Clinton takes questions from media aboard campaign plane

Reaction from the 'Special Report' All-Star panel


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report with Bret Baier," September 5, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


HILLARY CLINTON, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I went into the State Department understanding classification. I'd been on the Senate Armed Services Committee for years before becoming secretary of state. I take classification seriously. The fact that I couldn't remember certain meetings, whether or not they had occurred, doesn't in any way affect the commitment that I had and still have to the treatment of classified material.


DOUG MCKELWAY, GUEST ANCHOR: That was just a couple of hours ago. It had been 275 days since Hillary Clinton held a formal press conference. That changed with the arrival of her new campaign plane upon which reporters and the embedded producer who follow her and who have been following her for the better of two years now have joined her on the plane. And she came back to the rear section of the fuselage to engage in a little to and fro and answered some substantive questions, one of which was about classification, as you just heard. She said that she was intimately familiar with the whole process having been a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Let's bring in our panel now: Tucker Carlson, host of "Fox & Friends Weekend"; Charles Lane, opinion writer for The Washington Post, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer. That answer raises a lot of interesting questions, Charles.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, I mean, she doesn't have a good answer. There's no way you can be secretary of state and, as she said, having served years on the Armed Services Committee and not know what a "c" means as an annotation indicating classification or confidentiality. So she simply repeats it and she goes on to her next question.

I guess this now qualifies as having held a press conference. I don't see how it makes any difference one way or the other about how available she is or whether or not she's answering. So she's had one. I think it helped to do it on a plane because then we can't hear the question very well. All we hear is her answer. I think it suits her. Nothing has changed.

MCKELWAY: Chuck, we knew from this FBI release on Friday that there were "c" -- that that letter "c" was on many of the e-mails that she had received and/or sent. Here she is admitting she knew what it was. It raises further doubts.

CHARLES LANE, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes. Look, I agree with Charles to the extent there's no brilliant one-liner she can come up with to make this all go away. It is what it is from her point of view at this point.

But I guess what I took away from this is how, once again, how lucky she is to be running against the person she is running against. Let's assume that Hillary Clinton went through the Armed Services Committee and secretary of state and didn't know what a "c" meant when it was in the margin of an e- mail. Does anybody believe Donald Trump knows what the "c" means in the margin of a classified email? That's the choice voters are posed with here. It's not just a referendum on Hillary Clinton in the abstract, up or down, and she's quite unpopular, let's face it, but it's the alternative, Donald Trump. And that's why I think ultimately even though this is sort of a constant irritant to her candidacy, it hasn't brought her down because of the guy she's running against.


TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS: If only. It has brought her down, and I didn't think it would. I thought this was baked in the cake, that people sort of knew who they're voting for. You're not voting for Hillary if you want openness and honesty, obviously. You're voting for her if you don't want Trump and you want competence and someone who has been around a while.

Look at the numbers. They're unbelievable. I think that's what precipitated this press event, whatever it was, on the plane. It was smart of her to do that, by the way, and good for her. But boy, the trend lines are in the wrong direction for Hillary Clinton, not just nationally, and I agree, those are not predictive, those polls, but in states like Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Florida, if those trends keep up, it's bad for her. And I think the only thing that you can attribute her downward slide to is this spate of stories about her e-mail. I think it actually has hurt her, and I didn't think it would.

MCKELWAY: And it may explain why she had a press conference.

LANE: I think this is normal. It's a post-convention bump that was very strong, almost artificially strong, kind of settling back to normal. She's still up five in the national polls.

KRAUTHAMMER: Whatever you attribute it to, it's clearly a settling back. It's clearly a retreat. She's clearly going down in the polls. And it's not that people have doubts that she's going to understand what's in the memo she gets. The issue is that she tells fibs, big ones, and ones that are undeniable of which there is no escape. So I think it has to do again and again with honesty.

But even more important I think is the fact that nothing can escape, it's like a black hole. Nothing can escape the bubble of the e-mails and the honesty issue. Can you cite one policy issue on which people have even noted? It's all overwhelmed and smothered by the news on the e-mails. That's her problem. She can't escape the e-mails, and it's hard to see what exactly springs her out of the black hole.

LANE: I was going to say, you talk to lots of Democrats privately, and their frustration is that against this opponent, she shouldn't be up just five. She should be up 15. And so obviously she's weighed down by this. I still think the space is large enough to carry her through.

MCKELWAY: Another thing she addressed or was asked about at this spontaneous press conference aboard her plane today was Russia's increasing propensity to aggressively cyber-attack into our electoral system, intruding not only at the DNC e-mail system but also apparently into our electoral system. Here's what she had to say about that.


CLINTON: The fact that our intelligence services are now viewing Russian activity as a potential threat against our electoral system raises further questions about Trump, and I think those are questions the American people should be asking and answering.


LANE: She's alluding to the fact that Trump at one point said he liked the idea that Russia was intruding into our electoral system, but not for the purpose she's alluding to there, Charles.

KRAUTHAMMER: It was kind of an offhanded and rather bizarre comment. You don't want to be telling the leader of an adversary, our leading adversary in the world right now, that it should be intruding into our system, reading our e-mails, breaking in essentially, as she said, as Watergate did into the secrets of the party, and then releasing them to the world. It's not a good idea.

And I think the fact that Trump has spoken kindly, not just to Putin but to the butchers of Tiananmen Square, Saddam Hussein as a great hero in the fight against terrorism and all this is rather odd and disturbing. So it's a good tact for her to take. Let's see it if can escape the e-mail scandal.

MCKELWAY: But I think Trump's comments were based on he wanted the Russians to find out what Hillary was up to.

CARLSON: Take two steps back. Her forebears, her ancestors on the left must be rolling over in her graves to see her redbaiting. It's the Russians. Be afraid of the Russians. Is there a single -- how many people outside of Washington look at the world and say in 20 years, our greatest adversary will be Russia and not China? I don't think very many people. Who knows what will actually happen. I don't think it's a sellable product, actually, the idea that Trump is controlled by Putin and you ought to be really afraid. He's no more controlled by Putin than she is by China. Which is the greater threat? Let's be real.

LANE: It's not redbaiting if Russia is not communist, and it's not communist. It's a different kind of dictatorship.

CARLSON: It was a tongue and cheek element. Just be afraid of Russia.

LANE: I think there are more people that are.

CARLSON: There are.

KRAUTHAMMER: You don't think Russia has malevolent intent? The one thing that explains just about everything in its foreign policy is a desire to diminish and injure the United States. It connects the actions in Ukraine. It connects the actions in the Balkans. It connects the actions in Syria. It connects everything it does. And it is succeeding. It is the biggest threat right now. If China emerges as a larger one in 20 years, I think we worry about that about 10 years down the road. Right now it is Russia.

CARLSON: There are many people who wish us harm. The missing element is economic power, it seems to me. North Korea would like to eliminate us. They can't. They're poor. And Russia is a poor country. Putin is evil, I'm certainly not defending Putin or their intentions. I'm merely saying hard to sell anything good on that.

KRAUTHAMMER: The North Korean submarine within 300 miles of Los Angeles can launch a nuclear missile in time, whether it's rich or poor. That doesn't have any effect on the threat. So I don't see why we have to constrain ourselves to worrying about being overshadowed economically. There are a lot of other ways to overshadow and to harm us.

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