Justice Department reviews Trump-Russia probe origins

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report" May 14, 2019. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT: I think it's a great thing that he did it. I saw it last night, and they want to look at how that whole hoax got started. I am so proud of our attorney general that he is looking into it. I think it's great.

JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: I guess you are going to have to stand in line and take a number to do an investigation of the investigators.

REP. STEVE SCALISE, R-LA, HOUSE MINORITY WHIP: It tells me that he is serious about cleaning house within the FBI and dealing with those bad actors.

JOE BIDEN, D-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Come on, this is like Alice in Wonderland. I don't where these guys are from.


BRET BAIER, HOST: The Attorney General, William Barr, appointing an investigator, a U.S. attorney in Connecticut, to look at the origins of the Russia investigation. John Durham, U.S. attorney in Connecticut, he is going to look into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and specifically how it all started with the investigation of the Trump campaign. And a person familiar with this process says Durham has been working actually on this investigation for weeks. It just came out that he was appointed.

Meantime, you have the news late this afternoon that Donald Trump Jr. has struck a deal with the Senate Intelligence Committee. Richard Burr coming under attack from Republicans for a subpoena from that committee that he testify again. Here's Senator Tom Cotton on this show earlier. He's also on that Intel Committee.


SEN. TOM COTTON, R-ARK.: We are not conducting a criminal investigation. We are conducting a counterintelligence investigation. We want to know exactly what Russia was up to, the techniques they used so we can stop them from using it in the future. Any time you go in and testify in front of Congress, there is obviously some back and forth in negotiations. I figured all along that the committee chairman, Richard Burr, Donald Trump Jr.'s lawyers were working out some kind of accommodation. They have now and we'll have his answers coming forth next month.


BAIER: Let's bring in our panel, Steve Hilton is the host of "The Next Revolution" here on FOX News Channel, Amy Walter, national editor for the "Cook Political Report," and Matthew Continetti, editor in chief of the "Washington Free Beacon." Amy, this was quite a to do on Capitol Hill, and a lot of Republicans saying what is Richard Burr doing? Cotton suggesting that they were negotiating behind the scenes all along.

AMY WALTER, NATIONAL EDITOR, "COOK POLITICAL REPORT": Right, which is what the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was also hinting at, too, with the let's calm down a little bit. Let's let Senator Burr do his job. This is beyond closed doors so this is not going to turn into the cable TV fodder that some of the other panels have had.

BAIER: Until somebody leaks it.

WALTER: Until somebody leaks it. But it is a lot different than seeing it yourself and having the pictures and the back and forth.

I also thought it was really interesting listening to President Trump mention his excellent attorney general, and it was quite a contrast to the way he had talked about his previous attorney general, who he would openly mock. So this is a president who seems like he finally got the attorney general that he wanted from the very beginning and didn't get in Jeff Sessions.

BAIER: Yes, so what about this appointment of Durham and what potential Republicans think is going to come out of it?

STEVE HILTON, HOST, "THE NEXT REVOLUTION": What made me laugh, Bret, is seeing the other side, if you like, their reaction to this. If you watch other channels and those who may have been really pushing forward the Russian collusion narrative, the uproar, yet another investigation. We don't need all these investigations, exactly the same kind of thing that the Trump side has been saying for the last two years.

I think it goes to the bigger point, which is that of course we can look at it from a legal and substantive perspective, and we should do that, but there's an emotional perspective to this as well, which is that you have half the country, roughly, who feel that the 2016 election was not accepted by the people who lost it. They have been refighting that election through endless investigations, and it's time for time for a bit of fairness and equal justice. And so they will look at this and saying about time, too.

BAIER: We are just getting some word from Catherine Herridge saying that former Director Brennan, the CIA director, are the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, are the ones who opposed James Comey, former FBI director's recommendation that the Steele dossier be included in the intelligence report. This is the intelligence assessment for 2017. Comey wanted it in there. Brennan and Clapper, according to this official, did not. There was a back-and-forth with Rosenstein and Comey from a speech Rosenstein delivered last night. Take a listen.


ROD ROSENSTEIN, FORMER DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: The former director seems to be acting as a partisan pundit, selling books and earning speaking fees while speculating about the strength of my character.

JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: I think people like that, like Rod Rosenstein, who are people of accomplishment but not real sterling character, strong character. And so they start to make little compromises to stay on the team, echo his words, use the term "spying." And in the process, he has eaten their soul. They're lost.

ROSENSTEIN: Speculating about souls is not a job for police and prosecutors. Gentlemen, we base our opinions on eyewitness testimony.


BAIER: We haven't heard a lot from Rod Rosenstein. Obviously that is about as strong as he gets.

MATTHEW CONTINETTI, EDITOR IN CHIEF, "WASHINGTON FREE BEACON": Yes, and I don't think he will be sending a holiday card to Jim Comey. It's fascinating. Rosenstein is right. Comey is acting like a pundit, and he's not a very good one. It's filled with sensationalist language. He's describing his colleagues as characters or monsters out of Harry Potter, saying that Trump is eating their souls. How much of Jim Comey soul was taken for the five months where he worked for Donald Trump? He comes across as a embittered ex-employee who should limit himself to taking selfies in the woods.


BAIER: We forget that there is another investigation, the Inspector General, Horowitz, pretty much any day, at the end of May, beginning of June.

WALTER: Right, we keep hearing that. We have these multiple investigations that have been going on about the investigations for some time now. I think Steve had a very good point about where we leave all of this when all of this is said and done, that no one is going to be happy regardless of where this ends up, which means it's never going to end up anywhere. And it was Mitch McConnell actually who said on the floor the other day when he said the case is closed. Let's stop all of this craziness. This was when Democrats were looking to get Barr up on the Hill and also to put him under perjury. They had said --

BAIER: Contempt.

WALTER: Contempt, I'm sorry. Are we going to finally move on from partisan paralysis, breathless conspiracy theorizing, or remain consumed by this partisanship to the point that Putin and his agents need only stand on the sidelines and watch. So we are fulfilling very much of what Mitch McConnell was saying.

BAIER: And that's how we'll wrap this up on this panel. You see today Secretary Pompeo was Putin and Lavrov in Sochi, and Putin saying we didn't do anything, this is all stupid. Mueller even found no collusion with the Trump campaign. But he didn't find no Russian attack on the U.S. elections. He didn't find that. He actually found Russia really tried hard and is still trying.

HILTON: Yes, and they Trump administration through its actions is responding to that. So you've got the public statements, and I think that is all about having a good relationship. But remember that President Trump personally authorized a cyberattack on Russia at the time of the midterm elections, that has been reported. He authorized it. Our government is responding. You keep hearing Trump is doing nothing about Russian interference, we need to worry about 2020. They acted against Russia in the midterm elections.

BAIER: We're going to take a quick break. We're going to talk about 2020 after this.



TRUMP: I got Buttigieg, Beto. Beto, falling fast. What the hell happened? And Bernie, Bernie is crazy. Pocahontas, I think is probably out. I don't know what happened to Biden. What happened to him?


BAIER: Those guys in Louisiana were just treated to a lot of 2020 talk from the president today. Meantime there's a new candidate. I know we say that every other day, but the Montana Governor Steve Bullock is in the race officially, obviously going for the more moderate set that can talk to a lot of different elements of the Democratic and Republican Party, or at least hoping to. He is now one of 22 on the Democratic side, and I don't think we're done. There are a couple more hanging out there that might still qualify, might still get in. The big question is do they get into the debate.

Steve, it is something to watch here as you have all these candidates trying to suck up oxygen wherever they can get it, and some of them are now relaunching campaigns after only being in the campaign for a couple of months.

HILTON: That's right. That's Beto. I have to say one of the things that has greatly cheered me in the last few weeks, I guess, has been the collapse of Beto because I have always seen him as a completely substance- free zone, and I think that's encouraging that people have been able to spot that about him. He needs to relaunch his cam. Now it's about doing more interviews. I think more policies might be a better way to go because that is what Elizabeth Warren, for example, is using as her strength, and she's making some progress on that basis, which is good to see.

WALTER: So much, though, of the ability for somebody like Beto or Harris or Buttigieg to get any oxygen has to be that somebody like Joe Biden, who is now very much at the top, somewhere around 40 percent at least in national polls, has to start collapsing, and that his support goes elsewhere. Sanders saw that when Biden got into the race he lost a lot of his support. I think the estimation by many that Sanders is going to be this 800-pound gorilla based on the early polling did not take into consideration the fact that a whole bunch of people said they were supporting Bernie Sanders not because they liked his policies because they knew who he was, and they like that he wasn't Hillary Clinton.

BAIER: Peter Doocy is going to be on the campaign trail with Kamala Harris tomorrow, so we will have a piece on that. It is the overpowering presence of Joe Biden, and you wonder whether he is going to be in a defensive crouch all the way to kind of hold onto a lead, or whether he is going to be himself policy-wise, and rekindle the Obama coalition.

CONTINETTI: The key moment will be the debates, when he finally has to face challenges from some of these other candidates. I'm struck at this field. It is clearly the largest primary in my lifetime, I think in American history. At the same time, you'd have trouble picking out a lot of these Democrats from a lineup. Bullock, for example, no one knows who he is, and yet something compels them to run for president.

BAIER: What is that?

CONTINETTI: I think it's brand enhancement. I think it's the chance of maybe landing a cable news contract.

BAIER: Or secretary or something?

CONTINETTI: Redemption, or a cabinet post. I am waiting for Anthony Weiner to join the race now. He is a free man, he has experience. He has more name I.D. than many of the other candidates.

I am fascinated, also, by Trump, though. We saw the clips. Trump is very is not so subtly testing nicknames and lines of attack against each of these candidates, and you see how effective it can be when he likened Buttigieg to Alfred E. Neuman, which I think was a rhetorical kill shot.

BAIER: Although the young people had to Google it.

CONTINETTI: According to Buttigieg.

WALTER: This happened to me in 2000 when someone that I knew very well kept comparing Al Gore to Eddie Haskell. And I didn't really know who that was.

BAIER: Oh, Amy.

WALTER: Sorry, I didn't watch "Leave It to Beaver." I didn't know.

CONTINETTI: That says more about young people.

WALTER: I didn't know.

HILTON: I get a pass for not being in the country at the time.

BAIER: You get a pass.

How many of these people make it to Iowa?

HILTON: I think quite a few. I would say up to 20. Hardly any of them will. You have got the debates. Most of the qualify.

WALTER: They're going to run out of money.

BAIER: Just run out of money.

WALTER: They're going to run out of money and they're going to run out of oxygen.

BAIER: Would you say 10?

WALTER: I would say at most you're going to get a dozen.


BAIER: We will be there every step of the way, and they are welcome here on the Fox News Channel.

When we come back, the New York subway system is always full of surprises.


BAIER: Finally tonight, a moving ceremony, literally. Two former U.S. army soldiers tying the knot over the weekend on the New York subway. Robert Musso and Francis Denmark said they chose to get married on the Q train for its stunning skyline views. The newlyweds said I do as the train crossed the Manhattan Bridge. So, there you got a free metro card, congratulations. Moving ceremony.

Thanks for inviting us into your home tonight. That's it for the “Special Report.” Fair, balanced, and still unafraid. "The Story", hosted by Martha MacCallum, starts right now.

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