Clinton emails renew questions about State Dept. links

Reaction from the 'Special Report' All-Star panel


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report with Bret Baier," August 23, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


HILLARY CLINTON, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: What we turned over were more than 30,000 e-mails I assumed were already in the government system, Bret, because they were sent to state.gov addresses.

BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Sure, but there were some that were recently discovered and turned over.

CLINTON: No, that was in the State Department, not in me. I turned over everything.

JIMMY KIMMEL, LATE NIGHT TALK SHOW HOST: The State Department said that they have to release 15,000 e-mails by the deadline, a couple of days before the debate. Are you concerned about that?


KIMMEL: Because I would be terrified if my e-mails were released.


CLINTON: But, Jimmy, my e-mails are so boring.

KIMMEL: Yes. Mine aren't.

CLINTON: I'm embarrassed about that. They're so boring. We've already released, I don't know, 30,000 plus. So what's a few more?


BAIER: Back in March telling me in Detroit, "I've turned over everything." Now 15,000 more and what's a few more, to Jimmy Kimmel last night. This comes in a week where there's a lot of coverage about this e-mail issue. You look at the New York Times front page, big story about the new discovered e-mails and questions surrounding it. The front page of the Washington Post, the same, "Donors given access to Clinton." That's the other part of the story, obviously, the Clinton Foundation. Here is what her campaign and the State Department have said about access or quid pro quo dealing with all of the foundation questions.


ROBBY MOOK, CLINTON CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Obviously the Clintons have staff that facilitate those sorts of communication. But there was no quid pro quo or anything like that here.

MARK TONER, STATE DEPARTMENT DEPUTY SPOKESMAN: There was no impropriety. There was nothing precluding State Department officials from having contact, in this respect, with Clinton Foundation staff.


BAIER: That contact is far more extensive than a lot of people thought. The Associated Press running a story tonight: "At least 85 of the 154 people from private interests who met or had phone conversations scheduled with Clinton while she led the State Department donated to her family charity or pledged commitments to its international programs. Combined the 85 donors contributed as much as $156 million. At least 40 donated more than $100,000 each, and 20 gave more than $1 million.

The meetings between the presidential nominee and foundation donors do not appear to violate legal agreements Clinton and former president Bill Clinton signed before she joined the State Department in 2009. But the frequency of the overlap shows the intermingling of access and donation and fuels perceptions that giving the foundation money was a price of admission for face time with Clinton. Her calendars and e-mails released as recently as this week describe scores of contacts she and her top aides had with foundation donors." Again, that was the Associated Press.

We begin there with our panel: We welcome Fox News chief Washington correspondent James Rosen; Amy Walter, national for The Cook Political Report, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer. Charles?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Look, we've been asking ourselves from the beginning of this e-mail affair, why did she do it? Either an excessive paranoia, out of habit, but was there a reason she wanted to hide her e-mails? That's what it was all about.

And we speculated from the beginning, month after month, that at the core of this, the one thing they don't want people to see or to know would be the connection between the foundation, which is the Clinton family business, and her actions as secretary of state. What we have learned is, we learned last week that it led to, if you were a donor and thus a friend of the family, you were able to ask for a meeting of the ambassador in Lebanon.

Now we learn you can actually get face time or a phone call or meeting with the secretary of state. That's sort of a higher level of corruption and access. The last level, and this is the only place where the Clinton people have a line of defense, is there was yet no demonstration of a quid pro quo because at that point it goes from ordinary corruption to criminality. And that's what they are most afraid of I am sure. I assume the Clintons are too smart to have placed something like that in an e-mail. But nonetheless, that's where all of this is going. Will it stop before it? We don't know. But that's the suspense.

BAIER: Frankly, Amy, the e-mail investigation itself and the classified nature and looking into that and what we heard from the FBI director is damning in and of itself and politically. But the foundation seems like it strikes a different chord politically.

AMY WALTER, COOK POLITICAL REPORT: I feel like it is the same thing. I agree with what Charles said, the one lifeline is that there's nothing illegal. And the FBI has actually looked through these e- mails and there's nothing that they found that says there is a quid or quo that whatever we want to call it right now that would make it illegal.

But it just comes back to the bigger issue here, which is, you know, you look at a candidate right now who seems unaware of the fact that -- the importance of perception.

BAIER: The Jimmy Kimmel sound bite.

WALTER: The perception of all of this, not just the setting it up, not just having the secrecy around it. We're at a time of unprecedented frustration about the dysfunction of all institutions, media as well as government as well as business. And that the intermingling of all those, the idea that the system is rigged is part of the sort of bloodstream now of the American public for quite some time, that reality has not drifted down to the Clintons, and that's not going to go away at any time.

BAIER: James?

JAMES ROSEN, FOX NEWS CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: What swifter way to ingratiate myself here on the panel than to impose correction on both of my fellow panelists? First of all, with respect to what the FBI investigated and didn't investigate, they did review the e-mails but have made very clear that their investigation was limited to the handling of the classified information and not even the contents of the e-mails. And when he was specifically asked about whether he was investigating the Clinton Foundation in his congressional testimony, the FBI director demurred on that point.

BAIER: By the way, we love the word "demurred" on the panel.

ROSEN: There's a lot more where that came from, Bret. Where Charles is concerned, he states that there isn't yet any evidence that's been arrayed of any kind of actual pay for play except for the face times and the meetings and the phone calls. But I would point to the book, "Clinton Cash," and our colleague, Peter Schweizer, who raised some evidence in that book of the uranium one deal and other instances that he asserts where there really was some kind of financial interest in the decision making that was going on relating to the Department of State and even to national security when you're talking about --

BAIER: Your story about Chagoury.

ROSEN: The Chagoury story that I broke last week essentially showed that just a few weeks after Hillary Clinton left office as secretary of state, the Department of State made outreach to a big-time Clinton Foundation donor to purchase land from that donor, and that, itself, was a few days after Bill Clinton had been touring the land site.

BAIER: Before you say what's wrong with what James is saying.

KRAUTHAMMER: How did you guess?

BAIER: I got it. "This is why you're wrong," I heard it. This is fair and balanced, the just released statement from Brian Fallon with the Clinton campaign about the "Associated Press" report. "This story relies on utterly flawed data. It's cherry-picked, a limited subset of Secretary Clinton's schedule to give a distorted portrayal of how often she crossed paths with individuals connected to charitable donations to the Clinton Foundation." It goes on to say "The data does not account for more than half of her tenure as secretary and it omits more than 1,700 meetings she took with world leaders let alone countless others she took with other U.S. government officials while serving as secretary of state." It's a rather lengthy statement, but it goes on essentially saying it's grossly unfair, inaccurate, and just goes to show faulty this analysis truly is.

KRAUTHAMMER: Look, everybody here is wrong. So much error, so little time. That statement is meaningless. Who cares if there were 17 other conversations or even meetings? What matters is, were there any that were as a result of giving money to the Clintons? The answer is yes, and that is in itself damning. It may not be illegal but it's damning.

As for James, there's a difference between an allegation in a book and something in the e-mail showing by the hand of either Hillary or an associate that there actually was a consideration of a certain action. If you find that, you have found the Holy Grail.

BAIER: Let me ask you this -- where is the line of the quid pro quo? Is the paying millions to the charity foundation in order to get a meeting with the secretary before she leaves for Israel, and you actually get it, to talk about Israeli policy, is that the level of quid pro quo? Does that get there?

KRAUTHAMMER: Technically speaking if you were a lawyer, you would say no. All of it is giving of a favor. The meeting is in and of itself, the giving of a favor. However, historically, in our system and everywhere, people give money to campaigns. Why do they give it? Out of the goodness of their heart?

BAIER: Not foreign countries. Not foreign -- they cannot play in campaigns.

KRAUTHAMMER: I understand. But what I'm saying --

BAIER: But they can play in charitable foundations.

KRAUTHAMMER: The point of giving money is to get access. We accept that in our campaigns. We accept it everywhere. If access were considered a quid pro quo, jails would be groaning with politicians. But we accept that fact. So we actually have a higher standard. I'm not sure it's the best standard but it's the one we live with. And that standard is you actually have to do something. You have to pass a law, you have to enact a measure, you have to give a waiver, you have to give a permit. That's what we look for and that's what could be buried in these emails, I don't know. But up until now, it's been access which by tradition and convention we seem to accept as corrupt, perhaps, but not illegal.

BAIER: We're walking the line here of legality, Amy, but when you see those commercial where she says I turned everything over, and then they say 15,000 more e-mails, or you see, I didn't have anything classified, and then the FBI director says yes, there was classified, it is the honest and trustworthiness thing that is affecting her politically.

WALTER: It is affecting her politically, and this would be much more problematic for her if she were not running against somebody whose honesty and trustworthy numbers are as bad or in some cases worse than hers. And that's really the big piece of this.

BAIER: Final word.

ROSEN: The question is how many American voter, or voters who are likely to go out and vote, remain persuadable on these two individuals? And once you've narrowed down that subset, is honesty and trustworthiness the top thing of their agenda or is it the right to choose or any of those types of issues?

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