This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," May 7, 2020. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: No relation, but I do like pools. Thanks, Jesse.
Good evening. I'm Bret Baier. "BREAKING TONIGHT", a major repudiation of the Russia collusion investigation and the huge personal victory for an elite military officer whose career and reputation were ruined.
And moments ago, Democrats on a key House committee capitulate to Republican pressure to release previously secret documents about that Russia investigation. We'll have more about those documents as they come in. We're going through them right now.
First off, the Justice Department is ceasing its prosecution of retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn on charges of lying to federal investigators. Flynn was fired by President Trump as national security advisor, and later pleaded guilty to the charges before moving to withdraw that plea.
I will speak with Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, who was the last of the Justice Department and FBI for its handling of the Flynn case in just a few minutes. First, chief White House correspondent John Roberts with a lot of news tonight. Good evening, John.
JOHN ROBERTS, FOX NEWS CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: And Bret, let's start where you started. Adam Schiff and the House Intelligence Committee may have capitulated in terms of releasing the transcripts of some 57 interviews they did.
But in this press release, they certainly don't sound like they're capitulating, insisting that those transcripts show what the committee has insisted all along that the Trump campaign and Donald Trump himself invited illicit Russian help, made full use of that help, and then lied and obstructed the investigations in order to cover up his misconduct.
That don't forget, the Mueller investigation found that there was no evidence of collusion to influence the election between the Trump campaign and Russia. Also in this, Adam Schiff, says that Michael Flynn lied to the FBI about his efforts to contact the Russians about sanctions. But today, the DOJ dropped that whole case.
ROBERTS: It was a stunning move. The Department of Justice, after reviewing new evidence that Michael Flynn's attorneys said was proof the FBI was out to get him, today, dropped the case against Flynn. It even took President Trump by surprise.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I didn't know that was happening at this moment. I felt it was going to happen just by watching and seeing, like anybody else does. He was an innocent man.
ROBERTS: If approved by the presiding judge, the move would vacate Flynn's guilty plea, a play he had been seeking to withdraw.
TRUMP: He was targeted by the Obama administration. And he was targeted in order to trying take down a president. And what they've done is a disgrace, and I hope a big price is going to be paid.
ROBERTS: Flynn had been a target of the Mueller investigation. In a newly released scope memo, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said to Mueller on August 2nd, 2017, Rosenstein told Mueller to look into Flynn's contacts with Russian officials during the transition and whether he lied to the FBI.
Mueller was also told to look into Carter Page, Paul Manafort, and George Papadopoulos to determine whether any of them colluded with Russia in the 2016 election.
Senator Lindsey Graham, who requested the scope memo, says Mueller's appointment had no legal justification because it was based on a disavowed dossier on the Trump campaign, and that Flynn have been cleared by the FBI before agents, including Peter Strzok, insisted on interviewing him.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): The legal foundation for Mueller's employment is crumbling. So, now we know that the scope of the investigation was to look at Carter Page, Flynn, Papadopoulos, and Manafort as to whether or not they were working with the Russians.
ROBERTS: On the coronavirus, the White House today confirming the first case of COVID-19 inside the West Wing. One of President Trump's military valets falling ill on Tuesday and testing positive.
TRUMP: I've had very little contact -- personal contact with this gentleman. Know who he is, good person, but I've had very little contact.
ROBERTS: The president has six valets who handle his wardrobe and some personal needs, including serving meals. They also travel with the president, though Fox News has told, the valet who tested positive, a navy service member, did not go on either the Arizona or Camp David trips.
Though he was at the White House over the weekend, when President Trump, was getting ready for the Fox News town hall.
In an interview to air tonight, Sean Hannity asked the vice president about it.
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The president and I have both been tested since the last contact with that valet, and we both tested negative.
ROBERTS: Now, back on the Michael Flynn issue, President Trump has long insisted that Michael Flynn has been treated extremely unfairly, and this may not be the last shoe to drop in this as well. We're still waiting for the Durham investigation into the Mueller probe.
And Roger Stone, what will happen to him? Like Flynn, President Trump believe Stone has been treated unfairly, and may be up for a presidential pardon. Bret.
BAIER: John, thank you. Again, we're going through those documents as we're getting them. We'll bring any breaking details here on SPECIAL REPORT.
The Justice Department is filing an emergency request with the U.S. Supreme Court, asking justices to temporarily block the enforcement of an order requiring in the release of secret grand jury materials from the Russia probe to the House Judiciary Committee by May 11th.
House Democrats have been seeking the redacted portions of Robert Mueller's report and its underlying evidence from grand jury proceedings. They say they need it for an ongoing impeachment investigation of President Trump, even after he was acquitted by the Senate regarding the Ukraine controversy.
Late this afternoon, we also learned the Justice Department officially close the case against former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. He was accused of lying to investigators about a leak to the media.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Before I -- before I've been got.
BAIER: In tonight's "DEMOCRACY 2020" report, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee goes campaigning virtually. Joe Biden is still in his home in Delaware, but he held two remote events with supporters today.
This came amid a major development in the sexual assault allegation against the former vice president. Tara Reade speaking out for the first time. Here is correspondent Peter Doocy.
PETER DOOCY, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Joe Biden just hosted what his campaign advertised as his first virtual rally in Tampa. Biden is trying to move past accusations of rape by a former staffer Tara Reade. And today, for the first time since he denied wrongdoing, she spoke on camera.
TARA READE, FORMER BIDEN SENATE STAFFER: His campaign is taking this position that they want all women to be able to speak safely? I have not experienced that.
MEGYN KELLY, AMERICAN JOURNALIST: If he's watching this, what do you want to say to him?
READE: I want to say, you and I were there, Joe Biden. Please step forward and be held accountable.
DOOCY: Trump campaign is more concerned with Biden's record on China, dropping $10 million on new attack ads, as a new Monmouth poll finds registered voters trending towards the former V.P.
The Trump campaign is also asking, "When was the last time a reporter got to ask Joe Biden an unscreened question? Would it be so hard to hold a press conference on his porch in Delaware? Social distancing could easily be observed."
That's the way other Democrats are doing it like Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Here we are today.
DOOCY: The brains behind the operation that turned the mayor of South Bend into the winner of the Iowa caucuses in a year, Pete Buttigieg's advisor Lis Smith writes today, "If Joe Biden plays his cards right, the death of the traditional presidential campaign will turn out to be a blessing in disguise. The 77-year-old Mr. Biden, whom the president derisively calls Sleepy Joe, can become the hottest bad boy and disrupter in the media."
But, today's disrupter was a duck.
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Obamacare is the biggest most progressive expansion over the four years of our health care system.
DOOCY: And they are dealing right now with some major technical difficulties that this evening's socially distanced rally as Biden's accuser, Tara Reade, now starts to push for a socially distanced deposition. Saying that she would go under oath or take a polygraph about her allegations. But only if Joe Biden does first because she says she is not a criminal. Bret.
BAIER: Peter Doocy with the latest. Peter, thanks.
Nearly 3.2 million laid off workers applied for unemployment benefits last week. That brings the total to roughly 33-1/2 million in the seven weeks since the government lockdowns forced companies to slash payrolls.
Stocks were up today. The Dow gained 211, the S&P 500 finished ahead 33. The NASDAQ jumped 125.
As Congress moves toward another spending bill to deal with the coronavirus crisis, some lawmakers are taking new steps to investigate the U.S. relationship with China. Chief congressional correspondent Mike Emanuel, shows us tonight.
MIKE EMANUEL, FOX NEWS CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: When it comes to coronavirus in Congress, right now, the two parties are doing their own thing. Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her fellow Democrats are drawing up a next massive relief package.
PELOSI: What we're talking about now is about a stimulus to our economy at a time when people are crippled with concern about their physical well- being, as well as their economic well-being.
EMANUEL: GOP leader Kevin McCarthy is going forward with a Republican-led China task force after Democrats backed off.
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): The Communist Party of China hid the seriousness of this disease, led a propaganda campaign blaming the U.S.
EMANUEL: One area where the two parties will now work together, Republican Whip Steve Scalise and other GOP members are now joining a select panel on the coronavirus crisis. Leaders also need to figure out how House lawmakers can return to session as early as next week.
MCCARTHY: If you go two blocks away, you can get tea or latte. But the Democrats on this side of the House would not let us legislate. I think it's time that the house gets to work in a very critical manner of this country.
EMANUEL: Beyond reopening Congress, there's also a focus on how parts of the American economy can safely reopen
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): For the administration to pressure states and businesses to reopen, without a plan for a dramatic increase in testing is like sending them out of the door with a blindfold on.
EMANUEL: The Senate health chairman after taking off his protective mask, said we're not there yet.
SEN. LAMAR ALEXANDER (R-TN): Our country will soon be doing 2 million diagnostic tests for COVID-19 a week, an impressive number. But to contain the disease and give Americans confidence that it's safe to go back to work and back to school, we will need tens of millions of tests.
EMANUEL: And the director of the National Institutes of Health warned fast testing is critical.
DR. FRANCIS COLLINS, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH: The new types of tests need to be sensitive enough to flag asymptomatic individuals who may have just become infected and don't even know it yet.
EMANUEL: Democrats are expected to offer their own massive plan for a next coronavirus relief package soon, many Republicans with the nation's debt at $25 trillion in counting would like to give it a little more time before considering a next bill to see if the impact of what has already been authorized. Bret.
BAIER: All right, Mike. Thank you. Let's bring in Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley. Senator, thanks for the time. I want to start out with the breaking news about Michael Flynn. Your reaction to the DOJ dropping that case.
SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R-IA): It should have happened weeks ago, maybe even months ago. It's outrageous the way he is been treated. You spoke about he is being outstanding general. And a lot of this looks like it just happened because Trump was president.
Actually, I think there were people in the previous administration after him, because he knew what was going on inside the intelligence community. And if he got to be national security adviser for President Trump, he'd know where the bodies are buried and he would make big changes. And I think that they saw that as a real threat. And thinks -- things that have been happening, you ought to have those threats hanging out there.
But, one thing that -- if I could just make one point before you ask me again, a lot of people are telling me there should be prosecution because of this, and maybe there should be people prosecuted.
But the most important thing about this is that this -- a person's been given justice. In addition to his justice, the fact that, that we're getting all this information out that was previously held secret.
So, this doesn't happen to some innocent person in the future, any American. If it can happen to a general, just think what can happen to the average citizen. So, the exposure of this activity at the top of the FBI and even with collusion within the Justice Department, it's a good thing it's being exposed.
BAIER: Senator, here is what Democrats say, they say he lied to FBI agents. Here is Adam Schiff, tweeted, "Flynn pled guilty to lying to the FBI about his illicit Russian contacts. His lies do not now become truths. The dismissal does not exonerate him. But it does incriminate Bill Barr in the worst politicization of the Justice Department in its history." Your reaction to that.
GRASSLEY: Well, first of all, he was entrapped. And entrapment is unconstitutional, it's a violation of your due process. Secondly, this thing would not be exposed if it hadn't been for Barr taken the bull by the horns and knowing something was wrong, and going in, and knowing where things were wrong how to straighten it out.
And we haven't heard the end of Bill Barr's good work, because everything that's going on with the Durham investigation is another example of still other shoes to drop that I think he's going -- he's growing more than strong --
BAIER: When do you think that's coming, Senator?
GRASSLEY: I think it will be in the next two or three months.
BAIER: Two or three months.
GRASSLEY: Yes. Well, you know -- look --
BAIER: And what do you expect to see from that, do you know?
GRASSLEY: I -- no, if you're asking me, do I know for sure? No, it's my guess. I think we would have had things out before except things like this exculpatory information that's come out about Flynn. That's things that maybe Durham didn't know about. And when he gets new evidence, you got to follow it where it leads you. And I think that has to be extended his investigations and possible prosecution of a lot of people that did things wrong.
BAIER: Senator, today, a rare event. We had the Acting Director of National Intelligence Rick Grenell, showing up at the DOJ with documents, we're told. We had video of him arriving there.
And you called yesterday for these transcripts to be released. Now, tonight, the transcripts are being released. What do you think we'll see inside there as we're going through piece by piece of all of these 53 interviews?
GRASSLEY: Well, I obviously don't know. But I have a team of investigators that are going to get into those 57 interviews and the thousands and thousands of pages, and we're going to find out.
But if there's ever anybody that needs a thank you, for this transparency that brings accountability, it's Ambassador Grenell. Because I have never seen anybody so aggressive in seeing abuse of over classifications to get things declassified.
And I -- I've had things held up by the intelligence community for, at least, two years until he got in there. And he knew that I was right and I was entitled that information, the American people were entitled that information, and we got it within a day after he -- after he looked into it as we asked him to. So --
BAIER: Yes. Last thing, Senator, just really quickly, do you think that there are more shoes to drop in the beginning of this investigation that will shock Americans?
GRASSLEY: Not in regard to just Flynn's part of it.
GRASSLEY: But in regard to Russiagate, and in regard to FBI in influence and malpractice, and also in regard to a lot of FISA things, yes. So, I think there is more shoes to drop and I think there will be prosecution.
BAIER: Senator Grassley, we appreciate your time tonight.
GRASSLEY: Yes, thank you.
BAIER: Up next, new video on a Venezuela showing the second American captured by Maduro's forces. We'll take you there.
First, here is what some of our Fox affiliates around the country are covering tonight. Fox 13 in Tampa as firefighters in the Florida Panhandle battle wildfires that have forced some 1,600 people to evacuate from their homes.
Smoke from the fires caused officials to close a stretch of Interstate 10 in both directions today.
Fox 59 in Indianapolis, says police faced protests after officers fatally shoot two men and kill a pregnant pedestrian in three separate incidents just hours apart. Events around in the first shooting were live streamed on Facebook, including comments by a responding detective that the police chief had called unacceptable.
Fox 2 in San Francisco as the city health department confirms it provides nicotine and other addictive substances to those trying to recover from addiction. It says the effort is part of a plan to help the unhoused population and their words, quarantined in hotels rather than stay out on the streets.
And this is a live look at Chicago from our affiliate Fox 32. One of the big stories there tonight. The FBI offering a $2,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of a detainee who escaped the Cook County Jail by disguising himself as another inmate.
Jahquez Scott escaped the jail May 2nd after allegedly promising to pay another man $1,000 to agree to let him steal his identity. Scott had been arrested the day before on a weapons charge and was wearing a mask as he left.
That's tonight's live look, "OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY" from SPECIAL REPORT. We'll be right back.
BAIER: The U.S. Supreme Court has thrown out the convictions of two political insiders involved in New Jersey's Bridgegate scandal. Justice has ruled unanimously the government had overreached in prosecuting allies of then-New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
Bridget Kelly and Bill Baroni were convicted of fraud and conspiracy for their roles in a political payback scheme that created a massive traffic jam to punish a Democratic mayor who refused to endorse the Republican governor's reelection.
The Senate has failed to override a veto by President Trump of a measure seeking to restrict his military authority against Iran. Today's vote was 49 in favor, 44 against. However, a two-thirds majority was needed for that override of the veto.
And we're getting new images tonight of what Venezuela says is this second American behind a failed plot to overthrow the Venezuelan government.
State Department correspondent Rich Edson has the images.
AIRAN BERRY, AMERICAN ARRESTED IN VENEZUELA: -- United States.
RICH EDSON, FOX NEWS WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: More captive videos emerged from the Venezuelan government of Nicolas Maduro. These apparently, of the second former U.S. Green Beret in the regime's custody.
Under arrest, this man claims he's Airan Berry. And when questioned, he says he's part of an incursion into Venezuela this weekend to push Maduro from power. The regime already aired a video of a man in custody claiming to be another former Green Beret, Luke Denman, as the Maduro regime continues explaining the Americans in propaganda.
Nicolas Maduro, claims the U.S. government push this operation. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo denies that.
MIKE POMPEO, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF STATE (via telephone): This effort that we've seen the stories on these last few days was not an American effort, but we do believe that Maduro must go if we want try and restore that democracy for the Venezuelan people.
EDSON: Members of Congress are also asking the Trump administration about any U.S. knowledge of the operation. The State Department's spokesperson, says, "The United States government was not involved in recent events in Venezuela involving Mr. Goudreau. There is a major disinformation campaign underway by the Maduro regime, making it difficult to separate facts from propaganda.
This self-proclaimed architect of a failed infiltration into Venezuela this weekend is under investigation for potential arms trafficking violations.
U.S. officials, say they're looking into the Florida contractor and ex- Green Beret, Jordan Goudreau. The Maduro regime, says it wants to extradite Goudreau.
EDSON: The State Department, says it will use all available tools to try to free the Americans from Maduro's custody, though the United States has no official relationship with Maduro's government, and is instead, trying to push it from power. Bret.
BAIER: Rich Edson at the State Department. Rich, thanks.
Up next, the growing tensions in Georgia over the viral video of an unarmed black man being shot and killed. We'll bring you there.
First, "BEYOND OUR BORDERS" tonight. A chemical gas leak from an industrial plant in southern India, early today, living people struggling to breathe and collapsing in the streets.
At least, 11 people killed and about 1,000 suffering breathing difficulties, and other reactions.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has formally receive the support of a majority of lawmakers to lead a new government. The approval paves the way for a controversial power sharing deal with rival turn partner, Benny Gantz.
President Trump, said the U.S. would be sending Russia ventilators as the country's official coronavirus case tally has surged almost 180,000. Russia now has the fifth highest number of registered cases in the world. The country's task force, says, the number of new cases jump more than 11,000. In the last 24 hours.
German officials have clear the way for restaurants, hotels, bankers, and remaining stores to reopen in the coming weeks. They're also allowing the countries soccer league to resume play. Officials are requiring regions to re-impose restrictions if coronavirus infections rebound.
Just some of the other stories "BEYOND OUR BORDERS" tonight. We'll be right back.
BAIER: Racial tensions simmering tonight in Georgia following the release of a video showing the shooting death of an African-American man being chased by two white men last February. State investigators are now looking into the incident. Correspondent Jonathan Serrie has the latest from Atlanta.
JONATHAN SERRIE, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: A February 23rd shooting was thrust into the national spotlight when cell phone video apparently capturing the incident when viral this week. Two white men in the pickup confront a black jogger. Shots are fired. The black man tries to run away but collapses on the road. Gregory McMichael, a former investigator with the local district attorney's office and his son Travis told police they thought 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery was a burglary suspect. No one was charged.
WANDA COOPER JONES, MOTHER: I saw my son come in the world, and seeing him leave the world, it's not something that I want to see ever.
SERRIE: Arbery's mother has not watched the video, but she joins the chorus of peaceful protesters calling for an impartial investigation.
JOHN DAVIS PERRY II, BRUNSWICK, GEORGIA, NAACP: This is not a racially divided city where one group is saying that it was right and another group is saying it's wrong. Both races are saying the same thing.
SERRIE: Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden tweeted "The video is clear. It's bigger democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden tweeted "the video is clear Ahmaud Arbery was killed in cold blood." And Georgia's Republican attorney general Chris Carr said "Based of the video footage and news reports that I have seen, I am deeply concerned with the events surrounding the shooting." Carr appointed an outside district attorney, Tom Durden, to handle the case after the local D.A. recused her office to avoid conflicts of interest. Durden has requesting the vast resources of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
VIC REYNOLDS, GEORGIA BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION: After Mr. Durden's request last night, I advised him that we would hit the ground running this morning.
SERRIE: The D.A. says he plans to present the case to a grand jury. However, that may be delayed for several weeks because of the coronavirus pandemic. Bret?
BAIER: Jonathan, thank you.
A Texas businesswoman who went to jail over her refusal to abide by the government's order shutting down her beauty salon is out of jail tonight. The governor of Texas has modified his executive orders for dealing with the coronavirus, sending Shelley Luther back home. Senior correspondent Alicia Acuna picks up the story tonight.
ALICIA ACUNA, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: A Dallas hair salon owner was released after spending two nights in jail for opening her salon despite a state order to keep them closed.
SHELLEY LUTHER, SALON OWNER: I just want to thank all of you who I just barely met, and now you're all my friends. You mean so much to me, and this would have been nothing without you.
ACUNA: Shelley Luther went to jail Tuesday after a district court judge offered her choice -- apologize and shutdown the salon, or spend seven days behind bars.
LUTHER: They'd rather feed their kids. So, Sir, if you think the law is more important than kids getting fed, then please go ahead with your decision. But I'm not going to shut the salon.
ACUNA: Luther's attorney immediately appealed.
WARREN NORRED, LUTHER ATTORNEY: We can say that we understand the virus is serious without saying, look, we're all going to be walking dead zombies next month, right. We can do what's reasonable.
ACUNA: Today the Texas Supreme Court ordered Luther released. Texas Governor Greg Abbott who met with President Trump today also changed his initial state order to protect people like Luther from jail time.
GOV. GREG ABBOTT, (R) TEXAS: In the state of Texas, no one can be put behind bars because they're not following an executive order.
DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That includes the woman that we've been reading about with the beauty salon.
ABBOTT: She is free today.
ACUNA: But some legal experts say the judge in the case was just doing his job.
DALE CARPENTER, CONSTITUTIONAL LAW PROFESSOR: Claims of liberty wouldn't even exist unless we can have a rule of law that enforces some kind of order. People can't just decide for themselves whether or not they want to obey it.
ACUNA: Tomorrow, all Texas barbershops and salons will be allowed to reopen with restrictions. Luther's salon remains open and will be so as well tomorrow. Bret?
BAIER: Alicia, thank you.
Up next, we dig into the previously secret documents about that Russia investigation with the panel, just coming out breaking. Keep it here.
BAIER: As we said at the top of the program, the House Intelligence Committee has just released interview transcripts, some 50 plus interviews it has previously kept under lock and key. Congressional correspondent Chad Pergram breaking details, kind of combing through these things, and there's a lot there, 6,000 pages. Good evening, Chad.
CHAD PERGRAM, FOX NEWS PRODUCER: Good evening, Bret. Fifty-three total witnesses. I should note that there is one witness whose name is completely redacted in this, so it's going to be very interesting to parse through that.
There are three sections that we are going to focus on right now. First of all, there was an exchange in an interview with Michael Cohen by the House Intelligence Committee by Trey Gowdy, the Republican, the former Republican congressman from South Carolina, and he says to Michael Cohen, "Do you have any information, evidence of collusion between then presidential candidate Donald Trump and the Russian government to either interfere or influence in the GOP primary in 2016 or the general election? And Michael Cohen says "No." There's a series of questions like that from Gowdy to Cohen, and he answers in a similar fashion.
Then there was an exchange with the former director of national intelligence, Jim Clapper. He was President Obama's DNI, and he says, quote, that the Russians "believed that" Hillary Clinton "was going to win" and the focus seemed that they could turn on how to undermine a potential Clinton presidency. I don't think, though, that they thought the president, now President Trump, would be easier to deal with. "He is a businessman. He would be more willing to negotiate and make deals, and I don't think it was anything more sophisticated than that, sort of guiding their objectives."
And then the last thing I'm going to go through here right now was an exchange with Steve Bannon, the former Trump advisor on the campaign. And he was commenting on the Trump Tower meeting in Moscow from 2016, and he says, quote, this is Steve Bannon, "I don't think it was treasonous. I think it was stupid and unpatriotic."
So those are just three different quick takes there, slices of these 6,000 pages. There's going to be a lot to cull through tonight and into tomorrow. Again, we reported first last night on FOX that we thought that we would get these today, and here they are. But you go back, this is the initial framework for the Russia investigation, what we knew about meddling in that campaign. Back to you, Bret.
BAIER: Chad, thank you. We will continue to comb through those 6,000 pages. Thank you.
Let's bring in our panel, Ben Domenech, publisher of "The Federalist," Kimberley Strassel, a member of the editorial board at "The Wall Street Journal," and Chuck Lane, opinion writer for "The Washington Post."
We are just skimming the surface here, Ben, but it seems like there are things here that Republicans want to get out to show context of what was known about the beginnings, at least, of this investigation.
BEN DOMENECH, "THE FEDERALIST": We've been waiting for this for a long time, and I think that we'll spend the next several days and weeks combing through what is going to be a pretty incredible story to look back in and see the different aspects of this investigation. And just as we saw today in terms of the Michael Flynn story as well, the consequences of everything that's been going on over the past several years have led us to a point that not has to be reevaluated even though it's in light of everything else that's going on around us.
BAIER: Kimberley, for example, James Clapper said a lot of things on television as a pundit that sounded a lot different than what he was just was quoted in those documents right there.
KIMBERLEY STRASSEL, WALL STREET JOURNAL: Yes, so I haven't been able to read them all myself, but people I have spoken who have had familiarity say that what they show is a long string of officials, after officials, people that were a part of the Trump campaign but also people who were in government, expressing their views that there was no real there there in terms of Russia collusion. They could provide no evidence.
And I think that raises two really important questions. The first one is what therefore were we doing in appointing Bob Mueller as the special counsel to continue what looked like already a steaming heap of an FBI investigation? And what was Adam Schiff out there doing continuously telling us all that he had evidence of collusion when these transcripts would not seem to indicate that there was any such thing.
BAIER: Chuck, we are in the middle, obviously, of COVID-19, and dealing with this crisis on the health side and economic side. It has taken the focus. But there is something about looking back in context. Here's Senator Grassley from earlier in the show.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R-IA): First of all, he was entrapped, and entrapment is unconstitutional. It's a violation of your due process. Secondly, this thing would not be exposed if it hadn't been for Barr taking the bull by the horns. We haven't heard the end of Bill Barr's good work because everything that is going on with the Durham investigation, I think it will be in the next two or three months.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: There beginning, talking, Chuck, about Michael Flynn and the case being dropped by the DOJ.
CHARLES LANE, OPINION WRITER, "WASHINGTON POST": On the point about Michael Flynn, definitely the latest revelation showed the FBI conduct in a less than favorable light. What's interesting to me here, if this was still before Judge Sullivan, he still had a chance, and he's the judge who throughout the prosecution of a Republican senator, Ted Stevens, when he thought there was prosecutorial abuse. If he thought there was a strong case for allowing Flynn to withdraw the guilty plea, he could've weighed in. But for some reason the attorney general didn't want to wait to let an independent judge have his say on it, and he decided instead to take the heat himself.
Obviously, Democrats are going to just portray this as more evidence that Barr is in the pocket of the White House, and I think it's a very interesting choice by the attorney general to go ahead and in fact fall on his sword to save Michael Flynn when there was still a chance that a judge could have done it instead.
BAIER: Ben, response to that?
DOMENECH: I would disagree a little bit with Chuck on this. I think that Barr actually should be commended for having the kind of process that he did of bringing in a U.S. attorney to look at this, to spend months looking at this. And really the things that they discovered were so embarrassing in terms of the process that went into this, the notes that were exchanged, the things that were not handed over both to Michael Flynn and to the court in this case. I think this is, once again, a situation where we see Barr going through process and then coming to a conclusion that not a lot of people will like but frankly should raise all sorts of questions about the behavior under James Comey of the FBI. And, frankly, we need this kind of process to play out in a more transparent way for people to have confidence in the FBI going forward for these types of mistakes, that these types of errors in judgment are not repeated.
BAIER: Quickly, Kimberley, you heard Senator Grassley saying that he thinks Durham in that investigation might be a couple other months. We know that the Durham is a criminal investigation, and whether he's going to go forward prosecutions we don't know yet. Grassley seems very intent on getting that out.
STRASSEL: We should view this as what happened today in Flynn as a piece of the Durham investigation, because just to set the record straight, it wasn't Bill Barr who did this. It was U.S. Attorney Jeff Jensen who spent 10 years in the FBI and 10 years as a career prosecutor. He made the call on call on this and he did the review. That was done in consultation with Durham. I think that's important. And what he described were some real FBI abuses and their regulations and in particular interviewing a witness outside of the context of the investigation they were actually conducting. And so the DOJ made that decision that what had happened was incorrect and could not stand, which is the appropriate way to go forward. And I think we're going to see more of that from Durham as we go ahead.
BAIER: And just one last thing as we're getting to these 6,000 documents. Here is James Clapper again, former head of the DNI, page 26-27 in this interview saying "I never saw any direct empirical evidence that the Trump campaign or someone in it was plotting, conspiring with the Russians to meddle with the election." Again, a different sound from Clapper there.
Panel, stand by. Next time, the woman accusing the Democratic presidential nominee of sexual assault speaking out after he denied it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TARA READE: Please step forward and be held accountable. You should not be running on a character for the president of the United States.
MEGYN KELLY: You want him to withdraw?
READE: I wish he would, but he won't. But I wish he would. That's how I feel emotionally.
KELLY: Do you want an apology?
READE: I think it's a little late.
KELLY: He did say that in his view accusers should start off with the presumption that they're telling the truth. Do you think he has afforded you that presumption?
READE: No. It has been stunning, actually, how some of his surrogates with the blue checks, his surrogates have been saying really horrible things about me and to me on social media.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: Tara Reade alleging assault by Joe Biden, speaking out for the first time with Megyn Kelly. We're back with the panel. Kimberley, we don't have much of this interview as of yet, but it is the first time she is speaking out. Your thoughts on this and how it's playing?
STARR: Well, we will see what else comes out in the interview, but I think one of the problems for a lot of people viewing this is that we seem to be wandering into the realm again of he said, she said. And unless there is some documentary evidence to say this complaint that Ms. Reade says that she filed, unless that's found, it's hard to know what to make of this.
But I do think that nonetheless Joe Biden has a problem in that there are many people in his own party, the progressive wing, that want to believe this, that want this to go on because they've not accepted him as the nominee. And that makes him uniting the party a lot harder.
BAIER: As you look at the latest Real Clear Politics average of polls, this is just recently, Chuck, you have Joe Biden up a few points. Recent individual polls have it a little bit tighter than that. Your thoughts on the state of the race and how this plays in it?
LANE: I think this episode, as Kim points out, is a kind of weird left- right squeeze that is being put on Joe Biden by the sort of remnants of the Bernie Sanders campaign. And Tara Reade was a Bernie sympathizer. I'm not saying that means she's not telling the truth, but that's the kind of the wing of the party she comes from.
And then of course the Trump campaign, which is delighting in promoting this story, and I think it's along with the fact that he's kind of isolated in his house and can't really get out and campaign has contributed to his maybe losing a little momentum in the last couple of weeks. He is still ahead in all the polls, including in the swing states, but of course we know the situation right now is extremely volatile. And it's going to be a lot different by the time we get to October.
BAIER: Ben, I guess the biggest part of the story media-wise and what people said back in the Brett Kavanaugh day seems to be the biggest disparity. We don't know the rest of the story or the rest of this interview with Tara Reade.
DOMENECH: That is the most interesting aspect of this whole thing to me, and that she does make a reference to that in the interview in response to questions. The standard that the media set, many members of the media, I should say set, and many Democrats set during the Brett Kavanaugh hearing has in this case come back to bite them in a significant way. And until Joe Biden decides on his team decides how to handle this story or until they can achieve, I think, a better convincing of the progressive wing that Chuck just talked about, you're going to continue to see a divide in the Democratic Party and prevent the kind of coalescing that they want to see in order to be confident of winning in November.
BAIER: All right, panel, as always, thank you.
When we come back, the brighter side of things. Some good news.
BAIER: Finally tonight, some good news. Students in Washington state still got a chance to celebrate their graduation from their cars. School officials wore festive mask while they delivered caps and gowns to the seniors. Teachers and staffers lined the roof to celebrate the student success. Congratulations.
Frank Averill, a veteran in Maine, turned 100 years old this week. He did not think he would get to celebrate his birthday, but members of the community paid him a visit for the special occasion. Frank even got his birthday wish granted. He got to have a margarita with lots of chips and salsa, lots of salsa.
Thanks for inviting us into your home tonight. That's it for this SPECIAL REPORT, fair, balanced, and still unafraid. "The Story" hosted by Martha MacCallum starts right now, a few seconds earlier, too, Martha.
MARTHA MACCALLUM, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Thank you, Bret. Good to see you, as always.
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