Why Trump needs to let go of the Russia hacking debate

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report with Bret Baier," January 6, 2017. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Well, the intel community has put out an unclassified version of this report. We're going to get to that. The classified version was briefed to president-elect Donald Trump.

Here are some of the highlights from this report that was put out. "We assess Russian president Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election. Russia's goals were to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton and harm her electability a potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russia government developed a clear preference for president-elect Trump. Moscow's influence campaign followed a Russian messaging strategy that blends covert intelligence operations such as cyber-activity with overt efforts by Russian government agencies, state- funded media, third-party intermediaries, and paid social media users or trolls. We assessed with high confidence that Russian military intelligence used the Guccifer 2.0 persona and DCLeaks.com to released U.S. victim data obtained in cyber operations publicly and exclusives to media outlets and related material to WikiLeaks. DHS assess that the types of systems Russian actors targeted were compromised were not involved in vote tallying. We assess Moscow will apply lessons learned from its Putin ordered campaign aimed at the presidential election to future influence efforts worldwide including against U.S. allies and their election processes." I wanted to take the time to read the highlights from the report.

Let's bring in our panel, Charles Hurt, political columnist for The Washington Times, we welcome Edward-Isaac Dovere, chief Washington correspondent for Politico, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer. OK, Isaac, your thoughts on this and how it has been perceived?

EDWARD-ISAAC DOVERE, POLITICO: Well, we have a statement from the president-elect that seems to take the presentation seriously, more seriously than he had been taking it from the tweets that he had been putting, statements to this point. But what we don't have is any clear acceptance from him of the assessment from the intelligence community. It seems like at least his team is continuing to question it, and we have a statement from him and then from the vice president-elect saying that they will be taking new action once they are in office. But it doesn't change with the 17 agencies put together with what they are saying is very high certainty here of Russia's intent and Russia's role in the influence of the election.

BAIER: Charles?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I think Trump understands that the fight he is in is a losing proposition. He is in what should be the honeymoon period of his presidency. It is supposed to start when he is sworn in. It is supposed to be anticipated, and most presidents start with a wind at their back.

He has been so involved in so many issues with so many tweets that it is as if the marriage has already started. And this is not something he can win, because they are so many Republicans who are concerned about the intelligence and who don't want to denigrate it or to diminish it. So I think his statement today was a good one, we had a good meeting. He didn't say I accept or don't accept, but he basically said I take it seriously enough and will order an investigation for 90 days, a general one into cyber attacks. We are going to be tough on this. That's fine.

He needs for this debate to stop. It could continue about the details about what the Russians are doing here and Germany and France and elsewhere is, but it should not be Trump versus the world. It sort of reminds you of when he got into the fight with the gold star parents. It's one you can only lose. It's a personal one, and I think he understands he has got to let it go which I think he is doing, and that is very smart to do.

BAIER: He also praised in that statement, as Isaac mentioned, the intelligence community, the men and women who protect the nation.

House Speaker Paul Ryan issued a statement. "Russia has a track record of working against our interests and they clearly tried to meddle in our political system. I strongly condemn any outside interference in our elections which we must work to prevent moving forward. We must also be clear that there is no evidence that there was any interference in the voting or balloting process. We cannot allow partisans to exploit this report in an attempt to delegitimize the president-elect's victor. Donald Trump won this election fair and square because he heard the voices of Americans who felt forgotten." That is House Speaker Paul Ryan. Charles?

CHARLES HURT, THE WASHINGTON TIMES: It is a strong statement and probably one that needs to be made because clearly a lot of people, partisans are trying to conflate the two.

Another thing I thought was very interesting in addition to what Charles said about Donald Trump's statements, he and Mike Pence tend to go aggressively after the cyber espionage, which I think is a smart thing to do because it means that he's taking it seriously. But in addition to that it also sort of reveals -- it reminds everybody what a bad job, apparently, the current president has done over the past eight years in combating cyber espionage by not only by the Russians, but the Chinese, Iranian, and who knows what other enemies that have infiltrated American cyber-security.

BAIER: Isaac, how far do Democrats push this? How much does this issue dominate ahead of the inauguration?

DOVERE: We have two weeks left until the inauguration. It seems like there will be some more discussion of it. But I think what is important here is that it's not just Democrats that are raising this. You have John McCain and Lindsey Graham continuing to push this.

We don't know how far we are going to go in the discussion of whether they should be a special committee set up to investigate these hackings and not just what happened but the report, as Charles just mentioned, goes into 2008 and 2012 and activities that have happened all throughout.

The public part of it is not getting so much into that, but there is more information about that that our intelligence agencies seem to have, and we will see whether there is a bipartisan effort. I think that will change it. If it is just Democrats that are questioning it, then it does become Democrats versus Donald Trump.

BAIER: But it is a short jump for Democrats to make that this is not a legitimate election because the voters were somehow influenced by all this information. Are they going to make that jump? We haven't heard anybody say that explicitly.

DOVERE: So far many of them who have been talking publicly have been very careful not to make that jump. We will see how that goes as this sets in. Since election night, whenever that was, about 10:00, 10:30 p.m. on election night when it became clear that Donald Trump was actually going to be president, you see this slow process of ingesting it and internalizing it, or then coming off of the acceptance, rejecting it. And so I think you will see as we get closer to inauguration day more Democrats who start to get a little more publicly uncomfortable with what is going on. And going forward from there they may try to carry this in that sort of way. But it is tough because they don't want to politicize this, they don't want to make it a partisan thing. They want to try to make this about the real issue of the Russia --

BAIER: They tried today to change the electoral votes, to challenge them for various reasons, and it didn't happen, and Donald Trump will be the 45th president of the United States.

KRAUTHAMMER: All of the attempts are pathetic. The attempt today to change the Electoral College vote, the recounts that were ordered by Jill Stein joined by Clinton in those states, this is all a joke. I think Republicans, particularly Trump, have made a mistake of overestimating how widespread is the notion that this was a rigged election and that Putin put his thumb on the scale. That you hear from left wing partisans. It is not a generally accepted idea. The intel reports explicitly says we have nothing to say on this. It is a partisan left-wing meme, and it isn't going anywhere. Ignore it is the best strategy that Republicans ought to take.

BAIER: Can Donald Trump stay off Twitter on this issue and ignore it and move on?

HURT: I don't think he sees any reason to. I think he sees it as a very valuable tool. Look at what happens every single day. He sets the agenda of what people talk about. He may pick the wrong thing, but he does set the agenda.

BAIER: Like the ratings for "The Apprentice" under Arnold Schwarzenegger? You like that one?

HURT: I thought it was vitally important.

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