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tv   Special Report With Bret Baier  FOX News  May 9, 2017 3:00pm-4:01pm PDT

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specialist, brad buyers coming up next with "special report" with massive breaking news, as we said. fbi director james comey has been fired by the trump administration. take it away, bret. >> bret: this is a fox news alert. i am bret baier in washington. moments ago, breaking news that no one saw coming today. we learned president trump has fired fbi director james comey. this comes just moments after the bureau issued a correction to a statement comey made to congress last week about the hillary clinton email investigation, and it is the latest chapter in what has been an extremely rocky tenure for the nation's top law-enforcement official. the news breaking 15 minutes ago, coming from the white house for that's where we had. she white house correspondent john roberts starts us off tonight. this is obviously earth shattering. >> to say no one saw it coming would be an understatement.
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clearly the attorney general and deputy attorney general and the president knew about it. fbi director learned about it a short time ago, and bret, this goes back to last year which is really the most surprising part of it. writing a memorandum for the attorney general, the deputy attorney general rob rosenstein said as you and i have discusse discussed, talking about jeff sessions, "i cannot defend the director james comey's handling of the conclusion of the investigation of secretary clinton's emails, and i do not understand his refusal to accept the nearly universal judgment that he was mistaken in what he did. almost everyone agrees the director made serious mistakes." to the substance of what happened, the deputy attorney general rob rosenstein, writing about comey's handling last year during the election campaign of the clinton email issue said "the director was wrong to usurp the attorney general's authority on july 5th, 2016.
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it's not the function of the director to make such an announcement. the director should have said the fbi had completed its investigation presented its finding to federal prosecutors. the director now defends his decision, and he said this last week, by asserting he believed attorney general loretta lynch had a conflict. but the fbi director is never empowered to supplant federal prosecutors and assume command of the justice department. compounding the air, the director ignored a long-standing principle. we do not hold press conferences to release derogatory information about the subject of a criminal investigation." he was fired not for anything recently but for something that happened in the height of the election campaign last year when he came out and gave that press conference talking at length as people will remember vividly about the clinton emails and what she did and didn't do and when she was secretary of state and what she should have done. and then he said i don't think she should be prosecuted and he
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doubled down on that before the election took place and then talked about it again last week. really extraordinary circumstances. >> bret: the reason behind it. hillary clinton, secretary clinton, recently came out and said jim comey letters was one of the reason she lost the election. now we are saying he has been fired. i want to read a letter from president trump released moments ago. "dear director, i have received the attached letters from the attorney general, deputy attorney general of the united states, recommending your dismissal as the director of the federal and beautiful as a negotiation. accept the recommendation and you are hereby terminated and removed from office effective immediately. while i greatly appreciate you informing me on three separate occasions that i am not under investigation, i nevertheless concur with the judgment of the department of justice that you are not able to effectively lead the bureau. it is essential that we find new
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leadership for the fbi that restores public trust and confidence in its vital law enforcement mission. i wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors. donald j. trump." the letter comes with the attachment from the attorney general and the deputy attorney general as well. >> what the attorney general wrote to the fbi director is "i have concluded that a fresh start is needed at leadership of the fbi. it's essential does department of justice to clearly reaffirm its commitment to long-standing principles that ensure the integrity and fairness of federal investigations and prosecutions." that letter from the president is extraordinary, particularly the part you read where he says "i greatly appreciate you informing me on three separate occasions that i'm not under investigation." the fact that this goes back to what he said about hillary clinton, the irony could not be richer. it >> bret: well, and standby if you will pray let's bring in
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catherine herridge. she has been covering this on capitol hill. yesterday, referencing sally yates, acting attorney general who went in and expressed some concerns about michael flynn, former national security advisor. testifying alongside general clapper, former head of the national intelligence director, director of nationalintelligenc. catherine, in the hearing, sally yates was asked about these investigations and she said she could not talk about any investigation that is ongoing, counterterrorism investigation. if the president emphasizes in the letter "i greatly appreciate you informing me on three separate occasions i'm not under investigation" your thoughts on how fast this has developed and the context. >> i have been reading through the letters that have been released from the white house and what jumps out at me is that this recent congressional testimony by the fbi director
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essentially put the nail in the coffin for president trump to fire him. the letters point to language he used before the senate judiciary committee that he had a choice last summer due to either the public about the evidence he had or conceal it, referring to hillary clinton's alleged mishandling of classified information. the letters said conceal is a loaded word and it's not a word the fbi director should responsibly use. also indicates the fbi director in the opinion of not only this attorney general but former attorneys general in the clinton administration and bush administration also believe that director called me last year had essentially colored outside the lines. he was not serving at the nation's chief investigator. he had put on his prosecutorial hat when he held the news conference in july and said he,
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james, caused was recommendingt charges when it was a decision that had to rest with the justice department and loretta lynch. he colored outside the lines. he brought disrepute to the bureau, and this attorney general and previous attorney general on both sides of the aisle had concluded he had lost his ability to effectively lead what is the preeminent law enforcement agency in the world. >> bret: obviously what these letters are focused on and you point out the concern about the first move, he could have been fired right away. when president trump took office if that was the genesis of it. comes in the context of this latest testimony which the fbi had to walk back today. let's take a listen to what the fbi director james comey said about huma abedin's emails. >> they found thousands of new
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emails. they found classified information on anthony weiner. somehow her emails are being forwarded to anthony weiner, including classified information by her assistant, huma abedin. >> she forwarded hundreds of thousands of emails. >> bret: they had to come out with a letter that essentially said it wasn't a hundreds of thousands. they walked it back. they sent a letter to the committee, the subcommittee in which he testified to. but that was just the most recent thing. yet these letters point to actions well before that. >> the letters really point to a longer, systemic problem with the leadership of the fbi director. we talked about this, bret, as recently as march, the fbi director kept saying in these public events he was going to that the administration was talk with him. he had another seven years or eight years, whatever the number is. this telegraphed to people who
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worked within law enforcement that the fbi director felt some sense of uncertainty about what his future would look like, having understood he had alienated individuals on both sides of the aisle. he seemed to almost, for lack of a better word, feel that this was, this alienation he created showed he was doing his job effectively but what we've seen today is it was out-of-bounds as far as the current attorney general and others were concerned. as a final point, i have spoken with a former senior fbi official who said to me that they were texting with someone inside the bureau this afternoon, and there was no sense that this decision was imminent. there was no telegraphing within the office, no sense that something was afoot. he indicated to me that if the fbi director had known, he what i've done he could to send a message to the entire workforce indicating that he was going to be leaving this position. based on that preliminary
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reporting, it does look like the fbi director was caught offguard or blindsided by this decision. >> bret: to your point, we were expecting the fbi director to testify thursday on capitol hill. in another committee hearing. sean spicer was asked today whether the president still had confidence in fbi director james comey and his answer was "i haven't talked to him." let's bring in jennifer griffin at the pentagon. >> i think what's most interesting. i have been reading the letter sent by rod rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, to the attorney general jeff sessions and which he outlines their case for why call me should be fired. what he points to, and it's interesting, is that on july 5, when the fbi director called me essentially usurped power from attorney general loretta lynch after the famous meaning of
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lynch and bill clinton on the tarmac, and that's when he said he decided to go forward and essentially hold that press conference explaining why they weren't going to prosecute hillary clinton. in this letter from rod rosenstein, its theory, he says "compounding the error, they director ignored another long-standing principle. we do not hold press conferences to release derogatory information about the subject of a declined criminal investigation." sometimes disclosed in the course of investigations "but we never release it gratuitously. the director laid out his version of the facts for news media as if it were a closing argument but without a trial. textbook example of what federal prosecutors and agents are taught not to do." why is this happening now?
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it's apparent something call me did in the last testimony on the hill aggravated those in the white house, those at the justice department, and it's very clear from this very stern letter from rod rosenstein that they are using his handling of the hillary clinton email case as a reason for president trump to fire him. >> bret: jennifer griffin cover the hillary clinton campaign for us. dianne feinstein from california issuing a statement. "president trump called me at 5:30 p.m. and indicated he would be removing director call me, saying the fbi needed a change. the next fbi director must be strong and independent and will receive a fair hearing in the judiciary committee. just starting to get some reaction from various lawmakers coming in. senator graham also weighing in with a statement.
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these letters indicate that the decision is basically about something that happened with the investigation into hillary clinton and her emails. that's how they described this. put this in context, this is the same movement, the same decision-making that hillary clinton blames in part for her loss to donald trump, and now the president donald trump is saying because of those actions that the fbi director no longer deserves to be fbi director. let's bring in our panel. charles heard comeau opinion editor for "the washington times." bloomberg news white house reporter jennifer jacobs and syndicated columnist charles krauthammer. charles, this is pretty amazing. i don't think we have the full context yet. >> it's so amazing that i think we are only at the very beginning of the story. here is what is so odd.
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according to the letter by the deputy attorney general, this is about something that occurred on july 5. this, so we start out with something that is highly implausible. if that was so offensive to the trump administration, would you would have done, in the transition, you would have spoken with call me and said we are going to let you go. that's when a president could very easily make a decision to have a change. but to fire him summarily with no warning in the middle of may because of something that happened in july is almost inexplicable. second, the reason ostensibly is, as you read in the latter, for doing something that you are not supposed to do, to usurp the attorney general. second, to release all the information which was damaging to hillary clinton, donald trump's opponent. do we really believe donald trump come after all these months, decided suddenly
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to fire this guy because he damaged hillary in july? another implausible conjecture. we are left to believe that it might have something to do with the egregious mistake colby made in the testimony this week. if you want although it's not mentioned in any of these letters. >> but if you are saying the ostensible reasons are implausible. something we have not heard about and we end up with the strange clause that you read in the letter from trump to call m me. greatly appreciate you informing me on three separate occasions that i am not under investigation. who has been talking about fbi investigations of trump? this explodes on us without any preparation, without any background. i suspect where this is going to go is to that clause. >> bret: jennifer, i know this is taking the white house press corps by storm and we appreciate
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you being here with us, and i know your phone has been blowing up with all kinds of different things. shed some light on your perspective. >> i hate to take my eyes off my phone. the rationale for this filing was in place when trump was inaugurated, so why now? call me confirmed in march the fbi was investigating potential ties between trump and russia. we know it has irked him. comey also publicly contradicted the president's assertion about the obama administration wired tapping trump tower. can you imagine what is going to take to confirm a new fbi director in this environment in congress? >> bret: it's going to be serial. james comey was scheduled to be
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in hollywood, california, for a recruiting event tonight. we don't know if he is still out there and going to be there. i am sure there are a lot of crews trying to track him down. >> as stunning as this is tonight, in another way, we have all been waiting for this to happen for a long time. and i'm surprised it didn't happen before now. i think the point you make, charles, about why he didn't do it during the transition. the case was made, could have been made to get rid of him at the time. i think what he would have faced, the buzz saw of opposition from democrats taking the political opportunity, it would have been pretty intense. reading the letters, it suggests that president trump wanted these people to build the case against him, and they did build the case. they laid it out pretty clearly
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in those letters, so i kind of wonder if we won't in time find out that this was actually a lot more methodical than just an immediate reaction to something said this week. >> bret: these letters took time to put together with these details, especially the deputy attorney general. you may be saying that this statement and testimony that the fbi had to clean up was the moment at which they said this is it. >> a lot of good reasons. not only that, to make this moment the moment to do it. the fact that hillary clinton did make those comments last week about directly blaming comey for her loss. there is a saying in newspapers that if everyone is mad at you, obviously you are doing our job right. that was not the case here. everybody at some point in time was mad at comey but it was because he kept screwing things
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up. >> bret: if your boss goes to meet with president bill clinton on the tarmac in arizona and essentially takes herself out of the picture, you have to take the ball and run with it because it is no longer her deal. >> what that reveals is a complete lack of confidence up and down the line not only of comey but loretta lynch, and i would put president obama at the time. >> what if this is a move to chill leaks? if you are at the fbi, are you going to be scared to death to make any more leaks. it could be a preemptive move. >> that is using a hammer to get a gnat. you've got to ask yourself, the tone of this. the swiftness, you are terminated immediately. you've got this image of him being purple walked out of the
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fbi building -- perp walked out of the fbi building. how implausible. if hillary clinton complains that comey cost her the election, then here you have trump firing comey for costing hillary the election. this doesn't make any sense. it's clear this has been prepared for days, but why this way? and why was it done with malice? there would have been so many ways of having comey sort of stuff aside, say he was in an untenable position. in his defense, and i am somewhat sympathetic to him, i wouldn't have done what he did. but he was in a position that was utterly impossible. we have never had a presidential candidate running for the presidency while under fbi investigation. there were no rules. he made it up in a way that i think in his head thought
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minimizes the impact on the outcome. you might have made the wrong calculation, but i don't think there was in any way bad faith. to do in the clinton people not only save the original statement and action was detrimental, but then the one right before the election they say motivated trump motors as well. let's bring in catherine herridge. >> i have heard from some of my contacts, former federal law enforcement, other illegals who worked directly with the fbi and they say to me they believe the timing is a lot simpler than it may appear. it has to do with the confirmation of rod rosenstein. he is the new deputy attorney general, a career prosecutor out of maryland. needed time to get into the job at the end of april and then reviewed the material associated with comey and specifically with the email investigation. so you been discussing why now
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or why not earlier? i believe based on my reporting tonight it has to do with the confirmation of the deputy attorney general who is fbi director comey's immediate boss. i have heard from a former agent who says there's real concern that the acting may be andrew mccabe. andrew mccabe is going to be a name familiar to people watching fox because he was at the washington field office at the time that they clinton email probe began, and he was the subject of a lot of criticism because his wife, dr. joe mccabe, took $700,000 in 2015 from virginia democrats and specifically a longtime clinton ally, terry mcauliffe. the question is of succession and the timing i am being told comes down to the confirmation of comey's new boss, rod rosenstein, deputy attorney
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general. >> bret: the reason that apartment, deputy attorney general, and the confirmation is okay is because the attorney general jeff sessions had to recuse himself from the russia investigation because of ties and meetings with the russian ambassador. >> that's correct. >> bret: if you are in the fbi, let me redo this. from chris van holland. he is the senator from maryland. he says "the you are fired approach doesn't work when you are president. potus, you have created a crisis of confidence in our jus department, continuing yet another reason we need an independent prosecutor to investigate trump's ties to russia. do you think all of this raises the stakes for an independent prosecutor? >> we have two individuals who are tied in terms of their service to the previous administration, fbi director and
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the former acting attorney general sally yates, who was fired by this president because they either didn't back his executive orders or he was dissatisfied with their leadership. i don't really have an opinion as in a partner but i can tell you from my experience that this will be glommed onto by the democrats as evidence that prest is not acting in a neutral manner on an issue as important to both parties as russia's interference with the election. i can tell you from my contacts with career fbi agents and those who are recently retired that there really was a crisis in confidence for director comey. they felt he had colored outside the lines and he had brought a lot of disrepute on the agency, on the bureau last year with the handling, the disparate handling of the clinton email probe and they russia investigation into then candidate trump's associates and moscow. boxed out tonight by this
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president praised one great reporting, as always. >> bret: chuck grassley putting out a statement. republican from iowa. "over the course of the last several months, general trickle comey's decisions had prompted concern across the political spectrum. the handling of the clinton email investigation is a clear example of how comey's decisions have called into question the trust and political independence of the fbi. in my efforts to get answers, the fbi under comey's leadership has been slow or failed to provide information that comey himself pledged to provide. the effectiveness of the fbi depends upon the public trust and confidence. unfortunately this has been los lost. fbi director serves at the pleasure of the president. under these circumstances, president trump accepted the recommendation that the director lacked the confidence needed to carry out his duties."
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chuck grassley, the senate judiciary committee chairman. joining us from capitol hill, senator joe manchin from west virginia, a democrat on the intelligence committee. your reaction. >> it was shocking. i was walking up to do the interviewers with you all and i hear about it, and i start reading some of the letters sent back and forth from attorney general sessions to the president. that being said, i want you to know it will not impede the investigations we have going on in the intelligence committee. we are gathering the information in a diligent way. we look forward to mr. comey coming before our committee. >> bret: when you hear president trump in the latter say this line "while i greatly appreciate you informing me on three separate occasions that i am not under investigation," is that true? >> we are just going into the gathering now. i'm not going to make any
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accusations on anything or anybody, including our president. with that being said, this does not impede our investigation for what conversation he has had, fbi director with the president or his legal counsel, i do not know. we are just going about getting this information, the same as we well from sally yates. both of them are no longer employed under this president in the federal government. we will see where this investigation takes after we have always had the intelligence committee in the senate will follow the intel. the intel will give us the facts. we have to move on that and make decisions from there. >> bret: senator, do you question the timing of this, why it happened now if the letters point back to concerns about comey's actions prior to the election and specifically the hillary clinton email case. do you question the timing of it happening today? >> the only thing i can say about it, whenever director, he came before the senate, whether
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we met as a bipartisan body downstairs in a highly secured meeting, there was always a lot of anxiety, and a lot of emotions. it creates emotions every time because people think the involvement, it caused a difference in the outcome in the auction. on and on. with that being said, that was always there. the only thing i am hopeful for right now is that whoever the president recommends for confirmation with consent from the senate, it is someone we can gather around. it's someone we have confidence in and it can be overwhelmingly bipartisan. i am hoping the 51 about nuclear option is nowhere needed because there is someone so well-respected and well-qualified to take the position. >> bret: some of your colleagues, senator tim kaine among them, are questioning the fact that attorney general sessions weighed in on the firing of comey, considering
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that he had to recuse himself in the russia investigation specifically, saying that the trump firing of comey shows how far into the administration is over russia investigation. do you share that view? >> well, the bottom line is i think attorney general sessions removed himself from the michael flynn investigation on the russian hacking. with that being said, he still responsible for the work performance of his people. he is making a decision. i can sit here and say it should have never been done for you can always boo-hoo it. i am looking at what happens now. do we get someone who has the qualifications and confidence that we can support and move on. this will not interfere or intervene with our investigation. i can give the american people all the confidence that will not happen very >> bret: what about the confirmation hearing for the deputy attorney general rod rosenstein? >> it is coming up. i understand it's a really
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pretty good person. well thought of and highly regarded. i look at the qualifications. i am not playing the politics. i'm not against anybody or anybody in any position recommended because they are republicans. if they are qualified and good and they go through the background check, they need their financial disclosure and their ethics probe. we've got to look at someone very qualified. it's going to put a higher light and a higher bar if you will on this appointment. >> bret: you come from west virginia. i know you hear from constituents who get frustrated by washington. some of the people in the middle of the countries that you focus on the wrong things. get things done and get them across the finish line. what do you say to those people tonight with this action and what it means to washington's ability to get things done? >> i am as frustrated in west virginia as they are. one person said you don't know how bad things look. i said yeah, you are in
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beautiful west virginia. it looks bad. you ought to try it for my seat. i am trying to get people to work together. it can't always be me against you and you against me. people have to have confidence we are here for the right reasons. i am not here for the democratic party and me and my job. i am here to do the job to represent the people. looking at the facts and making good decisions. i'm not going to second-guess. the president has the right to have a team around him. i can disagree with that but that's his right. what you have to do now is watch and see who they recommend to give us for advise and consent to see if that person can get 60, 70, 80 volts or more. that will be the telltale sign if we are moving in the right direction. >> bret: we appreciate your time. deputy attorney general
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rosenstein was approved at the end of april but the timing was about the confirmation hearings that were referenced, catherine herridge reference prayed let's go to john roberts. we hear that the white house briefing room is buzzing. could we be ready for a briefing? >> 15 minutes ago we heard sean spicer was going to come out and do an off-camera gaggle. now we are hearing that may not happen. we are trying to ascertain what the white house plans to do. if we can encourage anyone, it would be helpful to know more of the background and the tick-tock of this. clearly it's been something that's been bubbling for a long time. it may be that the deputy attorney general was only confirmed in little more than a week ago and that he had to have time to review the case before taking any official action about the fact that this goes back to last summer certainly is an indication that somebody somewhere has been thinking about this for a long time.
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we are also told if this off-camera gaggle happens, we may be able to carry the audio live. we will be able to give you real-time information as opposed to having to relay it. we are still continuing to work our sources, get the nuances. was it any one thing that happened maybe in recent weeks that sealed the deal on this? because the president, i don't want to say the president was ambivalent because clearly had strong feelings but when you took a look at the relationship between the two men in the days after the inauguration and when the president met with the heads of law enforcement at the white house, he gave the fbi director a little bit of a bro hug when he first met him, shook his hand and seemed to have full confidence in comey. if we are to believe what is written in this memoranda, comey has been in the crosshairs for a long long time now.
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and they were just looking to dot the i's and cross the ts. >> bret: thank you very much. we are waiting on senator schumer, democrat minority leader in the senate. he is expected to come out at 6 6:45. charlie hurt, jennifer jacobs, and charles krauthammer. take a listen to hillary clinto hillary clinton. >> i take personal responsibility. i was the candidate. i was the person who was on the ballot. >> were you a victim of misogyny? >> i think it played a role. i was on the way to winning until a combination of jim comey's letters on october 28 and russian wikileaks raised doubts. had the election been on october president. >> bret: charles, you have other senators weighing in.
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saying former director comey should be brought to congress to testify. >> it's possible this will become a political partisan football. you can see how the republicans, you read from senator grassley, supporting the president's decision. joe manchin, he is often in the middle. bipartisan figure. he said let's look to the future on this. if it does become a partisan issue, i think it will be highly unfortunate. there's no way to detoxify the firing. i think what is important is, as joe manchin said, find somebody who can get overwhelming support from the two sides. i think you're probably going to end up with a retired judge or perhaps retired senator, someone who is a national figure. and i suspect it might be somebody who is seen as an
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interim. this would not be the time i think now to look for another 10-year appointment. the atmosphere in this town is so highly charged and partisan that i'm not sure it would be beneficial for the country. such a lame caretaker to take us through these investigations with clean hands and no record on this, and then we can have the fight. >> bret: you are talking about the partisanship. ed markey for massachusetts. the democrats are putting out statements quickly. he says this is troubling. he says "this episode is disturbingly reminiscent of the saturday night massacre during the watergate scandal and the national turmoil that it caused." we don't have james rosen here to go into the nuance but we do know that whenever you say watergate, it brings together -- >> it took less than an hour for a democrat in massachusetts to
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make the watergate analogy and to go directly. i knew it was going to happen. i think that's probably the indoor record. making the analogy to the saturday night massacre. the one phrase in here "i appreciate you telling me i am not under investigation," that's out of nowhere. it's what would spark a reference to that because that was nixon firing the attorney general and deputy attorney general because they were hot on his tail on watergate. that is what gives it this echo, and i think that's exactly what the democrats are going to pursue. >> you've got reaction from the democrats. robbie mauk pleaded "twilight zone. as disappointed and frustrated as anyone in the email investigation but this terrifies me." dick durbin talking to some of
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our reporters, talking about how he is worried that the fbi investigation will be terminated. he is saying that that democrats will ramp up calls for a special prosecutor he says he has been trying to get answers from jeff sessions and rod rosenstein about, will they continue the investigation into russia and the links between possibly president trump and his associates. >> bret: some of those democrats were calling for comey to be fired after the clinton moves he made prior to the election. in context. >> i think what is so interesting about all of these reactions that you read, nobody is saying he shouldn't have been fired. nobody is saying that trump made the wrong decision. they are just using this as a pivot point to say we would like to get him on the hill to testify or we are doubling down on wanting to investigate.
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the comments from chris van holland, a crisis in confidence, that is absurd. there was already a crisis in confidence and that was created long before now, and it was created by people like jim comey and loretta lynch and hillary clinton and all of the things that led to the investigation and the revelations on the first place. >> bret: joining us from capitol hill, senator susan collins, republican from maine. also on the intelligence committee. senator, thanks for being here. your thoughts on the move. >> it seems to me that this may have been the inevitable conclusion of director comey's decision last july to go public with the reasons that he had decided not to recommend an indictment of hillary clinton. i think that he is a
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well-intentioned individual but that decision to bypass the normal rules of the justice department, which he could have gone to the deputy attorney general, since he felt understandably that attorney general lynch was compromised by her decision to talk with bill clinton bill clinton. but that decision to have bypass the normal policies of the department of justice was probably the reason that he got embroiled in these political controversies that continue to dog him to this very day. stay well i guess question is, if that was, as the letters point out, the genesis of the concern and that first move in july prior to the election, why not make this action soon after the inauguration and not wait until the first week in may? >> because the justice
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department was really understaffed for a long time. it took a a while for the attorney general to be confirmed and his deputy was just confirmed a week or so ago. it was the deputy who had been the career prosecutor who had been designated to do the analysis of the fbi director's actions and came up with the recommendation. >> bret: when you hear democrats, and growing number of democrats saying this sounds and feels nixonian, what do you say? >> he did not fire the entire fbi. he fired the director of the fbi in any suggestion this is somehow to stop the fbi's investigation of the attempt by the russians to influence the elections last fall is really
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patently absurd. this is one person. it is the director. the investigation is going forward both at the fbi and in the senate intelligence committee in a bipartisan way. so i don't think there's any link at all. >> bret: this comes, obviously, senator, after the focus of sally yates, then acting attorney general who was fired, testifying about michael flynn and the warning she gave about the national security advisor that he might be compromised or could be blackmailed by the russians. the questions focused on the 18 days it took from that notice to him actually being fired. is that a concern of yours? >> well, of course i don't know what their conversations were between ms. yates and the white house counsel, nor do i know what president obama said to president trump about general
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flynn. but certainly if they raised red flags, i'm not sure it was the wisest decision in the world for the president to have proceeded to hire him. he did end up firing him, and it seems to me that that is behind us other than the ongoing investigation. if >> bret: have you heard that michael flynn is now cooperating with the fbi? >> i have not heard that. >> bret: in context, i asked the senator and senator joe manchin this. when is washington going to start working for me. can things get through things that affect the american people in this partisan environment? >> well, i certainly hope so. we have been working to try to get the administration stepped up, and that has taken longer than it should have because they
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democrats have greatly slow walk to the process, which i don't think is right. i am pleased we were able to confirm neil gorsuch for the supreme court. that's a major accomplishment, and of course we are now embroiled in a health care debate that is a very important one to the american people. my hope is that we will end up, and perhaps this is a naive hope, producing a bill that does get some democratic support that is more market oriented but does not terminate needed insurance for low income americans. >> bret: senator susan collins. we will be watching all of that and the breaking news. we appreciate you stepping in. >> thank you. >> bret: we are back with the panel. charlie, charles, and jennifer. we should see senator schumer
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shortly. he is expected to come to the microphone. when he's there, we will take the statement and bring that to you. expect him to take reporters questions. you heard senator collins push back on nixonian language. >> it's worth pointing out, she makes some pretty decent points that we are going to be hearing a lot about and the key one is that trump has had a hard time filling his cabinet and filling those positions. you can better believe that the president, the white house, and republicans were going to be banging the drum, the perhaps partisan drum as loudly as we are going to be hearing the democrats banging the partisan, the russians everywhere drums. >> bret: jennifer, i think most reporters will go to why.
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this doesn't sound like someone who's very confident that the investigation is not coming near them. and they will go to that point. with backup, is there "there there"? we have heard there is no evidence of collusion from clapper. we have heard sally yates say she couldn't talk about it. it was classified. obviously jim comey knew all of it. >> it's another reminder that we have to ask this president over and over again what he's thinking. as a reminder, less than a month ago on april 12, he set on fox business, yes i have confidence in james comey. we will see what happens here he was talking about how he said i am just saying i want to give everyone a good, fair chance. director comey was very, very good to hillary clinton, as he goes on and says.
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a couple weeks ago he was saying i have confidence in him we will see what happens. still speaking well of him at that point. >> bret: charles. >> listening to sally yates recuse yourself on any question about ongoing investigations. i can't talk about this, i can't speak about this. the phrase in the president's letter is puzzling. that means that on three separate occasions, the fbi director was telling the president about the contents of an ongoing investigation. i don't know about the legality of it but it makes you wonder why this was mentioned, whether it was proper. sounds as if it's a rebuttal to something that will be coming, he assumes that democrats would accuse him of getting rid of
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comey as a way to stop at investigation at or punish somebody looking into what trump has done. trying to preempt it but it's odd. if you read it without that phrase, it reads well. with it, the phrase jumps out at you. >> bret: does that phrase and their reaction to it. we have only been less than an hour since this broke, does it suddenly get people towards an independent prosecutor? >> i don't know about that but it's a perfectly trumpian thing to do. he wants to make the argument, have that be the salient thing everybody remembers from all of
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this. the other point that i think is important to remember, if he had done this earlier. he is going to get killed for doing this over all the talk about russia. he was going to get killed if he did it at the beginning. so him putting that in their i think he's hoping it will inoculate him a little bit. if you and that's a big hope, i think. here is senator leahy. the president's action in the way it was handled is shocking. no one should accept president trump's absurd justification that he is concerned that the fbi director treated secretary clinton unfairly. the fig leaf explanation seeks to encumber the truth. implicating senior officials in the trump campaign and the administration.
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this is nothing less than nixonian." this is the fourth democrat to go the nixon route. "given that the attorney general recused himself, he should not have played any role in removing the lead investigator from his duties. deputy attorney general rosenstein has no choice but to appoint a special counsel. his integrity and the integrity of the entire justice department is at stake. the president's letter in which he refers to russian interference and possible collusion with the associates is bizarre and raises troubling questions about the president's motivation. there is no avoiding the fact that this situation demands the appointment of an independent special prosecutor or special counsel to pick up the pieces." let's turn to catherine herridg catherine herridge. >> i just got off the phone with another official who said there's a sense of shock within the bureau, especially at headquarters. they were struck by how deep the
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divisions are within the bureau about director comey sort of polarizing figure. those for and against. we also discussed what the succession might look like with comey effectively fired by the president. he said if it was standard procedure, it would be the deputy director andrew mccabe. andrew mccabe would come to this position, critics would argue, with a lot of baggage. that goes back to 2015 when his wife received $700,000 for a state senate run that she eventually lost, and that money came from virginia democrats and specifically a pac controlled by a longtime clinton ally, terry mcauliffe. if mccabe was jumped over, the next person in line would be an associate deputy director, and he is someone who doesn't seem to have any sort of touch with
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the email or russia probe. served himself well in the san bernardino investigation. if you want to call this the room into piece of intelligence, one name seems to be circulatin circulating. it's a name that's coming to mind with some former career fbi officials, and that is john pistol. he is a former tsa administrator. he left that job a few years ago. the reason they are talking about that name is because he has decades of experience as an fbi agent and he is an indiana guy. pretty tight relationship with the vice president. that is a name that's already circulating, and we will try to get in touch with john pistole this evening. people looking ahead as to the person who can restore public trust in the fbi after the
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firing of james comey. >> bret: catherine, thank you. just encase people think washington is not doing anything, the senate did confirm a new fda director. food and drug administration. the vote was 57-42. he has pledged to move drug approval quickly. washington is overtaken by this news that president trump has fired the fbi director james comey, saying that it was his actions in the lead up to the election and the hillary clinton email investigation that caused to this decision tonight, pointing to letters from the deputy attorney general and the attorney general jeff sessions. we are waiting for senator chuck schumer, the minority leader in the senate, to brief reporters. there you see an empty podium. whenever you see that, we have
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nothing to show you. back with the panel. >> you were talking about whether democrats would call for a special prosecutor on trump and russia, and that's beginning to happen. we have senator richard blumenthal calling for a special prosecutor. i have a feeling we are going to hear it senator that. when the president is having a quiet day, we should be suspicious about what he's up to. i know you know his calendar for today had a couple things on expert his daily intelligence briefing and he had a meeting with the national security advisor h.r. mcmaster and that was all on the calendar. we were asking what he was up to and we were told he is preparing for this overseas trip. it turns out he was a little bit more busy than that. >> bret: the foreign trip is quite something. saudi arabia, riata saudi arabia, israel, the vatican, the g7.
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big trip on his first foreign engagement. this is only the second fbi director to be fired by the president since 1972. it is, in historical context, a really big deal. >> it is, and it makes you wonder. think of alternative scenario. it turns out that the fbi director made an enormous mistake in testimony to congress. he talks about hundreds of thousands of emails. it turns out it was a handful. it was not, he is talking about, referencing the clinton emails. he was way off. it was an opportunity in which he could have gracefully resigned, had he been approached in a back room, but he wasn't. >> bret: joining us now, senator mark warner from virginia. part of this investigation ongoing, senator, we have had a number of your colleagues on
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this show. your reaction. >> i was flabbergasted, to say the least. i think the president's action is outrageous. i think the fact we have seen the fbi director fired, the acting attorney general fired, current attorney general having to recuse himself. from an administration who says there is no there there. we need a special prosecutor appeared we need everybody to step up and say we've got to get to the bottom of where the facts lead us. candidly, this excuse some of your commenters have made, that jim comey was too nice to hillary clinton, it doesn't pass the smell test or the laugh test even on a good day. >> bret: i don't think there are commentators on this show who have been saying that but thank you. i want to ask you about the line and the president's letter. "while i greatly appreciate you
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informing me on three separate occasions that i am not under investigation," is it true? >> all i can tell you is what the fbi director, some of this is classified, the fbi director acknowledged in front of the hearing that there were investigations going on into people affiliated with the trump organization, the campaign, and the russians been with got to figure out whether those investigations bear fruit and how far up and down the fuji and they went. anyone who says this is over at this point would be squashing truth finding. i hope at least that president would not want that to happen. >> bret: do you think that's what's behind the firing? >> i pray that is not the case, that is the last thing this country needs. if but i've got to tell you -- e said this repeatedly. this is the most important thing i will ever do. i don't know if i can say this is ten times more important than
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it was earlier today but it's pretty darn close. >> bret: where does this go from here? >> we were expecting to have director called me before the committee on thursday in a closed session. we still hope at some point in the near future he will appear before us but we will have the balance of the intelligence community leaders. they will talk to us. we have requests for information to some prominent names. some have given us information. the committee is probably going to have to take legal action to force them to give us information. i was disappointed at times at the base of the investigation. we've got to do it quickly but we've also got to do it meticulously. >> bret: wrapping up the show, when you hear the former national intelligence director saying he saw no evidence of collusion between the trump campaign and russia and you hear
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sally yates say she couldn't answer the question because of the counterterrorism investigations, is clapper wrong? >> what clapper said was he couldn't comment opposed the release of the january 6 report. sally yates said a lot of the information was classified. this is the reason why we have to do this investigation bipartisan in candidly, from the liberal and conservative media, we've got to be willing to follow the facts. you have always been willing to do that and i compliment you on this. this is bigger than any single individual president. it is about rule of law and making sure the laws are followed. >> bret: we appreciate your time. that wraps it up for breaking news. the news that president trump has fired his fbi director, james comey. that is tending reverberations throughout washington when we will have you completely covered from washington all throughout the night with live news
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conferences, updates from white house from our justice department, and we will be back at 11:00 eastern time for a special edition of "special report" on a big news day in washington. >> breaking tonight, fbi director james, has been fired by president trump. news that is rocking a president's capital. tonight, he terminated the fbi director from that following recommendation from his attorney general jeff sessions and the deputy attorney general. the removal of the fbi head is only the second time that has happened in the history of the federal bureau of investigation. the present in his statement said a lot but part of what he said at the beginning is this, the fbi is one of our nation's most cherished and respected institutions. today will mark a new beginning for our crown jewel of la