This is a rush transcript from "Special Report with Bret Baier," August 1, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It's not an order. It's the president's opinion, and it's ridiculous that all of the corruption and dishonesty that has gone on with the launching of the witch hunt, it's not weak for the president of the United States to state his opinion.
SEN. CHRISTOPHER COONS, D—DEL.: It's ridiculous. If the president is innocent he should act like it, and he should cooperate with the Mueller investigation, have it go through to it's logical conclusion, and then have his name cleared.
SEN. SUSAN COLLINS, R—MAINE: What the president tweeted is unfortunate. I think it's inappropriate for him to be commenting on an ongoing investigation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS HOST: Well, as most days, some tweet gets a lot of attention and raises some eyebrows. Today this was the one, "This is a terrible situation and Attorney General Jeff Sessions should stop this rigged witch hunt right now before it continues to stain our country any further. Bob Mueller is totally conflicted and his 17 angry Democrats that are doing his dirty work are a disgrace to USA."
Adam Schiff on the House Intelligence Committee tweeting "The president of the United States just called on his attorney general to put an end to an investigation in which the president, his family, and campaign may be implicated. This is an attempt to obstruct justice hiding in plain sight. America must never accept it." Rudy Giuliani, the president's attorney, weighed in after that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: We said this, Jay Sekulow and I when we heard the statement today, he's saying the same thing we said. I said it about two weeks ago, Jay said it actually just yesterday on Fox that we believe that the investigation should be brought to a close. We think they are the end of it. They should render a report. I guess, put up or shut up, what do you got?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: Let's bring in our panel from Washington, Charles Hurt, opinion editor for "The Washington Times," Amy Walter, national editor for the "Cook Political Report," and Jonathan Swan, national political reporter for "Axios."
Jonathan, let me start with you at the White House. We've seen a ton of tweets from the president where he expresses his opinion. This one got a lot of attention because it sounded like he was giving an order.
JONATHAN SWAN, NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER, "AXIOS": Yes. Honestly it shouldn't have got -- I know we have to cover presidential tweets and statements and whatever. But I knew -- I spoke to Rudy Giuliani a couple nights ago. They have been saying this stuff for months. The president has it within his power to fire Mueller, he could do it. There's nothing stopping him from doing it except the fact that he knows full well that it's a red line for Congress and it really would trigger a lot of these members to do, frankly, things that are probably beyond his control.
So he continues to vent, he continues to attack Mueller. This is part of that. This is not of a different category even though to a lay reader who hasn't been covering Trump for three years, yes, it might look like this is a new dimension. But actually it's just the same thing that we've seen every single day, which is attacking the probe, attacking the investigation, and attacking Mueller.
AMY WALTER, NATIONAL EDITOR, "COOK POLITICAL REPORT": It seems the one new thing that he did, though, was to bring in Jeff Sessions into the discussion rather than it just being about how terrible Bob Mueller is and the rigged witch hunt and all of this. Now it's saying Jeff Sessions should end this.
Now, is that a directive for him to end it? No. He's not saying you need to do this or I demand that you do this. But I think we have to get to the bottom line here, which is his tweets either mean something or they don't mean something. So some days they are important, some days they don't mean anything. Some days they're the word of the president, some days he's just venting. He is the president of the United States. He can't vent off in the way a regular person can through whatever social media account they have. It carries a great deal of weight.
The other thing I would say is, if you lawyer tells you, Bret, this is absolutely legal, you can do it, I would just say it's probably not a good idea for you to do this. It's putting you in a difficult position, and then you kept doing it, then somebody is going to come back to you and say we told you, you shouldn't have done that, it wasn't a good idea. It's putting you in a bad situation and let's not make it worse. But that's not what's happening.
BAIER: Charlie, we often on the panel turn to this and say why does this always go to 11, our reaction to it? But it does.
CHARLES HURT, OPINION EDITOR, "WASHINGTON TIMES": Yes, and when everything is 11, nothing is 11, or 10 for that matter, eventually. We have two situations going on here. You do have a legal situation, but in that legal situation there has been no credible proof thus far that Donald Trump has done anything wrong.
You also have a political situation, and Donald Trump as president, as an American, has every right to weigh in on the political matter, on the political side of things. And the way I read that tweet and all of these tweets is that he is weighing in on the political situation, he is issuing a political message, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that and there's nothing inappropriate. I do get that it's sort of a shock to the system around here. It's not the way Washington normally operates. But this is a guy who doesn't care about any of that, and he has every right to defend himself. And as obnoxious as a lot of people around here find it, he does a very good job of defending himself.
BAIER: OK, let's turn to tariffs. This is substantive, it's happening, it's affecting a lot of people. The proposal now is to float the idea of increasing the proposed tariffs on the next $200 billion in Chinese goods to 25 percent from 10 percent. Sources telling us there is a realization even by all of those at the table that China is a bad actor and the scope of China taking advantage of America on trade makes it difficult to come to any compromise. Here is the president calling into Rush Limbaugh. I referenced earlier with Williams.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our farmers, we're going to open up markets for them. But they are great patriots. I watch them --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: Well, he continued that thought to say that farmers are going to possibly take it on the chin in the short term. Jonathan, this is real. It's really stepping up, and they believe that they can hold the line, right.
SWAN: It might be real. It's still a threat. He still has only put a fairly small dollar value of tariffs on China. There's a couple things here. One is the 10 percent of the $200 billion which was the original threat was kind of a joke because the currency movement, when this trade war started the Chinese currency went down, so that advantaged their exporters. So actually even trade experts who oppose all of this were kind of laughing and saying this was a bit of a joke. So 25 percent, OK, that's a real threat.
He's making a big gamble. His gamble is that he can break President Xi. And you have a president of the United States, yes, who has a very powerful economy, but he also has to deal with domestic politics. He has to worry about the farmers. He has to worry about members of Congress, he has to worry about the midterm elections. Then on the other side you have president for life Xi who doesn't have to worry about this. He's an authoritarian leader who can use all sorts of tools for his economy. So yes, it's true, the two economies are very interwoven, China is very dependent on the U.S. to sell their products. So yes, Trump has some leverage, but it's a big gamble if he really pushes it to the next level.
BAIER: Amy, just how it plays.
WALTER: I think Jonathan set it up really well as a gamble, especially if you're thinking politically. And it is true, even when I looked through the polling that was taken in last couple of weeks, those who support the president most strongly are in rural areas. Those who dislike the tariffs most strongly are in urban areas, i.e. not people who are feeling the pinch from the commodity price drop. So I think the president has something when he says that farmers are willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. The question is for how long. And is it going to be until post midterm elections? And even if they give him the benefit of the doubt, what are they expecting from their members of Congress who right now are saying, at least publicly, we don't like this, we are trying to tell the president to kind of hold back.
BAIER: Right. And so it's a game of chicken as described earlier. Panel, stand by. Next up, how a new alternative to ObamaCare will play in the midterms.
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