SPECIAL REPORT

Recount efforts spark fierce debate

The 'Special Report' All-Star panel weighs in

 

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report with Bret Baier," November 28, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

JILL STEIN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Regardless of who is declared winner, the American people deserve to have a voting system we can trust.

MARK THOMSEN, WISCONSIN ELECTIONS COMMISSION CHAIRMAN: We're not counting illegal votes. We're not counting dead people's votes. In Wisconsin elections are fair and accurate.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, (I) VERMONT: I don't think that Hillary Clinton who got 2 million more votes than Mr. Trump in the popular election thinks that it's going to transform the election. But do people have the legal right to do it? Yes, we do.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: There is a respect for the process and the peaceful transition of power, which is why this recount by Jill Stein and now the Hillary people is just so confounding and disappointing. If they're going to be a bunch of crybabies and sore losers about an election they can't turn around.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Well the recount is moving forward in Wisconsin. It may happen in Michigan, in Pennsylvania, led by Dr. Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate. That has not been sitting well with the president-elect who tweeted over the weekend "In addition to winning the electoral college in a landslide I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally. Serious voter fraud in Virginia, New Hampshire, and California, so why isn't the media reporting on this? Serious bias, big problem."

Big problem with both of those tweets, factually. But also what about Dr. Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate? She is behind this effort. She raised $6.2 million in five days. That's more than she raised in the last two presidential cycles. In 2016 she raised $3.5 million, 2012 she raised $1.2 million, so she's raised a lot of money for these recounts and is being backed by the Clinton team.

Let's bring in our panel: syndicated columnist George Will; Steve Hayes, senior writer for The Weekly Standard; A.B. Stoddard, associate editor at Real Clear Politics, and Charles Hurt, political columnist for The Washington Times. George, first of all about the recount and Stein and the Clinton team saying, yes, let's go for it.

GEORGE WILL, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, Stein is driving this, and I think the Clinton team feels they have to go along or what would they be saying. It's not the question of do they have a right to do this. Of course they do. And the president-elect having spent the pre-election period saying the whole thing is rigged and now saying afterwards that there's these millions of fraudulent vote cast is in a weak position to say people shouldn't proceed as though something were seriously wrong with this election. It just means that the post fractural politics that we got used to during the campaign did not end on November 8th and we didn't expect it.

I think all sides ought to step back and think about what happened in 1960. Richard Nixon lost a razor thin race to Kennedy, very than one vote per precinct nationwide. There were serious allegations of fraud in Texas which he narrowly lost and in Illinois where 4.7 million votes were cast and he lost by 8,000 votes which is chump change when you're stealing votes the way they used to do in Chicago. Nixon was urged to challenge both states. If he'd won both states he's been president. And he said no the country cannot stand this uncertainty and the kind of virulence that's going to loosed by this, and he stepped back. So we're now in a position where Nixon is a model of statesmanship compared to the current leadership.

BAIER: Charles, I should be accurate here. The Pennsylvania recount filed for this afternoon. The deadline is today. Requirements for approval are very difficult, so she petitioned a court to move forward with that. So we're still waiting on whether Pennsylvania is actually going to do it.

But on the vote total between all of these three states, 70,000, 10,000, 27,000, remember the recount in Florida in 2000 we were fighting in court after court over 531 votes. So you have a big hurdle that Hillary Clinton would have to win to change the dynamic.

CHARLES HURT, WASHINGTON TIMES: Yes. It's a huge hurdle. And I understand why Jill Stein is doing it. Obviously as noted, she is raising a lot of money off of this. She's building huge voter rolls and contacts, which are very beneficial to anybody who's in politics.

I understand why the people gave money to this effort who are bankrolling it. They are delighted to do anything they can to delegitimize Trump's presidency.

What I still don't understand is what on earth -- I understand the Clintons are sort of begrudgingly going along with this and they're sort of some chatter among their top staffers about not really being fully behind it, but why would you go along with this at all? I think it's terrible for her. I think it's terrible for her future in whatever it is that she wants to do. And of course you have the voters who in 2000 were told all the problems are caused by paper ballots, and now all the electronic ballots or the problem.

BAIER: A.B.?

A.B. STODDARD, REAL CLEAR POLITICS: I agree. Jill Stein needs a lot of attention. She's probably going to be asking for recounts until kingdom come. But the Clinton campaign didn't have to join in. They admitted that they had their own investigation, didn't find anything of concern. So why be associated with this ludicrous effort and then leak articles to Politico about how they really find this all so irritating although the Hillary campaign for Wisconsin is soliciting volunteers to help with a recount in a state she never campaigned in.

BAIER: Let me just read that Politico quote. "Hillary Clinton's closest allies are irritated with Jill Stein," it says, irritated. "Most of the small circles of operatives and friends surrounding the vanquished Democratic nominee have no illusions that the former Green Party candidate's recount pushes in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and maybe Michigan will come even close to flipping the result of the presidential election. The election they know is over," and it goes on as you mentioned.

STODDARD: Jill Stein cost Hillary Clinton the presidency, just her margin alone without Gary Johnson's in three states. She should stay as far away from Jill Stein as humanly possible.

BAIER: Steve?

STEVE HAYES, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: There's speculation that Hillary Clinton is doing this to try to preserve her viability for potential run in 2020 which strikes me as totally absurd on its face. Stranger things have happened, of course.

But I think Donald Trump's tweets about this are the height of irresponsibility. The problem for Trump is not only that he's president- elect and he needs to act with more dignity, but also that his tweets are not backed up by any evidence. He's produced no evidence. And on a transition call today apparently reporters asking his team for evidence couldn't get any evidence from his team to support the claims he's made.

I think the problem is that it's not that voter fraud doesn't exist. I think voter fraud does exist. We've seen examples of voter fraud in the past. But when Trump does something like this he makes hysterical and outrageous claims that are backed by evidence, it hurts --

BAIER: One group that says they have evidence, True to Vote, but they haven't produced it. If you talk to the secretaries of state in all these states that he mentions and they say there's nothing even close to those numbers.

HAYES: New Hampshire and Virginia have photo ID. There are all sorts of problems. But my argument here is not that voter fraud doesn't exist. I think voter fraud does exist. I think where it exists it should be stamped out and should be challenged and people should be prosecuted if they're caught. But you have to do this based on evidence. And when you make spurious claims of voter fraud it hurts people to determine to root out actual voter fraud.

BAIER: I want to turn now to the transition and the pick of possible cabinet positions. It has been busy at the elevators at Trump Tower as you take a live look. I don't see any movement right now but the guard is getting ready to push the button perhaps. The big deal today was David Petraeus, former general, meeting with Donald Trump, president-elect. Tomorrow Mitt Romney, and this as two key aids to the president-elect at least throughout the campaign, expressed some pretty poignant thought about Romney.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I think there's nothing Mitt Romney can say that doesn't sound phony and, frankly, pathetic.

CONWAY: People feel betrayed to think that Governor Romney, who went out of his way to question the character and the intellect and the integrity of Donald Trump, now our president-elect, would be given the most significant cabinet post of all, secretary of state.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

BAIER: So said George to be considered for secretary of state, having dinner tomorrow night with the president-elect, David Petraeus also rumored to be in the running for secretary of state. But what about this public talking about the decision making that they're boss or used to be boss, is about to make?

WILL: We've seen this movie before. Exactly 40 years ago, another outsider who just been located president, Jimmy Carter, was going through his transition, saying this time we're not going back to the old establishment standbys. And the equivalent of Kellyanne Conway at that campaign was Hamilton Jordan his campaign manager, who said if after the inauguration, Cyrus Vance, pillar of the establishment, his secretary of state, and Zbigniew Brzezinski, another pillar of the establishment, is the national security advisor then we will have failed and I will quit. After the election Vance was secretary of state, Brzezinski was national security advisor, and Hamilton Jordan did not quit. He served in the White House serene for four years.

BAIER: So what about this? Is this somehow -- Donald Trump is given Kellyanne Conway some leeway to express the angst of the base and may actually choose Romney, or do you think this is some internal back and forth?

HURT: I think there may be some internal discord here, but primarily I think that they're putting Mitt Romney through the ringer. And for a lot of people it's highly entertaining. And it doesn't mean that at the end of the day he doesn't actually wind up picking him. But making him grovel, come groveling up to him not once but twice publicly to sort of -- he did say some pretty harsh things about Donald Trump. And for him to sort of be, you know, auditioning to then be a secretary of state I think says something about Mitt Romney as well as Donald Trump. And then giving him the job just means for four more years he's going to be Donald Trump's international step and fetch it.

BAIER: Let's put up the short list, or what we believe to be the shortlist for secretary of state. You have David Petraeus, former general and who met with him today, Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani, who obviously he has been talked about for a long time and has been pitching himself for a long time. And Senator Bob Corker, outside shot I suppose, John Bolton still talked about for this position as well.

STODDARD: I think Romney is going to get the shiv at the dinner tomorrow night. It's over. There's no way he's going to be secretary of state. I think it also could be a dark horse that's not even up on that list. There's still the potential for surprise.

I think the most shameful thing that Donald Trump did was to let this orchestrated attack on Mitt Romney take place through Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich, Kellyanne Conway, and others, while then calling on to MSNBC anchor and telling him that he was furious she had gone rogue and that the staff was baffled. So he's now humiliated Kellyanne Conway who's been nothing but loyal to him, and nobody really knows what he's doing. I guess he's humiliated Romney and Kellyanne Conway, but I think it's outrageous.

BAIER: You don't think there's another level to this? You know this is what it is?

HAYES: I have no idea. Honestly, we've seen a list of potential secretaries of state that now problem is 15 deep. I think the short list that you displayed is the right one, the finalists, as Donald Trump would describe them.

Donald Trump has every reason to be frustrated with what Mitt Romney said to him about during the campaign. He also has every right to hire him as secretary of state if he thinks he'd be the best man for the job. And I think Romney fits a certain profile, particularly if you at the Obama administration. I'm not saying that the Obama administration would be the model for this, but Hillary Clinton, a former nominee, John Kerry, a former nominee. Mitt Romney would make a certain amount of sense if that is how Trump is envisioning this team.

BAIER: We shall see. Could be soon.

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