This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," April 10, 2019. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I think spying on a political campaign is a big deal, it's a big deal.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're not suggesting, though, that spying occurred?
BARR: I don't -- well, I guess, I think spying did occur, yes, I think spying did occur.
I just want to make it clear thinking back on all the different colloquies here that I am not saying improper surveillance occurred. I'm saying that I am concerned about it and looking into it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRETT BAIER, HOST: Attorney General up on the Hill saying he has formed a team to look into the beginning of the investigation, the Russia investigation. Obviously there's also a Senate investigation as well, and the I.G. report expected to come out in May, early June.
Let's bring in our panel, start there, Byron York, chief political correspondent for the "Washington Examiner," Charles Lane, opinion writer for "The Washington Post," and Marc Thiessen, fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.
Byron, you would think there were all kinds of reactions after the attorney general said that, from Republican conspiracy nonsense to I'm concerned about the attorney general.
BRYON YORK, CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, "WASHINGTON EXAMINER": It set off this firestorm of reaction, but what the attorney general said was accurate when he said I think spying did occur and the question is whether it was adequately predicated. And the fact is, the FBI wiretapped Carter Page. They monitored his electronic communications. You can look at the warrant application. It was all about the campaign. This is just actually a fact.
The question, of course, we had a huge debate when we learned about whether the FBI wiretap of Page was adequately predicated. The Republican said no, it wasn't, because it was based in part on the dossier, and Democrats said yes, it was fine. Bub basically what Barr said today was just a statement of fact.
CHARLES LANE, OPINION WRITER, "WASHINGTON POST": Bill Barr is a very seasoned, experienced lawyer who got into a little trouble today by not using a lawyerly words. "Spying" is an inflammatory term, it gets people triggered. And if he had said a word like "surveillance," which is what he reverted to later, we might not be having this discussion.
Of course, the question, as Byron says, has been before us for a long time. Was there anything improper or illegal about this FISA warrant on Carter Page who technically wasn't a member of the campaign I hasten to add at the time it occurred, and then later on Stefan Halper, who is some kind of murky intelligence contact went and talked to Papadopoulos and Page in London. So some kind of contact or surveillance or observation was going on of these people in Trump's orbit. And to call it spying, I think, was an indiscretion that triggered everybody.
BAIER: These two tracks are happening. There's an investigation, we're going to find out whatever we're going to find out from the Mueller report, redacted or not, and then this other trek is an investigation that people say needs to happen, too, because you've got to make sure if something bad happened that it doesn't happen again.
MARC THIESSEN, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: I don't remember the Democrats complaining two years of investigating the Russian inclusion that turned out never happened. So all of a sudden, we are now looking into how this investigation started. As Americans, we should wonder, OK, we just had a two-year, $30 million investigation into collusion with Russia, conspiracy with Russia, and found that it didn't happen. So just as a matter of good government we ought to look into how exactly did we spend $30 million and hire all these people and put the president through all this for something that actually didn't happen? So I think it is completely legitimate to look into it.
And quite frankly, I think Lindsey Graham raised the most important question, because this started out as a counterintelligence investigation, and he asked why was Trump kept in the dark about this? Dianne Feinstein, a member of that committee and then the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, had a Chinese spy on her staff for 20 years. It was her driver and her office director in San Francisco, and when the FBI found out about it, they went to Dianne Feinstein and they said you have a spy on your staff, and she fired him. Why didn't no one come to Donald Trump, and say we are surveilling -- the Russians are trying to infiltrate your campaign, and you need to do something about it.
BAIER: We should point out that Paul Manafort's assets may actually balance the books on how much the investigation cost.
BAIER: There is other investigation going on. "The Wall Street Journal" article on this hush money probe saying the Manhattan U.S. attorney's office has gathered more evidence than previously known in its criminal investigation of hush payments to two women with alleged affairs with Donald Trump, including for members of the president's inner circle. If you look at the inner circle who was interviewed in this probe, it includes a lot of folks close to the president at one time or the other. Just to point out, Byron, there are other things going on simultaneous to what's happening on Capitol Hill with Mueller.
YORK: A lot of Democrats have put a lot of faith in the investigation with the Southern District of New York, feeling worried that Mueller might just be a dud and not prove the collusion that they hoped would be proven.
And this is it, although I have to say, even if they do expand this questioning to people like Keith Schiller who was the president's long time, back when he was a private citizen, his security man, we may find out more. But I think the core charge in still this, in a lot of people's view, questionable campaign finance charge that prosecutors in New York said the president directed Michael Cohen to commit. Whether it goes beyond that is totally unclear.
BAIER: Quickly, as these investigations come forward and the president parries one way or the other, does the onus to Democrats whether they're going to continue pressing on all these fronts?
LANE: I don't think the onus is something --
BAIER: I'm saying politically.
LANE: Yes. I don't think it's up for grabs. I think we have two worlds in America. We have Republicans and we have Democrats, and Democrats view the world one way and Republicans view it the other. And so Democrats, sorry to oversimplify, but this is the way I think it is, Democrats will view everything that Bill Barr might try to investigate about the FISA warrant as a complete, illegitimate conspiracy theory, and Republicans will view it as vital. I don't see a whole lot of people in the middle who are going to swayed for or against either party on the basis on any of this.
BAIER: You buy that?
Meantime I think that is true of Washington D.C. I don't know if that's true of the rest of the country. When we get outside of the beltway to normal Americans who are watching today on TV who live in what Democrats refer to as fly-over country derisively, they really want to find out the truth. And I don't think they are as politicized as all of us are here in Washington.
BAIER: Next up, reaction to what we heard tonight from the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITCH MCCONNELL, R-KY, SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: I would hope that finally after years of gridlock on this, and, by the way, it's important to point out that in 2009 in 2010 the Democrats controlled the entire government, they never brought up immigration reform, never, when they owned it. It is finally time for us to step up and not only solve the crisis at the border but do some changes to immigration laws that are sensible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: The Senate Majority Leader on this show earlier talking about immigration. Meantime at this hour, just a short time ago, the new acting Homeland Security secretary sworn in, Secretary McAleenan sworn in by outgoing secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. This as obviously immigration taking a huge role. Back with the panel. You heard the Senate Majority Leader, Marc, talking about that. Your thoughts. Congress seems at gridlock on the issue of immigration.
THIESSEN: And we wouldn't have this crisis on the border if we had a wall. So Trump is right in the end. But look, the problem is we have 100,000 apprehensions last year, which jay Johnson explained that under him the highest was 65,000 and that was a crisis. So there really is a crisis at the border.
And second of all, it's a different type of crisis. What you have is you have people claiming asylum for the first time. So before 2013, only one out of 100 people arriving at the southern border claimed asylum. Today it's one in 10. And when they're given credible fear admission to the United States and they look at it, it turns out that only 10 percent of those people actually get asylum. So 90 percent don't have a legitimate asylum request.
So not only is this a problem at the southern border, this is a problem if you care about refugees, because there are people all over the world in places like Somalia and South Sudan and Burma and Afghanistan who are trying to come here to get asylum, and all the people who are supposed to be dealing with asylum requests are dealing with these migrants at the southern border. So if you care about refugees, you should be appalled by this situation.
BAIER: Here is the president on asylum.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT: I think that the whole asylum rules, laws, and regulations have been taken advantage of by people who are very bad people in many cases. These are the people running the cartels. They are gaming the system, they have been for years. The only difference is our economy is now so strong that more people come up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: So I guess the question is, is Congress that broken that they can't fix the problem even though they know what the problem is?
LANE: Just to pick up on something -- I will answer your question, but pick on something Marc said about refugees, this administration made a strategic decision to slash refugee admissions. So the reason there aren't more refugees coming in is President Trump doesn't want them.
Secondly, to your question, Bret, Congress is broken. It is true that this concatenation of laws and judicial decisions has produced perverse incentives that promote people coming to the border and not sneaking through but turning themselves in to the border patrol -- by the way, a wall wouldn't do anything about that -- to request asylum, and then they get paroled in the country, and they're as good as in forever. It requires legislation. The Congress so polarized both parties have decided to pander to the farthest wing of their base, the most emotional people, the people least willing to compromise, and here we are.
YORK: What we need here is what McConnell called a niche fix. He used that phrase in connection with health care, but it also applies here in the sense that Democrats will often say we need a giant, comprehensive immigration reform package, which is not going to happen. But to fix the asylum laws, which dictate that anybody crossing the border illegally asking for asylum gets to stay in the country essentially permanently in many, many cases, and at least while their cases are being adjudicated, that could be changed. We just had a court decision against the Trump administration's proposal to have that adjudication done while the migrant waited in Mexico. They are relatively easy legislative fixes, but to do so would give Trump a victory, and I think that is not possible on Capitol Hill.
BAIER: The other things about the interview with the Senate Majority Leader, the prospect of getting things done. Basically, in the Senate a a lot of nominations, he's pointing out that that is very important from a Republican point of view. Possibility of drug prices on a bipartisan basis maybe, infrastructure sounded like no way. Maybe immigration around the edges. Health care, no way. Right? That's what you heard?
THIESSEN: Yes, I heard that, too. But again, that's not the fault of the majority leader or the Republicans. The Democrats made a strategic decision that they don't want to give Donald Trump any victories. When Donald Trump came up for his wall and asked for money for the wall, the Democrats should have been celebrating, because they're like, OK, we've got something that Donald Trump wants. We've got leverage. Let's use the leverage to get something we want. So they could have negotiated, they could have used it for DACA. They could have used it for some kind of solutions on immigration. They could have used it on something completely unrelated to immigration, Medicare for all or something like that. They instead decided, no, we're going to throw away our leverage because we just don't want to give Donald Trump anything. So yes, they're not going to get anything done.
BAIER: Well, we'll cover it either way. Panel, thanks.
BAIER: When we come back, President Trump and all in the family.
BAIER: Finally tonight, in Texas today President Trump had an encounter with a member of the Bush family.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Texas land commissioner George P. Bush for being here. Where is George? Where is George?
TRUMP: Come here, George. This is the only Bush that likes me. Come here. I want to meet you. He is a friend of my son, and he's a great guy. Truly, this is the Bush that got it right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: The Bush that got it right.
Meantime, we have one new viewer. Our director at "Special Report" Katie Van Lear (ph) gave birth this Saturday to a beautiful baby girl Olivia Grace Van Lear (ph). Both mom and baby are doing well. Congrats to Katie and husband Todd. Thank you very much, one viewer at a time. Now, we'll turn it over to Martha in New York.
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