Why the Clinton email story won't go away

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report with Bret Baier," August 22, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


HILLARY CLINTON, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Secretary Powell has admitted he did exactly the same thing. He had such a distinguished record, you know. I have served my country as well. We both did the same thing. Just recently Colin Powell's e-mails were retroactively classified for more than 10 years ago. And he said that was an absurdity. I could not agree more.

DONALD TRUMP, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Look, she is a liar. She lies. She lied about the e-mails, she lied about Colin Powell.

REP. JASON CHAFFETZ, R-UTAH: She set up the e-mails on the same day that she started her Senate confirmation hearings. She didn't just go get a Gmail account. She literally set up this own server in the basement of their house.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Well, there you hear some of the explanation of Hillary Clinton talking about former secretary of state Colin Powell and his use of private e-mail. Well, over the weekend surfaced that Powell talked to "People" magazine, and here's what he said about all of this, quote, "Her people have been trying to pin it on me," about the e-mail scandal. "The truth is she was using the private e-mail server for a year before I sent her a memo telling her what I did. Doesn't bother me, it's OK. I'm free."

We'll start there. Let's bring in our panel: Steve Hayes, senior writer for The Weekly Standard; Mara Liasson, national political correspondent of National Public Radio, and editor in chief of Lifezette, Laura Ingraham.

OK, Mara, seems like a direct contradiction to what we've heard numerous times from Hillary Clinton and the campaign.

MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: She definitely has given the impression that because Colin Powell did it, or she seems to suggest he did something just like what she did therefore it was OK. And now he contradicted that. And this is a story that just won't go away for her. And now the foundation story and the e-mail story are kind of merging as one. So this is continuing. You have the lawsuit by Judicial Watch. You have the investigation by Congress now that they have the FBI notes of the interview with her, and I think it's going to continue.

BAIER: You know, people sometimes glaze over will all of this, Steve. But there are two tracts here. There's the e-mail investigation, and now 15,000 additional documents, we don't know how many e-mails, but documents that have not been seen by anybody. Authorities say they just found them. In addition to the 30,000 that were said to be erased.

Then you have these emails that Judicial Watch gets, some of them out today, including exchanges between Huma Abedin, a top aide, and Doug Band, the head of the Clinton Foundation in which she says to him, he asked speaking about somebody from Bahrain in town tomorrow. Doug Band asked to see Hillary Clinton, good friend of ours. "He asked to see Hillary Clinton Thursday, Friday through normal channels. I asked, and she says she doesn't want to commit to anything for Thursday or Friday until she knows how she feels. She says that she may want to go to New York and doesn't want to commit herself to stuff in New York." Again, this is the Clinton Foundation and the State Department interacting, offering "Bahrain, 10:00 p.m. tomorrow meeting. If you see him, let him know we've reached out to official channels." Here is what the State Department said about all of this today.


MARK TONER, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: Important people who had reason to convey information to the secretary, there was nothing that we have seen that implied any kind of untoward relationship.


BAIER: And James Rosen finding out that the Clinton Foundation COO, Laura Graham, left at least 148 messages for Cheryl Mills, chief of staff for Hillary Clinton. There is a lot of staff, interaction between top Clinton aides.

STEVE HAYES, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: They probably just wanted to talk about scheduling her yoga sessions and Clinton grandchildren.

Look, think about what Hillary Clinton said about this back in July. There is absolutely no connection between anything that I did as secretary of state and the Clinton Foundation. We saw what you just read. Clearly she was lying. People are going to try to dress it up and use all sorts of euphemisms for what she was doing to avoid saying she was lying. Clearly she was lying there.

You have now in addition the evidence about Bahrain and the preference they were given in terms of a meeting after going through the Clinton Foundation. We have other e-mails previous disclosed about jobs being offered to Clinton Foundation donors. You have the e-mail about -- the e- mails regarding a person giving a seat on the intelligence advisory committee because of his involvement, or at least related to his involvement in the Clinton Foundation.

There is a clear pattern here, and the pattern here is in black and white. What amuses me as I follow other media outlets covering this is they continue to try to cast this as if it's about Republicans. Republicans are attacking Hillary Clinton on the Foundation emails. Republicans say -- this isn't about Republicans. This is about Hillary Clinton having made repeated representations that have turned out to be false, and we're seeing evidence that they were false in black and white.

BAIER: Here is what they say, Laura. One, State Department has said there is no direct evidence of a quid pro quo from the Clinton Foundation to anything she did as secretary to that the Clinton Foundation does around the world.

LAURA INGRAHAM, LIFEZETTE.COM: We also heard that she turned over all the documents. I don't know what it is about this particular story, the e-mail story, but every time they try to come out to try to clarify, or she is asked a question and she has to answer off the cuff, she always steps in it.

Think about Colin Powell. Just go back to that for a moment. He was actually a big ally, a big helper I think to the Clinton campaign. Now who knows what Colin Powell will do in this campaign? Maybe he will just sit it out. If he just sits it out and doesn't say anything, that hurts him. But on this issue with the emails, all the ins and outs, Bahrain or Cheryl Mills, what people I think increasingly are seeing is this was set up for the purposes of helping the Clintons. It was selling access, selling, influence and selling employment positions apparently. That is what it was said for. There were some tangential benefits to some charitable endeavors. But most of it just made the Clintons' lives better. That is why people are sick of politics, because politics you are supposed to servants people, but invariably everybody else exists just to make the Clintons' lives better. That's how I think this is playing out. All the ins and outs get complicated for people. But I think people are seeing this foundation for what it is.

BAIER: Meantime, this other story, The New York Post says about Huma Abedin, that Abedin was a, the campaign says, a figurehead, not actually on the staff, but the Saudi based funded Journal of Minority Muslim Affairs which featured radically anti-feminist views and backed strict Islamic laws roundly criticized for oppressing women. A journalism major at George Washington University, Abedin was listed as assistant editor of that journal from 1996 to 2008. Her brother was associate editor, sister employed as an assistant editor, listed as staff members. Abedin's Pakistani mother remains editor-in-chief. Here is what the State Department said about that today.


JAMES ROSEN, FOX NEWS: When Ms. Abedin was cleared to work here in the Department of State, one of her two jobs she held down during her tenure here, was Ms. Abedin's association with this journal known to the secretary or to anyone else in this building?

MARK TONER, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: Having gone through the security clearance processing, considering what -- the level of clearance she would have needed for the job that she held, I can assure you that she was, like any individual would be, fully vetted.


BAIER: This journal, Mara, blamed America for 9/11 and had some pretty inflammatory things throughout the years.

LIASSON: I think this has the potential to cause even more headaches. I don't know enough about this journal, but it's something I'm sure now everybody is going to be taking a look at it in.

BAIER: Well, you would think.

LIASSON: These things get attention. The problem is they are often overshadowed by other things.

BAIER: The daily Trump story --

LIASSON: That's what overshadows.

BAIER: Think about this day, think about all the things that came out today, what this would do to the average candidate running.

LIASSON: It would be a terrible thing. And she has had one big piece of luck this year in that she has an opponent who has bigger troubles than she does.

HAYES: The good news is Hillary Clinton can clear it up what she gives her press conference tomorrow.


BAIER: I think it's 260 plus days.

INGRAHAM: The other question, the media, they're focusing on it. Why is it that Judicial Watch is doing all the FOIA requests? Thank God for Judicial Watch. What we do without Citizens United, Judicial Watch that are actually doing the work, frankly, that places like "60 Minutes" and all these vaunted investigative units.

BAIER: Let alone Capitol Hill. Judicial Watch is getting much more than Capitol Hill.

INGRAHAM: Again, they're unearthing all of this information. And isn't that what the media generally are supposed to do? They're supposed to be bringing issues to the attention of the American people that go to the basic issues of trust. What is most important, if we can't trust our public officials, then we can't trust that they're going to look out for us first and foremost. And that is what we're seeing in this Clinton Foundation scandal.

BAIER: I want to talk about Trump and immigration in just a second, But Mara, politically do you think that this sinks in?

LIASSON: Yes, I do. I think this is a problem. Whether it's going to be something that would level the playing field between them, I don't know. But yes, this is a problem. This is why her numbers on honesty and trustworthiness are so bad.

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