Fallout from Yates', Clapper's testimony at Senate hearing

Reaction and analysis on 'The Fox News Specialists'


This is a rush transcript from "The Fox News Specialists," May 8, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

ERIC BOLLING, CO-HOST: All right. We are wrapping much-anticipated testimony of former acting attorney general Sally Yates and former director of national intelligence, James Clapper, who are testifying on Capitol Hill to a Senate Subcommittee. The testimony went about three hours, maybe a touch over three hours, and it seemed at times to be very partisan questioning. Dems trying to tie Flynn, General Flynn to Russia and the Trump organization; and the Republicans pointing out time and time again, that it looks like nothing illegal was going on.

I'd like to introduce our specialists today. Dana Loesch is a radio talk show host and with The Blaze. And Governor Richardson, Bill Richardson was a congressman, a secretary of energy, and governor of the state of New Mexico.

Let's bring it to the panel here, our regulars here. Eboni, we watched this. And also Kat Timpf. I'm sorry. Eboni Williams and Kat Timpf. I mean, we saw repetitive questioning going on.


BOLLING: They seem -- these senators seem to like to hear themselves ask questions and hear their answers.

WILLIAMS: Oh, boy, yes they do, E. Very much so. And ultimately, the same -- kind of almost felt like we were watching two hearings, one very heavy on Russia and General Flynn and that involvement; and then there seemed to be a whole additional hearing about Sally Yates and this executive order.

And I think it was very fascinating to me when we saw Senator Ted Cruz with his questioning about the travel ban and things like this.

But ultimately, Chairman Graham wrapping up and talking about "One thing I think, hopefully, we can all agree on in a bipartisan way, we know at least there was an attempt by Russia," E., "to influence our election, and what are we going to do about it?"

BOLLING: And Kat, we should also note that Susan Rice was also asked to come to testify in front of the Senate panel but chose not to.

KAT TIMPF, CO-HOST: She chose not to, right.

BOLLING: She wasn't subpoenaed. But one of the early questioning, I believe Lindsey Graham, right out of the box asked James Clapper, did Flynn break any laws? Was there any proof of collusion with the Russians? And again, Clapper was incapable of saying yes. He said no, there was no collusion.

TIMPF: No, so then they went on for several hours of hypotheticals. So if he had done this, this on this day, with this, just would it? And it got so confusing that even -- anyone who was being asking the questions, Yates was saying, "Wait, if who? If what?"

So I mean I feel like Trump is probably going to come out against this. He did ahead of the hearings, saying, you know, Flynn had a security clearance. I think there's going to be more of that.

And again, it's interesting. We should all care about Russia. We should all care about our own security and our own privacy, but there's no evidence, then there's no evidence.

BOLLING: Dana, so at one point there was no evidence of illegal activity, no collusion. We should note that Flynn was fired not because there was some sort of collusion going on or suspicion of collusion, but he was fired because he misled the vice president.

DANA LOESCH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: He was insubordinate. He was fired because he was insubordinate. He wasn't fired because there was any evidence of wrongdoing. And I might add that it took them as -- how many hours? How many hours did this go on?


LOESCH: Three hours, over three hours. It felt like 11. But it took them this long to establish that, look, he -- yes, he was insubordinate, and he was immediately fired. Once they knew that he had done something wrong, he was immediately dismissed from the administration.

Now everything that we know about the payment from RT and him giving a speech, et cetera, everything that we knew about this, we also knew under the previous administration; and yet nothing was done then. So if it was so concerning, why didn't the Obama administration do anything about it? Because we knew this stuff in 2015.

BOLLING: Yes, Governor Richardson, it's a very good point that Dana makes. That this -- one of the instances that they're accusing General Flynn of mis-doing, wrongdoing, happened in 2015 under a Barack Obama presidency.

GOV. BILL RICHARDSON, FORMER GOVERNOR OF NEW MEXICO: Security clearances are done by professionals, by the FBI, law enforcement people and the agencies. Look, Eric, this was not a good day for the Trump administration.

BOLLING: Well, why do you say that, though?

RICHARDSON: Because...

BOLLING: I mean, I didn't hear any links to the Trump Organization.

RICHARDSON: You have two -- you have two career officials that have served in Republican and Democratic administrations, basically one, enormous collusion by Russia. One. In the election.

BOLLING: Hold on. Are you talking about Flynn?

RICHARDSON: Two -- no, no, no, I'm talking about in general. Clapper talking about...

BOLLING: He said there was no collusion, no evidence of collusion.

LOESCH: And can we trust him? Because he did lie under oath before.

RICHARDSON: In the election, there was. I'm not talking about Flynn.

No. 2, Sally Yates talking about the potential compromising of General Flynn. Sally Yates, a 27-year -- 27-year career prosecutor, talking about a number of instances where General Flynn misled his own administration.

BOLLING: Yes, but that's not illegal, sir. There's nothing -- there's nothing illegal about that.

RICHARDSON: That's not the point.

BOLLING: And pointing out that there collusion, also Sally Yates, we need to point out, was appointed by Barack Obama. And during this time in question, the Trump administration was pretty hard on the Obama administration.

RICHARDSON: No, but 27 years she served under George Bush. She served under Republican and Democratic administrations. Twenty-seven years, a career prosecutor. You know, just because she was acting attorney general at the time, she did what she thought was right. One, to tell the White House counsel that there were potential problems in General Flynn misleading the administration about his contacts with the Russian ambassador. And secondly, that he could have been compromised.

BOLLING: He was fired by that. He was fired by the Trump administration.

TIMPF: He was fired for lying to...

BOLLING: Misleading.

RICHARDSON: But I think what is needed -- but what is needed -- what is needed here is an independent commission...


RICHARDSON: ... an independent investigation.

LOESCH: The FBI already cleared him of...

RICHARDSON: No, no, no. Of the entire Russian collusion in our electoral process with General Flynn, that is needed. This is what I think is emanating from this hearing.

BOLLING: Well, why...

LOESCH: Those steps weren't taken, though, under the previous administration. And as we just pointed out and established, we knew all of this stuff back in 2015. So why wasn't anything done?

WILLIAMS: Ultimately, he was fired.

RICHARDSON: Because this collusion happened in this 2016 election.

BOLLING: What -- you keep saying collusion, sir. What are you talking about, collusion?

RICHARDSON: Collusion, it is...

BOLLING: That you just heard the director of national intelligence say, who oversees the FBI, the CIA and the NSA, saying...

RICHARDSON: The collusion is...

BOLLING: ... we have no evidence of collusion. How can you make this claim? Who colluded? Who colluded with whom?

RICHARDSON: ... they are coming forward with going into our state election system, our federal election system.

BOLLING: There's no proof of that. You're making a claim...

RICHARDSON: What do you mean there's no proof of that?

BOLLING: ... here on national television.



RICHARDSON: How can you tell me there's no collusion? There's no Russian collusion in the 2016 election?

BOLLING: You're speculating, sir. You're speculating.

WILLIAMS: E., I think you two are using collusion -- I think you two gentlemen are using collusion differently. I hear the Governor saying collusion about Russia's attempt to be involved in our election, period. But Eric, you're hearing collusion speaking specifically about General Flynn.

I think what we heard Clapper saying today is, no, they can't make a conclusion around the effect of the involvement, but I think we do know, in fact, there was an attempt to have involvement in our election. That much we are...

BOLLING: Massive attempt. Massive attempt.

I will tell you what we do know. What we do know is that...

TIMPF: Everybody should be concerned about it, regardless of what...


BOLLING: ... there was a law broken. And this was repeatedly asked of Clapper and of Yates. Eboni, weigh in on this. The unmasking of Flynn's name is one thing but the leaking of Flynn's name. Illegal.

WILLIAMS: I am so glad you bring this up. In the very beginning, this is the first distinction, we're told. Unmasking can be authorized and legal. Leaking, always unauthorized, always illegal. Those are two very different things. If it's an unmasking and it's relevant to national security, OK. If it's a leak, absolutely, it has to be prosecuted.

BOLLING: Kat, James Clapper pointed out that hey, there may be -- right at the end, very important testimony right at the end, we're about to come back to us, and he said, "Yes, there may be other investigations going on of other individuals." Does that concern you?

TIMPF: Of course it does, and it should. And Dana, as you brought up, Clapper, don't really trust him either. I watch this, and I'm like...

LOESCH: Having some credibility problems there.

TIMPF: You have to -- you have to look back in the past. He's lied under oath before. And then all this came out, and people just forget that. But yes, of course, I mean, this isn't going to go away. This hasn't gone away so far.

And all -- you're saying this is about older things. This is about the election, the -- excuse me, the executive order. They were talking about that ban. He's already gotten a new one out now. So these are about older things, and this is going to continue. And, you know, she said a lot of things. Part of the classified, ongoing investigation. More and more is going to come out. So I think that we should all kind of withhold judgment.

RICHARDSON: Yes, but I think on the leaking, yes, that wasn't right.

TIMPF: Of course.

RICHARDSON: But the focus should be on the substance on the potential collusion, involvement of the...

BOLLING: Well, who leaked? Who leaked?

RICHARDSON: Who leaked? How do you -- who do you know? How do you know? Are you blaming Sally Yates? What are you doing?

BOLLING: I'm saying...

RICHARDSON: That is wrong to shift the blame to the leaking instead of the substance of the allegations. This is very serious.

BOLLING: I would say -- I would say that the leaking most likely came from -- from the Yates organization.

RICHARDSON: How do you know that? How do you know that?

TIMPF: You have no way of knowing that. There's no way to know that.

RICHARDSON: You have no way of knowing that. That is totally false. Totally false.

BOLLING: All right. Do me a favor. Let's take a listen to this, and we'll talk about how important this is and how we know -- they were asked, what's the story with these leaks? Take a listen. Sound bite No. 1, guys.


GRAHAM: How did the conversation between the Russian ambassador and Mr. Flynn make it to The Washington Post?


SALLY YATES, FORMER ACTING U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Nor do I know the answer to that.

GRAHAM: There should be a record somewhere in our system, whether or not an unmasking request was made for the conversation between Mr. Flynn and the Russian ambassador.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Has any classified information relating to Mr. Trump or his associates been declassified and shared with the media?

CLAPPER: Not to my knowledge.


YATES: Not to my knowledge either.


BOLLING: All right. We'll bring it around now. Go ahead, start with Dana and bring it across the table. I mean, look, I'm -- it's bleeding, it's screaming, the inside of this Sally Yates administration was likely the source of this leak.

LOESCH: Well, I know that there has been a lawsuit filed. I believe it's Judicial Watch that filed a suit, wanting to look at her e-mails. Here we go with another e-mail story. Wanting to look at her e-mails to see if there was any sort of discussion about that. You know, time will tell.

There's a lot that we don't know. And I think Kat made a really good point. There are still -- there are a lot of moving parts here, still. There's a lot that we don't know.

However, some of the questioning that I've heard is really centering on, and everyone is presupposing that -- that, well, the Trump administration, for all of its faults, they -- they really messed up here. The Trump administration messed up. They should've vetted this guy. They should have done it. We knew this information.

OK, the moment that something was proven to be true, he was gone. He was out of the administration. So what's -- what's the problem at this particular point?

BOLLING: Took quick action.

WILLIAMS: OK, so I agree with Dana. Look, we cannot put the cart before the horse here. There's so much we don't know. Certainly, I expect we'll find out more in upcoming hearings and whatnot. But what we do know, E., what we do know is there is an attempt. I'm going to shy away from the word "collusion," because I think it becomes problematic and argumentative.

But certainly, we know absolutely there was an attempt by the Russian government to influence our democracy, our election, our republic and let's at least work on the fix for that. What are we going to do about that part? Let's get us on (ph) of that part, because that much we can agree on.

LOESCH: Agreed.

TIMPF: Yes, I completely -- I completely agree with that. And this has become kind of a partisan issue. A lot of people wanted to deny that there was any attempt by Russia. "Oh, that's so ridiculous. That's so ridiculous, because it makes the party look bad or it might make Trump look bad," but that shouldn't matter, because that is something that affects everybody.

And we really, really do need to wait and, again, with -- you're concerned about unmasking, if you're concerned about leaks, you should take a look at data collection and the fact that that is so broad in terms of it can't be leaked, you know. It wouldn't matter if it wasn't unmasked. The scope for unmasking if it could potentially provide any value to foreign intelligence. That's very broad. So if that's something that's harmful, take a look at civil liberties reform. That's what I say, always.

BOLLING: Governor, in order to look into a U.S. person's activity, you need a FISA warrant.


BOLLING: Are we sure this FISA warrant was proper? And then, to go even one step further, to unmask, have they -- have they done everything properly? Have the people who were going after Flynn and the Trump administration done everything they were supposed to be doing?

RICHARDSON: Well, you know, you have to get -- FISA is a court order. You have to go to three judges. I think the process makes sense.

Now, you know, are there imperfections? Possibly. I think General Flynn deserves due process. I do think that. But at the same time, I think Eboni is right. This should never happen again. Russian involvement in our election. And the collusion issue. I mean, there's a lot of -- there's a lot of -- there's...

BOLLING: You're saying collusion within the Russians to influence ours and other elections around the world.

RICHARDSON: Yes, look at France. Look at France.

BOLLING: Concerned that they may have colluded to influence the French election.

RICHARDSON: That's what I'm talking about. I mean, what we need to do, what are we going to do about it? I think sanctions are needed. We have to be assured this never happens again.

And at the same time, I mean, look, these are two career officials that have served both administrations that are talking about the significant need for reforms. And we need an independent commission to get to the bottom of what all of you have said. That's what I'm saying.

WILLIAMS: Governor, can I point out on toxicity that you're speaking to, and it's so important right now? And I've said this. The Department of Justice, as well as the State Department, as well as our intelligence communities, I would say all three have been casualties of this 2016 election by way of credibility. To the point where Americans don't trust intelligence. We don't trust our Department of Justice. We don't trust our intelligence, and it's a real problem. And until we get on the same page and restore some credibility amongst these agencies, E., I don't know how we even get on the same page to move forward.

BOLLING: Let me bring this question to Kat Timpf. When the FBI, the CIA, and the NSA say, "You know, we've been looking into this, but we don't think it's necessary to unmask General Flynn." Yet his name is unmasked because the acting attorney general got involved? Is this -- is this the country we want to be living in? Where these intel agencies may be violating our civil rights? Our constitutional...

TIMPF: Well, the current standards is that, if it could provide any benefit to foreign intelligence, then it can be unmasked. So what she did clearly was politically motivated. I think that that's pretty obvious.

BOLLING: Because if the FBI didn't need it...

TIMPF: However, if you can at least claim that, oh, yes, but maybe it could have provided some benefit, then you're kind of covered.

WILLIAMS: Incidental.

TIMPF: So we need to take a look at that at the base level. And a lot of people who are Republicans -- I know that you don't feel this way, but a lot of people are OK with a lot of data collection. Take a look at that. Because I do think that that's a constitutional violation, the way the standard's set right now.

BOLLING: We'll get to Dana, but Governor, what in the world do you think Sally Yates needed to know about who General Flynn was and what he was up to that the CIA, the FBI and the NSA didn't think was relevant?

RICHARDSON: She is the person, at the Department of Justice, the national security advisor, that are the central focus of a lot of this internal investigations. She is the appropriate entity that would warn the president's counsel about this potential violation. That's -- that's why she did it. She was attorney general, acting, for eight days. Not very long.

BOLLING: Does that scare you, Dana? When -- when an acting attorney general...

LOESCH: It does. It does.

BOLLING: ... thinks she needs to know more information than our own FBI?

LOESCH: I agree. I feel like it was a little politicized. I wish Susan Rice would have testified, as well. I think there's a lot of -- there's a fear with a lot of individuals in America who are a little conservatarian (ph), libertarian minded who think, wow, you have this government apparatus that was created to follow people to protect against domestic terror. And here you have perhaps a good example of how it was used to go after individuals that were politically dissenting or who maybe were going to destroy some politician's legacy after he left the White House. It's very concerning.

RICHARDSON: Eric -- Eric, the FBI is under the Department of Justice.

BOLLING: I understand that. I know exactly how the system works. But my point is the FBI is tasked with the investigation part of the equation. And if they said, "We've got what we need," why does Sally Yates need to know?

RICHARDSON: She was their boss.

WILLIAMS: But I don't know, E. I don't know if I want to -- yes, I don't know if I want to start second-guessing our prosecutors.

BOLLING: But her boss -- her boss -- I'll go crazy. Yes, it becomes political. And Sally Yates says, "You know what? I want to know this name."


RICHARDSON: She's a career prosecutor. She's a career prosecutor, Eric. I mean, just because...

BOLLING: We need to know. We need to know what Rice knows.

WILLIAMS: I agree. Look, I can understand why Susan Rice wouldn't have any incentive to testify, but of course, America wants those answers. Americans will be served by those answers, because she knows a lot of information.

LOESCH: She can blame it on a video.

RICHARDSON: No, but this was the intelligence community that disclosed the unmasking. It wasn't Susan Rice. Why are you going after her?

BOLLING: Well, because she knows. She asked -- someone asked the name...

RICHARDSON: But it was the intelligence community that does the unmasking.


BOLLING: ... Governor, and the only reason I can come up with this political reasons. Certainly not investigative reasons.

RICHARDSON: I don't understand. What could she have done.

TIMPF: It's hard to prove that. It's hard to prove what her motivations really were. If she claims it was something else, then...

WILLIAMS: She said context. She said she wants more context, E. More context to talk about whether or not the constitutionality and all these things are at play.

RICHARDSON: The national security advisor is the -- almost the only entity that can ask for this information. And I think she acted properly. She acted honestly. She is -- I've known her for many years. She is a woman of high integrity.

BOLLING: Well, wait. We are talking about the same woman who went on the five separate talk shows and blamed a videotape for the attack at Benghazi.


BOLLING: So we knew, in hindsight, that...

RICHARDSON: I don't agree with you. I don't agree with you. Why are you bringing that up?

LOESCH: We all agree about Russia. It's very difficult to continue making the claim that you want to get to the bottom of what happened with Russia when so many things become politicized in such a heady (ph) fashion.

BOLLING: Agreed.

LOESCH: Like some of what we saw today.

WILLIAMS: Let's just be clear and be consistent and get hard (ph) on Russia.

BOLLING: We'll do that. I'm going to say thank you very much to Dana Loesch. And we'll say thank you very much to Governor Richardson. That's it.

We're going to say thank you all for watching. Make sure you follow us on social media, @SpecialistsFNC on both Twitter and Facebook. Remember, 5 p.m. will never be the same.

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