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tv   Wolf  CNN  June 8, 2017 10:00am-11:01am PDT

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inappropriate, you should not be doing this. and even to then attorney general lynch when she was saying you should call the clinton investigation the clinton matter, he seemed to a seed to what he clearly felt uncomfortable with and knew was an inappropriate suggestion. >> he did not come off as a strong man in the instances that you cite. at the same time he seems to have engineered the appointment of a special counsel which is quite extraordinary. why did he do it? because he thought the president was trying to impede and obstruct this investigation. >> to me sounds as though a political survivor. not confronting directly, but also then engineering special counsel. >> i think there's a bigger question and that not since j. edgar hoover has a nonelected official in this country had the power over our political system that james comey has. it's something to look at. at the same time, his testimony was very damming for the president of the united states,
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because it made clear that -- and let's see if there are tapes. but it made clear that he thought the president unquestionably was trying to get him to drop a legitimate investigation into a matter of grave national security concern and now also under a cloud after this hearing is jeff sessions. >> first of all, i would say i think comey not only answered the questions about loretta lynch, but i think he welcomed those questions because it was his way of certifying his role as an independent, not someone who serves one party or the other party. >> he got nauseous both about trump and about lynch. >> exactly. it shows that he has stomach problems. >> he does have mild nausea quite often it seems. >> let me talk about the politics. i've never been confronted by as many people of do you think the president will serve his full
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term and we're not a parliamentary system. no, i know. the assumption is that something is going to happen here somehow. i think you saw in this hearing it was very -- it was very civil. it was respectful. but you saw the republicans going to one side and the democrats to another. the republicans using the hearing to try to blunt the impact of what comey had to say. how many times did the president ask you about flynn? just once d. anybody try to stop you from doing what you were doing? >> by the way, there's director comey going to the classified briefing. >> and so, you know, if there was going to be a movement in congress to act on any of this, and we're way down the road from that, it's -- there's going to have to be a lot more for these republicans to move off of the position of defending the president. >> i want to continue with the panel, but we've got to go to jim acosta. i know the white house is responding to something. >> that's right. sarah huckabee sanders just held
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an off camera gaggle with reporters and during that gaggle with reporters she was asked this question about jim comey's testimony about when he said lordy, i hope there are tapes in rfrps to t reference to the president's tweet that there might be tapes of the conversation between the president and the former fbi director. i asked sarah huckabee sanders does the president have a recording system here at the white house that allows him to re record his conversations and she said basically she has no idea. she was pressed a couple of times on this question. at one point she joked and said perhaps they'll have to look under the couches for that recording system so you can tell that they're frustrated and sick and tired of hearing that question. no definitive answer on that. but there was a very definitive answer when asked during this gaggle whether the president is a liar. remember jim comey during his testimony said at one point that the trump administration has been lying about the fbi, lying about me, and here's what sarah huckabee sanders had to say to
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that. >> no. i can definitively say the president's not a liar and i think it's insulting that question would be asked. >> one other interesting thing to throw out there, anderson, is the fate of attorney general jeff sessions. you know over the last 48 hours the white house has been incapable of saying whether or not the president has confidence in the attorney general at this gaggle with reporters. sarah sanders did say yes, the president has confidence in jeff sessions and how do we know that? how does sarah sanders know that? she said she talked to the president about this last night. we should point out in the next half hour or so we do expect to hear from the president's personal outside counsel mark kasowitz. he's expected to give a statement to reporters. no idea whether he'll take questions. but we should note his outside counsel, president's outside counsel mark kasowitz was very confident last night. we understand from talking to a couple of sources that kasowitz was at the trump international hotel here in washington last
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night talking about the comey written testimony and telling people there in the room, quote, we won, trump's in the clear, it's clear trump didn't do anything wrong. he was also apparently buying cigars and handing them out to people. so at this point trump's legal team is very confident that the president is not in hot water at this point. >> jim, it took sarah sanders to find the confidence the president has in the attorney general. they could find out if there are tapes or not very easily. the president would know. i assume reince priebus would know. they would know. >> he's been known to tape people. >> anderson and karl, the information flow here at the white house is as stove piped as you will ever see it. it appears to be one stove pipe from the staff to the president. and it is question by question. last week it was whether or not the president believes in
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climate change. anderson, we have not gotten an answer to that question because sean spicer told reporters and another people told reporter, i haven't had a chance to ask the president that question. they can't answer that question. then the same thing happened with jeff sessions. does the president have confidence in jeff sessions. it took 48 hours for us to get an answer to that question. sarah sanders said she had to personally go to the president to get a response to that last night and my guess is whether or not there is a taping system here at the white house that the president installed to tape his conversations, remember, as he did as a private citizen from time to time at trump tower, he would record his conversations. we are not going to get a definitive answer to that question unless he's asked in public or if one of these aides goes to him and settle its once and for all. >> which this is all a subject because the president brought it up and tweeted about it. as a private citizen, you said he used to. >> he used a cell phone to tape people on occasion. that's established. >> let's continue. jen, what do you take away from this? >> i would say having worked in
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a white house, the oval office is close to the press office. this is a white house we've seen reported, they have a lot of access to the president. it's not that they're not getting access. i think that's unlikely. they probably don't want to answer the questions which is an important point to make. the second point i would say is the point karl made about sessions. this is perhaps a sidebar of this whole story right now, but the problem for the white house is as you think things might conclude, another huge piece of news pops up. sessions, when comey said that he could not discuss sessions recusal and the reasons, obviously it's being discussed right now in the closed hearing. that was a big red flag. he's the person close to the president. he's the person overseeing portions of other investigations. but that's something that i think will get a lot of follow-up. >> just to add we reported last week there is a third possible sessions kislyak meeting. >> let's listen to that sound that you were just referring to, jim. >> in your statement you said that you and the fbi leadership
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team decided not to discuss the president's actions with attorney general sessions. even though he had not recused himself. what was it about the attorney general's own interactions with the russians or his behavior with regard to the investigation that would have led the entire leadership of the fbi to make this decision? >> our judgment as i recall was that he was very close to and inevtae inevitable going to recuse himself. for a variety of reasons that i can't discuss in an open setting that would make his continued engagement in a russian investigation problematic and so we were convinced, and in fact i think we already heard that the career people were recommends that he recuse himself, that he was not going to be in contact with russia related matters much longer.
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>> that was a former u.s. attorney from iowa. >> one of the things i thought fascinating was jim comey felt the notes and his memos were his own personal property and removed them when he lost his job. >> not only had, but had them leaked. >> and now they're in the hands of the approximate prosecutor. there is no criminal case to be made on an obstruction of ji justice. we have the star witness that testified and quite frankly his story doesn't rise to the level of the intent necessary on behalf of the president to even substantiate a criminal case. now we end up describing a political arena of trying to -- which the balance of power in congress and whether or not anyone's convinced that the president is hoping that this investigation will go away is actually -- there's anything a foot. >> before we go to jeff respond. >> i'm glad he's sitting on my
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side. why are people letting this go? i don't know. he answered that three times. if you thought something was afoot, something amiss, why didn't you go to congress? why didn't you come to us? why didn't you tell the president? comey said i don't know. nobody in this room is asking. would you accept that from a witness? would you say okay and walk away on cross-examination? >> no, i wouldn't. but i also recognize that somebody who is a chief investigate like jim comey is obviously, i would try to figure out whether or not his decision to be reluctant to be confrontational was a strategic decision, that he perhaps said i'd like to get you enough of the rope to hang yourself. or was it in fact a moment of weakness. >> that is what he said -- >> listen, he feels strong enough to go and leak it to columbia professor? >> but he said he was stunned and that he was very -- >> he's the head of the fbi.
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>> and he was very careful about what he would say next because he was concerned about what he would say next. >> to the president of the united states who said this is inappropriate. you go to the head of the senate educa judiciary committee, the leadership. he has a duty. it's karl's point. there's not been an fbi director that had this much political power since j. edgar hoover and that should be checked. that is wrong. >> i think what his reaction proves precisely the opposite of what you're suggesting. >> i don't know? >> because he was so stupified, he was shocked. >> he went out to his car five minutes later and wrote notes down. >> exactly. because it was so significant. >> how about the next meeting? >> and he went to the fbi director and said don't let me -- i'm sorry, to the attorney general, don't let this happen again. remember, this had not happened
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before since 1973 during the watergate cover up. having a president of the united states going to the fbi saying stop an investigation of one of my people. that's pretty -- >> i'm not sure that's what was said. >> let me finish. even in 1973 when the fbi first heard about, you know, this cover up was going on, it took them a year. a year to go public and to start complaining about it. so the fact that he didn't jump out and say officer, arrest that man, he's obstructing justice, you know -- >> and you would agree in a court of law the fact that he didn't report it creates an inference that can be made that he didn't believe anything was untoward. >> you know what strikes me though? >> wait, wait, wait. let's have an answer. >> he did do. he went to the head deputy attorney general. he went to the attorney general. and he went to his team and said what are we going to do to preserve our investigation? because the president of the united states is trying to get us to shut it down.
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>> say to the president we can't have this conversation. you're the toughest guy in the world. >> if you're the director of the federal burio of investigation, that is your duty. >> you are presuming that obstruction of justice was the end game. why if you have an active investigation going on would you decline to pursue the very thing somebody is trying to prevent you from seeing? if you were to have halt the investigation immediately upon someone saying this, liken the analogy to somebody says they buy you a shovel and they have committed crimes, you wouldn't invite them to stop talking. you would invite them to continue. a good prosecutor knows that obstruction is an additional claim, perhaps a greater one. >> but he has a duty to report to congress. >> i agree. but my point is there may not be the greater charge. but to stop the investigation
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before it starts because you have an inkling that there is more afoot would be completely -- >> but to your -- but to laura's point, he did testify today that basically they were putting a pin in it. he was holding on to the information and that they were going to do -- bring it to as part of the investigation down the road. >> there's another reason. >> in all seriousness the fbi director doesn't conduct investigations, a. b, the fbi director doesn't keep secret files that in case of fire break glass. that's exactly what i heard jim comey explain today. >> there's another factor about, you know, why didn't jim comey continue the investigation? i'll tell you why jim comey didn't continue. because he got fired. he got fired by the president of the united states. which is part of an obstruction of justice. if you don't like what the fbi agent -- fbi director is doing,
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first you tell him to stop. and he doesn't stop. and then you fire him. so talk about suspicion? i know it's fascinating that you talk about jim comey as if he's the one on trial here. we're talking about the president -- why is the president of the united states telling the fbi director to back off an investigation. >> i hear you. i hear all these arguments. but what we're left with is either the president just behaved really, really badly -- >> which is not a crime. >> no. so you're left with this argument that well, yeah, he didn't commit a crime. that doesn't mean that this wasn't a troubling day to hear how the president -- >> exactly. it could be troubling. it could be uncomfortable. i wasn't in the room. >> if you believe his testimony, do you find that -- >> i wasn't there. i don't know what comey -- if he's telling the truth. >> but if he's telling the truth, would that be completely
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inappropriate for a president to say? >> i want to hear the president's side. >> but i'm saying if he's telling the truth -- if he's telling the truth you can say yes or no. >> and i think as jeffrey said earlier, which is an important point here, comey kept coming back to that meeting in the oval office. trump was just letting this happen to him, would he have been as intentional as to specifically kick out the individuals in the room? that was the question he was raising. i think that's a question that will continue to be discussed. >> why do we have to establish this today whether he obstructed justice? we have an ongoing investigation. there was an ongoing investigation at the time of these conversations. yes, it occurred obviously to the director that oh, this might be something like an obstruction that's being suggested here. let's see what develops. he went to the attorney general of the united states. but more than that, in terms of reporters, in terms of us here,
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in terms of the congress of the united states, we have a huge sprawling investigation going on looking at the possibility of collusion by those in the trump campaign, whether or not it occurred. there's a lot of information. we're going to learn whether or not there is case for obstruction. it's not something to be decided definitively today. but we did see real suggestion of why -- of how the president of the united states impeded, obstructed, attempted to undermine a legitimate investigation and then he got up a week or two later and said yes, i'm rid of this and the -- >> we also -- >> and why? because of the russia investigation, i feel relieved because he's gone. >> we also learned about just how dysfunctional the white house is. the fact that the white house counsel was not involved in any of these discussions. the fact that the vice president and the attorney general got up and left the room, which was
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completely inappropriate, particularly the attorney general, and allowed these conversations to go on. the fact that the chief of staff stuck his head in and got shooed off by the president and nobody said this isn't good, this isn't right, that bespeaks a white house -- i agree you with, we're a long way from drawing any conclusions about this, but one conclusion from all of this is there is a problem over there and it's a serious problem in the administration of this white house. >> there's one bipartisan thing tra struck me today. of course the investigation started as the investigation of russian interference in the election. even these hearings started as that's officially the focus and in reality we're going down these other different paths. all the senators, republican and democrat, said the real issue is russian interference, et cetera. it struck me that comey said when he was asked about this, did the president ever call you
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up or ask you or meet with you to ask about progress into the investigation into russian interference in the u.s. election. his answer was no. so when you talk about what dysfunction in the white house, the focus of the president was not on russian interference, but an unprecedented attack. i speak to folks all the time on this. the president didn't have the interest to call up the man leading the investigation into russian interference in the u.s. election to see what he learned. >> it's always been the dog that doesn't bark in this whole episode from the beginning. not once have we heard the president of the united states say we need to get to the bottom of what the russians did. >> i agree with karl that we're going to get to the end of this. you've got director mueller is going to do a thorough investigation. he's going to produce something no. leaks. it's going to be done professionally, thoroughly. look at his report to the nfl. it's an incredible document. no one around this table would poke a pin in it. same thing is going to happen
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here. at the end of the day, a lot of smoke. no fire. i agree with matt. >> one bit of sunshine. right before the hearing started, i said these senators are a bunch of jerks and i was very nasty. i was wrong. i thought the senators did an excellent job. i thought they were serious. they didn't pontificate. they asked questions. they didn't give speeches. >> and now they're all in speeches and they can't hear you. >> richard, what you make of what you heard today? you have jim comey testifying that he felt the president was directing him to drop the fbi investigation into michael flynn. >> very explosive testimony and i think to the point that the senators are in bipartisan mode for the most part and each of them unfailingly commented on jim comey's reputation and his
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integrity. i think that's very important. and now we have a statement from the white house that says the president is not a liar . it sounds very much like i am not a crook coming from richard mixon back in the watergate days. he jim comey has called the president's bluff as it were with regard to tape recordings. he said i welcome tape recordings of those meetings. if in fact there is a tape recording, comey says i've got nothing to worry about. i'm testifying truthfully. so we've now got the president's credibility squarely at issue. he raised the question about whether tapes exist and comey called his bluff. >> does -- richard, does it make any sense to you that the white house will not confirm or makes no mention of whether or not there are actually tapes? i could confirm or deny it. >> of course. of course they could. and because once again
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spontaneously raising the question of whether there are tapes now there is an obligation to follow through. are there tapes? if so, why shouldn't they be released? >> john dean, you know a thing or two about tapes and also testifying on the hill. what did you see today? >> well, the big picture i saw is this is just the tip of an iceberg. that comey raised things that are going to be probed much deeper. he's talking about his inner relationship with his own team. the question of credibility i thought most striking was his explanation of why he came out of meetings with trump and took notes. and made a con tetemporaneous memorandum. first of all it was situation where he was one-on-one with trump and the person that trump was, he thought that required that he prepare a note. and then his final point was he thought this man was a liar.
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he literally called him that and said he thought he needed a contemporaneous document to support his side of the story. and with that he prepared his memos which i think will play a growing role as this investigation goes along. >> john, i want to actually play that sound. what is so remarkable to your point is this was after the first meeting with the president in trump tower where he one-on-one was briefing the president on a -- debriefing him on what was in a summary of that dossier, so clearly it seems like he had either something happened based on the president's response in that meeting or he already formed an opinion that donald trump then the president-elect was a liar because it was right after that he went right into his car and on a secure computer started taking notes. let's just play that sound. >> i think the circumstances, the subject matter and the person i was interacting with,
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circumstances, first, i was alone with the president of the united states or the president-elect, soon to be president. the subject matter i was talking about matters that touch on the fbi's core responsibility and that relate to the president -- president-elect personally. and then the nature of the person. i was honestly concerned that he might lie about the nature of our meeting and so i thought it really important to document. >> so john, when he says the nature of the person, that's a person that he's just met for the first time as president-elect. so he's clearly formed an opinion based about who then president-elect trump was based on what he had seen i assume during the campaign. >> what they call in government sometimes, men comes, memoranda of conversation are very rare. i know nixon was concerned i had prepared them before the taping system was revealed. i know that because of the taping system. but i never had that kind of suspicion of nixon at that point. and i don't know any staffer who does or most people who interact with the president. so it is extraordinary that
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comey felt after his first meeting he needed a record of this. and this is very persuasive evidence. it's persuasive in court. it can be used in when a witness with the slightest impeachment to come in and corroborate him. it can be used in hearings and impeachment proceedings and it can be used publicly as to how the public will decide who's telling the true story here. >> anderson n connecti, in conn thrg this hearing, it shows the investigation is at an early stage and with the firing of jim comey i think the president finds himself going from the frying pan to the fire in having now bob mueller run the investigation. and unlike mr. comey, mueller as special counsel has prosecutorial authority. if he finds a crime, he can ask
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for indictments and will try the cases. >> thank you, gentlemen. very quickly, jim sciutto, if memory serves me, didn't the white house go after us because you and others at cnn broke the story that the president had been briefed on that dossier and kellyanne conway and the white house spokes people, they denied that had happened. they basically were challenging cnn. >> if i remember correctly in her interview with you after we broke the story of the intelligence chief briefing president-elect trump and president obama on the existence of the dossier, she said heads are going to roll when it's discovered this is not true when in fact two days later james clapper confirmed it in an on the record statement. we had reported since then in the weeks that followed in fact some elements of the dossier have been corroborated. i'm not saying the salacious materials. we've never mentioned the details of the se licontents of
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dossier, but the operative who wrote it, times, place, people on either end of the phone call, that has been corroborated. you heard again today the very key issue, the central issue as to whether russia has compromising information on the president, so-called, compromise, james comey who led the investigation until he was fired said that's still an open question. >> take it back to hill over at capitol hill. >> it's being, anderson, i want to remind our viewers, we're waiting for the white house private attorney, the president's private outside counsel mark kasowitz is going to be making a statement shortly at the national press club not far from the white house, but not at the white house. we will have live coverage of that. the private statement from the president's outside attorney reacting to this really explosive testimony today from the former fbi director james
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comey. also a member of the house of representatives mark maeadows will be joining me live. we'll get his reaction to two and a half hours of testimony. one very interesting part is when comey said that he deliberately had his memos leaked to the new york times because he wanted to generate some pressure for the appointment of a special counsel. listen to this. >> the president tweeted on friday after i got fired that i better hope there's not tapes. i woke up in the middle of night on monday night because it didn't dawn on me originally that there might be c corroboration for a conversation, there might be a tape. my judgment was i need to get that out into the public square and so i asked a friend of mine to share the content of the memo with a reporter. i didn't do it myself but i asked him to because i thought that might prompt the report of a special counsel so i asked a close friend to do it. >> was that mr. wittes? >> no.
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>> who that was? >> a good friend of mine who is a professor at columbia law school. >> that professor at columbia law school leaked that information to the new york times. the new york times published it. and comey clearly believes that helped generate some of the pressure for the appointment of a special counsel. the former fbi director robert mueller who is now in charge of this overall investigation. representative mark meadow system with us right now. he's a republican key member. i assume you were listening, congressman. all two and a half hours. so what did you think? what was your bottom line? i think the bottom line is the take away is the president has been saying he's not under investigation. that was confirmed today. it's interesting that was the only thing that hasn't been leaked. we've read about all kinds of things, but the fact that he wasn't under investigation, but yet a number of other things were. but i think overall a good day. obviously there are some things that are still concerned. republicans are taking this serious. we've offered more supports on
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this particular thing than we did the entire benghazi where we lost four americans. it's critically important that we stay tuned, but we also don't jump to conclusions. >> do you believe comey? >> i've had comey in my committee when we were talking about hillary clinton and some of the other aspects, so i have always found him to be a good public servant. when we have some of the things that are here, let me tell you what's troubling today, i was surprised that he said that there was a private confidential memo that he wrote to himself and that it got leaked. >> he deliberated wanted it leaked to create the pressure for a special counsel. >> but just because you want something deliberately done doesn't make it right. and so i was troubled by that. at the same time, comey and the president both are serving this country. we have to understand that. as i look at that, the coming days with the special counsel will hopefully finally vindicate
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what we have and put this in a perspective. i talked to a bunch of russian scholars. they are almost laughing at the amount of credit that the russians are getting with the interference -- >> you heard comey, though. he said there is no doubt that russia deliberately hacked, got into the u.s. election system. >> right. and i agree with that. >> but isn't that -- >> i'm not on the intel committee, but all roads -- >> you accept that that they deliberately did it. >> but did it change the minds of people in wisconsin, ohio? >> but you are outraged by that? >> well, certainly. you have to be outraged. anytime that a country certainly meddles in the election process of a democratic country or any country, it is something we have to fight back with. >> one of the points comey was making was that in all of his meetings, nine encounters with the president, he really didn't hear that outrage from the president himself. that the president basically wanted to speak about michael
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flynn. wanted to speak about is he under investigation. he never really wanted to get the inside story about russian involvement in the election. >> i think that's because we con inflated two things. one was the whole collusion. he's told a number of people there was no collusion. we sometimes conflate that. >> he says that's still an open question. >> he says he's not going to a pine. >> he says michael flynn is under criminal investigation. >> but from that standpoint, that doesn't mean there's collusion. in fact, many of the people that i have talked to -- >> but they have concluded that -- but apparently this investigation is still going on and mueller the new special counsel has his work cut out for him. at least i counted five times comey suggested the president of the united states and his aides are liars. >> well, here's the thing. when we look at calling someone a liar, we have to understand the intent.
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and there have been times when i've wanted to call director comey a liar when we were having him in front of me in terms of sworn testimony. when he said he didn't know if hillary clinton was sophisticated enough to understand what a classified marking was, i had a hard time believes that. but i didn't call director comey a liar. when we look at this, what we need to make sure of is that we keep it in context. and for me it's all about getting to the truth. you know me. i'll go after my own party as much as i will the other party. but the other part of that, wolf, is this. the president said that he wasn't under investigation. in sworn testimony, the director said that he wasn't under investigation. well, if they really suspect collusion, why wasn't he under investigation? >> he said the president's not urn under investigation, but he didn't rule out others associated with the campaign and that's still a problem. >> and we want to get to the bottom of that. we are a nation of laws, rules of laws. yet when we have the rule of law
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in place, it shouldn't have a democrat or a republican behind it. and so i can tell you that for me, i'm going to be full on in making sure that we get to the bottom of it. but i think for the most part, marco rubio, compelling questions. >> i don't know if the house intelligence committee or other house members are going to have that kind of bipartisan cooperation. it was impressive today. >> i've committed to some of my democrat colleagues that they know i will go and get to the truth and there are some come from different districts. what i'm hearing back home, the american people want us to start getting something done in this place behind us. start moving on with an agenda. hopefully today allows the special counsel to do their work and at the same time we start doing our work. >> congressman meadows, thanks very much for coming in. anderson, once again we're standing by for live coverage, the president's private outside attorney mark kasowitz is going to be making a statement.
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we'll have that. that's coming up momentarily. >> we'll obviously bring that to our viewers. one of the kind of remarkable moments was early on in jim comey's testimony, he did not read from his statement which he had submitted previously and which had been released previously yesterday by the senate. but he basically just kind of was going to allow it to give an opening monolog. ip i want to play some of that. it was interesting to hear him kind of venting in some of his thoughts about the administration. let's listen. >> on may the 9th when i learned that i had been fired, for that reason i immediately came home as a private citizen. but then the explanations, the shifting explanations, confused me and increasingly concerned me. they confused me because the president and i had had multiple conversations about my job, both before and after he took office. and he had repeatedly told me i
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was doing a great job and he hoped i would stay. and i had repeatedly assured him that i did intend to stay and serve out the remaining six years of my term. he told me repeatedly that he had talked to lots of people about me. including our current attorney general. and had learned that i was doing a great job. and that i was extremely well liked by the fbi work force. so it confused me when i saw on television the president saying that he actually fired me because of the russia investigation. and learned again from the media that he was telling privately other parties that my firing had relieved great pressure on the russia investigation. i was also confused by the initial explanation that was offer offered publicly. that i was fired because of the decisions i had made during the election year. that didn't make sense to me for a whole bunch of reasons including the time and all the water this had gone under the
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bridge since those hard decisions that had to be made. that doesn't make any sense to me. and although the law required to reason at all to fire an fbi director, the administration then chose to defame me and more importantly the fbi by saying that the organization was in disarray, that it was poorly led, that the work force had lost confidence in its leader. those were lies plain and simple. and i am so sorry that the fbi work force had to hear them and i'm so sorry that the american people were told them. >> back now with the panel. jeff, to hear director comey using the word lies or liar repeatedly -- >> well, it was striking but it was also indicative of the sort of team culture of the fbi. that was the most emotional he was during the entire long hearing and it was at the very beginning because he felt, at least as he was portraying it, that it was an attack on the bureau and its people as much as it was an attack on him.
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i think that is something that obviously seemed to move him a great deal. but it was only the first time that he challenged the white house version. >> were you surprised he didn't read from his opening statement? >> i guess i was, but it seemed to make sense in the moment. after all it had become public. i just think it is such a dramatic summary. it might have been to his advantage to read it. but it would have taken a long time and i -- >> anderson, in my experience with jim comey, he is an incredibly articulate public speaker. he is that smart. he's a trial lawyer by trade. i was not surprised that he could do that. and i think the winner of today was jim comey. he built so much credibility by appearing the way he did that i think everybody that was watching it that i've been talking to was very impressed by
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him. >> not only do i agree but i think the saeenators agreed and you saw not even one senator went after his credibility or said you were wrong or you're not telling the truth. that sets up an interesting dilemma for the trump administration if they want to do it? . >> i think bring it chris, former fbi director for the criminal investigative division. chris, what did you take away from his comments today? >> i think he came across as very human. he admitted that he didn't know -- quite know what to do in some circumstances, particularly whether -- what to do with this let it go request. i would have expected the director of the fbi if he thought that that rose to the level at least to open a preliminary inquiry which is a pretty low bar that he would have referred to to his assistants director criminal or across the street to the department of justice to at least get an opinion as to whether something ought to get opened up.
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i think he basically admitted i didn't know what to do with it. there were other parts of the other conversations where it was almost a deer in the headlights kind of reaction which, you know, to me comes across as he's very human. there are a couple other things that came out of it, the fact that the russian investigation -- the interactions are being looked at by director mueller. he's handed his former director mueller. he's handed his memos and notes over to former director mueller. there was an open question for a while until today if director mueller was going to look at that or if he was going to stay within the four corners of russian collusion. >> there's been some criticism from folks on the panel that the director could have stood up, should have said something. you mentioned the idea of opening up a line of inquiry. what could he have done just within the system? what were the options if he had felt when he -- that what he felt was a directive on flynn
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was inappropriate? >> under the attorney general guidelines which we operated under and he operates under as director of the fbi, there's a level of what we call pr predication to open up an investigation. and then the next step is a full investigation. that could have been done. i was surprised when he had been asked as an fbi agent when he sees a crime do they have a duty to report it. my answer would have been absolutely of course. particularly under these circumstances. i don't think he really had a good answer to that question. that was the question i hoped that he would answer today. >> if -- given that there was already an ongoing investigation, is the argument that he was holding it for that investigation at a later date, is that a reasonable one? >> he said he was saving it. >> or draw the president out in some way? >> yeah, i think he was -- what
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he said was they thought it might be relevant in the near future and they decided just to sort of put it aside and with the notion that it might be relevant. to me it was immediately relevant. and that question or that matter, potential matter should have been referred to someone. he basically became a potential witness at the moment the president said or requested that he let it go. when there's an ongoing investigation. to me it should have been handled the way you always handle things. you recuse yourself and hand it down to your number two or your number three or go across the street to the department of justice. even if the ag himself was convict conflicted. >> i actually want to play the sound where comey is talking about that moment and we'll talk about it with the panel as well. >> he did not direct you to let it go. >> not in his words, no. >> he did not order you to let it go. >> again, those words are not an order. >> he said i hope. do you know of any case where a
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person has been charged for obstruction of justice or for that matter any other criminal offense where they said or thought they hope for an outcome? >> i don't know well enough to answer. and the reason i keep saying his words is i took it as a direction. this is the president of the united states with me alone saying hope this. i took it as this is what he wants me to do. i didn't obey that, but that's the way i took it. >> later he used the word directed. >> you just heard the assistant fbi of the criminal division say that what director comey should have done under protocol is take it across the street. that very second. nine times he had the opportunity to do that and he didn't do it. and when asked by under oath at the u.s. senate, he said i don't know. >> now, which one between comey and donald trump is a private
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citizen in virginia now and which one is president of the united states. >> that's irrelevant. >> oh really? whose conduct is more important to evaluate here today? >> it's going to get flushed out in that mueller report. >> let's flush it out. >> let's press rewind. if comey was so concerned about it, the very first time, why didn't he leak it to his columbia friend then? >> he went to the attorney general. he did go to the attorney general. >> but he asked the attorney general -- he was behind the attorney general recusing himself you're treating comey as if he's some boy scout. comey, if you can't -- comey is like a puppet master. >> not only is he not a boy scout, but he said the deer in the headlights -- >> what about the decision by the president of the united states to say to the fbi director let it go? what about the appropriateness of that? why are we talking about the fbi policy? >> there's a -- you as a lawyer
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and the laura as a prosecutor know there is a chasm between inappropriate and criminal. >> you'll comment on the inappropriateness of what comey did not do based on what comey's statement is, but you will not comment on the inappropriateness of what the president did based on some of the statements. >> if the president did it, perhaps it was inappropriate. >> perhaps. >> i don't want to be jeff lord. >> you gave it a -- >> one thing about this deer in the headlights that the former assistant director was talking about here, this deer in the headlights figured out that he was going to get a special prosecutor. >> great. that's pretty sophisticated, karl. >> indeed, he figured out okay, this needs to be investigated and it needs -- and the attorney general himself had lost his
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credibility and was under a cloud himself. >> as you heard the assistant director of the fib, the criminal division, day one when direct comey heard that, he should have recused himself because hee was going to be a witness if there would have been a crime. he should walked across the street and put it on somebody else's desk. >> do you agree? >> let's make sure everybody has the cards here. bob mueller worked for jim comey at the department of justice, so it's not just getting a special counsel. it's getting bob mueller to be special counsel to investigate this. >> comey didn't do that. >> he didn't pick him. >> his fingerprints are all over this. >> i think there's another context i heard from what comey said which is a concern about corruption or whatever toupt ca -- toupt ca you want to call it in the chain of command. he went to rosenstein who then wrote a memo that was used to justify his firing. that raises a whole host of other questions. he didn't know what to do.
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should he have handled it better? maybe. but he had concerns he expressed during the hearing about who he would have gone to. >> one small point is he did consult with his senior staff on this. it wasn't as if he kept it to himself. when you say said have consulted with others -- >> and there's just another factor to remember about how james comey should have handled this. we'll never know how he ultimately would have handled it because the guy he was investigating fired him. >> you keep bringing up that point. >> i know. you know what? because i think it's pretty darn relevant. >> he didn't just contact jeff sessions. in his statement he says he tried to contact dana ben and go answer. you talk about the word puppet master. that's what he was trying to investigate. were those strings attached and who was holding that little crossbow at the top of it? it is very prudent that he would have investigated it is matter
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further. >> there are 535 people that tet at the other end of pennsylvania avenue who feel like they could have been a big help. 100 senators. 435 members of congress. independent you saw today. jeff you said yourself fair and objective. he could probably get a leadership and say i'm concerned about this and gone to the leader of the senate judiciary committee. >> they lack criminal authority. >> nonetheless, if you don't do nothing, you don't go back in your car and write a private memo to yourself and put it in your lock box in case something happens down the road. >> nothing versus proactive vch investigation and the assessments of -- i don't describe him to the boy scout and i would have done it better if i were him. i'm sure he agrees. but to be so dismissive and cavalier about a contemporaneous recollection of what happened? would we allow that in the trial court? all the time. >> i'm saying he should man up. >> good discussion.
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we're standing by. mark kasowitz is the private outside attorney hired by the president to represent him and is about to make a statement over at the national press club. at the national press club a few blocks away. jamie diamond is on the scene for us. set the scene, jeremy, for that. >> we're expecting the president's attorney mark kasowitz to come out here momentarily to deliver a statement. essentially this is going to be the president's response to the testimony that we just heard a little bit earlier from jim comey, the former fbi director. that of course the president fired. what this is today also beyond simply a response to the comey testimony is also the beginning that we're seeing of how this white house, how this president hopes to respond to the russia probe going forward. we've seen earlier today sarah sanders, the deputy press secretary, gaggling with reporters in the white house briefing room.
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she declined multiple times to answer questions about the testimony saying repeatedly that she would refer the matter to mark kasowitz who she said is expected to give a statement. this is what we're seeing from this white house which has gotten repeatedly bogged down in this russia trying to move forward on policy items and now we're seeing this white house trying to farm some of this out. they are trying to farm it out to marc kasowitz, the president's newly hired attorney on this matter and the rnc, really trying to take the helm of some of this rapid response. they were responding realtime to a lot of the comey testimony and talking points with surrogates who have been trying to rebut james comey's testimony and trying to smear and/or tarnish, rather, his credibility. we'll be hearing from marc kasowitz and it's probably going to be something of a
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vindication. yesterday, marc kasowitz said that he believes the preplanned testimony from james comey vindicated the president. so i expect that we'll be hearing a lot more of that today. but it still remains to be seen what we'll be hearing. we'll be standing by here in just a few moments. wolf? >> do we know if moerarc kasowi is simply going to read a statement or will you answer reporters' questions? >> reporter: we don't know whether we'll be able to answer questions of marc kasowitz. certainly my colleagues and i will be trying to do so but we expect him to deliver a statement about james comey's testimony just earlier today. >> do we know who is accompanying him to that statement that he's about to make? >> reporter: i'm sorry. what was that, wolf? >> do we know if any white house officials are joining him over
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at the national press club where you are, jeremy, to make that statement? >> reporter: yes, we don't know whether that's the case but we're a few blocks from the white house. it's notable that this is not happening at the white house. clearly, white house officials trying to put some distance between the white house and this james comey testimony. as i said, the white house also looking to put greater distance between the president and, of course, all of this russia investigation. you know, we've seen this repeatedly bog down the president and his agenda. clearly the white house has been trying to keep the president on message and keep the president busy today in meetings and events so he's not going on twitter and firing off a response to james comey. that's certainly what white house officials have been trying to do today. we'll be hearing from the president's attorney. that is significant because in the past, white house press secretary sean spicer and other white house officials have been pressed repeatedly to respond to these kinds of developments, sometimes daily developments
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regarding the federal investigation into the russia inquiry. again, when this special counsel was named into this matter, some officials saw that as an opportunity, an opportunity for the white house to take some distance from this matter and focus instead on their agenda. as sarah sanders was trying to stress today, today is business as usual at the white house even though clearly it's really not. wolf? >> it's certainly not business at usual. our jeremy diamond, we'll get back to you. let us know as soon as kasowitz shows up. i want to play another clip. this is an exchange that comey had talking about one of the dinners he had with the president. >> well, again, it's my impression -- i could always be wrong -- but my commonsense told me that what was going on is, either had he concluded or someone told him that you've already asked comey to stay and you didn't get anything for it. and that the dinner was an effort to build a relationship,
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in fact, he asked specifically of loyalty in the context of asking me to stay. as i said, what was odd about that, we had already talked twice about it at that point and he said, i very much hope you'll stay. i hope you'll stay. i just remembered a third one. you've seen the picture of me walking across the blue room and what the president whispered in my ear was, i really look forward to working with you. so after those encounters -- >> and that was a few days after -- >> that was the sunday after the inauguration. the next friday, i have dinner and the president begins by wanting to talk about my job. so i'm sitting there thinking, wait a minute, three times you've already asked me to stay or have talked about me staying. my commonsense told me, what's going on here is, he's looking to get something in exchange for granting my request to stay in the job. >> interesting exchange. gloria borger, it says a lot. the president, according to comey, kept saying to me, you're
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doing a great job, doing a great job, looking forward to working with you. next thing he knows, he's fired. >> right. and the president is asking him to do something. it's a quid pro quo. i'll keep you on if you do what i want. and if you look at comey's testimony, as out llined yestery and today, skepticism grew. he was there from the very first meeting where he rushed in and started taking notes and said i wasn't sure that the president wouldn't lie about the nature of our meetings. so that's on january 6th. january 27th, he has this weird dinner where the president asks him for loyalty. then, the big one was the valentine's day meeting. february 14th, they're in there and comey said quite specifically that he thought sessions was kind of hanging around because maybe he knew something was going on that shouldn't go on and that was the meeting after sessions and jared
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kushner left that the president asked him to end the investigation into flynn. so, you know, you see that comey was skeptical at the outset. by the end of his testimony today, he made it very clear and he said, i was fired to change the way the russia investigation was being conducted. this is a very big deal. so while comey would not talk specifically how he felt about the extraction issue, you see this building in his mind. i don't believe he was in the same place on day one on his meeting with the president or day two in that second meeting with the president that he is now after having been fired as a result of the russia investigation. >> and john, you could see how angry he was at the president in his opening remarks. he didn't read the long statement he released yesterday but in his opening remarks when he recalls how he was in los angeles, he was watching television, he learns that he had been fired.
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he couldn't -- and he immediately, of course, resigned. he couldn't even go back to fbi headquarters here in washington to thank the men and women with whom he had worked for 3 1/2 years. >> so he took time during that opening statement. let us not underestimate jim comey's knowledge of washington and how to make a case for himself. that's part of this. his own reputation and indignation at how this was handled let alone the substance. what you saw was very important, central testimony, both to the congressional investigation and everything we heard today, when jim comey was fbi director, the president of the united states was not under direct investigation. everything we heard today, the special counsel is going to look at the possibility of launching an investigation based on his decision to fire james comey. this is getting wider, not more narrow, for the president of the united states. there's a conversation going on with jeffrey toobin and everyone else in the studio as this goes
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forward. we're months, if we're lucky, from figuring this out. i think it's interesting to listen to the republican comment. they are not challenging jim comey but his interpretation. he was just trying to say he's been fired, can you cut the guy some slack. what they are saying is what the president did was icky and inappropriate but not illegal. the speaker of the house saying that donald trump is new at this. lindsey graham saying he's rude and crude and a bull in the china shop but that's not illegal. what they are asking for you to do is dramatically lower the standard for being president of the united states, acceptable behavior for the president of the united states and these are the same people, remember, who said hillary clinton couldn't be president of the united states because her conduct was beneath the dignity. they are asking you to lower the bar. >> these congressional investigations are intensifying. special counsel investigation really just beginning if the president thought the removal of
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comey would remove the cloud hanging over that the trump administration, he was very, very wrong. although, a lot of republicans, nia, they are pointing to this exchange that comey had involving the former attorney general loretta lynch who is part of the investigation into hillary clinton's e-mail server. listen to this. >> we were getting to a place where the attorney general and i were both going to testify and talk publicly about it and i want to know, was she going to authorize us to confirm we had an investigation. and she said, yes, but don't call it that. call it a matter. and i said, why would i do that? and she said, just call it a matter. we had an investigation open at the time. that gave me a queasy feeling. >> all right. a lot of people are pointing to that exchange, nia, to show that loretta lynch was not necessarily being objective in that investigation of hillary clinton's e-mail. >> that's right. that was a claim of republicans during the clinton administration and comey, of
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course, finally decided that he should essentially make the final decision in terms of that investigation and take -- and loretta lynch not involved in the final resolution of what was to come of that clinton -- that clinton investigation. it will be interesting in the next minutes or so to hear from donald trump's attorney here. we obviously know that their talking points is that this was a good day for this president, that he's essentially been exonerated by james comey today. it will be interesting to hear from democrats how -- i think one of the things that democrats have done going into this, which might not always be to their benefit, is the hype around this. and the talk of impeachment and in some ways the nixon comparisons. as john said, it's very early in terms of what is going to happen with this if you think about the nixon tapes, watergate was in 1972. he didn't resign until 1974. that was two years. we're very early on in terms of what's going to happen