TRANSCRIPT

Why did President Trump fire FBI director Comey?

The 'Special Report' All-Star panel weighs in

 

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report with Bret Baier," May 9, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Just moments ago, Senator Dianne Feinstein from California issuing a statement. The Democrat saying, quote, "President Trump called me at 5:30 p.m. and indicated he would be removing Director Comey, saying the FBI needed a change. The next FBI director must be strong and independent and will receive a fair hearing in the judiciary committee."

Just starting to get some reaction from various lawmakers coming in. Senator Graham also weighing in with a statement. We'll get to you shortly.

These letters indicate that the decision is basically about something that happened with the investigation into Hillary Clinton and her e-mails. That's how they described this.

Now Just put this in context, this is the same movement, the same decision- making that Hillary Clinton blames in part for her loss to Donald Trump. And now the President, Donald Trump, is saying because of those actions that the FBI director no longer deserves to be FBI director.

Let's bring in our panel here: Charles Hurt opinion editor for The Washington Times; Bloomberg News White House reporter Jennifer Jacobs; and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer.

Charles, this is pretty amazing as it develops. I don't think we have the full context yet.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Look, it is so amazing that I think we are only at the very beginning of the story.

Here is what is so odd about it. This is about, according to the letter by the Deputy Attorney General, this is about something that occurred on July 5. This -- so we start out with something that is highly implausible. If that was so offensive to the Trump administration, what you would have done is in the transition, you would have spoken with Comey and said we are going to let you go -- that's when a president could very easily make a decision to have a change. That's not unprecedented. But to fire him summarily with no warning in the middle of May because of something that happened in July is almost inexplicable.

Second, the reason ostensibly is, as you read in that letter, for doing something that you are not supposed to do, to usurp the Attorney General. But second, to release all that information which was damaging to Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump's opponent.

Do we really believe that Donald Trump after all these months, decided suddenly to fire this guy because he damaged Hillary back in July? Another implausible conjecture.

We are left to believe that it might have something to do with the egregious mistake that Comey made in the testimony this week.

BARTIROMO: Although it's not mentioned in any of these letters.

KRAUTHAMMER: Not mentioned anywhere but if you are now -- if you're saying the ostensible reasons are implausible.

BAIER: Then you're looking to hang it on something.

KRAUTHAMMER: -- on something that we have not heard about and we end up with that very strange clause that you read in the letter from Trump to Comey. "While I greatly appreciate you informing me on three separate occasions that I am not under investigation". Who has been talking about FBI investigations of Trump?

This sort of explodes on us without any preparation, without any background. I suspect where this is going to go is to that clause.

BAIER: Jennifer -- I know this is taking the White House press corps by storm and we appreciate you being here with us, and I know your phone has been blowing up with all kinds of different things.

JENNIFER JACOBS, BLOOMBERG NEWS: Yes.

BAIER: Shed some light on your perspective on this.

JACOBS: I hate to even take my eyes off my phone. We're just trying to figure this out, like you said. Like the rationale for this firing was in place when Trump was inaugurated, so why now?

It's inexplicable other than, you know, Comey confirmed in March that the FBI was investigating potential ties between Trump and Russia. And that is something that we know has always irked him. How many times has he said no colluding between any of my associates and Russia and the Russian government during the 2016 campaign.

Comey also publicly contradicted the President's assertion about the Obama administration wiretapping Trump Tower last year. So that's another thing that could be a possible rationale. But can you imagine what is going to take to confirm a new FBI director in this environment in Congress?

BAIER: I mean it's going to be surreal. James Comey was scheduled actually, Charlie, to be in Hollywood, California for a recruiting event tonight. We don't know if he is still out there and going to be there. I am sure there are a lot of crews trying to track him down to get his reaction. Your thoughts.

CHARLES HURT, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, as stunning as this is tonight, in another way, you know, we have all been waiting for this to happen for a long time. And I'm surprised it didn't happen before now.

I think that the point that you make, Charles, about why he didn't do it during the transition. That probably would have been a better time to do it. Certainly the case was made, could have been made at the time to get rid of him at that time.

But I think that, you know, what he would have faced, the buzz saw of opposition from Democrats just taking the political opportunity, it would have been pretty intense.

Reading those letters, it suggests that they, you know, President Trump wanted these people to build the case against him, and they did build that case. And they, you know, laid it out pretty clearly in those letters.

So I kind of wonder if we won't in time find out that this was actually a lot more methodical than just an immediate reaction to something that was said this week.

BAIER: Well, clearly these letters took time to put together with all of the details, especially the Deputy Attorney General's. So you may be saying that these statements in testimony that the FBI had to clean up was the moment at which they said this is it.

HURT: Well, there are a lot of good reasons. Not only that, you know, to make this moment the moment to do it. Not only that but also, you know, the fact that Hillary Clinton did make those comments, whatever, last week about directly blaming Comey for her loss.

You know, there is a saying certainly in newspapers that if everybody is mad at you then obviously you are doing your job right. That was not the case here. Everybody at some point in time was mad at Comey but it was because he kept screwing things up.

BAIER: But just to give the other side, if you are Director Comey and your boss goes to meet with President Bill Clinton on a tarmac in Arizona and essentially takes herself out of the picture, you have to take the ball and run with it because it is no longer her deal.

HURT: And what that reveals is a complete lack of confidence all up and down the line, you know, not only of Comey but also Loretta Lynch. And I would also put to President Obama at the time.

BAIER: Jennifer.

Jacobs: What if this is a move to chill leaks? If you are at the FBI right now, are you going to be scared to death to leak any more information? Any information all about this FBI investigation? This could be a preemptive move to chill leaks.

KRAUTHAMMER: Well, that is using a hammer to get a gnat. I mean this is like a bomb to go after, you know, a guerilla band. You've got to ask yourself, the tone of this, you know, the swiftness -- you are terminated immediately. You've got this image of him being perp-walked out of the FBI building in handcuffs which is what prosecutors do. It's not done to them.

Look, again, how implausible this is. If she complains -- Hillary Clinton complains that Comey cost her the election, then here you have Trump firing Comey for costing Hillary the election. This doesn't make any sense. It's clear that this has been prepared for days, but again, why this way?

And why was it done with malice? I mean there would have been so many ways of having Comey sort of step aside, say he was in an untenable position. And I must say in his defense, and I am somewhat sympathetic to him, I wouldn't have done what he did. But he was in a position that was utterly impossible.

We have never had a presidential candidate running for the presidency while under FBI investigation.

BAIER: Right.

KRAUTHAMMER: This is new. There were no rules. He made it up in a way that I think in his head thought minimizes impact on the outcome. He might have made the wrong calculation, but I don't think it was in any way bad faith.

BAIER: Well, the Clinton people not only say the original statement and action was detrimental, but then the one right before the election they say motivated Trump voters as well.

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