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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Comey: Trump Admin Lied About Me and FBI; Comey: I Believe I Was Fired Over Russia Investigation. Aired 4:30-5p ET
Aired June 8, 2017 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[16:31:20] JAKE TAPPER, THE LEAD HOST: And we're back with the breaking news on our politics lead a dramatic day of testimony from fired FBI Director James Comey on Capitol Hill today. Joining me now to discuss this is Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia. He serves on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and he questioned Comey today. Senator, thanks so much for joining us.
Comey testified in addition to everything he had to say about President Trump, about Attorney General Loretta Lynch during the Obama years. And he said that Lynch asked him to call the FBI, Criminal Investigation into Hillary Clinton's e-mail server a matter and to avoid calling it an investigation. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: We were getting to a place where the attorney general and I were both going to have to testify and talk publicly about it. And I wanted to know, was she going to authorize us to confirm we had an investigation? And she said, yes, but don't call it that, call it a matter. And I said, why would I do that? And she said, just call it a matter.
We had an investigation open at the time, and so that gave me a queasy feeling.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Senator, does it give you a queasy feeling?
SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D), WEST VIRGINIA: Yes, it does. That was very uncomforting. And we need to get more into that. You know, that's the first time that really any discussion of any length about Loretta Lynch. We've all heard about the runway incident, you know, on the Tarmac. But now knowing there might be a little bit more to discuss and to understand. But, you know, she had recused and that's when I think Comey had said at that time that's for him that we had to go along.
TAPPER: You just left the closed door briefing with Director Comey. Can you give us any sense if you revealed more details about his interactions with the President? MANCHIN: Well, he clarified. A lot of the things, Jake, if you look at the hearing that we had, the open hearing, there was lot of times that he says, I just can't talk about that in this setting. Every member that had that question that he gave an answer to, I can't talk about in this setting, they were able to ask that question in a classified setting and he was able to answer that. So, he did take it to another level and they were very prescript.
TAPPER: I know you'd taken into the details of the closed hearing but do you think President Trump obstructed justice?
MANCHIN: Jake, I'm not there yet. And I don't have any others can be there yet. The thing that I can tell you is comforting is that we have Bob Mueller, the special prosecutor, everybody. Democrats and Republicans have the utmost confidence and reliability in this man, who is beyond reproach as they tell us.
I think we are all going to take whatever he comes back with his recommendations and that's what we'll run with and that's what we'll act upon at. But he's the expert. He'll be able to get into it. And we don't know enough what he said, she said in order to make that determination.
TAPPER: Comey asserted today that he thinks he was fired because of the way he was conducting the Russia investigation. Do you agree with him?
MANCHIN: Well, he said he assumed that's the reason. It's unrealistic (ph) to consider but that's all they've talked about. And it was abnormal (ph) plan and all the different people involved there. But that was, you know, that was a sobering moment when he said that, you know, he learned about it and he thought he was in good shape up until the -- with second to third meeting and he kept coming up. Do you want the job? Why do you want the job? And he thought he'd already been asked to stay on the job before and he was going to serve out his remaining six years. So, it was a surprised to everybody and I think to him especially.
TAPPER: I want to get your reactions to this exchange from the hearing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TOM COTTON (R), ARKANSAS: Do you believe Donald Trump colluded with Russia?
COMEY: That's a question I don't think I should answer in open setting. As I said, that we didn't -- and when I left, we did not have an investigation focused on President Trump. But that's a question that'll be answered by the investigation, I think.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[16:35:09] MANCHIN: Jake --
TAPPER: Elsewhere this testimony Comey suggest -- go ahead, sir. MANCHIN: No. I'll clarify that. I couldn't hear any clarity there. Do you think -- what did he say?
TAPPER: I'm sorry. It said, it was Senator Cotton saying, do you think President Trump colluded and he basically said that he didn't feel comfortable answering that in open hearing which a lot of people wondered what that meant.
Later Comey did suggest that not answering the question is not to imply nefarious answers. But more broadly speaking, you're on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, have you seen or heard any evidence of collusion not with President Trump necessarily, but with anybody who is part of the Trump campaign.
MANCHIN: Well, let's just say we have not heard any evidence about President Trump -- in collusion with President Trump. There's enough -- a lot of smoke with some associates of his and people that helped him on the campaign. And they're really getting into that in a very deep way.
Methodically going by step by step, person by person who might be involved. And any type of a chain, whatsoever with each person and all the characters and all the names that you mentioned many times. It would be Manafort and Page and all these people. So, we'll get to the facts. The Intel will take us to those facts and it will go where it should go.
TAPPER: All right, Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, thank you so much, we appreciate it as always.
MANCHIN: Thanks Jake, appreciate it.
TAPPER: James Comey has now testified. President Trump's personal lawyer has responded. So what is next with the Russia investigation? That's next.
[16:40:41] TAPPER: Welcome back to our continuing coverage of the frankly stunning testimony from fired FBI Director James Comey. Back with me to discus is my roundtable.
And Carl Bernstein, let me start with you. Comey admitted giving to a friend a memo he wrote about a conversation with President Trump, so that the friend would share it with a reporter. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COMEY: But we're talking about a foreign government that using technical intrusion, lots of other methods, tried to shape the way we think, we vote, we act. That is a big deal. And people need to recognize it.
It's not about Republicans or Democrats. They're coming after America, which I hope we all love equally. They want to undermine our credibility in face of the world. They think that this great experiment of ours is a threat to them, and so they're going to try to run it down and dirty it up as much as possible. That's what this is about. And they will be back.
SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: Did you show copies of your memos to anyone outside of the Department of Justice?
COLLINS: And to whom did you show copies?
COMEY: I asked -- the President tweeted on Friday, after I got fired, that I better hope there's not tapes. I woke up in the middle of the night on Monday night, because it didn't dawn on me originally that there might be corroboration for our conversation. There might be a tape.
And my judgment was, I needed to get that out into the public square. And so I asked a friend of mine to share the content of the memo with a reporter. Didn't do it myself, for a variety of reasons. But I asked him to, because I thought that might prompt the appointment of special counsel. And so I asked a close friend of mine to do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: And Carl Bernstein, a lot of supporters of President Trump are now saying here is Jim Comey, he decries leaks and yes he's admitting having leaked.
CARL BERNSTEIN, PULITZER WINNER FOR WASHINGTON POST WATERGATE STORIES: It's more than him acknowledging that he leaked as it were. We have seen the former director of the FBI say today that he has engineered really the appointment of the special counsel. Why has he done it? Because he believes so strongly that there needed to be this investigation without intrusions from the President and those around him and the former attorney general.
But it's an extraordinary thing, not since J. Edgar Hoover has any non-elected official in our country had such effect on our politics, our elections, our culture, it's extraordinary. And at the same time, Comey knows things. That's what clears from this testimony. He knows things. And we know from what he said today, he's got records, contemporaneous records that he made of it and we don't know what else he knows.
I cannot imagine that he took all of these actions without thinking there is something, very, very serious here and that's why we see these investigations plural, closing in on the President of the United States. And the President meanwhile has gone to his base, make the conduct of others the issue, tried to rally his troops to keep Republicans on the Hill from abandoning him. But we'll see whether that works or not.
TAPPER: David Urban.
DAVID URBAN, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST: Yes. So Carl, you know, feelings aren't facts. So feelings are not facts. I'll just get that straight.
URBAN: So, The Comey's feelings are not factual. He said -- his quotes are, "It was awkward. It was concerning. It was inappropriate." But those things don't equal obstruction of justice.
BERNSTEIN: There were a lot of facts today if what he said is true and that's the question.
URBAN: Those are Comey's interpretations. We will see. There's going to be big long retracted investigation over his feelings. There was another person in the room. Another person may heard it differently. The President of the United States, that person, and so I don't think we can rush into judgment like --
BERNSTEIN: I agree with you about rushing to judgment and the important thing that happened here is that we now have two investigations in place hurdling down the tracks. And we are going to find out both the public through the Senate investigation. And those involved or not involved, we're going to have results from Bob Mueller.
URBAN: Doesn't it trouble you? You just said that this FBI Director had that much power as J. Edgar Hoover. Does that bother you that it happened?
BERNSTEN: What troubles me so far that I see is the extensible and apparent conduct of the President of the United States throughout this episode and saying -- not saying, let's get to the bottom of what happened here. So, why did the director of the FBI do what he did and why was he in that position because --
DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Why didn't he go -- why didn't he go to the Hill? He could go to the Hill and told folks on the Hill.
BERNSTEIN: He went to the Attorney General of the United States who stiffed him. He did attempt to go.
URBAN: He could have got into the Hill there. 535 members, he could have gone to.
BERNSTEIN: Also, this whole question of run to the Hill, he's in charge --
URBAN: So he did today. He did today.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN THE LEAD ANCHOR: Let me let -- let me let Van Jones come in for a second Dan.
VAN JONES, FORMER SPECIAL ADVISER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: One of the things I just think is very interesting though if you pull back, why did the Trump voters send Trump to D.C.? They believe they had a strong man and a savvy man and a sophisticated man and a businessman can come and bring this town to its knees and make them do its will on their behalf. And what you find out within a 100 days is that this guy does not know how to win a fight in this town. He thought he could take this guy off the chessboard by sending him a letter when he was out of town. And now, Come y is controlling the discourse and dialogue. Donald Trump when you get past all this sort of stuff is over massed for this job and this town. And you're watching this guy fall down the stairs as its supporters try to pretend that this is all you know, act of genius. This a man who's over his head whether he's done anything wrong or not. In fact, any time he tries to exonerate himself, he incriminates himself and doesn't seem to know it. That is not the dealmaker in chief or the builder in chief that they voted for.
TAPPER: Anne Gearan, one of the things that we've seen is not only President Trump's credibility taking a beating but James Comey is as well -- majority of the people don't believe him either.
ANNE GEARAN, THE WASHINGTON POST POLITICAL CORRESPONDEN: Yes, I mean, so Comey really is emerging as not being at the center of just about every moving story in Washington over the last eight months, but somebody that democrats and republicans can dislike equally and for different but overlapping reasons. I mean, I covered the Clinton campaign and you know for months and months and months, Comey was you know, their public enemy number one. He was the guy who had unfairly -- was you know, was running this investigation which they did not like to call the investigation unfairly and after the fact, he's the guy they blamed by name for having really spoiled her chances. They thought the momentum was moving their way and when he announced his two different announcements about the reopening and then the closing again of the investigation two weeks before the election, Hillary has said you know, really spoiled her chances and her energized republicans. Now six months later, you have republicans disliking him because they think he has put himself at the center of action that where he doesn't belong and is making decisions on his own behalf. This criticism sounds similar.
TAPPER: All right. Thanks everyone for your insights, really appreciate it. While you were headed to work this morning, some political junkies were headed to the bar to watch Comey testify. Believe it or not, this morning, the bar. So how exactly do you make a Covfefe cocktail? We'll belly, up, next!
[16:50:00] TAPPER: Welcome back, in the nation's Capitol today, it was the Comey's show as one bar put it. Watering Holes open their door early to long lines of patrons who were offered viewing party specials complete with Russian vodka and Covfefe coffee. Let's bring in CNN's Brianna Keilar. And Brianna, one bar implode was ready to pour free drinks for every time President Trump tweeted during the testimony. Lots of disappointed customers there.
BRIANNA KEILAR, SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right Jake. Now that Capitol Hill Watering Hole did give their patrons a round of Bud Lights just because -- but this was a point in television and bars across the country capitalized on it.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) KEILAR: As former FBI Director James Comey testifies before Congress, many Washington bars opened early to tune their TV's to the hearing.
ERIC HEIDENBERGER, SHAW TAVERN OWNER: Only in D.C. which you have this much coverage and a line out the door at 9:00 a.m.
KEILAR: At Shawn's Tavern a riveted capacity crowd. Russian vodka shots on special and a themed menu.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We got the FBI's French toast, which is French toast, bacon and I cream.
KEILAR: A group of interns had tried to watch the hearing in person on Capitol Hill.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We got there at like 7:30 and the line was already massive so we decided to sit back and try to watch it here.
KEILAR: As Comey slams the White House for alleging he had been fired because the FBI had been disarray and agency employees lost confidence in him.
JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: Those were lies, plain and simple.
KEILAR: It was clear there were few if any Trump fan in the house.
ANTHONY CERBONE, RETIREE FROM DALLAS: (INAUDIBLE) maybe this -- maybe something they bring the President down.
KEILAR: There was a lot of Covfefe.
CERBONE: We had to have our Covfefe coffee.
KEILAR: A reference to the President's cryptic late night tweet.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And the Covfefe coffee.
KEILAR: At Duffy's Irish Pub where the Comey's show was the bar advertise it was playing. The Covfefe cocktail.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was orange soda and vodka and perhaps something else.
KEILAR: You don't know.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.
COMEY: A lot of this comes down to who should we believe --
KEILAR: Perhaps a few dashes of solidarity with the former FBI Director. One patron who said her husband is an FBI Agent was wearing a Comey is my Homey T-Shirt.
You normally drink beer while you watch a Congressional hearings.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This was a cider and I should probably start doing it more.
KEILAR: She was planning to watch the hearing at home when she heard about the gathering online.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are all kind of caught up in what happens and I think it's -- I think it's fun and I was glad to find a place where we can all kind of hang out together and see it happen live.
[16:55:21] KEILAR: And a number of bars in D.C. and certainly around the country have hosted election night watch parties maybe featured debates on televisions. But this really did seem to be different. The owner of the Shaw's Tavern, Jake, told us that the only other event that comes close to comparing to the turn-out today was the world cup. And even that was not as many people. Perhaps a reflection on how engaged a lot of folks are in this Presidency, maybe even more so than they were in the election.
TAPPER: All right. Brianna Keillar, thank you. Senator James Risch's questioned James Comey at today's hearing. Coming up, he'll join CNN with his response to the bombshell testimony. I stay with us.