This is a rush transcript from "Special Report with Bret Baier," January 13, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
REP. JOHN LEWIS, D-GA.: I don't see the president-elect as a legitimate president.
CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS: You do not consider him as a legitimate president. Why is that?
LEWIS: I think the Russians participated in getting this man elected, and they helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton. I don't plan to attend the inauguration. It should be the first one that I have missed since I have been in Congress.
LEWIS: I think there have been visible signs of disrespect for the man, and I have always said, if you don't respect the man, respect the position.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Congressman John Lewis today and Congressman John Lewis from January of last year talking about President-elect Trump and talking about President Obama and the legitimacy of President Trump, he is questioning one week from inauguration day.
Let's bring in our panel from Washington tonight: Byron York, chief political correspondent for the Washington Examiner; Mollie Hemingway, senior editor at The Federalist, and political reporter, Jonathan Swan.
Jonathan, start with you. Your thoughts when you heard this today?
JONATHAN SWAN, POLITICAL REPORTER: It was pretty stunning. A number of Democrats have been edging toward this decision, and I would say, in some ways, he is just honestly, you know, openly expressed what many people have been saying, you know, people in Hillary Clinton's camp have been delegitimizing President-elect Trump from the get go.
So I think now would be interesting to see whether this opens the flood gates for more Democrats to make similar statements. Are they going to bait Donald Trump, who else is going to come out and say that he is not a legitimate president? Because we have sure seen a number of people with Hillary Clinton's circle who have already been inching up to this position.
BYRON YORK, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Well, we're going to see how many Democrats follow suit here. I think John Lewis used his stature to say something that other Democrats probably wanted to say. But you have to remember, Donald Trump won Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin. There are a lot of Democrats in those places. Are they going to follow suit or are they going to work with the new president? My feeling is, they are probably going to express respect for John Lewis, but they're going to work with Trump.
BAIER: Here is Senator Roy Blunt after meeting with President-elect Trump at Trump Tower today commenting he was asked about this very comment by Congressman Lewis.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ROY BLUNT, R-MO.: The idea of constantly looking for ways to delegitimize the results of the election, no matter how unhappy are you are about it, isn't the best example we set. The best example we set is understanding that there is a democratic process that you go through. There is a unique process in our country where states don't matter, and Mr. Trump won that election handily.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: Mollie, your thoughts?
MOLLIE HEMINGWAY, THE FEDERALIST: I think there really isn't rather obvious campaign of de-legitimization that we've been seeing for the past several months when Donald Trump had his surprise victory. Many people on the left struggled to cope with it.
They came up with different answers for what had happened, Jim Comey, the Electoral College, the popular vote, fake news, and then they largely resurrected an issue that was not so successful for them during the general campaign of this idea of Russian meddling.
And the intelligence community actually put quite a bit of effort into sort of supporting this claim of Russian meddling, strategically doing leaks and dropping information that would kind of push that narrative, and, of course, Donald Trump has been very antagonistic toward the intelligence community.
And he is not the first president to warn about the danger of the politicization of that community. Dwight Eisenhower mentioned it in his farewell speech. But he is certainly much more vigorous about it the most have been.
And he has been warned that this will only elevate the pushback from the intelligence community, and they certainly have. So I thought it was interesting that Lewis talked specifically about Russian meddling and uses that as a pretence for saying that there -- or as a reason to say this is not a legitimate presidency.
This is a dangerous issue that needs to be dealt with, and a lot of people voted for Donald Trump precisely because they did want to clean the swamp. They agree with him that the intelligence community has become dangerously politicized and power-hungry in a way that is threatening to our national security.
And they don't agree, the intelligence community does not agree with Donald Trump's policy changes regarding them or Russia, and they are behaving, I think, in a very inappropriate fashion, in a way that also causes a lot of chaos in our country. So this is something to watch.
BAIER: I know a little bit about that Eisenhower farewell speech. Jonathan, let me put up a tweet. Donald Trump on this DOJ, IG probe, "What are Hillary Clinton's people complaining about with respect to the FBI? Based on the information they had she should never have been allowed to run. Guilty as hell. They were very nice to her. She lost because she campaigned in the wrong states. No enthusiasm." That is his reaction on Twitter to this new IG report of that Comey investigation.
SWAN: I think there are two things here. One is that this could get very messy for James Comey. His blood pressure must have elevated over the last 24 hours. This is going to cause questions about his judgment, how he makes decisions.
He's been telling people that he is politically tone-deaf in sort of a joking fashion, but really he doesn't have the luxury of being politically tone-deaf in that position. So the really interesting question will be to that tweet, how does Donald Trump reconcile what he has definite doubts about Comey's competence versus not wanting to delegitimize himself?
So I think the clash between those two things is going to be really interesting. It is very unclear whether Comey survives his tenure as FBI director.
BAIER: Byron, what about looking back and the "guilty as hell" part of that tweet and this is a week away from inauguration.
YORK: Well, look, there were a lot of really funky things that happened in this email investigation, there is no doubt about it. James Comey comes out on July 5th of last year, just hours after interviewing Hillary Clinton, basically makes a very solid case for indicting her and then says, and now I'm not going to do anything.
And then it comes back on October 28th, says he is reopening it, it stays open and we are all talking about it every day until November 6, just two days before Election Day. So there was some really funky stuff that went on there.
But this investigation is probably going to end up in a lot of partisan wrangling. One of the reasons we heard today is that the Justice Department, inspector general, is not going to include the airport tarmac meeting between Loretta Lynch, the attorney general, and Bill Clinton, as part of his investigation.
And Republicans are going to be very unhappy with that, and it is probably going to come up for them taint any results that comes out of it.
BAIER: Mollie, I guess I was referring to the fact that the president- elect, seven days before inauguration, is going back and re-litigating that time. Obviously we talk about his different communication in Twitter, but this is, you know, what he puts out pretty much every day, some aspect of some policy fight that is going on.
HEMINGWAY: Well, I think what he is doing is responding to how other people are re-litigating this as well. There's just been a failure of people to deal with the reality, which is very shocking still that he won the election and Hillary Clinton did not.
People are again trying to find reasons to explain it away as opposed to just accepting the reality and there is a narrative being pushed in a lot of the media of focusing on distractions rather than the failures of the Clinton campaign.
So I think he is behaving in that manner, but actually the media and other people are also kind of hysterical and hostile on the issue as well.
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