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Trump Fires FBI Director Comey; Sources: Trump Administration Kept Pressing FBI to Pursue Leaks. Aired 6-6:30a ET
Aired May 10, 2017 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's Wednesday, May 10, 6 a.m. here in New York; and we do begin with breaking news.
[05:59:0] President Trump has fired FBI Director James Comey. The timing and rationale for the abrupt termination of Comey, for his handling of the Clinton probe, that's what we're told. This is all objectively puzzling.
There are two main questions. Why would the president fire the man investigating whether his campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 election? And perhaps the even bigger question is who among our leaders will step forward to secure the administration of justice in our democracy?
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Many Republicans now joining the growing calls to have an independent probe, while Democrats are drawing parallels to Nixon and Watergate, all of this as CNN learns exclusively that federal prosecutors have issued subpoenas to associates of Michael Flynn in the FBI's investigation into Russian meddling in the U.S. election.
We have every angle of this huge story covered for you, so let's begin with CNN's Joe Johns. He is live at the White House -- Joe.
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alisyn.
This morning the White House is in uncharted territory as the administration continues to try to justify the president's firing of the man leading the investigation into the president's campaign, as well as Russian interference in the election that brought Donald Trump to the White House.
JOHNS (voice-over): President Trump attributing his bombshell firing of FBI Director James Comey to Comey's handling of the Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation, a stunning reversal, given Trump's repeated praise of Comey for how he managed that very investigation.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I respect the fact that Director Comey was able to come back after what he did. It took guts for Director Comey to make the move that he made, in
light of the kind of opposition he had, where they're trying to protect her from criminal prosecution.
JOHNS: And just last week, the president tweeting that Comey was the best thing that ever happened to Clinton.
The White House says the president acted on the recommendation of newly-appointed deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, who made the case for Comey's firing in a letter to his boss, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, asserting that "The way the director handled the conclusion of the e-mail investigation was wrong. As a result, the FBI is unlikely to regain public and congressional trust."
The attorney general pledged just two months ago that he would recuse himself from any Russia investigations after it was revealed he did not disclose contacts with a Russian ambassador. Despite that, Sessions joining his new deputy in recommending that a fresh start is needed at the leadership of the FBI. Despite this praise of Comey six months earlier.
JEFF SESSIONS, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Director Comey did the right thing. When he found new evidence, he had no choice but to report to the American Congress.
JOHNS: President Trump firing Comey in a bizarre letter, stating, "While I greatly appreciate you informing me on three separate occasions that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the bureau."
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: When did he say that?
KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO DONALD TRUMP: The president says in his letter...
COOPER: On what occasions did he do that?
CONWAY: The president says -- the president says -- that's between the president of the United States and Director Comey.
JOHNS: The president's assertion perplexing, given that Comey testified that the bureau is investigating Trump's campaign.
JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: That includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia's efforts.
JOHNS: Sources tell CNN Comey learned that he was fired through TV reports while he was addressing FBI employees in the Los Angeles office. He was not at FBI headquarters to receive the president's letter.
The shocking announcement coming just hours after CNN reported exclusively that federal prosecutors had issued a number of subpoenas to associates of Trump's former national security advisor, Michael Flynn, Democrats accusing the president of trying to derail the FBI's Russia investigation.
CONWAY: This has nothing do with Russia. It's everything to do with whether the current FBI director has the president's confidence.
JOHNS: President Trump and his advisers attacking Democrats who previously criticized Comey for announcing that he was reopening the Clinton e-mail investigation 11 days before the election.
Trump's seismic firing sparking comparisons to Watergate. Although the Nixon Library was quick to point out that, while Nixon fired the independent special prosecutor investigating him, Nixon did not go as far as Trump in firing his FBI director.
JOHNS: And today, in the midst of all this controversy, a moment of extraordinary, some would say, certainly unusual timing. The Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, expected here at the White House to visit with President Trump -- Chris.
CUOMO: And it is interesting, historical perspective, not even during the Nixon era did we deal with what we're dealing with today. Joe, thank you very much.
And this morning you're going to hear that this decision came about from the president accepting the findings of a DOJ investigation, but multiple officials tell CNN that President Trump was considering firing James Comey for at least a week now and that this investigation was done at his urging.
CNN's Jessica Schneider joins us now with more -- Jessica.
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you know, Chris, tensions have been mounting between the White House and the FBI in recent weeks. The Trump administration and Attorney General Jeff Sessions pushed the FBI to aggressively pursue its investigation into the leaks of classified information, urging that that be the priority over the Russian election meddling probe.
And while the FBI did tighten its media policy and aggressively pursue those leaks, the White House still wasn't satisfied that a large focus of the bureau was still on Russia.
Now, amid this backdrop, the timing of the termination is really in question here. Word of Director Comey's firing came just minutes after the FBI issued a clarification of Comey's remarks at a Senate hearing last week right here, where he mischaracterized the number of e-mails Huma Abedin had manually forwarded to her husband's computer.
[06:05:17] Of course, this yet again drummed up the Clinton e-mail investigation. And in fact, Director Comey's overall handling of the e-mail server investigation, including his decision to hold his own news conference back in July instead of leaving it to Attorney General Loretta Lynch at the time, that was the focus of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein's memo recommending Comey's removal.
But of course, the president himself only referencing the Russia investigation in his letter to Comey firing him -- Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: Jessica, thank you very much for all of that.
So the president's abrupt firing of James Comey triggering shock and outrage all around the Beltway. Many Republicans joining the calls for an independent investigation.
CNN's Ryan Nobles is live on Capitol Hill with the reaction of lawmakers. What are you learning, Ryan?
RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Alisyn, good morning to you.
And much of Capitol Hill still reeling from this bombshell news about James Comey's firing. Many members of Congress finding out through press reports, not from the White House or President Trump.
And both Democrats and Republicans are questioning the timing and the motive behind this firing. Some Republicans, like Jeff Flake of Arizona and Richard Burr of North Carolina, who chairs the powerful Senate Intel Committee, are concerned about how this move could impact the investigation into Russia's attempt to intervene in the American election.
Meanwhile, Democrats who, we should point out, are not necessarily fans of James Comey, are also questioning this move. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer speaking to reporters yesterday and is wondering not just about James Comey's firing but several of the firings that have come from the White House. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: This is part of a deeply troubling pattern from the Trump administration. They fired Sally Yates. They fired Preet Bharara. And now, the fired Director Comey, the very man leading the investigation. This does not seem to be a coincidence.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOBLES: And there are some Republicans that are defending the president's move, among them Susan Collins of Maine. This is what she had to say yesterday. Quote, "Any suggestion that today's announcement is somehow you an effort to stop the FBI's investigation of Russia's attempt to influence the election last fall is misplaced." Collins went on to say, "The president did not fire the entire FBI. He fired the director. I have every confidence that the FBI will continue to pursue its investigation."
But obviously, we have a long way to go, and there are many skeptical people here now on Capitol Hill -- Chris and Alisyn.
CUOMO: All right, Ryan, appreciate it. Analysis has to start at the beginning. Can the president do what
he's done? Should the president have done this? CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin is here and CNN political analysts Maggie Haberman and David Gregory.
All right, Brother Toobin, take us through this from the beginning. What are the powers of the president to remove the director? What are the conditions supposed to be? Were they met?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: The president -- FBI directors are appointed for ten-year terms, just so they are insulated from day-to-day political controversy.
However, there is a provision in that law that allows the president, at his or her discretion, to fire the FBI director. It had been done once before. Bill Clinton fired Judge Sessions, who had ethical controversies. It was not a particularly controversial act by Bill Clinton.
But whether -- whether this should have been done is, of course, a very different question. And Chris, you know, you've known me a long time. I am not a cable news shouter. This was an outrage. This was a complete departure from the American political and legal traditions. And the only comparable act is October 20, 1973, the Saturday Night Massacre, when Richard Nixon didn't fire the FBI director; he fired Archibald Cox, who was...
CUOMO: Special prosecutor.
TOOBIN: ... the Watergate special prosecutor appointed by...
CUOMO: Why is this -- other than just a historical precedent of timing, that it's only happened once before in any way similar to this, why is it such a gross departure?
TOOBIN: Because James Comey was investigating Donald Trump's campaign and, certainly, Donald Trump himself. I mean, I don't think there's any doubt that he is a subject, at least in a general way...
CAMEROTA: Not -- he says that Comey's told him three times. I mean, that was the letter.
TOOBIN: He said -- well...
CAMEROTA: He said, "While I greatly appreciate you informing me on three separate occasions that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the bureau."
CUOMO: Maybe -- maybe the most troubling thing I've heard from the president in this, more than dismissing the director, is that part of his basis. That he has had independent conversations with the director of the FBI, which seemed to be targeted towards finding out whether or not he was in trouble, seems to be, at best, a broach [SIC] of protocol, if not something really unethical. [06:10:12] TOOBIN: And that, I would certainly want to hear Comey's
side of those conversations, because I don't believe Comey would ever say anything like that to -- to the president, for just the reason you said. There are rules in places about how much contact a sitting president can have with the FBI about pending investigations. That would be a complete departure, if that conversation took place like that.
CUOMO: Let alone three times.
TOOBIN: Let alone three times.
MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: In the same president, you say -- the president says, "I was told this, this completely unorthodox thing by the sitting FBI director," and then he says, "it's time to restore public trust in this office." That makes absolutely no sense.
The president is absolutely within his authority to do this. But it is, as Jeffrey said, it is very rare, and the timing of it looks very strange. If you were going to do this as President Trump, do it at the beginning of taking office. You don't do it during this last week of confusion over the hearing and what was said about Hillary Clinton's e-mails. You don't do it, as the president has made clear, to aides repeatedly that he is frustrated with this Russian investigation, and you've heard it on Twitter.
CAMEROTA: So why now?
HABERMAN: Well, I mean, I think for all of the reasons that you guys have reported, that "The Times" has reported, that everybody has reported, that the president has grown very frustrated with what is happening with this Russia probe. And he watched over the last week. And over at least a week there was a discussion about how to do this.
The fact that Jeff Sessions gave this recommendation or was one of the two people who did is problematic when it's Jeff Sessions who recused himself from the Russia probe. So he then decided that he was going to push this through.
All of this is going to continue to hover over the president again because of the way it was done, because it is not credible for the president to say he's troubled by how the Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation was handled in terms of her. He praised Comey for how he handled it.
And the president, to be clear, has had issues with Comey going back to last July when Comey did that extraordinary public statement where he was not charging Hillary Clinton.
CUOMO: But he tried to kiss him since then. So obviously, there -- there have been a swing shift in his reckoning.
HABERMAN: Or there had been a swing and then a swing and then a swing.
HABERMAN: Because there's nothing linear about the way Donald...
CUOMO: Any way you look at it, David Gregory, what is confounding here is this predication of the act of what was done with Hillary Clinton. I can't tell you how many close Trump associates were spinning me last night that what happened with Huma Abedin and the overreach by Comey, that was just too much.
Nobody put it better than Jeffrey Toobin. It is so hard to believe that the FBI director had to go because it was just unfair what he did to Hillary Clinton and Huma Abedin.
DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. I mean, that's just not credible. There are several things. The "what" of the firing. He fired the FBI director, who is in the middle of a probe of this administration of the president and people close to him about potential collusion between the campaign and a foreign power. That's the "what." That can't happen credibly.
The "why," that it was because he was concerned about the handling of Hillary Clinton's e-mails? Candidate Trump supported Comey publicly. The attorney general supported Comey publicly. The attorney general knew that it was problematic that he had his own contacts with the Russians, so he recused himself. And yet, here he's saying it's OK for the president to fire the FBI director in the middle of this investigation? It doesn't make any sense.
And the "when." If he wanted to fire Comey, he should have done it right after the election. He should have done it in January. It is so suspect to do it now, a day after Sally Yates makes the administration look horrible in its misjudgment regarding the handling of General Flynn, at a time when the former DNI makes clear that there has been no evidence of collusion between the campaign and Russia, but oh, by the way, it's the FBI that's really the tip of the spear doing that investigation.
So defenders of this decision say look, you know, Democrats said that Comey wasn't credible, that he'd undermined his authority. That's actually true. There is a basis to fire Jim Comey. You can believe that while at the same time thinking this is completely inappropriate.
And even if Trump were with to put in somebody in the FBI now who could keep this investigation going, you can't overlook the original act, firing the FBI director in the middle of a sensitive probe of the president. How is that possibly credible?
Let's talk about that, Jeffrey. Let's talk about law and order. What happens to the investigation now? What if somebody -- the person who replaces James Comey doesn't think that this is an important investigation into the Trump ties to Russia?
TOOBIN: Then the investigation ends. I mean, that's what management of the FBI does. It decides what's going to be investigated.
[06:15:03] CUOMO: Not the White House spin. The White House spin is even from, by the way, Susan Collins -- who had been a very fair broker, senator from Maine, about the Trump administration -- you're just getting rid of the director. You're not getting rid all these hard-working men and women in the FBI who are still going to do this investigation.
TOOBIN: I revere day-to-day FBI agents. I worked with them every day when I was U.S. attorney. They don't decide what they investigate. They are -- they are told what to investigate.
And remember, even if a new director gets confirmed, and Donald Trump doesn't like him or her, then he or she is out. I mean, what we have established is that Donald Trump will fire an FBI director who is investigating him.
GREGORY: And can I add a specific to that, to what Jeffrey is saying? That is true in general, right?
But Jeffrey and I were on last night, and there were a lot of people who were making this point that no, no, no, the head of the FBI is not so important; the investigation is going to continue. How about in the Hillary Clinton case? This is the one that President Trump is so concerned about. In that case, who do you think decided to go public with his rationale for not bringing a case? Who decided to personally criticize the judgment of candidate Clinton, the former secretary of state? Who made a decision to reopen the investigation? It all comes from the top. It was the head of the FBI who directs that investigation.
That's what bolsters Jeffrey's point about the person who is installed that so much -- and again, I come back to the president, although we don't see a lot of examples of this, could put somebody in who has great credentials, who is highly credible. You can't overcome the original act here, which is firing the guy investigating you. That's just not credible.
CUOMO: Now, we hear two versions. It's good to have you here, Maggie, to help us suss them out. The first is, well, you know, Rosenstein straight shooter. Everybody respects him. He got praise for putting him in there. "He did this investigation and presented to me as president of the United States. I had to accede to his conclusions and go along with this."
And then there's the other one, which is Trump put Sessions and his guys up to this to find a reason to get rid of Comey. They'd wanted do this and you'll find rationale if you want to. Is that true? And is it playing out in the White House? Is there division, as well?
HABERMAN: Two things can be true. One thing that's important to know about this decision, it was a very close hold in the White House in terms of who was actually involved and aware of it. The president, as I understand it from my reporting, knew yesterday morning and possibly the night before that he was going to do this.
By the middle of the day, it became clear to a wider circle of people where this was going. There was no one, as I understand it, who voiced an actual objection. There were a couple people who voiced concerns about how this might play out. The White House was adamant.
Democrats have criticized James Comey. This is going to be easy for us, because they're going to be hamstrung from actually criticizing this, because they've said it before.
CAMEROTA: Months ago.
HABERMAN: Or no, recently, Chuck Schumer has been more critical. And for instance, the president had the headline involving Chuck Schumer criticizing Comey's credibility on his desk, on the Resolute Desk, when he was speaking to Schumer and called him to inform him of this decision. And Schumer told him, "I think you're making a mistake."
And there was sort of a pause, and the president said, "OK, we'll see," according to a person I spoke with.
One version of that conversation is the president was sort of taken aback. And I think he was a little bit. But he clearly believes that this is going to play out along political lines.
And by the way, to be clear, so far that's basically true. I mean, there are very few Republicans who are saying this is very troubling; we need to have an independent investigator. We've seen John McCain say it. We've seen a couple others people say it, but those are mostly people who have been critics of this administration the whole time, and that's what they are banking on.
Part of the problem with this is a couple of things. The fact that you don't have anybody from DOJ explaining this decision. This is all being handled politically through the White House on a whim, essentially. They were not scheduling all of these rollouts last night of spokespeople. Sean Spicer had said there would be no more comment to reporters in the briefing room for the night. The next thing we know, within a few hours, they were sort of flooding the zone with three people.
They didn't have anything lined up in terms of having people affirm this decision for them, and as always, it creates this sense that it was done sort of on a whim and with chaos and that there is no replacement in mind yet. That is hugely problematic.
CAMEROTA: And Jeffrey Toobin, back to the agents, the FBI agents, whom we all revere, so there's nobody in charge today. What happens? Do they continue with their investigation? Are things frozen now?
TOOBIN: Day-to-day, I think they continue. I mean, as CNN has been reporting, there is a grand jury investigation now out of the northern district of Virginia involving Michael Flynn. Subpoenas have gone out. And so presumably the returns on those subpoenas will come in. The agents, the assistant U.S. attorneys who are running that investigation will continue to investigate.
But you can be sure no one will approve an indictment. No one will improve -- no one will conclude that investigation until there is actual leadership in place. And who is it going to be? I mean, who will take this job? I mean.. [06:20:07] HABERMAN: Well, there are Trump loyalists who will.
TOOBIN: You know, and will they get confirmed? Chris Christie is probably interested in this job. Rudolph Giuliani, I'm sure, is interested in this job. Sheriff David Clark of Milwaukee is interested in this job, all of whom campaigned actively for President Trump.
CUOMO: The president met with the guy who's the acting director right now, McCabe. We don't know what that will lead to.
But yes, David, I want you come in here, but also, let me give you a little context, though. You know, you have to look at where the president's head has been and, for better or worse, we know, because that's what his Twitter feed is. And obviously, last night, very late, he was bashing Schumer, saying Schumer wants it both ways.
But his consistency of thought about this Russian investigation, he hates it. He thinks it's illegitimate. He wants to can kill it. He did everything he could do to prejudice against Sally Yates before she gave her testimony, and he colored it during the testimony. And now he gets rid of Comey. Is it possible -- is it possible to separate those two moments?
GREGORY: No, I don't think there -- it is. Look, h ow many times have we talked on this program about what I think is the president's overlooking at the very least, if not worse. of the responsibilities that he has to the presidency, not just to him?
The fact that Russia, a foreign power, tried to manipulate our election, yes, it probably redounded to his benefits those efforts. Probably didn't decide the election, by the way. I'm not suggesting that. But redounded to his benefit, to those efforts. He has a duty to protect the country, to protect the presidency itself.
And for him and for his aides to be so dismissive of the idea of the Russia investigation, I think is incredibly irresponsible, at the very least. And why -- you know, nothing may come of the Russia investigation. Maybe there was nothing untoward that happened. Why is the president acting so suspiciously? This firing of Comey is incredibly suspicious, incredibly suspect.
And there's another point that I'd be interested in getting Jeffrey's take on, as well, which I think has not been adequately addressed by others talking about this.
So Rosenstein, Rod Rosenstein is deputy attorney general. He is tasked with investigating Comey's behavior. Why? Well, we know -- forget the politicians -- that people who are actual lifelong prosecutors all condemned Comey for his handling of the e-mail investigation. In fact, the Department of Justice's own inspector general is already investigating those practices, is probably going to issue a blistering report.
Why ask Rosenstein to investigate it separately? Did Rosenstein ask do that? That to me suspicious, as if they were setting him up to come out with a report that would be that very pretext.
TOOBIN: Or -- or to put it another way, if Rosenstein is investigating this, why not wait until the inspector general, who's been conducting interviews, who is doing a thorough investigation, not just one individual, Rosenstein, who's only been there for a couple weeks, why not wait until the inspector general...
CUOMO: Because you want an outcome that is certain. I mean, I don't think there's any way to read -- you have to feel for Rosenstein, right, because he came in here with a clear reputation. He says things in this memo, which they have pretty generously provided. They want you to know what his findings were, and he pins it mainly on a lack of confidence within the agency. That the men and women in there no longer have faith in Comey, and that has reverberated into the public and that that's why there's such an urgency.
But the only reason to engineer this is to engineer the outcome. They didn't want to wait on an I.G. report, because who knows if it gives him the clearance? This they could control, and they did it. And now they have their moment.
TOOBIN: But that's not right. I mean, that's not how the system is supposed to work. I mean, the -- we have independence of the FBI. We have ten-year terms, because we don't want presidents firing FBI directors out of pique, out of political anger, out of fear of their own investigation.
So you're -- you are making a neutral statement of why and how this happened, but it's wrong. It's wrong...
HABERMAN: Also in terms of Rosenstein and in terms of sort of feeling bad for somebody, which you hear a lot about people working in this White House -- "You have to feel for 'X,' 'Y,' 'Z'" -- because this is not slave labor. They -- people actually believe. If they don't believe in what they are doing, they don't need to go in.
CUOMO: But Rosenstein could find the findings he found. I mean, it's not like he's Sean Spicer, who makes a decision every time he gets to the podium to, you know, attack his own credibility.
HABERMAN: But to your point -- actually, one second, David. As to your point, actually, about credibility, though, this is where the corrosive untruth that we have heard from this president during the campaign and certainly from this White House on a daily basis, I would say, with Sean Spicer, this is very problematic.
When you do something like this, if you were going to take this extraordinary step, you need basically to have the public trust aspect of this job pretty nailed, and this undermines it.
[06:25:09] It is very -- there are -- there are legitimate reasons to find problems with Comey to your point, because there are legitimate reasons to have issues with how Comey has conducted himself. But it is the timing of this and how it was done that is going to undermine what was done.
CAMEROTA: Go ahead, David.
GREGORY: We're just talking a lot about Rod Rosenstein, who I don't know personally. Perhaps Jeffrey does. I certainly know people who know him. He has an excellent reputation.
But there are real questions about why he would allow his name to be attached to this. Maybe he felt so outraged by Comey's conduct that he thought you know, "I don't care how it looks. This is the right thing to do." That's what "The Wall Street Journal" is editorializing this morning. That is a rationale. That is a point of view.
Or maybe he was suspicious about why he was being tasked so early on with doing this investigation. And did he fear that he was going to be used to create a pretext to fire Comey that is simply not credible. The president doesn't care how Hillary Clinton was treated. He threatened to jail her, OK, as a candidate.
So we know that that can't be right. The question I have, you know, there was a certain somebody in the Justice Department who got a lot of credit for standing up to what he thought was overreach by the executive branch with regard to wireless surveillance back in 2004. That was Jim Comey at the Justice Department.
So the onus, I think, is on Rod Rosenstein here, who is in a position to appoint an independent prosecutor if he's so fit. We'll see if there's enough pressure namely from Republicans to move in that direction. And to Maggie's point, there's some. I don't know if there's enough momentum.
CAMEROTA: Maggie, the idea that the White House didn't know that this would cause a cataclysm across the Beltway and ripple out beyond, across the country, how do we explain that lack of foresight?
HABERMAN: The same way that we explain how they have handled almost all of these situations, like the executive order on the travel ban, like -- like putting Steve Bannon on the National Security Council and being surprised when you -- when you downgraded two permanent seats that that was going to be a problem.
This president came in as a neophyte to government, a neophyte to political office. He had never so much as run for city council. And so then he wins the presidency. So all of this seems to him like this is specific to him, and he has surrounded himself primarily with people who have never been in government or people who are afraid to tell him when he is doing something that could cause him a problem.
CUOMO: Or it's just another B.S. angle coming out of there that they want to play...
HABERMAN: I don't think so in about this case. I mean, in this case, I think that they legitimately had convinced themselves. Look, this is a little like saying that everything is fake news. If everything is fake news, then all news is fake including ours.
If this investigation is tainted, then everything is tainted, including what's going on with President Trump. And they have seen everything as basically an ability to level of playing field. There is no middle ground. There is no objective fact. They had convinced themselves that there were so many statements on the record from Democrats...
CAMEROTA: Hold on a second. This is a live shot of Jeff Sessions leaving his home this morning. He is getting into his vehicle there and heading to the Justice Department.
CUOMO: Not taking any questions, which is no surprise, because I don't know how he answers legitimately about his involvement in this. That's why -- one of the reasons they're making it about Hillary Clinton is because it can't be about the Russian investigation, because the attorney general is not even allowed to touch it.
You know, David Gregory made a point that we need to discuss. If Rod Rosenstein decides to appoint a special prosecutor, he can't. This is once again an opportunity of where words matter. That is a statutory thing, a special prosecutor. He can appoint a special counsel...
CUOMO: ... but they don't have the same kinds of powers that we had during that legislation.
And one of the questions from all our leaders who are being quiet right now, especially on the Republican are side, is whether or not there will be a congressional motivation to have legislation to make something truly independent in its review of the executive. Do you think there's a chance that we get a special prosecutor statute?
TOOBIN: Not a chance in the world. The Republicans who run -- the Republicans who run the House and Senate don't want to see Donald Trump investigated. You saw a very brief statement from Mitch McConnell, saying we'll have hearings on the new -- on the new FBI director. No criticism at all.
Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, very strongly supportive of this firing. I mean, the people who are in charge of the Senate, Paul Ryan as far as I'm aware is in the witness protection program at the moment. So I mean, there is no -- I mean, they're not going to pass a law about this. They're not even going to hold hearings about that.
CAMEROTA: We're going to ask them about that, because we have obviously a very big program today. Coming up on NEW DAY, we will speak to senators Angus King, Richard Blumenthal and Lindsey Graham. We will ask them all these questions. Also, Kellyanne Conway is going to be here, chief counselor to the president, as you know.
And we'll also have former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice and former U.S. attorney general Alberto Gonzales. What do they think about what's happened this morning?
CUOMO: All right. So the firing of James Comey. Is this just clear proof of dirty politics or a move to clean it up? Why some...