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tv   Frontline  PBS  October 2, 2018 9:00pm-11:01pm PDT

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>> narrator: tonight on frontline... >> it appears mueller has convinced yet another witness to cooperate...he >>ussia investigation heating up on several fronts... >> narrator: a white house at war. >> but i say, how do you impeach somebody that hasn't done anything wrong? >> narrator: ...with itself... >> the stunning op-ed headlined "i am part of the resistan"... >> claiming to be a senior official in the trump white... >> narrator: and the justice department >> deputy attorney general rod rosenstein talked about possibly invoking the 25th amendment... >> rosenstein has disputed and denied that report... >> if democrats take control of the house, they are going to bep a na generating machine.>> this white house is going to find itself playing permanent defense. >> trump has been waging a
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deliberate war on the whole idea that there is such a thing as independenjustice. >> ...all we hear about is this phony russia witch hunt, that's all we hr about... ca>> president trump is esting his assault on the investigators who are investigating him... >> he's attacking the very nature of the department of justice. >> the fbi, it is a disgrace! >> narrato award-winning political team. >> trump viewed the entire intelligence communityhe fbi as enemies. ialnarrator: a two-hour sp investigation. >> andhe team mueller has assembled may be the a team of prosecutors for an entire neration. fr you should be afraid, you should be very ad. >> narrator: inside the turmoil.. >> president tmp, the "cloud" as he calls it, hangs over his entire that hn't really understand wherein it's gog or what's comi next. and if it's coming for him.r: >> narrahe politics... >> no collusion!ot no nhing. >> this pres ent may feel empowered to move to either fire bob
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mueller, or fire jeff sessions or fire r rosenstein, or find some way to ut this investigation down. >> narrator: and the showdown with the 45tpresident... >> the way that the president can be removed if that's the goal is through impeachment and conviction by the senate orh throelections and that's why it's the american people who are going to decide trump's fate. >> ...fireworks on capitol hill... >> ...firestorm hovering over the white house... >> ... this is a white house that is under siege... >> thetakes could not be higher... >> narrator: tonight, "trump's showdown". t >> michael cohen may be a headline.... >> ...extraordinary moment in american history... >> frontline is made possible bn contributo your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. and by the corporation for public broadcasting. major support is provided by the john d. and catherine macafoundation, committed to building a more just, verdant and aceful world. more information is available at the ford foundation, working with visionaries on the front lines of social change worldwide.ou
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at additional support is providedfo by the abramdation, committed to excellence in journalism. the park foundation, dedicated to heightening publiawareness of critical issues. the john and helen glessner t famist. supporting trustworthy journalism that informs and inspires. the wyncote foundation. f and by tntline journalism fund, with major support from jon and jo ann hagler. and additional support from william and helen pounds. ow >> no today's showdown at trump tower between the president-elect and top intelligence... f president-elect trump is about to get all oe details from u.s. intelligence... >> intelligence officials areet expected to ace-to-face with president-elect trump at trump tower... >> narrator: two weeks before the inauguration... >> ...what could be a day of fireworks... >> narrator: ...the battle lines between the new president and washington's establishment were about to bdrawn. >> i was very concerned that mr.
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trump was ill-prepared for the job, that he didn't have a good grasp of international affairs, the legislativprocess, u.s. law, intelligence capabilities. >> a highly classified report into russia's hacking of u.s. political institutions... >> narrator: othe street far below, four of the most powerful men in the united states government arrived. >> i think there was a great deal of apprehension. yo u had the intelligence chiefs going in, kning that their audience is skeptical of what they're about to say. >> narrator: they were senior leaders of a group known as the i.c.-- thentelligence community. james clapper, the director of national intelligence. admiral mikeogers was in charge of the nsa. jim comey was the director of the fbi. and john brennan ran the c.i.a.
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they had come to tell donald trump that his election may have been compromised by russian interference. >> this was the most aggressive, and most direct, and most assertive campgn that the russiansver mounted in the history of our elections to interfere and, and to somehow inflnce the outcome. >> narrator: behind closed do.s, the i.c. briefing beg >> it was several hours long. there was equivocion in our language. and we were very direct, and very, very clear in terms of dwhat it is that we knew assessed.pu >> there was nback. and i think the reason was that the, thevidence that we laid out at the highly classified level was pretty, prettyng compel it had been very hard to have pushback.
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narrator: trump didn't argue, but he lat said he saw the talk of russian interference as an assault on the legitimacy of his victory. >> t's a challenge, not just to his legitimacy as president, but asis overall power, his overall, sort of, sense of his worth in terms of being there. >> narrator: the i.c. chiefs had one more piece of news f the president-elect. brennan, clapper, and rogers left the james mey stayed behind to deliver it. >>omey pulls the president aside, and he tells him, "hey, listen, i need you to knowhat there's this--" what we now call the dossier. >> narrator: the dossier-- a set of memos prepared by a former british spy-- partially paid for by the democrats. it was political dynamite. >> "russian regime has been cultivating, supporting and assisting trump for at least five years." >> it's full of things that may be able to allow theussians to
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blackmail him. ma it has infon about him involved in perverted sexual acts. >> "to exploit trump's personal obsessions and sexual perversion in order to obtain suitable 'kompromat' (compromising material) on him." >> narrator: the salacious and unverified allegations involved trump and a number orussian prostitutes in a moscow hotel suite. >> whoa, not great. not a great start to thisre tionship. and comey worries about that. >> narrator: in fact, comey had been warned to be careful not to appear to threaten trump.d >> i calm, i got him on the phone. i said, "jim, have you ever met donald trump before?" and a little to my surprise, he said, "no, i have not."id and i "jim, you're ia very awkward spot here." "j i said, there's a fine distinction between 'just telling you this so you know,'rs 'just telling you this so you know, and don't (bleep) with
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me.'" >> we're going to run a country... >> just think about it in human terms. you'd be cautious if you were the new president, ahat, wouldn't you? somebody comes to you with information that, you know, "i need to tell you this." on the one hand, you might receive that as a, "oh, that's u nice hea" on the other hand, you might also receive it implicitly, i'm sure as it was intended, as a that. >> narrator: as the two me sized each other up, the stakes could not have been higher. >> it was a critical moment. it was the most important moment that would shape trump's esidency. >> and i don't know that jim comey necessarily wento that meeting thinking, "oh, my job is on the line." if he didn't, he should ve. >> narrator: comey handed trump a summary of the dos >> and trump denies it immediately and vociferously. says, "do i look like the kind of guy who needs to hire prostitutes?"
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>> narrator: comey said he was giving trump information he needed to know. >> and the point was, in waiefing him about it, was to inform him of its existence. we felt a duty to warn, if you will, just sthat he knew that it was out there. >> narrator: but trump was already distrustful of an fbi director who served under president obama. immediately after the meeting, comey typed this memo from the back seat of his s.u.v. >> "he then started talking about all the women who had falsely accused him of grabbing or touching them-- w particular mention of a 'stripper' who said he grabbed m her-- and gathe sense that he was defending himself to me." >> it didn't surprise me at all that after having this meeting with the president-elect, that he immediately memorialized it so he had it as a record if he ever needed it. >> narrator: in the aftermath of umthe meeting, back up in tower, the president-elect was furious. >> trump is talking to his top
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aides, and he views this as blackmail. it's a shakedownhe tells them. his assumption is that comey is giving this to him to show him that he's got something on him. w re talking about politically appointed individuals using intelligence potentially as a weapon against people who they politically disagree >> whean fbi director approaches a president-elect with something that was "salacious and unvified," in comey's words, and tells him about it, i think mr. trump realized it was a shakedown. s 's been in a tough business in new york and he kn shakedown when he sees it. this is cnn breaking news. ge cnn has learned that the nation's top intele officials provided information to president-elect donald trump. >> narrator: trump feared the story would leak. and soon it did, on cable news.
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>> russian operatives claimed to have compromising personal and financial information mr. trump. >> there's the controversial t,move by buzzfeed last ni publishing a dossier... >> narrator: before long, the entire dossier was on the web. >> but they have beeiled by numerous media outlets including buzzfeed, the "new york tes," and cnn. >> narrator: the next day, trump ignt before the cameras to back. >> i'd seen trump a loon the campaign trail. but i have to say, i was surprised that he came out so vituperatively and sangrily. >> i think it was disgraceful, disgraceful, that the intelligence agencies allowed any information that turned out to be so false and fake, out. >> he expressed his frustration. he knows it's set-up, he knows it's a plot to destroy him, and people around him. >> and that's something that nazi germany would have done and did do. i think it's a disgrace. >> something the gestapo would have done, trump says. >> that information that was false and fake and never
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happened got released to the public. >> i mn, he now viewed the entire intelligence community and the fbi as... as enemies. >> can you ge us a question? >> go ahead. >> narrator: it was also a declaration of war on the press. >> can you give us a chance? >> your organization is terrible. >> you are attacking our news >> your orgaon is terrible. >> can you give us a chance to ask a question, sir? >> go ahead. quiet, quiet. go ahead, she's asking a question, don't be rude. >> mr. president-elect, can you give us a qution? >> don't be rude. >> can you give us a question? >> don't be rude. no, i'm not going to give you a queson, i'm not going to giv you a question. you are fake news. >> sir, can you state categorically that nobody... no, mr. president-elect, that's t appropriate. >> narrator: trump's c strategy would come to define his first years in office. >> sir, you did not answer... n sir, you d answer whether any of your associates were in contact with the russians.ou sir,id not answer, you did not answer whether... >> narrator: it would lead to a showdown with a special counsel
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that now threatens hisid prcy. trump's combative nature had developed decades earlier, when he learned his method for attack and confrontation from this man, notoriousawyer and fixer roy cohn. >> trump was created by the politics of intimidation taught to him by his mentor roy cohn, who really was his alter ego. he was his confidante. he was a-- he was an ersatz father. he was the person who trump went to with any kind of a problem. >> narrator: cohn had become a national figure in the 1950s. (newsreel music playing) >> the red-hunting senator joseph mccarthattends a subcommittee investigation... >> narrator: during a different showdown in washington. >> the scene is washington, and the senate investigating subcommittee. mr. cohn, his friend and aide,
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was present with senator mccarthy... >> nrator: the mccarthy hearings, an investigation to expose american communists. it was called a "witch" >> recklessly, mccarthy ripped into the reputions of both friend and foe alike... >> narrator: helping to run the show, roy cohn. >> roy cohn was known by anyone who understood anything about american history as being one of the architects of the mostsi ster period in american history. >> there is detaed testimony in that, in the record, mr. chairman, of levitsky's association, close personal association, with juliuser roseover a period of years. >> narrator: cohn's tactics were to use a means possible to root out what he said were communists deep inside the government. >> they smeared people as communists. they made up charges they ruined lives. in some cases, dve people to suicide. many people lost their jobs. cohn never felt guilty for any
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of it, for a moment. it was she political and career expediency. narrator: after it all collapsed in shame and disgrace, cohn returned to new york city, where his reputation as aru thless attack dog and litical fixer made him notorious. >> roy cohn had 20 years of being a really aggressive, no- holds-barred, go for the jugular, fight back, anybody says something to you, throw it back at them, guy he was famous for that behavior. >> narrator: he was just what ambitious young donald trump was looking for. trump hired him. >> the family and the trump organization and his father, fred trump, had been accused of racism in their housing practices. >> trump's regular lawyers, the ordinary kinds of lawyers, tell him, "settle it. just move on, do the right thing." and he asks roy cohn about it. and roy cohn says, "don't settle it.
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fight, fight, fight. you t to fight." and that becomes kind of his early credo and his approach, which is, "even if you're in the wrong, fight." >> we expect to be successful io urt. we're not doing this for y y other reason. >> narrator: theuntersued the u.s. government for $100 million. in court filings, cohn comred the department of justice to the nazis, alleging "gestapo-like" tactics. >> in a pattern we can recognize from trump's behavior to this day, attacking the accusers, attacking, indeed, thece department, as a way to sort of throw a smokescreen around the original crime. >> narrator: cohn's suit against the justice department was thrown out, trump forced t settle. they had lost. but in t press, trump and cohn declared victory. >> it was justike it didn't matter what the facts were, you know. this was a victory, we beat theo rnment. it had nothing to do withy. real >> he's a counter-puncher.
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you know-- boom, boom, boom! and admits nothing. never admit anything. never say you made a mistake. just keep coming. and if you lose, declare victory. and that's exactly what happened there. he lost as clearly as you can lose, but he loudly proclaimed his victory. >> narrator: cohn had givenrm trump a foa for survival and success. in lawsuits and lifetrump adopted cohn's method... (people talking in background).a ..lways be on the offensive. >> you can't say that i give up very easily. >> narrator: through more thants 4,000 lawsui, win or lose... >> it was a unanimous vote, i'm very happy. >> narrator: trump would rely on what roy cohn taughtim. >>ot at all. we had a great victory, i'm happy as hell. thank you very much. ys >> in the old da, the sports of kings and queens was horse cing. now it's litigation.
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and donald trump definitely plays that sport. and he plays it very well. >> there's a brand-new team in charge of the white house, a brand-new staff to keep the wheels turning... rump wakes up with a busy day ahead... >> this is just the beginning of what it is like... >> narrator: as president, donald trump came to washington determined to confront the established order. he'd use roy cohn's attack strategy... >> ...on the first business...r: >> narake on the powers- that-be... >> ...fighting with the media... >> n critics and the media... >> falsely accusing the press... >> narrator: ...sort out friend from foe. >> he's going he's just going to start action right away. he's not going to wait. he's notoing to take his time. he knows what to do, and he's rything, he'se going to set the world right immediately. >> a wild day at the trump white house... >> president trump's travel ban has been blocked in the court..e >> narrator:cutive actions. twee. ysrings. >> he's a man alwan motion. he always wants things. but you know what? people aren't used to that.
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people aren't used to a president who's going directlyn to the ameriople with his twitter feed. >> a lot of chaos and controversy here in washington, dc. >> many leaks with impunity. >> you pick up the paper. >>arrator: in washington, was seen as chaos-- but this was trump's comfort zone. >> he was going to shake things up.o he was going tmove at a much more rapid pace. y it's verugh for the bureaucracy to kind of keep up. it's a little bit of a whiplash. >> a meeting with law enforcement officials there... >> narrator: and there was a looming showdown: with the fbi and james comey. the two would face off again at. a photo >> rump's dislike for james comey was viscer. comey was investigating th russian collusion and that made trump extremely nervous. partly it was thinfamous briefing about the dossier that dve trump crazy. c >>ey is standing in a blue blazer against blue drapes. that was not an accident. he is standing literally as
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far away from trump as it is possible to be in that room. >> narrator: this time, trump made it clear who was in charge. >> and the president calls him out, says, "nono, no, come here, come here." >> so let's... oh, and there's james. he's become more famous than me. >> "this guy is more famous wan mech comey knows, even then, is going to be a problem. >> jim comey, wanting to be sure that his arm was outstretched in just such a way as to create just a nice, distant handshake. but instead, the president pulls him in and goes for the hug. why is it... it's unclear exactly why, but goes in for the hug. ul >> trump p him in and eawhispers something in hi but to the camera, it looks as isif trump is giving him aon the cheek. >> when somebody's president, the least tiny gesture is magnified by 12 billion times.
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so, you call somebody over, you whisper in their ear, you kind of hug them, that's a big deal. >> comey sees danger. comey sees politics. comedoesn't want any part of this. by pushing jim comey to come across the room, and shake his hand, he was setting the tone of tir relationship. you know, "you work for me. you're loyal to me, right?" that's what he wants to know. he wants to know, "you're loyal to me." >> narrator: for jes comey, donald trump was a threat to the fbi's independence. and on a personal level, a threat to the putation he had built over a lifelong career in law enforcement. he had begun as an assistantto united states ey. >> i first met jim comey 30 years ago, when he and i bh started as assistant u.s. attorneys in the southern district of neyork. rudy giuliani swore us in a few weeks apart. jim comey, certainly, as a young prosecutor, was straight down the middle.
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always turning square corners. >> narrator: under george buhe was named depy attorney general, but he clashed with the president when he led a revolt of justice department officials. >> his real claim to fame is this moment during the bush administration wheren't support a provision of president bush's wireless wiretapping program, and the white house is incensed by this. >> he did feel strongly that it was the justice department's job to uphold the law. and in that situation, hegh ththat it was clear. he takes the law really seriously as an autonomous force in public life. >> arrator: the white house backed down after comey and other justice department officials threatened to resign. >> but then what happened next tells you a lot about comey. it was jim comey who ultimately testified in a major way before congress about what had happened.
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>> (clears throat) i couldn't stay the administration was going to engage in conduct that the department of justice had said had legal basis. i simply couldn't stay. >> mr. comey, i'm commending you for what you did here. >> narrator: it was one of many times comey would go before the cameras. >> he was in the spotlight more than any fbi director that i ever worked for, and i think he felt that he could use that spotlight in ways that other directors hadn't used. >> ...having the courage to speak the truth. (spectators applauding) w >> republicans don't like comey because of his dust-ups in the george w. bush ministration tend to call him "saint jim," a guy in love with his own rectitude. >> jim comey is, by his own acknowledgement, has a very black-and-white view of the world with very little room for gray. th jim comes view of e world is that if he decides that it's the right thing to do, everybody else should agree with him. >> more breaking newnow, fox
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news can confirm that fbi director james comey... >> narrator: president barack obama named comey fbi director. and during the 2016 presidential campaign, comey made himself the face of the fbi's investigation of hillary clinton's email server >> they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information. >> comey has been at the middle of this election, and arguably is the person who most significantly influenced it other than the candidates themselves. >> there's a through line in ji comey'reer. and that is this intense conviction that hes sometimes the only righteous person in ani ortion. if there is one characteristic of comey's that is both his strongest characteristic andis weakness, it's this self-regard that canross into self-righteousness. >>dussia has come up again again...>> narrator: and now, as comey
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led the investigation into russian interference, he would find himself on a collision cose with the president. >> the very inauguration of president trump, you know, poses challenges to the fbi, because they have investigations on paul manafort, the former campaign p chairman, carte, foreigner policy advis to the president's campaign, george papadopoulos, a foreign policyse advir to the campaign, and michael flynn, the national security adviser. so, i mean, these are four i peopthe national security space who are all under fbi vestigation. ki>> and now let's start tng about players like russia. >> narrator: now, comey dispatched two fbi agents to the white house on a sensitive mission. >> they go to the white house to interview the national security adviser just days after the opening of a new administration. there's no... precedent you can think about that. ateast, in modern times. >> narrator: the agents arrived to confront the national security adviser, michael flynn.
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>> what's the fbi doing at the white house? hey have inss do the white house? how is it that michael flynn's meeting with... with fbi agents without, without a lawyer present? that, is he out of his mind? i mean that's just's to me... that should never happen. >> narrator: the fbi wanted toet know the dls of a phone call flynn had during the transition with the russian ambassador, sergei kislyak. ll toslyak places a flynn, says, "i want to talk to you." flynn gets word of this, and eventually later that day they talk. the question is what was said. >> narrator: the fbi a knew from electronic surveillance that flynn and kislyak had discussed the obama administration's sanctions on russia. now, on threcord, they asked flynn about it. >> he dissembles. he suggests that he did not havn suchrsations with the russian ambassador. oc >> narrator: courtuments detail what happened. >> "flynn falsely stated that hs did norussia's ambassador
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to refrain from escalating the situation in response toon sanc" >> narrator: comey's agents had caught flynn lying to the fbi-- a federal crime. >> the question is about fbincidental timing of a call... >> narrator: a headquarters, what comey had was explosive. the evidence against flynn was shared across the stre with the justice department. acting attorney general sallyad yates was ren to flynn's fbi interview. >> sally yates is a career justice department prosecutor. 27 years in the department, a tough cookie, but a genteel southern woman. >> she's saying, "we need to tell the white house. flynn has lied, and the russians know that those are lies. we need to mitigate the risk." >> nartor: yates would head to the office of the new white house counsel, don mcgahn. >> don mcgahn is a kind of stalwart conservative lawyer. not someone who has a record oft service with department of justice. kt someone who's been schooled
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in exactly theds of questions. >> narrator: yates and her deputy, mary mccord, told mcgahn nthat michael flynn had b lying. >> i think that, you know, for a person who'd been in office for six days, it was surprising information to learn and just took a little bit of time to process. ti >> what the attorney general was saying to the white house counsel, "you have someoni working inbuilding, in this west wing, who is compromised." >> narrator: they believed the information they gave mcgahn would force the president to act. >> it's clear that yates and mccord believe this is a ver vulnerable situation for the white hous as well as for mr. flynn. and they presume that the white house would fire him. >> narrator: that same day,mc gahn went to see the president. he told him that the highest levels of the justice department believed that flynn had been lying. it was a warning that one of his most trusted advisers was in the crosshairs. >> michael flynn is the formdi
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ctor of the defense intelligence agency who effectively became donald trump's top national security adviser. >> please welcome retired united states army lieutenant general michael flynn. >> he became a very trusted and close confidant, of not just of president trump, but president trump's family. >> we do not need a reckless president who believes she is above the >> nar flynn's harsh rhetoric had endeared him to trump and his supporters.>> ock her up. that's right. ndah, that's right, locker up! >> narrator: trumplynn bonded, and he was one of the president-elect's first appointments. >> they had a very good chemistry. but what people underestimate, i think, is the need for personal chemistry inside the whiteus and general flynn and the president had personal chemistry. >> narrator: and nowrump had been told flynn was in trouble with the fbi.
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>> mike flynn knows a lot of things, mike flynn could be a nddangerous person to have pursuit of rly he sees that this investigation has the potential of getting out of his ntrol and leading places that it might not be helpful to him to have it lead. >> narrator: one day after he had talked to mcgahn about flynn, trump took a fateful step. he called comey. >> surprise call from the president. "wt to come over for dinne jim?" and comey says, "uh, yeah, sure, mr. president." >> it's clearly not a coincidence that the president suddenly invited comey over for dinner that night, right aft mcgahn was briefed about mike flynn's criminal jeopardy. >> narrator: already on edge about the meeting, when mey arrived, he discovered the table had been set for two. >> two. nobody else is going to be there. he and t president, the bromance, attempted bromance, continues. he>> narrator: suspicious president's motives for the meeting, comey again
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memorialized the conversation. >> "we sat facing each other at a small oval table set f two and placed in the center of the room." th >> comey saypresident had very nice words for him, and so it's this pleasant conversation. and then the president says, >> "he needed loyalty and expected loyalty. i did not reply, or even nod, or change my facial expression." >> narrator: the president would vek for comey's loyalty seral times during the dinner. >> it's a markable moment. a president demanding loyalty of an fbi director. can't think of any other president in the modern era who would do that. they understood, as people who had been in government before, that that's not the role of an fbi >> "he therned to loyalty, saying, 'i need loyalty.' i replied that he would always get honesty from me. >> in the eyes of the white house, president trump was feeling out comey about ere the investigation stood, how he was going to handle it. comey saw it as intimidation,
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possible obstrucon of justice. this is the moment where things really start to split. t >> this roy cohn view of the world. this has been the donald trumpe view of rld. this is the way he's done "either you'reme or you're against me. the other guy's team?"are you on >> narrator: trump had failed to win comey over. then, two weeks later, there was another leak. thisne to the "washington post." >> the "washington post" broke this news, they say that national security adviser michael flynn did discuss...r: >> nar the "post's" scoop sublicly revealed the details of that electronirveillance ofs flcall with russian ambassador kislyak. >> we had found out that, in fact, there were intercepts, an hariety of sources saying that, yes, they had discussedon sanc >> and this morning, multiple news outlets report...>> arrator: as the story dominated the news coverage in washington, the president headei to f, accompanied by the prime minister of japan and mike
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flynn. >> ...that goes against the denials of flynn himself... >> narrator: on board, the press-- armed withhe "post" story-- were waiting for the new president. >> narrator: though he had known about the intercepts for weeks, trp claimed ignorance. >> ...without sanctions, maybe trying to... >> thank you, thank you very much. >> narrator: but the scandal would only grow. >> former acting attorney general sally yates "informed the trump white house late last month that she believes..." >> narrator: that meeting between acti attorney general sally yates and white house lscounsel don mcgahn had a leaked. >> she apparently told the white house that the national security adviser might be personally compromised, and again, vulnerable to russian ackmail... >> when it comes out that they were warned that he was compromised and that he might have lied to the fbi, and they did nothing about it, that
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suddenly becomes a scandal that implicates not just mike flynn, but the white house chief of staff, the president, and anyone who knew about this warning and failed to take action. narrator: the full force of the washington establishment was turned on trump. >> he's up against a sort of bermuda triangle in washington. you know, you've got the fbi. you've got the media. d you've got the sort of white house lawyers and the justice department all telling him that, "look, this is just, has to happen.s flynn go." >> narrator: for tru, washington was turning out to bd a veferent place than new york. >> the battlefield is litteredth umerous people who have come out of new york and gone down to washington, to think that things are going to work down there just like they do in new york, and then they find out, much to their dismay, n that how it is. >> narrator: und pressure, trump gave in. he could keep flynn no longer. >> ...embattled national security adviser michael flynn has stepped down.
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>> narrator: trump accepynd s resignation. >> ...shake-up for the trump administration... >> ...caps off a tumultuous first month in office... >> narrator: flynn was gone, but still in jpardy from an active fbi investigation. now the prident took an extraordinary step. >> on valentine's day 2017, vaere was a meeting in the office between the attorney general and the director of the, im comey. >> narrator: as the meeting ended, the preside tried to empty the room. he wanted to speak to the fbi director alone. >> and attorney general jeff sessions kind of lingers. and comey thinks that's because sessns knows the president should not be meeting alone with the fbi director. >> narrator: comey was wary. as he had before, he would write notes of what happened. >> "e a.g. lingered momentarily by my chair, but the president thanked him and said he wanted to meet with jim. he repeated this at least one more time to usher people out." if you're comey, you're sitting there and thinking,
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"what is it the president needs to say to me that he can't say in front of the attorney general?" jim comey's a longtime prosecutor, and right away, i isspect his antennae were going up and saying, "s evidence of a guilty mind right here, at he's about to ask me do." >> he finally gets the two of them, just the two of them in the room, and then proceeds to get to work on the michael flynn issue. >> "he began by saying he wantet to 'talk a mike flynn.'" >> saying, "can you just kind of ease up onim, he's a really good guy." >> "'i hope you can let this go.' i replied by saying, 'i agree he is a good guy,' but said nomo ." >> is the president asking the fbi director to stop looking at russian interactions with the mpaign? is he trying to shut down a counterintelligence probe that began in july of 2016? >> trump's talking to the director of the fbi about an ongoing investigation by the
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fbi. and at that point, he's really, from comey's perspective, crossed the line.s >> thaally in direct contravention of policies that have been in place ever since tergate, to not have that type of interference by the whitees house in igations undertaken by the department or the bureau. >> comey leaves that meeting fairly sweaty-palmed. goes to his car and begins opening his laptop and typing down the words, the phrases that he can remember the president said, because he's that scared of, of what this is that has just happened. >> there's an old adage in the organization that, "if it happened and you didn't write it down, it didn't happen." and so i think that he was thinking, at that time, that, you know, "the president is at least walking himself down this trail to an investigation, where he could become a subject of the investigation, and i need to be able to document what has
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happened." >> narrator: once again, comey and trump were at odds. comey headed to the justice department to confront jeff sessions about what had just happened. >> comey pulls the attorney general aside and says, "you can't leave me alo with the president like that. you're supposed to say, 'mr. president, i need to stick f arou this.' or, 'no, mr. president, i have to advise that, you know, somebody else shouldre.' you gotta back me up." >> the job othe attorney general is to insulate the fbi from inappropriate political interference. at that moment, sessions realized that he did not do what was expected of him. and the question is, does he have the spine to do it? >> narrator: sessions knew how things worked at the justice department. he had once been a united states attorney in alabama, where he built a reputation as a rock-ribbed conservative. it formed the foundation of a run for the senate.
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>> if we undermine honesty, hard work, and diipline, then we'll undermine the strength of this nation. >> for senate, jefsessions. >> narrator: he served in the senate for 20 years as a law and order conservative. >> i've been beat up by jeff rysessions in senate judic hearings, and very pro-lawem enfot. and, you know, what you see with jeff sessions is what you get. very predictable, hardline conservative. >> narrator: in 2016, sessions decided to play a lo shot. he would suppo donald trump, and if he won, many believed he'd become a prime candidate for attorney general. >> and i want to just introduce you to him for a second, senator jeff sessions. (cheering) >> he was invaluable tthe campaign in helping to get president trump elected.ow >> what a crowd this is.
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>> he was the first senar to endorse president trump. he held a rally with him down in alabama. and at the time, people didn't know if he'd be the president or not. >> at this time in americans'e history,ed to make america greaagain. >> because sessions endorsed trump, trump didn't have to prove that he was a conservative, because jeff i sessionssort of the "good housekeeping" seal of approval for a lot of conservatives, particularly in the south, where trump was very successful. it>> i'm proud to have you us. god bless. >> narrator: trump appointed sessions as attorney general. but from almost the beginning, there was a problem. >> two more trump campaign officials face scrutin their contacts with russia. >> narrator: interactions mptween russians and the t campaign were becoming public. and at his confirmation hearing, sessions was asked about them. >> cnn has just published a story saying, "there was a
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continuing exchange of information during the campaign between trump surrogates and intermediaries for the russian government." >> senator franken, i'm not aware of any of those activities. i ha been called a "surrogat at a time or two in that campaign, and i did not ve communications with the russians, and i'm unable toen coon it. >> narrator: but before long, the "washington post" reported sessions had in fact met on at least two occasions with the russian ambassador, se kislyak. >> "senator jeff sessions spoke twice last year with russia's ambassador to the united states, justice department officials id, encounters he did not disclose." >> narrator: nevertheless, sessions continued to insist he did nothing wrong. >> well, i have not met with any russia at any time to discuss any political campaign, and
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those remarks are unbelievable to me and are false, and i don't have anything else to say about that. >> today republicans urged the trump white house to quickly ..solve the controvers >> attorney general jeff sessions has repeatedly resisted... >> narrator:n the face of an onslaught of reporting, the story became impossible for sessions to ignore. >> jeff sessions too tied to the campaign... >> he was compromised. jeff sessions misled the senate during his confirmation hearing about that. he had lied about whether he had that meeting. >> narrator: now, departmentf justice staff advised sessions to recuse himself from the inveigation. >> it was appropriate for him to recuse. ani think the appearance o impropriety, if not the reality, is sething that was really important to avoid. >> narrator: but the president had disagreed. he wanted sessions to be his first line of defensnst comey. >> the president expects of jeff sessions, and really a lot of people around him, complete loyalty.
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he wants people to protect him. he wants people to, if possible, bend the rules ait so that they can make sure that they have his bk. >> the democrats, as you could imagine, having a field day wit. this, saying >> lawmakers on both sides hav been calling on jeff sessions to recuse himself... >> trump was visiting a hu new aircraft carrier in newportia news, virginat the harbor there, and it was a big event. >> narrator: trump would use the photo op to send a message to jeff sessions. >> narrator: the president had already insisted his counsel, don mcgahn, tell sessions not to recuse himself, and now trump said it publicly. >> when did you first learn that sessions spoke to the russian ambassador? did you know during the? camp >> narrator: but without consulting trump, that same day,
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sessions called a press conference. >> i have now decided to recuse myself from any existing or future investigations of any matter relating in any way to the campaigns for president of the united states. thank you all, thank you.hi >> narrator: ibattle anainst comey, trump had just lost his best chce to shut down the investigation. i >> andhink there's frustration there, frustration that he appointed somebody to be loyal, andhat person abdicated responsibility. >> he, he's feeling the same eling that all presidents just that they don't typically feel it withinhe first few weeks of an administration. and that is, "i don't have as much power as i thought i had." f >> for tst time, fbi director james comey will reveal... >> narrar: and now, comey would go public, in testimony before congress. >> another political drama set to unfold. james comey will publiclyns answer quest. >> narrator: with sessions on the sidelines,omey was again in the spotlight.
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>> ...and tell you what heo knows, gpublic on live television, no filter. >> narrator: he appeared in front of the house intelligence committee and on national television. >> ..with the white house on the line... >> president trump is heading into a high-stakes... h >> love him e him, jim comey is a remarkable communicator. and i'm sure that mr. trump watched a lot of that testimony, if not all of it. >> mr. chairman, ranking member schiff, members of the committee, thank you for including me in today's hearing. i'm honored to be here representing the peoplof the fbi. i have been authorized by the department of justice to confirm... >> and he says, "i have beeny authorizede department of justice to confirm," and, and,f kindl heads turn to the television in every newsroom in america. and we're saying, "is comey going to confirm on the record that they'renvestigating the trump campaign?" >> ...that the fbi, as part of our counterintelligencmission, is investigating the nature of
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any links between individuals associated with the trump a campai the russian government, and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and russia's... h confirms this in front of these lawmakers. and that's kind of a big moment. suddenly we're off to the races. this is now, to trump's mind, a direct and public threat to his >> iwant to make sure we get this on the record. do you have any evidence thaten any cutrump white house or administration official coordinated with the russian intelligence services? >> not a question i can answer. >> that was the death knell, at least as we understand the esident's thinking. once he heard and saw that-- because apparently he s watching-- that was, at least in his mind, that was the end of jim comey. e you know, there is a big gray cloud that you hw put over people who have very important work to do to lead this country. >> it was surreal.
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it was a waking nightmare to hear director comey say that on live national television. he put everyone close to president trump under a cloud. >> the head of the fbi dropped two bombshells landing at the white house doorstep. >> ...comey puicly confirming for the first time... >> narrator: with flynn caught lying and sessions having recused himself, anoer showdown was becoming inevitable. >> a notorious moscow bank is tw part of the... >> narrator: and press had also ratcheted up the pressure as they uncovered more meetings between russians and trump campaign officials. >> ...possible ties between russian officials d trump... >> this is just not normal. it just seems like there's more and more meetings, they just keep coming out. >> this time, it is e president's son-in-law and.. senior advis >> narrator: many of the stories focused on jared kushner, the prident's son-in-law. >> kushner had met with a top russian bank who was known to be close to president putin during the transition. he hadlso had a conversation with sergei kislyak, the russian ambassador, and there had been
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even the discussion about setting up a back channel of communication to moscow. >> narrator: now, kushner was increasingly under scrutiny. >> jared is learning that his actions, especially with michael flynn, his interactions with various russians, is under investigation, as wed whether he's been honest about them and what was going on in those conversations. >> kushner headline today and tonight... >> narrator: the scandal had now reached the president's family. >> the notion that there's thisg inveion at the justice department and the fbi that could encompass his children, his son-in-law, and possibly his business interests, is getting him veryvery nervous. >> jared kushner, the president's son-in-law, had a previously... >> narrator: trump, inundated by the headlines and under pressure from comey, left washington. he headed for his country club in bedminster, n jersey. >> it's a sort of rainy weekend in bedmiter. so donald trump is supposed to
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be out golfing. he's stuck inside. he's in a sort of foul mood anyway. >> the president was frustrated. his family was frustrated. they felt like they were being swept into this riide of an investigation. and they thought if they could just pluck comey out, that mbe the investigation could end. te also, new whirlwind developments rep.. >> narrator: in bedminster on that rainy weekend, without any of his most senior staff members present, donald trump would make the most consequential decion of his first year in office. >> there is essentially no adult in the room. thrtainly no legal adult i room, who really has an understanding of whathis is going to mean, not just politically, but legally. >> narrator: trump decided he would get rid of comey. t >> trump come conclusion that, "i can't put up with this anymore. i'm going to fire jim comey."s ther consultation. there's just gut instinct and raw anger. narrator: trump dictate letter to comey.
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>> it is a rant, the original draft. nobody's original draft is that great, but this draft is donaldm trp unloading all of the reasons that comey has failed him. >> narrator: on sunday, donald trump returned to washington with the letter, determined to carry out his plan to stop jim comey once and for all. >> comey has been indicating that he knows so much more than he's letting on.... >> comey opens up another investigatn into... >> james comey isn't backing down. 's said he wouldn't... >> ...still as an active part of an fbi investigation, was there collusion between trump associates... >> nartor: the next morning in the west wing, the word was out. trump was preparing to take the fateful step of sending the letter. >> word gets back to don mcgahn, the white house counsel, that this document has been prepared. and he freaks out. >> our understanding is that don mcgahn reads that and says, "yeah, you-- you don't want to send that." n rator: even trump's abrasive adviser steve bannon was stunned.
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>> of all people, steve bannon is the one in the room who's saying, "you can't get rid of this guy jim comey.ld this we a terrible, terrible mistake. it's going to cause a firestorm." >> narrator: although trump had the execute power to fire comey, bannon foresaw dire political consequences. >> bannon has mo of a sense of history than a lot of the people who are in thawhite house. and so, he knows the history of watergate. and he also knows about obstruction of justice, and what it could look like if trump fires comey. ga >> there's no way says that this document can be used as the basis for firing jim comey-- "no way, nhow, give me the document." >> narrator: the white housese cohad an alternative. >> mcgahn had separately learned that rod rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, also had concerns with jim comey. ysd he brokers this deal. so he basically o the president, you know, "mr. president, you don't need to
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send that.u ould really talk to rod rosenstein." >> narrator: they set up a meeting between rosenstein, attorney general jeff sessions, and the president. >> the president lets them know he wants to fire james comey that's clear. and the directive for sessions and rosenstein ito draw up the rationale, to write memos explaining why they believe comey had made mistakes on the job and deserved to be fired. >> narrator: they had their orders. rosenstein would do his part, a task that would place him at the epicenter of a historicde sion. he had spent his life learning the law-- first at the university of pennsylvania, and then harvard law school. >> he's a lifelong republican. he was a member of the federalist society, the conservative legal movement. >> narrator: with ken starr, rosenstein was part of the independent counsel's investigation of bill clinton. eventually, george w. bush and barack obama made him united states attorney.
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>> he has served in both democratic and republican administrations as the u.s. attorney in the district of maryland. and so, enjoys, you know, a bipartisan reputation that is and was well-ened. so he's a professional. >> narrator: now, rosenste would build a case against jim comey's handling of the fbi. >> rod rosenstein, this guy who served 27 years in the justice department, a boy scout, he looks like a boy scout, and he thinks that comey has violated the justice department norms by talking too much abo hillary clinton during the election. >> narrator: the president wanted the memo as s possible. it was a rush job. he delivered it the next day. >> rod rosenstein's memo echoed what a lot of the hillary clinton campaign people had been saying for months-- that comey had inserted himself into the election.hi he'd made elf too public.
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he had taken on a role that did not really belong to him. >> "the director ignored another long-standing principle: we do not hold press conferences to release derogatory information about the subject of a declined criminal investigation." >> trump doesn't care about what comey did to hurt hillary clinton, but it becomes the iacuse, or at least the in excuse the white house uses to explain why they were firing the fbi director. >> narrator: donald trump had fired hundreds of people face to face on "the apprentic" this time, as president, it would be different. >> he just decides to do it. trump isn't going to deliverhe message himself. he sends his longtime bodyguard in a white house car with the pink slip over to the fbi to deliver the d news.>> eith schiller, the president's body man, can't get into the fbi.
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the fbi is not a place you can just walk and be, like, "i have a note for comey. i'm from the white house." "great, you're from the white house, super. you can't come in here." of>> narrator: he dropped f the letter and left. >> breaking news: james comeyed has been remov from heading the fbi... >> narrator: comey was out of town. >> and he was at our los angeles field office giving a talk tod the office, u know, behind them on the news it said that jim comey was just fired by the president of the united states. >> president trump has fired james mey as director of the fbi. it comes without warning... >> he actually makes a comment to the audience like, h, look at that-- i just got fired," thinking that, you know, it was a mistake. and then i think one of his staff came over to him and saidt "look, we neleave. this, this is-- this is real." >> well, this is a big shock. t they did not ss coming... >> a stunning announcement from the white house today: president trump fired... >> narrator: news helicopters were waiting as comey left the fbi field office.
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>>cht was a major sucker pun in the gut. he was widely regarded througho the organization. there were a few people that were, were not fans, so to speak. but even they were upset... >> ...has drawn comparisons to president richard nixon's "saturday night massacre." >> terms of how he learned that he had been dismissed or fired. >> moments ago, breaking news deat no one saw coming today: we learned that presint trump has fired... >> this is a very closely kept secret here at the white house. i am told only a handful of top >> it stunning, unprecedented. comey apparently is also caught... >> narrator: shock, anger, and chaos engulfed washi >> amid mounting outrage on capitol hill, some lawmakers are questioning the couny's... >> narrator: at the white house, they struggl to offer an explanation. >> i feel like the white house is not ierested in-- in getting to the bottom of this, though. >> the press office is suddenly thrust o there to explain a decision they had no part in, that they didn't know much about, reporters who were trying to figure out what was
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going onit was-- it waaos. >> the comey firing came without warninand stunned... >> narrator: by the time the ofite house hit the airwaves, the story the presce told was that rosenstein's memo was the primary reason for the firing. >> the deputy attorney general is a gentleman by the name ofin rod rosens rosenstein. he made a determination that the fbi director had lost s confidence. >> the message from the white house is, "we fired comey because he botched the hillary clinton investigation, perio" >> you know, to those who say, "why now, why fire james comey now?", what do you say? >> well, i would point them to the three letters that were received today, anderson: the letter by president donald trump, the letter by attorney general sessions, and rely the underlying report by deputy attorney general rod rosenstein, o the fbi director reports to. >> all of the people spinning on behalf of the white house toldth the pres the comey firing was based on a memo from rod rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, which had to do with comey's performance in the hillary clinton investigation.e
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well, ess wasn't buying that. >> most of this letter focuses on hillary clinton's emails. this is stuff that as a candidate, donald trump praised james comey for. >> this was sort of like a, a mind-bending situation, right? becausthe president, who campaigned on, like, "lock her up" is firing the fbi director, and then pointing to these memoy that"well, you were unfair to hillary clinton." , d so we were just trying to figure out like what actually-- what is going on here? >> he took theecommendation of his deputy attorney general who oversees the fbi directory. >> that makes no sense. it does make sense. >> he said one thing as a candidate and now he's concerned as president? >> makes complete sense. because he has lost confidenceec in the fbi dr, and he took the recommendation of rod... >> the white house said it was deputy attorney general, rod rosensteinar. >>tor: at the justice department, rosensin was surprised he was receiving all the blame. >> white house says president trump fired comey because of rosenstein's recommendation. >> rod rosenstein sees what's happening, and that his reasons
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are being used as thpretext to justify the president's action. he was none too pleased once he saw that that was happening. ein is noten particularly happy that the white hoe isinning the blame... >> rosenstein is blown away, and he actually calls sessions and says, "i am going to resign ifif thisou keep saying this, if the president keeps saying this." >> this memo, by rod rosenstein, it's dated yesterday, so really... th ...many questioning if comey was fired becauswhite house feared... >> narrator: the next morning, on the president's gto network, fox news... >> you're fired! president trump ousting the fbi director, james come >> narrator: the news was all comey, all the time.>> evin corke is live at our nation's capital with the details. >> narrator:he president would celebrate comey's firing behind closed doors with two unlikely white house guests-- russian foreigminister sergei lavrov and ambassador sergei kislyak.
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>> just ahead of today's meetinr with thesian foreign minister... >> (sighing): oy. that meeting. >> he is the highest-ranking russian official that theid prt has met so far... >> in a way, it's... it's, it's like a play: you can't believe it really bupresident is essentially celebrating with the russian diplomats. one day after firing the man heading that probe into the trump campaign ties to russia... no u.s.-based reporters, no american white house reporters are in the room. >> the russians cameth a photographer from their state media agency, tass, who took photos of this event, photos that were used to some effect in russia as propaganda. >> terrible optics. terrible optics that just...av you couldn'tscripted it worse. >> trump says, "we're going to have a great relationship. the's this investigation. it's just become a total
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irritant for me." and he says, "comey's firing lifted a great weight from me. the guy was a nut job." >> first the firing, now the fallout. >> narrator: around washington and the nation, the negative reaction to the comey firing was gaining momentum. >> president trump now facing outrage after firing comey... >> is hard to... >> narrator: to address the crisis, the president went on his old network for a one-onne interview. nb >> this is "nightly news" with lester holt. >> tonight, stunning revelations from president trump and our nbc news exclusive interview. monday, you met with the deputy attorney general, rod rosenstein. >> right.or >> did you ask recommendation? >> what i did is, i was going to fire comey. my decision, it was t... >> you had made the decision before they came in the room. >> i-- i was going to fire comey...t a dramatic moment to see the president come out and not only completely undermine the case that his white house had been making, as spurious a case a as transparent a case
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it was, it still had been the official line. e president comes out an demolishes that case immediately. >> so, you had already made the decision. oh, i was going to fire regardless of recommendation. >> i think there's a level on which president trump doesn't want to be portrayed as just aidoing the bidding of soms who write a memo. he's the decider, to coin aph se. >> in fact, when i decided to just do it, i said to myself, i said, "you know, thiia thing with trump and russia is a made-up story. it's an excuse by the democrats for having lost an ection that they should have won." >> you know, the thing withdo ld trump is, he often says what he believes. and if you just wait long enough he'll-- he'll tell you the truth. i mean, he'll say it. >> it is the interview that will erkely dominate... >> narrator: the iew backfired. >> the president's comments contradict... >> nrator: it triggered questions about whether comey's fing was an attempt to obstruct justice by thees ent. >> contradictions and confusion from the white house... ...president admitting russia was on his mind. >>
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arrator: for his part, even out of a job, jim comey was not going to be sidelined. >> jim comey, who's not known for staying silent in the facetr of cersy and unrest, begins to defend himself. >> this morning, there is mounting... >> narrator: comey decided to try to force the justice department to name a special counsel. he had those memos aboutis meetings with the president as evidence. now, he engineered a leak to the "new york times." breaking news, at first reported by the "new york times," james comey memos saying that trump askehim to end the flynn investigation. >> it s written after an oval office meeting that he had with the presidenback in february. >> and i refer to it as-- as jim's leak. jim doesn't like to call it that. but it's neither here nor there. it was information that he had, that he passed on to the "new york times."ah and i think that was the straw that broke the camel's back. no >>er cloud of controversy hangs over the trump white house... >> the press are demanspng a ial prosecutor... >> calls are growing louder...
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>> jim comey, who says that he's above politics, acally knows way more about political dynamics and the way washingtonh work most people in this story. >> narrator: as comey hoped, the call for a special counsel grew louder. the decision would fall to rod. rosenste >> rod rosenstein watched his reputation get dragged through e mud for, for an entire week by people who he really respected.he found there was only one way to undo the dage, and that was to appoint a special counsel. >> narrator: a special counsel-- the most powerful investigative weapon the justice department wields. >> rosenstein said, "i need someone to not only stabilize the investigation, i need to stabilize the department of justice." it had been under siege from president trump, from public scrutiny. >> narrator: he named one of the nation's legendary prosecutors-- former fbi director robert mueller-- to be the special counsel. and in mueller, you have the ultimate presence who is discreet, but also experienced,
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to come in and be that person. >> we begin with breaking ne the white house in crisis. the justice department appointed a special counsel to... w >> this is a g has no problem with holding people accountable, being direct and driven to get the an he's going to do it right, you know, in accordance with the rule of law. that's a that matters. >> if you're in the west wing and bob mueller is on your trail, should you be worried? >> you should be afraid. you should be very afraid. >> the justice departmen tonight naming special counsel to take over the investigation into russia' >> mueller's rcollusion probe... >> mueller could expandob the .. >> narrator: at the white house, the president happened to be meeting with attorney generalhe sessionsrosenstein called to announce mueller's apintment. >> president trump doesn't like to get bad news, and this was bad news. it was more than bad news, it was terrible news. >> and now you see him really unleash all his anger on jeff sessions, and plainly tells jeff sessions that, "you are the
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reason why all of this is happening." w >> trumpas furious and took it out on sessions and humiliated him. trump obviously felt himself endanged by a special counsel, and lost his temper. >> trump's law is loyalty to him and what he wants too. e he's famously said, "wh my roy cohn?" and there are thingshat jeff sessions apparently won't do for donald trump, and donald trumpm won't forgive r that. ra >> nartor: sessions had had enough of the president's anger. >> sessions just ends up bolting out of the white house, rushing his car. he said, "you want me to quit? i'm going to quit." >> he's regning as attorney general. he's distraught. and he's had it. he's at the end of his rope. he's been sulted by trump. he's, he's decided that that's it. >> narrator: in the west wing, all hell broke loose. >> don mcgahn, the legal counsel, bursts into reince priebus' office and sa"we've got trouble. not only do we have a spial counsel appointed, but jeff
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sessions has just resigned." priebus says, "you're kidding me." priebus goes running down the staircase into the west wing parking lot. >> finds sessions in his car bpreparing to leave, and gs on the door. "you got to come out. you got to come back in.n' you leave this way. you can't just blow up like this."us >> and p essentially almost has to dragim back up into the west wing, where vice president pence ansteve bannon then come in and join priebus and talk sessions off the ledge. >> it's clear that the muellerat investn is just getting started. we're going to head to washington, where the white house...>> arrator: across town, in an undisclosed secure location, the new special counsel, robert s. mueller iii, was just getting started. >> when you become a special prosutor, they give you a
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piece of paper with a mandate. at that moment, yodon't have anything else. you don't have a staff. you don't have agents. you don't have prosecutors. you don't even have a legal pad and paper clip and a pen. >> narrator: what robert mueller did have was a lifetime of eparation for this moment. >> he volunteered to serve in vietnam as a united states marine, highly decorated, wounded in action. >> narrator: in the '90s, mueller had tried his hand in the private sector at a prestigious law rm. he hated it. >> $400,000 a year, he felt like he wasn't doing the lord's work. he q >> narrator: he took a substantial pay cut to bec line prosecutor. he worked homicide in washington, dc. >> his great joy was putting away bad guys and answering his phone, "mueller, homicide." >> bob mueer cares about one
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thing, and one thing only: indicting bad guys and putting them in prison. >> narrator: a republican, he'd run the fbi for both gw. bush and barack obama.ed puut of private practice, robert mueller was back at the center of the acon. >> ...quietly gathered a team of more than three dozen attorneys, investigators... >> narrator: from the secure dalocation, he built a fore team. >> i believe his term was "ninja assassins" >> this is lik moment at the beginning of the "avengers" crvies where all the superheroes are kind of spreads the globe, and bob mueller calls them all and they all reassemble together in washington to takess on this new n. >> and the team mueller has assembled may be the a-team of prosecutors for an entire generation. >> aaron zebley, who was an fbi agent beforemi be a prosecutor. >> michael dreeben, is one of t smartest people i know, who's argued over 100 supreme court cases. >> jeannie rhe who was a highly respected prosecutor in
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the u.s. attorney's office.w >> andissmann-- he has a reputation for being a scorched-earth prosecutor. >> mueller put greg andres onwh his teamwas an experienced mob prosecutor in new york. >> i mean, that was the first sort of warning sign for theit trump house, because they're "killers," steve bannon calls them. >> narrator: mueller's team had broad authority to investigate: russian interference; the trump campaign; and in the wake of the comey firing, possible obstruction of jtice by the president himself. >> there's this question of whether that act, by itself,co titutes obstruction of justice. maybe it does, maybe it doesn't. but that issue didn' exist before he fired james comey. now it does. now he's the subject of a federal inveigation by a special prosecutor. >> narrator: mller also had the evidence from comey's memos: the president asking comey for loyalty, to go easy on mike flynn, the berating of sessions for s recusal, the use of th
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rosenstein memo. >> so, you know, you start stringing all these together, and that's how a prose would present the case. these improper acts, eif they are not in and of themselves criminal, amount to an intent to obstruct justice. >> narrator: the white house was undesiege. the president, in anger and desperation, returned to roy cohn's strategy-- a forceful counterattack. >> "this is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in american history!" "there is no colluon and no obstruction. i should be given apology!" "you are witnessing the single greatest witch hunt in american political history--ve led by som bad and conflicted people." in >> the president dely seized on that term "witch hunt." he used it again and again. he used in tweets. he used it when he was at a microphone. it's something that he felt was working to undermine the mueller
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investigation. "after seven months of investigations and 'collusion with the russians,' nobodyas been able to show any proof. sad!" >> president trump calling the muelr investigation a "witch hunt" has an impact in alshington in that the people who want to be lo president trump can use that same language. >> "fox and friends" starts right now. >> narrator: and at fox news, that's just what happened. >> the president is really mad. >> he tweeted this out, "as the phony russian witch hunt continues..." >> this is a very dangerous witch hunt. >> only because i think this is a witch hunt. >> and put an end to the political witch hunt against president trump. >> narrator: trump was avidly watching. >> he likes what he sees on these fox opinion shows, andth ey often get the benefit of having access the president. >> get rid of mueller. >> mueller should be dismissed. >> robert mueller must be fired immediately. >> the call for the firing of robert mueller... >>noe either pulls the plug w or this will be going on years
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from now. >> he has daily conversations with the hosts there. he's able to get his talking pots out there. >> the fbi is a shadow government now. >> and what they did iaking this information was illegal, correct? >> absolutely illegal, andit lmost becomes a soft coup in a sense. >> there is a cleansing needed in our fbi and department of "nstice. >> narrator: athew york oumes" that summer, they had a lead on what w become the biggest story yet. >> they had discovered anoth meeting between the trump campaign and the russians. co >> meagues and i had been doing some reporting on this, the idea that there was another russian meetin we didn't totally understand, that had been undiscled during the campaign. >> narrator: they learned donald trump,r., had hosted the meeting with a russian lawyer, natalia veselnitskaya. also in the room: jared kushner and campaign chairman paul manafort. >> ...the president gears up for what could be his most importt...
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>> narrator: the newspaper wanted a comment frothe white house. but that week, the president was in hamburg, germany, for the g20 summit and his first meeting with vladimir putin. >> this is big distraction on the sidelines of the summit, as the white house officials try to figure out how to respond to this inquiry from the "new york times." he >> thite house says, "we want to be helpful. we want to engage on this. just give us some time." >> narrator: after the sumt, the president himself took control of handling the "new york times." >> my one rings and it's the air force one operator, youow kn"can you please hold?" and it's, "i know we were supposed to have a cl, i know e 're, we're late, can you just give us a little mme? we're working on this." and of course, we now know that at the front of air force one, hope hicks and president trump are kind of working on this statent. >> he is at the center of it, and driving it. and you have the president
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physically dictating a message that he's going to put the name of his son, donald >> the lawyers for the president are losing their minds. they are not on air force one, they are not in germany, but they are hearing secondhand that a statement is about to be issued to the "new york times." >> to write a statement, just-- hemean that's just amateur hour. but in fairness to lawyers, i mean, i-- they couldn't conol their client. they still can't control their client. se responds to a report in the "new york times" that claims donald tjr.... >> narrator: trump's statement-- written for his son-- said the meeting was about adoption of russian orphans. a >> "it w short introductory i asked jared paul to stop by. we primarily discussed a program about the adoption of russian children." >> narrator: but there was a reason for the meeting that the president's statement did not
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mention. >> last night, the "new york times" published details about a meeting during the campaign involving a kremlin-linked wyer... >> narrator: as the presidento returned twashington, it didn't take long for the truth to come out. >> ...e explosive news about president trump and russia. it involves donald trump, jr.,e breaking in st... >> it only takes about 24 hours for that statement to completely blow up. b >> potentialbshell from the president's own son, donald trump, >> narra in the days that followed, the "new york times" discovered a series of emails setting up the meeting. he another day, another installment in tussian elections... >> the next day we reported that what had actually happened is that don jr. had been promised dirt on hillary clinton by this russian lawyer. >> "the crowprosecutor of russia offered to provide the trump campaign with some offici documents and anformation that would incriminate hillarher dealings with russia and would be very useful to your father." >> in the emails setting up the meeting, don jr. was told that this meeting was part of theru
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ian government's efforts to support now-president trump. >> "ths obviously very high- level and sensitive information, but is part of russia and itsve ment's support for mr. trump." >> i mean, i remember saying, "oh, my go it says it, it says it in an email? 'this is part of the russian government's efforts to support donald trump" >> we're talking about top aides in the middle of the campaign. we're talking about jared kushner, paul manafortld trump, jr., sitting down with a russian woman who has told them that she's going to give them some sort of information on hillary clint. it's a crystal-clear reason why they're there. >> what does don jr. write back in an email? "if it's what you say, >> "i love it, especially later inhe summer." >> coming on top of everything else that had come out about all these russian contacts with the campaign, the trump tower email
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trail was incredibly >> ts no ambiguity about this. this is there in black-and- white. allywhatever they ac talked about in the meeting, the adverted intent of the meeting was collusion. >> narrator: for his part, the president would downplay the importance of the meeting.>> othing happened from the meeting, zero happened from the meeting. and honestly, i think the presse very big deal over something that really a lot of people would do. >> now we've got another email, an email that could...r: >> narraut special counsel robert mueller was paying close attention. the queson-- was there anything illegal about the meeting or the misleading statement? >> the president's lawyers, they're intensely concerned that the president has essentially now added to an obstruction case. >> narrator: mueller would look into to the writing of that statement on air force one. >> if the president's up there, and he's deliberately crafting a
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lie to cover the purpose of the meeting, is that another step in the obstruction investigation? is it also another step in terms of the conspiracy/collusion investigation? >> it shows that therump team was willing to engage with theru ians... >> what is that special counsel robert mueller knows... >> narrator: trump and his family were increasingly in jeopardy. he blamed his attorney general. >> over the summer, the role jeff sessions has played or refused to play, by recusing himself from overseeing this investigation, increasingly grates on donald trump. s's like the pebble in his shoe, the origin of the russia investigation, from his point of view. >> narrator: the president decided to provoke a confrontation with sessions. he invited three reporters into the oval office to send sessions a message on the front page of the "new york times." >> maggie haberman, mike schmidt, and i go in to interview president trump. d suddenly, without any notice, really, he starts really
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trashing jeff sessions. r sessions should have ne recused himself, and if he was going to recuse himsel he should've told me before he took the job and i would've picked somebody else. >> we had reported in the past that he was unhappy with sessions, but we hadn't heard him say that out loud in public way like that. he was absorbed by it. he was dwelling on it and he wanted to get this message out. >> it's extremely unfair, anthat's a mild word, to the president. >> he was tellinthe world that he didn't have confidence in his own attorney general, and it was remarkable. >> narrator: and in case sessions didn't get the message itas time for him to leave on twitter, the president ramped up the atta. >> "attorney general jeff sessions has taken a very weak position on hillary clinton crimes." "why didn't a.g. sessions replace acting fbi director andrew mccabe, a comey friend?" "so, why aren't th committees and investigators, and of course our beleaguered
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a.g., looking into crooked hillary's crimes a russia relations?"ck >> in attaing jeff sessions, he's attacking the very nature of the attney general's role and he's attacking the very nature of the department of justice. >> narrator: but on capitol hill, where sessions served in the senate for 20 years, he had powerful aies prepared to fight back against the >> so when donald trump signaled that he wanted to get rid of jeff sessions, his allies, jeff sessions' allies in the senate stood up for him, actually very stadngly, in a way that they not stood up to the president on other issues. >> mitch mcconnell, the majority leader, and chuck grassley, the judiciary commite chairman, made very clear they stand by sessions. >> whatever you may think of sessions, he had a lot ofes support in con and trump ultimately realized w that he probabld not be able to have a replacement confirmed if he actually went ahead and got rid of sessions. >> narrator: the president was
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stuck. sessions wasn't going anywhere. >> in the private world, in which citizen trump and i come from, if y hire a lawyer and the lawyer says, "i'm sorry, i can't doob that you hired me to do," or "i can't do 50% of the job you hired me to do," you say, "fine, you're fired. i'll go find somebody else." and apparently, he fike he's stuck with his current attorney general, because the senate has a say in this, too. >> narrator: so far, trump's strategy of confrontationke hadn't w now, trump reluctantly changed tactics. he would turn to lawyers steeped in the ways of washington. >> we're going to bring in the professionals now. ved they bring in some, some people who eal washington pedigrees, who know, certainly, who robert mueller is, and who are gointo cooperate, and are going to ki of play by the rules. >> narrator: john dowd, a longtime washington criminal defense specialist, and ty cobb,
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an expert trial lawyer, join the team. >> ty cobb is openly saying, "i have great respect for bob muelle i think he's a patriot." and so he says to mueller, "i'm here and we want to be cooperative." >> narrator: their "get along" strate: providing more than a million documents, agreeing to interviews with white staff, and keeping the president from tweetin >> you're trying to keep him in the box. you're trying to make sure that he doesn't do somethally stupid, i mean, whether it's a tweet or it's a, you know, ill-timed statement, a public statement. >> narrator: since the president relied on cable tv for information... >> the white house, they hope the investigation will be done within a month or so.hi >> narrator: .lawyers wanted him to hear a positive message. >> they expect the probe to be over soon. >> his lawrs are telling him that, in the words in the story, there's a light at the end of the tunnel.s >> tvestigation is coming to an end soon. >> they're trying to keep him calm, they're trying to keep him not only from tweeting...
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>> narrator: in waington, they said cobb was speaking to an audience of one. >> there is no reason for it not to conclude soon. >> what is soon? >> and soon to me would be, within the nex you know, four to six weeks. t y cobb said it was thanksgiving-- his timeline has moved a little bit-- but that there's no evidence that they see coming forward that he is in real legal jeopardy, and that this will end sooner rather than later. >> the problem is, we would reach thanksgiving. we would reach christmas. we would reach january and february. and the investigation was still going on. so there was no end point. and trump was tting increasingly frustrated and impatient. >> "people with knowledge of the investigation said it could last at lnother year. m >> ...are muore skeptical, saying there's little indicati that mueller is wrapping up his work. >> using the word "expeditious" and "special counsel" or "independent counsel" in the same sentence is usually a mistake. >> narrator: in fact, robert mueller's office was running at full speed. >> this is an investigation that is humming. it is moving. everyday before 6 a.m., bob
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mueller comes into the gage, slips in. witnesses will come in through the garage. they're bringing in every single white housofficial they can. meanwhile, they're talking through all the different russian interference onocial media. this is a sprawling, active investigation. wa now there's this new reporting from the street journal," reporting that special counsel robert mueller's... >> narrator: some of mueller'sn investigatwas finally going public. >> scial counsel robert mueller has issued subpoenas... >> narrator: trump campaign foreign policy aide george papadopoulos pled guilty to lying about russian >> ...ormer trump aide george papadopoulos has pleaded guilty to making false... >> narrator: trump's campaign chairman, paul manafort, and his deputy rick gates were indicted on numerous charges ranging from conspiracy to money laundering. >> ...manafort and his former business associate rick gatesre were told tonder to federal authorities this morning. >> narrator: mike flynn pled yingty to that charge of to the fbi. >> white house nationarity adviser michael flynn has pleaded guilty... >> narrator: the "get along" strategy had faile
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>> ...robert mueller is now issuing his first... ev >> htually just came to the conclusion that, "i made a mistake. i should have come out fighting, given into my own instincts from the very beginning." anei think once the end of year came, and the inquiry hadn't gone away, so, what he'dt bed by his lawyers turned out to be completely incorrect. >> ...that mueller's team is no longer just asking the trump organizaon for information, they're legally demanding... r narrator: the final straw-- news that muelsued a subpoena directed at trump's private company, the trump organization.ia >> ...spcounsel robert mueller has subpoenaed the trump organization... >> the president, week in and week out, is festering. he's unhappy with this special counsel. he keeps thinking, "when is this going to end?" he gets into screaming matches with dowd and cobb about the slow pace of everything. budowd and cobb keep sayin "look, we're trying to protect you, but on every otr front, provide them with information." >> lead lawyer john dowd is now out. >> narrator: dowd resigned the
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next week. >> another leg team shakeup signaling perhaps... >> ...that ty cobb may be on his way out. >> narrator: ty cobb's days were also numbered. th >> he's unhappy veryone because it's not over. >> narrator: trump's willingness to cooperate with thewa investigatioover. >> the president of the united states is currently under a criminalnvestigation. >> narrator: and then the fbi dramatically escalated the showdown. >> breaking news tonight, andom it's ahell. the fbi raids the office of president trump's personalwy , michael cohen. >> narrator: the president, as he watched the raid on tevision, was furious. >> trump erupted. heas very upset. he was consumed by this news all day. it was very troubling for him and scary for him. >> fbi raiding his office, his home, and a hotel room. >> white house advisers are saying, "can we turn off the televisions?" all the president is doing, they say, is getting himself agitated. click over to fox. >> this is a fox ns alert. there is some breaking news today...he >> he was cnn. >> the fbi raids the office of president trump's personal lawyer... >> he'll go to msnbc. >> "new york times" breaking the
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news in the last few minutes that t fbi has raided... >> he'll go back to cnn. >> ...also seized emails, tax documents, and business records. >> and he'll just keep seeing those two words on the chyron, "michael cohen." and it sends him into a rage. >> the no-knock raids by fbie agents we result of a referral by special counsel robert mueller. >> narrator: to the president, it was a personal assault from the fbi, the department of justice, and robert mueller. >> a lawyer is just like aa priestctor, and a wife in terms of privilege. so, i don't blame president trump for being a little upset that somebody is looking into what he may have told his lawyers. >> narrator: the cohen raid was a sign trump's personal life in new york was colliding with his presidency in washington. >> cohen brings it right back to trump tower, to how trump really operated for decades, having someone like michael cohen, not just a lawyer but a fixer, at his side.
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>> narrator: for years, trump had used cohen to protect his image just as he used roy cohn decades before. >> i think that he looked at michael as somebody who would be his day-to-day roy cohn. michael, in a lot of ways, was very goo michael-- um, also was able to cle a lot of problems down >> narrator: cohen liked to brag that he was willing to take a bullet for his boss. >> he portrayed himself as a tough guy. he was willing to sort of eotimidate people on trump's behalf, threatene. he was a bully. >> narrator: cohen shielded tump from bad press. one method-- blueats to journalists. >> mark my words sport. i will make sure that you and i meet one day over in the courthouse, and i will take you for every penny you stil don't have. >> narrator: the call was to reporter tim mak at "the daily beast. >> i'm warning you, tread very (bleep) lightly because what i'm going to do to you is going to be (bleep)
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disgusting. do you understand me? don't think you can hide behind your pen, because it's not going to happen. >> michael cohen, just this basically, just... just threatens this guy like, like some kind of low-life thug. >> i'm more than happy to discuss it with your attorney and with your legal cosel because, mother(bleep), you're going to need it. >> narrator: cohen was infamous s role in the stormy daniels story-- orchestrating a atsh money payment to the adult film star who thed to reveal a sexual encounter with trump. >> he cleans up messes, d an accusation about an affair, a demand for some kind of compensation to keep quiet, that's exactly the kind of problem that cohen would like to try to solve for donald trump. >> michael is very good at killing stories, and he's gotten trump out of a lot of issues, i would, i would say. and that was his job, and he's done a good job out of it. >> narrator: now cohen was the target of a federal investigation, one which could
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expose the work he did for the president. >> there is a ton that he could tell prosecutors... >> ...a very real possibility that he is going to cooperate. >> ...reportedly is connected to the stormy daniels story. >> narrator: the day of the cohen raid, the whit house insisted it was business as usual. they invited the press into a national security meeting. but trump wanted to go on the attack. >> come on in, folks, come in. t so, i just heat they broke into the office of one of my personal attorneys-- a good man. and it's a disgraceful situation. it's aotal witch hunt. >> the president is so enraged and obsessed with what's just happened that he can't keep himself from talking about it. at a public briefing, he repeatedly uses t words, "disgrace, a disgrace." >> and it's a disgrace it's frankly a real disgrace. it's a, an attack on our
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country, in a trueense. >> something clearly happens with the president afterco michael cohes under scrutiny from the department of justice. the president views that very much as a threat to him. >> these people have the biggest conflicts of interest i've ever seen. and i have this witch hunt constantly going on for over 12 months now. >> the investigation of michael cohen has to feel, to e president, like an arrow pointed directly at his chest. it has to feel that this is aimed precisely at uncovering the president's own history, both before he took office and since he took office, in ways that perhaps might be the most deeply sensitive to him. >> this is a pure and simple witch hunt. thank you very much, thank you. (reporters calling out) >> it's a whole other avenue of potential posure, criminal exposure, to the president. >> thank you all very much. this was clearly someone
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who was a very close adviser and attorney to the he was especially involved in what might be seen as the president's shady business. (reporters calling) >> narrator: the raid on cohen, mueller's continuing investigation-- there s even talk of impeachment. the president was determed to escalate-- bring in a very different kind of lawyer. >> the president has done nothing wrong. read my li, nothing wrong. >> he hires rudy giuliani, and he really hires a pit ll. he hires someone who is really going to be launching an offensive strategy. there's been too much government misconduct. the crimes now have all beenmm ted by the government and their agents. >> trump wants to be in warrior mode. giuliani agrees. it goes from a privaten negotiatio a public war. and that a turning point. >> narrator: trump and giuliani initiated an unfettered attack against mueller's investigation and any move toward impeachment. >> rudy giuliani was gonnage
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chhe strategy. he said, "let's really make this into a political confrontation. let's make it into a blue-red debate and, and conflict. >> so, our jury is-- as it should be-- is the american people. and the american people, yes, are republicans, largely, independents, pretty substantially, and even some democrats now question the legitimacy of it. >> what giuliani is saying is, impeachment will never get offgr thnd unless the public is behind it. >> this is a fox news alert,p president tr getting set to leave the white house... >> narrator: in order to protect himself, theresident worked to undermine public confidence inpa the justice rtment and the fbi. >> in a long, rambling, campaign rally-style speech... >> one thing we know about this president, he doesn't re about collateral damage. and he doesn't care about collateral damage on his associes. and he doesn't care about collateral damage on american anthe stakes could not be higher. >> in a caaign-style rally, a defiant... >> trump back in his happy
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place tonight... >> narrator: it was full-on roy cohn. personal attacks. >> i did you a great favor when i fired this guy. i tell you, i did you a great >> narrator: at campaign-style rallies. >> because when you look at what was going on at the top of the fbi, it is aisgrace, and everybody in this room understands it. >> narrator: incendiary language about the press. >> these are very dishonestth people, many o. they are very, very dishonest people.ew geke very dishonest. >> narrator: a barf tweets. >> "fbi texts have revealed anti-trump bias." "@foxnews-- big news, but the fake news doesn't want to cover. >> he has become his own roy cohn. he is the attack machine. he's t one who will cut your knees out from under you if you get in the way. >> "was there a conspiracy in the obama department of justice and the fbi to prevent donald trump from becoming
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president of the u.s.? >> he doesn't need a roy cohn because he is roy cohn. >> "it would seem very hard to obstruct justice for a crime that never happened. witchunt!" >> "i have the absolute right to pardon myself." >> look at what's happened. look at how these politicians have fallen for this junk. russian collusion. give me a break. >> so, long as the country is sort odivided and he has his defenders, he can undermine those who are attacking him. >> take a look at the intelligence honefolks, let me tell you, let me tell you. it's a disgrace. we got to get back down to business. it's a disgrace. >> it's basically a kind of divide-and-conquer kind of strategy. if we can stay in this kind of divided state, there will never be enough consensus behind the o idimpeachment to actually drive it forward. >> top story we're watching this morning, fbi agent peter strzok set to testify about... >>..will defend himself against allegations of bias...
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>> narrator: on capitol hill, house republicans llied behind the president-- and joined in his attack strategy. >> republicans are in protect mode. ahead of the midterm elections, they want to protect their a presidenresident they think is under siege from his own government. >> the hearing is going to be explosiv we will have full analysis and >> they saat the giuliani strategy was really quite effective, and if you go after mueller and if you go after the justice department, maybe it will work. ag narrator: the republicans' target: top fbi t peter strzok. >> testimony that you are about to give shall be the truth, the whole truth, and notng but the truth, so help you god? >> narrator: months before, mumler had removed strzok f his team. >> pete strzok is the embodiment of the president's defenders' case, that the fbi and the justice department are biased against donald trump and the people surrounding him. and this whole investigation is tainted.
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>> narrator: the hearing focused on text messages critical of the future president between strzok and an fbi attorney with whom he was having an affair. >> you want me to read this? >> yes, >> yes "omg, he's an idiot." >> july 19, 2016. >> "hi. how was trump, other than a douche? melania?" july 21, 2016. >> "trump is a disaster. i have no ideaow destabilizing his presidency would be." >> ms. page said, "not ever going to become president, right, right?"no >>no, he's not. we'll stop it." >> repeat that again? >> "no, no, he's not. we'll stop it." >> peter strzok diand said usings that gave them ammunition to say, "well, yoube biased. therefore, the whole investigation is biased, therefore e whole thing is discredited." >> narrator: strzok said hiss personal opinidn't afft his work, and a d.o.j. inspector general's report fnd no evidence that it had. >> you have come in here and said, "i have no bias."
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and you do it with a straight face. and i watched you in the private testimony you gave. and i told some of the other gu, "he's really good. he's lying. he knows we know he's lying. and he could probably pass the polygraph." it's amazing... >> mr. chairman. >> no, this is my time. >> mr. chairman, i'm sorry, i-- point of order. >> it was an outcry of the republican base, fed up with the establishment. a government was at war with itself in that moment. and louie gohmert was the congressman who personified that battle. it's my time. >> that's a disgrace. >> the gentleman from rhode -sland will suspend. >> no, the disgrac what this man has done. >> the gentleman from texas will suspend for a moment. >> there is the disgrace. and it won't be recaptured any time soon because of the damage you've done to the justice system. and i can'help but wonder when i see you looking there with a little smirk, how many times did you look so innocent into your
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wife's eye and lie to her abt lisa page? >> mr. chairman, this is outreous. >> credibility of a witness... >> shame on you. mr. chairman, mr. chairman, please. >> have you no decency? >> this intolerable harassment of the witness. >> what is wrong with that? you need your medication? >> peter strzok becomes a perfect exemplar for them. you know, the symbol of all that they can attach to this, you know, cabal at the top of the fbi. >> chaos on capitol hill, the circus landed in dc. >> the fireworks on capitol hill unfolding on live tv... >> republicans and democrats ayclashing on capitol hill in the nth degree. >> narrator: republicans were now joing trump's war against mueller, the justice department, the fbi, and the threat of impeachm or>> trump has stronger su among republicans than just about any president of the last ght. he's caused a lot of politicians to cower before him. politicians who otherwise are people of integrity, and
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otherwise don't agree with any of this. and they've gone along, because he controls the politics of his party, including their ability to get reelected. it's really an amazing thing. >> president trump is kicking off his weeklong trip to europe. >> it's mr. trump's first visit as president >> narrator: the day after the strzok hearing, donald trump made his first presidential visit to the united kingdom. >> trump's also meeting with the queen of england. >> as the highlight of apr ident's visit to the united kingdom... >> narrator: just then, reporters at the justice department were told a surprise announcement was >> we itting in the seventh floor of the justice department, waiting for this ne conference to begin. the mood in that room was very tense. there was a t of excitement, people were wondering what would happen, and on the screen was cnn footage. >> let me stop you there. the deputy attorney general is speaking in washington. fascinating, let's lis.
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>> 11 of the defendants are c charged wispiring to hack into computers, steal documents, and release those documents with the intent to interfere in the election. >> rod rosenstein came out and said, "we have identified russian g.r.u. officers, down to the offices where they sat, and their exact names." >> according to the allegations... >> it was a remarkable moment. >> ...the defendants worked for two units of the main intelligence directorate of the russian general staff, known as the g.r.u.em >> i can'tber a split-screen moment quite like this. you have on one side the esident of the united states visiting the queen of england. and on the other side of the screen is rod rosenstein. a movie maker codn't have scripted this to be more extraordinary. e>> narrator: a nearly 30 indictment laid out the details of the russian hacking of the 2016 election in granular detail. >> "unit 74455 was located at 22 kirova street, khimki, moscow, a building..."
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>> "the conspirators activated x-ent's keylog and screenshot functions..." >> "and, between 4:19 p.m. and 4:56 p.m., searched rtain words and phrases..." it is, by far the most extensive evidence laid out public that almost makes it irrefutable that russia did do this. >> narrator: the indictments were the work of special counsel robert mueller. >> after a year of lng to trumsay, "this is all a witch hunt, this is all fake news, nothing is real, there was no collusion," here is mueller's answer. "oh, really? look at this. look what we have." >> when we confront foreign i interferenamerican elections, it's important for us to avoid thiing politically as republicans or democrats, and instead to think patrioticallyca as ame. >> rosenstein, i'm quite sure, enjoyed going out there with an affirmation of justice department independence, to be
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able to announce these indictments about something that trump says is a witch hu. he's been trashing this investigation for over a year. what a statement of d.o.j. independence. >> well, well, you've been listening to the deputy attorney general with a news conference timed literay as the u.s. president and his wife were walking into windsor castle for tea. i was a dramatic scene. and for president trump, yet again, the cloud, as he call it, hangs over his entire that he t really understand where it's going, or what's coming next, and if it's coming for him. >> with tensions between the u.s. and russia at the highest level since the cold war... nkipresident trump's hel summit with president vladimir putin... >> narrator: three days later-- in his first one-on-onsummit with vladimir putin-- president trump showed little concern about the indictment of the
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russian officers. >> we've been waiting for now for quite some time. it is very testy in here. e >> i thirybody in the room knew that there was the potential that we were going to be witnessing something extraordinary. >> narrator: then they came forward. on television around the world, they would answer a few questions. >> president trump is standing next to the person who intelligence agencies say ordered the hacking and the ddling of our elections. >> i have just concluded a inmeeting with president pn a wide range of critical issues for both of oucountries. >> the staff has no idea what's going to happen, obviously. this is a esident who doesn't stick to the script, so you never know for sure what he's going to say. p >> msident, you tweeted this morning that it's u.s. foolishness, stupidity, and the mueller probe that is responsible for the decline in u.s. relations with russia. >> i hd both countries responsible. i think that the united states
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s been foolish. i think we've all been foolish. >> he launches into a monologue, a rampage about, "we're, we're to blame. the russians might be to blame, but we're also to blame." c i think that the probe is a disaster for ontry. i think it's kept us apart, it's kept us separated. there was no collusion at all. erybody knows it. >> president putin denied having anything to do with the election interference in 2016. every u.s. intelligence agency has concluded that russia did. my first question for you, sir,h isdo you believe? >> "who do you believe?" that's the starkest po way to put that question-- questione to thedent. >> my people came to me, dan coates came to me, and some others. they said they think it's russia. i have president putin. he just said it's not russia. i will say this, i don't see anw reas it would be. >> this was somebody who, onlyer
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days an indictment against russian military officials, appeared to be siding with a foreign country as opposed to the conclusions of u.s. intelligence and u.s. law enforcement. >> i will tell you that president putin was extremely strong and perful in his denial today. >> but if you listen to his words, he's saying, "well, my intelligence chief, dan coates, comes to me and says this.pu bun has told me, very strongly, that he didn't do it." when trump uses the words "very strongly," he's using an adjective to him that means almost more than anything. >> narrator: just behe president left the stage, he had one final statement to make. >> and i have to say, if anybody watched peter strzok testify over the last couple of days,an i was in brussels watching it, it was a disgrace to the fbi, it was a de to our country. and you would say, "that was a total witch hunt." thank you very much, everybody.
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thank you. it>> the president of the states can not let go that someone is challenging his legitimacy. >> disgraceful play by the president... >> extraordinary moment in american history, something i thought i wod never see. >> there was an immediate sense that td gone about as bad as it possibly could. that all of their efforts to corral him, prepare him for this moment, had failed to protect the admistration, to protect the president from his own worst impulses. >> the ripples of thevent that just took place... >> narrator: as the president boarded air foe one to return to washington, the fallout was growing. >> delivering a stunning rebuke to his own u.s.... >> republican strategists texted ame immediately, calling disaster. they worried that the russia ngissue could now come roa back, just months ahead of the midterm elections. >> narrator: the negative tweets were immediate and overwhelming. former c.i.a. director john brennan called it treasonous.
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republican senators john mccain, jeff flake, and bob corker, and dozens of other congressional republicans, were strongly critical. >> it appears mueller has convinced yet another has witness to... >> the russia investigation heating up on several fronts... >> narrator: trump tried to walk back some of his remarks, but as thesummer came to a close, ultimate showdown was loomomingc >> consptheory, deep state. >> narrator: mueller was closing in on the president's inner circle. paul manafort-- guilty, and agreed to cooperate withmu ler. >> convicted in federal court on financial crimes... i we got the guilty verdi the paul manafort case... >> narrator: michael cohen, guilty-- and in open court, implicated the president. >> his former lawyer implicating him in campaign finance violations... >> narrator: and reports that white house counsel don mcgahn, an eyewitness to the ents in the west wing, voluntarily talked to mueller's team for 30 hours.wh
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>> just learnee house counsel don mcgahn had been talking to the mueller team... >> mueller is deliberatelyfi taking a low p, talking to different people, building different parts of the investigation, because he knows he will have a narrow window to make his case to the american people, and it better be iron-clad. >> this is a white house that is under siege. >> narrator: even inside the white house, the president is increasingly isolated. >> an explosive new book paints an uglyicture of the president... >> narrator: senioofficials have been quoted questioning his grip on reality. >> "he's an idt. it's pointless to try to convince him of anything. he's gone off the rails. we're in crazytown." >> narrator: in the "new york times," an anonymous op-ed... >> this stunning op-ed headlined "i am a part of the resistance..." >> narrator: his staff worry about his judgment and work to thwart his whims. >> "his impulsiveness results in half-baked, ill-informed, and occasionally reckless decisions that have to be walked back." >> narrator: and reports that rod rosenstein in the days after comey's firing...
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>> rosenstein talked about possibly... >> narrator: ...raised the question of having the presint removed from office. >> ...the 25th amendment to the u.s. constitution... >> rosenstein has disputed and denied that report... >> narrator: rosenst future is in jeopardy. >> ...rod rosenstein's future up in the air, and now there are these reports today that he might be about... >> narrator: now, trump is rallying his base ahead of the midterm elections. >> y know he's very effectiv on the campaign trail. >> narrator: once again on the attack. e> the obstruction is democrats are obstructionist. we must elect more republicans so we can get the votes that we need. you're voting for which party controls congress, very important thing. >> narrator: his presidency at stake. >> "we will imach him, we will impeach him!" but i y, "how do you impeach somebody that hasn't de anything wrong?" >> if democrats take control of g e house, they are going to be a subpoena-generatchine aimed at every federal agency and specific trump appointees,
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and the ite house itself. and this white house is going to find itself playing permanentr defense e rest of the trump presidency. >> the stakes could be as large as whether mueller can continue. this president may feel emwewered to move finally, a know he wants to do, to either fire bob mueller or fire jeff sessions or fire rod rosenstein, or find some way to shut this investigation down. >> mueller is not going to remove the president o united states from office. he doesn't have that power, and i'm sure he esn't have that ambition. the way that the president coult be removed, t's the goal, is through impeachment and conviction by the senate or through elections. and both of those involve heavy doses of the involvement of the american people, either through their representatives in congress, or through elections. and that's why, at the end of thday, it's the american people who are going to decide trump's fate.o and that's whych is at stake in the 2018, and
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especially the 2020 elections. >> a pension is a promise! >> they're paying into a pension that thetate promised was going to be there. >> they have effectively raided pension funds. the bill will come due. >> many pension funds take on more risk. >> they're trying to gamble their way out of the problem. >> get the new york money managers out of my pension!>> his is a crisis of epic proportion. >> a pension is a promise! >> nartor: next time on frontline. >> go to for our test reporting on the russia investigation. >> this is a pure and simple witch hunt. thank you very much. >> and as part of frontline's transparency project, see key exotes from the film in co >> this was the most aggressive
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campaign that the runs ever mounted in the history of our elections. >> and so the stakes could not be higher. ontlineect to the community on facebook, twitter and >> frontline is made possible by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. and by the corporation for public broadcasting. major support is provided by the hn d. and catherine t. macarthur foundation, committed to building a more just, verdant and peaceful world. more information is available at th foundation, working with visionaries on the front lines of social change worldwide. at fordfoundatioorg. additional support is provided by the abrams foundati, committed to excellence in journalism. the park foundation, dedicated to heightening public awareness of critical issues. the john and hel glessner family trust. supporting trustworthy journalism that informand inspires.
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the wyncote foundation. and by the frontline journalism fund, with major support from jon and jo ann hagler. mand additional support f william and helen pounds. captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.or >> for more on this and other frontline programs, visit our website at ♪ to order frontline's "trump's showdown" on dvd visit shop pbs, or call 1-800-play-pbs. this program is also available on amazon prime video. ♪
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>> you're watching pbs. ♪ ♪ hold, hold on hold on to me ♪ 'cause i'm a little unsteady ♪ >> what's the situation there? >> how do you explain that? >> are you ready for this world that we are facing today? ♪
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- [carlos]rn and raised in puer, carmen yulin cruz soto had an eye on leadership since she was a young girl. and as mayor of san juan, when a pair of deadly hurricanes devastated the caribbean... (sirens wailing) ...her mettle was tested. -[yulin] i am done being polite. i am done being politically correct. i am mad as hell. - [carlos] so how did she go from humble beginnings to leading the fight against the entire us vernment to help save her people and her homeland from catastrophe? and how did she clear her own path to breaking big? - and the american people are not that way.