tv CNN Newsroom With Brooke Baldwin CNN June 7, 2017 12:00pm-1:01pm PDT
that it wasn't wrong and dumb. but obstruction of justice is a crime. it's an impeachable offense. that's the issue that i think is the focus now and i think it's a really problematic place for the president. >> so my question to you, following up, and let's give the president the benefit of the doubt. to your point, if there's this cloud swirling and there's a guy in the oval office -- >> and you know you're not a target and -- >> he keeps asking and -- >> because he wants to be -- >> sure. no one said he was being investigated personally but he keeps asking and asking and let's give him the benefit of the doubt. then why with comey in this recollection of mike flynn conversation in which he talks to the president and i replied only that he's a good guy, goes on and i did not say that i would let this go. the questions of the president saying to comey, let this go on the probe into mike flynn. >> right. i think this came out in an
interview, the president talks about -- >> do you not take comey at his word that this did not happen? >> let me be very clear about this. i do not take jim comey at his words. a lot of democrat friends don't take james comey at his word. most in the green room were saying he should be fired for what he did to hillary clinton. no, he lacks credibility. does that mean everything he says is untrue? of course not. but for me i take it as a grain of salt. i want to get corroborating information about whether this could be true or not there's nothing in this testimony, because it's typical jim comey, that makes him look bad. did jim comey ever ask for this job? did he ever leverage the situation in order to stay at the fbi? did jim comey have any conversations with anybody in the obama administration about the law breaking from the hillary clinton clinton foundation? as well.o know about that stuff-
don't roll your eyes at that. this is the same man. >> who's rolling their eyes? >> those two. >> he made mistakes, obviously. big mistakes. >> comey? >> comey. >> and you've worked with him. have you known him to flat out lie? because you'd be saying that he's lying and when jim koecome speaks, i take it with a grain of salt. >> you don't think he's telling the truth? do you think he's telling the truth when he said that the president told him to let it go? >> i'll believe jim comey when somebody else who i think is verifiable corroborates it. >> no. >> when he says it but do you need somebody next to president trump to verify what he says? >> mark, all i can tell su that the democrats i know who suffered through hillary clinton's loss and -- >> you're deferring to -- >> because i'm one voice here.
can i just speak? it's 8 against 1. when i taklked to the hillary clinton people and bush people that dealt with him in the george w. bush administration, most of them came to the conclusion that he tends to spin things in dramatic public settings that make him look really good. does that mean he lies every time? of course not. does that mean that he spins situations to make himself look good, i think if he was a more honest person, there would be good and bad in this record and you never get that from jim comey. >> that is a very fair point and the fact that you are the lone person here -- >> we're not against you at all. >> i was told to come on so company talk about this. >> we value your voice. >> this is what we do for a living. >> i've known you for a long time. i know that's true. but the point is, that you said about comey and kind of his
m.o., i mean, you go back to -- again, i'm not talking about the voracity of what he said but his style is very dramatic. that testimony that he gave back during the bush administration talking about the hospital bed moment and how he threatened to resign when he was deputy -- >> deputy attorney general. >> and robert mueller who was then the fbi director. he has a flare for the dramatics and then some. >> yes. >> hang on. i don't want you to go too far. i'm thinking of the people watching and are just tuning in. let me fill you in. i'm brooke baldwin. we're in washington. we're continuing with massive breaking news coverage of this explosive testimony expected tomorrow of fired fbi director james comey about his conversation and phone calls and meetings and the white house with president trump. so this early release of comey's opening statements, which he
will read tomorrow in front of the senate intelligence committee and we've been going through so. of this over the last hour, jim comey handedly details what the president asked him behind closed doors and in private phone conversations. back on january 27th a. private dinner, "the president said i need loyalty. i expect loyalty. i explained why it was so important why the fbi and justice department be independent of the white house." he goes on, january 14th, "he said that flynn hadn't done anything wrong on his calls with the russians and he then said i hope you can see your way clear to letting this go. to letting flynn go. he is a good guy. i hope you can let this go." a march 30th phone call, jim comey says -- describing the russia investigation, this is the president describing it as a
cloud that was impairing his ability to act. on behalf of the country. he asked what he, being the president, could do to lift the crowd. let me go to shimon. your interpretation, sir? >> i think it's important to note that comey wanted this out there before tomorrow. it seems that he wanted to do this so that the senators would be prepared to ask questions and it's really so detailed and so specific, it's going to give them a lot of room, a lot of studying perhaps to do. they are going to be able to be more prepared to ask the right questions and really not spend the day like perhaps maybe today, at today's hearing where certain questions, bad questions are asked and so it's really interesting that he went ahead and did this. he had requested this and they went ahead and released it
today. i think this detailed testimony that he's going to give tomorrow is fascinating. it's interesting. it's really comey-esque in sort of his attention to detail from the time when he was at the oval office, who served him. it's very specific to some of the conversations and as they have to do with general flynn and trump's asking him to sort of let it go, give him a break. it also shows that trump didn't know the proper channels of how to communicate to the department, to the fbi and trump was trying to educate him, trying to say, you know, go through the department of justice and the other thing that i want to point out is the dossier. we here at cnn were the first to report on the dossier and i was speaking to evan perez before and it was really our inquiries to the fbi and department of justice and to the intelligence community that started this chain of events early in january
which forced the fbi and intelligence community to brief him about the dossier, to tell him that these salacious existed. but i think why that's important and this cloud that he refers to that trump refers to in the memos in the conversations with the director and said this cloud over the russia investigation really started with the dossier and in the memo that comey eventually prepared, you know, he said he needed to brief trump about the dossier because the media was getting ready to report it. that stuff is really, really important, brooke. >> it's the dossier, the cloud, the mike flynn, quote, let it
go. shimon, thank you. i want to go to michael zeldin, if i may. thank you for joining everyone here as we go through this opening statement. i want to go through each section and i think specifically on the mike flynn, "let this go" bit, this conversation that comey says he had with the president. is that obstruction of justice? >> no. not in it of itself. but you put together an obstruction of justice case by putti putting mosaic tiles together. what bugs me about the flynn built besides the flat outl "le this go," first, this is a specific intent crime. it depends on what is the state of the person asking for the activity. the fact that he asks comey
essentially to be alone with him is problematic and indicates a state of mind. >> why is that problematic, for people who don't understand? why is that a problem? >> why would you ask the attorney general to leave the room when you're talking to the director of the fbi who reports up through the justice department? what would be the rational for that? there's no goodness sense behind it. it seems to me that it implies some ulterior motive and it's repeated with coats. if "the washington post" story is true, he asks again others to leave the room, to have this conversation in private without witnesses to ask for something that's inappropriate to ask for. so when you take that coats story, if true, the flynn story, as reported in the mueller -- in the comey statement, the chief of staff priebus asks comey the same thing. you have to presume that that's at the direction of the
president. when you have all of these things together, then as a prosecutor you can say, well, this is getting closer and closer to indictable case. jeffrey's right that it's not that you indict the president but that when you think about it in terms of do you have enough probable cause to believe that indictment could be issued against an old person, you get closer to it by all of this. >> but he also made the point earlier that you can obstruct justice and be successful or you can attempt to obstruct justice. bottom line, you're trying to obstruct justice. >> that's right. the statute is quite clear. it's an endeavoring crime. you can actually do it or endeavor to do it. when we heard the testimony this morning, nobody asked me to do anything illegal. that's not really important. did they ask you to do anything when in combination with the other facts, it amounts to obstruction of justice. it doesn't matter whatsoever whether coats felt pressure. what they feel is not
determination as to whether or not the person trying oh obstruct knew there was an ongoing investigation and then endeavored to do it, improperly as he may have. >> phil mudd, welcome. >> thank you. just a moment on this. note what coats said this morning. it's critical. he said he did not feel pressure. believe it or not, this in some ways, in some respects does not look like pressure. that seems odd. >> okay. >> he didn't say he never had a conversation. i'm talking about coats this morning. >> never denied it. >> it's a very critical point here. the question should have been, did you ever talk to the president about this case? if i'm robert mueller and i work for him, then i have to go forward and say, if you did, what do those conversations include? i'm not interested in your judgment whether you felt pressure or not. i want to know whether you had a statement and the statement by the intel guys this morning, i used to be one of them, didn't say they didn't have a
conversation. they said in my judgment, i didn't feel pressured. >> but what about the comey statement? phil? >> let me give you two perspectives. the flynn piece is the most critical piece. as a nonlawyer, i'll play one on -- that said, the reason why i would say this doesn't look like pressure to me, it is so far out side the bonds of what you would consider to be an acceptable conversation. somebody says to me, why don't you drop the conversation? i couldn't have done that at the bureau but if i could, you would have said, that's the craziest thing i've ever heard. the prospect that you would ever even act on that, what are you going to do g. back to the fbi and say on further conversation, we're not going to pursue this anymore. that's not going to happen. >> this idea that it was so
insane that no one could take it seriously? >> that is so absurd you can't really expect me to take this as an indication that i should go back to the fbi. i mean, this is crazy. >> >> but when there is more than one tile that goes to the exact same point, as i said, it was oval office meeting, there was the intervention by coats, there was the january loyalty dinner. when you start adding all of those things up, then it starts looking more like pressure. >> respectfully, you left out the most important one. >> well -- >> which is that he fired jim comey at the end of the day. >> absolutely. >> that first conversation was, do you still want the job. >> uh-huh. >> i think that's the piece you need to connect here because that's a very unusual conversation. after he had been assured that he wanted the job, that conversation happens in a closed door setting and says that piece
number one to the next piece, will you drop the investigation. that's how you look at this. that's how i would look at it. >> and to jeffrey's point, point three, when you don't, you lose your job. >> right. >> a ten-year term to insulated you from -- >> as a former fed, when i was at the executive level and said the president asked me if i liked my job, we'd be sitting here saying, you've got a ten-year term, dude. why is he asking you if you like -- is that a suggestion he's going to fire you if you don't go in the -- that's more interesting than it looks on the surface. >> do you feel like it's threatening? >> yes. yes. >> we said it in unison. >> we are not looking at this meeting, this testimony tomorrow in a vacuum. it's not a one-off. let us go to the oval office meeting with the russian officials where he described, jim comey, notes taken by somebody other than jim comey where he described comey as crazy, a real nutjob and goes on to say i felt great pressure
because of russia. that's taken off. i'm not under investigation. these notes were not taken by jim comey. they were taken by another official who happened to be in that meeting. so we're not looking at this in a vacuum. as to what michael and jeffrey was saying, these are all pieces. these are all different pieces that have to be put together. >> that's what i want to ask you, sir, all of the meetings, phone calls, dinners, put them in perspective for us and also historically speaking. >> well, i don't know that the norm eisen comparison, that these are the watergate tapes -- >> you think it take it is too far? >> yes. because this is still in the realm of he said/he said but with contemporaneous moemos. to me, it's not the same thing.
but the larger pattern here and what we were discussing a bit ago, dana gets into the psychology of the way donald trump operated his businesses. he made no adjustment to operating now within the bounds of the constitution as the chief executive officer of the nation. there was no adjustment that it was a different game with a different set of rules. >> actually, forgive me. i'm going to cut you off. we're getting live reaction on capitol hill to this opening statement from james comey. manu raju is standing by with someone. manu, who do you have? >> reporter: well, i just caught up with a number of different senators about the release of this testimony. grappling with this, you mentioned earlier, john mccain who i spoke with, said that he's disturbed by these remarks by james comey saying that the president tried to pressure him, tried to urge him to drop that probe. i asked mccain, do you think
this is obstruction of justice, he would not go there. he did not know. he said we should trust james comey's words as the white house goes after the credibility of james comey. i also caught up with the senate judiciary committee chairman chuck grassley. his committee is not going to be hearing from james comey but wants to hear from james comey and he even is threatening the idea of actually issuing subpoenas if he does not agree to come before the intelligence committee. this is what he said. >> comey said that this would be his only testimony tomorrow. are you prepared to either issue a subpoena or try to get him before the senate judiciary committee? >> under our laws -- i shouldn't say our laws. under our rules of the committee, if senator feinstein wouldn't agree to subpoena, i
would. >> reporter: so what he means by that is diane fine feinstein, ie agrees to subpoena james comey, he would issue a subpoena for james comey. i spoke to feinstein about this yesterday. she said that she's open but wants to hear from james comey tomorrow in that hearing on which she also serves and hear what he has to say but also she wants to hear before the senate judiciary committee. so even as james comey is preparing for his only public statement, some senators want him to come up before them again. this may not be the last time we hear from james comey even if it is riveting when he does testimony about questions up on capitol hill, that a lot of members want him to answer. brooke? >> manu, thank you for that reaction. brianna keilar, i haven't heard from you yet. hello, my friend. >> hello. >> what do you think? >> i would want to revisit a point that phil made, which is
about it's so ridiculous that it's so far over the line that you wouldn't feel like it's pressure. it appears that dni coats spoke to a number of soeassociates th he went back to this request from donald trump and discussed whether it was appropriate or not to go ahead and full thfills request. just the idea that this was entertained, you can see how this would percolate into something that perhaps this could be entertained and to dana's point of just the psychology and mind sset and wh you're seeing here. what you're seeing is a president who has a concept of more expansive powers of the presidency that i'm not sure when we've last seen this. it's certainly been decades. but he has this mindset that he
has powers far beyond what he has granted by the u.s. constitution and either he doesn't know the rules or he doesn't care to know the rules or he thinks the rules do not apply to him. >> uh-huh. dana had made the point so eloquently i thought before about working in business, working in real estate deals. this is entearly different. >> and the irony here is that he was sent to washington to tell congress and everyone else there's a new sheriff in town and to be the disrupter. i think he's taken that disrupter thing, at least according to the narrative that jim comey put in here, a little too far. the political disrupter, okay. to be politically incorrect, okay. to shake things up here, sure. but to not follow the basic rules of what is okay and not okay in terms of protocol and to apparently breach that protocol
to the point where you're walking right up to a legal line, maybe even potentially crossing it, i don't know, we'll see, is not the disrupter kind of thing. in fact, i think that even maybe many of his supporters had in mind. >> he was sent to be the disrupter to benefit the american people and to bust up washington to become effective as a government for the people it represents, not to cover his own behind and get himself cleared of an investigation or stomped down on a friend's investigation. that's not the disruption his voters were hoping for. >> we're going to take our first break. we've been going through seven pages worth of a statement on the eve here of this massive testimony from the fired fbi director james comey. much more on this and we're waiting to see pictures of the president himself stepping off of air force one coming home from cincinnati where he was talking infrastructure. not what the rest of the nation is talking about right now.
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that can camp out in between our teeth, if we'll let it. use gum® brand. soft-picks®. proxabrush® cleaners. flossers and dental floss. gum® brand. welcome back. breaking news here in washington, d.c., pictures of the president as he is now home from his stop in cincinnati talking jobs and infrastructure but the nation is talking about what we're about to hear tomorrow in washington where jim comey will be testifying in front of the senate intelligence committee and we have seven pages worth of this opening statement dropped ahead of time. so we're going through it. it's a preview. i'll read this for you of what we'll be hearing tomorrow morning. this is from james comey's account of the january 14th oval office meeting. here it goes. the president signaled the end of the briefing by telling him
all he wanted, all that he wanted to speak to he many alone. i stayed in my share. as the participants started to leave the oval office, the attorney general lingered by my chair but the president thanked him and said he wanted to speak only with me. the last person to leave which jared kushner who also stood by my chair and exchanged pleasantries with me. the president excused him. when the door by the grandfather clock closed and we were alone, the president began by saying, quote, i want to talk about mike flynn. flynn had resigned the previous day. the president began by saying flynn hadn't done anything wrong in speaking with the russians but he had to let him go because he had misled the vice president. he added that he had other concerns about flynn which he did not then specify. the president then made a long series of comments about the problem with leaks of classified information, a concern i shared and still share. after he had spoken for a few minutes about leaks, reince
priebus leaned in through the door by the grandfather clock and i could see a group of people waiting behind them. the president waved at him to close the door and saying that he would be done shortly. the door closed. the president then returned to the topic of mike flynn saying, quote, he is a good guy and he's been through a lot. he repeated that flynn hadn't done anything wrong on his calls with the russians but had misled the vice president. he then said, i hope you can see your way clear to letting this go. to letting flynn go. he is a good guy. i hope you can let this go. i replied only that he is a good guy. in fact, i had a positive experience dealing with mike flynn when he was a colleague as director of the defense intelligence agency at the beginning of my term with the fbi. i did not say i would let this go. the president returned briefly to the problem of leaks. i got up and made my way through the large group of people waiting there including mr.
priebus and the vice president. i immediately prepared an unclassified memo of the conversation about flynn and discussed the matter with fbi senior leadership. i understood the president to be requesting that we drop any investigation of flynn in connection with false statements about his conversations with the russian ambassador in december. i did not understand the president to be talking about the broader investigation into russia or possible links to his campaign. i could be wrong, but i took him to be focusing on what he had just happened with flynn's departure, the controversy around the account of his phone calls. regardless, it was very concerning. given the fbi's role as an independent investigative agency. the fbi leadership team agreed with me that it was important not to infect the investigative team with the president's request, which we did not intend to abide. we also concluded that, given that it was a one-on-one conversation, there was nothing
available to kcorroborate my account. jeff sessions would likely recuse himself in russia-related investigations. he did so two weeks later. the deputy attorney general's role is then filled in and acting capacity by united states attorney who had also not belong in the role. after discussing the matter, we decided to keep it closely held, resolving to decide what to do with it down the road as our investigation progressed. the investigation moved ahead at full speed with none of the investigative team member ors the department of justice lawyers supporting him, aware of the president's request. he ends by saying this. shortly afterwards, i spoke with the attorney general sessions in person to pass along the president's concerns about leaks. i took the opportunity to implore the attorney general to prevent any future direct communication between the president and me. i told the a.g. that what had just happened, him being asked
to leave while the fbi director who reports to the a.g. remain behind was inappropriate and should never happen. he did not reply. for the reasons discussed above, i did not mention that the president broach the fbi's potential investigation of general flynn. and that is just one example of what we'll hear tomorrow morning with jim comey. page pate, legal analyst, your interpretation, page, does this sound like obstruction of justice to you in. >> brooke, i think it absolutely does sound like obstruction of justice. it's not important as to which investigation he was trying to obstruct. did the president have the intent to put his thumb on the scale to try to influence the fbi director at that time to do something that the investigation did not call for. to take it in one direction or the other or to let it go. i think it is very clear not
just from the words that were said but from the tone of the meeting, the circumstances of the meeting and all of the follow-up discussions that he had with mr. comey that president trump's intent was oh obstruct the investigation into michael flynn. >> steve, same question. >> yeah. brooke, i'm a little more agnostic, at least with regard to general flynn, it raises very serious concerns about obstruction vis-a-vis the russia investigation at large. i wonder if it's going to be an easier target and lower proof than actually trying to piece together which piece of the flynn investigation the president was trying to interfere with. brooke, let's not lose sight of the bigger picture here. this looks bad for the president. jim comey better hope there's not tapes. but here's his con temtemporane notes of the session and to
protect the fbi from the president, the legal analysis i think you're going to hear folks agreeing, there's no scenario where this goes to vindicate the president's version of events. >> you're nodding. why? >> i'm nodding because there are a couple factors that are relevant. it's typical practice for an fbi agent to make contemporaneous notes after they've met with a witness. you use those records when you're going to trial. it's not a tape but a pretty good accounting of what happened. the fact that he felt that he needed to make that accounting of what happened to me indicates that he recognized that this was much bigger than what that conversation was just at that time, that if you take it in the context of what was going on, if you take it in the context of what were very serious allegations of russia interference into the u.s. election, that the implications would be important. and so i think we need to sort
of step back from what just happened in that room at that one moment in time. and look at what was going on in the months before and how that fits into a story of what the president was or was not doing to protect the united states versus his own -- >> and may i add something? >> to that very point, here in this party he talks about how when he was speaking with president obama it was only really on two occasions and one had to do with law enforcement policy, one was a good-bye in 2016. he said he did not memorialize those discussions but he had nine one-on-one conversations with donald trump in four months. so you see the disparity here between what would be taken as more usual behavior with his predecessor and then what had been a lot of communication and not about things like criminal justice reform, which he could have discussed because jeff sessions rolled out a whole new plan on that. there are reasons for him to
speak to comey. but not these ones. >> so what happens, jeff toobin, legally speaking, this is a foreshadowing of what he's going to say. >> right. >> so then what? >> well, two things. director mueller continues his investigation as special counsel. that's a criminal investigation that is ongoing and we'll see. i don't know where he's going to go if and when he will indict anybody but that is the focus of that investigation. at the same time, congress is going to continue its investigations. you have house judiciary committee, senate judiciary committee where the testimony takes place tomorrow. one big question, obviously, is whether any congressional committee that would be the house judiciary committee starts to look into impeachment. that's if there is an impeachment investigation, it would have to be a resolution, i believe, in the house of representatives, speaker ryan, the republican majority there
would have to i agree to begin that sort of investigation. it seems extremely unlikely to me. >> extremely. >> but that is what would happen. >> but there's another question, also, whether or not robert mueller is going to incorporate what james comey is going to testify meaning what happens in many special counsel investigations. it starts out as one thing and expands because other things happen. could he then potentially look into whether the president obstructed justice as part of his investigation? >> i think he clearly already is. and it's been clear, i think deputy attorney general rod rosenstein was asked this question of whether obstruction of justice was within the purview of the special counsel investigation and rosenstein very clearly said yes and, you know, it's -- >> we're getting reaction now. we've been sitting with this statement for 1:37 now.
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welcome back to the breaking news. i'm brooke baldwin here in washington, d.c., where this massive seven-page statement from the now fired fbi director jim comey just dropped about an hour and a half ago. we're getting a glimpse as far as what the members of the senate intel committee will be hearing tomorrow morning regarding multiple conversations that the then fbi director and the president of the united states had. now the reaction coming in. not just from members -- republicans and democrats up on capitol hill but from the white house. so let's go to sara murray. she's live in cincinnati where the president just spoke at an infrastructure event. sara murray, what are they saying? >> reporter: well, brooke, on the plane ride back to washington, d.c., sarah huckabee
sanders spoke to reporters and essentially said that they are reviewing this testimony. they didn't have a comment on it yet. it came out basically as president trump was leaving the stage here in cincinnati to head back to the white house. sarah huckabee did remark on the interesting timing. she didn't elaborate exactly what she meant but pointed it came out right after we saw dan coats and mike rogers testifying on capitol hill today. one thing that is interesting about watching the white house knave ga navigate this, they have put out documents and rapid response stuff this afternoon ceasing on the parts of the testimony that comey told president trump he was not personally under investigation in those private conversations. the reason, the republican national committee is handling so much of this is usually you'd see it come from the white house. they felt like they could not
helm that effort from inside the west wing. a lot of it is getting kicked over to president trump's allies. we'll see how he feels about that. we know in private conversations he's expressed frustration that not enough people were out there defending him. >> sarah huckabee was asked if the white house disputes it and she said we will review it. >> and i want to speak to michael smerconish in a second. we need to be hearing from some of the other players mentioned in this opening statement. >> yeah. you are reading the whole february 14th account of jim comey's account of what happened when he was asked to let the flynn investigation go. he said attorney general sessions was lingering near his chair. well, why was he lingering? was he lingering because he thought maybe it would be inappropriate for the fbi director to be talking to the president right then. and then reince priebus was just
outside of the oval office and leaned in at one point and trump told him to shut the door and go away. was priebus concerned that it was wrong for fbi director and trump to have a one-on-one conversation? i think people need to start explaining their thinking in these scenarios. the other question i have, comey mentioned attorney general sessions said that he expected -- he and his team -- comey said that he expected attorney general sessions to recuse himself from the entire russia investigation. why did director comey have that expectation? why did he expect sessions to recuse himself if you go back and look at the recusal statement on the same day that it was cited, he said he just decided it that week. >> sara murray mentioned the rapid response from the rnc. let me throw this quick tweet up to show their response as well in addition to the white house. so they are making light of it
and trying to find something of substance in comey's opening statement like a guy looking through a telescope. michael smerconish, host of "mer c smerconish," first things first. i'm also channelling -- we had matt schlapp on saying this is just one account. you know, unless somebody corroborating comey's account, he wasn't buying it. >> yeah. i disagree with that. the devil is in the details. you're right, as a trial lawyer, if i had two conflicting points of view on a factual matter, the devil is in the details, he or she who provides the most comprehensive account was the one that would usually carry the day. the grandfather clock in the comey statement, i find that significant. that speaks to his level of recollection anded it detail with which he wanted to record
this information and something else needs to be said. that comey statement is a confirmation of what some have regarded as feak news because you think, brooke, about all of the reporting from cnn, from "the washington post," from "the new york times" that we've been discussing in the last several weeks and months but they've been based on anonymous accounts within the white house. this is confirmation. this is comey saying that every one of those details, as they related to his interaction with the president, are accurate. and i take away from the rnc statement perhaps the fact that the republicans on the senate intel committee tomorrow are not prepared to do the dirty work of the white house and they need to go outside the apparatus and rely on the politics of the rnc. >> do you think, though, that they will dig or toe the white house line. >> my hunch is that if past is
p pr prologue, completely ignoring the substance of the leaks. and what a contrast between the testimony that we heard on cnn today from coats and from rogers and their unwillingness, without asserting any privilege, to discuss the facts of the interactions that they had with the president, which i found appalling. if they weren't in uniform, if it weren't for a member of the u.s. senate, i think you would have heard someone on that committee say, you know, we need to hold you in contempt. we're performing a fact-finding mission and if you won't answer our questions, we need to do something about it. >> let me follow up with you in just a second on that point. but let me bring back page pate. page pate, legal voice here as well. you make the point that no matter what the legal result is, it comes down to congress? >> right. brooke, that's the big concern here. i'm afraid we're going to have a crime without a prosecution.
it is very unclear in the constitution that a sitting president can even be charged with a crime or indicted. so if congress does not make a step forward to do something about impeachment, we may have a situation where we have a president who is engaged in unlawful conduct but is not being held responsible for it. so that's why i was very concerned and disappointed to see this initial response from the republicans basically trying to push it back on comey saying he's not being detailed enough. everything that jim comey said about that conversation in those meetings is inconsistent so far with what the president has told us. even down to who requested the dinner meeting. if you'll remember, trump said it was comey. clearly it was not. so i don't know that it matters if we go through and find each misstatement made by the president, if we find evidence of obstruction, if no one is going to do anything about it. >> could i answer the -- >> go ahead. >> firstly, the 28 cfr 600 that
governs mueller's behavior requires him to report to the justice department. if he said that the president committed obstruction of justice, i would indict him but for the fact that he's president, i think it's very difficult for the house republican i think it's politically untenable but legally inappropriate. secondly is what i think comes through all of this is there are doj guidelines that specifically limit the white house's conduct when it comes to investigations. they are not hall loud to talk to the fbi when there's an ongoing criminal investigation. it's pretty clear. it's doj guidelines, and what you see in comey's statement is the president keeps calling him. on the march 30th phone call it says the president called me. he's concerned about a cloud on the presidency. he wants to know what we can do to lift this cloud. these are conversations that not only speak as jeffrey and i were
talking about before about the specific mindset and specific intent to commit obstruction of justice but a violation of protocol that's unacceptable. >> not just protocol. these are regulations. they are -- they are rules and policies. they have not laws and it's not a crime to violate the policies of interactions between the justice department and the white house, but these are rules that were scrupulously followed by the obama administration, but the george w. bush administration. i believe by the clinton administration as well and the george herbert walker bush administration. i mean, these rules -- these rules have existed for a long time, and they are in effect to prohibit precisely the kind of conduct that took place here. >> exactly. >> that's why these rules exist so the president who is the superior of the fbi director cannot put pressure on him to
influence individual investigations, much less ones that involve him personally. >> right. >> which is what it makes -- why it makes it so much more dangerous legally when he asks other people to leave the room so he's with this guy alone. >> i also think it's important, too, as we're looking forward, let's look at it politically, right. there's the legal angle which seems to be, you know, a little bit of gray area of whether he could be prosecuted or not. politically i was talking to a political consultant on the phone during the rogers/coats testimony, someone who has done a lot of presidential campaigns and represents a lot of republicans, including republican businesses. i said tell me the mood. what's going on? everyone wants to stay out of it. everybody is keeping low and nobody wants to get involved. right now the president is spinning his tires in the mud. nobody wants to get the mud stain on them, although i do think that it was very telling today during the hearing that you didn't see an incredible amount of pushback from intelligence republicans. in fact, you saw the likes of
marco rubio get a little aggressive on that panel. the reason why we're not seeing more outcry from republicans on capitol hill, i think we all know this but was reinforced today in the phone conversation, they are afraid of primary challenges. if you're a house republican because trump is still in the 80s in approval rating, afraid of a primary challenger and some of those several republican senators are still looking at running for the about. they don't want to anger the base needlessly. that could hurt him in the future. >> michael samir conish, reporting are ahead of the big testimony tomorrow. will he or won'ty, live tweet, react? we heard quick commentary from sarah huckabee sanders curious about the timing. there's been reporting about how the president will definitely punch back. do you think he will? should he? >> i -- i think that he's incapable of restraint and the dynamic that most interests me is i wish we had a camera in the
ancillary office to the oval office where he's installed, according to "the washington post" a 60-inch flat screen. who has the ability within the white house to stand up to him and say don't send that tweet. i'm unaware of who that individual might be, and i don't know that to the extent that there is such a person that he would listen to that individual, so i fully expect that it's going to be a split screen of sorts tomorrow where former director comey is testifying, and we're all watching the twitter feed of the president of the united states in realtime for his response. i'll just say this if i may to david chelian's point earlier. i wholeheartedly agree. it's time for others identified in the sequence now to be called on the carpet. for example, that valentine's day meeting, if in fact the vice president and the attorney general, sessions and pence were asked to leave the room so that he could converse with jim comey, i want to know what they say about it, and what is the possible -- i want to be fair to the president. what is the possible benign
explanation as to why he would ask them to low of. why would he say to jared kushner that he wants him to step out so that he can have a private word with the fbi director? if there's nothing nefarious about what he was about to convey, they all could have stayed in the room. >> i have 60 seconds remaining. >> he could start tweeting today given this news, so stay tuned. >> twitter fingers. you, sir, final thought, phil mudd. >> the tragedy of this is 99% of this document is focused on what happened. there's one sentence on page 1 that refers the fbi saying we can give you the president defensive briefing. if you're an intel guy you're saying the whole conversation we should have is how do we protect the government from being hacked by the russians and how do we protect the next election? that's none of the conversation we're having now. we're going to get hacked again. >> with that i just want to thank all of you on that note, phil mudd. >> happy note. >> thank you so much for being with us here. do not go very far at all. jake tapper is going to pick up special coverage live here in washington on this breaking news. we'll be right back. i guess i was born with a crayon in my hand.
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welcome to the "the lead." bombshell breaking news. i need loyalty. one day before director comey will tell his story before the senate the fbi director has released a statement detailing his conversations with the president in which comey says president trump put him in situations that concerned him greatly saying at a private dinner in january, for example, i need loyalty. i expect loyalty. comey confirms that the president asked him, the man in charge of the criminal investigation into his former national security adviser michael flynn, quote, i hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting flynn go. he is a good guy. i hope can you let this go, unquote. again, this is an accusation that the president asked the fbi director to drop