Published March 29, 2019
This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," March 29, 2019. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT: I have great confidence in the attorney general, and if that's what he'd like to do, I have nothing to hide. This was a hoax. This was a witch hunt. I have absolutely nothing to hide.
REP. NANCY PELOSI, D-CALIF., HOUSE SPEAKER: We have to see the facts. We have to see what the report is. And we do not need an attorney general whose job interview was that the president is above the law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BRET BAIER, HOST: Attorney General William Barr sending up a letter to Congressional lawmakers earlier this afternoon. In that letter, a few things. The report, the Mueller report, will be released to Congress in mid-April, if not sooner. Parts will be redacted, material subject to criminal procedure that by law cannot be made public, material the intelligence community says would compromise sources and methods, material that could affect ongoing matters, that perhaps the special counsel has moved on to other district, privacy of third parties.
It is nearly 400 pages long, the attorney general writes, and that he will testify before the Judiciary Committees. In that letter, he says this, quote, "I share your desire to ensure that Congress and the public have the opportunity to read the Special Counsel's report. We are preparing the report for release, making redactions that are required. The special counsel is assisting us in this process."
Speaking of the Special Counsel, the president just moments ago tweeting, just probably a couple of minutes ago, the president tweeting "Robert Mueller was a hero to the radical left Democrats until he ruled that there was no collusion with Russia, so ridiculous to even say! After more than two years since the "insurance policy" was made by a dirty cop, I got the answers I wanted, the truth." From the president moments ago.
Let's bring in our panel, Charles Hurt, opinion editor for "The Washington Times," Jeff Mason, White House correspondent for Reuters, and Victor Davis Hanson, a senior follow at the Hoover Institution. All right, Charlie, your thoughts on this letter and what Barr is saying in it to Congress.
CHARLES HURT, OPINION EDITOR, "WASHINGTON TIMES": Well, I think that certainly there is no doubt that we will at some point wind up seeing the Mueller report, whether it's -- and obviously there will be redactions, but we are going to see it. And I think that a lot of what we are seeing up on the Hill this week is basically sort of politicking. The Mueller investigation may be over now, but the political squabble is far from over. And I think that Democrats clearly see it as an opportunity to complain about not enough of the report getting out, it not getting out soon enough, things like that.
But in the end, we will all see the report, and there may be things in it, 400 pages, that isn't as favorable to President Trump and the Trump campaign as it seems right at the moment. But when you step back and you look at the total picture, the fact that no evidence of criminal collusion was found, it's kind of hard to spin that too negatively.
BAIER: Yes, and Jeff, no indictments of anybody, let alone the president, anybody tied to a criminal conspiracy. In that letter, Barr also writes about working on this, saying this. He says that the principal conclusions, "My March 24th letter was not, and did not purport to be, an exhaustive recounting of the Special Counsel's investigation or report. As my letter made clear, my notification to Congress and the public provided pending the release of the report a summary of its principal conclusions, that is its bottom line."
So for all of the people in Congress who are saying that Barr is somehow covering up for Mueller's report and he's not putting it all on the line, he says, one, he's working with the Special Counsel to work on the redactions, and, two, this was the bottom line conclusions.
JEFF MASON, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, REUTERS: Exactly. And I think he's also giving a foreshadowing of the fact that there are some things obviously in the report that's nearly 400 pages long that were not present in the four-page letter that he released to the public and to members of Congress last Sunday.
So to Charlie's point, there might be some things in that report that are not flattering to the president or people around him but obviously did not lead to the Special Counsel to draw conclusions of collusion. All that said, the president today, and I was in there for this when he was speaking to the press at Mar-a-Lago, made clear that he doesn't feel he has anything to hide and he's fine with that report being made public.
So that answers a question which has been hanging over this as well, with was would the president, would the White House perhaps exert executive privilege? And Bill Barr addressed that in his letter and the president addressed that today.
BAIER: Victor, your thoughts?
VICTOR DAVIS HANSON, HOOVER INSTITUTION: Well, there are certain facts, Bret. The Mueller report is done. Its contents by mutual consent are going to be given, so the only two common denominators are that people were hysterical and made Robert Mueller into a saint, and now they are making William Barr into a sinner. And unfortunately they've learned nothing and forgotten nothing, because this thing is going to come out in two weeks, and just as they didn't know what was coming out in the Mueller report and they pontificated and sermonized and were sorely disappointed if they don't watch out, they are going to make all sort of prognostications and predictions that won't be borne out.
So I don't see the two-week timeframe as a big problem. They should just be quiet, trust William Barr, let the thing come out, and they will either be confirmed or denied. But to go back and repeat the mistakes of the past makes no sense politically or logically.
BAIER: In the meantime, the president is saying that he may very well close the border, seal the southern border entirely next week because the crisis he calls along the border is intensifying. He's already called it a national emergency. But now the numbers are increasing along the border. Here is the former Homeland Security secretary, Jeh Johnson, talking about the numbers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEH JOHNSON, FORMER HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: On Tuesday, there were 4,000 apprehensions. I know that 1,000 overwhelms the system. I cannot begin to imagine what 4,000 a day looks like. So we are truly in a crisis.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: So Victor, the semantics about crisis, not crisis, the numbers are the numbers.
HANSON: The numbers are the numbers, and the weather is warming, Bret, and we know what's going to happen in June and July. There are caravans already lining up, and we've had record numbers of illegal entries. And for people here in California, they understand that it is a crisis.
So Trump, for all the criticism he's getting, this is a 51 percent issue. When people start to see these news reports, and they're only going to increase as the weather warms up, I think there's going to be a quiet consent that something has to be done and that something has to start with a wall and border security, then the other issues can be adjudicated. But if you can't control the physical process of crossing the border, then we don't have sovereignty. If you don't have sovereignty, you don't have a country.
BAIER: Jeff, just listening to Michigan's, the campaign style speech last night, and hearing administration talk, it seems like this is going to be another major push for 2020.
MASON: Absolutely. It was a huge issue for President Trump, then candidate Trump, in 2016. It's going to be a big issue 2020 for sure. It's something that his base cares a lot about, and it's something that has not been thought. The president is making a big push to say his campaign slogan will be promises made, promises kept. And he's going to say that he has started to build the wall, which is something that he promised. But obviously the immigration issue that he wanted to address in his presidency is still a very big problem. And, yes, I think he's going to gin up the crowd, lots of rallies going forward on that topic.
BAIER: Charlie, last word.
HURT: It is a vital situation down there, and we are looking for the month of March, 100,000 people crossing the borders. That's the number that we know about, the number that we have stopped at the border. That's the highest number since I think 2007. And not only as the weather gets warmer, but as the economy continues to hum along. And, of course, the smugglers, the human smugglers as well as the narcotics smugglers, they are using our own laws against us at the border in terms of trying to bring children and families across. It's a real powder keg down there.
BAIER: We'll be talking about it for a while.
Next up, the Friday lightning round, Brexit chaos, the fight for Venezuela, and this week's winners and losers.
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THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I think it should be a matter of profound regret to every member of this House that once again we have been unable to support leaving the European Union in an orderly fashion.
MAY: The implications of the House's decision are grave.
JEREMY CORBYN, LABOR PARTY LEADER: This deal now has to change. There has to be an alternative found. And if the prime minister can't accept that, then she must go, not at an indeterminate date in the future, but now, so that we can decide the future of this country through a general election.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: You think American politics is chaotic? The U.K. is trying to figure out what to do with this Brexit situation. We are back with the panel. Jeff, there aren't a lot of ways forward here.
MASON: No, there certainly aren't. And that's a big question, honestly, is where to go from here. The prime minister tried three times to get her deal with the European Union to get passed through parliament and all three times it has failed. That leaves open the question of whether Britain will leave the E.U. at all, or whether it will leave, and this seems more and more likely now, without a deal at all, and that's something that British companies in particular are very concerned about.
HANSON: I think the subtext, Bret, is Germany, Germany, Germany. Germany is the one that dominates the E.U. It is the E.U. It's making it difficult for Britain to leave. It's got issues with eastern and southern Europeans on different issues. And they don't want Britain to leave because the historical counter to Germany was always Britain and France, and now there is only France. So it's a power play by Germany, it frightens its own fellow E.U. members. And I think the Germans have to be very careful. They've alienated us, they've alienated the British, they've alienated the eastern Europeans, and they've alienated the southern Europeans.
BAIER: Meantime, Venezuela, the president calls it a big fat mass. It's more than that now. You have Russian military personnel and equipment in Venezuela to prop up Maduro, it seems. It is a mess, Charlie.
HURT: Yes, it is. And it's a humanitarian crisis, first and foremost. But the other thing that's kind of interesting, all this while that we hear all this talk about Russia collusion and President Trump operating at the behest of Vladimir Putin, down in Venezuela we actually have a real standoff down there where you have American officials today calling Russian direct involvement there a direct threat to United States. That doesn't sound like collusion to me.
BAIER: We are going to have a lot more on this next week.
All right, winners and losers. First, Victor, winner, then loser. We are going to do this lightning. Here we go.
HANSON: William Barr is doing pretty well. He's navigating between the Congress and Trump. He's an experienced guy that knows all about the CIA and he's been the attorney general. I think he's a wonderful job.
Loser, it's got to be the intelligence community, especially Clapper, Comey, and John Brennan. They are looking at some legal exposure in the aftermath of the Mueller investigation. It's not going to look good when documents come out and their testimonies cannot be reconciled.
BAIER: Jeff, winner and loser?
MASON: I think the biggest of the week was President Trump after the results came out from William Barr. But I'll throw in one that's non- Mueller related, and that Mayor Pete, who has managed to break through a pretty crowded Democratic field of presidential candidates.
On the loser side, I would say Republican senators in Congress who are running for reelection and have tough races after the president decided and the White House decided to bring Obamacare back as an issue.
BAIER: Charlie, winner and loser?
HURT: Winner, sadly, are the Mexican drug cartels who seem to have free reign at the border right now. Loser of the week is Bryce Harper, a former National who chased money, left the city where everybody loved him and went to Philadelphia, and had his first game yesterday, struck out twice. And Philly fans being Philly fans, they booed him. So he's been booed out of his own stadium for the first time.
BAIER: Charles would be happy without one. Nice job, Charlie.
Winner for the panel, making it around winners and lowers very quickly. Thank you very much.
When we come back, "Notable Quotables."
BAIER: Tonight, it is Friday. That means this week's "Notable Quotables."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The special counsel, his findings being released by the attorney general, William Barr.
REP. NANCY PELOSI, D-CALIF., HOUSE SPEAKER: We do not need your interpretation. Show us the report.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A suit and tie doesn't mask the fact that, at its core, this was an old-fashioned shakedown.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT: I will sign a presidential proclamation recognizing Israel's sovereign right over the Golan Heights.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A picture of former president Ronald Reagan, naturally firing a machine gun while riding on the back of a dinosaur.
JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: I regret I couldn't come up with a way to get her the kind of hearing she deserved.
STACEY ABRAMS, FORMER GEORGIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: You don't run for second place.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The green new deal, it's a vote that the Democrats seem to want to duck, to dodge, and to distance themselves.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Madam secretary, you have zeroed out Special Olympics once again.
TRUMP: I have overridden my people. We are funding the Special Olympics.
JUSSIE SMOLLETT, ACTOR: I have been truthful and consistent on every single level since day one.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do I think justice was served? No.
TRUMP: The Republican party will soon be known as the party of health care.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, D-N.Y., SENATE MINORITY LEADER: Come on.
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I don't think the Democrat Party wants to nominate an aging, old, white dinosaur from "Jurassic Park."
TRUMP: The collusion delusion is over.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BAIER: One week, there you have it.
Thanks for inviting us into your home tonight. That's it for this “Special Report,” fair, balanced, and unafraid. Tune in next week when my colleague, Martha MacCallum, and I host a town hall with potential 2020 independent candidate Howard Schultz. We'll do that from Kansas City.
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