The Justice Department-Trump dossier connection

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This is a rush transcript from "Special Report with Bret Baier," December 7, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


REP. RON DESANTIS, F-FLA.: Was Peter Strzok involved in coming up with the conclusion that the FBI reached about Russia, whatever involvement they had when they issued a report after the election?

CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: That's a question that goes right to the heart of the special counsel investigation and I don't think it would be appropriate for me to speculate or comment on that.


CHRIS WALLACE, ANCHOR: FBI director Christopher Wray answering, or perhaps not answering questions from the House Judiciary Committee today about Peter Strzok, the lead agent on the special counsel's team who was removed last July after Robert Miller learned he had sent anti-Trump texts.

Let's bring in our panel: Fox News senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano; Mollie Hemingway, from The Federalist, and Catherine Lucey, White House reporter for the Associated Press.

Judge, what do you make of James Rosen's story that led the show about a top Justice Department official meeting with people involved in Fusion GPS and the so-called Russia dossier, and did we learn anything from Director Wray's testimony today about alleged irregularities in the investigations both of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump?

JUDGE ANDREW NAPOLITANO, FOX NEWS SENIOR JUDICIAL ANALYST: I'll take the easier one first, Chris, which is the second question. The short answer is no, we didn't learn anything from Director Wray. They didn't follow up with aggressive questions. He hid behind the, oh, this is being investigated by the inspector general and I can't really comment on it.

But as for James Rosen's report, this is a profound story. It is one thing for an FBI agent to dislike or even detest that target. They're pursuing mobsters, they hate the mob. They're pursuing terrorists in Times Square, they're not morally ambivalent about a terrorist.

It's quite another thing for a senior person in the Justice Department to have secret relationships with one of the instruments used in the political campaign. Quite frankly, I had never heard of this gentleman before, but even I, who was a bit jaded when it comes to this thing, am scandalized by it.

When General Flynn pleaded guilty on Friday last week, he pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, not lying to Mother Teresa. You don't expect FBI agents to be saints. They are tough people and they have political opinions like the rest of us. But you also don't expect their bosses in the Justice Department like the number four person there to have some sort of political or perhaps even financial relationships with one of the candidates for president or an instrument that her campaign used. It's reprehensible.

WALLACE: I want to go back to the other point, though, because a lot of the focus today was on this FBI agent Peter Strzok who was removed from the campaign in July after Robert Mueller, removed from the investigation in July after Robert Mueller found out that he had sent anti-Trump texts. You're not troubled by that particularly?

NAPOLITANO: No, I am not troubled by that because I think that, first of all the statute says that they can have political opinions. The statute says that FBI agents can express political opinions. And quite frankly, this may come as a scandal to a lot of people watching us, often FBI agents and police really, really dislike the people they are investigating and prosecuting. That's not unusual.

But the Rosen story is very troublesome. I hope it's not the tip of an iceberg. If it is, the president is going to be talking to Jeff Sessions about this. This is his Justice Department. These things are happening under his nose.

MOLLIE HEMINGWAY, THE FEDERALIST: Jim Jordan had a good point, though, about those text messages, saying it isn't that uncommon for people to have political opinions even if they are FBI agents. That he was removed for them suggests in fact this was something complete apart from normal political rhetoric.

What was interesting about this hearing is so many of the representatives were trying to dig down into what the actual FBI involvement with the Steele dossier was. And they asked all sort of lines of questions, like was the dossier actually used as an impetus to start the investigation into Russia? Were people being paid that were affiliated with the dossier? Was the dossier used to secure a FISA warrant against a Trump affiliate? In each case Wray declined to answer citing the ongoing special counsel investigation.

But the question is whether the actual special counsel investigation itself was not compromised by its involvement with this dossier. And I think the American people deserve to know whether it was, and most importantly I think they deserve to know whether that wiretap application was in any way related to the dossier. And if it was, boy, that's a scandal.

WALLACE: We need to point out those are very good questions, but we don't know the answer. There is no evidence at this point that it was used.

HEMINGWAY: Because we've been asking for those answers for so many months and the FBI and the Department of Justice and special counsel, everyone has been stonewalling and obstructing and failing to answer those questions.

WALLACE: Here is Christopher Wray, he wasn't appointed by Barack Obama. He was appointed by Donald Trump. He says this is something that's being investigated by the inspector general. Let's let him decide.

HEMINGWAY: And that's a very convenient thing to say when people are trying to find out answers about the use of the dossier. It's also worth asking whether the real division in government isn't between Republican and Democrat but between bureaucracy and people trying to hold it accountable.

WALLACE: Catherine, it's interesting. I saw a poll today that indicates that opinion is beginning to move against the special counsel's investigation. People who are either, not so much that they don't wanted it investigated, but they don't really care what the result of the investigation is. And what I wonder is to what degree do you feel there's a concerted effort by President Trump, by congressional Republicans to undercut the special counsel and that perhaps it's having an effect.

CATHERINE LUCEY, ASSOCIATED PRESS: One of things we saw today from Wray was an effort to defend and explain the FBI. He talked about it being no finer institute. He didn't answer certain questions, but he was there to deliver a message about the institution. And I think also you saw real division among the parties in terms of who was asking what questions. So this concern, is there bias, whose working here, you heard it from a lot of Republican representatives. And Democrats were really urging him to push back against attacks from President Trump.

WALLACE: Judge, your thoughts about that? Are you troubled by what seems to be a concerted effort certainly by the president, a lot of attacks, talks about the FBI is in tatters, bias in the FBI, special counsel.

NAPOLITANO: I am troubled by it. I agree with many of the things that Chris Wray said today which just sounded like platitudes but in my view they are true. This is basically a superb team of people. There's 8,000 FBI agents, we're talking about two or three.

The big picture here, Chris, it is very dangerous for defendants, potential defendants, people being investigated to commence the investigation the investigators. The government is presumed to be a valid government. It's investigation, here I am, a libertarian, saying this, it's investigation is presumed to be valid. This is what defense lawyers do in these high- powered criminal cases, attack the morality of the government that is prosecuting them. We should be looking for the truth as to what happened here, not the moral worth of the people doing the investigation.

HEMINGWAY: But that's why it's so incumbent upon the FBI to come clear with some of these questions that people have about their involvement with the dossier. I think people do want to believe they can trust the FBI, but they have no reason right now --

NAPOLITANO: I agree with you on the dossier, but the administration will do irreparable harm if begins to undermine the FBI because of the political opinions of some of its agents.

WALLACE: But Mollie does make a point. It's not just what they were saying to this committee. Congress does have oversight. And they've been asking for months for some of this information. I'm not sure I understand why it should be classified or not held to find out whether the dossier was used to get a FISA warrant to wiretap somebody, a dossier that has largely been discredited.

NAPOLITANO: If that dossier was presented to a FISA court, the director of the FBI will need the FISA court's permission to reveal that. He knows how to get that, but he's going to have to do that. He can't legally do that on his own.

WALLACE: They have been asking for it for a long time.

NAPOLITANO: Yes. Yes, they have.

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