Was Donald Trump Jr.'s controversial meeting criminal?

This is a rush transcript from "The Fox News Specialists," July 11, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

KATHERINE TIMPF, CO-HOST: Hello, everyone. I'm Kat Timpf along with Eboni K. Williams and Eric Bolling. We are "The Fox News Specialists."

Some major developments today over Donald Trump Jr. and questions of election meddling by Russia. Donald Trump Jr. released the email chain with his plans for meeting with a Russian lawyer last year, that lawyer allegedly had connections to the Kremlin. The emails between Trump Jr. and the British publicist Rod Goldstone who acted as a middleman for the meeting, shown in part Goldstone appearing to offer incriminating information about Hillary Clinton as, quote, part of Russia and its government support for Mr. Trump. Trump Jr. later replying, seems we have some time and if it's what you say, I love it, especially later in the summer. This afternoon, the White House responded to the news and also read a written statement from President Trump.


SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: I have a quick statement that I'll read from the president. My son is a high-quality person and I applaud his transparency. And beyond that, I have to refer everything on this matter to Don Jr.'s counsel and outside counsel and won't have anything else to add beyond that today.


TIMPF: And earlier today, in an interview with NBC News, the Russian lawyer at the center of this denied working for the Russian government or having any links to it at all.


UNINDENTIFIED MALE: They have the impression it appears that they were going to be told some information that you had about the DNC. How did they get that impression?

NATALIA VESELNITSKAYA, LAWYER: It's quite possible that maybe they were looking for such information. They wanted it so badly.

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: Have you ever worked for the Russian government? Do you have connections to the Russian government?



TIMPF: Eric?


TIMPF: The email, though, said that she had connections. Connected to the Russian government.

ERIC BOLLING, CO-HOST: Oh, scary email.

TIMPF: It is kind of a scary email.

BOLLING: No, actually. I think this is actually -- I've said yesterday, it's an insult to nothing burgers. Now, I'll double down on that. Knowing what we know today, going even further, that we know so much more. Trump derangement syndrome out in force today, all day long. Donald Trump Jr. broke no laws, likely broke no election ethics rules. If you have a problem with what Russia is doing with regards to our elections, then you have a problem with what Barack Obama did to stop them from doing it. He apparently never stopped any of this from happening. Very quickly, take a look at what I think is the epitome of Trump derangement syndrome happening today. Look at this full screen at CNN Money put out. Trump Jr. Emails trigger knee-jerk drop in stock market. Now, if that isn't the dumbest headline and the dumbest substance for a story, I don't know what is. Matt Egan, you should have your journalism card pulled for that stupid headline, it makes no sense.

TIMPF: I don't know. Eboni, maybe I'm deranged. I think that this is an important news story to discuss.

BOLLING: Why? Other than the left going crazy trying to nail Donald Trump and his admission for anything, I don't see anything violate. You see anything?

EBONI K. WILLIAMS, CO-HOST: OK. So this is what I'll say. This is going to be a lot to unpack because, obviously, I'm coming from the legal lens specifically. And before we jump to conclusions, I want to unpack everything, make sure that we're following the facts that's really, really important here. We learned more today. We know later this evening on Fox News, Sean Hannity is going to have an interview with Donald Trump Jr. where we will get more facts, and I'm looking forward to really giving a deep analysis after that. We'll be live at 11:00 PM.


WILLIAMS: Seriously, straight up. Yeah, it'll be great.

TIMPF: Very exciting. All right. Well, it's time to meet today's specialists. He's a media reporter, a columnist for The Hill, and a former media --, but he specializes in collecting sports memorabilia of fictitious athletes, Joe Concha is here. And he is the editorial cartoonist for the Omaha World Herald, he's cartoons are syndicated worldwide, he's a lightning strike survivor, and his specialty is encouraging others to be creative by embracing their obstacles, that's beautiful, Jeff Koterba is here. Joe, I'm going to get you to weigh in on this. I think that this is a significant thing to discuss because you say no collusion, no collusion. This at the very least shows a potential attempt at collusion or failed collusion. What's your take on it?

JOE CONCHA, THE HILL: What do you think the crime was that was committed here?

TIMPF: Did I say that?

CONCHA: No, no, I'm saying can you define it?

BOLLING: There isn't any. You can't. I mean, this is a media hyped story on the left. They're blowing -- I heard Adam Schiff today call it -- what did he say, he said it was unethical.

TIMPF: It absolutely is unethical.

BOLLING: Donald Trump Jr. is not nor was he ever in the government.


TIMPF: -- was there, and so was Kushner, and they're C.C. on emails.

BOLLING: And they weren't in the government either when this went down

TIMPF: They're campaign officials and the investigation is about Russian collusion with the campaign team. And it was the campaign team.

BOLLING: This woman, Vesenlnitskaya, wasn't even part of the Russian administration. Her own words.

TIMPF: Her own words. Let's trust her.

BOLLING: No ties with the Russian government.

TIMPF: Here's the point, though. He was told, Donald Trump Jr. was told that these are Russian government officials. And his first thought wasn't let me call the FBI. It was, yay, for my daddy. I have a problem with that.

JEFF KOTERBA, OMAHA WORLD HERALD EDITORIAL CARTOONIST: Yeah. I miss the days when the biggest controversy involving one of the Trump kids was when Ivanka was sitting at the table at the G20. But no, there's always been a perception problem in the Trump White House from the very beginning. And they don't do a very good job managing the perception, the public perception that people have of them. I do have to say that, you know, Donald Trump Jr. releasing these emails was a good show of transparency, something that we haven't had -- we didn't have in the previous administration.

WILLIAMS: I will say may be. I'll say some people were saying.


WILLIAMS: I think it's good that they got out. I don't necessarily know that we know for sure the motivation for releasing them is as pure as some would say.

KOTERBA: If I would draw a cartoon about this I would draw Donald Trump Jr. finally uttering those three words the Democrats have been waiting for, I love it.

(LAUGHTER) KOTERBA: So what's the collusion, Eric, that's the question.

BOLLING: You think meeting with a lawyer who wants to talk about some sort of human rights and abortion rights going on in Russia -- adoption, I'm sorry. OK. So if you think that would be collusion, even though she says I have this information that might help your father win an election, you think that's collusion or unethical. Can we talk about what Hillary Clinton did when she sold 20 percent of uranium supplied to the United States to the Russians, or when John Podesta had Russian stocks, his family had Russian stocks, when he's negotiating some Russian deals, or when Bill Clinton went to Russia, spoke to the Russian people, spoke to the Russian government -- our Russia today, and all of a sudden some corporations and groups are throwing money at the Clinton Foundation. You want to talk collusion, there's your collusion.

TIMPF: I believe that the Clinton family is at the center of a lot of corruption, but that's not the news of the day.

BOLLING: OK. So what's corrupt about what happened? Explain to me -- Eboni, help me out here. What went down that's illegal?

WILLIAMS: Well, we don't really know yet is the truest answer I can tell you, Eric. And maybe nothing. Maybe nothing. But I think it's fair to Kat's point to go through the analysis. That's all I'm saying. Let the facts fall. Let's define what collusion is. Not just -- right? Because that's all what people are doing. They're using this term collusion and they're not really meeting the letter of the law, collusion, they just mean something improper, something secretive, something confidential.

KOTERBA: Goes back to that perception problem

WILLIAMS: But I'm a little less interested in that, Jeffrey. That's fine, and we can talk about that. But I'm really focused on the legal ramifications, the legal essence of this collusion statute in dealing with that.

CONCHA: There's a big difference between clumsy and collusion. He shouldn't have taken this meeting. Everybody can agree on that. It was politically naive. Everybody can agree on that. Donald Trump Jr. is a businessman, he's not a politician. Someone said I've got something on the competition, he thought maybe that's a good idea to take. Let's look at this from a macro level. June 9, 2016, Donald Trump meets with a Russian lawyer who gives him no information on Hillary Clinton. It was a bait and switch. The only other accounts that we have now is Mike Flynn meeting with Kislyak, the Russian ambassador, and Jeff Sessions meeting with Kislyak, the Russian ambassador. The problem with those two meetings, those were after the election. For collusion to happen before an election, we would need some sort of proof or meetings before, and the only thing we have now is Donald Trump meaning with a Russian lawyer who gave him nothing.

BOLLING: We know the Ukrainians met with the Clinton campaign to dish dirt on the Trump administration. Now is that collusion too? Where's the mainstream media digging into that meeting? Paul Manafort resigned based on some of the accusations that were levelled against him.

TIMPF: But you said that there was no evidence of any kind of collusion, I think part of the problem is the fact that everybody in the Trump administration connected to the Trump, involve in the campaign, said there was no meetings with Russia. There's nothing like it. And this email, hey, we're the Russian government. We want to help you out. I love it.


BOLLING: Natalia Veselnitskaya ended up the lawyer, ended up being not one iota connected to the Russian government according to her.

TIMPF: According to what we know right now, so far.

WILLIAMS: That is if we take her word for it. And also, Eric, that's if we, you know, kind of ignore the denials. I think a lot of what people have an issue with is less about what we actually know or less of an actual smoking gun because I haven't seen a smoking gun yet. We'll see what Donald Trump Jr. says tonight on Sean's show. But the denial, I think that people have an issue, that's that perception problem you're talking about, Jeffrey. When you say I never met with these people. I never had any conversations with the Russians, and now we know that part at least is not true.

TIMPF: I agree.

BOLLING: Do you know how many government officials on an ongoing basis meet with people who represent the Russian government?

WILLIAMS: Absolutely.

BOLLING: Almost every single U.S. senator does.

WILLIAMS: So they should say it.


BOLLING: Just meeting with someone who's associated with the Russian government is not, A, illegal, B, unethical, nor is it collusion.

WILLIAMS: So why deny it, Eric? I just want to know.

BOLLING: Well, I don't know. They have a lot of business in Russia.

TIMPF: So is that may mean is a conflict of interest for him as president? I mean, come on. Do you think this was a bad decision, Eric? Can you at least say that.

BOLLING: Donald Trump didn't know about it until a couple days ago.

WILLIAMS: Do you think that Donald Trump Jr. did something wrong?


TIMPF: How can you say that? Is this real life? Is this real life? How can you say he didn't do anything wrong?

BOLLING: Because I will tell you 100 percent of the time, if someone is offered opposition research against a candidate you're running against, you're going to take it.

CONCHA: You're going to take it. It might have just been sloppy on his part, but I don't see that he did anything wrong.

BOLLING: You pay for opposition research.

TIMPF: You wouldn't tell the FBI, hey, Russia has this information on somebody who's at the top level of our governments.

BOLLING: If he's that worried about it, he would have said, yeah, maybe later on the summer we'll get together.

WILLIAMS: I think a lot of it would have been remedy guys if he would have taken it. Because I'm not mad at him for taking it, Eric. You know. We've talk about that yesterday. But again, when someone says did you have been meetings, interviews and conversations with these Russian officials, you say you know what, we took a meeting with them. This was the goal of the meeting. Nothing came of it and done. End of story. And it doesn't have the legs that we see having now.

CONCHA: Can I go back to a point Eric made at the beginning of the segment where you pointed out the CNN graphic. If you guys have that in the control room once again, as far is that knee-jerk reaction leading to the Dow going way, way down. Anybody know how the Dow finished today? It ended up in the green.

BOLLING: Can we credit Donald Trump Jr. for making the Dow rally today?

CONCHA: That is a classic example.

BOLLING: Come on.

CONCHA: That's a classic example of the media overreacting to a story and then connecting it to the stock market and not following through. At least wait until 4:00 to make such a statement.

TIMPF: I'm not saying.


BOLLING: Let me do this. Even if Veselnitskaya was connected to the Russian government.


BOLLING: . it's still not illegal what he did.


WILLIAMS: When we talk about illegal, that doesn't even mean collusion. So some collusion is legal and that's a weird thing, right. Every piece of collusion is not illegal according to the letter of the law, and we'll break that down further when we know more. But, Eric, I think you want me to give a firm answer as to whether it's legal behavior, illegal.


BOLLING: We're on our 12th accusation of collusion between the Trump administration.

WILLIAMS: I will sail, I'll give you that.

BOLLING: . we still haven't found a shred of evidence.


TIMPF: So you think that the investigation should be dropped. You think there's nothing there. We've got to completely just stop.

BOLLING: I think it's a big colossal waste of time and money of the American taxpayer. Yeah, I do.

TIMPF: But would you feel that way on the other side? If it was the other side? Because I know the Obama birth certificate was happening.


BOLLING: Kat, I just gave you three examples of deals, Hillary Clinton selling uranium to the Russians, John Podesta's family having Russian stock, tied to Russian stock companies, and three examples of actual deals being done by Clinton. Where is the investigation?

CONCHA: Not just Clinton, remember. The DNC actually met with Ukrainian officials for dirt on Donald Trump, and there was no uproar over that. I think the American public is just saying let's be consistent with our outrage.


TIMPF: You're not allowed to be upset on politicians from two different parties, you have to like pick one?


TIMPF: I think as a human, I'm allowed to be bothered.

CONCHA: But I'm bothered by the selective outrage.


WILLIAMS: Guys, wait one second. Let's not have such short memories. If we go back just right before this election, I do remember because I was one of the people advocating, and I wasn't alone on this network and many others that said there should be an investigation into the Clinton foundation, that there should be investigations into many of the business dealings with the Clintons. So, no, Joe, I don't buy that there wasn't outrage around what Clinton -- both Clinton's did when it came to Russia.


BOLLING: You're both right. You're right that you said there should be, but you're in the vast minority of journalism. Most people are like, yeah, I let that go. And then as soon there's a meeting between Trump's son, who is a businessman, and a lawyer and this is the collusion you want to investigate?

CONCHA: I just want a number around the outrage just for a second. Just on two issues that matter to the American people, 353 minutes was dedicated between May 17th and June 20th to Russia on the major evening news networks. How much the tax reform, something everybody was voting on or at least is concerned about, less than one minute combine.


TIMPF: All right. Well, we're not done yet. A lot more ahead on the Trump Jr. news and the media coverage of it today, right after this break.


WILLIAMS: As Eric alluded to in our last block, Democratic congressman, Adam Schiff, a ranking member of the house intel committee, delivered a sharp statement about the Trump Jr. news just a short time ago.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF, D-CALIF.: We want everyone connected with this meeting to come in. We want any documents that they may have. You know, plainly as we saw the constantly evolving stories from the president's son, we cannot rely on any public representations that are made by the family about their contacts with the Russians. We have now seen a very demonstrable pattern of obfuscation and dissembling about these meetings.


WILLIAMS: OK, Eric, we see Adam Schiff there really using some $5 words and using the term pattern, which I think was very intentional for him as well. This type of reaction from the Dems, you obviously think does not serve their purpose, why?

BOLLING: What is it exactly they're claiming? There's no claim of illegality on anything that happened. This sort of collusion that they're kind of snooping around the edges for is far less pungent than the collusion that Hillary Clinton campaign had with, as I mentioned Podesta, and I mentioned Bill Clinton doing speeches all the sudden, campaign coffers being filled -- I'm sorry, not campaign coffers, that's not accurate, Clinton foundation. But what about this one. What about the Russian dossier that the Clinton foundation got their hands on. Someone, including, I think, John McCain had it as well. Prior of it getting leaked. It ended being all false, all foreign put together. Christopher Steele was a British national who put the information together, allegedly. If you want to talk about collusion, collusion was far more pungent on the left than it was anything to do with Trump, as far I'm reading it.

WILLIAMS: OK. Jeff, let me ask you this. We can definitely have that conversation Eric is talking about. We all remember the Clinton days, everything was a right-wing conspiracy. But at some point, that narrative also got stale. At some point, aren't we going to have to look at actually what the Trump administration is doing?

KOTERBA: Absolutely. I mean, yes. We can go back and look at what the Clintons did or -- you know, on and on. But, yes, I agree with you, at some point we just have to be in the present moment and move forward and focus on what's happening now. I agree.


TIMPF: I just don't understand why we're talking about the Clintons right now. I think that -- yeah, they've gotten away with a lot. I think that they're at the center of a lot of corruption. But I don't understand how anybody could look at these emails and not be at least bothered, and not say that he clearly made the wrong choice in this instance.

KOTERBA: I will go back to what Eric was saying, though. I get your frustration because it does seem that the media hasn't always played fair. And there's been more focus on some of these small issues that have happened during the early months of the Trump administration and all those years of the Clintons.

TIMPF: I think that that's true, but what I'm trying to do is play it fair now.

BOLLING: You know what they can't do? The Russians can't go and send this lawyer over and meet with Trump Jr. and say, you know what, here's a check for $5 million, stick that in the campaign coffers. They can't do that.

WILLIAMS: So you're actually -- that's actually a really good point, Eric, because some people are talking about the campaign finance law, right? Now, first we were talking to the brain room earlier before the show, and I was talking to him like, well, what's the thing of value, right, that we're talking about here and that's what we can't get clear on. So, Joe, when we go deeper into this analysis, I mean, I'll tell you what I see, tell me where if I'm wrong.

CONCHA: All right.

WILLIAMS: We talk about -- we hear Adam Schiff talking about a pattern. Obviously, if you're the Democratic Party, you are still very upset that Donald Trump is our president. You want to bring him down. You want to resist at all costs. So you are thirsty, if you will, for some smoking gun that will allow you to do that.


WILLIAMS: But taking every opportunity to make it a said smoking gun I think undermines that agenda tremendously, and I think it does a disservice to an overarching goal of the takedown of the Trump presidency.

CONCHA: Hyperbole is the only word that comes to mind when I think of Democratic leaders in terms of their reactions. Tim Kaine, former vice- presidential candidate, senator from Virginia. WILLIAMS: I'm familiar.

CONCHA: He called it -- I'm sure. Called it treasonous today. As did other Democratic lawmakers.

WILLIAMS: You know that we're not at war for the treason requirement to be met.

CONCHA: Right.

WILLIAMS: That was Russia, anyway.

CONCHA: So when you overreact like this, you bring up impeachment, you bring up treason. I would ask any Democrat to tell me three points of their platform right now. What will you do for the American people to make their lives better besides Trump is a bad guy, Russian was involved in our elections, and -- I don't know, Samantha Bee is great, what else do you have? What are you running on in 2018 and 2020 that people care about?

BOLLING: So if money is the hook, is the value, do you not think when Hillary Clinton is the secretary of state in the state department, arranges the deal and sell the uranium, and all of a sudden, Bill Clinton is given $500,000 to do a speech in Russia? Do not think that that's far more likely a collusion accusation than meeting with a lawyer who ends up -- by the way, at that meeting, all three of their admission, I believe the guy who brokered that deal as well was there. There's nothing there.


WILLIAMS: I think that you are laying out a brilliant prosecution for the Clintons for a variety of crimes and things, and that's great. But I don't think that they are mutually exclusive. I think that's the point.

CONCHA: OK. So let's say this is the end of this Donald Trump Jr. story. He let out all those emails for a reason. Where does it go from here? What legs does this story have 24 or 48 hours from now? Because I've seen this movie before with the big bombshell and I'm talking about something different on Thursday.


TIMPF: I say that the media is overblowing it, but I also think that it's overblowing to get ahead of yourself and say you know that there is nothing there when the investigation still ongoing. I don't know what's wrong. I don't see anybody on the news saying, hey, I don't know. How about that?


BOLLING: Ten weeks on this show and we continue to talk about this alleged Trump-Russian collusion and we have yet to see one piece.

TIMPF: So you don't call this collusion?

BOLLING: Of course not.

TIMPF: We call failed collusion.


BOLLING: Every campaign in the world does from presidential all the way down to the state and local politics. That's what they do. They want.


WILLIAMS: The U.S. and Iraq declaring victory against ISIS in Mosul. The new report claims ISIS's leader have been killed in Syria. Stay with us.


BOLLING: Iraq and the United States declaring victory over ISIS in Mosul. This is what's left. Look at the scenes of a city in utter ruins after nearly nine months of savage house to house fighting. ISIS's loss in Mosul, is a watershed moment in the battle against them, but it's a stark-less in how much sacrifice will truly be needed to defeat them. Another piece of potential good news today. The respected Syrian observatory for human rights reported it is confirmed information that Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS, was killed in eastern Syria. U.S. military however says it hasn't been able to independently confirm it. Also a U.S. army sergeant has been charged with seeking to provide classified military documents and training to ISIS, Erik [SIC] Kang, an air traffic control specialist stationed in Hawaii, was arrested on Saturday following a year-long undercover investigation by the FBI.

Now, we don't have a lot of time to talk about it. There's a lot to unpack here. A couple of things: al-Baghdadi may be dead. ISIS may be defeated in Mosul. The fallout is horrible, yet we, quote -- we stop another potential terrorist attack by a U.S. military member in Hawaii. What do you think?

WILLIAMS: That part makes me feel the best, Eric, this thwarted attempt here. And you know what I like about it? This is somebody that we had reason to have suspicions around. We stayed on them. That's something we don't always do. We stayed on them the full year it took to get everything we needed to move forward, and we thwarted something that could have been disastrous.

BOLLING: Yes, and Kat, our intel department has been taking a lot of heat lately. But here's one -- here's one for the good guys. We closed that loop before we had another Nidal Hasan on our hands, killing a bunch of people.

TIMPF: Absolutely. Absolutely. And a lot of time they don't get the credit for doing the things that they do well. This is obviously a good news story.

But man, I mean, this is never-ending, it seems. ISIS, like our colleague Rob O'Neill always says, it's like nailing JELL-O to a wall, trying to stop ISIS. Really, they're everywhere. It's a very, very complicated thing. And it's good to be happy about victories like this, but there's still so much work to be done. Hopefully, in the direction of becoming less involved in these sort of conflicts to begin with.

BOLLING: Let me -- I don't know if we can scroll through some of those pictures, Joe. It's horrendous what Mosul looks like now in the aftermath of victory.

CONCHA: And there's still blasts going on as of this afternoon. There's 300 ISIS fighting there, and there's still fighting going on, but it's all but over. Let's face it.

But to talk about this person that was arrested in Hawaii, that's pretty unsettling, the fact that he was in the military since 2002. He served in South Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan. So this was somebody who probably came in -- obviously, ISIS wasn't around in 2002 -- but somehow was inspired, maybe online, and was trying to provide them information. But this reminds me a lot of Nidal Hasan in Fort Hood, a lone-wolf actor that could have done some real damage. So kudos to the FBI. That was a good one.

BOLLING: Yes, kudos to the FBI. The good guys win one.

CONCHA: Good news all the way around.

BOLLING: So what do you think of the -- what Kat points out, that a victory in Mosul or victory in -- against ISIS looks like this, is it really a win?

KOTERBA: It is a win. I don't know what's the other option?

WILLIAMS: What's the alternative, yes.

KOTERBA: I don't know what else we would do.

CONCHA: And by the way, it's good that we're talking about this, because very few cable news networks are talking about this. The bottom line is that President -- excuse me, candidate Trump said he would knock the hell out of ISIS. So far, five months in, we're seeing some real results in Syria and Iraq. Remember, there was a ceasefire announced just last week in Syria.

WILLIAMS: That wasn't news, though, right? We've been attacking Mosul.

CONCHA: I don't think -- well, yes.

BOLLING: We lost it -- and when I say "we"...

WILLIAMS: The United States.

KOTERBA: We dropped more...

CONCHA: It seems like the wins are a lot more consistent and a lot more dramatic.


KOTERBA: We dropped more bombs on Mosul earlier this year than all of, say, 2015.

BOLLING: So I'm going to jump on board with Kat on this one. So OK, so ISIS is, quote unquote, "defeated." They're not all dead. They might just turn up something else in another place. Right?

TIMPF: We need to take a look at ways that some of our efforts have caused more problems. I'm talking more specifically about Libya, with regime changes. We've -- this area is a big mess, so what are we going to do, to stay there forever? Get involved in every little conflict?

I think that we need to look at it. Be happy about this but look at big picture, what kind of role we want to play or not play in some of these foreign involvements.

CONCHA: Well, the good news is, at least, Iraqi forces are the ones who defeated them. That's the good news.

TIMPF: We're talking about foreign policy as a larger whole just now. So that was what I was referring to.

CONCHA: On a macro level.


BOLLING: Final thought?

WILLIAMS: No, I agree.

BOLLING: Good to go?

WILLIAMS: I'm glad nobody's on the ground, of course.

BOLLING: All right, we'll leave it right there.

Straight ahead, the U.S. successfully testing a critical antimissile system and prepares to wallop North Korea with new sanctions. Back in a moment.


TIMPF: Welcome back to "The Fox News Specialists." Our specialists today are Joe Concha and Jeff Koterba. Let's continue the conversation.

With North Korea crisis at a boiling point, the U.S. military scoring a major achievement today. A test of its THAAD system successfully shot down an intermediate-range ballistic missile, similar to North Korea's. The Wall Street Journal also reporting today that the U.S. is preparing unilateral new sanctions against more Chinese companies that help North Korea's weapons programs. This is a switch from the past. Used to try to provide concessions to the Chinese; now sanctions.

What do you think about it, Eric?

BOLLING: I think that's a good start. A continuation of what we've already started. The THAAD missile system is important because...

TIMPF: You don't want to get hit by a missile.

BOLLING: Here's the problem. South Korean new president says he doesn't want it. Is he insane? I mean, let's put that system there. Let's put it -- I don't know -- put it in Japan as well and maybe on our West Coast, because it's probably going to be headed our way pretty soon. But the good news is it worked.


TIMPF: Eboni, your thoughts?

WILLIAMS: Yes. That's -- I'm certainly glad that it worked, as opposed to not working.

TIMPF: Thanks. We all agree. Right, we all agree?

WILLIAMS: So I talking to Gordon Chang before the show, and specifically around what this relationship between China and Russia is starting to look like and the concerns that I think we all share around that.

And Gordon's response was, "You know what? That part we can't control. They do seem to be getting closer on many levels. But the coalition of India and Japan and the rest of the allies around it is really our best bet at defeating whatever North Korea has up their sleeve."

So when we talk about the global coalition to fight North Korea, maybe we need to lean in harder there and not put all our chips just on China.

CONCHA: I love the name, THAAD.

WILLIAMS: Well, there's that.

CONCHA: My wife, I'm pretty sure at Georgetown dated a guy named Thaad. That's the type of name that...

WILLIAMS: That sounds like a Yuppie name.

CONCHA: ... a guy you date in Georgetown. Yes.

But remember "Star Wars" and Ronald Reagan.

BOLLING: Anti-missile, huh?

CONCHA: Yes, something like that.

But with Ronald Reagan, back in the '80s, and he went ahead with the Strategic Defense Initiative -- it was called "Star Wars" -- and that helped end the U.S. Cold War. Not because we had a decisive military victory; because we showed the Russians that we had a technology they didn't. They had to spend time. They had to spend money.

BOLLING: Didn't they fake it? It didn't really work.

CONCHA: It doesn't matter. But the point -- but we have a real system here. And with North Korea, what are your options? Militarily, you can't bomb them, because good-bye to South Korea, our troops that are there, Japan. So you need something to create some leverage. This may be just the thing.

TIMPF: Your thoughts?

KOTERBA: Well, I just -- thinking back to "Happy Days" and The Fonz, he had a reputation for at least hitting somebody once. So you have to -- you have to have done that.

And Eric, you were recently talking about how it's been, what, seven or eight administrations that have been dealing with North Korea. And one of those was George Bush, and he was the one who brought up the Axis of Evil that people ridiculed him for. And granted, Iraq has changed. It was Iran, Iraq and North Korea. But he was one of the first presidents to really start talking about North Korea in a serious way.

And I do think you have to have some credibility that you're going to use a military option. You can't just use a threat.

When my kid, when my son was in junior high, he was being bullied. And we went to the teachers. We went to the principal; talked to the parents. And this kid kept bullying my son, who was much smaller than my kid. And I told my son, I said, "You know what? You've tried all the diplomatic options. You just need to hit him back." And he did, and that kid never - - never bothered him again. He was never bullied again either.

TIMPF: That kid probably doesn't have a bunch of nuclear weapons.

BOLLING: And do you think -- do you think that the 59 Tomahawks that Donald Trump sent into Syria and that one...


BOLLING: ... one MOAB that he dropped on Afghanistan, is that -- is that the bully getting punched in the face?

KOTERBA: Well, now we're talking about a ceasefire in Syria. So yes, I think -- I think it lends credibility, where -- not to keep going back to the Obama administration, but he would keep drawing a red line and a red line, and it was -- it was never, you know, held up.


WILLIAMS: That's true. That's accurate.

KOTERBA: So you have to have some credibility to back up your threat.

WILLIAMS: But I think that's the key, and how far are we willing to go? Because I think what's not helpful, because there are men and women really out there being sacrificed around these promises that we are making. So I'm all about, you know, I don't like relying our national security plan on what -- hoping what North Korea won't do, because I don't put anything past Kim Jong-un. So I'm OK with that, but we need to just make sure that we're all on board with that and we're being legitimate, to your point, Jeffrey.


WILLIAMS: Where we speak that way.

TIMPF: All right.

KOTERBA: Kim Jong-un is unstable.

TIMPF: Correct.

KOTERBA: But he's a lot of fun to draw as a cartoonist.

TIMPF: Well, North Korea is reveling in its successful ICBM missile test, Kim Jong-un leading a big celebration today to commemorate it, featuring dancing, pop music, and plenty of thunderous applause for the so-called "young general."

Very fancy. This is -- this is a good demonstration of what he wants. He wants to be loved. He needs to be adored. He -- so much of it is about this. He can't -- he's very, very unpredictable when someone goes against him, though, which is why you do need to be careful. I really hesitate to even think about a military option.

WILLIAMS: I don't.

TIMPF: I really, really do.

KOTERBA: What else are we...

TIMPF: We're talking about dead Americans. We're talking about dead Americans.

WILLIAMS: We're talking about dead Americans either way, Kat. And I think that's the issue. We're...

TIMPF: We may be talking about dead Americans one of the ways. Certainly talking about dead Americans...

KOTERBA: So we just keep sending Dennis Rodman to talk to him?

TIMPF: No, that's totally what I'm proposing. That's obviously not what I'm proposing. I think hitting on China is great. I like the way that President Trump is handling this now.

WILLIAMS: I am over that. I'll tell you why I'm so over that.

TIMPF: You want to bomb them right now, Eboni? What do you want?

WILLIAMS: I'll tell you why I'm over the China answer. Because we have tried it. We have tried it. We've done the sanctions; we've done the sanctions. And we're not really getting anywhere.

And again, I am not prepared to -- I value those American lives just like you do, Kat, and I am not prepared to sit back and hope and pray around what he won't do. That is just not reasonable.

CONCHA: Kim Jong-un is unstable, but I would hope that at least he understands that the second he actually launches a missile, whether it be at us, Japan, South Korea, that guarantees...

KOTERBA: We don't know. We don't know.

CONCHA: ... the destruction of his country.

KOTERBA: We don't know that he understands.

BOLLING: ... understands anything when he's celebrating a missile that could kill 10 million people in one shot?

WILLIAMS: You lost me, Joe, when you said, "I hope he understands."

TIMPF: Even -- even sociopaths have a sense of self-preservation.

CONCHA: That's right.

KOTERBA: So you're saying someone that would poison his own...

TIMPF: He has a sense of self-preservation. He knows if you went after us, it would be suicide for himself.

WILLIAMS: I don't think he knows anything.

KOTERBA: I think he's only concerned about himself.

TIMPF: Why are you trying to make it look like I'm pro-Kim Jong-un? I know that if we get involved military, there's going to be a lot of dead Americans, and I am anti-dead Americans.

WILLIAMS: I don't think you're alone there.

TIMPF: All right. Coming up, Americans' huge partisan divisions on how they view everything, from the news media to higher education. What a stunning new survey has revealed, next.


WILLIAMS: A new Pew study shows that there's a huge partisan divide between Republicans and Democrats of their major worldviews. That is shocking. Included in this country -- is a survey covering everything from labor unions to churches along with news media and its impact on society.

Now 44 percent of Democrats believe the news media has had a positive effect on the way things are going in this country, while only 10 percent of Republicans feel that same way.

Eric Bolling, no surprise, obviously, given the coverage so far of President Trump. Republicans only at 10 percent are thinking that's positive.

BOLLING: It's amazing that only 44 percent of Democrats think so.

WILLIAMS: Well, maybe they remember -- no, they're thinking back to pre- November when...

BOLLING: Think about how left-leaning skewed the media is. And Joe, you're a media analyst. You can weigh in on this. But 90 percent of donations and something like 90 percent in that Harvard study was anti- Trump and left-leaning. Now this surprises me that 44 percent is so low.

CONCHA: Nineties are popular, including 93 percent of coverage of the Trump administration on CNN and NBC has been negative towards the administration. Think about that. Seven out of 100 stories that you see on there can only be deemed as not negative on those networks.

But I had some fun. I looked this up during the break. You read in your intro, polls show sharp partisan divide. Right? You can find 100 stories on this on other things like "Polls show sharp partisan divide on Obama's historical legacy," "Polls show sharp partisan divide on confidence in Trump's deal making," "Polls show sharp partisan divide on Supreme Court vacancy." I think we're split as a country.

WILLIAMS: I think that you're right. You guys are shocking.

TIMPF: Another interesting one that was the difference in the value of college education. Republicans had a little bit less -- thought it was a little less valuable. It was down from a previous poll. And that doesn't surprise me if you look at what's happening on college campuses.

KOTERBA: You shut down free speech.

TIMPF: Right, something I repot on all the time, is being shut down, free speech. Because people who are almost -- almost always liberals wanting to shut down the speech of conservatives, and then running away and demanding a roomful of puppies and coloring books.

I've had a lot of tough days in my life, and I've never had a safe space, puppies and coloring books. And as valuable as a degree is, if you leave those four years needing that to cope as a human, then you're in trouble as a grown-up.

Well, I completely understand that.

CONCHA: My brother runs a contracting school in Patterson, New Jersey, very poor area of New Jersey. Right? Because college education now is so through the roof. By the time my kids that are 3 and 1 get to Georgetown, where my wife went, or Maryland where I went, we're talking 300,000 or $400,000 just to send them there.

WILLIAMS: You know what? Let me say this real quick, Jeff. I really don't appreciate that colleges have gotten such a bad rap. And I agree with you, Kat, what's going on on these campuses with the shutting out of free speech is a problem.

But I know for me, just my background, where I come from, college was the great equalizer. That was my opportunity to get on a trajectory that afforded me out of poverty, generational poverty, which I come from. So I think it's important to not just give up on our education systems, our higher spaces of learning, and really challenge them to do better.

TIMPF: I would hope this would motivate the schools to do better, rather than people not go to school.

KOTERBA: Real quick, what's heartbreaking about this study is that I come from the middle of America, in Nebraska, where I work at a newspaper with a lot of hard-working journalists, people who were friends of mine, for years. I do not know their political leanings. And we cover not just national and international stores. We cover local, state issues, which are highly important. And it's frustrating that these people who are working so hard to bring the news are thrown in with this -- this bigger umbrella of the media.

CONCHA: I agree with that. Local news coverage is still great. Foreign correspondents are still great.

KOTERBA: That's where people live. It's affecting their daily lives.

CONCHA: It's the political media where there's a big problem. And people that are supposed to be objective...

BOLLING: When they get promoted to the national level and then all of a sudden, they realize that you go -- you pick a side and you become more popular with your side.

CONCHA: Right. And read the Twitter feeds of reporters that are supposed to be objective, and you'll be horrified, compared to what they're actually presenting. I mean, that has been very revealing. Twitter feeds of objective reporters.

KOTERBA: And there's a lot of ignorance about what journalism is. I would love for there to be a required Journalism 101 class in every high school in America.

TIMPF: If you don't pick -- if you don't pick a side, it borders on abuse on the Internet. It actually may be is abuse, some of it.

KOTERBA: That's why there's a rising number of independence in this country. This study study didn't even -- yes.


TIMPF: Which I am one.



WILLIAMS: Well, there we go.

BOLLING: Not me.

WILLIAMS: When we return -- not Eric -- we'll "Circle Back" with our Specialists, Joe Concha and Jeff Koterba, including a special surprise from Jeff. Don't go away.


BOLLING: All right. Time to "Circle Back" with our specialists, Joe Concha and Jeff Koterba. Now, Jeff has a couple of cartoons he wants to show us. Go for it, Brother.

KOTERBA: Well, I whipped a little something up for -- for each of you. You could pass this down.

BOLLING: Look at this! Look at this!

WILLIAMS: Oh, my goodness!

TIMPF: I love it!

BOLLING: For Eboni. Look at that.

TIMPF: I love it. You even got my eye color perfectly correct; I have green eyes.

BOLLING: Now Jeff, I have a minute to ask about this. I looked at some of the cartoons that you had sent. I was looking for a partisan divide in our cartoons. There is none. I really couldn't see one.

KOTERBA: Thank you, I'm a passionate centrist. And I pride myself on that. And I say passionate...

WILLIAMS: Congratulations, Jeff.

KOTERBA: Thank you. Because too often people think when you're in the middle it, oh, you're sitting on the fence. No, I feel very passionately about being in the center.

BOLLING: And you're syndicated in how many?

KOTERBA: Eight hundred fifty newspapers around the world.

BOLLING: Fantastic, congratulations!

TIMPF: What's the most fun to draw?

BOLLING: I have to say Donald Trump because of his hair. I'm sorry! It's true.

CONCHA: So many colors you can use.

WILLIAMS: That's funny.

BOLLING: All right, Joe, you've been playing around with some stuff, too?

CONCHA: You could say that, yes. I'm 46 years old, I've got to admit that. But I still collect sports jerseys. But not just any sports jerseys. I actually collect sports jerseys of fictitious sports athletes that stop men like you on the street. For instance, Vince Vaughn. I have Peter LeFlerr, the captain's jersey, from "Average Joes," "Dodgeball" for you younger folks here.

BOLLING: Great movie, by the way.

CONCHA: Tremendous, right?

BOLLING: Academy Award should have been.

CONCHA: And this should have been Academy Award, as well. I own the Bobby Bouchet (ph) Bourbon Bowl "Waterboy," number nine, and I guess I little look a little like Adam, as well.

WILLIAMS: I can see that.

CONCHA: Yes, yes.

So all good stuff. I got the handsome brothers from the "Slapshot."

BOLLING: Got the eye black going on there?

CONCHA: I have the eye black. I even have the Soviet jersey.

TIMPF: What about "Mighty Ducks"? Any "Mighty Ducks"?

CONCHA: You know, I probably should have gone with that, the Emilio Estevez. Yes, yes. No, I'm going to work on that one. That's a good idea. Thank you so much for that. It's actually a real team.

WILLIAMS: I know one. From -- I was just going to say Jamie Fox's character from "Any Given Sunday."

CONCHA: Oh, yes. I'm working on that. Steamin' Willie Beamen (ph). Absolutely!

WILLIAMS: That would be awesome.

CONCHA: Yes. So that's what I do. Oh, and Jimmy Chipwood (ph) from "The Hoosiers," of course.

BOLLING: Very good. Very good, guys.

CONCHA: No Bollings I could find, however.

BOLLING: I'm going to say thank you to our "Fox News Specialists," Joe Concha and Jeff Koterba.

And we thank all of you for watching. Be sure to watch a very special live edition, tonight, "Fox News Specialists," 11 p.m. Eastern. We're going to analyze Sean Hannity's very exclusive and very important interview with Donald Trump Jr. at 10 p.m. Make sure to follow us on social media, @SpecialistsFNC on Twitter and Facebook. Remember, 5 o'clock will never be the same.

"Special Report" coming up right now.

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