This is a rush transcript from “The Story with Martha MacCallum” October 5, 2020. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
MARTHA MACCALLUM, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Thank you so much, Bret. We watch as the Marine One chopper takes off from the South Lawn. The president still standing on the South Portico there, saluting Marine One as it left, he stands – surrounded by flags as he is home now.
Good evening, everybody. I’m Martha MacCallum in New York. And this is THE STORY in America this evening. President Trump just moments ago walked out of Walter Reed Medical Center, 72 hours after we watched him walk in there on Friday evening, everybody was uncertain, of course, about how long he would be there at that point. And tonight, this Monday, he is back at the White House.
His doctors saying that he is not entirely out of the woods yet. They say he will return to the White House with 24-hour care, insisting that there’s nothing being done at the hospital at this point for him that cannot be continued at home. He’s going to receive his fifth and final dose of Remdesivir tomorrow at the White House. When asked when the president might be able to get out on the campaign trail with 29 days to go in this election, here is his physician, Dr. Sean Conley.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. SEAN CONLEY, WHITE HOUSE PHYSICIAN: So, the big first thing that we need to do is that there is no evidence of live virus. As soon as we can identify that routinely. We talk about a 10-day window, there’s a possibility it’s earlier than that. There is a chance that it’s a little bit later.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: So, the next presidential debate is 10 days from now, and the Trump campaign says that the president plans to participate as questions surround what that will look like exactly. Vice President Pence and Kamala Harris, we have learned, will now be separated by plexiglass at their debate this Wednesday night in Salt Lake City in Utah. Please stay tuned to Fox News Channel and this Fox station for continuing coverage of President Trump’s COVID-19 recovery. I’m Martha MacCallum in New York.
Joining back here on Fox News Channel as we continue our coverage tonight. Joining me now, White House Former Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Karl Rove, Former Deputy Chief of Staff to President George W. Bush, and Robert Wolf, Former Economic Adviser to President Obama. All are Fox News Contributors. Good to have all of you with us this evening.
KARL ROVE, FORMER BUSH 43 DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF: Good to be here.
MACCALLUM: Sarah, let me start with you. How does this change the situation with regard to the president and his approach to this virus now that he has had it himself?
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, Martha, I actually spoke to the president earlier today, he was in very great spirits, good mood, very upbeat, and I’m not surprised at all by that. This is a person who is a fighter, who no matter how hard he gets hit, no matter what he gets hit with, he keeps coming back and usually stronger.
I think you certainly will hear what we’ve heard from the president over the last couple of days. I think he has an even greater understanding of the virus, its impact, how it affects people. I think you’ll hear him talk about his own personal story, but also talk about it from a place of strength. Remind America that we have made significant progress on fighting this virus from where we started. We are in a much better place to fight back against it. And I think you’ll certainly see him talk about those things.
I, for one, am very glad he’s doing much better. I look forward to him being back out there on the trail. There’s no substitute for Donald Trump being out there campaigning on his own behalf. Not only has he been willing to fight on every front, but certainly fighting the liberal mob and we absolutely have to have him out there. He needs to refocus this race back to being about Biden and Biden’s weaknesses. And I certainly think, and I hope we’ll see that from the president in the coming days and weeks leading up to November 3rd.
MACCALLUM: I think all Americans are very glad to see the president back at the White House. Nobody wants to see the President of the United States sick or down or hospitalized. Karl Rove let me go to you, in terms of what happens now with the campaign and as the doctors have said, this week is very important. He’s still in that time period where they’re going to watch him very closely and these medicines will continue to hopefully play a positive role. How do you see the next few days in all of this?
ROVE: Well, we’re going to be consumed with this for – and today’s Monday. We’re going to be consumed with this Tuesday. Wednesday, we’ll have the vice-presidential debate. That will take the attention away. I think we’re going to be in a more normal situation by the end of the week. If the president continues to improve, as he has, then I suspect we’ll start to hear from him on things related to the campaign.
But I think Sarah made a very good point. This is a chance for the president to say, I understand personally what it is to confront this. I understand the concerns of ordinary Americans about this because I myself have worried about this for myself, my wife, my family, the impact on my colleagues at the place that I work. I understand this. And I want you to know what it is that we are doing to confront this. And I want to share with you what we have been doing to make it better, make our ability stronger and better to cope with people who do come down with this illness.
Because the president’s done a lot of things. I’m not certain – we didn’t hear about him much in the first debate. This gives him a chance to sort of articulate the steps that he’s taken, whether it’s Operation Warp Speed to develop vaccines, pointing the army logistics chief to be able to oversee the production and distribution of it, you name it. He’s now got a chance to explain that to the American people in an address perhaps from the Oval Office or from the White House on Thursday or Friday.
MACCALLUM: Yes, that would be interesting. He’s a human test tube essentially for all of the treatments that he has been talking about so much over the last several months. And, Robert, the vaccine that they have put into hyper drive to get it finished, they hope to have it done by the end of this year. How do you think this experience for the president is close to the election affects where we’re going in 29 days from now?
ROBERT WOLF, FORMER ECONOMIC ADVISOR TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I couldn’t disagree more with Karl and Sarah. I think it’s just the opposite. He comes out and he tweets, don’t be afraid of COVID. When 200,000 people have died under his watch.
Today, Texas, Florida, and Georgia, three of the top five red states that are literally getting it proliferating cases day-by-day. And then you have super spreaders happening at Trump rallies in the White House. I mean, honestly, Martha, you just can’t make it up. I think it’s very clear that this White House did not take the crisis seriously.
MACCALLUM: Sarah, what do you say to that? And do they need to change? We’re getting some new video. Actually, this is the pool video that just came in. So, you see the president, he got off at the back portico down by the diplomatic receiving room and went right up the staircase in pretty good time and got up there and then took off his mask and looked out at all of the cameras there. Sarah, your thoughts and your reaction, your response to Robert, who says that this has been mishandled and that this makes it even more difficult?
SANDERS: Well, I think going back to what Karl was just saying is how much progress we have made, some of the things like Operation Warp Speed. I do think this is a good opportunity for the president to talk about all of the things that his administration has done.
MACCALLUM: And the president speaking, we’re going to listen in.
MACCALLUM: Wave and a thumbs up, that’s what happened moments ago with the original angle that we showed you was from across the street and that was the pool, the pool coverage camera that we just got in. We’re also waiting for the video that was done at Walter Reed, where the president spoke to the people who had cared for him there. We expect we’re going to get that shortly as well.
Karl, let me go to you. You know the comment, don’t be afraid of COVID from President Trump. You just heard what Robert had to say about it. He saw it as heartless to the 200,000 people who have lost family members. Is that the way you read it?
ROVE: Look, I love the Monday morning quarterbacking. You want to know what Joe Biden was thinking about and his people around him in January, February and March as this came on and the president was treated with seriousness, Biden opposed the travel ban on China and the travel ban on Europe, or when Rhinelander, one of his key advisers on COVID said, said that the idea that this would turn into a global pandemic was highly unlikely.
On the day, the first American died. Dr. Zeke Emanuel, one of his top advisers on the issue, said, don’t go out and buy a mask. It won’t work. Ron Klain, who is his Chief Adviser, who’s now mysteriously disappeared, said that we don’t face a health pandemic, we face a fear pandemic, accusing the president of overhyping it.
Several times, both Klain and Emanuel said as spring comes up, the virus will go down. On March 13th of Joe Biden wrote an op ed outlining his plan, never said the word mask, never said the word social distancing, never said the word lockdown. And in June when he had his first interview, the first interview on Joy Reid show. He was the first guest. She said, what would you do as president? He listed off six things that he would do as president, all of which Donald Trump had done.
So, look, in politics, you get to do Monday morning quarterbacking, but this Monday morning quarterbacking about Joe Biden and his surrogates is a little egregious. That guy didn’t have a handle on this last spring, while the president was doing his very best to come to grips with it and was instead opposing the president on most of the steps that he took last spring.
MACCALLUM: Robert, how do you respond to that? Well, I mean, that we have videotape on all of those things that Karl just mentioned.
WOLF: We should play the videotape because I hate going down in the ditch. But we’re talking about a president who thought there would be 15 cases. There’s 7 million plus. I mean we should just talk facts.
MACCALLUM: But Robert, here’s the thing, Robert.
WOLF: That’s ridiculous.
MACCALLUM: Everybody – this is an unprecedented situation in this country.
WOLF: I agree.
MACCALLUM: Right? And everybody was scrambling to try to figure out where this thing was going. It was like a beast that you couldn’t wrap your arms around. And in the beginning, there was a reason to think that maybe it could be contained at that time. The president took some actions like shutting down travel from China that he feels made a big difference. Dr. Fauci said it made a big difference.
And the fact of the matter is that the things that Joe Biden said at that time were also not correct and did not demonstrate that he would have handled it any differently. In fact, there are things that he wouldn’t have done, like the travel ban, which he said was xenophobic. So, I mean, yes, it’s easy to say these things now, but–
WOLF: Martha, but I’m not sitting there now. In the last two days, we’ve had over 50,000 cases each day. That’s more than where we were months ago. It is not getting better. He is the President of the United States and we are not having the reopenings take place. There’s not a proper protocol for schooling, it’s not getting better. Those are facts. Look at Kentucky.
ROVE: That’s not true. That is not true. With all due respect, that’s–
SANDERS: I was going to say, that’s not true at all.
ROVE: That’s not true.
SANDERS: It is getting better.
WOLF: That’s not true.
ROVE: The number of deaths today is about a third or less than it was in March and April. And yes, the cases are up because we’re going back to school and all those college kids aren’t getting tested. But the number of deaths and the hospitalizations are down.
And let me say one last thing, Robert took a whack at red states. I would remind you that the biggest state in the country with the largest number of deaths is a blue state, followed by another blue state. New York has more deaths than California, Texas and Florida combined because a governor of your state made a stupid decision and put COVID patients into nursing homes.
And I don’t hear the Democrats out there saying, it’s blood on the hands of Andrew Cuomo. It is disgusting what people are doing–
WOLF: I’m not saying its blood on the hands–
ROVE: To lay it – let me finish, Robert, to lay at the feet of President Trump, the death of every American. This is–
WOLF: I didn’t say that either.
ROVE: Way over the top and unacceptable and even in the polarized era that we live in is just over the top.
WOLF: Karl, there is a reason–
MACCALLUM: Sarah, I want to give you the last word there.
SANDERS: Well, I think Karl is absolutely right, the way that the Democrats have tried to politicize every single thing, the president took early action, decisive action. In fact, the very actions that he took that most likely saved millions of American lives are places that the Democrats were the most critical of this president. His quick, smart moves saved a lot of American lives.
Certainly, I think we have learned a significant amount from where this started. I think that’s what the president was talking about when he was putting those comments out earlier today. We have come a long way. That’s why Karl is exactly right. It has gotten much better. And part of the reason for that is the Trump administration has gotten a lot of that red tape out of the way so we can let the scientists who Democrats love to lean on as long as they agree with them, do what they do best. And that is figure out how best to deal with this pandemic, figure out how best to treat people. They’ve gotten much, much better.
That’s why we’re seeing the president who is so tough, such a fighter, return back and get ready to go right back at it. Just days after being diagnosed. I think we have made significant progress. And Robert, I think it is shameful what the Democrats constantly try to blame this president for. When Karl is exactly right though, places where it has been the worst is at the hands of Democrat governors.
MACCALLUM: You know, let me just say before I say – before I thank you all that the president is in a difficult position right now in the polls. This is obviously a very big issue. Americans will have the final say on who they think handled this well and who they think can handle it best going forward. And that happens 29 days from now. Sarah, thank you very much. Robert Wolf, thank you very much. Karl Rove, thank you as well. We’ll see you all.
ROVE: Thank you.
MACCALLUM: So, the White House doctor insisting that the commander-in- chief’s return home is safe, but some other experts are questioning whether or not it was too soon, warning that COVID patients can be the most vulnerable one week to 10 days after they first show symptoms.
Joining me now, Dr. Tom Inglesby, Director of Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. Doctor, thank you. Welcome back to the program. It’s good to have you with us tonight.
TOM INGLESBY, DIRECTOR, JOHN HOPKINS CHS: Good to be here.
MACCALLUM: So, let’s start there. Do you think the president was allowed to return home too soon?
INGLESBY: I think it’s difficult to tell from a distance. I think his doctors at Walter Reed were – are very good doctors. So, I do trust the judgment that they made to have him go back to the White House. I think the White House has pretty extraordinary medical care within the building. So, I do think he’ll get good care. And if things go in the other direction, I would presume they would have him back at Walter Reed quickly.
MACCALLUM: This is Dr. Conley earlier today. His White House physician who was the lead organizer of this team, here’s him earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CONLEY: We all remain cautiously optimistic and on guard because we’re in a bit of unchartered territory when it comes to a patient that receive the therapies he has so early in the course.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: So, that I find very interesting, no person who has dealt with this virus has had the drug combination that the president right now has in his bloodstream. What do you make of the way that he was treated with these monoclonal antibodies and Remdesivir and some steroid? What do you think about that combination and what it means?
INGLESBY: Well, two out of the three big medicines have been proven to be useful in clinical trials and so there is a lot of logic to it. I think dexamethasone was given – maybe earlier than it’s given in other patients. It’s difficult to know because we don’t know exactly some of the details of the president’s condition at Walter Reed.
I think the monoclonal antibody combination was given in a kind of a compassionate use sense. That’s what the FDA might call that and hopefully will be providing a lot of value in helping them to improve more quickly. But I think we don’t know it; it could have risks. But in the earlier trials, I think that antibody cocktail was safe and so hopefully he’ll continue to get better.
MACCALLUM: Here is the doctor when asked about the lung scans, there were many questions from reporters about his lung scans. And here’s what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You’re actually not telling us what those long scans showed just to be clear.
CONLEY: So, there are HIPAA rules and regulations that restrict me in sharing certain things for his safety and his and his own health and reasons.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: What do you make of that answer, Doctor?
INGLESBY: Yes, I don’t really understand what he’s saying there, because the HIPAA rules basically follow the patient’s wishes. So, if the president wanted to convey all of his information, he could do it in a second. There’s no real rule against it. And I think it would be helpful if people knew the results of that chest CT scan, because that does really give you clear information about someone’s risk, someone’s risk of progressing or risk of getting better quickly. And I think it would help. It would just overall give the American people a better sense of what’s likely in the next week.
MACCALLUM: So, what does it tell you that they won’t say?
INGLESBY: I don’t know, I think the president could easily release Dr. Conley to tell the American people about what the chest CT scan results show, what some of his inflammatory markers show, some of the things that Dr. Conley didn’t say in the last three days, I think would be helpful to hear.
MACCALLUM: In terms of what you would expect over the next several days and how much potential danger there is over the course of that, because Dr. Conley said, we’ll all breathe a sigh of relief if we are where we are today on Monday.
INGLESBY: Yes, so I think there are two possibilities here. Hopefully, he’ll continue on this track, which seems to be gradually improving from last week to this week and over the course of the week, his symptoms will resolve. But we also have seen many patients are good. Unfortunately, a fair minority of patients have around day five to day 10, a serious worsening of their illness, potentially a very serious worsening of the illness.
So, I think when Dr. Conley said, we’ll know over the next week, what he means is, we don’t really know which direction the president will go. Unfortunately, if you think about other very well-known people, like for example, Herman Cain had a very, very mild first week of illness and then a very serious progression of illness and unfortunately died from that illness.
So, I think the president’s not at all. I don’t want to compare him to that. But I just think as an important, important reminder that we’re not out of the woods and that we need to really see what happens the next week to decide what his prognosis will be.
MACCALLUM: Yes, it seems that this drug cocktail that the president got is, as we said, something that no one has received before. And I’m sure there are people across the country who say why doesn’t everybody get that? What would you say to them?
INGLESBY: We’re still in the middle of a clinical trial. So, in general, I wouldn’t, and I don’t think most doctors wouldn’t recommend people getting things that are not yet proven in clinical trials because they might hurt a person more than it will help a person.
But I think in this case, the early information seemed to be promising enough that they – it sounds like his physicians wanted to try it or include it. Ultimately, I think if this does show to be useful and it is a proven therapy, then I think it should be obviously distributed widely and it shouldn’t just go to a certain group of people. But in this case, because it’s still in trials, it’s not easy to get. And I think they made a decision to try and get access.
MACCALLUM: Maybe this will push that to become more available if indeed it continues to be successful, which we all hope it is.
MACCALLUM: I want to ask you about the vice-presidential debate this week and the debates to come. Do you think that they should move forward? We learned tonight that there’s going to be Plexiglas between these two candidates when they sit down on Wednesday night.
INGLESBY: Well, my recommendation would be that the vice-presidential candidate’s debate should be virtual. And the reason I say that is that the vice president had a number of interactions with the president, with others that were in the Rose Garden ceremony last week, a number of people who have subsequently tested positive. And so, even though he’s getting tested on a daily basis as per CDC guidelines, he really should be in quarantine.
I don’t think he should be around other members of the public or political figures. So, my – and we can do video link debates very easily. It’s almost invisible to people. We’re watching. So, my sense is that the debate should go on, but they should be done virtually and therefore safely.
MACCALLUM: Yes, interesting. All right. We’ll see what happens. Dr. Inglesby, thank you. Always good to have you with us. Thank you, sir.
INGLESBY: Thanks so much for having me.
MACCALLUM: So, ahead of President Trump’s return to the White House, the Senate Judiciary Committee locking in a time today to kick off confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, set to begin at 9 AM, one week from today, despite pushback from Democrats who call that reckless as COVID infects several within the White House and also three Republican senators.
Senator Kelly Loeffler of Georgia joins me now. She has tested negative since attending the White House nomination ceremony on September 26th and plans to vote on the Supreme Court nomination, if it makes it to the full floor. Senator, thank you for being here tonight. Good to have you with us.
SEN. KELLY LOEFFLER (R-GA): Thanks, Martha. Great to be here.
MACCALLUM: So, for everybody who has questions about what that looked like, that Rose Garden ceremony, you were there. Everybody was very close together. Was everyone’s temperature taken? What was the protocol when you walked in there? Did anyone suggest, maybe we should all keep our masks on since we’re all seated so close to each other?
LOEFFLER: Well, Martha, we were all tested before the Rose Garden ceremony. And now in the last 10 days, I’ve had three tests. So, we’ve been very vigilant about keeping one another safe following the guidelines. And that’s what we need to continue to do as a country. And the White House has been very vigilant about this.
MACCALLUM: But obviously somebody there had it because there’s nine people who were sitting there who now have it. So, it has been said that it shouldn’t be used as sort of a metal detector, the rapid test. You have to go beyond that in order to really protect people if you’re going be that close together. And we saw people hugging and sitting down next to each other on benches, would you rethink that if you were to do it again today?
LOEFFLER: Look, I think it’s vitally important that we continue with testing and practicing all the guidelines, but it’s also important that we keep this country reopening and moving forward. That’s what Americans expect of us. That’s what we have to do. We have a constitutional duty to get the Supreme Court back to nine justices and we’re going to do that.
I was the first U.S. senator to support voting for this before the November election. And I’m going to continue to support that and keep our colleagues safe. Look, we’ve had a 150 virtual or hybrid committee meetings since we went back into session in May. We’ve done that safely. And has Chuck Schumer ever complained? Never. So, we just need to keep doing our job and taking the precautions that we know that we can take. And this president has helped our country make great progress.
The emergency use authorizations have allowed us to move ahead with treatments and therapeutics and now Operation Warp Speed. We’re getting this vaccine done. So, this country is moving ahead. We cannot lock down forever. And we have to just take those precautions to keep each other safe.
MACCALLUM: As I said a moment ago, would you do anything differently if you were in a group like that next time? I mean, I think it was a shock to the country because I do feel as though people were starting to relax a little bit and go to things a little bit more. And I think that this might have the impact of sort of setting that back a bit of making people nervous again.
So, if you were to attend that today, would you have a mask on the whole time? Would you want to move your chair to create a little more social distance as the CDC came out today and recommended once again.
LOEFFLER: Look, Martha, we were outside. I feel really good about the event and really pray for those that have been affected by this. Certainly, it is a very serious disease, and we have to take care of one another and continue to follow the guidelines. And I think it’s vitally important though that the American people know that we are fighting for them to reopen this country, to do it safely and to take every possible precaution. But we have a job to do.
MACCALLUM: So, your colleague Ron Johnson, who also came down with the virus over the last several days, along with Senator Tillis and Senator Lee, who are on the Judiciary Committee, and they were also at the Rose Garden ceremony for Amy Coney Barrett. This is what Ron Johnson said today when he was asked how this vote should or shouldn’t move forward.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI): But if we have to go in and vote, I mean, I have already told the leadership I’m going into my moon suits. We think it’s pretty important. I think people can be very confident that Mitch McConnell is dedicated to holding this vote.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: So, are there going to be three people in moon suits at that vote? And just logically, how are you moving forward, given the fact that you’ve got several people who can’t be around other people and I believe you have to be in person for this vote, correct?
LOEFFLER: That’s right. But Senate Judiciary has announced their schedule. They’re going to stick to it starting Monday, October 12th. They’re going to be offering the hybrid hearings that we’ve done so well in the Senate. I mean, Chuck Schumer’s never complained about that. And so, what we need to do is just keep moving forward. I mean, look, this is – we’re completely capable of operating in a hybrid mode, that’s going to happen. And then the vote won’t come until the end of the month. We will get that vote done, we’ll confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett, and we’ll fulfill our constitutional duty to the American people.
MACCALLUM: I’m curious what you thought over the weekend, there were several rallies out on the highways with Trump flags. And when you look at the poll numbers, they do not look good right now for the president and for the Senate races, as you know as well. So, tell me a little bit about what your read is on how Georgia looks and how you’re viewing the numbers that you see.
LOEFFLER: Well, there’s no question Georgia is a battleground state, but there is no question, there is a silent majority coming out for the president. That’s what you saw lining the streets. That’s what I see every week as I go around the states. I hear from Georgians saying, thank you for standing with our president, for fighting with him for us, for being our voice. So, there is a massive silent majority out there that we’re going to continue to make sure that we get to the polls because the president will win Georgia. He will win reelection.
My race is looking great. They know like the president, I’m a conservative business person, a political outsider who is fighting to make sure that every single person has a voice in Washington, that we come back here and do the work that they expect us to do.
MACCALLUM: I just want to show people, because for anyone who didn’t see any of these over the weekend. We’ve covered so many of the protests that have happened all through the summer that Black Lives Matter protests and all of them. This is what happened. If it didn’t happen in your neighborhood, this is what happened over the weekend. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are all very confident that he’s a fighter and he’s strong and he’ll recover, and actually give us a lot more nuance around going through the disease and recovering from it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: I mean, this happened in a lot of states across the country. The ones that we just showed people were in New York, Staten Island, right in the middle of Manhattan, in New York City. We saw Maryland in there. We saw California in there.
Tell me – for those who look at those and say, is that significant? Is that real? Are the boat rallies something that is indicative of something bigger than these numbers are picking up?
LOEFFLER: Well, we’ve absolutely got that going on here in Georgia. And look, people know, Americans know that he’s a fighter and a winner. Look what he’s done this year. He fought the Russia hoax. He fought the sham impeachment and won. And now he is fighting this pandemic, COVID. He’s fighting. That’s what he’s going to continue to do.
And look what he’s done for America. Americans are so grateful. He created the best economy that we’ve had in our lifetime that lifted all Americans up. He just signed historic trade deals, historic peace deals. And now we are going to hold China accountable.
In fact, I’m going to work with him on that. I’ve introduced legislation called the Beat China Act. To make sure that we bring work back here from China to America to create more jobs. And so we’ve got a lot t of work to do. And we’re doing that the economy is coming back. And now, the president is back in the White House. And so, I know that prayer — my prayers and the prayers of millions of Americans have been answered.
MARTHA MACCALLUM, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: So, senator, before I let you go, you know, the president said don’t be afraid of COVID. And some people were very taken aback by that. They said, you know, how do you — how do you say that when you have all of 200,000 families out there who have lost a family member to this virus? Do you think this will change the way the president talks about it? You know, more empathetically, perhaps? And does he use his own experience or is he, sort of, making it clear to others that he understands more now about what they are going through?
LOEFFLER: Well, I’ve been with the president throughout. He cares deeply about the American people. From day one, he took this seriously. He fought for the American people and he is going to continue to take it very seriously. But that didn’t stop him from rolling up his sleeves and getting to work, delivering for the American people. Look, we are going to get to a vaccine faster than any other vaccine in history. And that is due to his focus and care for the American people.
MACCALLUM: Yes. Senator Loeffler, thank you. Good to have you with us tonight.
LOEFFLER: Thank you, Martha.
MACCALLUM: Take care.
LOEFFLER: Thank you so much.
So, President Trump’s return to the White House easing some concerns about him putting national security at risk after a Sunday briefing warning the president of attempts from foreign adversaries to take advantage of his health.
Chinese President Xi, wishing a speedy recovery. But the editor of the state-run Global Times tweeted, President Trump and the first lady have paid the price for his gamble to play down COVID-19.
Then we had Russia’s Vladimir Putin saying, quote, “your inherent vitality and good spirits and optimism will help you cope.” But a Moscow newspaper declared what happened is what should have happened.
Chuck Hagel joins me now, former secretary of defense under President Obama. He is a Biden supporter, but is a Republican. So, Secretary Hagel, thank you very much. It’s good to have you with us tonight.
CHUCK HAGEL, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY UNDER OBAMA: Thank you very much.
MACCALLUM: So, you know, from a national security perspective, what’s your view of what we saw happen over the last few days?
HAGEL: Well, any time a President of the United States goes into the hospital and is treated for a serious virus like the coronavirus. It presents a security issue and question. Of course, the world is watching, watching very closely, our adversaries and our allies. And it is a time when adversaries can be tempted.
My sense is that our national security enterprise, or intelligence operations, our military, homeland security, are all very much on alert as they always are on alert, and especially during this time.
So, with so much volatility, so much unpredictability, so much danger in the world, I think probably the most dangerous time in the world since the implosion of the Soviet Union, sure, you’re going to be concerned when a president goes into the hospital, because that presents a cloud of uncertainty.
How serious is he? Would he be impaired? Could he make decisions if something happened in Korea or in the Middle East? So, I think it’s right to be concerned. But I think of the same time, we’ve got to have confidence in the men and women who have the responsibility of securing this country.
MACCALLUM: You know, it’s obvious that the president wanted to get back to the White House as soon as he was physically able to do it. Do you think that what we just watched, you know, Marine One taking off from Walter Reed and landing on the South Lawn of the White House? The president went up the steps and saluted Marine One as it took off. Does that reassure? Does that — how is that perceived by these other world leaders do you think?
HAGEL: Well, yes, it’s good to see the president walking and moving around and waving. But the issue is, because the confusion that’s resulted in the last three days by his own doctors and the admission of his own doctors not quite being truthful. No one really knows what his condition is.
And as of tonight, his own doctors are saying we really won’t know for another week or so. So, yes, it’s good to see him active and around. But I don’t think that reassures anyone. And I don’t think anyone just as a signal takes that as the future.
And again, I go back to what I said before, you always have to be alert and always anticipate something, coming especially from the real volatile hot spots in the world. But it’s better to see the president walked off that helicopter himself, wave, walk into the White House. And yes, it is somewhat reassuring.
MACCALLUM: This is General Jack Keane talking about his take on this part of the issue. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACK KEANE, FOX NEWS SENIOR STRATEGIC ANALYST: We do not have a national security crisis or a particular threat as a result of the president getting coronavirus. The president, despite having the virus, is able to make decisions and hold meetings. And the national security apparatus of the United States of America is more formidable than any other country in the world. None of that is disrupted.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: Your final thought on that, sir?
HAGEL: Well, I think Jack is right. But there is still uncertainty. We don’t know how sick the president is. We still have to stay alert. But I think Jack’s analysis as of right now is right. But still, there is great uncertainty and volatility in the world and we need to be alert.
I’m confident, as I already said, our security enterprise, as Jack said, it’s the best in the world. I have great faith in our security in this country because of our system and our people.
MACCALLUM: Very reassuring. Thank you very much, former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. Good to see you, sir. Thanks for being here tonight.
HAGEL: Thank you. Thank you.
MACCALLUM: So, President Trump’s attorney, Rudy Giuliani joked that the president was so eager to return that he may have escaped overnight. The mayor joins me exclusively when THE STORY continues.
MACCALLUM: President Trump now back at the White House after leaving Walter Reed Medical Center just a short time ago. The president’s doctor said he’s back when asked how the president was faring.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president is an impatient man. Has he been itching to get out of here?
SEAN CONLEY, WHITE HOUSE PHYSICIAN: The president has been a phenomenal patient during his stay here. He’s holding court with those of us around him, the whole team, going over all the specifics, the testing, what the future is. And we have been back and forth on what’s safe and what’s reasonable. He has never once pushed us to do anything that was beyond safe and reasonable practice that we all first wanted.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: There you go. Here now, Rudy Giuliani, personal attorney to President Trump. Mr. Mayor, good to see you tonight. Thank you for being here. You know, I always think it’s a good sign when a patient —
RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP’S LAWYER: Thank you.
MACCALLUM: — is itching to get out of the hospital because it means that they are getting better.
MACCALLUM: So that’s obviously really good news. But how are they going to keep the president relatively quiet over the course of this week now that he’s back at the White House? Because the doctor said, you know, he’s not completely out of the woods until Monday. He said they would feel — they would feel good. So, whose job is that going to be?
GIULIANI: You mean next Monday. Next Monday.
MACCALLUM: Next Monday, yes.
GIULIANI: Yes, that’s quite some time. But you know, every day, marginally it’s safe. So yes, he can return after a period of time. But every day it doesn’t return, the odds that it will return go down pretty dramatically. So, five to six days after, you can be pretty sure he’s going to come out of it.
He made a remarkable turnaround. I think part of that confusion that day on Saturday between Mark Meadows and the doctors was they were talking about different days. I mean, Mark was talking about Friday, when I guess they were, I wasn’t there, but there were some moments that had them concerned.
GIULIANI: But, you know, a little bit also, concerned because it was the president.
MACCALLUM: Of course.
GIULIANI: Like those oxygen levels, our oxygen levels you should be concerned about. But I’m not sure you or I would be taken to the hospital with those oxygen levels, particularly if they put some oxygen on us and we came right back to a normal level, which he did.
GIULIANI: So, part of it has to become of this is the president and you go the extra mile. And you put him near the machines in the hospital if you have to.
MACCALLUM: Of course.
GIULIANI: Once he got there, though, his symptoms kind of ended by Friday night. When I talked to him on Saturday, he was pretty close to normal. He dictated too long statements to me. Gave me very specific instructions on what he thought the campaign should do. He wasn’t laboring at it. He was kind of enjoying.
I think people have to understand about him, he enjoys work. So, for someone else, what might be a burden, for him, for him, it’s fulfilling and exciting.
MACCALLUM: That’s a great point. So, you know, he is — it’s the thing he likes to do the most is work. And he was obviously anxious to get back to it. We just showed again, the video of him walking up the huge staircase to the South Lawn portico on the second floor near the residence. And that’s the same staircase that we watched him walk down at the Republican National Convention that night, which seems like a very long time ago now.
MACCALLUM: But it’s only a few weeks back.
GIULIANI: It does. It does.
MACCALLUM: It’s incredible how many things have happened in the past few weeks. You mentioned, if you were on oxygen or I were on oxygen, you know, nobody would really care that much about us. They’d probably care more about you.
GIULIANI: I don’t know.
MACCALLUM: But you also were there, you were there doing preparation. Your friend Chris Christie is in the hospital now. I mean, how concerned —
MACCALLUM: — have you gotten another test since you were last interviewed? I thought you said you were going to get one.
GIULIANI: I did. I actually — I actually got one about two hours ago. I haven’t gotten the results yet.
MACCALLUM: All right.
GIULIANI: I went to NYU and I got —
MACCALLUM: Well, we hope that it’s negative as well.
GIULIANI: — got one of those all the way in the back of the nose tests.
MACCALLUM: Yes, I had one of those this morning —
GIULIANI: — which I don’t find that painful.
MACCALLUM: — because we’re heading out to Utah for the next debate. So —
GIULIANI: Those are — those are the best.
GIULIANI: They are the most — they are the most accurate.
MACCALLUM: We hope you get another negative on that one. You know, let’s talk a little bit about the campaign moving forward. And you know, before I do that, I want to ask you —
MACCALLUM: — do you have any update on Chris Christie’s condition? I haven’t seen any updates.
GIULIANI: I haven’t talked to him today, but I talked to two people who did and they say he does not have like very serious symptoms and he is there because he has asthma. And asthma is a very, very difficult condition to have, because, you know, it affects the lungs and has led to some real complications. So, they have him there so that they protect his lungs as much as possible. So far, I hope he’s OK.
MACCALLUM: Good. We hope that continues, he continues to improve, former governor of New Jersey. This is Joe Biden when asked if he had a message for the President Today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I was glad to see the president speaking and recording videos over the weekend. Now that he’s busy, I would ask him to do this, listen to the scientists. Support mask.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: What would you say to Joe Biden there?
GIULIANI: Well, I would say to Joe that you don’t really understand what scientists are. First of all, listen to your doctors. That’s for sure. They know your personal history. Doctors really aren’t scientists when the — scientists almost always have competing opinions. That’s what science is about. Science is a didactic, dogmatic religion. There’s almost every principle of this kind of science, medical science, has conflicting opinions.
And for example, it isn’t science to be wearing that mask, Joe, when you are giving a speech and people are 30 to 40 feet away from you. The only thing you can infect when you’re doing that is a teleprompter that’s closer to you. So, I see through you. I mean, that’s a political statement to scare people wearing that mask. You do not need that mask when you are standing at a podium and nobody is within a half of football field of you. So, Democrats play —
MACCALLUM: Well, he didn’t have his mask on the other night at a debate. And I would imagine that, you know —
GIULIANI: Nobody put it on, but he put it on — but he put it on the other day giving a speech where the closest person to him was probably 100 yards and the thing was almost up to his eyes. That’s political theater, Martha. That’s not science.
MACCALLUM: I hear what you are saying but, you know, —
GIULIANI: And the Democrats claim science —
MACCALLUM: — just to play devil’s advocate, he would probably say, well, you know, I haven’t gotten COVID and, you know, the president did and he is not a big fan of wearing masks. I mean —
GIULIANI: And I haven’t — I haven’t either and I don’t wear masks as much as probably I should and I haven’t gotten COVID either and a lot of people on both sides of that.
MACCALLUM: I mean, —
GIULIANI: What they claim is science is nonsense. For example, in my city and many cities, they allow Black Lives Matter protests without masks with everybody right next to each other, but they don’t allow legitimate parades. Well, you are telling me it’s good science to allow protests?
MACCALLUM: Well, there are a lot of things that haven’t been allowed —
GIULIANI: That somehow because it’s black —
MACCALLUM: — that a lot of us feel should be allowed and the lockdowns should end in a more forceful way than they have.
GIULIANI: But they are the ones claiming they follow science —
MACCALLUM: I hear you.
GIULIANI: — or closing the schools —
MACCALLUM: No, I hear you.
GIULIANI: — when the mortality rate for children is almost nonexistent.
MACCALLUM: But let me ask you —
GIULIANI: And it could be easily structured so that children were isolated from the most vulnerable populations, which are basically over 65 years old. I mean, we know a lot more about the illness now. And what used to be science three months ago has now changed. But the Democrats still want to lock us down and shut us in until the day after the election. I can kind of see through that, Martha.
MACCALLUM: It’s interesting. Bill Bennett was on before and he said that – –
GIULIANI: That’s not science. That’s not science.
MACCALLUM: — after 9/11, he said, you know, everyone echoed the words of Todd, let’s roll. And he said now it’s not time for us to roll up in a ball. I think there are a lot of people that feel —
GIULIANI: I agree with that.
MACCALLUM: — very strongly about that. But let me ask you this. Because everyone looks at this Rose Garden ceremony and everyone is sitting right near each other. Nobody — there are few people in the audience who had some masks on. But there’s an inside event, a reception room in the White House. And everybody is hugging and high-fiving.
And now you’ve got nine people who were there who have it. And you know, Chris Christie said when you guys were doing the debate prep, nobody was wearing a mask. And we all know that feeling, you know, when you are in a place when you feel like you are among friends, you don’t necessarily want to wear it.
But I’m just wondering, do you think that the message should change, not may be to the extent that you are talking about where it’s becomes, you know, maybe ridiculous —
MACCALLUM: — like driving by yourself in a car with one on but do you think that this whole experience for the president will change the way he looks at it a little bit?
GIULIANI: Sure. Things like this do change. I think he indicated that he is been educated. I know we have to wait and see exactly the conclusions that he’s drawn from it. But I know he’s drawn some conclusions from what he’s gone through. And there is a balance here to be struck between wearing a mask and wearing a mask to the point of almost, you know, a political theater or may be even worse than that fear, an irrational fear.
I mean, there is a lot of irrational fear in our society right now. And the president, by fighting this, is kind of leading the way. I mean, he is a general that leads from the front. He’s not asking people to take risks that he doesn’t take.
If you — if you stay back, if you are behind the curve in terms of bringing our society forward, you really can’t be president. There’s probably a better job for you would be, you know, to be a staff member and follow up. Leaders lead from the front.
I remember Obama had the idea that you could lead by following. But the definition of — the definition of being a follower is being behind. So, I mean, it’s ridiculous. They don’t know how to be bold and go out front. That’s what America needs right now. We need somebody who is going to get us to realize that we can live with this risk. We’ve got to be cautious, but we can’t be paralyzed. And we have to have courage.
MACCALLUM: Mr. Mayor, I want to ask you to stick around over this commercial break. We want to talk to you about the next debate.
MACCALLUM: Because I know you’ve been helping the president. He wants to be there at that debate on October 15th. And also, the vice-presidential debate that’s coming up this week as well. We’ll be back with more with Mayor Giuliani after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: If the scientists say that it’s safe and the distances are safe, then I think that’s fine. I’ll do whatever the experts say is appropriate thing to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACCALLUM: Back with me now former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, host of the podcast Rudy Giuliani’s common sense. Mayor, you heard Joe Biden there, he says if the scientists say it’s OK, he is going to be up for the debate.
President said has said that he wants to be there on October 15th, we all witness that debate up close in the arena there. How is this next one going to look different? How would you like it to look different?
GIULIANI: I don’t know, Martha. The last one — the last one — the last one was going to be historic I think as a debate. Probably a lot having to do with the pent-up emotions of both men going into it and I think the next one that I’m absolutely certain is going to be more, I’d say within the rules.
I think they both realize that they could accomplish more that way. But the reality is when I hear that response, that Joe is going to listen but nobody elected the experts and be guided and be determined and the president is going to do it.
I mean, as the mayor of New York City I don’t know he’s listened to the experts. The experts aren’t always right. Nobody elected the experts. They elected you. I’ll give you an example.
Scientists may want you to shut down out of an excess of caution, but you may realize that the damage or shutdown is greater than if you don’t shut down. In other words, you are going to kill people.
GIULIANI: People are going to die of suicide. So, there’s no — there are no experts on governing.
MACCALLUM: I understand what you’re saying.
GIULIANI: Its scientific rules for governing.
MACCALLUM: I understand what you’re saying, but you know —
GIULIANI: And I find that — well, that tells me the difference between a man who’s never been an executive, Joe Biden, 47 years doing basically nothing in Congress, Senate, and a man who has been an executive who has to make decisions for other people.
MACCALLUM: But when you look at the polls —
GIULIANI: Big difference.
MACCALLUM: — and I know that, you know, everybody questions the polls, but pretty consistently, Joe Biden does outperform the president on the handling — who would handle COVID better. So there seems to be a lot of appetite for people who think that the president has been, you know, not serious enough about following these guidelines at least if you believe those numbers.
GIULIANI: Well, yes, I don’t know. But given the experience in the last couple of elections, specifically the one in ’16, I don’t know personally how much credit to give any of these polls. I can see why people might favor the Biden approach because they’ve been frightened so much. I mean, they’ve really been traumatized by, at the beginning, correctly.
What has happened, and I think this is largely the Democrat governors and mayors, they just want to keep up the shut down for reasons that no longer are scientific. There is nothing scientific about closing schools right now. In fact, it defies the science. So —
MACCALLUM: Well New York is talking about closing them down again —
GIULIANI: — there is a political purpose to it.
MACCALLUM: — and there’s a big battle going on about that. So, we’ll see. We’ll see where it goes. There’s a lot of –there is a lot of interesting indications that the lockdowns were overdone in a number of ways.
Mayor Giuliani, thank you so much for your time and we look forward to having you back.
GIULIANI: Thank you, Martha. Thank you for the coverage —
MACCALLUM: And I hope that cough is not anything bad, we are waiting for your test to come back, so we hope you are going to be healthy and well.
GIULIANI: I hope so, too.
MACCALLUM: Thank you. All the best. Good luck.
GIULIANI: I will let you know tomorrow.
MACCALLUM: Yes, let us now. Check back. Good luck to you. Take care, sir.
So that is THE STORY of Monday, October 5, 2020, but as always, THE STORY continues. And boy, it’s a whopper most days around here. So, don’t miss tomorrow night at 7 o’clock, we will see you in Salt Lake City, Utah where we get ready for the vice-presidential debate.
Good night, everybody, have a great night. We’ll see you tomorrow.
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