Intel agencies refuse to provide briefers for Russia hearing

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report with Bret Baier," December 14, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


SEN. BOB CORKER, R-TENN.: Should we have our hair on fire that hacking took place? No. I mean that's what happens. If he can discredit the integrity of what we do here in the voting process and electing folks, he is winning.

GEN. MICHAEL HAYDEN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: We have the president-elect of the United States publicly condemning the intelligence services on which he will have to rely as president. If I'm running that covert action, I'm putting it in the win column.

MALCOLM NANCE, "THE PLOT TO HACK AMERICA": It's quite possible that the Republican party has been exploited and Donald Trump himself might have been exploited over the years by Russian intelligence.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: So a lot of talk about the alleged hacking and what it meant for the election, as the breaking news we just brought to you, that the intel agencies are not providing any briefers to the House intelligence committee, and the chairman, Devin Nunes, being very upset about that.

This is as new FOX News polls coming out on this issue. Russia's attempts to influence the 2016 presidential election helped Donald Trump, and there you see all voters 32 percent, Hillary Clinton one percent, no effect 59 percent. Of course Clinton voters a much different take on all of that.

Donald Trump's dealings with China and Russia, and here you see the breakdown in the FOX poll about that, too accommodating to Russia, 50 percent, too confrontational with China, 43 percent. Interesting findings there.

Finally overall, the opinion of Donald Trump as it stands now, according to our latest polls, favorable, unfavorable, 47-51. And you can see a big jump as far as where it stood at the beginning of November at election time.

Let's bring in our panel: Steve Hayes, senior writer for The Weekly Standard; Mara Liasson, national political correspondent of National Public Radio, and Guy Benson, political editor at Townhall.com, Charles Hurt, political columnist for The Washington Times. Steve, first of all, congratulations. We should have changed it. You have a new title.

STEVE HAYES, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: I do have a new title.

BAIER: And said title is?

HAYES: Editor in chief of the weekly standard.

BAIER: Thank you very much, we will put that up. Congratulations. The thoughts about the Nunes development and the fact that the intel agencies are not providing briefings to what he wanted, a hearing on this Russian hacking.

HAYES: It's pretty extraordinary that they would deny briefings. And from what I understand it was a denial of the requested briefings rather than just not being responsive. They have said no, they're not going to provide the briefings.

You know, the statement that you read from Devin Nunes, he's not someone who is prone to anger. That was steaming anger coming from him, especially the suggestion that this could be the politicization or manipulation of intelligence.

And I think the context here is that you've seen in the minds of many Republicans, including on the oversight committees, politicization of intelligence over the years, particularly at the CIA throughout the Obama administration. If you look back at the kind of intelligence products that the CIA was providing to the president, it was consistent with what the president wanted to be true, particularly with respect to Al Qaeda, ISIS, the war on terror. So they were providing intelligence product that was fit to match what the president's ideological conclusions.

The concern is that that's what's taking place again here. I think if the CIA or people at the CIA are going to be leaking these kinds of accusations, they have an obligation to go before the congressional oversight committees and explain themselves.

Now, having said all of that, these are very serious claims. And I think there are some people who are defending the Trump administration or conservatives who aren't being serious enough about the potential Russian intervention in the U.S. election.

BAIER: OK, Mara, so here you have this story, "The Washington Post" does it first, that the CIA believes that the Russians hacked in order to help Donald Trump. You have clearly some intel agencies that are not on the same page when it comes to this.


BAIER: Now, Nunes is trying to figure this out, OK, and he calls this committee hearing and gets the Heisman award from the intel agencies, we're not going. Now, how are the electors who are asking for intel briefings to feel confident about --

LIASSON: That to me is inexplicable because, put aside the dissention about the motive. There is one thing that is almost unanimous, which is that Russia hacked. Russia interfered in our election, as we just heard Michael Hayden say, in order to sow doubts among Americans about their own electoral process. And that's a real cyber-attack and it's really serious. And that's something that Donald Trump, so far the only prominent American that we know of who has completely rejected that finding that Russia hacked. As a matter of fact, he said it could have been a 400-pound guy sitting somewhere. Lindsey Graham said it might have been a 400-pound guy but it was a 400-pound Russian guy.

But I think that -- I don't know why they didn't brief. There are going to have to because they are going to be hearings on this. They're going to be hearings on this and they're going to have to brief them. They briefed them in October. They briefed Congress in October.

BAIER: They briefed November 17th. Here is the director of national intelligence Clapper.


JAMES CLAPPER, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: As far as the WikiLeaks connection, the evidence there is not as strong and we don't have good insight into the sequencing of the releases or when the data may have been provided.


BAIER: Is he off script there, Guy? What's going on?

GUY BENSON, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Who knows? Anyone's guess is as good as mine. And I think that there has to be an answer here from the intelligence community. When you're brought forward and Congress asks to hear from you and the relevant oversight committee wants to hear, there's a lot of noise out there, there's a lot of allegations flying back and forth, the motives are unclear, differences in opinion among various agencies. When Congress asks you to show up and explain yourself on some level and you say no, the American people have to ask the question, I don't care if you're a Republican or Democrat, why on earth can they say that. Not just why are they saying it, why can they say that? At some point they need to show up and answer questions.

BAIER: Meantime the White House, the president in several interview, Josh Earnest from the podium, is getting a little bit more aggressive when it comes to this topic.

CHARLES HURT, THE WASHINGTON TIMES: A whole lot more. And I think that's a very important thing to remember because obviously the accusations are very serious. If Russia attempted or succeeded in any way to sort of interfere with our American elections, that's a very serious issue and we need to get to the bottom of it without fear of favor of any politician.

But on the other hand, you do have a sitting president right now who should be overseeing all of this and he's not doing much to help add clarity to all of it. And I can't help but get the feeling that he himself has contributed to the politicization of the intelligence.

BAIER: I want to get to a couple of these polls, ones that you find interesting. I just want to mention two. FOX News poll one, how will history judge Donald Trump's presidency? You see the breakdown, one of the greatest, 11 percent, above average, there you see it, one of the worst 31 percent, according to this poll. Number three, describe the election outcome feelings. And 59 percent say hopeful, 50 percent said relieved. I think a lot of people covering the election.


BAIER: Mara, what do you finding striking about these poll numbers?

LIASSON: I'm not sure what I make about the outcome. Maybe it just means that it's over. That's subject to interpretation. But what I find striking is just the basic favorable/unfavorable. Donald Trump's favorable is now about his ballot. It should be higher. When you compare him to past presidents at this time, usually you get a bounce after you win.

BAIER: You usually don't have as much negative coverage either.

LIASSON: That's true, but usually you don't win in such a stunning way. This was a real upset. And you'd think that he'd get a bounce from that. But he didn't. So that's one thing that I think is really interesting. But it has been trending up, so we'll see if that trend continues.

BENSON: I think he did bounce. The only thing is he bounced --

LIASSON: Most people are above their ballots.

BENSON: Look, there was never going to be a big honeymoon period for the next president regardless of who won because these were unpopular people. The number -- Bret, you mentioned, 59 percent of Americans saying they're hopeful moving forward after the election. To me that's an opportunity for Donald Trump. This has been a very nasty cycle with a lot of strong feelings on all sides -- acrimony, bitterness, and yet hopeful is the number one answer from the American people. If he can capture some of that and move forward he can maybe gain some more political capital, to your point. And the other one, 68 percent of Americans believe Donald Trump will repeal Obamacare. That has to be a priority.

BAIER: Jobs, jobs, jobs, he said in the speech in Wisconsin, Steve, and today he met at Trump Tower with the tech community, a summit in which he said we'll do anything that you need, give me a call or give somebody in my administration a call if you have any issues.

HAYES: Yes, he said there wasn't a strict chain of command. Call in and we'll take care of you.

Look, he's made very clear that he wants jobs to be a priority. One of the things that we've seen him do early in his pre-presidential period is the PR of jobs. And whether you're talking about Carrier, whether you're talking about meetings like this, this is showing America, Americans are going to go home and see this on their news. They're going to watch shows like this on networks, and they're going to say Donald Trump is doing something about jobs. You know, part of the reason he won was because of the things that he said about the economy. Showing that he's making progress, that he's actually checked in, tuned in to what people's priorities and concerns are I think will stand him in good stead, as Guy says, he could take advantage of that hopefulness.

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