This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," December 23, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


BRET BAIER, HOST OF “SPECIAL REPORT”: And we’ re back with the panel. The vote online for your choice for the Friday Lightning Round was Attorney General Eric Holder's comments about race. Here’s what he told the New York Times, quote, "This is way to get at the president because of the way I can be identified with him both due to nature of our relationship and, you know, the fact that we're both African-American."

Newt Gingrich on the campaign trail was asked about that comment. This had to do with Fast and Furious and the all the investigations. He said this, "They can't argue the facts. All they have left is to try to play the race card."

We're back with the panel. Rick, it’s interesting. This is the attorney general who said that the country was coward -- a nation of cowards in dealing with the issue of race, and then this comment raised a lot of eyebrows.

RICK KLEIN, SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER, ABC NEWS: It did. And I think you have to question the attorney general's political instincts. If the idea of giving an interview like this is to try to hold off the hounds in Congress, if you are a Republican in Congress sitting on subpoena power, you hear this that essentially Eric Holder is saying you are going after him because you are a racist, that is not going to stop the scrutiny. Fast and Furious is a scandal that has nothing to do with race whatsoever. I think it's -- again, poor political instincts to try to make an argument like this even at any kind of couched way.

BAIER: Steve?

STEVE HAYES, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: I agree. The reason they’re going after Eric Holder is he’s been incapable of answering questions. When he does, he says I didn't know about this thing he clearly should have known about. My concern is going forward looking into 2012 I am worried we will see a lot of investigations of voter fraud and minority intimidation coming out of the Justice Department.

BAIER: Well, they are signaling that’s going to happen.

HAYES: We saw this today.

BAIER: South Carolina.

HAYES: We saw this at the end of the Clinton managers before the 2000 elections. People who followed up and asked Attorney General Janet Reno what’s the evidence for this, why are you launching investigations, they couldn't give compelling answers. There were no reasons. I think it's a way to scare minorities into going to the polls.

BAIER: The left argues that the laws are designed to keep the minorities out of voting for the polls.

HAYES: And if they’re violated people should be prosecuted for violating them. But you have to prove that they’ve been violated.

BAIER: Charles?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNISTS: It's clearly a cheap shot of an attorney general who is in political trouble. The reason he is, he is one of the most incompetent attorneys general in U.S. history. He’s the guy who brought on gratuitously the fiasco of the KSM trial in New York that even the Democrats rebelled against. He’s the guy who’s led a department that has been either totally ignorant or disingenuous or worse on the Fast and the Furious scandal. And now he plays the race card. I think it's, to use his word a cowardly use of the race card and it's unbecoming.

It also is dangerous in a country where it can stoke that kind of racial animosity. He shouldn't be using it. I say it with all due respect. Merry Christmas, Mr. Attorney General.


BAIER: We'll leave it there. That’s it for the panel. But stay tuned.

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