SPECIAL REPORT

New concerns about the Trump administration and Russia

The 'Special Report' All-Star panel weighs in

 

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report with Bret Baier," February 28, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE PAUL RYAN, R-WIS.: We have an ongoing investigation. I'm not going to get ahead of that investigation. We have seen no evidence so far based upon the investigations that have already been conducted. Remember there was an intelligence community investigation last year. This has been investigated. We've been investigating it. And we're going to continue to investigate just to make sure no stone is unturned.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF, D-CALIF.: I don't think any of us on the intelligence committee should reach any conclusions about the evidence yet because, frankly, we have heard from no witnesses. We have only started reviewing documents.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Well, the Russia investigation and the alleged ties to the administration, where is that? Is there anything there there? We are back with the panel. Steve, I had a busy day. I have breakfast with the speaker of the House, and he said that that investigation he was referencing was DNI, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and CIA Director Brennan did a full scrub according to the speaker of the House from November to December. They turned it over and briefed lawmakers and found no collusion, no cooperation, no communication outside of Michael Flynn with the Russian ambassador. He was kind of definitive.

STEVE HAYES, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: I talked to FBI officials over the past several days who have said that this is one of the reasons that the administration has been so frustrated. They have had these investigations. According to these FBI officials, they haven't turned up anything definitive. They haven't pointed to any leads. And that's why the White House is eager to have some people out there making the argument.

I think if you look back at what Mike Flynn did and say that he used poor judgment, certainly with respect to the Russia today event, speeches. But for Democrats to continue to capitalize on this, at some point, they're going to have to come up with something harder than the circumstantial evidence that does exist. There are real questions about why Donald Trump had the position he had with respect to Vladimir Putin throughout the campaign. That is far different than saying he was in collusion with the Russians to defeat Hillary Clinton, which is the allegation Democrats are making.

BRIT HUME, FOX NEWS SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Let's not forget, Bret, that we've had a very prominent journalist, Tom Friedman of The New York Times, say that we were attacked on 9/11 and at Pearl Harbor and on Election Day. I can't imagine what else he meant if he wasn't talking about by the Russians interference in our election.

It should be said, by the way, that there was interference perhaps in the campaign, no evidence of interference in the election. And as Steve just pointed out, there's really been no evidence there's been anything improper, communication between the Trump people and Russia during, before the election. And I have a feeling when we get down to the bottom of this rabbit hole, they're not going to find anything.

BAIER: So I guess, A.B., the question is, there have been ominous headlines. There have been ominous stories about this alleged tie. But if there is nothing there, why does the investigation and the push for the investigation continue in such earnest way by senior Democrats?

A.B. STODDARD, REALCLEARPOLITICS: Well, first of all, there are Republicans who want to investigate the interference on the campaign but not on Election Day, not with the balloting but with the campaign. As long as you have Republicans like Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri saying we're going to get to the bottom of it. As long as you have people like the Congressman Darrell Issa of California saying this really should be taken over by a special prosecutor.

BAIER: He did walk that back a little bit.

STODDARD: But then he doubled down again, actually, after the walk back. So it gives Democrats fuel. And as long as they have Republicans in cahoots with them saying it needs attention, it will get attention from the Democrats like Congressman Schiff saying we haven't begun to talk to witnesses.

BAIER: Issa's definitive statement was that he wanted it done so it could be taken off the table and cleared by a special investigator.

STODDARD: But the idea that it needs to be done independently so that all Americans can trust the process infers that it's not undergoing a trustworthy process.

LAURA INGRAHAM, LIFEZETTE.COM: This is kind of all the Democrats have right now. If it's not Russia that delivered the election to Donald Trump, what was it? Was it the fact that they missed the angst and the anxiety of middle America on key issues in key ways for the last several years? Was it they had a candidate who really didn't connect to the electorate? Was it their own turnout machine? What was it? It' anything except reflect on their own, in my view, failures in seeing what was happening among the electorate.

Russia makes it a lot easier for the Democrats not to do their own autopsy on what went wrong. I understand everybody doesn't like how Trump addressed Putin, and I would have rather him said something else as well. But the idea that that's what gave this election to Donald Trump, which they are still beating on every liberal website on every leftwing blog and at the other cable network we just ran the clip from, that is what they are talking about almost 24/7.

BAIER: I will say on national security issues, and we will hear a section of this speech that deals with a lot of those, but senior administration officials at the White House identify North Korea as by far the most dangerous situation that the U.S. faces right now.

HAYES: I think there have been some briefings both on Capitol Hill and at the White House over the past couple of weeks that have raised the alarms on North Korea in addition to the behavior that we've seen, the increasingly risky behavior or troubling behavior we've seen from North Korea. I think it's a reasonable case to think that's a key threat, but how many are there? ISIS, Al Qaeda, Iran. There are so many threats. It's one of the reasons I think that you have intelligence officials on edge the way that they are.

BAIER: President Trump talked yesterday, Brit, to the Chinese, and obviously sees China as a linchpin to solving or at least helping solve the North Korean situation.

HUME: There's a sequence of events here. You remember he raised the question of whether he would go with along with the One China policy. He eventually took that off the table. In the meantime, China for the first time in a long time slapped some very serious sanctions on North Korea in reaction to what it's been doing lately by saying it was no longer going to buy call from North Korea. That is huge for the North Korean economy and represents a major step. So he may be getting somewhere in dealing with the Chinese.

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