TRANSCRIPT

Is it the right move to go after the special counsel?

The 'Special Report' All-Star panel weighs in

 

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report with Bret Baier," June 12, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Is the president then OK with him testifying in this open setting tomorrow?

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think he's going to testify. We are aware of it, and go from there.

The president has been clear last week in the Rose Garden that he believes that the sooner we can get this addressed and dealt with, that there's been no collusion. He wants this to get investigated as soon as possible and be done with it so he can continue with the business of the American people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Sean Spicer at the White House today after the president tweeting about the investigation and Jim Comey's testimony. The attorney general has requested that this hearing be public. This is the tweet. "I believe the James Comey leaks will be far more prevalent than anyone ever thought possible. Totally illegal. Very cowardly!"

Attorney General Jeff Sessions will testify in open session before the Senate intelligence committee tomorrow. Meantime, Ivanka Trump out today talking about how surprising this town has been to her family.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

IVANKA TRUMP, DONALD TRUMP'S DAUGHTER: It is hard, and there's a level of viciousness that I was not expecting. I was not expecting the intensity of this experience. But this isn't supposed to be easy. My father and this administration intends to be transformative, and we want to do big, bold things. And we are looking to change the status quo. So I didn't expect it to be easy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAIER: the president, her father, holding his first full Cabinet meeting today at the White House. Let's bring in our panel: Mollie Hemingway, senior editor at The Federalist; Anna Palmer, senior Washington correspondent for Politico, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer. OK, Mollie, obviously the administration wants to turn the page, but the president keeps weighing in on this investigation as it unfolds.

MOLLIE HEMINGWAY, THE FEDERALIST: And I think Ivanka kinds of spoke to something that a lot of people are feeling too, which is they understand that there is a lot of rage about this president and they do want a little bit of pushback on this, and so I think they're looking for that.

I keep on remembering the last debate I think it was when Donald Trump was asked if he would accept the results of the election if he would lose. And he said something like he would wait and see how the election went. And we spent many days talking about what a threat that was and how damaging that was to the norms where you accept the electoral results no matter who wins. And yet here we are in June with a huge class of people who seem largely to be unable or unwilling to accept the results of an election and doing everything in their power to gum up the works and whatnot.

And so I think there are parts of this that are self-inflicted by the Trump administration. There is a whole heck of a lot of this that is about people just not being able to accept who won the presidency.

BAIER: The White House briefing is still largely about this topic, and obviously it's a focus in Washington. Here is Sean Spicer on the whole question of tapes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does president Trump have audio recordings of his conversations and meetings with the former FBI director James Comey?

SPICER: The president made clear in the Rose Garden last week that he would have an announcement shortly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have any sort of timeline on when that announcement will be?

SPICER: When the president is ready to make it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If the president does have evidence that the FBI director lied, what is he waiting for?

SPICER: I think the president made it very clear on Friday that he would get back as soon as possible on this and his position on that conversation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So what is he waiting for? What's the delay?

SPICER: He's not waiting for anything. When he's ready to discuss it, he will. But I think he laid out his position very clearly, very concisely on Friday.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAIER: So it's not going away, especially not the tapes. We don't know if there's tapes or not.

ANNA PALMER, POLITICO: Right. I think the big question here is Trump has done a very Trumpian thing. He's put out a statement very clearly saying there are tapes. And then everybody wants to see the information. And I don't think you or me or any other reporters are going to stop. It's something that he has done to reporters for a long time, saying you have misquoted me. I have a tape on it. But he's rarely if ever has put forward any evidence of those kind of tapes.

BAIER: I think it was a tweet that he questioned -- this is President Trump reading between the lines, but it was a tweet that said "He better hope there are not tapes?" something.

PALMER: But the question is now we no longer take his tweets as just somebody on a riff. These are statements from the president of the United States.

BAIER: I totally agree with that.

PALMER: And when he does that, we are going to ask questions to follow up.

BAIER: Charles?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I think that was a tease. I don't think he declared himself one way or the other, and I think he enjoys keeping the country, particularly the media hanging on his every word.

I have nothing against Ivanka Trump. I think she has done a splendid job in a pretty difficult situation, but it's a little bit rich when the Trump family is complaining about the viciousness, considering what her dad called "Little Marco," "Lying Ted," and "Crooked Hillary" as almost three random characterizations from the campaign. So he's pretty good at the street fight, and what he is getting is a street fight back.

But I do agree that there is a large part, particularly of the Democratic Party, that will not accept his legitimacy, and that is a real problem. He is the president. He deserves at least a chance to govern. And I think these endless hearings -- we are now on the tertiary branch of accusations against the administration with what we are going to hear tomorrow from the attorney general. What did he say? Was there a third meeting with the Russians? This is a guy whose entire life was anti-Russia, anti-Soviet. Do we actually think he colluded with the Russians? This is just investigation for its own sake and to produce a lot of smoke. The president has contributed, you're right, with the tweets but so far, up until now, and I'm open to evidence, it is all smoke.

BAIER: Here is the former House Speaker from the weekend, Newt Gingrich.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER NEWT GINGRICH: I think this is going to be a witch hunt. I think that Comey himself by his own testimony tainted this particular process. You have a director of the FBI deliberately leaking in order to create a special counsel we're now supposed to believe it's going to be this neutral figure. I think that is just nonsense. I distrust independent counsels. I think that the people Mueller is bringing in are dangerous people, and any Republican who thinks this counsel is going to be neutral is crazy. It will be like expecting The Post or The New York Times to be accurate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAIER: That is a big shift. Three weeks ago, the same person said "Robert Mueller, superb choice to be special counsel. His reputation is impeccable for honesty and integrity. Media should now calm down." I am guessing that that turn comes from Comey's testimony about producing the leak that led to, he said he wanted to form a special counsel.

HEMINGWAY: First of all, people keep saying that Mueller is a man beyond reproach and that he will do a very good job. It is also true that he's very good friends with Comey who now appears like he might be a target of a proper investigation, and that that friendship and that history that Mueller and Comey have might cause problems in terms of actually getting to the bottom of what includes a coordinated leak campaign by intelligence officials. And so it might be too much to ask Mueller to actually dig into his friend. And so I don't how they're going to resolve that. But something needs to be done so people can have confidence in this investigation and that doesn't just run roughshod.

BAIER: Yes, but is it the right move to go after the guy who was the special counsel? Even if there is a connection, is that the right move strategically? Usually in prosecutions that's not really what the lawyers advise the other side to do is to go after the investigator.

PALMER: Yes. I think this is going to be tough for them, right, because how are they going to remove Mueller, somebody who has been widely praised by senators on both sides of the aisle. He's going to be the guy who is going to take this out of the political fight and actually find out what has happened here. So I think the real question is, there is nobody who's going to be able to say, oh, he's not going to be able to do it unless he himself wants to recuse himself, I think.

BAIER: I want to play one more sound bite. And this was largely overlooked from the weekend. This is Senator Dianne Feinstein being asked a question about what also came out in the Comey hearings, and that is about the former attorney general Loretta Lynch and what she told him about the Clinton email investigation. This is Feinstein's reaction to that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN, D-CALIF.: I would have a queasy feeling, too, though, to be candid here. I think we need to know more about that, and there's only one way to know about it, and that's to have the Judiciary Committee take a look at that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAIER: So you have the attorney general Sessions current testifying tomorrow. Could there be a Loretta Lynch testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee?

KRAUTHAMMER: I thought that was a refreshing moment where somebody, and I am surprised it was her, stepped out of the role of partisan and said there could be something here against my people and let's investigate it.

I think we are getting lost in a hall of mirrors investigation, counter investigation on both sides. The world is going to hell in a hand basket with North Korea, with the Russians, with Qatar, with the Persian Gulf. I mean, we are sitting on a powder keg, and we are utterly absorbed and obsessed with what I think are reflections of reflections of reflections.

Yes, it's an interesting question about Loretta Lynch. That was a long time ago. The only reason it's being raised is because in the context here you want to be fair and balanced, to coin a phrase. But I think it's not going to produce anything of substance in the end. At least we have not seen any evidence of that. And I would let -- I give a general amnesty. Ask the pope to do it, and let's get on with the business of the country.

BAIER: We report. You decide. Another phrase.

KRAUTHAMMER: Yes.

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