Transcript

Democrats' outrage boils over following intel sharing report

Reaction and analysis on 'The Fox News Specialists'

 

This is a rush transcript from "The Fox News Specialists," May 16, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

KATHERINE TIMPF, CO-HOST: We are "The Fox News Specialists." Anti-Trump forces unleashed their most brazen attack yet against President Trump, leaking highly sensitive details to the Washington Post about President Trump's meeting with Russia's foreign minister and ambassador to the U.S. last week. President Trump is defiance in the wake of the report, tweeting earlier that he has an, quote, absolute right to share facts with Russia. National security adviser H.R. McMaster drove that point home further today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

H.R. MCMASTER, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: I stand by the statements that I've made yesterday. What I'm saying is really the premise of that article is false, that in any way the president had a conversation it was inappropriate or that resulted in any kind of lapse in national security. So I think the real issue, and I think I would like to see really debated more is that our national security has been put at risk by those violating confidentiality.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TIMPF: But can we trust either side? I don't trust the Washington Post entirely here. But I also don't think that this is some conspiracy to take down the president. I don't know. Eric, I'm assuming you're totally on Trump's side.

ERIC BOLLING, CO-HOST: Well, first of all can I just say that McMaster, man, that guy is all about -- he's intense, and I love hearing him talk. But he support. He was in the room. He supports. Rex Tillerson was in the room. This meeting was attended by five people. Dina Powell as well was there. And this happened six days ago. Now all of a sudden someone leaks at the real story here is who's leaking to the press and what they think is important information, primarily to hurt Donald Trump? Primarily to say Trump's not doing things right. This was a discussion surrounding a common enemy, a common foe, ISIS, it was an aviation risk that Donald Trump said, hey, look, we have some intel on what ISIS is planning to do. Don't forget. Russia lost a jetliner in 2015, 227 souls died in that. There are common fights against ISIS. I think this was a lot to do about nothing, but you watch the mainstream media they're is freaking out about it.

TIMPF: Eboni, what do you think?

EBONI K. WILLIAMS, CO-HOST: Yeah, I think the politics are going to play out. But I'm kind of with Eric on this, I'm kind of over the politics, and ultimately it's our national security that is at risk when these types of leaks continue to occur. Eric, there were five people in this room, so I am very concern while I'll be watching the president in the White House on the fallout of that. I also want to know, we've got to figure out who this leak is, with that small of number of people in the room, this is getting out of control, and we're ultimately going to pay the price for it.

BOLLING: I'm kind of just throw it here that there's been a lot of whispers this afternoon about who exactly that leak is. And it looks like it may have been someone within the intel community, may be a mid to upper level staffer who didn't like what Trump was doing. It was a pro-Trump supporter, but didn't like what Trump is doing. Now that was reported, but certainly not confirm.

WILLIAMS: Yeah. And you cannot like Donald Trump, Eric, and you know that's fine. But to put our national security at risk because of it, that's a serious issue. We've got to get to the bottom of this.

TIMPF: Of course, I agree with that.

WILLIAMS: Yeah.

TIMPF: All right. Let's meet today's specialists. He is a former teacher with 20 years experience, a frequent guest on the Fox News channel, and a radio talk show host for WPHT-1210 Philadelphia, but he specializes in educating liberals in the city of brotherly love, Dom Giordano is here. And he's a writer for The Hello, a former political director for President George W. Bush, and he's the chairman of the American Conservative union, but he specializes in learning to be a farmer, Matt Schlapp is here. All right, Matt, I'm going to go to you on this.

MATT SCHLAPP, AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE UNION PRESIDENT: Sure.

TIMPF: Much like with the Comey firing, the reason of the Comey firing, what concerns me here is the shift. Yesterday, McMaster was saying this is false, and today he's saying the premise is false, which is actually quite a difference saying.

SCHLAPP: I think the thing with Trump is, every time there are these controversies and there's this turbulence, and I will admit to you there's a lot of turbulence, and he's done things in a way we haven't seen presidents do. But if you get to the heart of it, the heart of this was, President Trump believes that Russia is an important ally in this sense, they both want to destroy ISIS. And he wants to make sure that they get a leg up in that fight. Just by the way, as President Obama before him try to do the same thing on the fight on ISIS. So I think where we all get confused as we say, well, he shouldn't -- how those photos get out? What was the protocol on this one? It was a little sloppy. But in the end, I think the policy is correct, and it reminds everybody what is the Trump policy. The Trump policy is at least trying to get along with Russia if we can. And let's do everything we can to just kill and defeat ISIS.

TIMPF: I think it's a little more than sloppy if there's a switch in the message like that. I always question things if there's a switch in the message. You disagree with that?

DOM GIORDANO, TALK RADIO HOST: I do disagree, Kat. I think the shot of the day to me is the screenshot of the celebrating high-fiving Washington Post newsroom. If this is so important, classified material, sober, serious, and Trump is not, how are these people, the nation's esteemed journalist, high-fiving each other and tweeting that out. Because they're viral count -- the quick count of this went past the access Hollywood camp. That to me say where we are. I think Trump has to tighten up. I think everybody that I know that knows him thinks there has to be more tightness, but I think this was a blunder rather than making it he's treasonous.

BOLLING: And one of the things that the left, the media -- a good friend of mine, Joe Scarborough and Mika this morning. Joe looked like he was going to cry. I mean, I love you, Joe, but it wasn't that important of a deal. They were pointing out that -- well, if this leak -- you know, Trump turned over some information with an ally, that the ally discovered, that means the ally was no longer going to share information to fight terror or fight ISIS with us. It turns out that I think the Washington Post -- I'm sorry the New York Times and CNN have reported that the information came from an Israeli source. Now, Ryan Dermer, the ambassador, the Israeli ambassador says, quote, Israel has full confidence in our intelligence sharing relationship with the United States and it looks forward to deepening that relationship in the years ahead under President Trump. So if this isn't much ado about nothing, there's nothing that is.

WILLIAMS: So let's talk about Israel, Eric. I'm really glad you brought that up. So that statement, while I appreciate the spirit, it doesn't really tell us anything truthfully because that's what you have to say in this moment in time as a diplomat. So we don't know. They're not confirming or denying whether or not they were the source. But here's to Don.

BOLLING: The feeling among the left and the liberal media was that because the source, whoever the source was going to be, might cut off a diplomatic relationship.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLLING: . sharing information avenue that was there, and Israel who clearly is the source, says that's not going to happen.

WILLIAMS: That's not going to happen. And that's important. And I think we need to focus on that. To your point and to Don's point, there's no doubt that there are people in this country that are just salivating at every moment, every day they wake up and it's a fresh opportunity to impeach Donald J. Trump, and I think that's absolutely has to stop. Because then that undermines the important conversation that we're having at this table about our ally in Israel, about what might chill the effect of this information sharing which is so important because, certainly, their ability to provide us information is critical to them and to us. But we can't even have that conversation effectively because we are too busy worrying about every single little not full of opportunity to impeach President Trump.

GIORDANO: Honestly, we can't have a conversation about, is this confident, how bad it is, does he needs more (INAUDIBLE) that's a legitimate conversation. I've been critical on occasion, and I think everybody has. But when you go out there, and treason is thrown out, and Mika Brzezinski and all this stuff, then what you do is -- the Trump base, people that call me they get riled up. They don't want to hear any of this.

WILLIAMS: It's a blatant protection around.

GIORDANO: Exactly.

WILLIAMS: . and we bypass the nuts and bolts of the conversation.

TIMPF: All right. This afternoon, press secretary Sean Spicer gave an off-camera briefing to reporters highlighting the growing security threats from leakers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: What has occurred today, or over the last little while in terms of these leaks, is frankly dangerous. This is clearly a pattern of people releasing sensitive information to further what appears to be someone's agenda.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLLING: Did you notice what happened there?

TIMPF: Yeah.

BOLLING: He released a statement, a verbal statement rather than going to the full briefing, which is what they were threatening to do a couple days ago. So maybe this is a new way they're going to start releasing information. But Spicer is right. And this is really -- Matt touched on it in the first comment, the leaks are really at the heart of the.

TIMPF: I agree that those are important. Of course, they're important.

BOLLING: The biggest issue here, not whether or not Donald Trump said, yeah, there's a laptop computer that ISIS wants to blow up. There's a battery that looks like a battery but will blow up. That's not the issue. The issue is that our intel is being leaked, our conversations with diplomats are being leaked to the press. That's awful.

SCHLAPP: We're missing the heart of each one of these -- little like many controversies that come up. Same thing with Comey, should he be gone as FBI director, every Democrat in the senate would have said get rid of him, right? But when they can make politics out of it -- let's look at the White House, some sloppiness around the creation of this meeting. They do have to tighten that up. The idea that they didn't know who had what devices taking photos, that means they could be listening on conversation. We had enough of that with Russia. We don't need more of that. And the next piece of this is, on the personnel side, they've got to fill these slots. They've just got to fill them. We've got to have better staff work done. I know the senate -- the Democrats and the senate are transigen. They want to stop everyone. But part of this is on the White House, too. You've got to fill these slots. The people I know who are in that administration doing great work, love the president, they're just flat out exhausted.

TIMPF: I agree that the leaks are a problem. And I agree also, Eboni, with you when you're saying that a lot of people would jump on anything that they see as something to take down Donald Trump. I'm just so confuse. If really the story is, he did say certain things, but it's OK to say them but the premise is wrong, why not come out with that first, instead of saying this is all false, and then coming out the next day and saying the premises false. He did -- some of the stuff is true, but it was OK for him to say it. It was for a common goal.

WILLIAMS: So I think, ultimately, a lot of people kind of questioning the legality. There's this big question, again, everyone who was waiting with baited breath for impeachment as the ultimate goal, is everything Donald Trump does, it's it illegal? So we know here it's not illegal.

TIMPF: Right.

WILLIAMS: But, ultimately, the president enjoys wide authority on the ability to declassify something if he sees fit. So let's take that off the table. But then the question of judgment to your concern I think that's a legitimate question. Is it smart to be sharing information our allies are giving us, even if to Matt's point it's the interest of furthering an alliance with Russia on the issue of ISIS. It's just something to consider. Because if Eric and I are friends, right, and we talk and we exchange information, even if it's something that I wouldn't necessarily mind you finding out, Kat, it might do something to my trustworthy of Eric.

TIMPF: Right.

WILLIAMS: . if he tells you without my knowledge or consent.

BOLLING: I'll take that one step further. I think in the best interest of everyone, I think that's smart to do. Even I've been told information that I'm not supposed to tell anyone. You know what, guys, I've just have to let you know. We wanted music in the studio before we started. I was going to push for music, you guys cool with it? Yeah. Well, hey, Bolling, you weren't supposed to say anything about that. I'm using an example that's happening right now.

WILLIAMS: Yeah.

(CROSSTALK)

TIMPF: That's not really very sensitive.

(LAUGHTER)

BOLLING: No, but in the interest of safety -- number one, the world has a common enemy with ISIS. That should override everything. One final thought.

TIMPF: No.

BOLLING: You notice what happens up until today? The Russian collusion issue with Donald Trump was the biggest story in mainstream media. Where did that go today?

WILLIAMS: Well, there's a new topic.

BOLLING: They've got a new one. They've got a new reason for us to hate on Trump.

TIMPF: All right. Well, the president enemies are fanning all kinds of outrageous speculation around the legality of what he reportedly told those Russian diplomats. Fox's -- Judge Andrew Napolitano, however, is taking the wind out of their sails.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDREW NAPOLITANO, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: He may have broken rules about the manner of declassifying information, but that's not a crime. Under the law, the president can declassify anything. So he can take a top secret. This top secret is called SAP's, select access procedure. It's the top of the top secret. He can declassify that. There may be political fallout for him declassifying it, as will find best. And I found out it's the day I think today progresses. But there's no.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS: He was talking about U.S. code 18 U.S. 1798 on that. Yeah. It's just the way the law is written. And so, there are a lot of people now having this equation conversation about what Trump allegedly has done here with what Hillary Clinton allegedly could have done or around that. The difference, of course, is factually you can't really make those comparisons because she didn't enjoy that same authority because she wasn't presidents. In Donald Trump, is a.

GIORDANO: What it gets at it, though, is just the hypocrisy here that people were defending Hillary to the hill and saying she should be president even though she's just compromised with Trump, this is treason.

BOLLING: Matt may disagree with me on this one. John McCain, you've heard what he did? He came out very, very strongly against Trump, and then had to walk it back midday today when he found out what the real facts were surrounding.

(CROSSTALK)

SCHLAPP: Typical. When you first get up in the morning and you read the paper and you say, oh, my God, this horrible thing has happened. My heart usually stops at these moments. I might go, OK. You know, what have they done? And then you start reading about it and you talk to people in the know and you're like, wait a minute, is that all this is?

BOLLING: But a senior senator with as much experience in.

SCHLAPP: May be a little too senior?

(CROSSTALK)

BOLLING: I'll agree with that. I think he really needed to find out what was going on, especially a guy who spent a lot of time in Syria, kind of backing out maybe the wrong thing.

TIMPF: I think everybody on all side should not be afraid, no matter who is saying what on what side at any situation to wait a little bit before reacting. Please be mindful, be mindful.

(CROSSTALK)

TIMPF: You should. You really, really should because people listen to these things. You can speculate, but there's a difference between speculating and saying I think this and saying I know this for a fact.

WILLIAMS: And you know what for those who really are concern, Kat, with the takedown of Donald Trump for whatever reason, political, what have you, this is actually not beneficial for them. What you need to do is sit back and wait and wait, and if indeed the president does something that is worthy of, you know, impeachment, then that's when you make that argument. But to make this argument at every little misstep, every single thing that comes out and speculate at nausea, it's not helpful.

TIMPF: All right. Next up, the Democratic freak out goes completely off the rails following the Washington Post Russia report. Fasten your seat belts and make sure to follow us on social media, @SpecialistsFNC on both Twitter and Facebook.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLLING: Hypocrisy runs deep in the alt-left. Case and point, let's first listen to the liberal posy delivering their predictable over-the-top jack up rhetoric surrounding the Trump-Russian ambassador meeting leaks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)

LEON PANETTA, ON CNN: This president is loose cannon. The president of the United States cannot just do or say or speak whatever the hell he wants. That's just irresponsible.

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL, D-CONN.: People are going to be alarmed, astonished, appalled by the recklessness and carelessness at best of this kind of talk with the Russians.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC: The White House seems to be a catastrophe. It's crazy. It's mishgoss. It's just confusing craziness.

ALAN DERSHOWITZ, ON CNN: This is the most serious accusation ever made against a sitting president relating to national security.

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: Ever.

DERSHOWTIZ: It's true.

UNINDENTIFIED MALE, ON CNN: Breaches like this will get Americans killed eventually. There's no better way to put it.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

BOLLING: OK. But now let's refresh the memories of these liberals. In fact, it was their own presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, who severely mishandled classified information for years. Where was the fake news media back then? Charles Krauthammer wouldn't let it slide last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, ON "SPECIAL REPORT": Pure opportunism and a reflex reaction. And particularly, since their candidate for the presidency had been spilling classified information, some of the highest levels for year and a half, and the Democrats pretended it wasn't a problem or they should be ignored. It's rather unseemly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLLING: Now, Don, you touched on that, the A block. Hillary Clinton was the one who is -- you know, feasibly leaking classified information.

(CROSSTALK)

GIORDANO: I wonder if Democrats wants a way with Trump. I think what it is they can't figure out how to beat him, he's unpredictable, unconventional, so they throw up their hands and think just saying anything is going -- and Blumenthal is made for Trump to troll, the senator from Connecticut. Every time he's out there, Trump just eats this up. They're be a tweet about this guy.

BOLLING: You're talking about Blumenthal. I assume, Matt, Don might be talking about when Senator Blumenthal kind of forgot his own military.

(CROSSTALK)

SCHLAPP: Exactly. I served a year in (INAUDIBLE) I can't really make that into anything bigger. It would be appropriate. But this is just so typical of them, which is they're kind of -- they lose track of their own weaknesses and they've got their own weaknesses on classified information. By the way, we only have one president. He can declassify anything he wants at any time.

BOLLING: And that's what you said, Eboni.

WILLIAMS: And that's exactly what the statute -- the good old statutory law comes in handy. Here's the problem. For the Democrats in this moment, I understand there's still a lot of upsetedness, shock and awe, what have you around the November election. That's really what this is still about for many of them. Here's the issue, now's the time to get in front of it. This montage, Eric, that we've just played to open this block. That is the same narrative. They're anticipating in winning that election with. This shock and awe and outrage of how much of a disaster Donald Trump is, it didn't work in November. My advised to them as a party would say, OK, now is the time -- there are some missteps, some sloppiness, at least as Matt called it, from this White House. You said it's an opportunity. Get in front of issues on -- get an economic message. Get in front of national security. Get in front of, I don't know, criminal justice reform. And actually put together a cohesive message that people can go to the polls and vote for, not just being so afraid and intimidated by Donald Trump.

BOLLING: And Kat, isn't it true that Trump garnered a huge percentage of his vote by people who said, you know, I'm tired of business as usual in Washington, D.C., so they voted for him. Meanwhile, it seems like the media can't accept what he is. He's different. He's not -- you can't get a laser on that target.

TIMPF: You most certainly cannot. And I think if you're a Democrat and you're concerned about national security but only if it's a threat that's potentially committed by a Republican, you're not really concerned about national security. You're concerned about taking down Republicans, and that's just the truth. You have to be concern about it on all sides. But that applies to both sides. Republicans, too, and Democrats. But people have had enough of these politics for the sake of politics, which is exactly why they voted for Donald Trump. And if they continue this, they're saying, oh, this is so shocking, this is so shocking. Well, the guy was shocking when he was running, very shocking and he still won. So you're going to have to find some other talking points, any other talking points.

BOLLING: You know, you keep your finger on the pulse, I mean, especially with CPAC and whatnot. A lot of these same people who are trashing Trump are saying, look, this is really great for Democrats in 2018, but they were so completely off base going into 2016 election. Do they have any argument in this at all?

SCHLAPP: Well, look, I think the Democrats are in a rough spot here because if you really look at it, Eric, there's no policy disagreement. They all wanted to get rid of Comey. They all wanted to defeat ISIS. They're the original idea, but we don't have to have the fear the Soviets or the Russians, we've should make nice, and we should all get along. All these policy disagreements they're really not there. So you know when it all comes down to, Donald Trump is not legitimate. Donald Trump -- this was erratic behavior. You know what, you're exactly right, Kat, that the American people knew exactly what they were voting for and they think Washington needs it.

BOLLING: Matt brought a very good point, guys. Control, can you go to that sound bite? I thought we're not going to use it. But listen to sound bite of exactly what Matt was talking about it. If you have it, go.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, CNN)

UNINDENTIFIED MALE: Now that he has been let go, why the sudden and selective outrage from your side of the aisle?

REP. NANCY PELOSI, D-CALIF.: For the president of the United States to fire somebody with his own self admission that he didn't like, he was tired of the Russia-Trump probe is distressing. It's distressing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TIMPF: I believe she's distressed. She looks very distressed.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLLING: That's the point Matt was making, Kat, is that, look, they were outraged with Comey after the election. Now they say, hey, why you fire him?

TIMPF: Yeah. There's definitely some of that. There absolutely some of that. And they weren't concerned about Hillary Clinton. Now they're concerned about Trump. Either you care about national security or you don't. We need to get to a point where we care about issues and issues about Russia, particularly. Remember when Mitt Romney said that Russia was our single greatest threat. They were laughing. There were t-shirts mocking him with that on it. Now they decided, oh, yeah, nobody it is. So it becomes only political and people are tired of that, or else will have a different president that we do now.

BOLLING: And maybe that's another message to your Democrat friends out there. Hey, that's hypocrisy.

(LAUGHTER)

WILLIAMS: I have been consistent on this issue for a very long time now. You've got to get a message. And this was the failure of the 2016 election, and also with a terribly flawed candidate in Mrs. Clinton, but that messaging absence. This is what they are paying a price for. It's a huge price tag, if indeed they are troubled by what they're seeing coming out of this White House, and more Trump hate is not going to fix that.

BOLLING: Don, quick thought.

GIORDANO: Quick thought is they can't penetrate the base of Trump. No matter what he does, people that calls me, they're entertained even by this when he fired Comey. They told me that exactly.

BOLLING: All right. We're going to leave it right there. North Korea now being linked to the cyberattack that crippled computers around the world, is this a even bigger immediate threat than their nuke program to the U.S. and global security? We're coming right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WILLIAMS: First, a breakthrough missile test by North Korea, and now clues that link North Korea that they may be behind the massive ransomware cyberattack that's been sweeping the globe, with security experts now reportedly finding evidence that points to a hacking group connected to the rogue state. OK.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLLING: It wasn't the Russians?

WILLIAMS: Yeah.

BOLLING: But, look, this is a massive, massive issue. North Korea, they've been known to do this before. They've been successful doing it before. No question that they want to do it.

WILLIAMS: Yes.

BOLLING: That's why we need to -- honestly, I think this is one of our biggest vulnerabilities. Not that they're going to shoot in intercontinental ballistic missile with a warhead on it at us. That they'll be able to take down some of our systems.

They played around with some hospital systems. But what if they get into the Department of Defense or they get into the Treasury Department, something like that? That's where the real risk is.

GIORDANO: Well, they took a Johnny Depp film down. Now we're talking big- time problems.

WILLIAMS: It's true. So they're talking about what they did with Sony a couple years ago.

TIMPF: Forgot about that.

WILLIAMS: Yes, what they're doing with "Pirate of the" -- and it starts there. But Eric is right, Matt. I mean, the long-term consequences of this could be tremendous and could be worse than these nuclear arms threats.

SCHLAPP: So but they actually play into each other. If you think about it, they have to have the missile launch capability. and they have to have the nuclear capability, right, to reach America. And people are telling me within the Trump administration they're going to have that ability, which is just frightening.

So think about this next step. Why isn't it happening quicker? My guess is we have some pretty smart cyber experts ourselves, and we're messing around with their software and everything else. That's why a lot of those missiles are ending up in the sea.

And the fact is, is this. There's a whole cyber war going on, so Eric, I think you got it exactly right.

WILLIAMS: Yes. Kat, I mean, obviously, these are enormous concerns. These are things that were talked about a little bit on the campaign trail but not a ton. Do you -- to Matt's point, do you feel like the White House is completely on board with this, aware of it and understands the gravity of how huge this could be?

TIMPF: Part of the reason why I did not like the way that Donald Trump seemed to sort of minimize the possibility of Russians hacking the election, saying, "Well, if he did that, he shouldn't have done it." It's a lot more serious than that. Whether it's North Korea, whether it's Russia, another country having the ability to hack into our systems, even potentially change votes or, like you said, even in a -- when it comes to military and, you know, DOJ systems, that's a very, very serious thing. And that is the way people are fighting now.

We need to make sure that we're secure. We need to make sure we don't play politics with this issue in terms of who's done what or who said what, and all unite around this, because otherwise, it's -- I don't even want to think about it.

SCHLAPP: And the fact is, remember, if that hacking occurred with the Russians, which I don't believe that had any impact on the elections, Obama did not keep us safe.

TIMPF: Right, exactly.

SCHLAPP: He actually didn't protect us. And Donald Trump has the chance to actually take steps to keep us safe.

BOLLING: And that's an important distinction right there, Matt, not that they attempted to hack. Of course, they've attempted to hack. The Chinese want to hack us. Virtually every country in the world wants to hack us and everyone else, and we're hacking back at them.

SCHLAPP: Right

BOLLING: But did it actually change any votes? And I think...

TIMPF: I don't think so. Maybe it was minor, but I really don't. I think it was the lack of a message and the basket of deplorables. I think that really angered a lot of people.

WILLIAMS: Yes, absolutely. And whether it changed it or not, the point is they attempted it. And if they attempt it and they can find success there, then we're all vulnerable.

So the threat of conflict with North Korea is looming, but in a recent survey published by "The New York Times," only 36 percent of U.S. adults could correctly identify North Korea when presented with a world map.

Now, Dom, I am going to repress the attempt to make a joke about the former Teen USA, the but what about the maps?

GIORDANO: South Carolina. Miss South Carolina. Just played it the other day. It is funny.

WILLIAMS: And she's a really sweet girl, Katie Upton.

But anyway, yes, this is a real problem, because...

BOLLING: Such as?

WILLIAMS: Such as.

BOLLING: Such as.

WILLIAMS: Because they don't have maps, obviously, Eric. But no, it's a real problem. Most people don't know where North Korea is. And so when we talk about the growing threat there, both on the nuclear front and the cyber front, they really don't know what we're talking about.

GIORDANO: I think one of the reasons is, and I think, again, Trump is a great president at this point in time. He's unpredictable. He's paying attention to it.

Previous presidents just said what are you going to do? And it is difficult. They're crazy. They have nuclear weapons. They have famine and everything else. Let's just not talk about them, and they'll go away. So the American people were not paying attention to them.

TIMPF: I'm going to cut these people some slack, though. All of us know where it is, because we have to read about this sort of stuff for our jobs. But if you had a job where he didn't have to read about it, you might not want to get home from work, come home and look at maps of North Korea.

GIORDANO: Cut people some slack.

TIMPF: You've got to cut them some slack and not shame them.

GIORDANO: Come on.

TIMPF: But it's very interesting, of course, that the study also showed that the people who did know where it was on a map were more interested in diplomatic solutions, because they might be more likely to understand the proximity to South Korea and China and then sharing that waterway with Japan and what that might to do to our relationships with these countries.

But I'm not going to -- sometimes you come home from work. You just want to watch "The Bachelor." You don't want to read up on world affairs. And you know what? America, if that's you, then I will not shame you.

BOLLING: If -- if you can't find North Korea on a map, you have no business weighing in on what we should do with North Korea. Period.

WILLIAMS: No. Period. Point. But it's so crazy, because I think the group, Eric, that had the most ability to identify it were the older people. Maybe because they reflect on the Korean War, whatever. But they actually could find it.

SCHLAPP: Maybe they had -- maybe they had a better education back then.

BOLLING: That might be it, yes.

GIORDANO: Are maps even in schools now?

WILLIAMS: You're an educator.

SCHLAPP: They're kind of culturally rough on people. They really have to show boundaries on a map, and it's very, you know, controversial.

WILLIAMS: All very controversial.

So are Republicans planning to go too soft on illegal immigration? Why a new bill coming together in Congress is already landing with a thud among many hardliners. More after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLLING: All right. We want to follow-up to an earlier conversation we were having about leaks. New York Times now reporting that President Trump asked James Comey to shut down the federal investigation into Michael Flynn, the former national security advisor, during an Oval Office meeting in February. That's according to a memo that Mr. Comey wrote shortly after the meetings, per The Times.

But we have a response now from our John Roberts, sent this to us. I'll read it very quickly, on background. "While the president has repeatedly expressed his view that General Flynn is a decent man who served and protected our country, the president has never asked Mr. Comey or anyone else to end any investigation, including any investigation involving General Flynn. The president has the utmost respect for our law enforcement agencies and all investigations. This is not a truthful or accurate portrayal of the conversation between the president and Mr. Comey."

Now Eboni, this is breaking news. As we went to break, we heard about it. So The Times reporting one thing, the president pushing back on that report.

WILLIAMS: Absolutely.

BOLLING: Fake news, I would call it.

WILLIAMS: Well, yes, and McCabe also saying when he testified just last week that, indeed, consistent with what the White House was saying that that, indeed, was open. And we talked about that last week on the show, E., that certainly, we don't know what legal consequences are going to happen around General Flynn. And I say that respectfully, but that is an ongoing investigation. It should be ongoing. We don't know ultimately where those facts are going to lead us. And if they lead to a breach of law, then those consequences have to follow. And they include criminal prosecution.

BOLLING: Yes, Kat, I can't -- listen, I wasn't there, so we have no way of knowing, but good lord. The president asking an FBI director to go easy on -- on one of his campaign advisors? That seems highly unlikely.

TIMPF: Right. Yes, I don't know. I don't trust The New York Times. I don't trust Trump. I am very, always, skeptical of everyone. Some people say that makes me a pessimist. I say that makes me fair and balanced. But you know what? The investigation is continuing, and that's the most important thing that really matters. He still is being investigated, so there you go.

BOLLING: Schlapp, what about The New York Times? I mean, they -- they have to stand on their reporting and their sources.

SCHLAPP: Yes, they do. And look, we've seen this with The Post. They're saying the No. 2 man at the Department of Justice threatened to resign. Only they can't name anybody threatened to resign, too. And that very person, the deputy attorney general, said he didn't offer to resign. So there's all kinds of interesting reporting.

On this one, I just love Jim Comey. He goes and has an intimate dinner with the president, and the president brings it up in an interview, and what does Jim Comey do? It's why he isn't going to be the FBI director anymore, because he's a political animal. He had to immediately start leaking about his end of the story.

And you know, we just want something better than that in our FBI director. We don't want somebody who's trying to weasel his way into every story, and this is what this sounds like again. He always wants to be the Eliot Ness, and really, he's the dirty leaker.

BOLLING: What do you think about this, Dom?

GIORDANO: What I like is it's buttoned up. The president issued a statement. He was very clear; he was very precise with his verse. It's some of the stuff that's off the cuff. This is not off-the-cuff stuff that you can deal with. He's sticking to what is factual here.

And as long as he does that, I think in the grand scheme of things as this plays out, he's well-served.

WILLIAMS: Yes, I think there's just a lot of unanswered questions around several things the president has done. But on this one, Eric, I cannot see him at this point in the game risking that much politically or otherwise around General Flynn. I just can't see it.

BOLLING: Mike...

TIMPF: Anyway -- exactly.

BOLLING: ... here's a key excerpt from the piece. Quote, "Mr. Comey was known among his closest advisors to document conversations that he believed would later be called into question, according to two former confidantes." This is what I'm talking about. These -- these unnamed sources that keep on drumming up, up and up and up, again. Is this a way to be reporting the news? As important and vital to the national security as this news has been?

SCHLAPP: It really depends on what it is they're covering. But some of these questions, when you're basically questioning somebody's -- like, whether or not they committed treason, which is what some people are staying with Mike Flynn, these questions are so serious.

When you say, you level these types of charges against the president of the United States, we need more than just "We heard from a guy who talked to a guy." And I think that's one of the reasons why the people across the country are starting to read these articles less. And they're looking at other places to get the facts.

It's really the media's own fault.

People keep saying fake news. I'm fine with that. But the idea is this. They have a liberal bent, let's face it. They take one side in the political fight. They take the left side, and the American people know it.

GIORDANO: The test is this: on an ordinary day, this would be huge news. My guess is, along with what Matt said, the base of Trump supporters and back to the average American, they're not going to pay attention to this, because they're getting worn out of charge after charge after charge. Something like this, the president trying to tamp this down, usually would be a big news story. It -- in consideration of the other things, it's not.

WILLIAMS: And that's the problem. And that's the problem, Dom. At this point, everyone is going to their respective corners, whether that be literal right or left, and no one is having a conversation about national security, about whether or not there was a criminal breach that needs to be prosecuted or anything like that.

TIMPF: The most important thing to me is that the investigation keeps going. What's the issue?

BOLLING: You know, according to this "New York Times" piece, the president asked the FBI Director Jim Comey to shut down the federal investigation into Mr. Trump's former national security advisor. And this is according to the Comey memo, quote, "I hope you can let this go."

I mean, that's -- by the way, this is a guy, who a week ago, is wondering why he just got fired from the FBI directorship.

TIMPF: Yes. Again, with all the anonymous sources, you don't know where it came from, who said what. But again, of course, he's going to deny it either way.

The investigation is still going. It's not stopping.

GIORDANO: Right.

TIMPF: And so everybody should be happy with that. Right?

GIORDANO: Well, I think Trump is a guy -- and I'm sitting here, too, saying what in the world takes so long to come to any kind of conclusion on any of this stuff? The Russian conclusion in the election, et cetera. And I think Trump may be, in a sense of urgency, may be asking where's the investigation? When are we going to have some facts here, some conclusion on any of these things?

WILLIAMS: And respectfully to that, I can get that frustration from the outside looking in. But that's just how the FBI is. They're slow. They're...

(CROSSTALK)

SCHLAPP: The president has to let them do their job.

WILLIAMS: Do their job, yes.

BOLLING: Matt, I want to stay with this a little bit. We're going to -- we're not going to go to break just yet. Let's continue to talk about this.

You know, one of the things that...

SCHLAPP: What else is Jim Comey telling us now?

BOLLING: So Jim Comey is removed, and that leaves Rod Rosenstein, the deputy director [SIC], to oversee the operations at the FBI. I wonder where he is on this. I wonder if he has some input on -- as to whether or not Comey should be even doing this.

SCHLAPP: Yes, so Rosenstein's No. 2 at DOJ. Right? And you have this other guy, McCabe, who's at FBI. So McCabe is in this terrible position now where he's running the FBI. But really, I think a lot of people feel like he's also a lightning rod, because he took a pass on the investigations of Hillary Clinton.

And I think this is the big problem for the country. Is that we actually have -- we do have an FBI that's a little compromised. Because people have lost confidence. Comey lurched left. He lurched right. He looked political during the campaign. The people around him were obviously giving him that advice.

Now he has cover-his-you-know-what memos so that, if something goes down, he can look like the good guy in the end. He's now going to prosecute Donald Trump in the press, just like he's done Mike Flynn, just like he's done other people who have crossed them.

This sounds like the old days of J. Edgar Hoover. It's not what we need as a country. And let's go get somebody good to run the FBI.

BOLLING: Let me bring the -- our attorney into this a little bit. You know, something, this level of accusation, I would assume would hit the -- check the box for obstruction of justice, if true.

WILLIAMS: Certainly. From Trump -- if the allegation is true from Donald J. Trump, that would be in the highest form.

And see, again, this is that type of allegation, this type of cloud that will be hovering until this is resolved definitively around whether or not he did this or he didn't. And it's the kind of thing that, if you're an anti-Trump person, you love this. This is great. This is, you know, more fuel for that fire: he's not to be trusted. He doesn't understand -- this constitutionality war that we're all at. It's more of that.

But if it's not true, Eric, then it's more false alarm. It's more false alarm and more undermining of where we really should be talking about. Because I'm very concerned about what General Flynn did, and I want to know factually what he did. I'm unconcerned with the politics around this at this point.

TIMPF: Maybe there is something in the middle. Maybe Trump just said, you know, "Do you like me?" Who knows. But again, same thing. In fact, same thing as you, Eboni. I'm concerned about what happened with Flynn, but he is gone, all right, and they are still investigating. And nobody wants to bring that up and be like, "Oh, well, that's good." The world's actually not falling down right now. Things are actually still moving forward.

BOLLING: And Dominic, one of the things -- you know, there are two separate issues here. What did Flynn do, and was it illegal or improper or unethical?

TIMPF: And what were the effects?

BOLLING: And what happened afterwards? In other words, what was the investigation? Did anyone try and stop, inhibit the investigation or not? And a lot of times, those are the things that are more damaging than the actual occurrence of what happened.

GIORDANO: It's back to the obstruction. And Trump likes Flynn. It's obvious. And he's said he's liked him. That's why I liked this statement. He said, "I still like the guy, but there's nothing that I would have done here. There's nothing that happened here"

To Eboni's point, though, I don't know how we're ever going to get to the bottom of who's telling the truth.

BOLLING: Allow me to break in, you guys, very quickly. John Roberts, he joins us now with more from the White House. John, the very latest. Some pretty -- I don't know. I would call them very, very high-level discussions going on after this piece by The Times.

JOHN ROBERTS, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and they've known about it for a while, too, because they had a statement ready to go, which we'll read to you here, the White House response to all of these allegations. Quote, "While the president has repeatedly expressed his view that General Flynn is a decent man who served and protected our country, the president has never asked Mr. Comey or anyone else to end any investigation, including any investigation involving General Flynn. The president has the utmost respect for our law enforcement agencies in all investigations. This is not a truthful or accurate portrayal of the conversation between the president and Mr. Comey."

What we have not gotten from the White House yet is their side of the story. Well, what did the president say to the director of the FBI?

The New York Times says that this was an Oval Office meeting back in February. There were a number of people who were meeting with the president, including the attorney general, Jeff Sessions. At the end of that meeting, the president asked everyone to leave except for the FBI director.

An according to The New York Times reporting on this Comey memo, the president said something to the effect that Flynn had done nothing wrong, that the FBI should move on. "I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go."

The White House specifically pushing back against that language. And I expect they're going to push back against this hard, because it would be highly inappropriate, at the very least, for the president to say to the FBI director, "I hope you can let this go and move on."

At the worst, it could be obstruction of justice. And we all know where that could lead.

So the White House is behind closed doors right now. The communications staff deep in a meeting. It's in the Roosevelt Room. So I think it's probably with some other high-level officials at the White House, trying to figure out a way to get past this latest one, which occurs just as the White House is in the middle of this other maelstrom over the president's meeting with Lavrov from Russia last week and what he told him during that meeting.

You know, somebody's said earlier today at this White House, it just never ends. And you know what? There's credence to that.

BOLLING: Hey, John, very quickly. So yesterday about 5:45, we had this other issue that you just brought up, you know, the leak to "The Washington Post" regarding the discussion between Lavrov and Trump in the Oval Office from six days ago.

Today at 5:30, we get this next one. We did this kind of on the fly. And I've got to ask you, what is this memo? I know The New York Times is reporting on this memo, but this Comey memo, where was it -- who generated -- obviously, he wrote it. But who was he sending it to and how did The Times get it?

ROBERTS: I couldn't tell you how "The Times" got it. We are searching around, trying to get it ourselves. But it would seem that, according to The New York Times, that James Comey kind of had an idea. This is, again, according to people who were close to Comey, who read The New York Times, the contents of the memo. Because they do not actually have the document itself. That Comey was concerned about what the president was up to and wrote himself detailed notes after every time they met.

Now, don't forget. The president last week sent a warning shot across Comey's bow to say, "Before you start leaking anything, you better consider yourself -- concern yourself with whether or not there are any, quote, 'tapes' of our meetings." We're talking about a White House Oval Office meeting here. And we all remember that one president famously taped all of his private conversations.

The White House has refused to say whether there's any kind of recording system in the Oval Office. Everyone thought that the president was referring to his dinner with Comey and his discussions with Comey about not being a target of the investigation on the telephone. Bu maybe what the president was referring to was this. We don't know, Eric.

BOLLING: All right, John Roberts. Thank you very much at the White House. Please let us know, break in again if you have any more breaking news on that.

Matt, it strikes me that this happened a while ago. James Comey had the meeting with President Trump. Maybe the rest of the room was excused except for the two of them. He wrote down notes, took these notes and decided to hold onto those. And then, you know, just days after he's been fired, decides to write a memo, kind of a scathing memo that can put Trump in some hot water if true.

SCHLAPP: So I wrote an article about this this week. I was the person in the Bush administration, one of the people James Comey had to come meet with so he could figure out his political point of view.

By the way, let's say he's ambidextrous when it comes to these questions. He's liberal, he's conservative. He's whatever he needs to be.

What you realize about Jim Comey, he's really about preserving his own reputation. And what did -- what did Donald Trump do? He did what a president is allowed to do, his prerogative. At the pleasure of the president, he let somebody go.

And now Jim Comey is going to prosecute the president for having humiliated him with that decision. Why did -- why are we reading about this memo and learning about it today? Because Jim Comey is striking back. It's how he plays the game, and it's why he did a terrible job politicizing the FBI.

TIMPF: Maybe. Maybe. We don't know that.

BOLLING: Eboni, what about that? What about knowing, having this information, if it's allegedly true, and let's just say it is true. And I'm not saying that, but if it is true, he has this information and sits on it until, as Matt points out, a couple of days after he's fired.

WILLIAMS: Yes, I think the political implications, I've been very critical of Comey around how he's politicized this election. And now, yes, he's moving forward as a political animal, absolutely.

But let's take it at face value. I think there are questions here about loyalty. A lot of people in America are concerned about President Trump and this issue of loyalty. So this accusation that, you know, Comey was asked to look the other way when it comes to Flynn. And ultimately, in even the statement that we just got from the White House right now, Eric, he ultimately says, you know, "I think Flynn is a good guy."

I think that there are people that are very concerned about how far does Donald Trump take loyalty and this issue of loyalty? Does he take it far enough to obstruct justice, as being accused here? We don't know. But I think that's going to be a question that's going to be top of mind as we move this conversation forward.

TIMPF: Well, you see how much he turns on anybody who disagrees with him or he feels has treated him unfairly. Again, like you said, this accusation in particular is a very, very extreme one. So I don't know if just his personality is evidence that he could've done this.

WILLIAMS: No.

TIMPF: We just simply -- we just simply don't know yet. It's something very serious. And Comey -- I mean, it does make sense why he would just do it now. Right? You get fired and then all the stuff comes out.

WILLIAMS: The file. The file comes out.

TIMPF: It's like when you're a scientologist, and then you realize, you know, you don't want -- then it all comes out. It's always after-the-fact.

BOLLING: So it had nothing to do with the good of the country or concerned about the presidency or obstruction of justice. It only had to do with his own ass being fired, I guess.

TIMPF: I'm saying we don't know what it had to deal with.

BOLLING: I apologize.

SCHLAPP: Amen, brother.

BOLLING: But let me read this line again, from the statement from the White House, the White House response. And this is part of it, not the whole thing, but part of it. It says, "The president has never asked Mr. Comey or anyone else to end any investigation, including any investigation involving General Flynn." Dom, I think he very clearly is denying, categorically denying Comey's memo.

GIORDANO: Right. And to your point, if this were that serious, and it is, and it's obstruction of justice, I think if I'm playing the legal eagle here. If he uttered those words to Comey, why wouldn't Comey then have to come out with it at that point? Why wait until now?

So the credibility gap, I think, is more here with Comey, if it's these two. And that's all that we'll have. I don't know that anybody can corroborate anything here.

WILLIAMS: No, I don't think so at all. I think those that hear this today in this moment and are likely to believe it readily, absent evidence around it, it's again going back to this concern of how loyal is Donald J. Trump? How much is loyalty a part of -- and how far he will go around it.

TIMPF: I don't think anyone's mind is going to change about any of these situations because of this. People who support Trump are going to say of course Comey was lying. People who want Trump to be fired are going to say, "No, he wasn't. Of course Trump would do that." There's no actual evidence here, so I don't think it's going to change anybody's mind about anything until we actually have something.

BOLLING: Unless you have these things, these air quotes, "tapes."

(CROSSTALK)

SCHLAPP: First of all...

TIMPF: ... garages any more.

SCHLAPP: It's not shocking to know that conversations in the Oval Office are monitored by the Secret Service, so there are -- these conversations are kept track of.

But let me just ask a very simple question. If the president is trying to obstruct justice to the FBI director, he never says anything? If the president is asking inappropriate questions of Jim Comey, he still goes over and has dinner with him and yucks it up with him, has a cocktail?

Jim Comey shows a strange pattern of behavior if the president was actually pushing him to do something inappropriate. And the own FBI, the FBI itself is saying the White House pushed -- pushed back on nothing. They said they did nothing to try to stop these investigations.

So the pattern of behavior shows the exact opposite of what Jim Comey is saying.

BOLLING: You know, Donald Trump ran on draining the swamp. So he goes ahead and he loses confidence in his FBI director. And he fires him. He starts to drain the swamp. And look what happens.

At that moment, Comey says, "Oh, by the way, I had a conversation with him a long time ago. He broke the law. He obstructed justice. I didn't tell you before, but guess what? I'm kind of feeling it now."

GIORDANO: And big picture, it looks like piling on. We've got The Washington Post. We have The New York Times. It's endless. And these things are not provable on either side. So we're back in the corners again. People in their uniforms tonight: are they Trump or are they with these other...

WILLIAMS: Let's talk about this issue of provability. Not a word, but the ability to prove it.

GIORDANO: Right.

WILLIAMS: I really do hope there are tapes. To your point, Matt, if I call up J. Crew to return a sweater, that -- that call is going to be taped. Because that's what we do. We have those receipts, so to speak. So talk about it.

BOLLING: OK, let's say there aren't. It's his word against his word.

WILLIAMS: And nobody has any credibility, to be candid with you, Eric. Jim Comey has major credibility problems, absolutely, before a huge part of this country.

BOLLING: The only problem he has is the timing on when he decided to write this memo about what he felt was harmful.

SCHLAPP: Make it public.

BOLLING: And harmful to the country.

TIMPF: People who want to see Trump impeached aren't going to care about that.

WILLIAMS: Not at all.

BOLLING: But this is -- unless there is some sort of tape or whatever you want to call it, recording device, it's his word against his word.

TIMPF: Absolutely.

SCHLAPP: This is how J. Edgar Hoover -- this is how J. Edgar Hoover played the game. He had stuff on people.

BOLLING: But Comey is a smart man. There's no way he doesn't realize, in the absence of tapes, it's his word against Donald Trump's word, and it's going nowhere. So what is the point of this?

SCHLAPP: Because for him, it's about his honor. He believes that he is the great man that stands up for the Constitution. What he really is, is a little man who's acting like a politician. We want more in our FBI director than this, which is why every Democrat asked for him to be fired. And I agree with Nancy Pelosi. He should be fired.

WILLIAMS: Comey could've made that "I'm standing up for the Constitution" argument maybe a year and a half ago, Matt. I think there's -- there's very few people, left, right or center, honestly, if you take the politics off, that believe anything about Jim Comey, anything other than self- serving.

GIORDANO: Wouldn't you like to be the new FBI director? Who ends up...

WILLIAMS: No. No.

TIMPF: Do anything for work than be the new FBI director. Because everyone is going to be expecting you to fail.

SCHLAPP: Maybe they'll just do a good job, we won't read that much about them, and they'll just get about their work. That would be nice.

TIMPF: People would be looking for them to be biased in favor of Trump.

BOLLING: I heard a story that -- that Trey Gowdy decided that he did not want that job. I think he would have been a phenomenal prosecutor.

TIMPF: But you know, because he's a Republican background, I believe that that's true. I also think because he's Republican background... (AUDIO GAP)

BOLLING: All right. You know what? We had some breaking news, so we stayed with it. It's been a very, very good hour. Thank you guys both very much, Dom and Matt. You guys did a great job. So again, thank the specialists from today, Dom Giordano and Matt Schlapp.

And we thank all of you for watching. Much more ahead on the very, very important breaking news. "Special Report," Bret Baier, coming up. I believe it's Bret. If it's not, it's someone else. "Special Report," coming up next.

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