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Special Report

Pay for play at Hillary Clinton's State Department?

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report with Bret Baier," August 10, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

CHRIS WALLACE, GUEST ANCHOR: All right, let's bring in our panel not to talk about people climbing towers, Trump Tower or any other, but to talk actually -- well, let's see them first, then we'll tell you what they're talking about. Charles Lane, from The Washington Post; editor in chief of Lifezette, Laura Ingraham; and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer.

And in the time in this first panel we're going to talk about Hillary Clinton, the Clinton Foundation, and the question as to whether there was some kind of a pay-to-play arrangement between the foundation and Hillary Clinton and her top aides at the State Department. Laura, this nexus between the fountain and the State Department has never gained the political traction of, say, the e-mails or Benghazi. Do these latest set of emails, does that change that? Is it going to make it a bigger deal?

LAURA INGRAHAM, LIFEZETTE.COM: Well, one would think it should under current federal corruption law where it states that if a federal official received anything of value in exchange for changing federal policy or federal action, you could be held liable.

In this case, perhaps we'll learn more with other e-mail releases. But one thing that's clear in the release of these emails is that, boy, when you give $1 million to $5 million to the Clinton Foundation, you can cut through the bureaucracy fast. Mr. Chagoury, he was able to cut through all the way to Huma Abedin. They were able to connect him with the assistant secretary of near east affairs, and apparently it went from there in a phone conversation. Now, what happened in the phone conversation, we don't know. But it's clear that the Clinton Foundation was a conduit for influencing federal officials at the State Department. Again, to what extent, we don't know. Is it just to get a job, just to get a meeting, a hearing on a future project? This is what we always thought might have been at the heart of this Clinton Foundation e-mail issue.

WALLACE: All right, let's remind folks and give you an example of what we're talking about. And here is an exchange, and let's put it up on the screen, an email exchange in 2009 between Doug Band, who was a top official at the foundation, as well as President Clinton's personal aide and top Clinton aide Huma Abedin. Band, I'm going to do a dramatic reading here, "We need Gilbert Chagoury who was a top donor to the foundation to speak to the substance person in Ray Lebanon. As you know he's a key guy there and to us and is loved in Lebanon." Abedin email, "It's Jeff Feldman," who was then the U.S. ambassador to Lebanon, "I'm sure he knows him. I'll talk to Jeff." Band, "Better if you call him. Now preferable. This is very important" Chuck, big deal, small deal, no deal?

CHARLES LANE, THE WASHINGTON POST: I think it depends on what was so important and what was the matter involving Lebanon that was so urgent that, as Laura suggests, the usual bureaucratic hoops would not do, that you had to go straight to the hop in this way.

And, of course, another thing that would make a lot of difference is whether Hillary Clinton knew about this or got involved directly one way or the other. So far there's no evidence of that.

It's interesting to point out here that Doug Band and Huma Abedin aren't at arm's length. They're in business together, if I remember the story.

WALLACE: They weren't then.

LANE: But they are later on. And this is a very interlocked group of people. One of the things that the Clinton campaign tried to say in defense of this was that Doug Band in all of this was just acting as an adviser to Bill Clinton. That was the hat he was wearing, not as in his role in the Clinton Foundation.

WALLACE: I was going to say, that explains how complicated this all is because they're making a distinction, some would say a Clintonian distinction, between Doug Band adviser to the president and Doug Band who was a top official at the Clinton Foundation. Same Doug Band.

LANE: Yes. And what difference does it make that the former president is the husband of the former secretary of state? It's all one big kind of ball of mush.

WALLACE: We should point out that the Clinton Foundation, and even basically in effect in an interview with me about 10 days ago, Secretary Clinton said that that's never been proof, there's never been a smoking gun, there's never been evidence that she did anything quid pro quo, made any decision as a result of any foundation gift or any speaking fee to her husband. Here is the reaction to the latest batch of e-mails from Donnie Fowler who is a former official in the Clinton administration. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONNIE FOWLER, FORMER CLINTON ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: These e- mails were between staffers. This was not secretary Clinton involved in this discussion. Second, here's what American people hear about Hillary Clinton in this issue. E-mails, e-mails, e-mails, blah, blah, blah, e- mails, e-mails, e-mails, blah, blah, blah. It's already baked into this election. This isn't going to really change the direction of this race.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: Charles, I never thought I would ask you this question, but blah, blah, blah?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Look, I don't think this guy is whistling in the dark. This I think can be quite ominous. There are two questions that have been outstanding forever. The first is what exactly does the foundation do? I know what Habitat for Humanity does. I know what the Gates Foundation does. It is obvious that it was a huge networking operation, funding, supporting, and giving jobs to the entire Clinton retinue waiting for her accession for the Clinton's to return to the White House.

And the second question is, why does she have a private server? I have always speculated here, and I said it was pure speculation, that the real stuff, the reason she had to hide all this, obviously she meant to hide things, was because there is something having to do with the foundation. And that's where you would put all the so-called private stuff. It wasn't yoga lessons or wedding invitations. If there was anything about improper connections, and we see them here. This is just a hint of it, just a few e-mails, what was in the 30,000? If anybody gets their hands on them, Russian or not, they could come spilling out stuff that could destroy her candidacy. She knows what's in there.

But if anything, it's the connection between the foundation and what she did as secretary of state. Whether there was a direct quid pro quo is irrelevant. We're talking now not about criminal activity but the political effect, and it could be devastating.

WALLACE: Laura, let me ask you, because, as I said, Secretary Clinton and all of her top campaign officials and aides from the State Department say, look, there's no smoking gun here. There's been a lot of investigation. A fellow, Peter Schweizer, wrote the book "Clinton Cash." There's no quid pro quo at least hard evidence. Does that make a difference?

INGRAHAM: Again, it probably would be somewhat persuasive if indeed there weren't so many missing e-mails. If she hadn't lied to, you know, when she discussed turning all over her e-mails -- as we know, Jim Comey said she didn't tell the truth on that. So maybe if we had all of those e-mails and all that communication was in the public, then maybe we could take her at face value. But I think the big question mark now is, what was in those e- mails? As Charles said, I bet some of them have something to do with the CGI, the Clinton Global Initiative. I've always thought that, and maybe we'll know, maybe we won't.

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