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Special Report

Friday Lightning Round: Congressional Insider Trading

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," December 2, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Every week viewers vote for your choice online in this our Friday Lightning Round poll. This w eek insider trading won with 31 percent of the votes. Senator Scott Brown from Massachusetts was up on Capitol Hill earlier this week talking about this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. SCOTT BROWN, R - MA: Until the "60 Minutes" piece came out I had no knowledge that something like this was even allowed. By explicitly prohibiting the use of material of nonpublic information for personal gain will vastly increase the transparency that everyone always kind of talks about here, but sometimes it just doesn't get done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAIER: He is the co-sponsor of a piece of legislation that essentially increases transparency and prevents lawmakers from trading on information they learn on Capitol Hill. We're back with the panel. Charles, a big deal. What is the deal?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Is it a big deal. On Wall Street an inside trader goes to jail for 10-and-a-half years. And apparently, I'm not sure there are a lot of people in Washington that have any idea that it is legal on Capitol Hill, exactly the same thing, completely legal. It's surprising that the news of that hadn't ever come out, that nothing had ever been done. This is a good idea and a good bill.

NINA EASTON, COLUMNIST, FORTUNE MAGAZINE: You know, there was a time when civil rights laws, workplace safety laws, all those kinds of laws did not apply to Congress. The Republican Revolution came in in '94 and changed that. And I think now they should do the exact same thing. The legislation in both houses has broad bipartisan support for all the reason that Charles mentions. This is good legislation, it's appalling that they can trade on nonpublic information, a lot of which comes their way in the course of negotiations and lobbyists and so forth coming in their halls. And it's in their political interest with their ratings so low and the distress so high.

BAIER: For the devil's advocate out there who says there is a whole cottage industry of people learning information about what is going on, on Capitol Hill for hedge funds and elsewhere, they say this isn't a huge deal. Wrong?

SAM YOUNGMAN, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, REUTERS: I think so. You can't have people who write the laws not obeying the laws that are applying to other people, as Charles mentioned. Look, this is a clear case of Congress getting caught with its hand in the cookie jar. This isn't new. Congresswoman Louise Slaughter has been trying to pass legislation on this since 2006. In fact I saw a tweet from her this week. She joked she didn't know where these new co-sponsors were coming from. This has been around for a little while, watchdog groups have been trying to knock this practice down for a while. And like Nina said, when your approval rating is at nine or 12 percent, if you don't pass this you risk going into the negatives.

BAIER: Next topic, Iraq, the handover of Camp Victory, the biggest base there in Baghdad for the U.S. military, handing it over to the Iraqis. I've stayed at this place 10 times in my career going over to Iraq. Pretty amazing event that this has happened.

YOUNGMAN: It really is. This is a symbolic end to the war in Iraq. This is Joe Biden handing the keys over. But it's also a good chance I think for United States and Iraq to sort of extend that symbolism to say this is the beginning of our new relationship.

BAIER: Nina?

EASTON: I think what struck me the most about this whole episode was Vice President Biden warning Iran not to cause trouble and stir up and try to take advantage of U.S. troops leaving, as if they are going to heed his suggestion. I think this is a dangerous move. I think that Iran is sitting on the sidelines waiting to jump right in. and I think that is what is going to happen.

BAIER: Charles?

KRAUTHAMMER: The warning in and of itself is a sign of weakness. He would have to deliver a warning like that had we retained residual force as we did after the Second World War all over the world successfully in helping to maintain support and defend democracies.

I think this is a gamble, a high gamble. I'm not sure we're gonna be happy in a decade or so looking back, especially when you consider how much was lost in Iraq, the blood and the treasure, and how minimal an investment it would have required to try to stay at least in a small way and guarantee success.

BAIER: I'm going to call an audible here. Herman Cain has a big announce in the Atlanta tomorrow. Prediction, in or out of this race?

KRAUTHAMMER: He is already so down I'm not sure it matters, but I think he will be out.

BAIER: Nina?

EASTON: The opening a new office threw me today, so I'm going to say in.

YOUNGMAN: I don't know that Herman Cain knows yet. So flip a coin. We'll find out tomorrow.

KRAUTHAMMER: We should ask Mrs. Cain.

BAIER: I think the meeting is happening tonight in Atlanta with Mrs. Cain. And that is obviously the big, according to what he said on the trail, moment for him and his family.

KRAUTHAMMER: Well, it will depend how it registers on the Richter scale.

BAIER: On the Richter scale?

KRAUTHAMMER: Yeah, that meeting, the encounter.

BAIER: We shall see. We will follow it here on Fox News Channel and of course all of the 2012 news throughout the weekend. That's it for the panel, but stay tuned to see a star-studded event.

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