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Special Report

Takeaways from Attorney General Lynch interview

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," February 29, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Interview today with Attorney General Loretta Lynch at the Justice Department talking about e-mails, iPhone and the FBI, the Supreme Court, a number of topics. Meantime on the Apple case, a U.S. magistrate judge just tonight said the Justice Department cannot force Apple to provide access to a locked iPhone. This is not the case of the San Bernardino terror attacks. This one involves what's described as a routine Brooklyn drug case, but one of the 12 cases I referenced in that interview. A Justice Department spokesman expressing disappointment tonight, promising to appeal.

We'll start there. Let's bring in our panel, Steve Hayes, senior writer for "The Weekly Standard," editor in chief of Lifezette, Laura Ingraham, and Charles Lane, opinion writer for the "Washington Post." OK, Laura, thoughts on the interview? Obviously trying to get some answers from the attorney general on the Clinton e-mail issue is tough, but some illuminating things.

LAURA INGRAHAM, EDITOR IN CHIEF, LIFEZETTE.COM: I like how you pressed her on the private server issue, which really stood out in my mind because you asked her, would you store e-mails, and she kind of -- for e-mails, yes. I'm not going to talk about. And then you got her to punt, but I store them on the Justice Department e-mail server, which is the traditional way of doing it.

I think it's going to be very interesting when these final e-mails are released tonight, and I guess they're starting to come out as we speak. We'll learn more about the classified nature of them, who in the State Department could have been aware of this, whether there are any foreign governments involved in these communications. I think after tonight we're going to know a lot more. She has four investigations underway, the FBI, the inspector general, and two congressional investigations. But I have got to say, just her demeanor and her approach, I thought she was really smooth in her interview. And she didn't get ruffled. Eric Holder could get a little prickly in these exchanges. She's pretty smooth.

BAIER: Steve?

STEVE HAYES, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: I think she presents very well. She didn't get rattled when you continued to ask her about, are you going to talk to me at all about the Clinton case? She wouldn't talk about it, repeatedly denied any opportunity to chat about it.

But there was a glaring contradiction I thought about what she said about the Apple case and the details she went into with respect to that case and the iPhone and the evidence that they had and the challenges that they had getting information from Apple and her flat refusal to discuss any part of the Clinton case, includes even what part of the Justice Department is handling the case.

BAIER: What section?

HAYES: Yes. So, on the one hand, she will go deep into the evidence and talk about it in a public forum on national television with you, on the other, she won't answer a basic question about who's handling the case? There seems to be a pretty serious contradiction there.

BAIER: And it is law that you can ask about a grand jury convening if we know publicly that somebody or some subject is a target potentially. But she didn't want to answer that either.

CHARLES LANE, THE WASHINGTON POST: Our own newspaper reported that a lawyer called David Scott -- I'm sorry, Richard Scott is the guy handling it, so at least there's that out there on the public record. By the way, the same guy who handled Petraeus.

I was struck by your questions and her answers on the issue of what we owe the voters or what DOJ owes the voters in a situation like this. This does come up quite often when mayors are under an FBI investigation, members of Congress, and so forth. People are going to face the voters soon. And here we have obviously a problem where it's only fair to Hillary and it's only fair to the voters that we get some finality on this at some point.

And I was a little concerned that she -- as you -- that she seemed to regard this as kind of open ended just like in any other case. In light of the fact that Comey had said only six weeks ago we'll wrap it up by now, I thought that might have been not her strongest point.

INGRAHAM: When you pressed on the issue of who else had been briefed, which is such a great question, when you asked about the White House, and you referenced Josh Earnest, earlier referenced it. And she said I can't speech for Josh. But then she said, I haven't -- it's to my knowledge -- no one in the White House or anyone outside the department would be briefed on this. So why does he seem to have information on this? So inquiring minds want to know. There are more questions raised by this interview, even though her presentation is very smooth and non-confrontational. She didn't get defensive or back up on her heals like I think some other members of the administration had done. But that stuck out in my mind.

BAIER: She also said independent prosecutors and law enforcement agents are working this case. But then pressed about who makes the final decision whether to prosecute or not, she wouldn't say "I'm that person." But she is a political appointee.

HAYES: She wouldn't say that at all. And look, that was sort of an obvious dodge I thought.

BAIER: Why not set up a special prosecutor, an independent council in this case, a question I probably should have asked, but I left without asking.

HAYES: Look, you asked for every conceivable question about this, I think. And she repeatedly denied any answers. I do think that's a question better directed at Josh Earnest in the White House.

BAIER: Finally, on the iPhone and Apple thing, they make a detailed case, but they have problems. This magistrate is just on one of these cases, and Apple is holding the line.

LANE: She was insisting with you, this is just like any other case. She kept saying as we would in any case, as we would in any case. That isn't - - you know, that isn't really what's going on here. This is a very special case. They're invoking the All Writs Act. That's very controversial. And I think this is headed to the Supreme Court, probably.

BAIER: Do you agree?

INGRAHAM: I'm of two minds with the Apple case. Especially with this government forcing companies to take actions that violate their internal -- I can argue both sides on this case.

BAIER: And by the way, there was another element of news that maybe some people didn't pick up. But the fact that they're talking to the U.K. about subpoena to American companies on investigations, that is a big deal.

HAYES: I think it was entirely possible to watch this interview and start sympathetic to the administration and the Justice Department on Apple and finish this having many, many more questions, because it's not just this one specific San Bernardino case. It's many cases. As you said, a routine drug case, talking about information sharing, compelling companies to share information overseas, a lot of questions.

INGRAHAM: It's always going to be another thing. It seems like it's about this thing, but I don't think it's just about this thing. I think there are other things the government will want from these companies.

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