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Comey Meetings with Trump; Comey's Reason for Memos; Comey Testimony Today. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired June 8, 2017 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:00] NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Minutes or so to hear from Donald Trump's attorney here. We obviously know that their talking points are - is that this was a good day for this president, that he's essentially been exonerated by James Comey today. It will be interesting to hear from Democrats how their - you know, I think one of the things that Democrats have done going into this, which might not always be to their benefit, is the hype around this, and the talk of impeachment, and in some ways the Nixon comparisons too. As john said, it's very early in terms of what's going to happen with this. If you think about the Nixon tapes, Watergate was in 1972. He didn't resign until 1974. That was two years. We're very early on in terms of what's going to happen with this. But we've got a long way to go, as John said.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And if, again, you can't cherry pick this. Nobody can cherry pick this. The Democrats nor the Republicans. The Democrats, if they're going to embrace Jim Comey, cannot wave away what he said about Loretta Lynch.
KING: But as Republicans, rightfully so, seize on that and say that former attorney general of the United States -
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Sure.
KING: Was trying to protect Hillary Clinton.
Remember, as they say that - they are saying that, they find James Comey to be a credible witness. If you believe everything he's saying there about Loretta Lynch, then don't you also have to believe everything he said about Donald Trump?
BORGER: Exactly. Here's what they're going to pick at. They're going to pick at James Comey leaking a document that would - that he knew would lead to a special counsel. And the reason he told us he did it very forthrightly, and I don't recall anybody ever doing something like that before -
BORGER: Is that, you know, the president tweeted about the tapes. And he tweeted it at Comey. And Comey, being a very seasoned, smart player, and we can talk about how he's handled this entire hearing, giving them the road map in his testimony yesterday and then leaking this so that - through a friend - so that this story would appear and that would - and that would clearly make Rosenstein think, wait a minute, we need a special counsel here. I was surprised that more Republicans didn't go after him as a leaker.
HENDERSON: A leaker. Yes. Yes. I think -
BORGER: Even though it was his own documents.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Give them - give them some time. Give them some time.
BLITZER: I'm sure we'll see a lot of that.
BORGER: Yes, give them some time. Yes. Yes.
BLITZER: Look, officials and former officials, they leak documents all the time.
BLITZER: What was extraordinary is that he explained -
BLITZER: Precisely how this document, this memorandum, involving a private conversation he had with the president, he gave it to a friend of his, who is a professor at Columbia Law School, who then gave it to a reporter over at "The New York Times."
I want to just alert our viewers here in the United States and around the world, we're standing by, we're waiting for President Trump's private outside attorney, Marc Kasowitz, to make a statement. We have been told he would be making that statement over at the National Press Club here in Washington about a half hour or so ago. But, clearly, it's been delayed. We will have live coverage. Don't know if Kasowitz will answer reporters' questions. Lots of reporters have gathered at the National Press Club to pepper him with some serious questions. This will be the first time we're actually going to be hearing from this new outside attorney hired by the president.
It was explosive testimony, two and a half hours of testimony by the former FBI director who was fired by President Trump. And I want to play for our viewers some of the more explosive moments.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He did not direct you to let it go?
JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: Not in his words, no.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He did not order you to let it go? COMEY: Again, those words are not an order.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
He said, "I hope." Do you know of any case where a person has been charged for obstruction of justice or, for that matter, any other criminal offense, where this - they said or thought they hoped for an outcome?
COMEY: I don't know well enough to answer. And the reason I keep saying his words is, I took it as a direction.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.
COMEY: I mean he's the president of the United States with me alone saying, I hope this. I took it as, this is what he wants me to do. No -
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You -
COMEY: I didn't obey that, but that's the way I took it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right, Gloria Borger, he took it as a directive, basically an order, even though, as you heard Senator Risch (ph) saying, he kept saying, I hope, I hope. Well, when you're with the president of the United States and you're in the White House and he's telling you, I hope you do this, I hope you do that, that seen, at least by the recipient, as an order.
BORGER: Right. And it's not just the president. If your boss says to you anywhere, I hope you do this, you're going to think that your boss wants to you do that and perhaps you ought to think about that. and I think when you're talking to the president of the United States, you multiply that ten-fold what - you know. And you can - you can only imagine that Comey was thinking, OK, as he put it, you know, this is a disturbing development. He said, this is a disturbing development. Everything else he was worried about. But then he saw this and he said, you know, this is now disturbing to me because I was being ordered, directed, as he put it, to do something.
So you can quibble over the words, but I think the feeling would be obvious to anyone if you're in a private meeting with the president who sent away top advisers to meet with you privately, to ask you about something he hoped would happen or something he wanted you to do.
[14:05:15] BLITZER: And Comey did confirm, John, and we wrote it down, that Flynn, the fired national security adviser, was then under - he was facing legal jeopardy, meaning he was being criminally investigated.
KING: He used the word serious investigation. He used the words legal jeopardy. He was asked at one point, do you have any information that he might have given misleading testimony in his interviews with the FBI and -
BLITZER: Which is a crime.
KING: Which is a crime, and Comey said that that was part of the investigation. So did General Flynn say something not true as part of the investigation?
And so, again, consider the timing and what happened there. This is the day after Flynn was fired. The president shews the attorney general of the United States and other senior people out of the room, but the attorney general is the significant figure, to then have a conversation about an investigation with the FBI director.
So that is why Comey says he was stunned. He acknowledged that he probably did not handle it as well as he should have because he says he was stunned. And people will have a debate about that going forward. But he also said that he left thinking what the president said could become of an investigative importance, meaning, is the president now trying to meddle in this? Is the president now trying to interfere with this? He said he wasn't sure of that, but he was thinking that as he went and then memorialized it and briefed his senior team so that if he talked about it later, later ending up being today, but more importantly, Wolf, this is now going to be relevant to the special counsel investigation which, again, as we're trying to do the big picture here, this investigation was about 2016 Russian meddling, how did they do it, why did they do, why did they do it, the possibility of collusion between Trump associates in 2016 with Russians. Now it is also about the conduct of the president of the United States in 2017, and that's very important.
HENDERSON: Yes. Yes, and I think this hearing shows the limits of trying to control the narrative, right, and that's what we'll see Trump try to do today through his lawyer. We've obviously seen that from Republicans today as they were asking questions of Comey. One of the things they tried to do - and I can't remember if it was Rubio or Cotton, essentially said, well, how many times did he press on you to let the Flynn thing go? Was it only that one time? Did you have follow-up conversations with that - on that subject? Did other people press on you to kind of squash the Flynn investigation? So essentially saying, well, he didn't try very hard if it was just this one time. Which, again, is sort of lowing the standards, right?
KING: You make a - you make a key point.
KING: We're about to hear for the first time on camera a statement from the president's private attorney. This is a critical moment as well to give us at least an early insight as to how they are prepared to publicly defend the president. We went through this in the Monica Lewinsky investigation where we very rarely heard from David Kindle (ph), the president's private attorney. Now, in the end, we learned why. The president of the United States went before a grand jury and said that a lot of things he had said publically were not true. That he had lied to the American people. That he had lied to reporters. We don't know anything about - I'm not trying to make any connection between that and then, but how an attorney conducts him or herself during an investigation is critically important and we're about to get our first snapshot of how the Trump team's going to handle this.
BLITZER: Yes. And we'll have live coverage as soon as Marc Kasowitz, the president's private attorney, brought in from New York City to help him in this overall investigation, in this overall issue, we're going to hear from him the first time. He had issued a written statement yesterday saying the president feels completely vindicated by the testimony that was put forward yesterday.
Anderson, we'll have live coverage of that statement from the attorney as soon as it starts.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, you can see in the side of your screen, we are awaiting it. The room is full there at the - at the press club. We will bring that to you as soon as it happens.
I also want to welcome to the panel, Asha Rangappa, former FBI special agent, also a legal analyst.
In terms of what you heard from Director Comey, I mean did he behave appropriately in not raising concerns about what he felt was a directive from the president early on?
ASHA RANGAPPA, FORMER FBI SPECIAL AGENT: Look, there's no playbook for this. This has been completely unusual at every stage. And so I think we have to look at how he responded based on that. When he got to a point where he was having these very odd and problematic conversations, which he documented simply because they are unprecedented for him, you know, he's faced with a situation where to go to the Department of Justice he's now looking also at somebody who could potentially be implicated in some of the things that are being investigated because of Sessions' ceremony, yes.
COOPER: Jim Acosta is standing by for us at the - at the White House.
Jim, just in terms of what we expect to hear from - from the president's private attorney.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, we do have a statement that came into our White House team just a few moments ago, Anderson, and it does sort of lay out some of the reason why I guess Marc Kasowitz was sounding so confident last night. You know, he was overheard at the Trump Hotel here in D.C. basically saying that the president has won in all of this in response to Comey's written testimony that was released yesterday.
[14:10:01] Now we do have a statement from Marc Kasowitz. We do expect him to read this statement at this statement - this live statement that's coming up here in a few moments. Don't know if we want to call it a press conference because we don't know if he'll take questions. But in the statement it - he says, Anderson, "Mr. Comey has now finally confirmed publicly what he repeatedly told the president privately. The president was not under investigation as part of any probe into Russian interference. He also admitted that there is no evidence that a single vote changed as a result of Russian interference." So they're not really saying that Russian interference did not happen, just that the president is not under investigation as a result of that.
Interesting, Anderson, that this goes through a few other points that we're going to hear Marc Kasowitz make, but at the very end of this statement, he goes after James Comey. And so we were wondering throughout the day today how strongly would the president's team or would the president himself go after Jim Comey directly.
At the - at the end of this statement, Marc Kasowitz goes after Comey for providing some of this information to that friend, that law professor up at Columbia with the expectation that some of that would be leaked to the news media. I'll just read a portion of that as well, Anderson. It says in this statement, "we will leave it to the appropriate authorities to determine whether this leaks - or these leaks, it should say, should be investigated along with all those others being investigated." And so they're being very aggressive on this one point that we heard Comey mention and admit to during his testimony today that he was providing information to this law professor in the - anticipating that it's going to be leaked out to the news media. So it sounds like, you know, you've heard the president time and again go after leaks and the leakers and so forth. It sounds like the legal team is zeroing in on this as well.
COOPER: Yes, and we'll see if he brings that up. We expect the - Marc Kasowitz to speak really in just the next several minutes. Obviously that's going to be brought to you live.
Carl, you wanted to -
CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I - the jarring moment there when Jim a little bit ago talked about Mr. Kasowitz handing out cigars in the Trump Hotel last night as - and declaring victory, because what we're seeing and what his response indicates is - and Trump himself, the president himself at a prayer meeting a couple hour ago, about an hour ago, quoting Isaiah and going through the lies of others in what he said makes clear that he's going to his base. That's the response of a president and those around him to make the conduct of Comey, the conduct of others, to make leakers, the press the issue here rather than the conduct of the president of the United States, to go back to the base. That the base is seen as a way of perhaps, you know, rouse them, get them out, turn them - turn them out at rallies, get them to tell Republicans on The Hill, don't let this thing get out of hand. That's where he's going to the mattresses on that.
DAVID URBAN, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST: Yes, but just - just to be -
BERNSTEIN: And -
URBAN: Just to be fair, Carl, you know, on May 3rd, in front of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, Director Comey, when asked about leaks, if they're a problem, said, they're always a problem. Leaks are always a problem, OK? BERNSTEIN: Right.
URBAN: And then he turns around and what does he do, he leaks.
COOPER: I think it was - he may have been - I don't know if he was talking about leaks of classified information in particular, but it's a fair - it's a fair point.
BERNSTEIN: But the president's response -
URBAN: I'm just saying, he leaks.
BERNSTEIN: The president's response is to go to his base, just as it was on climate change. You know, being told there's another way to do this to bring the country together, go to the base, keep them aroused, that's the defense at this point.
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, I don't know want to be the old political hack here. That doesn't trouble me as much as the notion that victory - what constitutes victory in the mind of his lawyer, and perhaps the White House, is that there was no conclusive evidence of a crime being committed.
AXELROD: How about the shredding of norms of the -
AXELROD: Ignoring the propriety of the office and in every way turning your back on what is expected of a president of the United States. And, you know, we can say, yes, he acted inappropriately, but he didn't break any laws. I don't find that particularly comforting. I certainly wouldn't light a cigar over that.
BERNSTEIN: No, that's the point.
LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it's a bit -
BERNSTEIN: Everything but the conduct of the president of the United States is something that is being considered by those around the president. And maybe a little humility might have served the president well in this instance.
COATES: Well, I - I think it's a bit more nuance, though. I don't think it's just simply applying to his base, although that certainly is saturated in that argument. But it's also that - remember, one of the narratives that he gave, the explanations for firing Jim Comey, was based on kind of a personnel related issue about the priorities that Jim Comey refused to have. He prioritized the Russia collusion investigation over leaks. And so what he's doing is essentially saying, listen, this is yet another confirmation that my actions were perhaps not nefarious and perhaps benign and instead were an indication that, one, Comey corroborated, number one today, in his statement yesterday and today, and also that it's not just an appeal to my base, but it also immunizes me from the scrutiny. And that's not going to be a successful strategy, I have to say that -
[14:15:09] BERNSTEIN: Right. Right.
COATES: But I have to - I'm going to try to give the benefit of the doubt and say maybe perhaps the inquiry or the cost benefit analysis was far more nuance than simply an appeal to ones base.
AXELROD: Yes, in reading the statement, by the way, I don't know what the president said to this faith group, but his message might have been, the truth shall set you free, but not necessarily all your satellites.
JEN PSAKI, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: There was a positive development. We've touched on this a little bit. And I think that is that Republicans and Democrats are all starting to acknowledging that this is an issue of patriotism and this is an issue of an adversary trying to go after the United States. This is why it's so troubling if you put politics aside that every single person that could be tied up in this investigation isn't volunteering to participate and giving over all of their information. Russia is - this is ongoing. This has been repeatedly said in every hearing, this is ongoing. There's no reason they won't go after 2018. Maybe they're on the Democrats' side next time. Putin's not a registered Republican. We don't know. So the fact is, we're halting doing anything about that. I was happy to see a number of people from both parties raise that today.
AXELROD: Well, and at the end of that statement, the notion that they were belittling the Russian threat because the Russians didn't directly interfere with voting. I think that was a concession to the president because this is an obsession of his.
URBAN: That's right.
AXELROD: He doesn't want this notion that the Russians delivered this election to him. In fact, I think Mr. Kasowitz's role here is to satisfy the president so he won't live tweet these events and vent some of his perspective on this.
But this - I thought one of the most -
COOPER: By the way, that's Director Comey walking out now. It looks like the classified briefing is probably done.
AXELROD: One of the most moving and impactful parts of Comey's testimony was his testimony about what the Russian interference means to our country.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
AXELROD: And that - and that is something that you would love the president of the United States -
PSAKI: To embrace. AXELROD: To embrace. And clearly that has not happened.
RANGAPPA: It's frightening -
URBAN: Look, David, I agree. Listen, no one around this panel - no one is - no American, I can tell you on the campaign, nobody in Pennsylvania, nobody wants to see the Russians involved in future elections. I agree with Jen completely. And I think he gets it. The notion that somehow this ongoing debate with Director Comey here somehow impedes what's going in the intelligence communities or going on with our defense communities, we can't walk and chew gum at the same time -
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: If that's true -
URBAN: Is nonsensical.
TOOBIN: If that's true that the president doesn't want - why did he say during the campaign, I love WikiLeaks?
RANGAPPA: And why did Comey mention during the hearing that in all of those nine interactions he had, the president never once asked him about the substance of the threat or how to stop it.
TOOBIN: Right. I man look -
RANGAPPA: That was incredibly striking to me and he had several conversations with Obama about that.
URBAN: And I will - great, and I will ask you why - and I'll say to you again, why didn't Comey say to the president, hey, we can't talk about these kind of things. You know there's - I can't answer (INAUDIBLE) in the room, so I can't answer that question. And, Jeff, your question about -
AXELROD: Well, nobody was in the room because he asked everybody to leave.
URBAN: Well, about the WikiLeaks.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
URBAN: Look, at the time, WikiLeaks was not necessarily tied to the Russians at that time and it's still - until recently the intelligence community didn't dispositively (ph) show that it was, you know, tied to the Russian intelligence agency.
TOOBIN: So then president was - the then candidate Trump was pro- hacking of all kinds, not just by Russians?
URBAN: Well, listen - listen, the president said a lot of things that - candidates say lots of things when they're campaigning, right?
TOOBIN: That's certainly true.
URBAN: I'll go back and I'll press rewind on whether it's Secretary Kerry or Secretary Clinton or Bill - President Clinton or President Obama, I could find lots of -
PSAKI: I don't think any of them welcomed an adversary hacking into an election and helping themselves.
URBAN: And I don't believe - and I don't believe - Jen, and I don't believe that President Trump is welcoming Russians hacking into the election.
TOOBIN: Just whoever was doing it was fine with him.
URBAN: WikiLeaks - no, WikiLeaks was not hacking the election. You're making it seem like the Russians were hacking into deblot (ph) system in Pennsylvania and changing an "r" vote to a "d."
TOOBIN: I didn't say that. It was the e-mails.
URBAN: Well, that's - that's the implication. That was the implication.
PSAKI: That was not what I was -
TOOBIN: It was the e-mails that they took from the Democratic National Committee and John -
URBAN: Well, when the Democratic National Committee -
TOOBIN: Let me finish. And John Podesta. And the candidate of the Republican Party, Donald Trump, didn't say, this isn't a crime that should be prosecuted. Regardless of who do it. He said, I love WikiLeaks. That's just true, right?
URBAN: I'm not - it was a true statement. I'm not going to deny it. What I'm going to say is this, the RNC and DNC were both advised by the FBI they were hacked - they were being hacked. The RNC put up a firewall. The DNC perhaps didn't do - I mean I can't - I wasn't there. I can't tell you again what took place. I'm sure that they were both hacked.
TOOBIN: So they got what they deserved?
URBAN: I'm not saying they got what they deserved. I'm just saying that, you know, that they were perhaps not as - not as diligent in doing what they needed to do. I wasn't there. Jen, I can't tell you.
COOPER: Or the other argument is that that -
BERNSTEIN: Or they just didn't choose to use it, Anderson.
COOPER: Right, that's the other argument.
BERNSTEIN: And what's really on point is the president's conduct. That's what we're looking at. Whether Marco Rubio, after this hearing, has now said - talked about whether or not the president's conduct was appropriate or not and that he's seriously looking, apparently, at the question of perhaps obstruction, perhaps not. That's what this is about. This is not about little things. This is about something - an enemy of the United States has tried to interfere and undermine our democratic election process. The president has minimized that, has sought to make it go away, has kept saying, oh, you want to de- legitimatize my election. Look, he's the dually elected president of the United States, certified by the Electoral College. This isn't about de-legitimatizing him. This is about him de-legitimatizing in fact the rule of law and upholding the Constitution of the United States.
[14:20:40] MATTHEW WHITAKER, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY IN IOWA: We have - with Bob Mueller, who's investigating this very issue.
BERNSTEIN: That's right.
WHITAKER: So to suggest that Trump has somehow done anything that has - has hindered to this point this investigation, they're, again, inappropriate. We all agree that that's - that's a good word for (INAUDIBLE).
BERNSTEIN: Well, I'm glad we got that far.
WHITAKER: But, yes. But the investigation marches on and -
WHITAKER: Until he - until he says stop -
AXELROD: And on that point I don't actually know who the Russians hacked in totality. I don't know what the Russians did completely. We still don't know that. And we should know that.
URBAN: Yes, absolutely.
AXELROD: We should know the whole story.
URBAN: Well, but it's the fact that our intelligence committees -
RANGAPPA: Well, we shouldn't know it because the counterintelligence investigation is going to be classified. So I was a counterintelligence agent. And, you know, the FBI is facing a great tension between the public's desire to know and the things that it has to kept close to the chest so that the Russians don't up their game and fix everything that, you know, we found out already.
So - and the other point is that we keep focusing on obstruction of justice. I actually heard potential evidence of bribery, the loyalty conversation that Comey understood to be getting something in exchange for keeping his job does seem to sounds like a quid pro quo there. And bribery is actually one of the crimes explicitly mentioned in the impeachment clause. So I'm just going to throw that out there. I don't think anybody's mentioned that.
WHITAKER: I respectfully disagree with that analysis. I don't - I mean until we hear the tapes, which may exist, we may have White House tapes, but, you know, based on what Director Comey testified and what's in his memos that we haven't seen but he's talked about, I don't see a suggestion that that is a federal bribery charge. But, again, the politics -
AXELROD: The fact that everybody was asked to leave the room makes me less confident that we're going to hear tapes, but maybe.
BERNSTEIN: All of this goes to the question of this being a bad day for the president of the United States because, among other things, we now have a Senate investigation that we have all minimized up until the last day or two which now has shown itself to be a serious inquiry deserving of respect. They might not have the resources that the Senate Watergate committee had in terms of investigative abilities. But we now have some serious people saying, we're going to get to the bottom of this, as is this special prosecutor.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.
BERNSTEIN: This combination is - if indeed there is no "there" there, that would be good for the president of the United States. But I would say, by and large, and given the response of his lawyer, given the response at this thing that Trump - that the president spoke at a few minutes ago, this is not a good thing for their interests (INAUDIBLE).
COOPER: I just want to point out for our viewers that we awaiting -
BERNSTEIN: Especially (INAUDIBLE).
COOPER: We have been told it should be really any moment now that Marc Kasowitz, the president's private attorney, is going to be making a statement. That's what that box is on the side of your screen.
PSAKI: I think that -
URBAN: I would just say - well, let me just make the point that Carl's making about - sure it's a bad day. No one's going to say it's a good day for the Trump presidency today.
COOPER: I think Kasowitz might.
BERNSTEIN: I can find somebody (INAUDIBLE) somebody handing out cigars.
AXELROD: Nobody this afternoon will say - by the hour (ph) (INAUDIBLE).
URBAN: Let's - this isn't the end of the Republic as we know it. Let's just -
URBAN: Let's press rewind again and go back to the first year of the Clinton administration, OK. Does anybody remember that? TOOBIN: Do we have to?
URBAN: Does anybody remember that? Does anybody remember White Water and Travelgate and "don't ask, don't tell" and all the other things that happened during the first year? And ever - no one - it was the end of the world there, and Clinton went on to have a very successful presidency. So, you know, the death - you know my reports of my death -
AXELROD: Actually, he was impeached in the last part.
URBAN: Well, that reports -t hat reports of my death are greatly over exaggerated is my kind of (INAUDIBLE).
COOPER: Well, the question - I mean the question is more about his agenda, his ability to get the, you know, the legislation that he and his supporters want.
URBAN: Right, and that's - it's a great distraction from getting health care, from getting - listen, we should be talking about - around this panel and we joked about it earlier, infrastructure. It's a huge - it's a huge issue. We should be talking about veterans suicide, the opioid crisis in America, things that really matter to the people that elected this president.
COOPER: Right. Right, right, but even though this was infrastructure week, it wasn't President Trump - that's not like what he started out the week tweeting about. He seems to be stepping on it as - you know.
: No, but here's my point, is like - and Carl points, this is a giant distraction to the agenda of Americans, right? There are real issues that - mental health crisis in America. Lot of things that we need to be focused on. Whether or not the -
BERNSTEIN: This is (INAUDIBLE) - this is not a distraction. This is deadly serious, importance about the moral -
COATES: But it - it's more -
COOPER: One at a time. Carl, respond.
URBAN: There's an investigation going on.
BERNSTEIN: About the moral authority of the president of the United States.
URBAN: There is an investigation going on (INAUDIBLE).
BERNSTEIN: And (INAUDIBLE) his office.
[14:25:01] PSAKI: There, I think, is a very problematic trajectory for the Trump team right now, which is that this investigation keeps getting bigger. It's expanding.
BERNSTEIN: That's right. PSAKI: Nobody's paid attention to the fact that the Senate Intel Committee has expanded the scope because they've requested this financial information from (INAUDIBLE) at the Treasury Department. It's now also about the financial ties and that information. Also, Mueller, obviously the scope of that is expanding we saw from today. So while that is happening, drawing more and more interest, Trump is obviously tweeting and then his agenda, his policies are getting smaller and smaller. He put up principles on tax reform quite some time ago. That is not a proposal. On health care, it's gone through several bits and starts. Hasn't happened. He has a very short period of time to get (INAUDIBLE) -
COOPER: You were talking about this a little bit last night. It just explains sort of the window of opportunity for any administration.
PSAKI: Sure. So for any administration, even for presidents who are a lot more popular who don't have investigations like Trump, the first year is really the sweet spot. That's when you push to get everything done, get your policies done, because what happens is, you're going to get into - Trump is going to get into a budget fight about keeping the government open, which will be very, very messy in September. After that, it starts to be election season. So really right now he has June and July to get policies done, whether that's tax reform, health care, whatever it may be. After that, it becomes increasingly difficult, especially if his popularity decreases.
TOOBIN: And if I can point to the one unambiguous success of the Trump presidency so far, which was the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court -
TOOBIN: That was done. And that will have enormous significance for decades to come.
But he has many other judicial vacancies to fill and he started just filling those names now and the legislative calendar affects confirmation of those judges, too.
PSAKI: And I - and I -
COOPER: Here's Senator McCain. Let's listen in.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Nothing spectacular.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So what do you think the next stage of this is then?
MCCAIN: As I've said for months, we need a select committee to investigate all the aspects of this. Every few days, another shoe drops.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What were you getting at when you were talking about (INAUDIBLE)? MCCAIN: I was saying that in the case of the investigation of former
Secretary Clinton's involvement, he examined it, said it was over and it was done. In the case of President Trump's involvement, there's more shoes to drop, there's more investigations. What's the difference? It's over the same issue. That was the question I was trying to get at. I obviously didn't do it very well.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you still -
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you still have any outstanding concerns, something that you (INAUDIBLE)?
MCCAIN: I have hundreds of outstanding concerns.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Like what?
MCCAIN: Oh, I can't even bother with it - all the other aspects of this thing. Every few days, another shoe drops. This is the classic scandal. It isn't the same as Watergate. It it's the same as Iran- Contra, but it has the same earmarks of a new revelation every few days.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there more -
MCCAIN: And that's going to destroy it (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there more the White House could do to (INAUDIBLE) -
MCCAIN: I don't know. You'll have to ask them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thanks, senator.
COOPER: So, Senator McCain, obviously who was on the panel questioning Comey today. And, again, we're minutes away - I keep saying this, but we're - I keep getting like a several minute warning that we're just minutes away, but we'll bring it to you -
AXELROD: Can I just - can I just say -
COATES: Let me - can I -
AXELROD: I'm sorry, Laura, go ahead.
COATES: No, let's be clear, it's absolutely the classic scandal that McCain just described is the quintessential distraction for the president of the United States. However, that can also be a motivation to suppress or interfere with an election - with an investigation. And if that is simply the basis for doing so, it can still constitute in the long run obstructive tendencies. It can also be the very reason that you can continue investigate collusion. And so you can both be right about it. These are not mutually exclusive points. They can be a distraction and a source for the distraction.
URBAN: Look, I don't - I don't disagree and I don't disagree with Carl. I'm just saying, we have Mueller. There's a process taking place. The Congress is going to do this. I think America needs to start asking the Congress and the president, this is going to - this is going to go on. There's a lot of - you know, 20 soldiers a day kill themselves, veterans, kids are dying from opioid abuse, roads are falling apart. We can walk and chew gum in America at the same time. We've got to keep going.
COOPER: Well, the question is, I mean - oh, we're going to here from Marc Kasowitz.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm Marc Corolo (ph) and this is Marc Kasowitz, President Donald Trump's personal attorney. He'll make a short statement. We will not be taking questions. This is also Michael Bow (ph) of the Kasowitz Law Firm.
MARC KASOWITZ, OUTSIDE COUNSEL FOR PRESIDENT TRUMP: Ladies and gentlemen, I'm Marc Kasowitz, President Trump's personal lawyer.
[14:29:33] Contrary to numerous false press accounts leading up to today's hearing, Mr. Comey has now finally confirmed publicly what he repeatedly told President Trump privately. That is, that the president was not under investigation as part of any probe into Russian interference. The president - he - Mr. Comey also admitted that there is no evidence that a single vote changed as a result of any Russian interference.