Friday Lightning Round: Impact of Fast and Furious report

Panel sums up this week's hot topics


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," September 21, 2012. 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, a very lightning Friday Lightning Round. And this week, Fast and Furious report won with 48 percent of the votes. Back with the panel. OK, impact of the IG report, where it goes from here? David?

DAVID DRUCKER, REPORTER, ROLL CALL: Heads roll. The president's fingertips are not on it. Zero political impact. I don't know if we go anywhere from here.

BAIER: Kirsten?

KIRSTEN POWERS, COLUMNIST, NEW YORK POST: That's right. I think that is what I have been saying for a long time. So anybody that wants to apologize to me can do it now. Saying that basically the president, there was no evidence that the president knew about it, no evidence the attorney general knew about it. That's exactly what the IG report found. And I think Chairman Issa's office has been making a lot of accusations that aren't very founded. This report doesn't do anything to support them.

BAIER: Charles?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: With this report the issue is dead as a political issue.  Right or wrong, merited or not, Issa, all the time he spent on these investigations didn't yield anything politically and there might have been other areas that might have yielded more political benefit for the Republicans.

BAIER: OK, Mitt Romney released his taxes today, at least one year, the 2011 taxes. According to that release, the effective tax rate was 14.1 percent for that year, most of it was investment income. He and his wife donated $4 million, roughly a little bit more than $4 million to charity in 2011, nearly 30 percent of their income. They also attached a letter from the blind trust saying that over the 20 year period the lowest annual effective federal personal tax rate was 13.66 percent that he paid and that Romney paid average annual effective federal tax rate of 20.2 percent over 20 years ending in 2009. Now, that is the attached letter, not all of those years. Impact, importance, Charles?

KRAUTHAMMER: Well, I think we didn't learn anything terribly new. The return tracks were last year's return, the same overall rate of return. I think it shows again how incredibly generous the Romney’s are with a third of their income going to charity. And I'm sure that the press will spend days on every detail of this as the Middle East burns, which they will ignore.

BAIER: I should say president released his return in April. Gross income, $700,000 paid $162,000, about 20.5 percent rate. And he donated $172,000, 22 percent. Fair and balanced.

POWERS: Yes. So the press is obsessed with the fact that he paid more in taxes I guess than he needed to. The Romney campaign says that's because he wanted to honor what he had said that he would pay at least 13 percent but in a debate he had said anybody who pays more in taxes than they should have to pay shouldn't be president. So he is sort of getting beaten over the head with that right now -- yes, as the Middle East burns.

BAIER: They gave -- David, one thing, they only claimed a deduction of $2.25 million. They gave to charity $4 million in order to keep the tax rate higher than the 13.6 percent that he talked about earlier.

DRUCKER: Look, Bret, it's the kind of week that Mitt Romney has that in Boston right now they're probably thrilled that we're talking about this. But I have to say, nobody cares about this. Nobody ever had to care about it. It's the way the campaign handled it. And so now that 2011 is out there -- look, everybody knows that they pay a lower effective rate right now because he is living off of investment income. This is not a big deal and it won't change the race.

BAIER: Winner, loser this week?

DRUCKER: Washington Nationals are the winner. They're in the playoffs first time a D.C. team since '33. And the loser are political pollsters because nobody knows what to think at this point.

BAIER: Kirsten?

POWERS: The losers, the media. Which -- as you reported earlier -- 60 percent of the country doesn't trust them, nor should they. And they just completely dropped the ball from beginning to end on the Middle East issue.

KRAUTHAMMER: Loser, Romney, because of the video. When you're running mate has to call you inarticulate as a way to defend you, you know you're in trouble.

BAIER: OK, welcome back, Charles. That is it for the panel. By the way, congrats on your Nationals. Stay tuned to see one awkward interview. 

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