This is a rush transcript from "The Story," December 20, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

MARTHA MACCALLUM, HOST: Lots of breaking news tonight as the president doubles down on the wall on the brink of a shutdown. Negotiations are ongoing tonight and General Mattis steps down.

A huge story and we have a great guest on “The Story” for us tonight. And knows the general well, knows the Pentagon very well, and the President, as well. General Jack Keane, joins me in just a moment.

President Trump announcing a short time ago that General James Mattis will "retire with distinction" this February. That news comes on the heels of two very controversial foreign policy decisions made by President Trump surprises in their timing both of them. One, two pull thousands of U.S. troops out of Syria, the other today that he will do the same essentially in Afghanistan.

General Mattis releasing a copy of his resignation letter to the president that reads in part, "You have the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours."

Here now, General Jack Keane, a four-star general, Fox News senior strategic analyst, and chairman of the Institute for the Study of War. General, good to have you with us this evening. Your -- and your reaction to this news tonight.

RET. GEN. JACK KEANE, STRATEGIC ANALYST: Well, I'm certainly saddened to see Jim Mattis departing. But I also understand. I think, the factors that are contributing to the resignation maybe not all of it, but certainly other decisions in Syria and Afghanistan.

And I did speak to Jim Mattis yesterday. We were both of one mind in our opposition to the decision to pull our forces out of Syria and what its ramifications of would be. And I just want to say, Jim's a tremendous officer, a tremendous leader, and the quality of the service that he's provided to our country is certainly very, very significant, and the American people are in his debt.

MACCALLUM: We just heard from Senator Schumer and from Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. She said she was shaken by this, and she felt that all Americans should be shaken by it. Do you agree?

KEANE: No, I'm not shaking in the least, by that. I think we're going to missed Jim Mattis's leadership to be sure. But I've said many times, I think President Trump has managed to surround himself with one of the strongest national security teams I've ever observed.

Jim Mattis was a very important part of that, but he's not the only part of it. And I'm confident the president will be able to find a successor who's very capable and will support the President's agenda, and also disagree with him strongly when necessary.

MACCALLUM: Was any of this do you believe about the wall? You know, it feels like the decisions that the president has made really echoes something he said all throughout the campaign, which was that he wanted to put America first that national security was it -- was utmost in terms of a topmost in his mind.

And so, he makes this decision to pull out of Syria which he did say on the campaign trail. He wanted to do, I know you very much disagree with it, and you're certainly not alone.

Afghanistan, he also wanted to extract us from over time. Do you believe that he had conversations with the Defense Department, with General Mattis saying, "You know, I really want to put our focus there. I want -- I want you guys to help us build this wall if necessary."

KEANE: I doubt that, that was an issue that would drive a decision like this. But I'm speculating, I mean I haven't caught up to Jim, yet. I will in the next day or so. And we'll have a good discussion --


MACCALLUM: When you spoke with him yesterday, was there any wind that this was coming today?

KEANE: To be honest, no. We were just consumed with the issues concerning Syria and what the implications of that War, you know, for the United States national interests, for the region writ large.

MACCALLUM: Do you believe this was his choice?

KEANE: I accept it on face value that he submitted his resignation because that's what he wants to do. I don't know if there's some other reason involved here. But I don't -- I don't think so.

MACCALLUM: OK. Here's another piece of his letter that I just want to get your reaction to. He said, "My views on treating allies with respect and also being clear-eyed about both malign actors and strategic competitors are strongly held. We must do everything possible to advance an international order that is most conducive to our security, prosperity, and values. And we are strengthened in this effort by solidarity of our alliances." He seems to be disturbed by the president's attitude towards our allies.

KEANE: Yes, that may be a point of difference. I don't know because I'm not in those discussions. But I, I know and I have believed that the president in terms of what he was doing in NATO, and trying to strengthen NATO, and get everybody to burden ship properly is the right course of action.

I think going out and dealing with China and its malign and aggressive behavior in Indo-Pacific and working with our allies is also the right -- the right decisions. And what he has done in the Middle East, his first visit was to Riyadh last July. 55 leaders in the room with him when he said, "I'm going to stand here -- I'm standing here with you and I am going to confront the Iranians with you and deal with their aggressive behavior as they've trampled over your interests and those of ours."

And he also talked about Islamic extremism and how -- and how we need to get rid of it together. So, I think in a broad sense, I think they both agree on that. But there may be some specifics that I'm not aware of that they disagree. So, I, I don't know why that comment, comment is in there.

MACCALLUM: You talk about -- obviously, there's a lot of changes. General Dunford is out, Milley is in. Your name has been mentioned. I will ask you if you would ever consider taking this post if it was offered to you to be the Secretary of Defense.

KEANE: I have no plans to go back into public service, Martha.

MACCALLUM: And that's final.

KEANE: That's final.

MACCALLUM: All right. General, thank you very much. I know you feel very strongly -- and I've always felt strongly about what a great person General Mattis was in the mix for this president. And that he will be missed.

Do you believe the president that there's wiggle room at all on the Syria decision?

KEANE: Well, I can't -- I don't discuss any conversations I may have with the president. All I can say is, is that I do hope he reconsiders. And I'm convinced that he doesn't reconsider, he'll come to regret it.

MACCALLUM: General Keane, thank you very much. General Jack Keane, good to have you with us as always tonight, sir. Many thanks.

KEANE: Good talking to you, Martha.

MACCALLUM: You as well. Coming up next, another very central figure in the breaking news tonight. Congressman Mark Meadows on what is going on right now on the Hill, the fight to fund the border wall, before they can all go home for Christmas and the holidays. Will President Trump be forced to break his promise about the wall?


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I will never sign another bill like this again. I'm not going to do it again.



MACCALLUM: So, right now a spending bill that includes funding for the president's border wall is back on the table. It's making its way through the House. This is the real deal, has the president under huge pressure to not abandon the wall that got him elected. Realizes that like the song, it is now or never folks on this issue because everything is about to change in Washington.

So, it could leave the president's opponents if he doesn't get this deal. Drawing comparisons to this moment from George H. W. Bush when the rule ads role in the next election in 2020. Remember this?


GEORGE H.W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT: Read my lips. No new taxes.


MACCALLUM: However, this could also be seen potentially as a promises kept moment for the president. Remember months ago, he said I will not sign another funding bill unless the wall is part of it.


TRUMP: But I say to Congress, I will never sign another bill like this again. I'm not going to do it again.


MACCALLUM: House Freedom Caucus chairman Mark Meadows is fresh off a meeting with President Trump, and House -- key House GOP leader, he joins me now. Congressman, thank you very much.

REP. MARK MEADOWS, R-N.C.: Great to be with you.

MACCALLUM: Busy night obviously for all of you. So, where does it stand? I mean if it gets through the House, it's very unlikely that it will get through the Senate. So, then what?

MEADOWS: Well, I think the president has made a very reasonable offer to the Senate. I mean, we spend more money on sugar subsidies than we do border security right now. I mean, when you look at $5 billion in the scheme of things, it's a very reasonable request.

That being said, negotiations are ongoing right now, Martha. In a few minutes, we're going to be voting here on the House. I expect that it will pass and we'll send it over to the Senate tonight.

But it -- but it's really about a president who was not willing to fold without a fight. You heard him make the comments there. He wasn't going to sign another bill.

But the American people want him to fight on their behalf. And today, he made that decision and I applaud for that.

MACCALLUM: I mean, I guess the question is what changed, you know, between today and yesterday? Because the Vice President went into the Tuesday lunch with Senators, and basically said, you know, "We're okay with this C.R., everybody can go home."

So at this point now, you've got Senators who've already left to go home, are they going to be called back, and will you be -- will you be forced to take a look at the deal that's on the table again before this is over?

MEADOWS: Well, I think they are being called back. The Senators from what I understand are being called back in anticipation of a vote potentially tomorrow. I know for me, and a lot of my colleagues, we're planning to stay here through the weekend in anticipation of perhaps, a back and forth volley that may go on in negotiations.

But the president has made it very clear. If there is not border security and a real effort to do that, he's not going to sign a bill. And quite frankly, it's -- it shouldn't come as a surprise. He campaigned on this, he has said it over and over again. And the vast majority of the American people that I'm hearing from, my phones have lit up. They're applauding to the president for this move because they believe finally, someone is willing to fight for the forgotten man and woman.

MACCALLUM: But I mean, I guess the question is that Republicans have had control of the House and the Senate for close to two years now.

MEADOWS: Right, right.

MACCALLUM: So, why, why would this have to be coming down to the wire like this? Why wasn't this done a long time ago?

MEADOWS: Well, Martha, it shouldn't have been really a down to the wire kind of decision. You know you cover this, this is not your first rodeo. You get to see this. Typically it's the deadlines that set it before us.

But somehow, there were a number of people here on Capitol Hill that thought our negotiating position would be better in February with Nancy Pelosi, with the Speaker's gavel. And most Americans didn't buy that. I didn't buy that. And so, it was now or never and I believe that the President heard from the American people and decided to side with them. And I applaud him in that.

MACCALLUM: All right. So let's just go through the motions here before I let you go. If it passes in the House, then it goes to the Senate. Unlikely to get 60 votes. At that point, they're going to kick it back to the House. Then what will happen?

MEADOWS: Well, I think that it could pass the House, obviously, with the majority of Democrat votes, if it doesn't have border wall funding. The President, I believe, at that point, would veto. I don't want to speak for the administration but based on conversations today, I think he will send a very clear message that we have to do something on border security.

MACCALLUM: Yes. And I just want to mention the White House is now saying, you know, because Nancy Pelosi late into the President pretty hard a little while ago, so did -- so did Senator Schumer. And basically said, you know, that he was going to be off golfing for two weeks. They have said that he will not be leaving until this issue is resolved. Is that your --

MEADOWS: Yes. Let me just say this.

MACCALLUM: Go ahead.

MEADOWS: This President works so much harder than any one of the people that are criticizing him. I promise you, I've had phone calls at midnight, at 5:00 a.m., and so for them to criticize him as if he doesn't care is just -- it's not right and it's not appropriate.

MACCALLUM: Yes. And I think regardless of what anybody thinks about the President, he loves work. He works all the time.

MEADOWS: He does.

MACCALLUM: He's constantly working the phones, constantly working on all of this. I think that is indisputable, actually. Thank you very much, Congressman Meadows.

MEADOWS: Thank you, Martha.

MACCALLUM: We'll be watching with great interest. Thanks for your time.

MEADOWS: Same here.

MACCALLUM: So here now, Fox News Contributor Lisa Boothe, and Juan Williams, co-host of "THE FIVE" and a Fox News Political Analyst. Juan, let's start with your thoughts.

JUAN WILLIAMS, POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think the question of the day is the one you asked, Martha, what changed between yesterday and today? And I think the answer is that the President's base people like Ann Coulter and others said that the big, beautiful wall was not going to be built and you have not kept a major campaign promise, Mr. President. And I think he responded to that kind of political pressure from the base for fear that the base would somehow abandon him if he did that.

Then it's interesting because much of the rest of the Republican Party, not necessarily the base, has been very clear, we don't have the votes. Remember, when he had session with Pelosi and Schumer in the Oval Office, Pelosi dared him and say, we'll, go ahead, if you -- if you have the votes, go ahead.

MACCALLUM: And now it looks like they have the votes --


WILLIAMS: Well, we don't know. Right. But that's -- at this moment, he didn't have the votes, we'll see if he has does but he clearly as you pointed out in your talk with Congressman Meadows, this been two years of a Republican Majority, they didn't get it done. They didn't have the vote.

MACCALLUM: Lisa, how frustrated are people in your party over that fact?

LISA BOOTHE, CONTRIBUTOR: Well, very frustrated. Can I point out first, the little speech from Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer is so hypocritical considering the fact that they shut down the government just as last January over DACA and then they're here pointing their finger about President Trump holding to his guns over the wall funding. And look, clearly, people believe that having some sort of physical structure at the southern border to serve as a deterrent matters.

That's why Democrats in the past have supported fencing along the southern border. Quite a lot of Democrats, in fact. And in 2013, almost $50 billion for a border security including 700 miles of fencing. A lot of democrats voted. So clearly, we're in a agreement here that some sort of physical structure.


MACCALLUM: I find so frustrating as an American citizen, just watching this, it's so ridiculous that Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer stand there and argue that $5 billion is absolutely preposterous, it will never happen. Now, the other side of their mouths say, we hear so much about border security. Then the President essentially I think offered sort of an olive branch. He said, it doesn't matter if it's a concrete, it could be steel slats.

Like let's get together and secure the border. I mean, that's what he wants to do. I think he indicated that he is open to technology, to steel slats, to other ways of doing it. So are Democrats really happy with people climbing across the wall and getting in? 60,000 people last month? I mean, it's ridiculous.

WILLIAMS: Well, to me, the key point here is that he is acknowledging that Democrats have voted and supported border security. It's not the case that Democrats don't care about border security.

MACCALLUM: So why won't they make a deal on this for $5 billion?


WILLIAMS: Because we have border security and we have better ways to do it. The President as Nancy Pelosi said he's made this a manhood issue and he's going to do this to satisfy --


MACCALLUM: No wait. She's made it a personal issue. She's made it a very personal issue, Juan and the statement is perfectly clear. This is not about border security, it's about Donald Trump.


WILLIAMS: Because it's not the wall, it's not effective.


BOOTHE: Well, you know what, this -- I can tell you what the mandate is about, this is about it President Trump's key campaign policy. Democrats won't trade anything to give President Trump the money he wants for the wall. They want to deny him that victory, they don't want to have -- they don't want to give him that hiding into 2020 but I also think on immigration there was a key victory for President Trump today in -- with Mexico and having asylum-seekers stay in Mexico while they go through the immigration process here in the United States.

Because that's a big issue that we're facing right now. You've got 90 percent of asylum-seekers aren't going to get granted asylum in immigration courts and the problem is a lot of those people go missing while they wait for their cases to come up. And they become part of that 22 million illegal immigrants living here in the country.

MACCALLUM: I want to point out one thing. Meanwhile --


MACCALLUM: It's political, that's the issue. And that is so sad for these people who are trying to get into this country, right? Because they're used as political ponds, look at this from Victor David Hanson in a piece that he wrote, why Trump will never get the wall. For Democrats, a successful border wall is now considered bad politics. Salad bowl multiculturalism, growing tribalism, and large numbers of assimilated immigrants added up to a politically advantageous demography for Democrats in the long run and they don't want to give that up. Juan?

WILLIAMS: That is so sad. I mean, that is not what this is about. But I think, in lots of people's minds, it's -- oh, the Republicans are fearful that the Democrats want to add immigrants as voters. That's where that -- we see a demographic shift, that's not what this is about. A judge in fact this week said, Martha, their people have a legitimate right to seek asylum, the caravan that was supposed to be an invasion obviously not an invasion, but the key here at this moment is the President --


MACCALLUM: -- throwing rocks and climbing over the wall, a bit of invasion?

WILLIAMS: No. Please. That's been -- no, it's not an invasion. It's not a military invasion.

MACCALLUM: 60,000 people a month? You're OK with that.

WILLIAMS: We are actually are at a low point in terms of border crossings right now.

MACCALLUM: Look at that number. 60,000 people.

WILLIAMS: Listen, I'm just telling you, we have a problem, we need comprehensive immigration reform. If you want to argue --


MACCALLUM: You're saying we have a problem or we don't have a problem? I'm confused.

WILLIAMS: No. We have a problem with comprehensive immigration reform because the Congress can't get it done but at this moment, what do you hear from the President, you're hearing the President say he is proud to have a shutdown. He is the one --


BOOTHE: Juan, $5 billion is a drop in the bucket and you know this. Democrats just want to deny President Trump his victory of the wall. It is semantics, it is -- you need 60 in the Senate, my friend.


WILLIAMS: Republicans have a majority in the Senate and majority in the House, it didn't get done. That's Republican and you have a Republican President says, I'm proud to have a shut down.

BOOTHE: It's politics, Juan.

MACCALLUM: Let's see where it goes. Thanks, you guys. Good to see you both.

BOOTHE: Thanks, my friend.

MACCALLUM: Still ahead tonight, Senator Susan Collins breaks her silence, sharing her untold story about the Brett Kavanaugh hearings and the horrible things that happened behind the scenes.


SEN. SUSAN COLLINS, R-ME.: And there was a man who had been waiting there for me in the pouring rain and dark. I look around the street, there is nobody else out and he follows me to my House, starts screaming at me, shine some flashlight in my eyes.



MACCALLUM: Boy, if holiday travel wasn't enough of a pain in the neck, now there's drones, drones? Shutting down an airport and it was now being called a deliberate act designed to cause maximum disruption. Trace Gallagher here with that story from our West Coast newsroom. Hello, Trace.

TRACE GALLAGHER, CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Martha. Authorities don't believe this as terror-relative but as you say they do think this is a deliberate attempt to disrupt holiday travel, and it's working. So far hundreds of inbound and outbound flights have been canceled, affecting more than 100,000 passengers like this person. Watch.


DANNY BOYCE, STRANDED PASSENGER: We've been here since about half past midnight. This morning, we're expected to fly at 3:00 a.m., it's now 24 hours, 7:00 in the morning we're still here, with no idea when we're going to fly.


GALLAGHER: Happened like about an hour on south of London, Britain's second busiest airport, most of its flights are within Europe but it also has plenty of U.S. flights to places like New York, Las Vegas, and Orlando. The drones being used to buzz Gatwick are not toys, they're industrial types which are bigger and faster. The British defense ministry has brought in special equipment to assist but it's tricky because the same jammers that disrupt radio signals between drones and our operators can also disrupt radio signals between pilots and the air traffic controllers.

The drones began buzzing Gatwick late yesterday, continued well into today, and the airport try to open a couple of times but simply couldn't. Look.


CHRIS WOODROOFE, GATWICH CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER: Each time we are getting ready to reopen the runway, there is another drone sighting. What I can't do is put the safety of our passengers at risk, and so the airport remains closed.


GALLAGHER: In the U.S., the FAA estimate there are more than 1,000 near misses a year between planes and unmanned aircraft, and there have been some collisions. Just last week, an Aeromexico 737 struck a drone during its final approach. Look at the damage, right? If the nose of the jet bashed in -- remember back in 2009 when U.S. Air Flight 1549 hit a flock of geese, knocking out both engines, forcing the Airbus 320 to land on the Hudson River.

Experts say drones pose an even bigger risk to a jet engines. Drones are also big enough that a high-speed collision with the plan as you saw earlier can pierce a whole right in the fuselage. Flying a drone near an airport we should not can lead to five years in prison. Martha?

MACCALLUM: Wow. I mean, you can see why they shut the airport down. When you look at the damage on that plane, very serious stuff that is likely to end badly at some point. Trace, thank you very much. Trace Gallagher in Los Angeles.

So, next, exclusive interview with Senator Susan Collins. The untold story which is incredible, behind the vitriol that was directed at her as she debated how to vote on the Brett Kavanaugh nomination.


COLLINS (via telephone): Susan Collins should have resigned decades ago. She is too old, too much of a liar, too out of touch of reality and shame on all of you for letting her keep her job.



MACCALLUM: One of the most riveting stories of 2018 was clearly the confirmation of now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh. What seemed like a smooth path to the bench was rocked by 30-year-old allegations of sexual misconduct when a letter surfaced months after it was sent to Capitol Hill. The vote was to be razor tight, and in the end, it came down to one woman.

Senator Susan Collins from Maine, she voted yes and gave a speech that was heralded as one of the best ever in the history of the deliberative body.

But the untold story here is what Susan Collins endured on the way to that moment. She shared details with us that she has never spoken of before. Including men in hazmat suits sent to her home after one envelope was discovered that could have contained ricin, and another with white powder and a chilling note.


COLLINS: There was an envelope that arrived a few days after the ricin envelope and letter that had white powder in it. Unfortunately, the postal service inspector did a great job intercepting it, and you have to treat everything like that seriously.

It said "anthrax ha, ha, ha." And it was a very difficult time. My husband and our dog, and parts of our house had to be quarantined. Hazmat teams brought in.

But what was even worse was what was done to my staff. They had to be subjected to all sorts of abuse. A 25-year-old caseworker and my staff who deals with social security problems and the V.A. and immigration answered a call in which the men told her that if I voted yes for Justice Kavanaugh, that he hoped she would be raped and impregnated. And unfortunately, I've lost that staff. She just could not take the tremendous abuse that was heaped upon them.

MACCALLUM: I listen to some of the phone call messages that you received. We are just going to play a bit of one of them so people can get a sense of just how brutal the treatment of you was, and it will be, it will bleep out. But here's part of it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are so (muted) naive. You will go down in history as the most naive person ever to be in Congress.


MACCALLUM: It's just, it's unbelievable that the rage in these people's voices.

COLLINS: It was unlike anything I have seen in all the years that I have been privileged to serve in the Senate. There was one night I was working very late on the Kavanaugh nomination, I drove myself home at 9.30 at night, I couldn't find a parking space, had to park a block away, and there was a man who had been waiting there for me in the pouring rain and dark.

I look around the streets, there's nobody else out.


COLLINS: And he follows me to my house, starts screaming at me, shines a flashlight in my eyes. Turns on a camcorder, and it -- it was frightening. The only funny thing about it, when I finally to door, because I'm frantically trying to unlock my door, and I said you harassing me, and by the way, what's your name and he gave me his name. So, the police were able to--


MACCALLUM: That was a good idea. Yes, the wherewithal, they are asking me, so did they follow up with him?

COLLINS: They did. But what I'll never understand is why anyone would think that I would be intimidated by those tactics. And that they would be successful in converting me or causing me to vote -- to vote against Judge Kavanaugh, simply because I was threatened.

MACCALLUM: The fiercely contentious confirmation process for Judge Brett Kavanaugh, I want to take you back there and get your reaction.

COLLINS: The whole stage for this very dysfunctional circus that occurred in this nomination was that when Chairman Grassley tried to give an opening statement.


SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY, R-IA: An exciting day for all of you here--



GRASSLEY: -- and you are rightly proud of--


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Chairman, if we cannot be recognized, I moved to adjourn.


COLLINS: And he was not even allowed to finish his opening statement before he was interrupted, and what was clearly an orchestrated move by some of the Democratic senators.


SEN. CORY BOOKER, D-N.J.: We are rushing through this process in a way that is unnecessary.


COLLINS: I think it's a disservice to the United States Senate. We are better than that, and this is not what the constitutional process of advice and consent is supposed to be about.

I can only hope that this represents a rock-bottom and what has been a steady decline in the dignity and decorum of the nomination process for the Supreme Court nominees over the past three decades.


CHRISTINE BLASEY FORD, BRETT KAVANAUGH'S ACCUSER: I was pushed onto the bed, and Brett on top of me. I believe he was going to rape me.


MACCALLUM: As a senator who had thoughtfully goes to the process and spoken with Brett Kavanaugh for hours and researched his background, what went through your mind when you saw that.

COLLINS: It was painful, it was heart-wrenching, I believed her when she said she was terrified. But she mentioned four people who were there that night, and I felt it was very important that we reopen the FBI investigation to hear what they said.


BRETT KAVANAUGH, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: I've never sexually assaulted anyone, not in high school, not in college, not ever.


COLLINS: When I heard Brett Kavanaugh's rejoinder to it, I heard a man with great anguish and anger who felt falsely accused, so I felt that Dr. Ford certainly had endured a sexually trauma, or some sort of traumatizing incident that upended her life, but I did not find the evidence, any corroboration, in fact, that Brett Kavanaugh was the person who assaulted her.

MACCALLUM: Some of your colleagues said when they watched his reactions, they felt that his temperament was not appropriate for a Supreme Court justice, and they referred it to moments like this.


SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR, D-MINN.: So, you are saying there has never been a case where you drank so much that you didn't remember what happened the night before or part of what happened?

KAVANAUGH: You are asking about blackouts -- I don't know, have you?

KLOBUCHAR: Could you answer the question, judge? I just -- so, you have -- that's not happened, is that your answer?

KAVANAUGH: Yes, and I'm curious if you have.

KLOBUCHAR: I have no drinking problems, judge.



MACCALLUM: Did you ever find his responses to be inappropriate in that hearing?

COLLINS: That was appropriate. We have to remember that it wasn't just Dr. Ford's accusation, but these outlandish accusations brought by Mike Avenatti and Julie Swetnick, that accused him of drugging girls, teenage girls, so that he could participate in gang rape. So, I think the anger and angst that he felt, and anguish about that, made him less temperate than he should have been in that response.

MACCALLUM: What was it like, you and Lisa Murkowski sort of always seem to fall into that basket of the moderate Republicans that everyone looks to when these votes happen. She decided that she could not be a yes.

COLLINS: We are very good friends. I had talked to her the morning of the vote, the first vote to invoke closure, and then she was still undecided. We sit together on the Senate floor, and she came onto the floor and sat down, and she turned to me, and I thought she said I've decided I can vote for him. I misheard her.

So, I smiled widely, and I said, I'm so relieved that we came to the right conclusion. That we came to the same conclusion. And she said, you misheard me. I said I cannot vote for him. And I'm sure my face fell, but it has not in any way affected our deep friendship, and I respect her opinion, even though I reached a different conclusion.


COLLINS: The politically charged atmosphere surrounding this nomination has reached a fever pitch.


MACCALLUM: I know, you put a lot of time and thought into the speech that you gave, and it got pretty much everybody stopped, I think in the country and watch, because they didn't know what your final decision was and how you had decided to vote.


COLLINS: We must always remember that it is when passions are most inflamed that fairness is most in jeopardy.


MACCALLUM: That line got a lot of attention.

COLLINS: Well, I felt so strongly that we were really at a critical point for our country, and if we, the Senate confirmation process is not a trial, but there are certain standards that we have to abide by.

And if we were going to throw overboard the presumption of the innocence despite the complete lack of corroborating evidence, even from Dr. Ford's best friend, and if we were going to dispense with fairness, the rule of law, and due process, I really feared for what our country would become, and whether anyone would be willing to put their name forth for public service. Who would go through that?

MACCALLUM: Have you spoken with him since you gave your famous speech?

COLLINS: I have not. I got one text message from him right after it in which he said that he would work hard to make me proud, and the American people proud.

MACCALLUM: Do you think it is rock-bottom? I mean, you know, as Claire McCaskill said, and I think she was sending a message, perhaps, to her fellow Democrats, that this isn't getting us anywhere, folks.

COLLINS: I was so glad when Claire spoke up, because I think it hurt her. I think it hurt Joe Donnelly and Heidi Heitkamp, who also lost their seats. Not because of their votes so much, but because of the spectacle and the unfair treatment of both Judge Kavanaugh and Christine Ford, who asked specifically that her allegations be kept confidential and be handled in a closed session.

MACCALLUM: You went to St. Lawrence University, as did I. They, a letter was circulated, 1,500, something like that, professors and alumni, really wrote a scathing letter saying they wanted to rescind the two honorary degrees that they had given you at your university, which in the past had heralded you for your bipartisan decisions.

COLLINS: It was a very painful experience, because I loved my time at St. Lawrence. When I was at St. Lawrence, free and open debate was encouraged, diverse viewpoints were welcomed, and I could not help but think what has happened, and our students who have more conservative viewpoints discriminated against by professors who say there is only one way to think?

Did they not respect the process that I went through, which I think everyone would concede was extremely thorough? And it made me wonder if our liberal arts colleges are no longer bastions of free speech where people can engage in healthy debate and bring differing viewpoints to the table.

That's what liberal arts college and education is supposed to be all about, and that's what it was like at St. Lawrence when I was there. And I learned so much because of that.

MACCALLUM: What are your thoughts on the Me Too movement?

COLLINS: The Me Too movement has been very important for our country. It's needed and has helped to heighten awareness, and I hope that if there's anything good has come out of this terrible process, it is that the survivors of sexual assault will feel more empowered to come forward, and that they will come forward at the time of the incident, and that they will be heard.

Not everyone is going to be giving an accurate story, but everyone deserves to be treated with respect.

MACCALLUM: It could potentially cost you your election in 2020. Are you at peace with that?

COLLINS: I am. The easier vote politically clearly would have been for me to vote no, but that would not have been the right vote. And I have to live with myself. And I want to be able to look in the mirror in the morning and know that I did what I felt was right, no matter what the consequences may be.

My job as a United States senator is to apply my best judgment, and that's what I did in this case, despite tremendous pressure, horrible tactics, abuse of my family, my staff, and myself. But I really won't ever be intimidated. I have to do what I think is right, and I will let the chips fall where they may.


MACCALLUM: My thanks to Susan Collins for sitting down with me this week. We'll be right back.


MACCALLUM: Senator Susan Collins saying that she was willing to take political risks for the sake of standing behind Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Looking now at the floor of House of Representatives this evening, they are about to vote on their version to keep the government open and to fund the president's border wall. We're going to see where that goes tonight, it could be a long one.

And in the meantime, Mollie Hemingway is senior editor at The Federalist and a Fox News contributor. Mollie, thanks for being with us tonight.


MACCALLUM: A lot of breaking news, of course, and I want your thoughts on some of it. But first of all, I just want to get your reaction to the news about General Mattis tonight.

HEMINGWAY: Yes. It is interesting news. I'd actually suggested a few weeks ago on Special Report that it might be a good departure. I think this week showed why, General Mattis is obviously someone who is externally qualified and well loved. It's also true that we were not seeing the president's foreign policy being implemented by everyone in the Pentagon.

President Trump could not have been clearer, going back to 2013, that he does not believe that endless war in Syria is a good idea. He has said that repeatedly and consistently. And for some reason, the plans of the Pentagon and the State Department keep putting forth involve staying there for a very long time.

So, I think there was obviously a conflict there. The president is, according to the Constitution, the commander in chief, not someone who -- that responsibility is with him, and he has the right to have a cabinet that fully supports his foreign policy.

Because again, it was one of the reasons why the American people elected him, because he was going to depart from our foreign policy posture that involved a lot of wars. Like, you know, the war in Afghanistan is now on its 17th year. I think a lot of Americans say we should fight wars quickly, get them done, achieve our victory, and bring our troops home.

MACCALLUM: What about the shutdown and the president's big change of heart in the last 24 hours, deciding that probably, politically and on principle, he needs to fight for the wall?

HEMINGWAY: Again, he had a campaign promise that he cared very deeply about a border wall, and it keeps on getting kicked down the road. So, I think it is important that the fight we had, but it's even just important from a bipartisan -- you know, we have a bipartisan problem of Republicans and Democrats avoiding dealing with serious issues on border security and border enforcement.

It's just good for the country to deal with it. They always seem to have an excuse for why they can't do it now. I think, you know, people really elect their representatives and senators, so they will address these problems, and I hope that they do.

MACCALLUM: They seem to address them in the last five minutes of the term, then they all complain about they can't go home. Maybe if they got their work done sooner, they might be able to.

Just one more quick sound bite from Susan Collins, and I want your reaction on the other side.


MACCALLUM: It could potentially cost you your election in 2020. Are you at peace with that?

COLLINS: I am. The easier vote politically clearly would have been for me to vote no, but that would not have been the right vote. And I have to live with myself. And I want to be able to look in the mirror in the morning and know that I did what I felt was right.


MACCALLUM: She went through a lot in that process, Mollie, and she really got into it when we talked, it was quite interesting.

HEMINGWAY: I thought that was a riveting interview. And we hear so much about political courage, but we rarely see it. I was -- I was just so struck that she was able to withstand all the bullying mob, and that she was able to just make the same decision she would have even if there hadn't been a mob.

MACCALLUM: Yes. I mean, it's really not the kind of political courage that we see a lot of. And she said she hoped we hit rock bottom in that process. We'll see. Mollie, thank you very much.

HEMINGWAY: Thank you.

MACCALLUM: Great to have you with us tonight.

HEMINGWAY: Thank you.

MACCALLUM: A quick break, and we will be right back with more of The Story after this. Stay with us.


MACCALLUM: The House has passed the bill for $5 billion for the wall. We'll see where it goes from here. You thought it might slow down this time of year, not so much, folks.

That is The Story on this Thursday night. We will see you back here tomorrow night at 7. Tucker Carlson up next in DC. Goodnight, everybody.

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