Return to Transcripts main page
Trump Attorney Marc Kasowitz Responds to Comey Testimony; Sen. John Warner Responds to Comey Testimony, Kasowitz Response. Aired 2:30-3p ET
Aired June 8, 2017 - 14:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:30:00] MARC KASOWITZ, PRIVATE ATTORNEY TO DONALD TRUMP: -- 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.
Mr. Comey's testimony also makes clear that the president never sought to impede the investigation into attempted Russian interference in the 2016 election. And, in fact, according to Mr. Comey, the president told Mr. Comey, quote, "It would be good to find out", closed quote, in that investigation if there was, quote, "some satellite associates of his who did something wrong," closed quote. And he, President Trump, did not exclude anyone from that statement.
Consistent with that statement, the president never in form or substance director or suggested that Mr. Comey stop investigating anyone, including, the president never suggested that Mr. Comey, quote, "Let Flynn go," closed quote.
As the president publicly stated, the next day, he did say to Mr. Comey, quote, "General Flynn is a good guy. He has been through a lot," closed quote. And also, quote, "Asked how General Flynn is doing," closed quote.
Admiral Rogers testified today that the president never, quote, "directed him to do anything illegal, immoral, unethical or inappropriate," closed quote, and never, never, quote, "pressured him to do so," closed quote.
Director Coats said the same thing.
The president likewise never pressured Mr. Comey. The president also never told Mr. Comey, quote, "I need loyalty, I expect loyalty," closed quote. He never said it in form and he never said it in substance.
Of course, the office of the president is entitled to expect loyalty from those who are serving the administration. And from before this president took office to this day, it is overwhelmingly clear that there have been and continue to be those in government who are actively attempting to undermine this administration with selective and illegal leaks of classified information and privileged communications. Mr. Comey has now admitted that he is one of these leakers. Today,
Mr. Comey admitted that he unilaterally and surreptitiously made unauthorized disclosures to the press of privileged communications with the president. The leaks of this privileged information began no later than March 2017 when friends of Mr. Comey have stated that he disclosed to them the conversations that he had with the president during their January 27, 2017 dinner, and February 14, 2017 White House meeting.
Today, Mr. Comey admitted that he leaked to friends of his purported memos of those privileged communications, one of which he testified was classified.
Mr. Comey also testified that immediately after he was terminated, he authorized his friends to leak the contents of those memos to the press in order to, in Mr. Comey's words, quote, "prompt the appointment of a special counsel," closed quote.
Although Mr. Comey testified that he only leaked the memos in response to a tweet, the public record reveals that "The New York Times" was quoting from those memos the day before the referenced tweet, which belies Mr. Comey's excuse for this unauthorized disclosure of privileged information and appears to be entirely retaliatory.
We will leave it to the appropriate authorities to determine whether these leaks should be investigated, along with all the others that are being investigated.
In sum, it is now established that the president was not being investigated for colluding with or attempting to obstruct any investigation. As the committee pointed out, these important facts for the country to know are virtually the only facts that have not been leaked during the course of these events.
As he said yesterday, the president feels completely vindicated and is eager to continue moving forward with his agenda with the business of this country and with this public cloud removed.
[14:35:26] UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mr. Kasowitz --
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: That's Marc Kasowitz, the president's private attorney, not taking any questions. At the end there, you heard him going after Director Comey for what he said was the leaks of privileged communications, memos -- he was saying plural -- to ultimately, "The New York Times" through a friend of his at Columbia Law School.
Jeff Toobin, just from a legal standpoint, I mean, Marc Kasowitz raises an interesting point, I don't know if it's true, that "The New York Times" was talking about what was in this memo the day before the president said anything about tapes. JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Which would be very
interesting. I think we need to look at the chronology there because Director Comey was very clear in his testimony that he gave these documents to Daniel Richmond, professor at Columbia Law School, in response to a tweet from President Trump. And you know, Mr. Kasowitz is an advocate, and advocates advocate.
COOPER: Are these privileged communications?
COOPER: Because this is a memo that Director Comey at the time wrote a himself of conversations that he alleges occurred between he and the president.
TOOBIN: I don't know. That's an interesting question. Usually, executive privilege has to be asserted by the president, but I'm willing to entertain that idea. I think we need to look into that.
And if you look at how he sort of selectively picked from the testimony, he picked parts that helped Donald Trump. Certainly, James Comey did say that on three occasions he did tell President Trump he was not a subject of investigation. I think if you look at the investigation today and the evidence that's been turned over to Director Mueller, he is now a subject of the investigation. But I think this was a good piece of advocacy.
COOPER: I want to bring in CNN contributor, John Dean, former Nixon White House counsel who testified in the Watergate hearings.
John, we haven't heard from you in a while. What do you make of what you heard from the president's attorney?
JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I can answer Jeff's question. This is not privileged information. Presidents do not speak where everything they say is automatically privileged. If it's classified, that's something else. But there is no restriction on anybody who has a meeting with the president unless they are in part of the deliberative process and the president seeks to claim privilege on that. But this whole myth that they could have invoked executive privilege on Comey's testimony was pure baloney. It was a charade. There was no privilege to invoke.
However, Jeff is right, this is a nice piece of advocacy. It's going to confuse the issues. They have mixed some of the dates. I do recall a memo was read to "The New York Times" before the other one came out, but I think it's a separate document. So we'll see how that all sorts out.
But one large point that's come up, and I'm not even sure that the special counsel, not to mention the FBI, has the jurisdiction to investigate presidents. In 1973, during the Agnew bruhaha, when he was removed as vice president and was prosecuted later, a memo was issued by Robert Dixon, the head of the Office of Legal Counsel, that a vice president was prosecutable and a president was not. That policy has -- was renewed in 2000. It is now the policy of the Department of Justice that they cannot indict a president. I think they can probably name one as an unindicted co-conspirator, as they did in Watergate. But there's also another argument.
DEAN: The special counsel could be taking the position that Phil Nakavara (ph), of the Watergate special prosecutor's office took, that presidents are prosecutable. But that is not the policy of the Department of Justice.
BLITZER: John, I want to quickly go to Manu Raju standing by with Senator Warner.
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The testimony today, do you think that the president obstructed justice?
SEN. MARK WARNER, (D), VIRGINIA: Listen, I'll allow lawyers, better lawyers than me to make that determination. But I think Jim Comey testified truthfully, forthright. I think the vast majority of members on both sides of the aisle realize that this is a man with high integrity, great respect for rule of law, and, you know, unlike the president's characteristics, is somebody who has served our country with distinction.
[14:40:15] RAJU: One thing the president's lawyer just said is he may have unauthorized disclosed privilege communication, saying that he may have lied under oath, as well by saying that there was a loyalty pledge there, disputing that. What is your reaction to that?
WARNER: Well, I accept what Jim Comey said, that he was asked to commit his loyalty to this president, he was asked to let the Flynn investigation go and he wanted to kind of have the Russian investigation disappear, remove the cloud. I think it was absolutely appropriate that Director Comey refused those requests and, obviously, he paid the price by being fired.
RAJU: Do you think that he disclosed any privileged communications with the president of the United States by disclosing these memos to the press?
WARNER: I've known Jim Comey, and there's very few people that have more respect for protecting sources and methods. And so I don't expect -- I don't accept the president's lawyer's characterization.
RAJU: Comey's also wanted to release the tapes today. He said it would be very important to do that. I know you've asked for that.
WARNER: We've asked.
WARNER: We've asked for the supposed tapes. I mean, the president himself was the person who raised the subject of tapes. If there are tapes, they ought to be released.
RAJU: Could you subpoena them? WARNER: It would be great if actually the president or one of his
many spokespeople would at least acknowledge whether they exist or not. I'm amazed that they have not even answered the press whether there is an existence of a secret taping system in the White House. I mean, we've seen in past history that secret taping systems used by presidents don't end up in a good position.
RAJU: Is this something that you're discussing, to subpoena those tapes?
WARNER: If they exist, we would like to get a look at them. We'd also like to see them. I'm glad to see that Jim Comey acknowledged that he's willing to give up the memos that he wrote. And we're in discussions with the special prosecutor, Mueller, to see if we could get those.
RAJU: When will you talk to Bob Mueller?
WARNER: We've got it scheduled next week.
RAJU: You were planning to talk to him?
WARNER: It's scheduled next week.
RAJU: Lastly, today, also at the testimony, Comey suggested there was new information about the Sessions recusal that he could not discuss in a public setting. Without getting into the context, did he discuss that in a classified hearing?
WARNER: I can't discuss the conversations that took place in a classified setting.
RAJU: Thank you, Senator. Appreciate it.
WARNER: Thank you.
COOPER: That was Manu Raju talking to Senator Warner.
We should also point out that Senator John McCain has issued a statement. It's interesting because it sort of answers some of the comments that have been made about his questioning. He said -- this is his statement: "I get the sense from Twitter that my line of questioning went over people's heads. Maybe going forward, I shouldn't stay up late watching the Diamondbacks night games."
He goes on to say that what he was trying to get at was whether Mr. Comey believes that any of his interactions with the president rise to the level of obstruction of justice. That's what he wanted to get at.
DAVID URBAN, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST: He could embrace the Cubs. They start earlier.
And one of the questions I was going to ask, we have two FBI agents on here. Do you think it's acceptable for the director of the FBI to leak to
the press, to leak those documents that he did in the way that he did? You came to his defense earlier, so I would just like to --
ASHA RANGAPPA, FORMER FBI SPECIAL AGENT: Well, he's a private citizen now and those are not privileged communications. They don't go to the core of presidential decision making, which is U.S. v Nixon said, executive privilege goes to and, in fact, it doesn't --
URBAN: I'm not asking if it was illegal. I'm asking whether you think it was appropriate, is what I'm asking you.
RANGAPPA: I think he apparently had very deep questions on whether this Russia investigation would be handled objectively once he left and so --
MATTHEW WHITAKER, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF GEORGIA: Is it normal for FBI agents and managers and directors to leave with documents? When I left the DOJ, I didn't leave with anything but the clothes on my back.
RANGAPPA: If they're recollections. If he had written in a diary, would you say he wouldn't be able to have that?
RANGAPPA: If he went home and wrote, dear diary, here is what, you know --
RANGAPPA: -- the president said to me today.
URBAN: From what I understand, he wrote it in his SUV outside the White House.
COOPER: No. You have said that repeatedly. Factually, he wrote once on a classified computer in his vehicle after leaving the Trump Tower.
URBAN: -- wrote on a moleskin in Lafayette Park --
COOPER: You can say what you want.
COOPER: We want to know the facts.
WHITAKER: He deserves a lot of credibility. I mean, I know Jim Comey. He's a good man.
URBAN: I'm not saying he's not a good man.
WHITAKER: But we are giving him absolute -- his recollection is rock solid and he must have contemporaneously written this down the moment he walked out of the office.
RANGAPPA: He said in open testimony he said he wrote it down the minute he left.
CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You've raised a really good point.
[14:45:00] BERNSTEIN: -- a coverup, and whether or not that is what motivated Comey. And reading between the lines, and we've talked, many of us who are reporters, to those around the investigations who believe that the president has been involved in a coverup, not necessarily an obstruction of justice. But read between the lines and it seems that he discerned that his firing, and what occurred in the meetings with the president, was to further a coverup. And that --
URBAN: That's not a really good coverup.
BERNSTEIN: That's the point here.
BERNSTEIN: Whoa. One of the differences between Nixon and Donald Trump, and let's forget about most of the Watergate or all of the Watergate analogies, Nixon was better at covering up, keeping concealment working.
DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I would say one thing about the Kasowitz statement. What is clear is they went right at -- the one thing he said emphatically is he never said -- he never suggested let the Flynn thing go.
URBAN: That's right.
COOPER: He also said he never asked for loyalty.
AXELROD: He went at some of the key aspects of Comey's testimony. And what is clear is they are going to contest, you know -- it's going to be a "he said/he said thing" and they are contesting the essence of what Jim Comey -- (CROSSTALK)
COOPER: Right. And it boils down to, do you believe the president is lying or do you believe Jim Comey is lying? Because one of them is not ---
LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: The difference here is that one of them was under oath.
I find it peculiar that you can believe that by corroborating, at least three instances, that the president has said that Jim Comey talked to him about whether or not he was personally under an investigation, you've spoken repeatedly today about the credibility and him being a star witness today and the winner of this hearing, and yet you question the voracity of the actual documents that he wrote to corroborate the president's own --
COATES: -- to corroborate the president's own thing. But it's very perplexing that, on the one hand, you can say that he's ultimately credible, and then question the very basis for which --
COOPER: I've got to toss things over to Wolf. Wolf is standing by on Capitol Hill -- Wolf?
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you very much, Anderson.
And, Gloria, it's very interesting, because on two main points, the lawyer, the personal attorney representing President Trump, Marc Kasowitz, basically said -- well, flatly said that James Comey is a liar, that he's lying. He said that the president never suggested to Mr. Comey let Flynn go, Michael Flynn, the fired national security adviser. And he also said the president never told Mr. Comey, I need loyalty, I expect loyalty. So on those two points, we're hearing from the president's private attorney that Comey is lying.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLTIICAL ANALYST: Right. And this goes to the question of obstruction and whether the president tried to intervene in the investigation into General Flynn. And the question of pressure, they say he was never pressured to do so. Comey was careful today. He didn't use the word "pressure" at all. Comey said he thought he was directed. And he quoted the president saying, "I hope." But he did not use the word "pressure." Now, two members -- Director Coats and Rogers yesterday testified that they never felt pressured. But I think they want to make it clear that this wasn't, to their eyes, a president who was trying to intervene and obstruct, and nor was he somebody, they say, who expected loyalty. So I think it turns into a "he said/he said" kind of a situation right now. And, you know, they also made clear that the president said to Director Comey, we'd like to find out if, you know, there was some satellite associates who were involved in Russia. So they're also making the case that this wasn't a president who was trying to sit on any Russia investigations. So you see their response goes to the heart of what Comey was saying.
BLITZER: And, John, he said there's some evidence that could be presented, presumably, the contemporaneous notes that Comey took. I don't know if the president dictated or took any contemporaneous notes. But one clear piece of evidence would be if there are tapes.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRSPONDENT: You've just guaranteed a lengthy investigation, both on Capitol Hill, because the committee has jurisdiction and, more importantly, the legal investigation of the special counsel. Very noteworthy. The president's attorney came out hours after the fact to lay out denying the loyalty pledge, denying let it go when it comes to Michael Flynn. No Republican in that hearing today was willing to do that for the White House. They did not challenge James Comey's testimony. They challenged some of his interpretations of it. They tried to say it could be more innocent than you're saying it is, but they would not do what the president's lawyer said. That tells you a very important thing about the political climate.
Now we go into the legal climate. We've been through this before. Bob Mueller has a "he said/he said." On day one, guess what, James Comey gets the benefit of the doubt because he's a trained prosecutor, because he took those notes, and because this president has had in the past a causal relationship with the truth. And that's a fact. But the president deserves his day.
But what it means is the attorney general will be questioned about being shooed out of the Oval Office. Jared Kushner will be questioned about being shooed out of the Oval Office. The people who James Comey shared those memos with will be questioned about what he said, what he asked about this, which means we have no idea where this ends. But we have months of people lawyering up, investigations continuing, and Marc Kasowitz said the president was grateful that the cloud was removed from the White House. That's not anywhere close to the truth.
[14:50:43] BLITZER: Nia, what struck me about the Kasowitz statement, which was very carefully drafted, it underscores what we all know about President Trump, he likes to counterpunch.
NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Yeah.
BLITZER: You hit him, he'll hit you right back. And he goes one step further, not only flatly denying the two main points that Comey made about their conversations, but he also says it goes on and says Comey should now be investigated himself by the authorities for leaking this kind of privileged communication.
HENDERSON: Yes. He's saying essentially that Comey is a leaking liar, except when he's not a leaking liar, and when he's telling the truth about Trump in other ways. Yeah, and Trump clearly wants to end this. He sees it as a battle between Comey and Trump. The last statement, a very triumphal, very much like he can move forward and, as John said, that's clearly not possible. They want to frame Comey as part of this deep state. This idea that he's clearly talking to the base in this. Part of this could have been written by somebody who wrote for "Breitbart," it seemed like, in the way that they are framing Comey and the way that they are framing him as someone who is leaking. And this, of course, has been a real focus of the White House, a real focus of Republicans as well. But, listen, this is not going to end at all. We'll see what Donald Trump does for these next days, if he's able to maintain what we saw today, this presentation from his lawyer, Kasowitz. They have definitely cordoned off -- you know, we had Sean Spicer had to answer questions about this and Sarah Huckabee Sanders and not doing so well and now they have Kasowitz out there. But --
HENDERSON: Right. It was in some ways late. Right? Comey finished at like 12:30, 1:00. This came out, and we got a couple of warnings that he was going to come out. He came out very late and this thing had a lot of typos in it. It wasn't exactly the most professional rollout --
BLITZER: It was delivered outside the White House, at the National Press Club, by the president's personal attorney, not by his White House counsel.
BORGER: If you were going to sum up today, it would be "liar, liar" from Comey, "leaking liar" from Trump to Comey. I mean, these are -- these are people who believe that the other one is fabricating. And I think you'd have to give Comey a notch up here, given the fact that he has these notes. If Trump has tapes, that could solve the problem.
KING: Also, I want to note, the president was not under investigation. The president would like his attorney to be able to go out in public and say he's not under investigation. He did not say that. He said he was not --
HENDERSON: Twice. He said it twice.
BLITZER: At the top, he said the president was not under investigation as part of any probe into Russia interference. That's what Comey said. And then he said, "It's now established that the president was not being investigating for colluding," he said.
KING: Past tense.
BLITZER: Past tense.
BLITZER: Brian Stelter is with us. Brian, I'm curious, what do you think about this new allegation, the
leaks that the president's personal attorney leveled against James Comey?
BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT & CNN HOST, RELIABLE SOURCES: An attempt to create a counter narrative, Wolf. We're seeing from the RNC and from the Trump White House and from his lawyers an attempt to create a counter narrative. This is the story of the Trump administration since January 20th. Kellyanne Conway and Sean Spicer, and now Trump's own outside attorney, always trying to present some alternative explanation or alternative narrative that right-wing media, as Nia just mentioned, "Breitbart," will pick up and run with. But Kasowitz is not accurate when he says that "The New York Times" was quoting from the memos before Trump ever tweeted. The timeline does not back up that version of events.
[14:54:35] BLITZER: Brian, stand by.
We're going to continue our special live coverage here. Lots to assess, lots to report on, including some of the most explosive moments from Comey's 2.5-hour testimony.
Our special coverage continues right after this quick break.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Here we go. We're live here in Washington, D.C. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for being with me.
We're working on our live special coverage of the fiery, candid, meticulous testimony from former FBI Director James Comey, speaking publicly for the first time he was fired by President Donald Trump. And while sitting there on Capitol Hill today, center stage, in one of the biggest congressional hearings is U.S. history, James Comey repeatedly called the president a liar and explained why he believed he was fired amid the Russia investigation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COMEY: There's no doubt that it's a fair judgment, it's my judgment that I was fired because of the Russia investigation. I was fired in some way to change -- or the endeavor was to change the way the Russia investigation was being conducted. That is a very big deal.
The administration then chose to defame me and, more importantly, the FBI, by saying that the organization was in disarray. That is was poorly led. That the workforce had lost confidence in its leader. Those were lies, plain and simple. And I am so sorry that the FBI workforce had to hear them. And I'm sorry that the American people were told them. I worked every day at the FBI to help make that great organization better.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Also revealed today, James Comey said he intentionally had a friend leak memos of the conversations with --