Will Giuliani's press tour help or hurt the president?

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report with Bret Baier," July 30, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: There was no collusion and therefore -- and that collusion also is no crime. I've been saying that from the very beginning, so has John Dowd. It's a very, very familiar lawyer's argument that the alternative, my client didn't do it, and even if he did it, it's not a crime. I say that to attack the legitimacy of the investigation because it has become crystal clear this investigation that began with Peter Strzok has been continued as an illegitimate investigation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS HOST: Rudy Giuliani, the president's attorney, on a series of shows, then calling into our own "Outnumbered" this afternoon to talk more about what he has been saying over the past 24 hours about the Russian investigation. The president tweeting over the weekend, "Is Robert Mueller ever going to release his conflicts of interest with respect to President Trump, including the fact that we had a very nasty and contentious business relationship? I turned him down to head the FBI one day before appointment as special counsel and Comey is his close right. Also, why is Mueller only appointing angry Dems, some of who have worked for crooked Hillary, others, including himself, have worked for Obama. And why isn't Mueller looking at all of the criminal activity and real Russian collusion on the Democrats side -- Podesta, dossier?"

We start there with our expanded penalty tonight, senior political analyst Brit Hume, Chris Stirewalt, politics editor here at FOX News, Mollie Hemingway, senior editor at "The Federalist," and Charles Lane, opinion writer for "The Washington Post." OK, Brit, thoughts on Giuliani's press today?

BRIT HUME, FOX NEWS SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: His disquisition today, his series of them. He sewed a lot of confusion, and there are people who are arguing tonight that he does this on purpose, you see waters and get everybody get all mixed up. I don't believe that. I don't think that -- I think he came out and said something that sounded very much like he was giving ground as to whether there had been collusion. I don't think he meant to do that, and I think he tried to walk it back. And how successful he did that remains to be seen, but there remains tonight I think a lot of confusion.

BAIER: One thing is clear, Chuck, is that Rudy Giuliani is saying that President Trump is not going to sit down for an interview with Mueller.

CHARLES LANE, OPINION WRITER, "WASHINGTON POST": I try to look back at the big picture here, like what is Trump and Giuliani trying to accomplish? And I feel that if with their political base there were any traction to this investigation at all they would be behaving much differently. They feel no need to give anything to Robert Mueller as long as Republicans are behind them. And I checked, and I was right, my hunch was right. In the latest Quinnipiac poll, 61 percent of Republicans regard the investigation as, quote, unfair, 82 percent of Republicans agree with the president that it's a witch hunt. As long as he's got that kind of agreement from his base, he feels no need to give in.

BAIER: Mollie?

MOLLIE HEMINGWAY, SENIOR EDITOR, "THE FEDERALIST": I do think people in D.C. like to separate that initial FBI investigation where you saw that there was spying on the Trump campaign, the use of human informants, the wiretaps, the secret subpoenas called national security letters from the Mueller investigation. And what I thought was interesting that Giuliani said is he said these are just the same investigation, and that is true that Mueller picked up that initial Strzok initiated investigation and he just has more money and fewer restrictions.

And I think that it is worth having a conversation about what exactly is going on with this investigation, how much has been going on, how long people are expected to wait to find out whether there's anything, and whether there is such political bias inherent in the investigation -- the latest updates we got were that Mueller was digging into tweets. This is kind of silly and ridiculous.

BAIER: On obstruction.

HEMINGWAY: From collusion -- from treasonous collusion to some obstruction of justice charge. I think people have the right to know what the scope of the investigation is, how much money they intend to spend, how much time they expect to take place, so I hope people get some more answers.

BAIER: This doesn't happen in a vacuum. It is moving forward. Tomorrow the trial for Paul Manafort starts, and that's obviously tangential to the Russian collusion allegations, but we'll see more evidence against Manafort in coming days.

CHRIS STIREWALT, FOX NEWS, POLITICS EDITOR: And we will see more evidence of why no one would hire Paul Manafort. These are the consequences of being a political novice as the president when he came in. None of the other candidates hired Paul Manafort because he wasn't suitable to hire.
What did we see, $60 million I think that he took doing work for some rather questionable entities in the Ukraine says federal prosecutors. So chalk that one up to experience. I don't think Trump would rehire Paul Manafort.

I also think that we are getting to the terminal phase. When it comes to Manafort, certainly, but Mueller says September 1st was his target all along. That's where he wanted to get. That's what we believe, so I think things are going to get a lot more choppy in the next couple weeks.

BAIER: And Giuliani has said that, that Mueller has told him that they are going to wrap it up sometime early in the fall.

LANE: Yes, and then it becomes the subject of the whole campaign going into the elections, which is why I think the president -- the president's view of this is that he can make it a political advantage. He hammers on Mueller as unfair and biased and so forth. He is preparing the ground for the Republican campaign in the fall to turn out the base as a protest against what they are going to be told and what many of them believe is a biased Mueller investigation.

HUME: Given what we know and what we don't know, it's reasonable I think to consider the possibility that what so inflames President Trump about this investigation is that he believes that he is innocent, and he can't understand why nearly two years now into his presidency he is still having to deal with this monkey on his back. And a lot of things we know he hasn't been innocent, but he may well be innocent in this case. And I'm not sure how different his behavior would be -- I think his behavior would be very different, excuse me, if he weren't.

BAIER: And the detaching, as we talked about before, with questioning his election and Russians actually doing things to sew chaos in the elections are two different things.

HEMINGWAY: It is. And I think it is also worth remembering things like Rick Davis and Paul Manafort were people that Republicans hired on campaigns.

STIREWALT: Long ago for Paul Manafort.

HEMINGWAY: But there seems to be a different standard here, and one that thinks that anything you do is OK because it's Donald Trump and anything you can run against him, there's nothing that's unfair and there's nothing that's ridiculous. I think a lot of Republican voters are wondering why Donald Trump is the only person actually making some of these claims about the unfairness of the investigation or this idea that Mueller is beyond reproach. People forget that he too has a history, including messing up that anthrax --

HUME: That aside, I think one of the best things we may get out of the Mueller investigation is a real sense of what the Russians actually did, the exact things they did and the extent of it and the extent of its potential effect. We have some knowledge of that. We will get more. Some of the anti-Trump zealots are now claiming that the Russians actually swung the election. I think that's an extremely dubious theory, but the Mueller investigation's final outcome on what the Russians did may settle that.

BAIER: What we are going to say, Mollie?

HEMINGWAY: The Russians were involved with another campaign. Hillary Clinton secretly bought a dossier that was sourced to Kremlin operatives. I'm very curious why Mueller hasn't dug into that that more. Isn't that interesting that you can secretly hire a foreign spy who sources his information to Kremlin operatives. If people were really genuinely concerned about Russian meddling, and by the way the fact that the spy let it be known that he was looking for dirt, meant that he opened himself up to exploitation by Russian government operatives. If we genuinely, truly cared about these things I think you would see much more interest in the media and by Mueller into that.

BAIER: I'm not sure that we are not going down that road with a second I.G. report from Horowitz, and you may see that and those topics covered.

I want to talk about two things. One is the reference to conflicts of interest. John Roberts reports that it appears to be a reference to a purported 2011 dispute over fees at the Trump golf course when Mueller had a dispute over fees for the golf course outside Washington.

LANE: Except that the president's tweets as he wanted it to be FBI chief.

BAIER: That was in addition to this.

LANE: I don't think that amounts to a whole lot.

BAIER: I just think it's interesting that it's that personal at that point. The second thing --

LANE: Yes, go ahead.

BAIER: -- is Rudy Giuliani on this second meeting that he comes out and talks about a second Trump Tower meeting that never happened. Just take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: Two alleged meetings. First meeting, group of people, not the president. That group of people says the meeting didn't take place. The only person who has alleged it is Cohen.
The second meeting, the president's office, in walks Donald Trump Jr., says let me meet with the Russians, never took place. Didn't happen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAIER: Chris, he just brings up in this "Outnumbered" interview saying that reporters have asked him about a second meeting that Cohen is going to say this in some story.

STIREWALT: I love the response from our colleague Guy Benson, who was mister out hash-tag today sitting on the center of the curvy couch, and he was opining about what the former New York mayor had said earlier in the day on television. And it became apparent, to Brit's point, that as Giuliani was listening, he said egad, I made a mess. I better clear it.
So line one, go. Longtime viewer, first-time caller, Rudy from New York, what do you have to say? No dittos today. And I also tend to agree with Mr. Hume on this, which is I do not think this is strategic chaos. I think this is just plain chaos.

BAIER: I'm going to do a hard turn here. This is the president today on Iran. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I ended the Iran deal, it was a ridiculous deal. I do believe that they will probably end up wanting to meet, and I'm writing to meet anytime they want to. And I don't do that from strength or from weakness. I think it's an appropriate thing to do.
If we could work something out that is meaningful, not the waste of paper that the other deal was, I would certainly be willing to meet, anytime they want. It's good for the country, good for them, good for us and good for the world. No preconditions. If they want to meet, I'll meet.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAIER: Meeting with Iran's president. This is what the secretary of state said just a couple of days ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: As President Trump has said, we are willing to talk with the regime in Iran, but relief from American pressure will come only when we see tangible, demonstrated, and sustained shifts in Tehran's policies.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAIER: So?

HUME: You know me, he says, I will meet with anybody. He did not suggest, and Pompeo certainly didn't, that there would be any relief involved as a precondition of anything we are doing vis-a-vis Iran, principally sanctions. So he thinks meeting with these guys is good. I have my doubts, but that's what he does, that's his style, and he thinks he's a great meeter.

LANE: It would confer a lot of legitimacy on a regime that we've been trying very hard in all other ways to delegitimize. Of course it wouldn't be the first time, because we did that with Kim Jong Un of North Korea too.

BAIER: We shall see. Next up, is President Trump serious about a government shutdown?

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