Proft: Good morning, Dan and Amy, and boy...a lot of action over at the Department of Justice and FBI these days. Investigations coming from every which direction...both projecting out, investigations they're doing, and investigations they're the subject of. Investigations they're doing, of course, everything intended to the Mueller probe, but also now, DoJ suggesting they're going to, once again, look into the Hillary Clinton e-mail matter. A former assistant director of the FBI, Chris Swecker, was on with Tucker Carlson, and he talked about that investigation, frankly how aghast he was at how the original investigation was handled, under the leadership of Jim Comey at FBI...what was done that shouldn't have been, what wasn't done that should have been.
Swecker (from tape): Well, as an experienced investigator, it doesn't take a Congressional investigation to tell me that nothing about that investigation was right. I mean, we...those of us that have conducted Federal criminal investigations, know that you use the Grand Jury, you use search warrants, you don't hand out immunities like candy. I mean, everything in that investigation runs contrary to the way a real, credible, thorough FBI investigation is conducted.
Proft: And the failure to use the Grand Jury and kind of the "Mother, may I?" approach to gathering information from Camp Clinton was a note that he struck, that's been struck by others too, like former prosecutor Andy McCarthy, who writes for NRO, we've had him on this show many times. And Swecker, when asked what do you think the reason was that all of the unusual choices were made in terms of that investigation, he had this to say.
Swecker (from tape): This was like driving a car with the brakes on.
Carlson (same tape): Why wasn't it done, do you think?
Swecker: You know...that's what puzzles myself and all of my former colleagues, people who have retired from the FBI, from executive positions on down to the street level. The only thing I can...I can...come up with, is that Director Comey placed the investigation in the hands of his inner circle, and they had their own agenda, obviously.
Proft: Yeah. They had their own agenda. And you could say the same, perhaps, about some of the players at Justice. And so against this, against the Mueller Special Probe...Special Counsel...against the look into Fusion GPS and the judge ordering Fusion GPS to turn over its bank records after all...
Jacobson: And it seems the Clinton investigation had "pay to play", too...
Proft: And you also have...are you ready for this coalition?...
Jacobson: Yeah? What do we have now?
Proft: Pot smokers, and Freedom Caucus members, Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows, all agreeing on one thing; Jeff Sessions should be replaced. So, a lot of action there!
Jacobson: Saw that this morning...
Proft: To help us distill it all, we're pleased to be joined by our friend Bret Baier, host of Fox News Special Report, weekdays 5pm Chicago time. Bret, thanks so much for joining us, appreciate it.
Baier: Good morning!
Proft: Morning! So what about...why don't we start with the rather curious pronouncement from Justice that...that they're...they're not going to relax Federal prosecution of drug-related crimes involving marijuana. The...timing of that announcement, does that strike you as curious at all?
Baier: Well, yes. After the first of the year, when states like California legalized recreational marijuana, California obviously a GIANT Blue State. What...practically, what it does is not much. I mean, it essentially says to Federal prosecutors, you should follow the Federal law. But symbolically, what it does is to say, "Hey, look over here! This is still against Federal law. And states, you can do what you want, but...we're watching." Or something. It's confusing, and I think that it sends...without Congress weighing in...a mixed message, especially to some of these businesses that are now $11 Billion in the marijuana industry.
Proft: Well, and it also kind of inhibits the banking system kind of normalizing these businesses too, because they don't know where the Federal Government is on it.
Baire: Exactly. And that's a big issue, because banks are skiddish to begin with, you throw in the threat of any kind of Federal action and they probably won't set up shop.
Jacobson: So, "Fire and Fury", I know it's a big talk topic there in Washington DC, and even here in Chicago. Do you know if you are mentioned in the book at all, Bret Baier?
Baier: Ha ha! I have not done the "Washington Read" yet...when you get to the back and scan for your name.
Baier: But I did get the book yesterday. And it's chock full..
Jacobson: And what did you think? *silence a moment* Oh, what did you think, Bret? I mean, do you think it's some lies, some embellishments, or is there some truth to it?
Baier: Well, I think there are nuggets of truth in there. I think Michael Wolfe has a history of kind of souping things up. And clearly, some of the people who were interviewed either didn't think they were being interviewed on the record, or said that their quotes are wrong. But remember...this guy was IN the White House! And interviewed a lot of people, and has more than a dozen hours of tape. So, something tells me it'll sell like hot cakes...the biggest PR you could give it is a "Cease and Desist" order from the President of the United States!
Proft: Yeah, right? It'd be fun, right? If there was like that passage where Ailes and Bannon are talking about Bolton, and commenting on his mustache, like...maybe there's a section in the book where they're talking about you, and Roger Ailes says "I wish Bret Baier would grow a mustache! He needs to grow a mustache to look more distinguished on air."
Baier: Oh, man...I can only wait.
Jacobson: Well, do you know...I mean since Steve Bannon looks like, by all accounts, brought him into the White House, he was a fixture in the West Wing, reporters even said "Reporters get the Gray passes, he had the BLUE one," he could walk back and forth through the press line. Is Steve Bannon gonna get a kickback from the book sales?
Baier: Ha ha ha! He's the most quoted in the book, and clearly had a big hand in it. The motivation of that is...what? I don't know. Clearly he had to know that the thing was coming out. And I think the biggest mistake was an early Trump White House trying to plan out 100 days...or 1 year in...to have a book come out, that they thought was going to be flattering, which is...hardly.
Proft: Well, right. And that's the Wall Street Journal's point in their op-ed today as well, the idea that what you get is a retrospective on those early days, where it's chaotic, and Bannon is the proximate cause of that chaos! So, I don't know how that benefits him in any material way.
Baier: Yeah, and you know, I also will say a couple of things. One is...the White House REALLY got its act together. I mean, it's not a fine tuned machine, but it is...it really got its act together when General Kelly took over as Chief of Staff. I was over there in the early days, to visit various officials, it WAS like Grand Central Station! People were walking in and out, the Oval Office was open, the President was waving people in. You know, it was chaotic! And that is the environment in which you read...this book.
Proft: What about Bannon's future at Breitbart? That's obviously been the talk of yesterday after these excerpts were released, and Rebekah Mercer making an uncommon public statement, on their separation, the Mercer family's separation from Bannon. And even Sarah Sanders commenting that Breitbart should take a look at Bannon's future there.
Baire: Yeah...I don't think it's bright. I don't bet that he survives at Breitbart. And listen, the biggest person who is happy about all of this...is Mitch McConnell. Because he is now looking at a weakened force that was going to soup up or support primaries against his chosen Senate nominees, or candidates in these various races.
Proft: Yeah, I mean...just following up on that, Ed Rollins, who runs that...or is a strategist for Great American PAC, which is a Trump Super-PAC, said Bannon could have been a force that was very helpful on campaigns...now this is from a Pro-Trump perspective, but money people are only going to go with people who they think are tied to Trump, and Bannon has lost that. So it seems to me, he's really marginalized himself, and he perhaps is soon to find himself a man without a country.
Baire: Yeah, I agree. But you know what? We've been talking a lot about this book, and the future of Steve Bannon...in reality, he did not have THAT much power, in the big picture, after he left the White House. Much more important today, is one, the meeting at Camp David about the legislative agenda, and two what you talked about at the beginning, which is these investigations. Devin Nunes struck a deal with the Justice Department, he is getting all the documents he wants today. And all the witnesses.
Proft: Right. Finally, right.
Baier: ...in his effort to find out what happened with this investigation, Fusion GPS, the dossier, all that. And then you have the whole Clinton email investigation...18 classified emails on Anthony Weiner's computer, and now word that the Foundation investigation continues apace.
Jacobson: So how long do you think this investigation is going to take? Because I mean, if there was "pay to play" with the Clinton Foundation, which people have been suspecting all along...do you think it'll take a year, two years?
Baier: I mean, who knows? It has been ongoing, from what I've been told. You know, it's been in a dormant state, but...you know, they have a whistleblower now, who is talking to them behind the scenes. And you know, maybe that changed the dynamic. They've done, according to the reporting today, interviews in the past few weeks with people...new interviews.
Proft: It seems too that President Trump's best ally has been the enemies inside the Democrat Party, in the House and the Senate, and obviously the candidate he defeated to win the Presidency. Because of their hubris, their overreach...I mean, they're already talking about WHEN they take over the House, you know, this is GOING to be a "wave election", there's nothing that's going to stop it. You've got this story out of Politico about, you know, the continued obsession of Democrats trying to put together a 25th amendment case against President Trump as part of their impeachment play, that he doesn't have the mental acuity for the position. Meanwhile as you suggest, all these investigations we're talking about...they have the potential to undermine the legitimacy of everything the Democrats have said for the last two years, and their allies inside and outside of government.
Baier: Yeah, and listen...it's just perspective. What is somebody at home really paying attention to? Are they paying attention to the back and forth in Washington about "Fire and Fury"? Or are they paying attention to the fact that the Stock Market crossed 25,000, that the tax reform may hit their paycheck, that...you know...their business just gave them $1000 bonus? If this thing pans out like in reality, in the middle of America, that the economy is really starting to be emboldened...the average guy at home, I wonder how much they pay attention to the back and forth in DC? And that only benefits Republicans trying to hold on to power.
Proft: Right, it's the net net of it, is after all of "I've kind of heard, at the top line level, the accusations back and forth", and a year-and-a-half, two years in, there's nothing there, or maybe even...you get evidence, as suggest that...as Kim Strassel's written about repeatedly...maybe everything we understand was incorrect, and there was questionable activities mostly center-left, not center-right...then you lose standing in the public's mind on the range of issues, pocketbook and otherwise.
Baire: Yeah, and listen...it gets muddy. We shouldn't...here's the giant caveat, is that we don't know what Mueller is going to bring forward, it could be devastating. And it could be money laundering, it could be all kinds of things. But it also could be really murky and muddy and because of all the mess here in DC...what really matters to people at home? And I think that that's what it's going to come down to.
Proft: Alright, he is Bret Baier, anchor of Fox News Special Report, weekdays 5pm Chicago time. Also, the author of the book about the Eisenhower administration, "Three Days in January". Bret, thanks for joining us, appreciate it.
Baier: Thanks, have a good weekend.
Proft: You too.