank discussions took place away from cameras and public viewing, certainly, when you can do that. And I think some of that information will come out later.

But I do think that one of the things -- in fairness to President Trump, this did happen on President Obama's watch. But he's, he's got -- he's responsible for 2018 and 2020. And he has to give notice to Putin that, "Look it, if you meddle in these elections in 18 and 20, not only am I going to impose the harshest sanctions that I'm able to do, but I will terminate the relationship with you to the end of my presidency. I will have nothing to do with you."


KEANE: That is what needed to be said, not necessarily on that podium today, but certainly to his face in the summit point of the meeting, the second issue that I have with the president is that he equated U.S. behavior with Russian malign behavior for the deterioration of the relationship between the United States and Russia. And that just is not true. It's not the fact that we haven't made mistakes, of course, we have. But it's really Russia's malign and aggressive behavior for many years now that is causing the international security problems that we and our European allies have.

Putin has expanded territory in a way that no one has done in the Soviet Union since Stalin. And he's encroaching on East European neighbors' intimidation and coercion on a regular basis, and not to speak of the intervention in Georgia, Crimea, Ukraine, and now in Syria.

And obviously, undermining democracies of all of his opponents to include the United States. That is aggressive malign behavior that's at his doorstep. And by no means, as the United States contributed to that level of deterioration in a relationship, that's just wrong.

MACCALLUM: General Keane, thank you very much. Great to get your insight tonight. Good to see you as always. Thanks for being here.

KEAN: Yes, good talking to you, Martha.

MACCALLUM: You too, sir. All right. So, during today's press conference, President Trump answered the meddling question by turning to the FBI and the DNC as the general was just referring to watches.


TRUMP: Said are wondering why the FBI never took the server? Haven't they taken this server? Why was the FBI told to leave the office of the Democratic National Committee? Where is the server? I want to know, where is the server and what is the server saying? With that being said, all I can do is ask the question, my people came to me, Dan Coates came to me and some others, they said they think its Russia.

I have President Putin, he just said it's not Russia. I will say this, I don't see any reason why it would be.


MACCALLUM: Here now, California Democrat, Eric Swalwell, member of the House Intelligence Committee. Congressman, good to have you here tonight.


MACCALLUM: It was an interesting turn when he was asked about that. He went to the issue of these servers questioning the FBI investigation, and why and how they would have been able to reach any conclusions when they never had those servers in hand.

SWALWELL: Well, Martha, first, there may have been an American flag on that stage. I did not see an American president, I saw two defenders of Russia and for the President to insult the FBI, and he knows that server was imaged.

In our investigation, we found that was sufficient. The FBI does this all the time when cyber-attacks occur. They don't just take a server away from a business, a company, an organization if imaging will provide the same information.

And so, it was just disgusting to see him use this what about is him, rather than confronting the person responsible for ordering that attack.

MACCALLUM: You know, in terms of -- and we're going to play a sound bite in just a moment, as soon as we have it turned around. Chris Wallace was talking to Vladimir Putin, and he basically called him on the carpet for his involvement in meddling in our elections and one of the things that he said that was very interesting was basically, well, you know, it wasn't a state operation, this was not a Russian state operation.

But then, he almost -- you know, sort of admitted involvement in it because he said that you know, these e-mails -- you know, we didn't make them up that they were hacked, and then, they showed a real -- a real bunch of e- mails and communication, they weren't made up. Watch this.


PUTIN: Was it some rigging of facts? Was it some forgery of facts? That's the important thing that I'm trying to employ point that I'm trying to make. Was there's any false information planted? No, it wasn't. The information that I am aware of. There's nothing false about it. Every single grain of it is true.


MACCALLUM: He's saying, you know, whatever was divulged between a Democrat e-mails, they were all things they actually wrote anyway. What do you make of all that?

SWALWELL: Well, first, I have a lot of respect for Chris Wallace that shows the value of a free press, they are not the enemy of the American people.

But two, those e-mails were private e-mails. Not intended for the public. And by putting them out there and weaponizing them, they turned us against each other. This could happen to the Republicans. And Democrats, I hope if it ever does that we stand with them United and say, we're not going to tolerate this, whichever country does it, whichever party is affected by it, that we will use unity as an antidote if this was to ever happen again.

And let me just add, Martha, Democrats have offered to the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee a use truce saying that if e-mails are hacked this election, we won't use it against you, if you don't use it against us. And they won't take us up on that. And I don't know why, and I wish they would.

MACCALLUM: Yes, I mean, it would be remarkable to see that play out. But given how dirty we know these campaigns get, it's almost impossible to believe that, that would actually be a deal that, that could be reached.

But we have heard a lot about the fact that there is already very active campaigns to get involved in the 2018 election. But I think, one of the things that perhaps bothers the president so much. And I think, you know, not to psychoanalyze, but one of the reasons that perhaps he appears to hate to go there is because he doesn't want to give up any ground in terms of how he won the election.

But at the same time, you can say there was no collusion and it didn't impact the outcome. But we do need to know what they're doing and what any other government out there is doing because they're not alone, the Russians, in terms of getting in the way of our elections and we simply won't stand for it.

SWALWELL: That's right, you can separate collusion from this interference campaign, and say, we're never going to tolerate an adversary doing this. Martha, just weeks after the November election, I wrote legislation -- bipartisan legislation to have an independent commission, because I fear this was too charged for Congress that we would dig in and if Republicans heard Russia, they would just assume that we were trying to delegitimize the presidency.

And so, I wanted just like we did after September 11, to have a commission of elders and statesmen equally appointed by the House and the Senate Republicans and Democrats. So that they could give the American people the awareness they need and recommend the forms that Congress must pass.

We could still do that, the September 11th commission was not created on September12th, It was over a year later, but I think that's the best way we could address this.

MACCALLUM: So, you know, in terms of Vladimir Putin's offer that he would open up -- you know, what I don't know, but he said, "Come on over here, and you can -- you can do your investigation of the people who you indicted, and we would also like to have the reciprocal ability to do the same."

The president seemed to think that, that was, you know, a pretty big development out of their discussion. What did you make of it?

SWALWELL: Well, that's a very naive way to look at it. I don't think any victim of a burglary would invite the burglar over to create a new home security system and that's exactly what Vladimir Putin is trying to do.

MACCALLUM: Eric Swalwell, thank you very much, congressman. Thanks for being here.

SWALWELL: Yes, my pleasure.

MACCALLUM: All right, still to come this evening, Vladimir Putin calling out an American businessman who he wants to interrogate. Just mentioning that. Watch this.


PUTIN: For instance, we can bring up Mr. Browder in this particular case.


MACCALLUM: Boy, does he have his focus on Mr. Browder, and he is here next to respond along with former KGB agent Jack Barsky, on how dangerous this man can be.

Plus a huge rebuke and a potential sign of what's to come in November as longtime California Senator Dianne Feinstein loses the support of her own party in California.


KEVIN DE LEON, D-CANDIDATE TO SENATE, CALIFORNIA: We have a lot of Democrats who want a stronger voice and someone who's not on the sidelines with rather someone who's on the front lines to contend with this president who seeks to do everything with his power to undermine our great state of California.




BILL BROWDER, MAGNITSKY JUSTICE CAMPAIGN: I always have to be careful, there's a lot of countries that I don't travel to because I know that the governments in those countries are weak and would potentially hand me over to do a favor for Vladimir Putin. Putin is a cold-blooded killer and Putin would love to get rid of me.


MACCALLUM: That was the man who calls himself Vladimir Putin's number one foreign enemy. Bill Browder has been a target of the Kremlin for years now. And today the President of Russia called him out in that news conference specifically by name when he was there with President Trump.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): Business associates of Mr. Browder have earned over $1.5 billion in Russia. They never paid any taxes, neither in Russia or the United States and yet the money escape the country. So we have a solid reason to believe that some intelligence officers accompanied and guided these transactions.


MACCALLUM: Joining me now is Bill Browder, head of the Magnitsky Global Justice Campaign and Jack Barsky, former KGB Spy and Author of Deep Undercover: My Life of Entangled Allegiances as a KGB Spy in America. Gentlemen, welcome. Great to have both of you today. Bill, welcome back to the show. It must have gone right through you when you heard Putin call you out by name today.

BROWDER: I wasn't actually watching the press conference, but I noticed all of a sudden my phone started burning up with messages and I thought, what's going on here? I logged on and then I saw -- I saw the comments that he made. And for everybody else, it's a big surprise. For me, Vladimir Putin has been coming after me for a long time. As someone joked on Twitter, I've got a rent-free space in his brain because he spent so much time thinking about me and he's so mad at me because of the act. The Magnitsky Act is a piece of legislation which freezes assets and bans visas of people in his inner circle who's involved in killing my lawyer Sergey Magnitsky and doing other type of stuff. And so, in a certain way, I was actually pleased to see how much I've gotten under his skin because that means the Magnitsky Act really works.

MACCALLUM: Yes. You know what, you're absolutely right. I mean, it's very clear. But basically, what you're suggesting today and Jack, let me get your thoughts on this. He suggested you know what we've been happy to have Mueller and his investigators come over here to Russia and interview these 12 individuals that they brought indictments against on Friday for spying on and hacking in the American elections but there's one little caveat attached. We want a reciprocal ability to come to the United States and to interview and interrogate Bill Browder and his associates. Jack, what do you make of that?

JACK BARSKY, FORMER RUSSIAN KGB SPY: This is typical Putin nonsense. But before I go into this, I'm so delighted and surprised to be on with Mr. Browder because I followed him, I read his book and I'm fully supportive of what he's been trying to do, and it really -- he's right. He hit them -- he hit the Russian government, the oligarchs and Putin, where it counts. It is in the pocketbook and this is what they have been after to alleviate of some kind. And the whole idea of -- it's absolutely ridiculous to say well, bring him in, we help you investigate these evil people that may have done something wrong to you. I mean, if you believe that, you believe that the moon is made out of cheese.

MACCALLUM: So Jack, let me stay with you for a moment. When you watch this play out, what did you think? What did you -- was the dynamic between President Trump and Vladimir Putin? There was a lot of criticism out of this that President Trump went way too soft on Vladimir Putin in this conference.

BARSKY: I'm so sorry, I was close to crying. This -- I so would like for this president to be successful, but what happened today, what happened to the man who likes to fire everybody? What happened to Mr. Gorbachev, turn down that wall? He was just sweetness. And even if you think he's playing this, this doesn't work on any of the national scene. It was sad.

MACCALLUM: Bill, what did you think?

BROWDER: I don't think the summit should have happened in the first place. Vladimir Putin has been a global menace. He's been out there invading foreign countries, changing borders, shooting down passenger planes, cheating in the Olympics, meddling with the elections, sending military grade chemical weapons to the heart of England. This guy is a complete, absolute, total criminal and running a tiny little economy the size of the state of New York and he supposed to be on par with the most powerful man in the free world? That's just not how it is. And on top of that --

BARSKY: Let me interrupt for a second.

MACCALLUM: Go ahead, Jack.

BARSKY: He's got half the nuclear weapons on the planet and that's why we have to be careful dealing with him.

MACCALLUM: Very good point.

BROWDER: Of course. Of course.

MACCALLUM: I just want to ask both of you before we run out of time. The comments about how -- when President Trump was in Russia -- excuse me -- as a businessman, he had no idea he was there. He said businessman come and go all the time. He said I couldn't even possibly name the 500 businessmen who were at that conference, and we certainly aren't wasting our time spying on them. I would love to get your reaction to that. Bill, let me start with you, and then Jack.

BROWDER: Well, first of all, Putin may not be spending his time on it, but I guarantee you the FSB, the successor organization to the KGB, is. And the other thing is that Putin is a boldfaced liar. He lies about everything. And so, I wouldn't believe a word he says in any -- in any speech he ever gets. He said there were no Russian troops in Ukraine until after they took over Crimea. He's a liar.

MACCALLUM: Jack, what do you think?

BARSKY: This may be somewhat possible. You don't follow just any old businessman, but they do this -- the KGB has done it routinely. You know, anybody you can entrap, you will so I don't know, and we really don't know until we know what's happening in intelligence and very often the truth doesn't come out until ten, 20, 30, 40 years later.

MACCALLUM: Fascinating. Great to have both of you with us today. Thank you very much, Jack and Bill. You certainly know of what you speak. We will see you again soon, gentlemen. Thank you so much. So coming up next, media reaction to the Trump-Putin summit tonight.


BILL KRISTON, EDITOR AT LARGE, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Today turned what has been an ongoing problem of Donald Trump and as a President in terms of his attitude towards and behavior towards Russia, towards President Putin has turned a problem into a crisis almost. And I really don't know where we go from here.


MACCALLUM: Howie Kurtz, Byron York, and Andrew McCarthy coming up next. Plus, Sacha Baron Cohen has been doping politicians in the fake and embarrassing interviews for decades. But when it came to Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz, things didn't go exactly as planned. He joins me, coming up next.


REP. MATT GAETZ, R-FLA.: You want me to say on television that I support three and four-year-olds with firearms?




TRUMP: As President, I cannot make decisions on foreign policy in a futile effort to appease partisan critics or the media, or Democrats who want to do nothing but resist and obstruct. Constructive dialogue between the United States and Russia affords the opportunity to open new pathways towards peace and stability in our world.


MACCALLUM: The high-stakes Trump-Putin summit in the media reaction was intense today. Here now on that, Howard Kurtz, Host of "MediaBuzz" and Author of the new book Media Madness: Donald Trump, the Press and the War over Truth, Andrew McCarthy is a former Federal Prosecutor and Byron York, chief political correspondent for the Washington Examiner. Both are Fox News Contributors. Gentlemen, thank you all for being here this evening. You know, Byron, a lot of very tough reaction to what we saw in there today, the president getting hit from all sides, Newt Gingrich saying it's the biggest mistake of his presidency to date and it's clear from the tweet that the president sent on his way out of town that he knows that there is fixing to be done.

BYRON YORK, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. I think when assessing the reaction you have to look at some of the usual suspects who freak out about Trump every single day and they are flipping out now.

You can maybe discount some of that stuff, separate those from the people who have been more balanced on Trump and who have not gotten upset with everything he's done who believe that today he made a serious mistake. And his serious mistake was not taking the side of not only U.S. intelligence agencies, but the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate and taking their side over election meddling over the Russians.


YORK: And that was the significant, a significant mistake that the president is going to have to fix.

MACCALLUM: Yes. I mean, to hear the president say that, you know, well, I know our intelligence folks, and how are you can take this one first, if you would. Dan Coats said what he said. They believed that, you know, there was meddling.

But President Putin gave a very strong and powerful denial to that and I can't see why he would have done it. How does that strike you?

HOWARD KURTZ, FOX NEWS HOST: Well, in that moment under the white hot spotlight in Helsinki, it seemed to almost everyone was watching, the president of the United States was siding with Putin, was taking the word of this former KGB spy over his own U.S. intelligence agencies. And that's why the intense media criticism has cut across the usual partisan lines.

I mean, you have news anchors like CNN's Anderson Cooper saying one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president. Of course you have Obama administration liberals, even David Axelrod on CNN, usually sober minded, he likened it to Neville Chamberlain after meeting Hitler. I think some of that is over the top.

But when you have Newt Gingrich, and he's a Trump ally, when you have conservatives, others on Fox News, when you have the national view on the Weekly Standard all saying that these were serious stumbles, serious missteps on such a global stage, I think it's clear that the president gave his detractors a lot of ammunition today.


ANDREW MCCARTHY, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. I really think the problem begins, Martha, with having the summit in the first place. I do not understand the obsession with this whole idea that we have to have good relations with Russia. We've done perfectly fine in the past at times not having good relations with Russia.

Russia is an anti-American aggressive thug country and the only way we can have good relations with them is if we accommodate what it is that makes them a terrible regime.

So I think the mistake is almost inevitable from today in the sense that the mistake was having this forum in the first place where the United States president has to be in the presence of this autocrat, this despot and treat him as if he were a statesman.

MACCALLUM: Yes. So you have to ask yourself, Byron, why, right? It's very clear that the president went into this moment, this news conference. He wanted to present a, you know, we've turned a page, that all that changed four hours ago. He is very determined to show that he's going to have a different relationship with this man. He said it all through the campaign and he worked very hard and bent over backwards, some might say, to achieve that today.

He clearly wants to, you know, have better trade relationships with them. Vladimir Putin was talking to Chris Wallace about cars and, you know, the kind of business agreements they could reach where cars are concerned, and possibly wants to peel him away in some respects from President Xi in China. He sees perhaps an alliance between these two countries, United States and Russia, as something that might be a bulwark against China. Your thoughts on any of that.

YORK: All of those are perfectly legitimate geopolitical issues, but the president's problem today stems from his apparent obsession with the Trump- Russia investigation, or at least the part of the investigation that targets him. And he basically is not able to separate the two parts of the Trump-Russia investigation.


YORK: There is the - what Russia did part of the investigation, which tries to find out what Russian measures were attempting to influence the campaign. And then there's the - get Trump part of the investigation, which Democrats are using to try to disable the president, possibly remove him from office.

It's perfectly legitimate to fight back on the latter, but not so much in the former because there is bipartisan agreement of these Russian efforts, and yet, the president appears to believe that if he gives even an inch on conceding that there was this Russian effort, then they will all take a mile in the effort to get Trump.

MACCALLUM: Yes. It would have been refreshingly different to hear the president say, you know what, forget about me, there's no collusion, which he did say, there's none of that, but you know, my folks at home are pretty clear that there was some meddling. You guys meddled; a lot of countries try to get in the middle of other countries elections. That's not going to happen anymore and just moved on.

But I want to get back for a moment to the media response because we have a montage I want to play and then I would like to get you to sort of weigh in on what we see here. Let's watch.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Perhaps one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president at a summit in front of a Russian leader truly that I've ever seen.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And I've never seen an American president simply surrender to the leader of Russia. You should call this the surrender summit.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A patriot is someone who defends the honor of their country. We just saw the president of the United States do the exact opposite.

BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS HOST: Separating the difference between his election win and Russian interference in the election is a difficult thing rhetorically I think for this president because a lot of times it's about him.



KURTZ: You know, I often think that when President Trump goes too far, said something offensive or makes a mistake, his critics sort of play into his hands by going over the top. I mean, some of this talk we are hearing from John Brennan about treason and so forth I think is over-the-top.

He made some serious mistakes today and then of course the press ratchets it up to 11 as they do on just about everything, but the fact that it is also coming from the Republican side, from the conservative side, from people like Newt Gingrich I think drives home the point that -- I don't agree there shouldn't have been a summit.

American presidents spoke to Soviet leaders from the worst years of the Cold War, Russia has a lot of nuclear weapons. We need to deal with Russia. But knowing this was going to come up, the fact that the president couldn't find a way to say let's not litigate the past, let's move on and said steam seemed to side with Putin over Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, for example, I think has dug m into political hole and I don't think this is a one or two day story.

MACCALLUM: Let's see what Dan Coats does next. Gentlemen, thank you. Great to see you all tonight.

MCCARTHY: Thank you.

KURTZ: Thanks, Martha.

MACCALLUM: So still to come, the Democratic Party turns its back on powerful Senator Dianne Feinstein. And how did comedian Sacha Baron Cohen managed to infiltrate Congress and convince so many to support an absurd cause like arming 3-year-old children? Congressman Matt Gaetz almost fell for the trap and survived and he is up next.


FORMER SEN. TRENT LOTT, R-MISS.I: I support the kindergarten program. We in America would be wise to implement it too.



MACCALLUM: Developing tonight, a number of current and former lawmakers are doing a little bit of damage control after the comedian who brought us "Borat" managed to trick them getting them to say on camera that they support arming preschoolers. Watch this.


LOTT: I support the kindergartens program. We in America would be wise to implement it too.

REP. JOE WILSON, R-S.C.: A 3-year-old cannot defend itself from an assault rifle by throwing a Hello Kitty pencil case at it. Our founding fathers did not put an age limit on the Second Amendment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In less than a month, less than a month, a first grader can become a first grenader.


MACCALLUM: It is all part of Sacha Baron Cohen's new Showtime series. Fortunately, Congressman Matt Gaetz did not completely fall for it. Watch this.


REP. MATT GAETZ, R-FLA.: You want me to say on television that I support three and 4-year-olds with firearms? Is that what you're asking me to do?



GAETZ: Typically members of Congress don't just hear a story about a program and indicate whether they supported or not.


MACCALLUM: Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz joins me now. Pretty unbelievable, some of these things that he got people to say. What was it like when you were in there with him, and how did you figure it out?

GAETZ: Well, Martha, as politicians, we should take the work we do very seriously, but we should not always take ourselves so seriously. I think it's hilarious that Sacha Baron Cohen duped me into an interview and got some of my colleagues to say some bizarre things, but he came into our office and really it was quite deceptive.

They set up entire web sites dedicated to this documentary that they were doing about policies in Israel and how those affected the United States, and so it appeared very normal until the questioning went a little awry and something didn't really seem right to me. And so I was trying to not say anything all that newsworthy.

MACCALLUM: I mean, he looks like he has a mouth that he could peel off, you know. Didn't that occur to you?

GAETZ: Well, he would not be the only dude who runs around Washington with a great deal of makeup on, Martha. That happens in this town a little bit more than it does in regular America.


GAETZ: And so it didn't surprise me just to see someone conducting an interview with makeup.

MACCALLUM: Let's watch this from former Illinois Congressman Joe Walsh.


FORMER REP. JOE WALSH, R-ILL.: And so I'm reading this, Michael, off of a teleprompter and I'm thinking to myself, while this is kind of crazy. The alarm went off, but the alarm really went off about 3 o'clock that next morning when I said, my God, I've been duped.


MACCALLUM: I can't -- why were they reading stuff off of teleprompters in the first place? I mean, it seems a little odd for a congressman to, you know, be put in that position and just sort of agree to say these ridiculous things about arming three and four year olds and agree to say that into a camera and a teleprompter?

GAETZ: I agree. They asked me to read off of a teleprompter as well and I told him that's not something I do. I just try to share my sincere reactions to their questions without going with their script and again, that's probably why it didn't work with me.

But yes. I mean, members of Congress should think about the things they say. We shouldn't just regurgitate the words in front of us, and, you know, again this was sort of a funny example of that going wrong.

MACCALLUM: Yes. I mean, I guess it's funny. It's a little disturbing to be honest, you know, to watch members of Congress being willing to say these things and I think that's what Sacha Baron Cohen is trying to accomplish.

He's trying to, in a way, you know, make fun of you guys and basically suggest that you are willing to say or do just about anything if you think there's maybe a good political reason behind it.

GAETZ: Or if there's a camera pointed at us, maybe there are far too many members of Congress willing to read any teleprompter words if it means the camera light is on.

But, yes, either way, you know, that's humor. It's ironic humor that's indicative of Sacha Baron Cohen style, though, I think that sometimes he goes far over the line. He has created some funny moments on television and I got a good laugh out of it.

MACCALLUM: Yes. He has created some funny moments. I would agree with you there. Sarah Palin is definitely not laughing about what he did to her, impersonating a wounded veteran.

I want to switch gears for a moment. Because I know that you have Lisa Page on the Hill today. She is the former lover of Peter Strzok, who everybody has heard so much about. We watched her walk through the hallways and she went in to answer some questions. What can you tell us about that?

GAETZ: There was one text message that speaks to -- it was contemporaneous with the time Comey was fired and there's a message about needing to open up a certain case while Andy McCabe is the acting director.

In previous, behind closed doors interviews, Mr. Rosenstein has indicated to members of Congress that that did not involve Russia.

Peter Strzok did not answer that question and Lisa Page I believe answered it in a way that is inconsistent with Rod Rosenstein's prior statements behind closed doors and if, in fact, they were trying to open up a Russia case because someone was the acting director that wouldn't have been opened otherwise, that shows the bias not just in people's hearts, but in their actions as they were conducting investigations.

That's what we were trying to prove, that bias resulted in the change of the investigative activities which has been detrimental to the president and to the country.

MACCALLUM: Is there any indication that she will undermine Peter Strzok?

GAETZ: Well, if she's answering questions that Strzok won't answer, then it certainly gives us more of an illumination of the facts. And I found Lisa Page far more forthcoming and honest than I found Peter Strzok.

MACCALLUM: Interesting. Very interesting. Congressman Gaetz, thank you very much.

GAETZ: Thank you.

MACCALLUM: I promise this is a real interview. Good to see you tonight. Thank you, sir.

GAETZ: Good to see you.

MACCALLUM: So coming up next, the Democratic socialist known as the rising star of the progressive left says capitalism will, quote, "not always exist." And that's not the only crazy thing that she just said. Mark Penn and Tezlyn Figaro join me next.


ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ, D-CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE, NEW YORK: Capitalism has not always existed in the world and it will not always exist in the world. When this country started we were not a capitalist, we did not operate on a capitalist economy.



MACCALLUM: A big political shock in California where the Democratic Party does not endorse Senator Dianne Feinstein for reelection despite her 25 years of service. The party instead chose to back her opponent, progressive grassroots candidate state Senator Kevin de Leon.

So what does this mean for the future of the Democratic Party there and elsewhere? Joining me now, Mark Penn, president and managing partner of the Stagwell Group and served as pollster for the Clintons. As well as Tezlyn Figaro, -- Figaro -- Tezlyn Figaro, CEO of Tezlyn Figaro Communications Group and former Bernie Sanders national staffer like the opera.

Tezlyn, good to see you tonight. Let me start with you, if I may. Your reaction to that and what does it mean for Dianne Feinstein do you think?

TEZLYN FIGARO, CEO, TEZLYN FIGARO COMMUNICATIONS GROUP: I think what it means for the Democratic Party is people any time people endorse a candidate that really doesn't have a shot in the Hill, it says a lot about where, you know, the party is and where it stands.

You know, California being at all Democratic state but still haven't been able to push issues like Medicare for all. I don't even know if it's about people voting to say where we want a really left-wing candidate, but more so against the establishment and business as usual.

You know, although the senator has done great work, you know, within the party, she has also been in office for a very long time and I think people are just fed up with the status quo. So I think it really is a message about the greater issue, why people voted for Senator Bernie Sanders, why people voted for President Trump. You know, I have to say it out that people are just really tired of business as usual.

MACCALLUM: Yes, but those -- you know, there's a real progressive move in the Democratic Party, and Mark, when you look at that, Dianne Feinstein, you know, really represents a very moderate, longtime Democrat who looks a lot more like Democrats used to look perhaps.

MARK PENN, FORMER CLINTON POLLSTER AND ADVISER: Well, let's remember here that there was a jungle primary out in California and that Dianne Feinstein got 44 percent and her opponent here got 11 percent. The Republican even got less than that.

So really this is out of step with what I think the people of California and the voters and the bulk of the Democratic Party really want, so it's unfortunate that some of the machinery of the party in different places is out of step with the mainstream of Democratic voters.

MACCALLUM: It's going to be really interesting to see how all of this pans out in the actual elections. I mean, as you point out, she may have the staying power if those jungle primary numbers hold up.

I just want to play this from the candidate Ocasio-Cortez in New York. Because it goes to the heart of what these very progressive Democrats are really looking at and are proponents of if they are elected. Watch this. This is on socialism.


OCASIO-CORTEZ: Right now, we have this no holds barred Wild West hyper capitalism. What that means is profit at any cost. Capitalism has not always existed in the world and it will not always exist in the world.


MACCALLUM: So we're going to -- you know, capitalism -- Mark, do you want to take that on first?

PENN: Well, in the Harvard CAPS Harris poll a few months ago I asked Americans, do you want socialism or capitalism? And by 90 to 10 they said capitalism. And when I looked at the Republican figures it was 6-94 and when I looked at the Democratic figures I think it was 16-84.

So the overwhelming majority of Democrats and Republicans believe capitalism and competition produce a better society and believe that quite deeply. So I know each party has fringe elements and has extremes and we've got to pay more respect to the middle of what America thinks.


FIGARO: I completely agree. You know, I was on the Sanders campaign but I let people know all the time I did not believe in socialism when it came down to business, fair trade, competition. I do believe in socializing medicine. I do think that there needs to be Medicare for all.

But it is very important for us, especially black businesses like myself started a staffing firm with zero employees went to 300 employees. People like Donald Mooney in San Antonio that came out of the system that now employed hundreds of thousands of employees across the country.

It was the private sector that did that. It was the private sector that gave felons second opportunities when the government did not. So I am absolutely against one, business owners being classified as capitalist and greed. There's a big difference between corporate greed and the spirit of entrepreneurship. And that's been lost in the conversation, particularly within the African-American community when it comes to business.

Business people are not bad people. We are here to make a difference, we're here to pay people, you know, to pay people when the government decides not to and I'm just not interested in the government writing my check. What we are interested in is having access to capital, fair access to contracts awarded, but certainly not the government telling us how to run our business.

MACCALLUM: It's been a pretty successful system in this country that has afforded a lot of people a standard of living that doesn't exist in most of the world.

Mark, thank you very much. Tezlyn, good to see you. More of The Story coming up next.


MACCALLUM: That is our story for tonight. Thanks for being with us. Tucker is up next with a preview of his interview with President Trump. We'll see you right back here tomorrow night 7 p.m. Eastern in New York City. Have a great night, everybody. Tucker is up next.

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