Report: U.S. intel agencies investigate possible Russian plot to influence 2016 race

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report with Bret Baier," September 6, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


HILLARY CLINTON, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I'm really concerned about the credible report of Russian interference in our election. The fact that our intelligence professionals are now studying this and taking it seriously raises grave questions about potential Russian interference with our electoral process.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: But I will tell you that we've had problems with cyber intrusions from Russia in the past.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Concern about Russia influence in the U.S. election as this election is tightening. The Washington Post reporting that "Russian influence operation in the United States is something we're looking very closely at," said one U.S. senior intelligence official who cautioned that "the intelligence is now saying it definitive proof of such tampering or any Russian plans to do so. But even the hint of something impacting the security of our election system would be of significant concern." Continuing, "The Kremlin's intent may not be to sway the election in one director or another but to cause chaos and provide propaganda fodder to attack U.S. democracy building policies around the world, particularly in the countries of the former Soviet Union." U.S. intelligence officials described the covert influence campaign here as ambitious and said it is also designed to counter U.S. leadership and influence in international affairs.

This, as we mentioned, as a new poll is out. CNN's poll has Donald Trump up two points. It is within the margin of error. It is a national poll in the four way race there.

Let's bring in our panel: Charles Hurt, political columnist for The Washington Times; Mara Liasson, national political correspondent of National Public Radio, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer.

Charles, we've heard this concern about Russia. It seems to be real according to U.S. intelligence officials. Your thoughts?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: There's an element of this I think that's being overlooked. Putin is a KGB agent. He's a man raised on conspiracies. He believes in conspiracies. It's sort of part of his upbringing. And we forget that when Hillary was secretary of state, there was an election in Russia that he believe very strongly we tried to influence against him, and actually he denounced herself personally as behind this. There were demonstrations. They threatened the regime to some extent. He cracked down.

And he also has this sort of chip as Russia being treated as a minor power by the West after the Cold War where it could intervene against Russia but not the other way around. I think he's just enjoying this as a way of turning the tables and showing that he can mess with our heads in the same way. And if he can get some advantage in hurting Hillary, that would be a bonus for him.

BAIER: Stirring the pot. Listen to Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump today on the new polls.


CLINTON: I really pay no attention to the polls. When they're good for me, and there have been a lot of them that have been good for me recently, I don't pay attention. When they're not so good, I don't pay attention. We are on a course that we're sticking with. We're sticking with our strategy. We feel very good about where we are, but we're not taking anything for granted.

DONALD TRUMP, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: CNN came out with a big poll. A big poll came out today that Trump is winning. It's good psychology.


TRUMP: I know that for a fact because people that didn't call me yesterday, they're calling me today. That's the way life works, right?


BAIER: Donald Trump's pointed to a number of polls, obviously, but this CNN poll was significant. It came out after Labor Day. And in there, Mara, is this honest and trustworthy question, which seems significant. It seems like this number has increased, the difference between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: They used to be almost the same. Now she's much, much worse. She's really underwater on this. I think that is responsible for what's happened in the polls.

BAIER: Is it also responsible for her coming back in the plane?

LIASSON: You know, that's a really good question. The Clinton people say they always planned to do this. We're going to get a big plane. She did this when she was the secretary of state. She always talked to reporters. This was always the plan. But, you know, it sounds like she has another reason to do it.

But what's happened in the polls is he has more or less stayed the same and she has come down. So that's been the change. And I think that honest and trustworthiness is driving her problems. It's the e-mails, the foundation, and also the fact that she did pretty much absent the scene for most of August that's responsible for this.

But it has tightened up. What we're waiting to see now is some of the battleground state polls reflect what we saw in that national poll.

BAIER: Because that's the question. Roughly 10 states that you're really focused on. So far we haven't seen those numbers shift, but there haven't been new polls since we've seen some of these national polls.

CHARLES HURT, THE WASHINGTON TIMES: So what I think one of the very important things about a national poll even though it is entirely irrelevant except for the actual election, is that it does show trends. And it reflects what people actually think of her and what people think of him. And, obviously, she is not done any favors to herself to improve that imagine.

But one of the things I would also caution about in addition to being cautious about looking at the national polls is the fact that, you know, the level of dissatisfaction in both parties for their candidate is so high right now, we don't know who is going to -- there's no way to really know who is going to turn out. People are so disgusted in both -- you know, in both parties that it's very difficult to figure out exactly is this person going to show up? Are they actually going to do their -- mail in their ballot? And so I think it's going to be a real carnival ride between now and --

BAIER: And we should point out that early voting starts in some states very soon.


BAIER: In the next couple of weeks.

LIASSON: And what Charlie is talking about is every one of these polls has to make a turnout model first before they can have their polls. So it's really hard to know what kind of model to make.

BAIER: Exactly. If they're making a model off 2012, it's tough to imagine that Democrats are going to be as fired up as they were back then, or on the Republican side, the same thing.

KRAUTHAMMER: Right. On the Republican side, we know there's been an open and obvious split in the party. What's most interesting about the CNN poll is it shows a very high level of support among Republicans for Trump.

BAIER: About 90 percent.

KRAUTHAMMER: Now up to 90 percent. It was in the high 70s. That's a huge difference. If it holds and it shows up in the other polls, that would make a big difference.

Look, I don't think this is really complicated. She's been in the news. It's all been bad since the Comey press conference. Every bit of news about her is always about e-mails, the foundation, the corruption. That's the only news we are getting. Of course it's her numbers declining. Trump has been up and down but he's relatively stable. And that's why we are where we are today.

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