Controversy over the ousters of Omarosa, Strzok

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report with Bret Baier," August 13, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


OMAROSA MANIGAULT NEWMAN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE AIDE: Can I ask you a couple questions? Is the president aware of what you're doing?

JOHN KELLY, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Let's not go down the road. This is a nonnegotiable discussion.

NEWMAN: I don't want to negotiate. I've never had a chance to talk to you, General Kelly. So if this is my departure, I would like to have at least an opportunity to understand.

KELLY: We can talk another time. This has to do with some pretty serious integrity violations. So I'll let it go at that. The staff and everyone on the staff works for me, not the president.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Omarosa, what's going on? I just in the news that you're thinking about leaving. What happened?

NEWMAN: General Kelly came to me and said that you guys wanted me to leave.

TRUMP: No. Nobody even told me about it.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Omarosa is a former White House aide who is now pitching a new book, and she has audiotapes, as you heard there, of her interactions with the White House chief of staff, the president, perhaps others, she says. The president taking this on head-on on Twitter, saying "While I know it's not presidential to take on a lowlife like Omarosa, and while I would rather not be doing so, this is a modern day form of communication and I know the fake news media will be working overtime to make even wacky Omarosa look legitimate as possible. Sorry!"

Obviously Omarosa has changed her tune since leaving the White House, a tune that was much different at the beginning of the administration.


NEWMAN: Every critic, every detractor will have to bow down to President Trump. Everyone who has ever doubted Donald, whoever disagreed, whoever challenged him, it is the ultimate revenge to become the most powerful man in the universe.


BAIER: Former "Apprentice" player now selling a book. Let's bring in our panel: Jason Riley, Wall Street Journal columnist, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute; Zeke Miller, White House reporter for the Associated Press, and Chris Stirewalt, politics editor here at Fox News.

OK, Jason, obviously it's a lot of drama. People didn't think that this was coming, maybe they should have when she was hired. But what do you think about this?

JASON RILEY, WALL STREET JOURNAL COLUMNIST: I don't think it is that complicated. She sounds like a disgruntled former employee cashing in. Opportunistic. She has got a book to sell. This is someone who has known the president, by her reckoning, 15 years. She's worked with him on a TV show, on the campaign, now in the White House.

And she seems to also be sort of validating her firing. This is what the chief of staff was afraid of. The president needs to be surrounded by people he can trust. He clearly cannot trust Omarosa. And not only is this Kelly's observation, but his predecessor Reince Priebus said the same thing. This is not someone we want around the White House, and she is out there right now on this book tour I think very much confirming their suspicions.

BAIER: Zeke, there are other people out there, Frank Luntz show says he's quoted in the book, "page 149, she claims to have heard from someone who heard from me that I heard Trump use the N-word. Not only is that flat-out false, I've never heard such thing, but Omarosa didn't even make an effort to call or email me to verify. Very shoddy work."

She's out on these interviews saying the president is racist and that she had a change of heart in her term.

ZEKE MILLER, ASSOCIATED PRESS: She is clearly not the most credible spokesperson for her own agenda here. You played those clips from 2016, others. Even by her admission she hadn't had a conversation with John Kelly up until her firing five months after he started. There are a whole lot of reasons to doubt her credibility here.

At the same time, the fact that she was in the White House to begin with points to an issue with this administration. The fact that she felt empowered, that it was OK to make those sorts of recordings, makes those sorts of statements to a chief of staff, points to something about this White House that is different than every other White House that we have seen. The nature of that freedom, the culture of backbiting, a culture where individuals -- where the individual is first and the team came second or the country came second, that is the cultural problem that existed back in the White House with Omarosa there.

The question is, have they fully rooted out that problem now? You look at some of the tweets on the personnel issues, the drama this administration has had over and over again, the answer is probably not yet.

BAIER: So we are not done with this cycle. She's going to keep pitching it. We're probably going to hear more stories about her time in the White House from the White House on the record and off. What does this do politically, anything?

CHRIS STIREWALT, FOX NEWS: Nothing. And this is reaching a point of dramatically diminishing returns for her. If this is it, right, if the worse that she has is very conventional kind of conversations that you would expect to hear from a chief -- this is the point of the chief of staff, to insulate the president from people, from disgruntled employees, from people who you have to fire. And of course the president says oh, my gosh, heaven forfend that poor Omarosa would have to go. Wait, I'm sorry. The signal is breaking up here. Bye. So none of that is surprising. All of that is normal. If this is the best thing that she has, if this is the goods, there ain't no goods and this will go away quick.

RILEY: Obviously some of what she is saying could be true. I just think most people will want independent verification that it's true given her lack of credibility.

BAIER: Let's turn to the firing, another firing, Peter Strzok, the FBI agent at the center of these anti-Trump texts fired Friday we're told. The president weighing in, saying it had taken far too long for that to happen and saying "The big story that the fake news media refuses to report is lowlife Christopher Steele's many meetings with deputy A.G. Bruce Ohr, his beautiful wife, Nellie. It was Fusion GPS that hired Steele to write a phony, discredited dossier paid for by crooked Hillary and the DNC."

He had a series of tweets over the weekend and then finally today saying the peter Strzok was fired. Zeke?

MILLER: It's clear that the Russia investigation is very front and center of the president's mind. It's been that way for months if not a year. Now he's very concerned about the Mueller probe and its encroachment on the campaign, and he's fighting this war against the Mueller probe in the press.

And ultimately he has certainly legitimate gripes about Peter Strzok and the conduct of the investigation. But this is not about Peter Strzok, about a single FBI employee. This is about the president trying to discredit the broader investigation into his administration and the people around him, and that is ultimately a political question. That's why we're seeing him take to Twitter in this case and make his case.

BAIER: I said today, Jason, that there was a confluence here. It's like two trains on two sides of the investigation. And they're racing towards the fall. You have got the Mueller investigation and you have this other investigation into the early parts of the Trump -- the Russia probe. And the I.G. coming potentially with another report. What do we make of this development and how it fits into all this?

RILEY: I wonder what took so long for this man to be fired? He keeps saying there is no evidence that my political bias affected my job performance. Mueller seemed to disagree, which is why he was kicked off Mueller's team. And what about what he's done to the integrity of the FBI? What about what he's done to the integrity of the Mueller investigation by tainting it in this way? It was clear that he had political bias. We are going to stop Trump from being elected. He put it in writing. What took so long for this step to be taken?

BAIER: What we don't have is the testimony of Lisa Page which we are told is really opposite of what Strzok said.

STIREWALT: Quite so. And I would just say this. Strzok falls in the same category as McCabe and Comey. If they are sincere about wanting to rehabilitate the reputation of the agency and let the good men and women there do their work, and about the Mueller investigation, it's time to exit stage left. Don't be out raising money and making yourself the center of the story because that plays right into Donald Trump's narrative. So if you are sincere, then you've got to go away.

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