TRANSCRIPT

Sekulow: Comey brought this upon himself; Obama administration unmasking scandal grows deeper

On 'Hannity,' ACLJ chief counsel on why the former FBI chief was fired

 

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," May 15, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: Welcome to "Hannity," and this is a Fox News Alert, major breaking news tonight. Jay Sekulow, Laura Ingraham, Monica Crowley, Geraldo River, Sara Carter from Circa.com and Carrie Prejean will all join us.

Now, before I get to my "Opening Monologue" tonight, I have a message for those who work in that house, the White House. Enough with the self- serving leaks. Now, since day one of the administration, there have been dozens and dozens of leaks to the press coming from inside the White House. An article from Politico last week included, quote, 31 sources." The New York Times had, like, 13. And tonight, The Washington Post is even reporting that current and former U.S. officials are saying that President Trump revealed classified information to Russian officials who were in the White House last week. Who would know that?

If you have the honor and privilege of working in the White House, you should realize that you were there for a reason and one reason only, to serve the American people. And you do that by serving the president in his attempt to keep his promises that he made and enacting his agenda in terms of what he made in terms of promises to the American people.

No White House can sustain these types of constant leaks. So if you are in the White House and you are doing this, if you are not there to serve your country and all you're doing is hurting the country, well, then you might want to get out of the way. We'll have much more on that tonight in my mini monologue.

But first, in light of the worst liberal media freezing frenzy in American history, it is time for a reality check about why James Comey had to be fired. The media won't tell you. That's tonight's "Opening Monologue."

All right, so after the firing of James Comey, the destroy Trump propaganda media, destroy Trump Democrats, never-Trumpers who have been seething in the dark, along with weak Republicans, and of course, the deep state -- these groups are now working themselves into a feeding frenzy and clearly are now out for blood.

But tonight, it's time for a reality check: Why James Comey deserved and need to be fired, something they're not talking about, something the destroy Trump media won't tell you because they have their own agenda. We know that.

As we've been highlighting on this show, James Comey was a complete and utter failure. He disrespected the U.S. Constitution. He didn't care about the rule of law. He didn't care about equal justice under the law for every American.

He did nothing about the violation of 4th Amendment privacy rights, and of course, leaking of classified information, which is a crime, including the unmasking of Lieutenant General Michael Flynn and then releasing that publicly.

He created in this case a two-tier justice system -- that's right, one for Hillary and Bill Clinton and one for the rest of us.

So tonight, we're going to go back to July, 2016, James Comey's press conference, where we thought he was laying out a strong case for the indictment of Hillary Clinton. Now, we're going to go point by point through his statements and then show you specifically laws that were broken based on his own words. Let's start here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, JULY 5, 2016)

JAMES COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR: From the group of 30,000 emails returned to the State Department in 2014, 110 emails in 52 email chains have been determined by the owning agency to contain classified information at the time they were sent or received. Eight of those chains contained information that was top secret at the time they were sent. Thirty-six of those chains contained secret information at the time, and eight contained confidential information at the time. That's the lowest level of classification.

Separate from those, about 2,000 additional emails were up-classified to make them confidential. Those emails had not been classified at the time that they were sent...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HANNITY: Now, the FBI director is basically saying there Clinton broke the law. What law? 18 US Code 1924. What is that? The unauthorized removal and retention of classified documents and material.

Let's continue. Let's watch Comey say this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COMEY: The FBI also discovered several thousand work-related emails that were not among the group of 30,000 emails returned by Secretary Clinton to State in 2014. We found those emails in a variety of ways. Some had been deleted over the years and we found traces of them on servers or devices that had been connected to the private email domain.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HANNITY: All right, what is he saying? What law comes into play here that Clinton violated? 18 U.S. Code 793, gathering, transmitting or losing Defense information, which we know with 99 percent certainty that, in fact, five foreign intelligence agencies were able to get a hold of.

Here's the next part.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COMEY: Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HANNITY: Extremely careless, but the law states gross negligence. What's the difference? Here the laws that were violated here, 18 U.S. Code 793, again, gathering, transmitting or losing defense information and 18 U.S. Code 1905, disclosure of confidential information generally. OK?

Let's go to Comey's next statement.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COMEY: Seven email chains concern matters that were classified at the top-secret, special access program at the time they were sent and received. Those chains involved Secretary Clinton both sending emails about those matters and receiving emails about those same matters. There is evidence to support a conclusion that any reasonable person in Secretary Clinton's position or in the position of those with whom she was corresponding about those matters, should have known that an unclassified system was no place for that conversation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HANNITY: Ah. Amazing. Here are the laws that apply here -- 18 U.S. Code 798, disclosure of classified information, again 18 U.S. Code 792, gathering, transmitting, losing Defense information, 18 U.S. Code 1905, disclosure of confidential information generally.

Now, this is only the tip of the iceberg. All of these are serious, prosecutable crimes, which Comey ignored. And by the way, there's a former Navy machinist, his name is Christian Saucier. He's sitting behind bars tonight. He's serving a year sentence for taking six pictures of the submarine that he worked on. Hillary Clinton? She got to walk free.

Now, there's also the fact that James Comey had no business ever holding that press conference in the first place and determining whether or not there was enough evidence to recommend charges against Hillary Clinton. Now, that right exclusively belongs to the attorney general of the United States, not James Comey! And he was supposed to do -- all he was supposed to so is present evidence and not exercise any sort of prosecutorial power.

Now, if the destroy Trump media -- they want to talk about a real Russian collusion scandal, not some bizarre tinfoil hat conspiracy theory like the one they've been pushing for the last eight-plus months without any evidence -- let's talk about the Clinton Foundation. Let's talk about the Uranium One deal.

Where was James Comey on this? Now, our friend Peter Schweizer, who wrote the book "Clinton Cash," he did all the legwork for the FBI on this one. All Comey had to do was follow through and check out the facts for himself. In this deal, Hillary Clinton signed off on giving 20 percent of America's uranium to Vladimir Putin, to the Russians. And in exchange, investors who profited from this deal gave or pledged up to $145 million to the Clinton Foundation!

And in 2010, oh, Bill Clinton -- remember, she was secretary of state -- he was paid a half a million dollars for a speech in Moscow -- twice his normal speaking fee -- by a Russian bank that had ties to the Kremlin and that had a buy rating on Uranium One stock!

Now, where's the outrage from the destroy Trump media? Where's the outrage from the destroy Trump Democrats over this? They barely even talked about this massive scandal despite mountains of evidence and obvious wrongdoing.

Now, if Comey cared even a little bit about the rule of law, the Constitution, he would have launched an investigation into the Clinton Foundation. But he didn't do that because he was too busy playing politics.

Then there's the egregious violation of our 4th Amendment privacy rights. Did he care about that? Unreasonable search and seizure, and the Obama administration surveilling, unmasking the identity of American citizens and then leaking their names?

Their identities are supposed to be protected through a process. Number one, first you need a warrant, and then if, in fact, you are incidentally surveilled, they're supposed to do minimization, a process by which they minimize what they learn about what the American's saying. But as we saw in the case of Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, well, he was incidentally surveilled, unmasked, and then that information was leaked to the press, which is a crime, a violation of the Espionage Act.

Now, in this entire Russia conspiracy bizarre world we're now living in, the only crime that we know for sure that was committed for certain was against Lieutenant General Michael Flynn. Once again, Comey didn't seem to care or even be concerned with what happened.

So to all the members of the destroy Trump media, the destroy Trump Democrats -- now never-Trumpers are excited. "We were right!" They want relevance again. Well, that's the truth that James Comey got what he deserved! He needed to be fired.

But make no mistake, the desire by the media, the D.C. deep state swamp, Democrats, weak establishment Republicans that never supported the president or then candidate Trump, and never-Trumpers -- they're now -- they're now out there thinking they're back in the game.

Now, in many, many ways, they have created this alliance, and that's a clear and present danger, I'm arguing, to the president. They smell blood in the water. They're pushing bizarre conspiracies. They're not standing up for the rule of law, equal justice under the law. Very dangerous time we're living in.

Joining us now from the American Center for Law and Justice, their chief counsel, Jay Sekulow. Why don't I just get your response. Is there anything as a lawyer legally that I'm saying here based on Comey's own words that's not true?

JAY SEKULOW, AMERICAN CENTER FOR LAW AND JUSTICE: No, you laid it out exactly correct. The problem for James Comey started on July 5th and it was compounded each and every time he went to the podium to speak.

And as you pointed out, the one crime we do know of, and that was the unmasking and then the disclosure and leak to the press, was not prosecuted, not investigated, and nothing happened. But there's something deeper. And what you said I think is absolutely correct, Sean, and that is you had James Clapper this weekend alleging that the president -- the president of the United States, President Trump -- is interfering with institutions inside the United States because he fired the then FBI director James Comey.

But James Clapper, with respect to the office, I think he is way off base here. The idea that the executive, the president can fire an executive member, staff member, the FBI director, isn't some constitutional mischief. That's exactly what the Constitution allows!

So where I think the left and the media is getting into this entire Trump, you know, attacking the institutions of government -- it is the left that's saying, We will not put in place an FBI director, no matter who it is, until a special prosecutor, independent prosecutor is put in place. That is the violation of the institutions! It is the FBI, after all, that responds and reports to the Department of Justice.

So Sean, unfortunately for Jim Comey, he brought this upon himself. He's confirmed it and made it worse, and then him not testifying before the Senate. He would only do what he said in an open hearing. He wouldn't do it in a private hearing. I'll tell you why. In a private hearing, he would actually have to answer the question when -- he couldn't just say, It's classified, I can't discuss it, because in a private closed hearing, he can discuss it. He didn't want to give the answers!

HANNITY: I think that's a pretty profound insight. Are there any other laws potentially that you see that Hillary Clinton violated? You know, everybody is acting so sanctimonious and they're so concerned about Russia collusion. James Clapper -- I'll play it if you want -- he said there is no evidence. The same thing with Admiral Rogers. There is no evidence. I'm open, if you got it. Show it to me, but after all these months, it's now lie and innuendo and -- and -- and frankly bordering on just slander this point.

But why would the media ignore all of these crimes that we now know Hillary committed? The evidence is overwhelming, incontrovertible. Do you agree with me that in many ways, there's a two-tiered justice system created by Comey, that Comey had to be fired...

(CROSSTALK)

HANNITY: ... no equal justice under the law?

SEKULOW: Well, Sean, could you imagine if James Comey would've come out -- do you think he would have had that hearing, that press conference on July 5th and said, I'm going to recommend that she be charged? How would -- what would the reaction have been then?

So this was cooked up from the beginning. So in a sense, the entire investigation was a fake, a faux investigation into the whole Clinton matter because remember -- and you said there are other statutes -- each one of those felony statutes has a component that is, in fact, when you are in a conspiracy with other people to do this. Now, was Huma Abedin criminally prosecuted here or brought before a grand jury? Not as far as we can tell. Cheryl Mills -- not as far as we can tell. In fact, Cheryl Mills was allowed to be Hillary Clinton's lawyer in all this, which is beyond bizarre!

So I think the reality was from the outset this was never going to happen. That's why James Comey put himself in the situation, and that's why the president of the United States exercised not an institutional attack, but a constitutional right as president to terminate his employment.

(CROSSTALK)

HANNITY: Crimes committed by Hillary Clinton, email server, and again, gross negligence is the legal standard, and he used the term...

(CROSSTALK)

HANNITY: All right, reckless, you know, being reckless, same thing in my mind. Then we got the Clinton Foundation. Isn't that a real Russia conspiracy? And then you got leaking of intelligence, which is a crime, the one crime we know was committed. He didn't pursue anything on that, either. So...

SEKULOW: Right!

HANNITY: ... if you're the FBI director, and -- in these cases, you knowingly have crimes, and then he won't even put to rest, and he's feeding into a conspiracy.

Let me play James Clapper before we get to this answer. So all these three things are happening, and Clapper even said this to the American people that nobody seems to remember.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHUCK TODD, MODERATOR, "MEET THE PRESS": Let me ask you this. Does intelligence exist that can definitively answer the following question, whether there were improper contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian officials?

JAMES CLAPPER, FMR. DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: We did not include any evidence in our report. And I say "our," that's, NSA, FBI, and CIA, with my office, the director of national intelligence, that had anything -- that had any reflection of collusion between members of the Trump campaign and the Russians. There was no evidence of that included in our report.

TODD: I understand that, but does it exist?

CLAPPER: Not to my knowledge. We had no evidence of such collusion.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HANNITY: And Admiral Rogers!

SEKULOW: I...

HANNITY: Go ahead.

SEKULOW: I just say I rest my case! I rest my case right there! I don't think the president has to defend himself on this. I rest my case! There was James Clapper saying there is no evidence. He was not aware of evidence. He's the head of DNI. I rest my case!

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, you have to find the president not guilty of anything because the head of...

HANNITY: And Hillary should...

SEKULOW: ... the evidence (ph) is saying there's nothing there.

HANNITY: She should have been -- at least a grand jury convened.

SEKULOW: Empaneled.

HANNITY: Empaneled.

SEKULOW: I've been saying that on -- with you for over a -- almost a year now! (INAUDIBLE) not empaneled a grand jury is still mind-boggling to me.

HANNITY: All right, Jay Sekulow. Thank you for your analysis.

SEKULOW: Thanks.

HANNITY: Important (ph) times. We got to get to the truth.

And when we come back, a very important mini monologue, how the president should restructure White House press briefings to better serve you, the American people, rather than the gotcha lying (ph) propaganda media. Laura Ingraham will weigh in.

And also tonight...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, CNN)

CARL BERNSTEIN, JOURNALIST: Donald Trump is a president with whom there is grave question about his fitness and ability to conduct the office of the presidency.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HANNITY: Tonight, we'll call out the destroy Trump propaganda media and their bias, a brand-new segment that we're laying out tonight, and that is the fake news round-up with Geraldo, and of course, Monica Crowley straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HANNITY: And welcome back to "Hannity." So the destroy Trump propaganda media -- they're going to stop at nothing to malign President Trump and members of his administration! Week after week, we see the liberal media using White House press briefings to cause confusion and controversy and chaos. I think it's time to restructure it, these daily briefings, so that all members of the press corps end up serving you, the American people, and not themselves. Tonight's mini monologue.

All right, so daily White House press briefings have turned into nothing more than a dog and pony show and are no longer serving the country. Instead, with few exceptions, we see liberal so-called journalists trying to make a name for themselves with their big gotcha questions and other combative, attention-seeking behavior.

Now, as we've said many times on this show, the president, he doesn't need biased traditional media to reach you, the American people. We now have Facebook, and he has over 50 million followers on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram. The president is in a position, a unique position to communicate daily and directly with the country without using the press as his messenger.

Now, in order to benefit the American public, if these daily briefings do continue, I would argue they need to be restructured.

First, the White House press team should regularly develop a list of the top and most important 15, 20, 25 issues of the day.

Next, the media, well, they should be able to submit questions about these issues in writing, give the White House time to respond with clarity and specificity. And if Sean Spicer then wants to take a couple of questions from the briefing room podium, that's fine, but only on those specific topics, and he should also follow up in writing on any other questions they may have. Also, what about taking questions from you, the American people, on Facebook?

Now, if the White House follows this plan, I think the destroy Trump propaganda media will have a much harder time distorting, misrepresenting the Trump administration's positions, and you, the American people, will be better served.

Isn't it really about the better -- the better serving of the American people? Isn't it about just getting to the truth, not gotcha?

Joining us now, editor-in-chief, Lifezette, Fox News contributor, nationally syndicated radio host Laura Ingraham. Thoughts?

LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: I think, Sean, the briefings being reoriented is a good idea. I would say that probably not 15 to 20 topics. I think probably say 3 to 5 topics would be what I would say on a daily basis they should focus on.

They can do these gaggles in the morning with members of the press and Sean or Sarah or both of them can, you know, share thoughts on the president's schedule with reporters at that time, and then do much shorter, more succinct interactions with the press on a regular basis.

I think -- I've always thought that's what they should do. There's nothing written in stone on a tablet held up on some mountaintop that says you have to do a press briefing every day. Why?

HANNITY: Well, especially now in the age of social media.

(CROSSTALK)

HANNITY: Do you watch Bill Belichick give a press conference? No.

INGRAHAM: Yes.

HANNITY: Yes.

INGRAHAM: No. Oh, yes, yes. He doesn't need to.

HANNITY: No. I already answered that. I love it.

INGRAHAM: Yes, and I think -- I think, Sean, you give the press all these bites at the apple instead of, like, they should just go out there and do their work. I've always thought that a lot of these White House reporters should spend more time outside of the White House grounds. Go report on America. Talk about the country. Do you really need all these reporters at the White House sitting around all day, hoping that they get a crumb thrown to them about what's happening on the inside?

I think it's all too much. I think they should continue the rotating questions from reporters who are outside Washington. But there's no need to do these every day. It should only be on an as-needed basis.

HANNITY: You know, there's certain things we got to remember here, and I want you to comment on this. One, we know they colluded via Wikileaks with Hillary Clinton. So we know they're biased. Two, we watch these questions. They're clear gotcha questions. And three, there's no fidelity, it seems, to serve the American people and actually get to the truth, which is why they won't focus on why Comey really needed to be fired, which I talked about in the last segment.

INGRAHAM: Yes. There's a lot of grandstanding that happens as the press corps has become part of the entertainment culture. So it's info-tainment more than information. And I think the more "Saturday Night Live" gets clipped and replayed on social and it becomes a -- you know, destination place every Saturday night, you say, OK, what did they do this weekend? Then the reporters feel like they're characters in the ongoing drama. So you have Glenn Thrush, you know, with his hat. He becomes a character. Jake Tapper becomes a character. And so I imagine it's kind of fun for these guys, who are otherwise -- you know, they're just...

HANNITY: Well, you think it, but there's something that's happening. I mean, there is a huge -- look, "Saturday Night Live" had record ratings this year. Colbert was dead and buried by Kimmel and Fallon. He's been revitalized. He's now number one, I think, in late night. You know, you see the kook tinfoil left conspiracy. TV works. You know, there are news networks that devote themselves 24/7 to conspiracy, and they're getting record ratings for that. So it actually works.

INGRAHAM: Yes, I think it's the only thing that the left has right now. They have to bathe themselves in these waves of Trump conspiracy theories or Trump psychoanalysis. I love the psychoanalysis being done by...

HANNITY: Bernstein? Yes.

INGRAHAM: ... certain other cable hosts every morning. You know, Well, I think he's paranoid delusional! I think he's schizophrenic! I don't -- it's the most -- like you have a Ph.D. and you can prescribe medication.

HANNITY: By the way, that's their conservative host that you're referring to.

(CROSSTALK)

HANNITY: ... talking about those same articles of impeachment against Nixon!

INGRAHAM: Wait, wait! I have a question, Sean. Is that the same guy who, like, begged to get a job at FOX year after year? Oh, OK.

HANNITY: Yes, that's the guy. Well, I was very nice to him. I congratulated him on the wedding. I'm trying to be fair.

INGRAHAM: Good for you.

HANNITY: All right, I guess the next question is, how soon should they do this, and how imperative is it that they do this?

INGRAHAM: I think their communications has been a little difficult, and I think there are a lot of things that gone into this. I think the...

HANNITY: Would you go help, if asked? I'm such an annoying human being!

INGRAHAM: Thank you, Sean. I appreciate that. I would always go help serve my country if I thought I could really make a difference. I don't -- I -- I -- I am -- I said this...

HANNITY: Not as press secretary, as comms director.

INGRAHAM: I said this on Friday, OK? I don't like people dumping on the communications office. And I will say this. There are a lot of times where those guys have gotten very little notice before they've had to go out and actually talk about something that's fairly complicated. That's not easy to do. If I wasn't in on the story until 5 minutes before and I had to go out and kind of explain it to a bunch of, you know, angry reporters -- that's not easy to do. That's impossible to do, frankly.

So I think communications could be better. It could be streamlined. There needs to be something called message discipline, and it starts at the top. Starts with Trump, and it filters down through the rest of the staff. I think they're doing a really good job. A lot of good stuff's happening, and of course, the...

(CROSSTALK)

INGRAHAM: ... covering it.

HANNITY: Laura, good advice.

INGRAHAM: Thanks.

HANNITY: And I think this will calm down as usual.

Anyway, up next on this busy breaking news night here tonight on "Hannity"...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, CNN)

BERNSTEIN: Donald Trump is a president with whom there is grave questions about his fitness and ability to conduct the office of the presidency.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HANNITY: All right, our fake news round-up, all the latest examples of the propaganda media losing it. Monica Crowley, Geraldo -- they weigh in.

And also tonight, last night's winner of the Miss USA pageant taking heat from the left all saying health care -- all for saying health care's a privilege, not a right. Former Miss California USA, Carrie Prejean, will join us with reaction as we continue right here on this busy news night. And Sara Carter straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KELLY WRIGHT, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: This is a Fox News alert. I'm Kelly Wright in Washington.

The White House denying a "Washington Post" report that President Trump revealed highly classified information to Russian officials. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, who was in last week's White House meeting with the Russian foreign minister, says no sensitive intel was shared.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

H.R. MCMASTER, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: The story that came out tonight as reported is false. The president and the foreign minister reviewed a range of common threats to our two countries, including threats to civil aviation. At no time, at no time, were intelligence sources or messages discussed. And the president did not disclose any military operations that were not already publicly known.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WRIGHT: This is in contrast to the Washington Post report which claimed sources told them the information was very sensitive and had been provided by a U.S. partner.

I am Kelly Wright in Washington. Now back to "Hannity."

HANNITY: Welcome back to "Hannity." So the destroy-Trump, propaganda media, they are working overtime. They're doing everything they can do to attack and discredit the president of the United States. Here are some of the latest examples of the ridiculous comments made by the mainstream media, in other words, our fake news update.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

JOE SCARBOROUGH, CO-HOST, "MORNING JOE"/MSNBC: It's sad and pathetic that the secretary of state feels like he has to say that he's, quote, "devoted" to a president who is, again, shredding democratic norms.

BERNSTEIN: Donald Trump is a president with whom there is grave question about his fitness and ability to conduct the office of the presidency.

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN: Donald Trump in much of his rhetoric and many of his actions poses a danger to American democracy. The media must cover the administration's policies fairly. But it also must never let the public forget that many of the attitudes and actions of this president are gross violations of the customs and practices of the modern American system.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

HANNITY: OK, that is our fake news roundup for the day. Here with reaction, Fox News correspondent at large Geraldo Rivera, conservative columnist Monica Crowley.

Here is what I see, and it is dangerous for the president. I'm going to do a monologue tomorrow on it. You have the destroy-Trump media, destroy-Trump Democrats. You have the Washington, D.C., swamp and that includes these intelligence leaks even tonight. Then you have that never-Trumpers and weak Republicans. You have five groups that are sort of aligning now, they sense there is blood in the water. They want to take him out. They've never wanted him to succeed. This is a clear, present danger and an attempt to undermine an election.

MONICA CROWLEY, THE WASHINGTON TIMES: And don't forget arguably the most powerful groups is the media, because all of those groups that you just laid are all part of the elite ruling class. I would include the media in that.

HANNITY: That was the media coverage.

CROWLEY: And because they have the power they can amplify these messages. I said this from the very beginning, from the second Donald Trump announced that he was going to be a candidate for president to this very day, that because he is unlike anything we have ever seen and a guy who won the presidency and is now in the presidency --

HANNITY: He's a threat to the existence of those five groups.

CROWLEY: Absolutely, because his promise with this. He was going to smash the existing order. That means stripping away all of the power and influence of the elite ruling class. That means the establishment on both sides, that means the media, and so on. So he must not be allowed to succeed. That's why you're getting this hyperbole and exaggeration, Geraldo.

GERALDO RIVERA, FOX NEWS SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: I don't disagree with either of you. I think that in fairness, though, you have to admit that this president, our friend, Donald Trump, the 45th president, has given the media and his critics plenty of ammo. At the timing of the firing of James Comey is a classic example. Not a bad deed but badly timed and poorly defended, particularly when he allowed Sean Spicer last week to go out there and say he was doing it because he's a grandstander and then the next week say it had something to do with Russia. He has given conflicting messages. He has fed enough fodder to his critics that a lot of the blame --

HANNITY: I think this is a fair criticism. I think more discipline in terms of --

RIVERA: He needs a Twitter editor. And I would volunteer to do it. I would do it for free. I would absolutely do it for free.

HANNITY: Would you do mine for free?

CROWLEY: And mine?

RIVERA: I'd stand shoulder to shoulder with both of you. But I also want to confirm the fact that although I am a person who has some policy and philosophical differences, ideological differences with President Trump, there is no doubt that the coverage of him is unrelentingly harsh. It is angry. It is exaggerated, exacerbates the tension between the White House and the American people. There is no doubt that the media is out of touch with this administration --

HANNITY: Out to get him? Out to get him?

RIVERA: Out to get him. They are mostly urban or suburban progressives --

HANNITY: Destroy him?

RIVERA: I think that there is a target on this president's back that is unprecedented. I'm probably the only one here -- actually, no, you were a baby in the Nixon administration, you go back to those days --

HANNITY: There's no comparison.

RIVERA: That's the only remote comparison is how Nixon was once he was wounded. Now the perception is Donald Trump has wounded himself and now the hyenas are striking.

HANNITY: Well said.

CROWLEY: Look, this is a man who has never done this before, which is remarkable. This is the most astonishing political story of our lifetime, the election of Donald Trump. That comes with great virtues and strengths, and your bringing a frustrated eyes and a businessman's perspective to government.

But it also brings some drawbacks in that you are not experienced in, a, running the federal government and, b, dealing with an incredibly hostile media, a permanent federal bureaucracy, a hostile deep state. He is facing things that no other president has faced before. I would say this -- most of the American people are with him on policy or he would not have gotten elected. I would encourage the president to stay focused on his economic and national security agendas. Tune out all of the noise, don't take the bait, and I know he's not going to change, but don't take the bait and focus on delivering for the American people.

HANNITY: I agree with you.

(CROSSTALK)

HANNITY: Solve the problem. Solve the country's problems.

RIVERA: But problem-solving is complex. It takes time to solve problems. I think that what you need is a restart. I don't know if Sean Spicer is destined to be demoted or Sarah Huckabee promoted or somebody from outside brought in. But if you do some dramatic thing within the inner sanctum --

HANNITY: Are you just feeding the frenzy, and feeding -- they want stop him and then you give them one?

RIVERA: I want the president to say we are restarting. For instance, now you have the immigration case being held and heard by the ninth circuit. But the point if you listen to the arguments, one of the points one of the judges made is Donald Trump said this was a Muslim ban during the campaign, he never said it's not a Muslim ban. He should correct --

HANNITY: He clarified that in the executive order.

RIVERA: But he should just come out and say I've had some messaging complications here. I'm basically on track.

HANNITY: Real quick.

CROWLEY: He is a tremendous communicator. He needs a little bit more of a coherent communication strategy on both the domestic side and the national security side because, again, the American are with him. He just needs a consistent method.

HANNITY: It's amazing -- conspiracy, tinfoil hat news, if you can call it that, is like ruling the day.

RIVERA: Twitter editor.

HANNITY: Geraldo Rivera is volunteering for the job.

When we come back, new revelations, Sara Carter, Circa News about the Obama administration's unmasking scandal. It goes way further than just Susan Rice. She's here with the latest.

And then also tonight, the left having a meltdown after the Miss USA pageant winner called health care a privilege and not a right. Former Miss USA contestant Carrie Prejean will reacted straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HANNITY: Welcome back to "Hannity." So Sara Carter from CircaNews.com is working on a new report that could blow the Obama administration unmasking scandal wide open. The unmasking reportedly involves more officials than just Susan Rice by a long stretch. Here now with the very latest from CircaNews.com, Sara Carter, their chief national security correspondent. OK, you got my attention.

SARA CARTER, CIRCA NEWS: Yes, you got the attention of a lot of people, Sean. And I think that the attention of the unmasking up is on Capitol Hill. This is the most important story, and it's being ignored by most of the media. And I think the concern is that it went far beyond a Susan Rice and that Susan Rice although be it a very important player, we don't have all the information out yet, I know that right now they haven't seen all of the reports from the NSA with regards to the unmasking and that people are still going through that.

But there is concern that it went far beyond her to other high-level officials and that it wasn't solely focused on Russia. And this has to be the question -- why were they unmasking these conversations, these intelligence reports, unmasking Americans, if they didn't have anything to do with Russia? What was the national security concern here? And this is why people need to be brought forth before the House and before the intelligence community to answer questions.

HANNITY: This is so important. In 2015 and in 2016 both you and John Solomon have reported a dramatic, in the election season, those two years, a dramatic acceleration in the number of people surveilled and unmasked. And a lot of them just happened to be connected to Donald Trump or Republicans. And it's widespread, and when it's released and unmasking, isn't that a crime?

CARTER: No, because they changed the laws. Releasing the intelligence, yes, that is a crime, of course. And that's the only crime that we know was committed.

We know that when they released the name of Michael Flynn, and remember, Sean, this is a small group of people. It isn't like it was spread across the entire intelligence community. That's what we were led to believe. The original people who saw those reports in the DOJ and the FBI, those folks who had access to those reports were the ones who actually release the information. It wouldn't be that difficult to find out. I know this from talking to people within the community.

So yes, releasing the name is illegal. But remember, they also changed the law so that they could unmask more and more Americans with very little explanation. All they could say is, look, I need this for national security. This is the reason why I need to unmask this, and they would be given permission. And remember it also changed to very high level officials.

So you've got to ask yourself, Susan Rice, Clapper, Brennan, others in the DOJ, if they were requesting these unmaskings of Americans, why were they doing it?

HANNITY: Ben Rhodes.

CARTER: Ben Rhodes.

HANNITY: Ben Rhodes was involved, Valerie Jarrett involved. Did it get to the White House. Did it get to the president?

CARTER: That's what we don't know.

HANNITY: Inquiring minds want to know.

CARTER: That's what we want to know, too. We don't have information yet that the president was briefed on all of this. I'm assuming that if you are the president of the United States and your right hand is looking at unmaskings, maybe he was briefed on it. But that we don't know yet. What do not know is that --

HANNITY: Will be no more this week? I've got to run, but will we know more this week?

CARTER: Yes, I think we will.

HANNITY: All right, Sara Carter, we're going to stay on it. Nobody else is following it, but this I think will be the biggest scandal in our lifetime. Thank you for your reporting.

We come back, last night's winner of the Miss USA pageant under fire by the liberal left after she dared to say health care is a privilege and not a right. Former Miss USA contestant Carrie Prejean, former Miss California, weighs in on this political firestorm. God help you if you are a conservative, straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JULIANNE HOUGH, MISS USA CO-HOST: Do you think affordable health care for all U.S. citizens is a right or a privilege, and why?

KARA MCCULLOUGH, MISS USA CONTESTANT: I am definitely going to say it's a privilege. As a government employee, I am granted health care, and I see firsthand that for, one, to have health care you need to have a job. So therefore we need to continue to cultivate this environment that we are given the opportunity to have health care as well as jobs for all the American citizens worldwide.

As a woman scientist in the government, I would like to transpose the word of "feminism" to "equalism." I don't want to consider myself -- I try not to consider myself a diehard, you know, I don't really care about men.

The one thing I'm going to say, women, we are just as equal as men when it comes to opportunity in the workplace.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HANNITY: Pretty bold and pretty courageous. That was the winner of the Miss USA Pageant Kara McCullough. She's now under attack under the intolerant liberal left. Why? She voiced her opinion, made those comments during the competition last night.

Here with reaction, she's lived through this herself, former Miss USA contestant, former Miss California USA, 2009, Carrie Prejean. Based on the reaction I think you probably identify with what this poor woman is now going through.

CARRIE PREJEAN, FORMER MISS CALIFORNIA USA, 2009: Yes, Sean. It's so good to be with you. I definitely can relate, and it's just so refreshing, Sean. I had a big smile on my face last night watching the Miss USA pageant with my six-year-old daughter, reminiscing about almost 10 years ago my experience at the Miss USA Pageant. And I couldn't help, Sean, but to just a smile and to just feel so much hope for our future and our future generations that finally we as women, not only was a big night for Kara, but it was a big night for women in general and all Americans that freedom of speech does in fact still exist in this country and you shouldn't be punished for it. And you can still in fact, win Miss USA.

HANNITY: Yes. For my people, they are asking questions. I would think you don't want robots. You don't want groupthink. You want honest, truthful answers. You give a truthful answer, she gives a truthful answer, and huge controversy ensues. And I'm thinking nobody wants honest answers. They want answers they can jump on. But in every case, the only people that get jumped on seem to be conservative. What's your reaction to that part?

PREJEAN: I totally agree with that. I think there's a huge double standard. That's why it was so empowering as a woman last night to see this a bold, courageous woman speak her truth. The fact that people are criticizing her, they should be applauding her. The feminists should be uplifting and applauding her for being an African-American woman to win Miss USA and to take such a bold stance. She is such a role model, especially to not only my daughter but other young women to take a stance. And at the end of the day that's what life is all about is being your true, authentic self and not being afraid of the bullies.

HANNITY: I was really interested in her comments about feminism should be changed to equalism. I thought that was a pretty interesting narrative, very smart, independent thoughts. But yet that is being attacked. What is your reaction to that?

PREJEAN: I agree with her 100 percent. I think feminist get a bad reputation honestly. Look at what was going on in Washington, D.C. I was there for the inauguration, and just the vulgarity and the slander -- we really need to start uplifting each other as women. And I think a true feminist would do that. And so I think they need to leave this poor girl alone and let her have her moment.

HANNITY: Don't hold your breath. What is your advice for her to deal with this controversy?

PREJEAN: You know, she seems to have a pretty good head on her shoulders. I think she is tough. I think she's extremely smart. She works for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, so they can't call her dumb, Sean. That's a good thing. They can't call her a dumb blonde. So that's one advantage that she had over me. So I think that she is going to hold her own, and I wish her the best of luck, and I think that she is going to be an amazing, amazing Miss USA.

HANNITY: I don't have any doubt that your wise counsel and support will definitely be heeded hopefully by her, and it is courageously. It's sad that people attack freedom of speech. Carrie, great to see you, as always. Thanks for being with us.

PREJEAN: Good to see you, Sean. Thank you.

HANNITY: When we come back, we need your help. An important "Question of the Day" as "Hannity" continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HANNITY: Time for our "Question of the Day." So do you think health care is a right or a privilege? Go to Facebook.com/SeanHannity, @SeanHannity on Twitter, let us know what you think.

That's all the time we have left this evening. We're running out of time. Set your DVR, never miss an episode. See you back here tomorrow night.

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