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All Eyes to Comey's Blockbuster Testimony; Moment of Truth for Britain; Simultaneous Attacks by ISIS; North Korea Snubs South Korea's Gestures; Trump Turns 180. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired June 8, 2017 - 03:00   ET



[03:00:00] ROSEMARY CHURCH, HOST, CNN: Show time in Washington. It's the most anticipated testimony on Capitol Hill in years. And the fired FBI director is giving everyone a preview.

Fall-out after the deadly attacks in Tehran. ISIS claims responsibility, but Iran is also blaming an old arch rival.

Decision day in the U.K. Voters head to the polls in general election.

Hello and welcome to our viewers all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church, and this is CNN Newsroom.

Election Day in the United Kingdom and voters there are choosing a new parliament. Polls opened about an hour ago.

Let's turn to our Nina Dos Santos who joins us from London. So Nina, strict rules are now in place, so there's a lot we can't talk about but we can discuss voter turn-out. And with 47 million eligible voters, how many are expected to cast their vote this time around?

NINA DOS SANTOS, CORRESPPONDENT, CNN: Well, based on the last time that the U.K. went to the polls before this snap election in 2015, just over 66 percent of the average population -- when I say average, that means average age of the population actually turned up to vote in polling stations like this one behind me in North London, one of 40,000, Rosemary that opened its doors at 7 a.m. local time, so an hour ago, and people have until 10 p.m. this evening to cast their ballots.

And when it comes to the overall average I was just saying that two- thirds is what we're talking about for most age groups, so there's been a big movement to try and mobilize the youth vote here in the U.K. over the last six months in the run-up to this election.

Because there are so many issues that affect their lives that are on the table here in this general election that they want to say on. And in fact, we have had more than one million 18 to 24-year-olds put their name down to register to vote just in the last day of registration alone there was more than a quarter of a million of that age group who decided to put their names out in form.

But traditionally, young people don't always turn up early in the morning like this before work to go to vote. Only 43 percent of them actually decided to cast their ballots in the last election.

So when it comes to the overall turn-out number, among older people, that could be higher. Among younger people, it could be slightly different, unless something changes this time, Rosemary.

CHURCH: All right, indeed. Our Nina Dos Santos bringing us up to date on the situation there in London, just after 8 o'clock in the morning. We know you'll be watching this very closely. And CNN will have special coverage of the election starting at 10 p.m. London time, just as the polls are closing. Tune in to follow all the results.

The former director of the FBI is just hours away from telling the Senate intelligence committee about his conversations with President Donald Trump. James Comey describes the meetings as very concerning, very awkward, and inappropriate. It's all in a seven-page statement Comey released a day ahead of his testimony.

Phil Mattingly reports.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Nine one-on-one interactions with President Trump. Three in person and six on the phone. Detailed. Former FBI Director James Comey's testimony. Comey describing one meeting with the president and other counterterrorism officials in the Oval Office where all but Comey were asked to leave the room.

"I want to talk about Mike Flynn," Comey quotes the president as saying referring to his recently fired national security adviser. "I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go." Comey says Trump told him, "he's a good guy, I hope you can let this go."

Comey goes on to say he prepared an unclassified memo of that conversation, understanding that the president was requesting he drop any probe into Flynn. He shared that assessment with his FBI leadership team but declined to share it with Attorney General Jeff Sessions on the assumption that Sessions would soon be recused.

While those details were kept closely held, Comey says the next time he spoke to Sessions, quote, "I took the opportunity to implore the attorney general to prevent any future direct communication between the president and me."

Comey also recounts the private dinner when the president allegedly told him, quote, "I need loyalty, I expect loyalty." Comey described his reaction as this. "I didn't move, speak, or change my facial expression in any way during the awkward silence that followed. We simply looked at each other in silence."

Comey also seems to corroborate what Trump wrote in his letter firing the FBI director, that he had, first informed the president-elect on January 6, he wasn't the target of a counterintelligence investigation.

[03:05:06] It was a point that base on Comey's recounting aim at Trump and dominated much of their interactions after Trump assumed office.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: During the phone call he said it, and then during another phone call he said it. So he said once at dinner, and then he said it twice during phone calls.

LESTER HOLT, HOST, NBC NEWS: Did you call him?

TRUMP: In one case I called him, in one case he called me.

HOLT: And did you ask him, am I under investigation?

TRUMP: I actually asked him, yes. I said, if it's believe po, would you let me know, am I under investigation? He said, you are not under investigation.


MATTINGLY: Comey says Trump stressed the cloud of the Russia probe was interfering with his ability to make deals for the country. Trump telling Comey at one point, quote, "we need to get that fact out." And another saying, explicitly, "he hoped I could find a way to get out that he wasn't being investigated." And reiterating the point in their final phone call. Trump adding this time, "because I've been very loyal to you, very loyal, we had that thing, you know."

Comey says one of the primary reasons he wouldn't say publicly Trump wasn't under investigation was, quote," because it would create a duty to correct should that change."

Phil Mattingly, CNN, Washington.

CHURCH: Joining me now is Ryan Lizza, he is a CNN political commenter and Washington correspondent for the New Yorker magazine. Great to have you with us again.


CHURCH: So when you look at former FBI Director James Comey's statement, what questions does it raise for Thursday's hearing, and in your view, is there a smoking gun? Is there any indication of obstruction of justice, in your opinion?

LIZZA: Well, that is the question. And I've been watching the legal scholar's remark about this, and you see a lot of defense attorneys saying, no, I don't see obstruction of justice here and a lot of prosecutors saying, yes, this is clear obstruction of justice.

The President of the United States told the FBI director to drop the FBI's investigation of a White House official or a former White House official at that point. And so it doesn't -- the real question, Rosemary, is what does Congress think of this behavior on the part of the president?

Do members of the House and Senate believe that this is a smoking gun? Because the only remedy, if the president commits a crime, is impeachment. There's a never settled debate in America of whether you can actually indict a sitting president. And most legal scholars think that you cannot. That's why we have impeachment.

If you believe the president committed a crime, then Congress can impeach that president. And so what I'll be watching for tomorrow aster this hearing, two things. During the hearing, you want to see the republican reaction, the questions that republicans ask Comey. Does any -- do any republicans on that committee, are they as outraged as democrats by what is arguably obstruction of justice?

And I'll be looking for cracks within Trump's republican defenders in Congress. Because, remember, if you go back to Watergate, Nixon finally resigned when republicans saw evidence that he tried to stop the FBI's investigation into Watergate.

CHURCH: Yes. And we keep seeing those parallels, don't we, with Nixon and with Watergate.


CHURCH: So Comey's statement covers a whole range of exchanges between himself and the president. But here's the part that Mr. Trump's personal attorney is focusing on, if I can read his statement.

"The president is pleased that Mr. Comey has finally publicly confirmed his private reports that the president was not under investigation in any Russian probe. The president feels completely and totally vindicated. He's eager to continue to move forward with his agenda."

So, Ryan, is it too soon for Mr. Trump to feel vindicated?

LIZZA: Well, frankly, that really wasn't the question here. The question is, did he obstruct justice? Did he do anything inappropriate in the way that he asked for loyalty from his FBI director, told him not to -- to drop the investigation of Michael Flynn, and then fired him and cited as a reason, the Russia investigation.

The fact that Trump personally was not under investigation is certainly newsworthy and interesting, but it certainly doesn't vindicate Trump, because that's not really the question that we've been waiting to have answered by Comey's testimony.

What we really want to know is the fact pattern of how Trump treated the FBI director, and whether he did anything appropriate by trying to halt this investigation, and fire him, and develop, as Comey put it, a patronage relationship with the FBI director.

[03:10:02] That's the language that Comey used. He believed that the president was basically saying, hey, you do me a favor, I'll do you a favor. And that's why it's up to Congress to decide how beyond the pale this relationship was, or this behavior on the part of the president.

CHURCH: Yes, and Comey's statement outlines President Trump asking for his loyal (TECHNICAL PROBLEM)

... President Moon Jae-in took office in May. Our Anna Coren joins us now fom Hong Kong with more on this. Ana,

great to see you. So what more are we learning about these missiles fired into the sea, and what might this signal in terms of progress made by Pyongyang?

ANNA COREN, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, Rosemary, I would have to say that it's relentless at the moment. As you say this is the fourth missile test in as many weeks, which is as long as South Korea's new president, Moon Jae-in, has been in power.

U.S. and South Korean defense officials have confirmed that those four cruise missiles were fired sometime this morning. We don't have the exact time. They traveled 200 kilometers from the east of the country, into the sea off the Korean Peninsula, and reached an altitude, a maximum altitude of two kilometers.

As you say, land to ship missiles and they're shorter range missiles. Which means that they're more precise with targets and can carry smaller warheads.

The South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff alluded to that shortly after it became news that the North Koreans had done this test and said that North Korea wanted to show off its various missile and precise targeting capabilities.

Now President Moon has convened a national Security Council meeting to address this latest test and we're waiting for details from that, Rosemary?

CHURCH: yes. And Anna, as we mentioned, it is the fourth missile test since President Moon Jae-in took office in South Korea.

[03:14:59] How is he responding to this, particularly given he was very much in favor of engaging with North Korea in the initial stages?

COREN: You're absolutely right. He really took a conciliatory tone towards North Korea. At his inauguration, he wanted to extend an olive branch, he wants to engage in dialogue, and he really wants to ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula, which I guess is a stark contrast to the way that his predecessor handles the situation.

And yesterday, Rosemary, I think it's important to note, that he suspended the U.S. missile defense system known as THAAS, and that perhaps was seen as a way of placating the hermit kingdom and its supreme leader Kim Jong-un. But obviously from this morning, it would appear that that didn't work.

Certainly these are testing times for him, and this is common behavior too, from the North Koreans. This is what they do. They like to test out new presidents and see how far they can push it. But I would have to say that this is obviously a test that he is willing to take on. He's persevering, and from what we're hearing from the experts in South Korea, he will continue to reach out to the North Koreans, Rosemary.

CHURCH: All right. Anna Coren, keeping us up to date on the situation on the Korean Peninsula from her standing point there in Hong Kong where it is 3.16 in the afternoon. Many thanks, Anna.

Well, Myanmar's military says crews found bodies and debris from the wreckage of a military aircraft that went missing with 122 people on board. The remains of three bodies, two adults and a child, have been recovered. Nine navy ships and three aircraft are searching for the plane in the Andaman Sea south of Yangon. The plane like this one, vanished about 30 minutes after taking off from the coastal town of Mayeg on Wednesday.

A rare terror attack in Iran's capital. ISIS claims responsibility, but Tehran says someone else put them up to it. That's next here on CNN Newsroom.

And a closer look at the conversations between President Trump and the former FBI director from a legal point of view.


CHURCH: We have an update for you on the terror attacks in Iran. Breaking news on CNN at this time yesterday, at least 12 people are dead and ISIS is claiming responsibility for the attacks.

CNN's Brian Todd has the details.

BRIAN TODD, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Gunfire and smoke from the bursts erupt from high windows at the parliament building in Tehran. Security forces rush to the scene. As they position themselves with guns pointed upward, terrorists have stormed the building.

[03:20:00] A battle is under way inside. At the same time 15 miles away, more carnage. A suicide bomber detonates a vest at the Ayatollah Khomeini Mausoleum. Iranian intelligence says it thwarted a third possible assault but this was still one of the worst terror attacks in Iran since the 1979 Revolution.

At least a dozen people killed in both locations. Iranian officials say their security forces killed four attackers who may have been dressed as women. ISIS is claiming responsibility and has released video, which we're not showing from inside the parliament building.

This frame grab appears to show one of the victims. CNN cannot independently verify ISIS's claim, but the ISIS M.O. has increasingly been coordinated urban attacks with small arms and suicide bombs.

And a U.S. intelligence official tell CNN Iran has been at the top of ISIS enemy list. Iran and ISIS are on opposite side in the Syrian war, Iran is Shia, while ISIS is Sunni.


MICHAEL WEISS, CONTRIBUTOR, CNN: In a way, it's a miracle that Iran hasn't been attacked by them until now. Make no mistake, ISIS has always been committed to a genocidal project against all Shia Muslims.


TODD: Iran's revolutionary guard issued a statement implying its rival, Saudi Arabia is linked to the attacks.


WEISS: They have no evidence. And they always blame the Saudis or the Americans.


TODD: So far no reply from the Saudis. A key question now, how will Iran respond to this carnage in the heart of its capital?


KARIM SADJADPOUR, SENIOR FELLOW,CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT FOR INTERNATIONAL PEACE: It's likely that Iran will use this attack as a pretext to continue support for the Assad regime in Syria, for Shia militia in Iraq and Houthis in Yemen.

But the reality is, enlisting the support of Shi'ite radicals like Hezbollah to kill Sunni radical like ISIS tends to exacerbate the problem of extremism, it doesn't decrease it.


TODD: Iran is the victim of these attacks, but is still considered the top sponsor of terrorism by the U.S. State Department. Nevertheless, the State Department has condemned these attacks and expressed condolences for the victims in Iran.

Still analysts say, if you're looking for the U.S. and Iran to unite against ISIS, don't hold your breath.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.

CHURCH: Some 14 hours after the Tehran attacks, U.S. President Donald Trump issued this statement. "We grieve and pray for the innocent victims of the terrorist attacks in Iran, and for the Iranian people who are going through such challenging times. We underscore that states that sponsor terrorism risk falling victim to the evil they promote."

Let's bring in CNN's Muhammad Lila in Abu Dhabi for reaction on this. So Muhammad, what has been the reaction so far to these comments from President Trump on the attacks in Iran?

MUHAMMAD LILA, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, I think there's a general feeling that those comments made by President Trump on his Twitter account basically were offering condolences, but at the same time, blaming the Iranians themselves somehow for being attacked.

But some of the strongest words came out from Iran's foreign minister, Javad Zarif, who is using his Twitter account tweeted almost what seems to be a direct response to President Trump's statement. And he said, "Repugnant White House statement and Senate sanctions as Iranians -- has Iranians counterterror backed by U.S. clients. Iranian people reject such U.S. claims of friendship." Very, very strong words there, indeed. And of course, you know, there

has been a war of words brewing between Iran and Saudi Arabia in the region. Just a few hours before this attack took place, Saudi Arabia's foreign minister was reported in Saudi media to have said that he believed Iran needed to be punished because of its actions in other countries in the region.

So the war of words certainly after this attack seems to be heating up as well. And we know Iran's revolutionary guard also put out a very, very strong statement effectively blaming Saudi Arabia, and accusing Saudi Arabia of being directly behind this attack.

CHURCH: Yes. And Muhammad, as we mentioned, at least 12 people killed in these two attacks. What's being said about the way it was carried out and ISIS's claim of responsibility, and the reaction within Iran?

LILA: Well, there's some interesting things about the claim of responsibility itself. Look, there have been other cases, for example, attacks in Europe, that were carried off by what they called lone wolves, or lone gunmen or lone attackers, and in some of those cases, ISIS has waited for several hours before claiming responsibility.

In this case, the claim of responsibility was almost immediate, and not only did ISIS claim responsibility, they put out an info graphic, showing how many firearms were involved and how many attackers and how many people they claim were killed.

And they even put out what they claim is a video that the gunman was able to shoot. And all of this shows a high degree of sophistication and coordination. It wasn't just one attack, mind you, these was two attacks that took place simultaneously. The attacks lasted for several hours.

[03:25:01] And one of the attackers in the parliament building allegedly had the planning and expertise and the forethought to take video of some of it and was able to transmit that video back to ISIS' servers. So they were able to, you know, send it out to their social media networks.

So clearly there was a high degree of coordination involved, and that's something that Iranian investigators will be looking at. How could a country that so far has been isolated, or insulated from some of the violence happening in neighboring countries, how could this country get hit so hard and what were security officials able to do or not able to do to prevent it from happening.

CHURCH: And that's the thing, isn't it, because it is so unusual to be reporting on something like this happening within Iran. Presumably there is a level of shock for many people living there. And how might this change security and the way people go about their lives now across Iran?

LILA: Yes. Well, absolutely. I mean, Iran just went through an election process. And during that election process, the current President, Hassan Rouhani, boasted about Iran's security. And he said, look, the reason that we are fighting in Syria or the reason that we are supporting groups in Syria and Iraq is so that that terrorism doesn't come back to Iran.

Well, he can no longer say that because that terrorism has come into Iran in a very strong way. In fact, ISIS, not too long ago put out a video in Farsi, in the Persian language, where they boasted and they said, we are now setting our sights on Iran. So ISIS was able to follow through on that process.

And a question that many ordinary Iranians will be asking is, look, President Rouhani was elected on this platform of keeping Iran safe. Well, it's clear now that ISIS has been able to attacked inside Iran. So what can he do now to ensure that ordinary Iranians don't have to face this kind of terror threat again?

CHURCH: Yes, another new problem across the globe. Muhammad Lila reporting there from Abu Dhabi, where it is nearly 11.30 in the morning. Many thanks.

When the former FBI director testifies before a Senate committee in just a few hours from now, he will describe conversations with President Trump. Coming up, debating the question at the core of James Comey's testimony.

Back in a moment.


CHURCH: A warm welcome back to our viewers all across the world. I'm Rosemary Church. I want to update you now on the main stories we've been following this hour.

Former FBI Director James Comey says President Trump repeatedly asked for his loyalty and pressed him to drop an investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Comey released those details in a statement he plans to deliver Thursday when he testifies before the Senate intelligence committee.

[03:30:02] ISIS is claiming responsibility for two attacks in Iran that killed at least 12 people. Iran says Saudi Arabia supported the terror group. The Saudis deny the accusation. Gunman opened fire and detonated suicide bombs at Iran's parliament and the tomb of Ayatollah Khomeini.

North Korea has fired off another round of missiles. The U.S. and South Korea say Pyongyang fired four anti-ship missiles about 200 kilometers into the sea off North Korea's East Coast on Thursday. This is Pyongyang's fourth missile test since South Korean President Moon Jae-in took office in May.

Former FBI Director James Comey will testify to a Senate committee that President Trump pressed him to drop the investigation of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

The key question here is whether that amounts to the crime of obstruction of justice. Legal experts are at odds over the answer. Harvard Law Professor Emeritus Alan Dershowitz and CNN's senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin debated the point on AC 360. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALAN DERSHOWITZ, PROFESSOR, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL: The president could have told Comey, you are commanded, directed, to drop the prosecution against Flynn. The president has the right to do that. Comey acknowledges that. He says in the statement that historically, historically presidents have done that to the Justice Department.

But in the last few years, we've had a tradition of separation, but that tradition doesn't create crime. Remember also what the president could have done. He could have said to Comey, stop this investigation, I am now pardoning Flynn.

That's what President Bush did. In the beginning of the investigation of Caspar Weinberger, which could have led back to the White House, to the first President Bush, President Bush on the eve of the trial pardoned Caspar Weinberger, pardoned six people, and special counsel Wash said this is outrageous. He's stopping the investigation.

Nobody talked about obstruction of justice. You cannot have obstruction of justice when the president exercises his constitutional authority to pardon, his constitutional authority to fire the director of the FBI, or his constitutional authority to tell the director of the FBI who to prosecute, who not to prosecute.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST, CNN: Respectfully, I could not think Alan is more wrong. And the simple response is Watergate. I mean, under Alan's theory -- let me finish, Alan. Let me finish.

Under your theory, the president, since the FBI works for the president, he can tell them to do anything they want. While in Watergate, the President Nixon, they conspired, they made an agreement to stop the FBI investigation of Watergate. Was that constitutional authority? No, it was a crime.

Several people went to jail, and the House judiciary committee voted to impeach President Nixon over it. So yes, he could have pardoned him, but he cannot obstruct justice.

ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, CNN: You're saying impeachment is different than -- go ahead.

DERSHOWITZ: Impeachment is political. There's no -- there is no judicial review of impeachment. You can impeach a president for jay walking and nobody can review that.

I'm talking about, was there an obstruction of justice. I have to tell you and I wonder if you would agree with me, Jeffrey, if you and I will focus expert witnesses in an impeachment trial of President Trump and we were asked the question, has President Trump committed an obstruction of justice by pardoning Flynn, or by firing Comey, or by telling Comey not to investigate Flynn, my answer as an expert on the Constitution would be absolutely not.

He didn't commit an obstruction of justice. Now you Congress you can impeach him if you don't like what he did, if you think it's obstructionist, or would be an obstruction if he wasn't the president. But you cannot say it's a crime.

TOOBIN: But it is well established that the President of the United States cannot engage in corrupt acts, acts designed to protect his political interests and use the FBI to advance those political interests and obstruct justice. I just think that's so basic and...


DERSHOWITZ: Yes. As long as he doesn't -- as long as he doesn't destroy tapes, as long as he doesn't fail to comply with a subpoena.

COOPER: All right, I want to bring in...


DERSHOWITZ: As long as he exercises his constitutional authority, he cannot be prosecuted for exercising his constitutional authority.


CHURCH: Well, U.S. lawmakers will no doubt be looking for more cooperation from James Comey than they got from senior intelligence officials on Wednesday. They repeatedly stonewalled when asked if President Trump had spoken to them about the FBI's Russia investigation.

CNN's Brianna Keilar has our report.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My questions deserve answers.


[03:35:01] BRIANNA KEILAR, SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: In a contentious intelligence hearing today...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we've gotten no answer from any of you.


KEILAR: ... Senators from both sides of the aisle expressed frustration and at times, anger at the president's intelligence chiefs.

Repeatedly asking them to confirm or shoot down news reports that the president asked them to help end the Russia investigation.


MARK WARNER, (D) UNITED STATES SENATOR: If any of this is true, it would be an appalling and improper use of our intelligence professionals. An act if true, that could erode the public's trust in our intelligence institutions. (END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: Yet instead of confirming or denying any specific conversations, the director of the National Security Agency and the Director of National Intelligence would only answer broadly, saying they had never felt pressure the by the president.


MIKE ROGERS, DIRECTOR OF THE UNITED STATES NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY: In the three plus years that I have been the director of the National Security Agency, to the best of my recollection, I have never been directed to do anything I believe to be illegal, immoral, unethical, or inappropriate. And to the best of my recollection during that same period of service I do not recall ever feeling pressured to do so.

DAN COATS, DIRECTOR OF THE UNITED STATES NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: In my time of service, which is interacting with the President of the United States, or anybody in his administration, I have never been pressured, I have never felt pressure to intervene or interfere in any way.


KEILAR: But the two Intel leaders would not go further, repeatedly stonewalling the committee on questions of whether the reported conversations with the president happened or what was said.


MARTIN HEINRICH, (D) UNITED STATES SENATOR: You realize how simple it would be to say no that never happened.

COATS: I think conversations between the president and myself are, for the most part...


HEINRICH: You seem to apply that standard selectively.

COATS: No, I'm not applying it selectively. I'm just saying I don't think it's appropriate...


HEINRICH: You can clear an awful lot up by simply saying, it never happened.

COATS: I don't share, I do not share with the general public conversations that I have with the president.

HEINRICH: I think your unwillingness to answer a very basic question speaks volume.


KEILAR: Over and over again... (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You went back on a pledge.


KEILAR: ... angry senators pushed back.


KAMALA HARRIS, (D) UNITED STATES SENATOR: Can you give a yes or no answer?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On a close briefing...


KEILAR: Asking the men who at times shifted uncomfortably in their seats to give detailed answers.


ROGERS: I've never been directed to doing anything in the course of my three plus years as being director of National Security Agency.


ROGERS: That I felt to be inappropriate, nor have I felt pressured to do so.

RUBIO: Have you ever been asked to say something that isn't true?

ROGERS: I stand by my previous statement, sir.


KEILAR: Coats and Rogers told the senators they had discussed their testimony with White House counsel, but they also said they had not been given direction from the White House to refuse to answer, or to invoke the president's executive privilege, telling the committee only that it would be inappropriate to discuss their conversations with the president publicly. Eventually infuriating independent Senator, Angus King.


ANGUS KING, (I) UNITED STATES SENATOR: Both of you the same question why are you not answering these questions? Is there an invocation by the President of the United States of executive privilege? Is there or not?

ROGERS: Not that I'm aware of.

KING: Then why are you not you answering?

(CROSSTALK) ROGERS: Because I feel it is inappropriate, senator.

KING: What you feel isn't relevant, admiral. What you feel isn't the answer. You swore that oath to tell us the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth and today you are refusing to do so. What is the legal basis for your refusal to testify to this committee?

COATS: I'm not sure I have a legal basis.


KEILAR: And in a rare moment of bipartisan exasperation even the republican chair of the committee chastised the directors, closing the hearing by saying, Congress had a right to the truth.


RICHARD BURR, (D) UNITED STATES SENATOR: At no time should you be in a position where you come to Congress without an answer. It may be in a different format, but the requirements of our oversight duties and your agencies demand it.


KEILAR: Though Coats and Rogers discussed their testimony with White House counsel, their inquiries about whether executive privilege would be invoked, something they would be subject to, though Jim Comey would not be, went unanswered. Media inquiries about whether the White House would invoke executive privilege also went unanswered.

Brianna Keilar, CNN, Capitol Hill.

CHURCH: And just this programming note for you. Our special coverage of James Comey's testimony starts in just a few hours from now. That's Thursday morning at 7 a.m. in Washington, noon in London.

Yes. Britain is off to the polls for a snap general election. Voters are deciding on a new parliament. Six hundred fifty seats are up for grabs. So, 326 seats are required to form a majority government. About 47 million people are eligible to vote.

[03:40:00] And voters heading to the polls, well, they may need to grab their umbrellas. Meteorologist Allison Chinchar joins us now to tell us what is going to happen on Election Day. It sound like it is going to be soggy.

ALLISON CHINCHAR, METEOROLOGIST, CNN: I have to say rain. Mother Nature is not being prejudiced about where she's going to disperse that rain. But it will just depend on the timing. Some places that's going to be more of an issue in the morning, other places it's going to be more of an issue into the evening. But overall the general consensus is bring the umbrella because you're going to need it.

We take a look at the main system. We've got that low pressure system that's really starting to push back in. It is going to bring rain but it's also going to produce a pretty decent amount of strong winds as well. Some areas are also going to be dealing with some minor hail too, to be factored in as well.

Here is the look at the system. This is the last 24 hours. So you can already see some of these areas have already started to have some rain push in, places like Dublin, Liverpool, around Manchester and Leeds starting to get some of those light showers already beginning to push into location.

Now here's a look, notice as we go through the rest of the afternoon and evening hours, the storm itself begins to push a little further east and further to the north. So those are going to be your locations say in the latter part of the day that really start to pick up on some more rain.

Overall, this is not a system that's going to produce torrential downpours. So mostly you're going to see accumulation totals, about 10, maybe 25 millimeters at most. But there will be some pockets where you get some trailing that you could have say upwards of about 50 millimeters of rain total.

We talked about the timing, though. Say, for example, in London, actually, if you can get to the polls say in the first half of the day, that's going to be your better shot to have dry conditions. Because once we get to the latter half, afternoon, evening hours, that's when your better chance for the showers are going to be.

Manchester, however, you're going to need the umbrella pretty much all day. Because you're going to have those spotty showers off and on whether it's in the morning or into the afternoon.

Glasgow, again first half of the day, maybe say the very last couple of hours that the polls or the very last couple of hours that the polls are open, that's going to be your best timing there.

So again, it doesn't really matter exactly where you live, you're going to need the umbrella at some point. It's just a matter of timing. Hopefully, though, folks can stay as dry as they possibly can, and hopefully it's also not going to hinder people from going to the polls in general, if you do get caught in some of those heavier downpours.

CHURCH: Yes. I mean, that's the thing. It's a little discouraging, isn't it? You literally you go out and vote.

CHINCHAR: It's true.

CHURCH: It's going to be soggy there. All right. Thank you so much, Allison.

CHINCHAR: Thank you.

CHURCH: I appreciate it.

Well, President Trump tries his hand as peace maker in the Persian Gulf. The White House pulls a 180. That's next on CNN Newsroom.

And scientists have made a discovery in Morocco that could change the way we think about human evolution. The details still to come. Stick around.


CHURCH: U.S. President Donald Trump is hoping to play peacemaker in the diplomatic dispute involving Qatar and its neighbors. Mr. Trump phoned the emir of Qatar on Wednesday offering to mediate the crisis.

[03:44:59] That's a change from his tweets on Tuesday, which were critical of Qatar. Gulf leaders have cut off relations with Doha for its alleged financial support of extremist groups.


ANWAR MOHAMMED GARGASH, UAE FOREIGN AFFAIRS MINISTER: What we're hoping is that our action will actually, you know, send, you know, some sense into the decision makers in Qatar, where they would come and see that their overall interest is not in undermining their neighbors, but in supporting their neighbors and working with them.

ADEL BIN AHMED AL-JUBEIR, MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF SAUDI ARABIA (through translator): We have taken these steps with deep pain, in the interest of Qatar and the interest of security and stability in the region. And we hope that our brothers in Qatar will now take the right steps in order to end this crisis.


CHURCH: Let's bring in CNN's Jomana Karadsheh, live from Doha. So Jomana, what has been the reaction in Doha to President Trump offering to be the peacemaker after his criticism of Qatar?

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, Rosemary, what we've seen are the public statements, readouts of the call that came out and as you would expect, really diplomatic, describing the call as, you know, an agreement and a push from President Trump to try and resolve this crisis, to work together with Qatar.

But as you can imagine, there's a lot of confusion here, a lot of mixed messages that were coming from the United States on where President Trump stands in all of this. You know, if you look three weeks ago, during that summit in Saudi Arabia, you saw President Trump meeting with the emir of Qatar, calling him a friend of the United States.

Then on Tuesday as this crisis is ongoing, it did seem that President Trump was taking sides, coming out with these tweets against Qatar and really seemingly taking credit for these moves we've seen regionally to isolate Qatar.

And then at the same time, you're getting these messages from senior administration officials praising Qatar and saying that they are grateful for the partnership with Qatar. Also here in the region, rosemary, there is that feeling that President Trump's visit to Saudi Arabia and his remarks and his stand when it comes to supporting Saudi Arabia, may have emboldened countries within that alliance like Saudi Arabia and the UAQ to move against Qatar, to really use this whole fight against extremism and cutting extremist funding that President Trump is pushing for, as a pretext to try and settle regional scores.

So a lot of confusion about the United States or, rather, President Trump's position when it comes to Qatar, a very key U.S. ally, especially for the U.S. military here in the region, Rosemary.

CHURCH: Yes. And of course it has to be said that Qatar had said from the very start that the allegations, suggesting its support of terrorism were baseless. So what's the current status of this diplomatic dispute in the region, and can a solution to this crisis be found?

KARADSHEH: Well, you're seeing a lot of shuttle diplomacy, for example, Kuwait, the emir of Kuwait is trying to mediate, is trying to bring this crisis to an end. We've seen him traveling to the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, also briefly visiting Doha last night to try and mediate.

And we've heard from the Qatari foreign minister saying they are open to a solution, that they want to resolve the crisis, but they will not have any other country dictate any changes to their foreign policy just because it contradicts the foreign policy of other Gulf states.

And now we're seeing this move by President Trump, publicly offering also to try and bring the Gulf leaders together to try and resolve the crisis. There is also a lot of speculation that what we are seeing, all these moves, the blockade, is also trying to really push Qatar into this corner to try and get concessions from this country that has been really growing its influence, growing in this region, a threat to other regional countries, like Saudi Arabia, for example.

But a lot of questions, Rosemary, about where this is all headed, really unclear at this point. So much uncertainty.

CHURCH: Indeed, there is. Jomana Karadsheh, joining us there from Doha, where it is nearly 11 o'clock in the morning. Many thanks to you.

And coming up after the break.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did the president know and when did he know it?


[03:49:56] CHURCH: A timely question from a bygone era as James Comey prepares to testify on Capitol Hill. But Watergate is just one of many historic moments to come out of U.S. congressional hearings.

Back in a moment.


CHURCH: You can call it a blockbuster or a hyped-up spectacle, but former FBI Director James Comey is expected to deliver the most anticipated congressional testimony in years.

All of the major U.S. broadcast networks will air the event live. The Los Angeles Times dedicated the majority of Thursday's front page to Comey's testimony. And the Washington Post reported that Donald Trump may even weigh in on Twitter.

And if he does, patrons at Washington's union pub get a round of drinks on the House with every tweet. Another bar in the area is opening early and offering an FBI breakfast special, French toast, bacon, and ice cream.

Well, James Comey's testimony on Thursday could rival other history- making moments on Capitol Hill. Time and again, a few choice words left a permanent mark on the nation.

CNN's Tom Foreman has that story.

TOM FOREMAN, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: For airing grievances, probing issues, or political puns, congressional hearings can be explosive.




FOREMAN: Consider 2013's testimony on the Benghazi attack, and this moment from then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.


CLINTON: Was it was because of a protest, or was it because of guys out for a walk one night, who decided they'd go kill some Americans. What difference at this point does it make!


FOREMAN: It's been that way for generations, from testimony on the sinking of the Titanic to Joe McCarthy's hunt for communist and his denunciation by army Attorney Joe Welch.


JOE WELCH, THEN-CHIEF COUNSEL FOR THE UNITED STATES ARMY: Have you no sense of decency, sir? If there is a God in heaven it will do neither you nor your cause any good.


FOREMAN: To a hearing on allegedly obscene music in which the lead singer of Twister Singer argued with future Vice President Al Gore.


HOWARD BAKER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: What does SMF stands for when it's spelled out?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It stands for the sick mother (muted) friends of twisted sister.

BAKER: What did the president know and when did he know it?


FOREMAN: The Watergate hearings proved enormously consequential for president Richard Nixon.


SAMUEL DASH, THEN-UNITED STATES SENATE WATERGATE CHIEF COUNSEL: Did there comes a time when you were asked to develop a capability in the White House for intelligence gathering?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Intelligence gathering, the answer would be no.

ANITA HILL, ATTORNEY: He talked about pornographic materials


FOREMAN: Anita Hill's accusations against Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas spurred debate about sexual harassment. His denial and slamming of the committee even more talk.


CLARENCE THOMAS, THEN-UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: As far as I'm concerned, it is a high tech lynching for uppity blacks.


FOREMAN: Hearings that brought impeachment, corruption probes, harsh accusations against the IRS.


LOIS LERNER, FORMER DIRECTOR OF THE IRS: I have not broken any laws.


FOREMAN: Scathing words for cigarette makers.


HENRY WAXMAN, FORMER UNITED STATES REPRESENTATIVE: The difference between cigarettes and Twinkies and the other products you mentioned, is death.


FOREMAN: And outraged questions for the Secret Service.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) NITA LOWEY, (D) UNITED STATES REPRESENTATIVE: We're talking about a respected member of the Secret Service who was absolutely drunk.


FOREMAN: Admittedly, congressional hearings often lead to nothing, but every now and then, this unique type of political theater collides with something important, and then it really can be a show worth watching.

[03:55:03] Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.

CHURCH: And James Comey's prepared written testimony wasn't just a political bombshell. It turns out it was also full of material for late night comedy punch lines. Take a look.


STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN: It's the most magical night of the year, because it's Comey testimony eve.

CONAN O'BRIEN, COMEDIAN: Former FBI Director James Comey apparently did not want to be left alone in a room with Donald Trump. That's what he said, yes. Which is why James Comey was just named an honorary Miss Universe contestant.

COLBERT: Just as Comey suspected, Trump dropped a bombshell at the meeting. The president said, I need loyalty, I expect loyalty. Comey says, I didn't move, speak, or change my facial expression in any way during the awkward silence that followed.


He didn't move. He didn't move a muscle. Basically Comey treated Trump bike the T-Rex in Jurassic Park. It makes sense. It makes sense. They both have the same sized hands.


JIMMY FALLON, COMEDIAN: Former FBI director James Comey released the opening statement for his testimony tomorrow. He said that Trump once invited him out to dinner and it turned out to be just the two of them.

Even worse, he made them sit on the same side of the booth.

TREVOR NOAH, COMEDIAN: Can you just imagine that scene, just the two of them, having dinner alone, staring each other in the eye in total silence? Because you know in that moment, Comey was thinking, man, this is a tragic moment of serious ethical failure. And Trump was thinking, oh, boy, I think we're going kiss.


CHURCH: It's going to be quite a day. Thanks for your company. I'm Rosemary Church. And remember to connect with me any time on Twitter. The news continues with Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong, and you're watching CNN. Have a great day.


KRISTIE LU STOUT, HOST, CNN: From the decision to exit the E.U. to the calls for snap election, today another milestone as U.K. heads to the polls to elect the next prime minister.

[04:00:04] We are live at a polling station as voters cast their ballots.