Trump blames attorney general for ongoing Russia probe

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This is a rush transcript from "Special Report with Bret Baier," June 5, 2018. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


JONAH GOLDBERG, NATIONAL REVIEW: Jeff Sessions had no choice but to recuse himself when the campaign became subject of an investigation because he was part of the campaign.

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL, D-CONN.: Paul Manafort ought to be jailed, most likely I think should face serious criminal penalties for witness tampering, potentially suborning perjury.

COREY LEWANDOWSKI, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: If Paul didn't follow the rules when he was lobbing overseas and didn't disclose that, then he's responsible for that. And if he has been trying to get people to falsify information, then he's responsible for that also.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, R-S.C.: Here's the question for Rosenstein. If you're going to be a fact witness as to why Comey was fired, how do you stay involved?


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: A lot of developments on the Hill today about Russia investigation. Paul Manafort, the Mueller folks looking at possible witness tampering as he communicates with associates. And then Peter Strzok with the FBI said to have more of a role in all this.

Meanwhile the president tweeting this morning "The Russian witch hunt hoax continues all because Jeff Sessions didn't tell me he was going to recuse himself. I would have quickly picked someone else. So much time and money wasted, so many lives ruined, and Sessions knew better than most that there was no collusion!"

He writes again, "What is taking so long with the inspector general's report on crooked Hillary and slippery James Comey. Numerous delays. Hope report is not being changed and made weaker! There are so many horrible things to tell, the public has the right to know. Transparency!"

With that, let's bring in our panel: Mollie Hemingway, senior editor at The Federalist; Mara Liasson, national political correspondent for National Public Radio, and Tom Rogan, commentary writer for the Washington Examiner. Mollie, a lot of developments today. Where do you think we stand on all of this?

MOLLIE HEMINGWAY, THE FEDERALIST: I think we are all very anxious for this inspector general report in part because we were told it would come out in January, then March, April, May, June. Now we're in June and we're kind of waiting to hear about it.

I think people should have appropriate levels of expectation about what will be in this inspector general report. Obviously it's taking longer because they are finding more that they need to cover, and I'm sure there will be a lot of salacious and interesting details as were already revealed with regard to Andrew McCabe when they detailed just one instance of him leaking to the media and all the lying under oath he did as it relates to that. That was the number two at the FBI.

But I think people should also be aware that the inspector general cannot compel testimony from anyone outside the agency. Many people involved in these probes have left either by being fired or otherwise leaving. And so it's important that we do have other independent people able to investigate, such as Congress, which is an agency that has subpoenaed information from the Department of Justice and has been stonewalled quite a bit over the course of this investigation.

BAIER: And Mara, the I.G. deals with the Clinton email investigation but now has been extended to the beginning of the Trump-Russia probe.

MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: Right. So he is going to be looking at those things. One thing that struck me about today was of course Donald Trump once again kind of torturing his attorney general, saying if I'd only known he was going to recuse himself I would have picked someone else and we never would've had this investigation.

But Jeff Sessions still has a lot of support, especially in the Senate. He was a senator. And you heard Lindsey Graham say he had to recuse himself. And I have heard that the Senate leadership has communicated with the White House that they would be unlikely to confirm any other attorney general if Donald Trump did go ahead and fire Jeff Sessions. So Jeff Sessions still kind of being hung out to dry by the president but maintaining a lot of support among his past colleagues.

BAIER: Tom, the Manafort legal team pushing back, saying they're going to fight all of this in court. But we are hearing reports that there is a witness tampering allegation that the Mueller folks are making, that communication early that Manafort may have had with associates. How do you look that in the big picture about we don't know about the Mueller probe?

TOM ROGAN, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: I think evidently Paul Manafort has growing problems. The mind boggles as to why he would engage in this activity if indeed he did in the sense that it's not that hard to get inside these kinds of communications. But I think more broadly you see on the part of the president this effort to bring the Mueller investigation, anything related to collusion into the public sphere and the political sphere where the president I think quite confidently believes he can win the debate and push Mueller out.

I think in referencing Jeff Sessions again, that is, as Mollie suggests in reference to the upcoming Horowitz report, the I.G. at DOJ which I think the administration will use to weaponize that angle again in the political sphere, get rid of the Mueller investigation. Something to look for though I think in the coming weeks is the man Felix Sater. I think he will be coming out quite prominently in relation to Mueller, and that will, the Mueller people think, strengthen their case to continue the conclusion. But I think this is coming to a head.

BAIER: Yes, I agree. That's how it feels, but we don't know what we don't know, like I always say on these panels.

Let's turn, speaking of Sessions, the attorney general speaking about the whole allegation and the charge a family separation when it comes to immigration and efforts along the border.


ATTORNEY GENERAL JEFF SESSIONS: The law requires us to keep children in a different facility then we do for adults. And every time somebody gets prosecuted in America for a crime, Americans citizens, and they go to jail they are separated from their children. We don't want to do this at all. If people don't want to be separated from their children, they should not bring them with them.


BAIER: The president tweeting also this morning "Separating families at the border is the fault of bad legislation passed by the Democrats. Border security laws should be changed but the Dems can't get their act together! Started the wall." Mollie, don't know if that's 100 percent in line with what we know.

HEMINGWAY: I'm not sure, but the fact remains that if Congress wants to change the laws they should do it.

I think there's a bigger issue at play here, which is just that we have two competing ideas about what it means to be a country. You either have borders and laws that enforce those borders, and in fact that is what it means to be a country, or you don't. And if you have borders and you do have laws to enforce those borders, that doesn't mean that anyone who wants to come in gets to come in under any circumstances.

There are very difficult situations involving people who are fleeing countries and seeking refugee status. It doesn't mean that it's automatically granted or automatically qualify. And we really should stop talking about these sorts of extreme situations and deal with the really fundamental issue of our immigration policy, whether it meets this country's needs and whether it is satisfying with the American people want. They are not getting a lot of good descriptions at the congressional level.

BAIER: But, boy, Mara, there's not a sense Congress is moving quickly or at all on immigration.

LIASSON: No, but what's so confusing if you have got Jeff Sessions stating the administration's policy, which is we are going to separate families from their children. It's meant to be a deterrent, just like you heard the attorney general say. If you don't want to be separated from your kids, don't come here.

And then you have Donald Trump, instead of supporting the policy of the administration committee which is meant to be a deterrent, he is somehow blaming this on Democrats when Republicans control both houses of Congress. It's pretty confusing. I think that he feels sensitive about the criticism the administration has gotten for separating kids and families, but the policy which the DOJ spokesman told NPR today has been in place for one month was meant to be a deterrent.

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