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Special Report

Friday Lightning Round: Eric Holder's Testimony

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," December 9, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Every week viewers vote for your choice on line in our Friday Lightning Round poll. This week, Holder testimony Fast and Furious won with 59 percent of the vote. We're back with our panel. Eric Holder, attorney general up on Capitol Hill. Chuck, from that testimony, what do we glean about Fast and Furious? What do we glean about Eric Holder's future as attorney general?

CHARLES LANE, EDITORIAL WRITER, WASHINGTON POST: I think it's secure. I think he is not, contrary to what you might think a political liability for the president for this reason -- he is extremely popular with the liberal base of the Democratic Party which is, the president is all about shoring up right now. And if the president had it in mind to unload Eric Holder he would have done it a long time ago when there were previous disagreement over things like trying terrorists in New York.

BAIER: Liz?

LIZ MARLANTES, CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR: I actually agree with that. I don't think he is going anywhere for the time being. I think it hasn't risen to the level yet of noise where it would require that he step down. And I actually think at this point the political calculation is probably more that were he to resign that would actually get more attention than it's currently getting, despite the fireworks at the hearing, which were substantial

BAIER: Charles?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: He is an embarrassment. And the biggest embarrassment was that document dump last week where the Justice Department admitted that a previous letter it had sent Congress was erroneous. But Republicans had to be careful of accusing him of perjury or lying. Unless it can be shown that that original mistake was intentional and deliberate, they ought to withhold any judgment about a charge that serious. And I think because of that I think at least he's secure until or unless the latter is proven.

BAIER: Working up a big story about Attorney General Holder for Monday.

Next topic, Keystone pipeline and now getting tied together with the payroll tax cut extension. Democrats say don't do it. The president said I won't do it, warning the Republicans not to do it, but stopping short of issuing a veto threat. Now Republicans are doing it. Charles, what about this?

KRAUTHAMMER: Very smart politics on part of the Republicans. They can compromise on any other aspect of extension of the payroll tax. The rub goes in to introduce a bill in the House which pays it in a different way from administration.

But they should hold on to Keystone issue because it is a winner. And I can't imagine if president at the end of the day would actually veto a bill, raise taxes on the middle class, and kill a Keystone pipeline which will actually involve a lot of new jobs at the same time. If you give him a choice, I think he will have to cave.

BAIER: We should point out that the administration has punted and because of a lot of environmental studies they say until 2013. Liz, smart politics for Republicans?

MARLANTES: Yeah I think so. I'm not sure it's going to get to the president's desk. I mean Reid and Pelosi both were pretty flat-out negative about it today --

(CROSSTALK)

BAIER: Although they are going to have senators up for re-election who might have tough votes.

MARLANTES: Who might be pressured on the jobs front. And it's worth pointing out backing up what Charles just said, Obama has actually caved on environmental versus jobs issues in the past and angered the left on this particular type of issue. With the EPA smog regulations earlier this year he infuriated a lot of environmentalists. And so, this is the kind of issue where he has in the past sometimes gone against his base. But I still am not sure I see a path for this through the Senate.

BAIER: A punt coming Chuck?

LANE: Well it's tit-for-tat because the payroll tax cut extension divided Republicans. This thing, the Republicans are firing back divides Democrats. Whether it's gonna divide them enough to ever get the 60 votes I'm less sure.

BAIER: Last topic -- Russia, elections challenged by Secretary of State Clinton that the elections possibly had significant fraud and firing back is Vladimir Putin. What about this?

LANE: It is a bad idea to steal an election and not be fully prepared for what might happen afterwards. And Putin, I think, got a little overconfident here and didn't realize that a lot of the recent trouble in the Arab and Muslim world had to do with elections that were perceived to be stolen. Iran, Tunisia. And now he may be reaping the same sort of results.

BAIER: Liz?

MARLANTES: I was just going to say, I thought it was kind of interesting that not only in our country but in other countries people will -- when things are not going their way try to blame Hillary Clinton. There you go! We decided that he might have a winner there.

BAIER: So much for the reset, Charles.

KRAUTHAMMER: Exactly. I mean it was a savage attack, a Soviet attack that Putin launched on the United States speaking of the pro-democracy demonstrators as agents of the United States, exactly the language of the old communist regime. It really makes a mockery of the administration patting itself on the back over the reset. It cut off the Poles and the Czechs who had supported us on missile defense. Obama canceled it as a way to appease the Russians. What did he get? No help on Iran, no help on any of the other issues in supporting Syria up until now. And now an old attack, a revival of Cold War attacks on the United States. It's been a failure.

BAIER: That is it for the panel. Stay tuned for a follow up to a "Grapevine" classic this week.

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