Britain denies 'ridiculous' GCHQ wiretap claim

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report with Bret Baier," March 17, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you think it was a mistake to blame British intelligence for this? And by the way, my second question, are there from time to time tweets that you regret?

PRESIDENT DONAL TRUMP: I probably wouldn't be here right now, but very seldom. We have a tremendous group of people that listen and I can get around the media when the media doesn't tell the truth, so I like that.

As far as wiretapping, I guess this past administration, at least we have something in common perhaps. All we did was quote a certain very talented legal mind who was the one responsible for saying that on television. I didn't make an opinion on it.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Well, President Trump referring to Judge Andrew Napolitano, senior judicial analyst here at Fox News, who over the past few days has said this.


JUDGE ANDREW NAPOLITANO, FOX NEWS SENIOR JUDICIAL ANALYST: So three intelligence sources have informed FOX News that President Obama went outside the chain of command, he didn't use the NSA, he didn't use the CIA, he didn't use the FBI, and he didn't use the Department of Justice. He used GCHQ. They have 24/7 access to the NSA database. So by simply having two people go to them saying President Obama needs transcripts of conversations involving candidate Trump, conversations involving president- elect Trump, he was able to get it and there's no American fingerprints on this.


BAIER: We love the judge, we love him here at Fox, but the Fox News division was never able to back up those claims, and was never reported on this show on "Special Report."

The British government issued a statement today after Sean Spicer read that report from the podium. "We've made clear to the administration that these claims are ridiculous and they should be ignored, and we've received assurances that these allegations will not be repeated."

With that we'll start there with the panel: Charles Hurt, opinion editor for The Washington Times; A.B. Stoddard, associate editor at Real Clear Politics, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer. OK, Charlie, the White House is now citing a number of things. They're not talking about specific evidence. They're citing news reports and obviously a report by Judge Andrew Napolitano that we couldn't back up.

CHARLES HURT, THE WASHINGTON TIMES: Right. And, honestly, from the beginning with the first tweet and the follow-up tweets from the president on that otherwise sleepy Saturday morning, it was clear from the beginning he was referring to news reports. He was referring to an online news report about the FISA warrants, one that was denied and one that was accepted and approved. And then he was also talking about some of the other surveillance that was clearly not wiretapping, but other types of surveillance that was written about in The New York Times and The Washington Post. None of that reporting has been debunked.

BAIER: Well, it has, actually. You had the statement by the DOJ that they've complied with all the information, and then you have the House and Senate intelligence committees saying that they didn't have any indication that there was a FISA on Trump Tower.

HURT: None of the people that reported those things, including The New York Times, have come back and corrected their reporting is what I mean by that.

BAIER: But you know the whole back and forth. The president tweeting, he has access to all of the intelligence agencies, they all report to him. He could pick up the phone and find out the real information.

HURT: Oh, absolutely. And this is, I think, the biggest legitimate charge against him is the fact that you do have access to this information. But on the other hand, can you imagine if he did do that? The media goes crazy over this. Imagine what would have if he did do that and he demanded that these FISA records were made public, which of course he could do, and I wish he would. I think it would either prove him wrong or prove him right. But at least it would prove that he's interested in getting at the truth.

BAIER: He says something else is coming out in the next couple weeks is what he told Tucker Carlson. We'll see what that is.

A.B., the bottom line here is that we are now at two weeks of dealing with this issue where there's a lot of things that are going on around the world.

A.B. STODDARD, REAL CLEAR POLITICS: Right. It was really amazing to watch him with Chancellor Merkel say, not only refusing to give her a handshake in the Oval Office, but at that press conference when this wiretap discussion is going on, which is an international embarrassment, and then they bring up the Brits being -- the intelligence service for the Brits being, this administration leveling a false allegation at them. And then two administration officials, H.R. McMaster, the national security advisor, and the spokesperson Sean Spicer reports out this morning, apologized to two separate British officials over this. And then later on today, Sean Spicer, the White House secretary, said no, we didn't apologize.

And when Trump was asked about it at the press conference, his response was very dismissive, and he basically said you'll just have to talk to FOX. There was no concern about the alliance, the appearance of this false allegation, an apology. Even if he didn't use the word "apology," there was a way to handle that moment. And it was really demonstrative of how he looks at our alliances, the international order, processes --

BAIER: Or how about this. This is how president Trump has always dealt with challenges to anything good is just to do that.

STODDARD: I think the job requires something else.

BAIER: This president is different.

STODDARD: This job in those moments with allies require something else.

BAIER: Because they see it.

STODDARD: Every word matters, every action, the conduct of your staff, it's not to be blown off.

BAIER: All right, Charles, quickly, I want to turn to NATO. Do you have something on this?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: This is just -- it's a farce now. The idea that we -- in this town, the media, the agencies, the Congress are running around chasing their tails on a story that everyone knows is not true but having to pretend that it might be because he's the president when we know how it's going to end. And the one thing about the GCHQ, we have a lot of real enemies in the world. Do we really have to go around antagonizing our best allies?

BAIER: We will cover it every step of the way, no matter what happens. We'll follow the facts.

The president and the chancellor talking about NATO and the messages delivered there. Take a listen.


TRUMP: I reiterated to Chancellor Merkel my strong support for NATO. Many nations owe vast sums of money from past years. And it was very unfair to the United States. These nations must pay what they owe.

ANGELA MERKEL, GERMAN CHANCELLOR (via translator): I was gratified to know that the president underlined how important he thinks NATO is. NATO is of prime importance for us. And it was not without very good reason that we said during our summit meeting in Wales that also Germany needs to increase expenditure.


BAIER: Charlie, people have talked about it for a long time, many administrations, about what other countries need to do to not have paper armies in NATO. It seemed like the message was strength. And we have from our White House team sources with direct knowledge of the meeting describing it as contentious, with President Trump pressing hard against the chancellor to own up to their responsibilities for NATO and defense spending. A White House saying this was a shot across the bow for other NATO members who have also not offered the two percent of GDP, gross domestic product line.

HURT: Of course originally Donald Trump got into a lot of trouble in the campaign but raising this issue in the first place because it suggested according to the press, he did not value NATO. Clearly he does value NATO, and he values it enough that he is going to insist that Germany pay up their fair share. And there are reports out of the White House that it appears they are moving in that direction, which is very good, positive step.

BAIER: I want to play one more sound bite, Donald Trump, the president, on health care from the Oval Office, quickly.


TRUMP: I just want to let the world know, I am 100 percent in favor. These folks -- and they are tough and they love their constituents and they love this country -- these folks were no's mostly no's yesterday. And now every single one is a yes. And I just want to thank you. We're going to have a health care plan that's going to be second-to-none. It's going to be great, and the people will see that.


BAIER: So if anybody thought, A.B., that the president wasn't signing on to the Paul Ryan's efforts, speaker of the House, he is. That's the Republican study group. He says they've all turned. Is this a change in tide?

STODDARD: It was very important that he got out there and say he is 100 percent behind the bill. Republicans have been very nervous about which pages he's on, and that was a very big symbolic but substantive step, and it will help the bill. It helps that he turns some Republican study group conservatives into yeses. It does not mean there are other conservatives that are not standing in the way of the bill. The numbers are in the high teens. They can only lose 21 or 22. They're near 20 right now if you combine some moderates with House Freedom Caucus members. So he's got some way to go, but that's a very good start.

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