Tempers flare at contentious hearing on Russia probe

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report with Bret Baier," June 28, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS HOST: Now, let's bring in our panel from our Washington studio. Byron York, chief political correspondent at the "Washington Examiner"; Leslie Marshall, syndicated talk radio host; and joining us from New York Jason Riley, "Wall Street Journal" columnist and senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute.

Ok. Some thoughts about this, the big issue that we often deal with in these shootings; Byron -- first to you.

BYRON YORK, "WASHINGTON EXAMINER": Well, this is the time not to come up with any conclusions about the shooting because we simply don't know what happened. We don't know the identity of the shooter. We don't know the motive. Was this a domestic dispute? Was he a disgruntled employee? Or was he just crazy? Was there something political here?

We don't know any of that so the kind of debate that always follows a shooting, it'd be best to just hold off for a while.

BAIER: Leslie

LESLIE MARSHALL, SYNDICATED RADIO HOST: I agree with Byron 100 percent on that. You know, people go to work every day. And you don't think that this is the day I'm going to die and to die in such a heinous manner.

Just must echo the sentiments of applause for the first responders getting there in 60 seconds. God knows how many other lives could have been lost. And also the shock that this was not a semi-automatic weapon; this was a long gun. How much damage was done and certainly all the damage that's been to those families that received that horrific phone call that none of us ever wants to get and that we get so many more of, so many days in our nation.

BAIER: Yes. Jason, obviously a big issue for the nation. It's a big issue here in Florida. We'll be talking about it tonight. Your thoughts?

JASON RILEY, COLUMNIST, "WALL STREET JOURNAL": Well, we have all worked in newsrooms -- Bret. We are all journalists. It really hits home.

And I agree with what both Leslie and Byron said. It's too early to draw conclusions. Unfortunately that's what happens too often. The focus is not on the heroics of the first responders or the grief of the families. Everyone just sort of goes into their corners and pulls out the talking points.

And if you've been following Twitter, the President tweeted his condolences and immediately was attacked for doing, blamed even for doing that. So this isn't the time to do that. You're right. We should at least first find out what happened.

BAIER: Ok. Big news out of Washington today -- this hearing in the House Judiciary Committee. Take a listen to one of the exchanges from this afternoon.


ROSENSTEIN: I am the deputy attorney general of the United States, ok. I'm not the person doing the redacting. I'm responsible for responding to your concerns as I have. So your statement that I am personally keeping information from you, trying to conceal information --

JORDAN: You are the boss -- Mr. Rosenstein.

ROSENSTEIN: That's correct. And my job is to make sure that we respond to your concerns. We have -- sir. But you are using this to attack me personally.

JORDAN: It's not wrong.


BAIER: All right. Byron -- your thoughts on this hearing and what came
out of it.

YORK: Well, that was the roughest exchange of the day between Republican Jim Jordan and Rod Rosenstein in which Jordan and a number of others have complained about redactions that don't seem to make much sense or were not necessary in documents handed over.

And Rosenstein essentially said hey don't look at me. Important to remember today that the House actually passed with 226 votes a non-binding but sent (ph) as a House resolution saying that the Justice Department has been withholding information and that they should turn it over immediately.

And while Bob Goodlatte, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee did say that the Justice Department has been performing better on that score late there is still a lot that they simply haven't turned over.

BAIER: We heard Jason that Peter Strzok in his testimony had a DOJ lawyer there and he didn't really answer all of the questions according to people in the room. The President tweeting out today, "Peter Strzok worked as the leader of the rigged witch hunt for a long period of time. He got it started and was only fired because the gig was up. But remember he took his orders from Comey and McCabe and they took their orders from you know who -- Mueller/Comey best friends."

Jason, there is a frustration, not only on Capitol Hill but you can hear it around the country. Your thoughts about all of this?

RILEY: Well, Congress is a co-equal branch of government, Bret, with oversight responsibilities. And some people at Justice seem very slow to understand that and Congress' role here. And when you just tell the congressman about the volumes of documents you sent them knowing that that's not what is relevant. It's these redactions that are relevant.

Are you turning over the documents that have been asked for? And they are not. And there is very much a frustration among Republicans that Rod Rosenstein has not reined in this investigation, this Mueller investigation and kept Mueller on track and made sure that he is doing what he was asked to do and not going astray on fishing expeditions. So yes, there is a lot of frustration here.

BAIER: Leslie -- the other big news is this summit upcoming in Helsinki, on July 16th between President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Here's the president.


TRUMP: It's going to be great. The world has to start getting along. I think we'll be talking about Syria. I think we'll be talking about Ukraine. I think we'll be talking about many other subjects. And we will see what happens.

MARIA ZAKHAROVA, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY (through translator): I recommend everyone to refrain from using the words "break through meetings" and so on. I suggest a pragmatic and realistic attitude towards these meetings.

Certainly Russian-American relations have been ready for a number of meetings on various levels a long time ago because the bilateral agenda has been demanding it.


BAIER: Leslie -- there are some people that really have a problem with a meeting at all, this summit. But this really set people off. The president tweeting "Russia continues to say they had nothing to do with meddling in our election. Where is the DNC server? Why didn't shady James Comey and now the disgraced FBI agent take and closely examine it? Why isn't Hillary-Russia being looked at? So many questions and so much corruption."


MARSHALL: I don't know if the president is trying to do what he did with North Korea which was a photo op that did nothing to benefit the United States and certainly benefitted the leader of North Korea, as many Americans feel.

And I think that's what's going to happen sadly with Russia and with this meeting with Putin, Bret, because again another photo-op. You have the president siding with Putin who says he didn't meddle. You have his own Department of Homeland Security and other Departments and other investigations that have showed contrary what the President is tweeting out.

Also the appearance that he seems to be endorsing Putin's take and reasoning for annexing Crimea and our allies in the Western world are trying to isolate, not embrace Putin. I don't think that the president should be meeting with Putin. And quite frankly, again, what are we going in with and what are we getting out of this meeting? We should not be accommodating Putin. It should be the other way around.

BAIER: All right. Byron.

YORK: I think the President takes any opportunity to make his defense in the Trump-Russia affair. But I think on the other side from what Leslie was saying is they could -- Trump and Putin could talk about all the very tough things that the President has done as far as Russia is concerned -- sending arms to Ukraine, striking militarily Russia's client in Syria, developing new missiles, developing low-yield nuclear weapons, pushing NATO to spend more money. There are a lot of policy things that Donald Trump has done in addition to new sanctions more than the Obama administration put on that have not been done before.

BAIER: All right. Panel -- thank you very much, a busy day.

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