The media's obsession with Michael Flynn

This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," March 31, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
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JESSE WATTERS, FOX NEWS HOST: Hi, I'm Jesse Watters in for Bill O'Reilly. Thanks for watching this Special Edition of THE O'REILLY FACTOR, "America Divided."

It is stark division that is playing out in every corner of politics right now. And it's on full display in the mainstream media's coverage of the Mike Flynn wiretap Russia Intel investigations. As for the latest on Flynn, the former National Security advisor is seeking an immunity deal in exchange for testimony to FBI and Congressional investigators. The deal is reportedly been rejected by the Senate Intel Committee. And Congressman Adam Schiff, the House Intel Committee's ranking member, says they will discuss the offer with Senate and Justice Department counterparts before making a decision. Meanwhile, the media's coverage of the Flynn news breathless.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Overnight President Trump's former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn making headlines requesting immunity in exchange for testifying about his Russian contacts.

Flynn wants a promise of legal protection before testifying about the Trump campaign and Russian meddling in the election.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Michael Flynn, who was ousted as President Trump's National Security advisor, is now offering to testify if he is given immunity from prosecution.


WATTERS: And top Democratic leaders are wasting no time using the Flynn developments to fuel more rank speculation against President Trump.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: I just wonder what the Russians have politically, personally, or financially on President Trump. Because this is about a National Security issue. Why would the President of the United States for just come in and start to flirt with the idea of lifting sanctions on Russia in terms of their behavior in Eastern Europe. Why would the President of the United States question the START Treaty? Why the President of the United States put Putin on a pedestal and diminishes the greatness of America in that? There is something wrong with this picture?


WATTERS: Joining us now with reaction from Washington, Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union, along with former State Department official David Tafuri.

Matt, I will start with you. It seems like if the press had been as aggressive covering this IRS scandal, I mean, they didn't do anything about that. I mean, had you Lois Lerner taking the fifth. People taking plea deals. And they didn't really care at all, but all of a sudden, you know, Mike Flynn makes a phone call and, you know, all hell breaks loose. Why is all of a sudden everybody in Washington an investigative reporter?

MATT SCHLAPP, CHAIRMAN, AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE UNION: Yes. Well, this is something you are going to have to learn, Jesse, which is Republicans tend to be very careful and sheepish when it comes to going after Democrats for scandals and investigations. Whereas Democrats, you know, I got to take my hat off to them. Every moment of every day they try to make every Republican feel like they are a criminal. Think about this case. Mike Flynn is the victim. He was unmasked. And he was -- and his identity was leaked to major news publications.

And now it's the Democrats saying somehow that Mike Flynn is the one who is the person who has committed, you know, has broken the law. It's ironic how they turn everything on its head.

WATTERS: Well, there is no evidence so far that has come out that he has broken any law. David, it seems to be funny that when Hillary's associates all got immunity deals, and that was fine. But Mike Flynn casually asks for an immunity deal and all of the sudden a press brands him some criminal? Don't you see a little bit of a double standard there?

DAVID TAFURI, FORMER STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Yes. You know, this should not be a Democrat or Republican thing. This should be something that all Americans care about. You know, the framers of our constitution were really worried about interference by foreign governments. That's why they put in the constitution protection so that foreign governments couldn't interfere in our democracy. That's at base what happened here. Russia interfered in our election. Now, for Matt to say that Flynn is a victim is unbelievable. Flynn has said he wants immunity from prosecution. I mean, he is suggesting that he has committed crime and he wants immunity to do --

SCHLAPP: No. Wait a second --

TAFURI: That's not other people who have engaged in crime. That's why you ask for immunity.

SCHLAPP: No, that's not true.

WATTERS: David, if he was unmasked, then he was the victim. That's hard to argue against.


WATTERS: Yes. You can't unmask someone. That's a criminal abuse of power.

TAFURI: Sorry, Jesse, you are incorrect.

WATTERS: No, I'm not.

: Let me explain. If you are unmasked because you were in conversations with someone who was properly surveilled, like an agent of the Russian government, which is what happened here, that is not improper. In fact, that's what the law requires. You unmask Americans who were caught up in conversations.

WATTERS: We don't know if he was unmasked appropriately and he was leaked to the mainstream media.

SCHLAPP: He was leaked. That's exactly right.

TAFURI: If he was leaked, then that may be a problem.

: If?

SCHLAPP: If it was leaked? If it was leaked? It was leaked.

WATTERS: Matt, go ahead.

SCHLAPP: It was leaked. Let me explain something.

WATTERS: David, David, let Matt finished. Go ahead, Matt.

SCHLAPP: The reason he wants immunity and I would want it if I were him as well, is because this is how he has been treated by our government. They have already committed unlawful acts against him, and he has a story to tell. In order to go to Congress, he no longer has a trust factor with those who will be asking him the questions. And I don't blame him for having that lack of trust. And I think the American people would like some fairness here.

WATTERS: David, let me --

SCHLAPP: Now, you are living in a fantasy world.

WATTERS: David, let me just address this.

SCHLAPP: -- Immunity because you've committed a crime and you want protection against being prosecuted.

WATTERS: You're wrong. You're wrong.

SCHLAPP: Now, if people leaked that information and that was classified information, we should go after them, too. But we need to go after both the leakers and the people who were unmasked who improperly and potentially engaged in treason against our country by dealing with the Russians in a way that hurts our country's interests.

WATTERS: David, David, hold on a second, hold on a second. There is no evidence there is treason, number one. Number two, there is more evidence that the Democratic Party is in co-hoots with the media and these leakers than there is evidence that Trump was in cahoots with the Russians. It's all smoke. No fire. And we haven't gotten to the bottom of any of this and the media doesn't care about the fact that there is potential abuse of power that President Obama and holdover officials might have surveilled a President-elect and then illegally unmasked him and then leaked classified information to the press.

To me, that seems like the juicier story. And instead of covering that it's a process crime now about when the House Intelligence Committee went to the White House, when did he go? Who let him in? The real story to me assumes to be the abuse of power?

TAFURI: The story that American people care about is whether a foreign power engaged in interference in our democracy. That's the most important story. And that's the real threat to America.

WATTERS: David, how many votes did the Russians change on Election Day? How many votes did they change?

TAFURI: All Americans care about that, Jesse.

WATTERS: Answer the question. David, how many votes did the Russians change on November 8th?

TAFURI: The point is that the Russians --


TAFURI: Zero. Let me answer that Jesse. We don't know that.

WATTERS: Obama and intelligence officials said that in open testimony.

SCHLAPP: That's right.

WATTERS: I will give you the last word.

SCHLAPP: Yes. Let me just say real fast which is if the Russians tried to influence our elections which by the way, I think they tried to --

TAFURI: What do you mean if? Seventeen intelligence agencies in America said they did. There is no if anymore, Matt. There is no if.

SCHLAPP: Let me finish. They tried to influence and destabilize America every day of the calendar year. Do you know whose fault that is? That is President Obama's fault for leaving us vulnerable. Let's really focus on what these investigations should be on and it's Obama's failure.

WATTERS: That's a good point it all happened under Obama's watch, guys. Thank you very much.

TAFURI: Thank you, Jesse.

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