Friday Lightning Round: Sen. McConnell office bug

Panel sums up this week's hot topics


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," April 12, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

BAIER: Every week viewers vote for your choice online in this, our Friday Lightning Round. And this week, Mitch McConnell office bug won with 32 percent of the votes. Take a listen.


JACOB CONWAY, KENTUCKY DEMOCRATIC PARTY OFFICIAL: I had no intention for them to get in trouble. Obviously I knew they would.

MEGYN KELLY, FOX NEWS HOST: They directly admitted to you that they tape recorded Senator McConnell and his campaign aides in those campaign headquarters?

CONWAY: They told me they were there, they told me they were in the hallway, and they had a recording. So, you can draw your own conclusions.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: OK, that is Jacob Conway, a Democratic official from Jefferson County, and he came forward and has been cooperating with the FBI and has named this Shawn Riley as one of the people who taped Mitch McConnell's aides talking about a strategy, political strategy. What about this story as it continues to get, well, kind of weird? We're back with the panel. Charles?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: The conclusion I draw is that there is overwhelming evidence of a crime here. Kentucky is a one-party state, meaning if one of the parties is recording something being said between them and he knows about it, it's legal. If neither does, it is illegal. The logic is, if it's your employee and you hired him and you are somehow in control of him or you know him, then you are responsible if he turns on you. But if it is somebody outside who was not in the room, that is crime. And it looks as if a crime occurred, if it did I hope they go to jail.

BAIER: We should point out that the political strategy was about Ashley Judd and they were talking about mental treatment that she may have had in her past and how they might use that in political campaign should she choose to run.
She did not choose to run. And that ended up on Mother Jones, the left magazine.

JUAN WILLIAMS, SENIOR EDITOR, THE HILL: Correct. What is interesting to me is it's clearly a felony -- a federal crime, in fact, if you are bugging somebody a federal official's office, and clearly Mitch McConnell is that. But here is the situation as it's been described recently. Which is that these young people are at an open public event at the campaign headquarters. And then as they are leaving go into the hallway and hear this meeting, this private meeting begin to take place and then begin tape-recording in the hallway. They don't have a bug in the room.

So if you are the defense counsel, what do you say? These people didn't exactly insinuate themselves illegally into the building. They just entered a public event. They are in the hallway, heard this. What was explained to me was, somebody was holding the elevator, they knew they were up to no good. I don't think there is any question about that. But is it a crime then if you are in the hallway to turn on your tape recorder? I'm not clear on that.

BAIER: Jacob Conway, by the way, the guy you saw there, has altered his story from the beginning, talking to Megyn Kelly at first, then talking to the local affiliate there. Now, he is telling the Louisville Courier Journal that he might have been mistaken as naming Shawn Reillyas one of the individuals. So the story is evolving.

STEVE HAYES, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Yeah, the people who conducted this operation seemed like clowns. The people talking about it seem totally clueless. This was botched from beginning to end. And if you look at the substance of it, basically what we have was a recording showing no wrongdoing by McConnell and his staff in a conversation about a non-candidate. This is a nothing burger. I don't even understand how this is journalism.

And the key part of the recording that was supposed to have been so damaging was a section in which it identified employees of McConnell -- government employees and having them strategizing about campaign events on government time potentially. And it was a mistranslation. The original translation was "thanked them three times." In fact, what they said was "on their free time," which is not only not damaging, it's exculpatory. So this is such a nothing burger. But I do hope if they obtained this illegally that they get in trouble for it.

BAIER: Well, that was more than lightning, so we've got to speed it up.


BAIER: OK, political comebacks after sex scandal. We have got a couple brewing here. Mark Sanford down in South Carolina, and now we have Anthony Weiner apparently running for mayor of New York. Steve?

HAYES: Well, I think given what we know about the mores of the country at large and the sort of crisis of infidelity, it's not surprising to me at all that Americans are very forgiving when they have public officials who have been caught in one or another bad situations.

BAIER: Juan?

WILLIAMS: I was surprised to hear that from the "Special Report" pin-up – whenever in public, women flock to Steve.


WILLIAMS: What I will say, what strikes me here is that America loves a redemption story. And there is a total void in the New York mayoral race. Weiner actually has a better shot than Sanford. But you just have to think -- so it's a great narrative, redemption. That is the only way to explain it.

KRAUTHAMMER: You're both wrong. It's none of our business, I don't want to know, I don't want to hear about it after Clinton and Barney Frank's scandal and all of that in our history. Anybody -- I think this ought to be private stuff. And the one person I hope who gets [INAUDIBLE] who does have a second act is David Petraeus.

BAIER: OK, winners and losers? Winner and then loser.

KRAUTHAMMER: The winner is the Obama budget which is a sham and fraud. It's tax and spend, but it's been spun and the media has swallowed all that it's a great concession on entitlements. The loser is the U.S. intelligence community which looks scarily clueless and comically divided over an unbelievably important issue -- does a lunatic in Pyongyang have a nuke that he can deliver tomorrow? And they have no idea.

BAIER: Juan?

WILLIAMS: Senators Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Joe Manchin of West Virginia who broke the logjam on guns this week to allow a discussion, simply a discussion, and to get a vote going. That could potentially be filibustered, but they are winners, in my opinion. The loser I think would be Congressman Greg Walden who came out and criticized the Obama budget for having the chained CPI in it. That led Speaker Boehner, Majority Leader Cantor, and even the Club for Growth, to say, hey, wait a second, that is something Republicans back. You shouldn't be putting down Obama for trying to put in place some cuts on entitlements.

HAYES: The winner is Will Weatherford, the speaker of the Florida House who refused significant political pressure to go along with Governor Scott's expansion of Medicaid in Florida and came up with a – a really innovative and creative state-funded program as an alternative. And the loser I think is the establishment media who have been so far behind on this Gosnell story that they look foolish now. They're going to be playing catch-up. I would say sub-winners, Kirsten Powers – our own Kirsten Powers and Mollie Hemingway who really pushed to have the mainstream media cover this important story.

BAIER: OK, we got through it all. I think the winner may be looking at the leader board in the weather forecast, CBS and Masters. It looks pretty good this weekend.

That's it for the panel. But stay tuned, just when you thought it was safe to sit down and relax.

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