TRANSCRIPT

Report claims Trump asked Comey to end Flynn probe

The 'Special Report' All-Star panel weighs in

 

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report with Bret Baier," May 16, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Another senator, Republican, the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Richard Burr, just moments ago talking to PBS, saying that regarding The New York Times latest, he thinks Comey would have told him and his co-chair Mark Warner if the President had asked for Flynn to get a pass. Just now saying that the burden is on The New York Times to get and show this memo.

Let's bring in our panel now early: Chief Washington correspondent James Rosen is here; Steve Hilton is a former adviser to British Prime Minister David Cameron; A.B. Stoddard, associate editor of Real Clear Politics; and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer.

James -- your thoughts.

JAMES ROSEN, FOX NEWS: Well, it's obviously a very serious charge -- the idea that the President would importune the FBI director potentially to end a particular investigation. Let's note that, again The New York Times hasn't seen this memo but they are going off of people who have and who read portions of it to them. Let's remember, since Watergate, parallels are thick in the air right now, that the record of the evidence in Watergate showed many instances where ex post facto memoranda were created in a very self-serving way to, as they say, gild the lily.

I'm not saying that's what happened here but we have to be as attuned to that prospect as we would have to be, to the prospect that the memo is accurate. The White House tells us it's not accurate.

The actual language ascribed to Mr. Trump in this situation was "I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go. I hope you can let this go."

A good defense lawyer would, of course, if acknowledging that that was actually what was said, make it clear that that's a little different from saying "I order you to let this go. I instruct you to let this go."

One final point, James Comey became controversial, intensely controversial, over his conduct last year in the Hillary Clinton e-mail server case; most notably perhaps in October when he updated the Congress on new findings in that investigation. Hillary Clinton still blames that moment in October of 2016 for her loss.

If James Comey was so fastidious about updating the Congress every time there was a major break in these investigations that he had confirmed the FBI was involved with, it seems to me curious as to why this memo would only be surfacing now after he's been fired. Why wasn't he apprising anyone of this apparent -- what he and ad his supporters obviously see as an apparent obstruction of justice by the President. Why wasn't he apprising any one of it in a more timely way? He sat on it since February.

BAIER: A.B. -- the calls now on the Hill for, if there are tapes to hear them, to see the transcripts, to have Comey testify. They are going to increase. We have tried tonight to get Republicans to come out and talk to us. And there are not Republicans willing to go on camera tonight as of yet and we will see if that changes.

This story, before we confirm all of it if it's confirmable, changed the dynamic on Capitol Hill.

A.B. STODDARD, REAL CLEAR POLITICS: I think it does. I mean James makes a very good point. Why didn't he inform Chairman Burr when this happened, that the President has asked him -- expressing his hope that he would let this investigation go, essentially close off that investigation?

You can use hopeful language, it is still intimidation but why didn't he tell the ranking member of that committee Mark Warner and why didn't he tell Chairman Burr? So that's a very good question.

BAIER: Or McCabe or Rosenstein.

STODDARD: Right. Exactly. Exactly.

So everyone should have been informed of this. So that's a very good question. But talking about what's happened to Republicans in the last seven days, I spoke with him until Thursday then he went on national television and said it was a really -- Comey (inaudible) about Russia and then he did the tweet about the tapes the next morning.

They still spoke to me today -- crickets. I couldn't get them to talk to me about the leaking in the Oval Office of information that was highly sensitive to Russian officials. This is too much to take at this point.

It will be characterized as a potential obstruction of justice. It will increase pressure on Republicans to say that this shouldn't even be handled by a special prosecutor which is dependent upon the FBI. It should be handled by an independent commission.

I think they are really alarmed and I think they are really overwhelmed. And this is definitely -- it's just one of those things where people said of Trump, well, he's going to get in there and there are going to be no courts, no congress, no constitution. It will just be a boardroom and he'll just demand for whatever he wants.

So, if it sounds like something he could have said, that puts incredible pressure on people who are in marginal seats who don't want the House to flip to the Democrats next year.

BAIER: Senate Majority leader, Mitch McConnell, Charles, today said we could do with a little less drama out of the White House -- not talking specifically about what was then the obsession of Washington about this, what he said to the Russian foreign minister which obviously we haven't even focused on that much -- John mentioned in his piece.

But most Republicans came out and said, you know, the leaking of this classified information is really what is the focus. But now it seems like there are real questions about what was said to Comey if these memos were accurate.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, McConnell has always had a dry sense of humor and sort of a gift for the understatement. He doesn't want to commit himself. I think what is really stunning is that nobody, not even from the White House, has come out under their own name in the defense of the President here. You have an anonymous statement. You don't see any Republicans on camera. And that is totally understandable.

They have just watched over the last ten days people who went out on a limb on the Comey firing and said it was the result of a memo from the Deputy Attorney General; had the limbs sawed off by Donald Trump himself without a flinch and were left humiliated and contradicted.

And then when you look at what happened with the Russian ambassador, last night people were saying, people high up who were in the room by name said this never happened. And then in the morning, it looks as if the tweets that Trump issued acknowledged it happened and he had every right to do it.

So who is going to step out now and defend the President in these denials which could very well be true, when you have seen what happened to Republicans who stepped out in denials on two other cases and were left like on an ice floe off Norway?

BAIER: Steve -- quickly, I want to go to Capitol Hill. Your thoughts.

STEVE HILTON, FORMER ADVISER TO DAVID CAMERON: I do think there's a pattern emerging here which is that President Trump does something or says something that is out of the realm of what a normal professional politician would do. Sometimes it's serious, sometimes less so.

But the reaction all the time is there's interruption of pompous bloviating about a constitutional crisis and a threat to democracy and most of the time, I think that's a misunderstanding.

The real story here is likely to be caught up rather than conspiracy. It's someone who has not done this before and encountering the complexities of office. And you say, well, that's the point of having an outsider.

And the real question I think is, is it even possible for an outsider to really lead and govern? Or are they going to be so consumed by the complexities of the job and actually attacked and destroyed by the professional political class that can't stand the fact that he's there in the first place? That we're going to stuck with professional politicians forever after Trump.

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