Will Trump authorize a retaliation against the Assad regime?

This is a rush transcript from "The Story," April 9, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

BILL HEMMER, FOX NEWS CHANNEL HOST: Oh, man, I'm telling you. Bret, thank you and good evening to you.

I am Bill Hemmer in tonight for my colleague Martha MacCallum and we shall pick up the story from here. Now, moments ago, the president giving a forceful defense over the events breaking late today. The FBI raiding the offices of his long-time personal lawyer Michael Cohen.

There are reports tonight they were looking for bank records. We don't know what they found. But we do know the president is not holding back on his position regarding the special counsel, Bob Mueller, and his team.

Now, we are finding his comments to be so compelling moments ago, we want our viewers just joining us to have a moment to watch them yet again. After those comments, you will hear from Sean Spicer, you will hear legal analysis from the judge, Andrew Napolitano, who has just learned from sources about the state of that investigation.

But, first, here are the eight minutes from the White House with the president surrounded by members of his cabinet. Senior military leadership who had gathered to talk about the crisis ongoing in Syria. You're about to hear all of that right now.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So, I just heard that they broke into the office of one of my personal attorneys, a good man, and it's a disgraceful situation. It's a total witch-hunt, I've been saying it for a long time. I wanted to keep it down.

We have given, I believe, over a million pages worth of documents to the special counsel. They continue to just go forward and, here we are talking about Syria. We are talking about a lot of serious things with the greatest fighting force ever and I have this witch-hunt, constantly going on for over 12 months now.

And actually, much more than that. You could say it was right after I won the nomination it started. And it's a disgrace.

It's frankly a real disgrace. It's an attack on our country in a true sense. It's an attack on what we all stand for.

So, when I saw this and when I heard it, I heard it like you did. I said that is really now a whole new level of unfairness. So, this has been going on.

I saw one of the reporters who is not necessarily a fan of mine, not necessarily very good to me. He said in effect, that this is ridiculous. This is now getting ridiculous.

They found no collusion whatsoever with Russia. The reason they found it is there was no collusion at all. No collusion.

This is the most biased group of people; these people have the biggest conflicts of interest I've ever seen. Democrats all, just about all, either Democrats couple of Republicans that worked for President Obama, they're not looking at the other side, they're not looking at the Hillary Clinton horrible things that she did and all of the crimes that were committed. They're not looking at all of the things that happened that everybody is very angry about.

I can tell you from the Republican side and I think even the independent side. They only keep looking at us. So, they find no collusion.

And then they go from there and they say well, let's keep going. And they raid an office of a personal attorney early in the morning, and I think it's a disgrace. So, we will be talking about it more.

But this is the most conflicted group of people I've ever seen. The attorney general made a terrible mistake when he did this and when he recused himself or he should have certainly let us know if he was going to recuse himself. And we would have used a -- put a different attorney general in.

So, he made what I consider to be a very terrible mistake for the country but you'll figure that out. All I can say is after looking for a long period of time, and even before the special counsel, because it really started just from the time I won the nomination. And you look at what took place and what happened, and it's a disgrace. It's a disgrace.

I've been president now for what seems like a lengthy period of time. We've done a fantastic job. We've beaten ISIS. We have just about 100 percent of the caliphate or the land.

Our economy is incredible. The stock market dropped a lot today as soon as they heard the noise of, you know, this nonsense that's going on. It dropped a lot.

It was up, way up and then it dropped quite a bit at the end, a lot. But that we have to go through that. We've had that hanging over us now from the very, very beginning and, yet, the other side they don't even bother looking.

And the other side is where there are crimes, and those crimes are obvious -- lies under oath all over the place. E-mails that are knocked out, that are acid washed and deleted. Nobody has ever seen 33,000 e-mails have deleted after getting a subpoena for Congress, and nobody bothers looking at that, and many, many other things.

So, I just think it's a disgrace that a thing like this can happen. With all of that being said, we are here to discuss Syria tonight. We're the greatest fighting force anywhere in the world.

These gentlemen and ladies are incredible people, incredible talent. And we're making a decision as to what we do with respect to the horrible attack that was made near Damascus. And it will be met and it will be met forcefully.

And when, I will not say because I don't like talking about timing. But we are developing the greatest force that we've ever had. We had $700 billion just approved which is the reason I went along with that budget because we had to fix our military.

General Mattis will tell you that above anybody, we had to fix our military. And right now, we're in a big process of doing that. 700 billion and then 716 billion next year.

So, we're going to make a decision tonight or very shortly thereafter and you'll be hearing the decision. But we can't let atrocities like we all witnessed and you can see that and it's horrible, we can't let that happen. In our world, we can't let that happen, especially when we're able to because of the power of the United States, because of the power in our country, we are able to stop it.

I want to thank Ambassador John Bolton for joining us. I think he's going to be a fantastic representative of our team.

He's highly respected by everybody in this room. And John, I want to thank you very much. This is going to be a lot of work. Interesting day.

He picked today as his first day. So, general, I think you picked the right day. But certainly, you're going to find it exciting that you are going to do a fantastic job, and I appreciate you joining us.


TRUMP: Thank you very much.

BOLTON: Thank you.

TRUMP: Thank you all very much.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Any concerns about what the FBI might find, Mr. President?

TRUMP: No, I'm not.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did have you an affair with Stormy Daniels?

TRUMP: Why don't I just fire Mueller? Well, I think it's a disgrace what's going on. We'll see what happens.

But I think it's really a sad situation when you look at what happened. And many people have said: you should fire him. Again, they found nothing.

And in finding nothing, that's a big statement. If you know the person who's in charge of the investigation, you know all about that. Deputy Rosenstein, Rod Rosenstein, he wrote the letter, very critical of Comey.

One of the things I said I fired Comey. Well, I turned out to do the right thing. Because you look at all of the things that he's done and the lies.

And you look at what's gone on at the FBI with the insurance policy and all of the things that happened turned out I did the right thing. But he signed -- as you know, he also signed the FISA warrant. So, Rod Rosenstein who's in charge of this signed a FISA warrant, and he also signed a letter that was essentially saved to fire James Comey.

And he was right about that; he was absolutely right. So, we'll see what happens. I think it's disgraceful and so does a lot of people. This is a pure and simple witch-hunt. Thank you very much. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will Rod Rosenstein keep his job?

TRUMP: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will Rod Rosenstein keep his job?

TRUMP: Thank you all very much.


TRUMP: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thanks, everyone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any more clarity on who was responsible?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you. Thanks, everyone. Thank you.

TRUMP: We are getting clarity on that -- who was responsible for the weapons attack. We are getting some very good clarity, actually. We have some pretty good answers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thanks, everyone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are your options?


TRUMP: We have a lot of options militarily and we'll be letting you know pretty soon.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thanks, everyone. Thank you all.

TRUMP: Probably after the fact.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you stop lying? Can you stop lying?

TRUMP: Thank you all very much.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, sir.

TRUMP: Thank you very much.


HEMMER: So, there you have a lot -- a lot to comment on now. With me Sean Spicer, Former White House Press Secretary. And Sean, good evening to you. There was a lot that was spoken during that meeting there at the White House that is ongoing at the moment. We'll see the decision they make on Syria. First on the FBI raid. What do you make of that tonight? Do you see it also as a witch-hunt, Sean?

SEAN SPICER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think it's an escalation on both fronts, Bill, to be honest with you. I mean, you see the raid of a private attorney to the president tonight by the FBI. That is definitely a major move.

And then, the president's reaction tonight as John Roberts reported, I think, definitely the words that the president chose tonight to describe his feelings about that raid definitely raise the stakes. So, I think you've seen two moves, both escalating the situation, and I don't think that we've heard the last of the president feelings on this.

I'll leave the legal analysis -- I'll leave the legal analysis to Judge Napolitano, but as a layman, I will tell you when you're going you are going raid the private home and offices of the president's personal attorney, that better be real good.

HEMMER: You worked with the president quite closely for a good amount of time. Do you think now is the time that he ditches Bob Mueller? Do you think it's at that point?

SPICER: Well, look, I hope that -- I still, again, I think the president's point that he made early on in his comments that there's been no evidence of collusion. I think what the president has to hopefully be reassured by his counsel is that, so far, this is not about him. This has never been about him, and that his job to make sure that he stays focused on governing the country and stays focused on implementing his agenda.

And you know, we can't speak to everyone around him, what they may or may not have done, but we have to let the process play out. And so, I would urge the president to listen to his counsel. And my guess is that his counsel is telling him that this investigation continues to not focus on him or collusion.

And since he can't speak to the actions of others, let the special prosecutor, let the FBI play this out, see what evidence they have before taking it a step too far. I think that the early -- the quickest way to wrap this up is to let them do their job and let the pieces fall where they may.

HEMMER: Do you think the tendency is greater or less tonight that he sits down with Bob Mueller then?

SPICER: Well, you know, again, I'm not an attorney in this. I think that it's a rabbit hole to go down that the president were to sit down with him. So, of all of my legal training, which extends, you know, goes to watching 'Law & Order.'

I don't think it's a good idea for him to sit down and do this. Because once you sit down, you don't know where it ends up. That being said, I think the president knows that he hasn't done anything wrong.

He's made his position clear on multiple occasions, and I think he wants to see this thing wrapped up and sees a conversation with Mr. Mueller as the quickest way to do it. So, you know, ultimately, this is going to be a decision that he and his attorneys make on what is going to wrap this up quicker sooner rather than later, and in a way, in a manner, that, you know, insures that the president doesn't get stuck going down 800 rabbit holes on non-germane topics.

HEMMER: He brought up the Clinton email matter too. When you were with him, how much of that bothered him? And was it a daily thing or how would you describe that, Sean?

SPICER: I don't know that it's a daily thing, but it's not just him. I there's a lot of people on my side of the aisle, Bill, that are sort of continue to scratch their heads and say, so far, you've seen an investigation that didn't have to do with collusion go on and on. My hope, by the way, is that this investigation continues to be focused very broadly on Russian interference. We continue to see evidence of that.

I think where the president needs to sit back and listen to his attorneys and say this investigation hopefully is more about the broader -- the broader medaling of Russia in our election and that they're going to come back and look at those bad actors like the Russians that they indicted and that hopefully will be the focus. With respect to Hillary Clinton, I think there's a lot of people who continue to wonder how you can have that many infractions of the law, have that many law enforcement officials claim that there was a problem and then see no action. I think it's a huge frustration.

HEMMER: Yes, how much of this is a distraction inside the West Wing today?

SPICER: Well, I think it's obviously a bit of a distraction. You've got a big issue. He's sitting there around that table with all of those top military leaders dealing with how to react to the actions that were taken in Syria this weekend that that vicious and horrible chemical attack and they're sitting around trying to discuss about the proper role of the United States is in ending that kind of atrocity. And to be distracted by this isn't helpful to anybody; it's not helpful not just to the staff there in the west wing but frankly to the country as a whole. We've got big issues happening not just domestically but around the world. And I think our focus as a country and as he is a leader needs to be on making sure that we're fighting for human kind around the world.

HEMMER: Yes. Sean, there's another topic that I wanted to get to quickly, there was a piece on '60 Minutes' last night that talked about Russian hackers in the Illinois state election system. And the piece reports that the administration, the Obama administration, got together with all the heads of state. All the election officials across the country and gave them a warning. Was your campaign ever given information from the Obama administration that there were Russian hackers that were trying to gain access to an election system in any state in the U.S.?

SPICER: Well, here's what happened. In October of 2016, officials from the Department of Homeland Security gathered representatives or made an invitation to representations from the Republican National Committee, the Democratic National Committee, the Trump campaign, and the Clinton campaign. I, as part of the Republican National Committee, went into the DHS for a private briefing on which they assured us that while people were trying to meddle with the election, the integrity of the vote was sound.

And they asked us to go and to make sure that we continue to convey publicly that our election system was sound and that no one could hack and they asked us to express support of this. So, it's very interesting that now that they're telling everyone retroactively that they were calling all these alarms. Because that's not what they did in October of 2016 when they called us in to reassure us of all the steps that were being taken and that there was no threat that was being posed to our election system. And that they had asked us to publicly share that degree of certainty with the American people after the vote.

HEMMER: So, why would they not tell you? And I got to run, I need a quick answer. What explains why they would not explain that to you with greater clarity as you relayed that to us tonight?

SPICER: Well, because I think that they thought, number one, that Hillary Clinton was going to win and they wanted us to make sure that we supported that ultimate decision. And number two is, because I think a lot of this is Monday morning quarterbacking now that people are critical of how they handled it. But at the time, that certainly wasn't the message they were sending to us and to others around this country.

HEMMER: OK. Sean, thank you for your time tonight. We're going to Syria in a moment too. So, Sean Spicer, thank you for being with us here and reacting in real time to news from the White House, thank you. In a moment more on that, a tip from the Special Counsel Bob Mueller leading the FBI to raid the office of Trump's long-time lawyer, Michael Cohen. Catherine Herridge new information on what sparked that, she's coming up live in a moment. Also, what are the legal implications of this move now? The judge, Andrew Napolitano, brand new information from him coming up when we continue from New York tonight. We are back in a moment.



TRUMP: So, I just heard that they broke into the office of one of my personal attorneys, good man. And it's a disgraceful situation. It's a total witch-hunt. I've been saying it for a long time.


HEMMER: So, that was President Trump about an hour ago unloading before the cameras tonight after news that his long-time lawyer was raided today by the FBI after a tip from the Special Counsel Bob Mueller. For more on how all this went down, Chief Intelligence Correspondent Catherine Herridge trying to piece together the story tonight from Washington. Catherine, what do you have at this hour?

CATHERINE HERRIDGE, FOX NEWS CHANNEL CHIEF INTELLIGENCE CORRESPONDENT: Well, thank you, Bill, and good evening. A source close to the Trump legal team told Fox News that the Cohen raid was 'a big deal, very aggressive, and also an attempt, in their words, to squeeze the president'. The source said the raids on Cohen's office, apartment, and temporary hotel accommodations probably seals the fate of a near term interview of the president by the special counsel, using the terms: puts a fork in it. Also, seizure of attorney-client privilege materials will require a clean team now to determine what can be used by investigators what really is out of bounds. This can be done by a magistrate or a team of FBI agents.

But for some context, given Cohen has been cooperating, the source said that there is a high level of distrust at this time. Also, there are special procedures in the place to raid an office of an attorney because of this attorney-client privilege material, so there's a very high threshold to sort of understand for our folks at home, you have to cross that high threshold in order to obtain these materials. And they would also have to show that all other avenues have at this time been exhausted. It's also worth-noting based on the special counsel memo that I have here that they would require permission from the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in order to expand the investigation to what the New York Times is reporting to be FEC violations.

This memo was drafted in August of 2017 by the attorney general -- deputy attorney general, and it lays out the scope of the special counsel mandate, and it specifically says if they come across evidence that seems outside that original mandate of Russia collusion or coordination between Russia and officials and the Trump campaign, they've got to get permission from Rosenstein to move forward. And if that was the case here, they would need concrete evidence to make that case to the deputy attorney general, so that may well be what happened late today, Bill.

HEMMER: Well, Catherine, thank you for all of that live in Washington and come back if you get more, OK? The legal implications right now with our senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano. Good evening to you.


HEMMER: You've been listening a lot -- Catherine's reporting, Sean Spicer's reaction, the president's reaction as well. Piece together what you believe is happening.

NAPOLITANO: It appears that Mueller's team discovered some evidence of crime in the possession of Michael Cohen and might have been what they believe is a crime committed by the president and told to Cohen or it might have been something independently committed by Cohen. I happen to believe it's the latter and will explain in a minute. Bob Mueller then gave that information, because it's outside his purview, to the acting U.S. attorney for the southern district of New York, Jeff Burman, an appointee of Donald Trump. His team looked at it, went to a federal judge in lower Manhattan, and said we have evidence of criminal behavior here.

Very high strong evidence because we want you, judge so and so -- we don't know who the judge is -- to invade the attorney-client privilege. We are asking for a search warrant to invade the office of Michael Cohen whose principle client is the president of the United States. Whatever they told the judge was sufficient to justify the judge. They, a team of federal prosecutors in lower Manhattan, not Bob Mueller's team in Washington. The judge signed the search warrant. There were apparently four search warrants, and the raids occurred early this morning and throughout the day.

HEMMER: Couple things here then, so, this was day break earlier today?


HEMMER: There was a fire on the 50th floor of Trump Tower Saturday night. Cohen's office is on the 26th floor of Trump tower.


HEMMER: These men were -- they wore hand in glove for a long time on a lot thing.


HEMMER: Trump was his only client, is that right?

NAPOLITANO: Yes. Apparently, Michael Cohen has one two offices -- one across the street where we are now in Rockefeller Center, and one on the 26th floor of Trump Tower where he did the legal work for Donald J. Trump the human being and for all of the entities, owned, operated and controlled by the Trump Organization. Now, look, Catherine is quite correct, as always, when you are talking about invading the attorney-client privilege. If the court can be satisfied that the client, the president revealed a criminal act to the attorney in order to hide it under that privilege, or a fraud that the client committed to the attorney, or a tort, an act of civil wrong doing to the attorney, the privilege can be invaded.

What else could they have been looking for? This is what I bring to you now. They could've been looking for plain ordinary bank fraud on the part of Michael Cohen. To wit: when he refinanced his home, in order to gather the $130,000 to pay Stormy Daniels, did he tell the bank truthfully what he was going to do with the money? If he did not, that arguably is bank fraud.

HEMMER: You have to disclose to the bank what you are using the money for.

NAPOLITANO: Correct. No, matter how --

HEMMER: If I said I'm doing it to remodel my house and you can actually tag the money and trace it to a payment that I made to so and so on Stormy Daniels.

NAPOLITANO: What I'm suggesting to you is Bob Mueller may have passed this onto the federal prosecutor.

HEMMER: Why doesn't Mueller manage it? What would be the reason for handing it off?

NAPOLITANO: Too far out of the realm even for Bob Mueller. What Michael Cohen told his bankers when he borrowed the $130,000 to pay Stormy Daniels -- and that, of course, has nothing to do with any criminal behavior by the president.

HEMMER: This was his office, it was his home, it was his apartment?

NAPOLITANO: His apartment is being remodeled. That's why he's living in a hotel. So, two offices: the home during the remodeling, and the hotel room where he's been staying during the remodeling. Four search warrants, four raids.

HEMMER: In a word, how would you characterize this tonight? How serious a matter is this on the legal front?

NAPOLITANO: I think this is a bridge too far.

HEMMER: On Mueller's part.

NAPOLITANO: If Bob Mueller instigated this. You know, again, this was another pair of eyes -- a Trump appointee here in Manhattan, and I think it's seismic. I think this will bring about a reaction on the part of the president beyond what we saw just a few minutes ago.

HEMMER: All right. Get back on the phone. We'll bring you back, OK?


HEMMER: Thank you, judge. In a moment, President Trump now, also strong words on the atrocities in Syria, saying a decision could come tonight on how the U.S. will respond. Our military experts are on standby for that; they will join us next on this.


TRUMP: We're making a decision as to what we do with respect to the horrible attack that was made near Damascus and it will be met and it will be forcefully.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We're making a decision as to what we do with respect to the horrible attack that was made near Damascus, and it will be met, and it will be met forcefully. We're going to make a decision tonight or very shortly thereafter, and you'll be hearing the decision. But, we can't let atrocities like we all witnessed and you can see that and it's horrible. We can't let that happen.


HEMMER: So, that's the president at the White House about an hour ago huddling with the nation's top military leaders. Right now at the White House that meeting is underway. Question is what to be done about the devastating suspected chemical weapons attack that has happened yet again, apparently, in Syria. Dozens said to have been suffocated, many as they sat inside their homes over the weekend. There was disturbing footage and reports still coming in tonight about survivors struggling to breathe. Some even foaming at the mouth and exhibiting signs of paralysis. All this makes quite a first day on the job for the brand new national security advisor, John Bolton, who just recently said that the international community has not done enough to deter Syrian president Assad. Bolton quite critical that President Obama's, quote, redline on Syria from several years ago, a line that was crossed by Assad and met with no U.S. military action. With me now, terrific group, retired army brigadier general, Antony Tata, also with me, Tom Rogan from the Washington Examiner, and my colleague Juan Williams, Fox's political analysist. And, gentlemen, good evening to all of you tonight.


HEMMER: General, let me start with you, what is the appropriate response on behalf of the U.S. government now?

ANTHONY TATA, RETIRED ARMY BRIGADIER GENERAL: Well, I think we should destroy everything that can deliver a chemical weapon from the Syrian military. Whether that's jets, helicopters, artillery tubes. We have the capability to do that. It's time to do that. You know, President Trump had a very strong response last year. A year to the day almost that these chemical attacks happened this year. And, you know, put to rest once and for all President Obama's incompetence in foreign policy where, you know, if you're looking for a Russia collusion story, look no further than 2013 when President Obama condoned chemical attacks. Children running through the streets, blood coming out of their nose and ears, and gave the issue to the Russians to handle and the Russians did nothing with this. And, also, that he could get his Iran deal that now funds all of this that's happening. There's your Russia collusion story.

HEMMER: You have no doubt Assad did this? That's what I hear in your tone.

TATA: That's right. You know, I think we ought to destroy everything that can deliver chemical weapons from the Syrian military.

HEMMER: All right, let me come back to you in a moment here. I want to go to Tom Rogan right now. You wrote this today in the Washington Examiner, sir. The speed of this U.S. assessment so quickly after the attack also suggest that the U.S. either track the ground forces or Syria helicopters/jets that launched the weapons against Douma. I imagine we have that ability. But why would Assad do this now?

TOM ROGAN, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Thank you for referencing that piece. I think the reason that Assad is doing it now is twofold. On the first basis, he thinks he can get away with doing it. I think there's an assessment on the part of him and Vladimir Putin that the -- President Trump has said he would withdraw, that the United States, if it did anything, would be comparative to the last strike in March 2017. Secondly, it has military effect for him if we take away the moral component by using these chemical weapons. You can essentially permeate down into basements where civilians as well as rebels are hiding. But you also start to terrorize the adversary, which is the border rebel group. We see Idlib province in the north. It sends a very clear message that I hold the initiative and that I will do anything and everything necessary to destroy you and no one will really do anything about it. And that's why I think the general is right that Trump has to take decisive action.

HEMMER: What is your hunch on what he does?

ROGAN: I think he will. I think with President Macron, the French, potentially the British as well. It will be a wide ranging air campaign. I think you will see -- not just cruise missiles. I think you'll see B-2s and B-1s with fighter escorts. And the French and the U.S. destroying.

HEMMER: Suggesting that the tomahawk missiles were used a year ago and that was not enough.

ROGAN: No, I think it will be escalation of that. What you need to do if you're really taking out hardened facilities, and I think you will see a serious degradation of Syrian air capability, especially, but also command and control as it tends to chemical weapons.

HEMMER: Juan, you wrote a piece today on The Hill, and it's titled, Trump's nest of hawks. Now, that is based on the first day on the job for John Bolton. But, Juan, when you look at the state of affair and the world today, maybe this president needs -- needs a lot of hawks.

WILLIAMS: I don't think he needs a lot of hawks. I think he needs people who put options on the table, including military options, Bill. And so, you have a situation here where John Bolton comes in, and people might remember Bolton as a huge advocate of going -- the U.S. going to war in the Bush administration in Iraq. But, also, Bolton is a guy who doesn't believe in a two state solution. He's a guy who thinks that a preemptory strike against North Korea is a legitimate step. But, I am taken by what - - we've just heard, Josh say, that, basically, if we can get alliances in place that we can work with the French -- the Turks are on our side on this. If we can, in fact, bring people together to say this is unacceptable behavior, then I think we can, in fact, clear out some airspace, allowing the rebels the opportunity and, hopefully, say, signal very clearly to the Russians and to the Iranians, that we are not going to be intimidated by the fact that they are backing Bashar al Assad.

HEMMER: General, do you think there is an opportunity here, even though Russia called this fake news earlier today? Is there an opportunity to appeal to Putin? Where you make the Russian leader a statesman on this and he turns on Assad? Is that possible? Or is that a pipe dream?

TATA: Well, I think, Bill, you know, Russia has already made their statement. They've already played their chips in this, you know, round of poker here. You always want to exercise the elements of national power and diplomatic information, military and economic, and to the extent that you can bring Putin to the table. You know, it's worth a shot. But, I really think it would just delay our response, and really what our national security team needs to be doing. The national command authority right now is developing the options that Juan talked about, and come on strong and destroy the capability. You know, we have a national security strategy that talks about not allowing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and a rules-based international order on the rule of law. And so, those two things are paramount if we are going, you know, live the way that the United States wants to live.

HEMMER: General, thank you for your time. Tom Rogan, thanks to you. Juan Williams, my colleague, thanks as well.

WILLIAMS: You're welcome.

HEMMER: Than you, gentlemen. In a moment here, turning to other news, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg on the hill for what's expected to be a long, tense two days of hearings that will begin tomorrow. Senate commerce committee chair, John Thune, sat down with Zuckerberg today, what he said. Plus, a preview of what's happening tomorrow. Do not move. We are back in a moment.


HEMMER: So, the man whose company serves two billion people around the world is meeting with several lawmakers on the hill today. The hearing for the Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will run for hours starting tomorrow. It will last two days and the company is already in damage control mode. It's rolling out new policies, increase transparency, and Zuckerberg expected to take full responsibility on this matter. Here now exclusively, one of the senators that met face to face with Zuckerberg today, senate commerce committee chair, John Thune. Senator, good evening, thank you for being a part of our program tonight.

SEN. JOHN THUNE, R-SOUTH DAKOTA: Good evening, Bill.

HEMMER: What did you ask him?

THUNE: Well, first off, I mean, we've talked about the hearing tomorrow, and about privacy, and what constitutes meaningful consent for a user of Facebook. And we've talked about the importance of him owning up and taking responsibility for what happened. And, obviously, this is an opportunity for him to get some trust back. I think from the American people. But this is really about trust. And I think Facebook is right to have him here. I think it's important for him to get out in front of this issue. And the fact that he's going to testify tomorrow and spend several hours answering questions I think is part of the accountability that we need to expect from him and his company.

HEMMER: I read a statement. He seems contrite. Was that your impression?

THUNE: It is. And I think he -- I think he gets it. I think he really understands that they made mistakes, and that he's got to own up to those, and he's got to tell us what he's going to do to protect user's data going forward and what they're going to do to stop the harmful conduct that now they're trying to go back and deal with. These problems need to be address.

HEMMER: Here's part of his statement. I'll just show our viewers. I started Facebook, he's going to say. I run it, and I'm responsible for what happens here. Republican lawmakers don't like to regulate. Are you seeing a case being made for this company?

THUNE: Well, I mean, in terms of regulation, Bill?


THUNE: Yeah. Well, look, I think that -- we're not ruling anything out at this point. But, clearly, there were lines that were crossed. There was a lot of, you know, we were talking about 300,000 users and all of the sudden it, you know, exploded into 87 million users now. We've had their information compromised. I'm a light touch guy when it comes to regulation, but I think we have to be open to steps that we can take to ensure that there is a transparency and the accountability that the American people need to expect. I mean, when they sign these agreements, do they know what they're signing? And are they -- is there a meaningful consent when they're allowing Facebook, this company, can use their data.

HEMMER: That's a key phrase, meaningful consent. No one is forcing anyone to sign up. You're making that decision on your own, right, senator?

THUNE: Yeah, it is. And, obviously, it's a decision a lot of Americans make, and 1.4 Billion people every single day use Facebook, which is why this is such a worldwide and global issue. But one that we clearly need for the protection of the American people's privacy and their data need to address.

HEMMER: I imagine it will get political. I imagine the Russian matter will come up.

THUNE: I don't doubt that.

HEMMER: Do you expect any surprises in the 15 seconds we have left here?

THUNE: I don't expect any surprises other than you're right they're going to try and play the Russia issue to the hilt. But, there are lots of other issues that will come up. And we'll examine these more fully in the days and weeks and months ahead, but this is an important first step.

HEMMER: Thank you, senator. We'll talk again soon. John Thune there from the hill. Thank you.

THUNE: Thanks, Bill.

HEMMER: In a moment here, President Trump not holding back with cameras rolling tonight on news that his long-time lawyer is now being targeted by the FBI. What are the implications moving forward on this? Chris Stirewalt on the political fallout coming up next.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: The attorney general made a terrible mistake when he did this and when he recuse himself, or he should have certainly let us know if he's going to recuse himself, and we would have used a -- put a different attorney general in.


HEMMER: So, that was a short time ago, President Trump taking a shot at his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, yet again. The recusal early on in the Russian matter. Chris Stirewalt here to analyze the breaking news of the evening. Chris, good evening to you.


HEMMER: Sean Spicer, last hour, said certainly it's a distraction in the west wing. You can understand why it would be. This maybe doesn't come up every day, but it comes up often. What is your view of the events tonight, Chris?

STIREWALT: As you saw there, whether it's coming up, it is definitely on the president's mind and how could it not be. You saw his response there very visceral, very emotional response from the president. And, of course, done in the context of those folks sitting around that room where you have military brass in uniform, your national security advisor. This is not the kind of setting in which you would normally expect to hear sort of fomentations about case against your personal lawyer. But, obviously, it is on the president mind constantly because, of course, it represents an existential threat to his presidency.

HEMMER: But your job is to analyze the impact on elections. And you've got a midterm coming up in seven months. There's a piece in the New York Times today talked about raising the possibility if Democrats gain the house an impeachment proceeding, whether there's grounds for it or not. New York Times writes this on screen. A strategy is emerging on the right for how to energize conservatives and drive a wedge between the anti-Trump left and moderate voter. Warn that Democrats will immediately move to impeach President Trump if they capture the house. Can that be a rallying cry for the right?

STIREWALT: Absolutely. And we've already see Republican use it effectively, which is to say -- and, of course, there are certain Democrats. It's not a mainstream Democratic position that impeachment will automatically follow. But there are Democrats, especially some like Tom Steyer who are looking at a 2020 run that they're going to continue to churn that up because it excites a certain part of the Democratic base. But, we know in base politics that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. And now, Republicans are exploiting the fear of a potential impeachment, which, of course, is stoked by events like today to say to their base you better get out there and vote. You better not stay home. You better go vote, because even if you don't like the Republicans, even if you're not satisfied with the policies, they're going to take your president away from you if they get control of the house.

HEMMER: When we talk about impeachment proceedings, that's all we're talking about a proceedings.


HEMMER: You can make a case, but that doesn't mean the case is going to go through, and you can pick any one of ten if you don't like this president to go after. I just want to be clear on that.

STIREWALT: That's right.

HEMMER: I think things changed a little but today in the state of Florida. Rick Scott is going to run for Senate seat, a popular governor. He's won two statewide races. He's got a lot of money, big thick wallet. And he's going to take on, what seems to be, a pretty popular Democrat in Bill Nelson. This is going to be watched, Chris, as one of the marquee matchups. How do you see it play out? What is your view about how competitive this became today.

STIREWALT: Well, you've got a person with high statewide name recognition, plus a big fat wallet that he is been more than willing in the past to dump into competitive races before. So, this automatically moves this race into a top tier contender where we're going to have to watch it very closely. What it means in a larger sense, though, is that for Democrats, they're already dealing with the worst map in the senate in generations. It's tough for them because they're paying the piper for their successes in 2006 and 2012. So, they've got a lot of Democrats in red states. Republicans adding Florida to that map makes it harder for Democrats, because now they've got to put resources there, they've got to put attention there, they've got to put focus there, instead of the four -- and so, the four easiest ones, North Dakota, West Virginia, Missouri, and Indiana. Then, Democrats also wants to be focused on the southwest, Arizona and Nevada. They want to think about those to flip going to Florida, the most -- arguably, the most expensive swing state that's going to be tough.

HEMMER: It's a great point. Nice to see you tonight, Chris.


HEMMER: Chris Stirewalt in D.C. We will be right back after this.


HEMMER: Finally tonight, we toast an American, Patrick Reed, with his first ever major title in Augusta, tweeting today this is a dream come true. I can't thank everyone enough, family, friends and fans. I could not have done it without you all. This is what Team Reed is about. After a heavy couple hours of news, we leave you with that tonight. Congrats, you are a master's champion, Mr. Reed. Martha is back tomorrow night. I'll see you tomorrow morning on 'America's Newsroom' with Sandra, 9 AM Eastern time. Do not be late. Enjoy the evening, everybody. Tucker is up next from Washington.

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