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House Intel Committee Wants Comey Tapes in Two Weeks; Interview with Representative Gregory Meeks; Democrat Jon Ossoff Makes Inroads in Reliably GOP District; Aired 9-10a ET
Aired June 10, 2017 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[09:00:22] BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. I'm Brianna Keilar in Washington. This morning, President Trump is spending the weekend at his New Jersey golf club but the big fight, President Trump versus James Comey, goes on. The president is coming back swinging after the former FBI director's mother-of-all testimonies on Capitol Hill. Here's a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No collusion, no obstruction. He's a leaker but we want to get back to running our great country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: Well, now lawmakers are demanding the memos, tapes if there are any, and other records of President Trump's conversations with Comey by June 23rd they want those things, and that's not all. Senator Dianne Feinstein is asking the Judiciary Committee to investigate potential obstruction of justice.
CNN Washington correspondent Ryan Nobles is following this story.
Ryan, update us.
RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, it's pretty clear that the -- after the hearing of James Comey on Thursday that we are not in a position to either convict or vindicate President Trump as it relates to the investigation into Russia and this is going to be a long and complicated process that's going to be filled with accusations and innuendo. And we saw that in President Trump's press conference on Friday when he pushed back on many of the things that James Comey said but also embraced some of what he said, saying that it made him look much better in light of everything that's going on.
But in particular, Trump said something that was very important. He said that he was willing to testify under oath about those conversations that he had with James Comey. Take a listen to what he said in that press conference yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JONATHAN KARL, ABC NEWS: So he said those things under oath. Would you be willing to speak under oath to give your version of events? TRUMP: 100 percent. And did you say under oath? I hardly know the
man. I'm not going to say, I want you to pledge allegiance, who would do that? Who would ask a man to pledge allegiance under oath? I mean, think of it. I hardly know the man. It doesn't make sense. No, I didn't say that and I didn't say the other.
KARL: So if Robert Mueller wanted to speak with you about that, you --
TRUMP: I would be glad to tell him exactly what I just told you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOBLES: This has been pretty quiet as to how they're handling this investigation, they have not said whether or not they plan to depose the president, and if he will in fact take part in an interview of that nature. But while the Mueller investigation continues, we have investigations on both the House and the Senate side, the House Intelligence Committee, now demanding to know whether or not tapes exist of these conversations between Donald Trump and James Comey. They've sent a letter to White House counsel Don McGahn, saying that if these tapes exist, we want them and they've set a deadline for a response by June 23rd.
Brianna, it's less than two weeks away. Maybe we will finally know whether or not these tapes exist.
KEILAR: He said we'll be disappointed by the answer. We will see, Ryan Nobles. Thank you for that.
And joining us, Laura Coates, she's a CNN legal analyst and former federal prosecutor, Laura Jarrett, who is our CNN justice reporter, and Ron Brownstein, CNN senior political analyst and senior editor with the "Atlantic."
I want to go to you first, Laura Jarrett. I'm fascinated by this addition to Robert Mueller's legal team, Michael Dreeben. A lot of people will have no idea who this is, but this is -- this is important and it signifies something.
LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: Absolutely. Everyone I spoke with yesterday said look, this shows that Mueller is taking this really seriously. Michael Dreeben is the foremost criminal law expert in the country. He runs the criminal appellate docket. This is a man who's argued over 100 cases before the Supreme Court and he's actually going to stay on at the Justice Department, and kind of toggle back and forth with these two jobs. But this is a really serious addition to the team.
KEILAR: Yes. He's a top criminal law expert. This is someone who certainly knows about obstruction of justice.
Having tried cases on obstruction of justice, does this tell us for sure Laura Coates, that this could head in that direction or just that if it does, Mueller is equipped for that? LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It does both. It tells you -- it
signals to you there is actually an allegation that's out there. We know that from Comey's testimony and we know that they're digging in their heels, and saying listen, obstruction of justice is what one particular facet, maybe an important one. It also happens to form Articles of Impeachment, that may be a coincidence or not, who knows there.
But the real issue is they know this is going to the Supreme Court. There will be unprecedented legal issues that they have to navigate. To do that, they have somebody who's not only experienced but is able to navigate the criminality function of the law in this part. You have somebody who's digging in their heels because they know there's going to be a heck of a fight ahead of them and it will be resolved probably sooner than we thought.
KEILAR: But in this -- in this case, Ron.
[09:05:03] RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.
KEILAR: And you talked about this, I find this very fascinating,
KEILAR: This idea of the he said-he said, completely different things that we're hearing from President Trump and from Jim Comey.
KEILAR: I want to actually play this where a reporter asks if President Trump thinks that Jim Comey lied. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KARL: So he said those things under oath. Would you be willing to speak under oath to give your version of these events?
TRUMP: 100 percent. And did you say under oath? I hardly know the man. I'm not going to say I want you to pledge allegiance. Who would do that? Who would ask a man to pledge allegiance under oath? I mean, think of it. I hardly know the man. It doesn't make sense. No, I didn't say that, and I didn't say the other.
KARL: So if Robert Mueller wanted to speak with you about that --
TRUMP: I would be glad to tell him exactly what I just told you.
KARL: You said you hoped the Flynn investigation you could let --
TRUMP: I didn't say that.
KARL: He can let go. So he lied about that.
TRUMP: Well, I didn't say that. I mean, I will tell you, I didn't say that. No collusion. No obstruction. He's a leaker. But we want to get back to running our great country. (END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: OK, Ron Brownstein.
BROWNSTEIN: Subtle words. No collusion, no obstruction, he's a leaker. This is the whole --
KEILAR: Right? There you go. There's the message.
BROWNSTEIN: Yes. Yes.
KEILAR: If this is as it appears right now, Comey's word against President Trump's word, what happens?
BROWNSTEIN: Well, first, the first important thing is, as Jon Karl pointed out in the question, James Comey has made his comments under oath, which his big difference between what he is saying and what the president has said in a press conference. And I thought it was significant that the president was going out preemptively and saying yes, I will testify. We had the two legal experts here.
Ken Starr subpoenaed Bill Clinton to testify before the grand jury in August, 1998 when he was the independent counsel. The White House initially resisted the subpoena, questioned whether it was possible to subpoena a sitting president. Ultimately they agreed to testify. So as far as I know, the issue was never adjudicated about whether you can in fact force the president to testify.
It's certainly going to be harder now politically for them -- for him not to testify, and ultimately whatever the president says now, what really counts is what he says under oath because if you go back again to the 1998 precedent, whatever people thought about the Ken Starr investigation, he accused President Clinton of three counts of perjury from testimony to the grand jury. He didn't indict him. He passed it to the House of Representatives who's ultimately used that -- those allegations as the basis for the Republican House voting to impeach him in 1998.
And you could easily imagine if -- you know, if Mueller finds wrongdoing that that is the more likely path than testing the question of whether a sitting president can be indicted in a criminal -- you know, in a criminal manner, rather if he finds evidence of wrongdoing basically putting it on the lap of the House and saying, are you going to deal with it or not, which is not something that many Republicans are looking forward to right now.
KEILAR: I want to ask you about this because President Trump there accuses Jim Comey of perjury really. And so what would that mean exactly? What would have had to happen I think if President Trump is correct? I mean, he -- essentially Jim Comey would have had to leave this meeting or any of these interactions, meeting in the Oval Office, phone call, and drafted a memo that he was falsifying.
BROWNSTEIN: False reference.
KEILAR: And it's hard to imagine the FBI director doing that, right? Without tapes, it seems as if the recollection of Jim Comey should hold more weight.
COATES: Well, you're struggling to find a scenario that would actually make sense because it stretches the imagination, and what the president has done is put himself in a very precarious position. He has said, believe him, when it suits him, when it's the part that corroborates, I told you he told me on three different occasions that we had this conversation, believe him, period, he's a liar.
When you do that, you set up a battle between credibility that frankly the president cannot win because for the very reasons you just said. The court of law and the court of public opinion, does give some weight to the idea of having contemporaneous drawings of what you've actually seen and heard. It's a very important thing.
JARRETT: So that's why once the president actually sits in a windowless conference room facing off against Robert Mueller --
KEILAR: Under oath.
JARRETT: Under oath, he may not be so unequivocal as he is in the Rose Garden. We may hear a lot more of I don't recall, I don't remember. You know, I'm not really sure exactly how that went, because he has to protect himself, right? And so obviously when he's out in front of the cameras it's one thing, but when you are in a room under oath with special counsel, you can't play around with that.
KEILAR: And in fairness, he should say I don't recall if he doesn't, and especially if this is a conversation months ago or conversations months ago and he doesn't have record of them. It seems like it would be smart for him to say I don't recall, and he really may not be able to verbatim, right?
[09:10:02] JARRETT: Absolutely. And what is that, the first line that any lawyer tells you?
BROWNSTEIN: Yes. Right.
JARRETT: Just say I don't recall if you are at all unsure. Do not get into that gray zone because it's really dangerous.
BROWNSTEIN: And also, it's not simply a he said he said, right? Because as you point out there are several other pieces, you know, of what Jim Comey said. You had what he wrote contemporaneously at the time so you basically have the argument that he went -- left the White House, you know, went into a car, and immediately falsified a record, and you also what he told associates at a contemporaneous basis versus the other side. And, you know, people have argued -- supporters of the president have argued that if you end up with he said-he said, by definition there can't be any legal jeopardy for the president.
I'm not a lawyer, but it's not just a he said-he said, there are other pieces there. And again, going back to the Clinton investigation, there was at least one count of perjury that was essentially a he said -she said, and Ken Starr said she was more credible, therefore I believe the president lied. So the idea that the president would be kind of free and clear to say whatever he wants under oath, you know, relative to what he said in the Rose Garden seems to me a little overly optimistic.
COATES: And there are things that attest Comey's credibility besides the memo. Remember, he then discusses with other FBI senior officials what he's actually heard.
BROWNSTEIN: Yes. Right.
COATES: He'd have to falsify that memo, then go back, hold these conversations that we know are credible, and tell them the wrong thing, they have to recall the wrong thing, and then prove him a liar as well. It's too (INAUDIBLE). The president will fail.
KEILAR: But quick final word to you, Laura Jarrett. He is the president. Does that give him any sort of benefit of the doubt here?
JARRETT: Well, certainly his lawyers have tried to create that atmosphere. If you think about the travel ban cases, right, they repeatedly say look, this is the president, this is the executive. You need to give him that benefit of the doubt. But the problem is one of credibility. And you can see in the Senate hearing on Thursday James Comey says, look, my mom told me not to do this, but I think my record speaks for itself.
BROWNSTEIN: Real quickly on the Republicans in the House are overwhelmingly hoping that Mueller in effect takes this off their plate. That he is the one who has to make the decision. I think the suggestion is eventually he will put it right back on their plate, and say, this is something that has to be decided by the political system, not by a court of law.
KEILAR: Ron Brownstein, Laura Jarrett, Laura Coates, thank you to all of you.
So far -- so how far will investigators go to see if the supposed tapes actually exist? I'm going to discuss that with a former FBI operative next.
[09:16:23] KEILAR: Welcome back to CNN special coverage. I am Brianna Keilar. And we're discussing this. Tapes or no tapes.
President Trump gave a vague answer to whether or not he actually has recordings of his conversations with former FBI director James Comey, something he hinted at on Twitter a long time ago. All he said was that we can expect to see the tapes, quote, "maybe sometime in the near future."
I want to bring in David Drucker, our CNN political analyst and senior congressional correspondent with the "Washington Examiner," and also Eric O'Neal, he's a former FBI counterintelligence operative.
OK. Where do you fall on the issue of tapes? I'm curious what both of you think. Do you think there are tapes?
ERIC O'NEILL, FORMER FBI COUNTERINTELLIGENCE OPERATIVE: I don't think there's tapes.
O'NEILL: Trump sounded very uncertain whether there were tapes. It sounded like one of those things that he throws out there, which he does. I would think that he would know if he were being recorded when he's in a conversation with one persona alone in a room.
KEILAR: Like -- he sort of throws out there like the wiretapping at Trump Tower or maybe it wasn't so literal in what he meant.
DAVID DRUCKER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It's the Trumpian, right? So in the moment in which he suggested there might be tapes some, I guess, months back now.
DRUCKER: It's the type of thing he would do almost as a way to sort of build up this idea of what he's claiming happened. But when you have James Comey sit there in front of the entire country under oath and say, lordy, I hope there are tapes, it just strikes me that's either the biggest bluff ever or there aren't tapes because if there are, number one, they don't belong to President Trump, they belong to the government which post-Nixon and Watergate that is a change in terms of who these tapes would belong to, which eventually they'd get into the hands of the public, or you know -- or he has tapes. I just -- I don't think he does.
KEILAR: I lean towards I don't think he does. Of course we don't know. We'd like to find out. And it's only been a month actually since that tweet. It feels like it's been a year, I will say that.
KEILAR: The politics of this, you're watching how Republicans are feeling on Capitol Hill. This is a tough spot for them.
DRUCKER: It really is. And you know, watching the Comey hearing, I thought it was really interesting how Republican senators asked very good questions. Some of them were tough. But a lot of them were meant to sort of establish that the president didn't do anything illegal, and I think that when Republicans on the Hill look at this they realize, and I think this is true, that if Trump goes down, if Trump continues to have all sorts of trouble they have trouble because it's their party, and that means their agenda is in trouble. And so while publicly what you're seeing is a pretty good front of hey, we don't think the president did anything wrong, and he is new to government and all these different lines they use, privately they're frustrated, annoyed, and some of them are very, very worried.
KEILAR: There were something, Eric, that stood out to you during this hearing. I mean, we were focused obviously so much on a number of things that we've heard over and over from Jim Comey, but it was what he said about the Russian government's role in meddling in the election that stood out to you.
O'NEILL: Right. I think it's --
KEILAR: Because what did he say that was different?
O'NEILL: Right in the beginning with Chairman Burr's first question, he came out and unequivocally stated that it was the Russians who sought to interfere in our election, it was the Russians who sought to interfere in our voting and it was the Russian government that was behind it, which, you know, that's the FBI director calling Vladimir Putin a liar because in the last couple of weeks, Putin has denied all of these things, and tried to offset it to some sort of patriotic hacking groups but we know that's not true. We know it was the Russians that were behind this.
KEILAR: I spoke with a member of Congress, David, who said of course President Trump knows the Russians were behind this.
DRUCKER: And this is what Republicans try to do. And I think Tom Cotton, the senator from Arkansas, a Republican, is actually the best at it.
[09:20:05] So any time Trump has sort of walked on the line on something will put out a statement that very -- that articulates in a very sort of good way from his point of view what Trump really means and of course Trump understands what he is talking about.
Republicans understand the threat from Russia and they have never -- it's one area where they've never really been willing to acquiesce to president's position, but I don't think the president has ever expressed in certain and unequivocal terms that Russia meddled, that Russia is an adversary, and that they need to be treated as such. And even yesterday during the news conference with the Romanian president.
KEILAR: That's right. Yes.
DRUCKER: The reaffirmation of Article 5 was important, it was newsworthy, and it matters, but it was interesting how he sidestepped the issue of whether Russia is a threat to NATO.
KEILAR: And he does that over and over, Eric. Well, there's certainly this idea of you see him next to his counterparts who is accepting what happened with Russia and stands in contrast that we don't hear that definitive acknowledgment of that from the president.
From your perspective, having been in the FBI, what does that do when investigators who are just steeped in this? This is what they're doing day-in and day-out and the president doesn't acknowledge this clear fact.
O'NEILL: Well, when you're investigating you're so focused on the investigation, and it doesn't help when the leadership isn't backing what you're trying to do. But I can say, look, cyber security is critical to the nation, and the FBI is investigating what happened with the Russians, how they were able to -- we know a lot about it. They're going to continue doing it, no matter what political leaders, Comey and Trump say.
KEILAR: Do you think that the FBI have a handle on this? Because obviously the concern is what does this mean for elections ahead?
O'NEILL: I think that the FBI truly does have a handle on it. We're incredibly good at these investigations, delving into it, understanding the cyber security implications. But the critical issue here is not just looking backward at what happened, but looking forward at the next attack. Because I can tell you with complete certainty that Russia is already planning their next attack. And we need to be ready for it.
DRUCKER: And I think the questions need to be asked both of the administration and Republicans in Congress because they run the place, what are you doing from a legislative and policy standpoint to protect against this? I think the president continues to miss a huge opportunity here to say all of this happened under my predecessor, it's not going to happen on my watch. Here's what we're going to do about it because it is a serious threat, but it seems as though he is so concerned about the idea that Russia meddled undermines his legitimacy, that he won't go there.
KEILAR: Yes, it's fascinating.
David, Eric, thank you so much. Great conversation with both of you.
We're going to continue this conversation with Democratic Congressman Gregory Meeks. He is on the Foreign Affairs Committee. He has called for an independent commission to look into Russia's meddling in the U.S. election.
Did Comey's testimony do anything to change his mind?
[09:27:09] KEILAR: Welcome back. I am Brianna Keilar in Washington. James Comey's blockbuster testimony might be over, but the Russia investigation goes on, and the fired FBI director director's story could give the special counsel a whole lot more to consider.
KEILAR (voice-over): The president's declaration that he is willing to testify under oath.
TRUMP: 100 percent.
KEILAR: Suggests the special counsel probe into Russian election hacking could now include Mr. Trump's firing of FBI director James Comey.
SEN. JACK REED (D), RHODE ISLAND: Since part of this, as was indicated yesterday, goes to the rationale behind the firing of Mr. Comey and the rationale of trying to deflect if not stop the investigation of General Flynn, involves to some degree the president so I would expect at some point, not right away, but at some point Mr. Mueller feel he has to depose the president.
KEILAR: Comey's memos which he said he wrote immediately after meetings and phone calls with President Trump are now in Mueller's possession. Those memos could form the basis of expanding the investigation to include the president's alleged asking of Comey to back off his investigation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn, something Comey hinted at on Thursday.
SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D), WEST VIRGINIA: Do you believe this will rise to obstruction of justice?
JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: I don't know. That's Bob Mueller's job to sort that out.
KEILAR: It appears Mueller may also be looking into others around the president. Sources tell CNN Comey told senators behind closed doors Thursday that the FBI has investigated the possibility of an undisclosed third encounter at the Mayflower Hotel between Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Sources tell CNN the meeting discussed in an intercepted call between Russian officials, though investigators have not concluded if it occurred. The Justice Department insists there was no encounter, but Democrats are pouncing.
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: What we have is a pattern of contacts with the Russians by Flynn, by Sessions, by Kushner. Secret and then concealed. In fact, denied, possibly in violation of the law, that denial as former Director Comey --
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: So it could be perjury?
BLUMENTHAL: It could be perjury.
KEILAR: Next Tuesday, Attorney General Sessions will appear before the Senate Appropriations Committee, a hearing likely to turn into a grilling of Sessions on the Russia issue.
SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), MINORITY LEADER: We need to know the answer to a number of questions regarding the attorney general.
KEILAR: The drip, drip, drip on the Russia story shows no sign of abating. CNN has told the Senate Intelligence Committee will soon interview Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser. And Flynn has now turned over 600 pages of subpoenaed documents to the House Intelligence Committee but is still refusing to testify without immunity.
REP. JOAQUIN CASTRO (D), TEXAS: I'm glad that Michael Flynn has turned them over. I hope that other witnesses will do the same, and that in due course he'll come in front of the committee and that the other witnesses that we've identified will come over also.
[09:30:04] KEILAR: And joining me now Democratic Congressman Gregory Meeks of New York. He is a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee.
Sir, thank you so much for taking the time out on this Saturday to be with us. You for some time now, for months, have been calling for Congress to investigate the Russia hacking, Russia meddling. Now, though, you want an independent commission. What's the rationale behind that?
REP. GREGORY MEEKS (D), NEW YORK: Well, and Congress has its job just like the special prosecutor, Mr. Mueller, will have his job but we need an independent commission very similar to the 9/11 Commission so that -- here's the facts, you know, as we heard from former FBI director, the Russians were involved in this election. So we need to know exactly what they did, how they did it, and what we need to do to prevent it in the future, just as the 9/11 Commission came up with a whole host of ideas for us to enact in Congress, an independent commission.
And I have said with some like -- chaired by someone like Condoleezza Rice and John Kerry, individuals who understand and had to deal with Russia before, and other Democrats and Republicans. It is important for the democracy and the democratic procedures of our nation so that we can make sure that this never happens again.
KEILAR: Do you think that an independent -- pardon me -- commission is more capable of getting to the bottom of this or is part of it just giving it the heft of, say, a commission that might be helmed by the people you just described?
MEEKS: No, I think it is important because the independent commission will look over all of the government agencies, et cetera, just as the 9/11 Commission did, so that it will be someone from the outside looking in at our processes also, what we need to do, what we need to change. And it is done in a completely bipartisan manner so that Democrats, Republicans, independents and all of the American public can have some confidence that we're going to put some things in place that will prevent this from ever happening again.
KEILAR: Congressman, I'm sure that you have seen what the president said yesterday in the Rose Garden on a number of topics, where he said essentially that Jim Comey committed perjury with his testimony before senators this week. What was your reaction to that?
MEEKS: Well, it's another lie by the president. I mean, the person that we know to be a liar is the president of the United States, as indicated by Mr. Comey, but not only as indicated by Mr. Comey, I mean, sometimes we have short memories, as indicated by Jeb Bush, as indicated by Marco Rubio beforehand when he talked about the lack of veracity and that Mr. Trump is a liar, as indicated very clearly, I just was looking at something Mitt Romney wrote, he said, here's what I know about Donald Trump. He is a phony, a fraud, his promises are worthless, as a degree from Trump University. He is playing members of the American public for suckers.
You know, Marco Rubio called him a con artist. Jeb Bush said you are a liar and a whiner. So it's not Democrats, it's not Comey that called him a liar. You know, you go all the way through, talk to some of his business associates before. He is a guy that called the media and tried to pretend that he wasn't who he was. He's talked about the birth certificate of -- of Barack Obama. He said that Muslims were yelling and screaming over in Jersey during 9/11. He has lied time and time again. He is a proven liar. And so that's what we know for a fact also.
KEILAR: With what you saw in the Comey testimony, did -- what the president is alleged to have done, which you clearly believe he did say those things as Jim Comey described them, do you think that it reaches the level of obstruction of justice?
MEEKS: I think that it is -- those dots are very much connected, and I have -- you know, that's why I am not calling for impeachment or anything of that nature, I believe that we need to let the special prosecutor do his work. I think that's what justice calls for. Do the investigation. The president said that he will go under oath. I don't believe him because he is a liar. He also said that he would turn over his tax returns, he hasn't done that, so let's see. But if he's compelled by the special prosecutor, then let's see what takes place.
I think that let's let all of the facts fall wherever they may, but it seems clearly to me that obstruction of justice is an element of a crime that needs to be deeply looked at by the special prosecutor.
KEILAR: There does seem to be some expectation from legal observers that he will indeed go under oath. Do you have reason to believe that he would not do that?
MEEKS: I think he would only do that if compelled. He is surely not going to do that under his free will, just because he said it, he has said before that he would turn over his tax returns if he was running for president, he's never done that.
[09:35:02] He's not going to do it on a voluntary basis. His lawyers will then intercede and say you can't do anything. So he will not do it on his own accord. If he wants, I'm sure that members of the -- of Congress whether it was from the Senate Intelligence side or the House Intelligence side, they would love to have him come up and testify in a similar manner that, you know, I dare say Hillary Clinton, who was grilled for over 12, 14 hours, you know, by House, let him come on up to the Hill. I'd love to hear him answer questions, but he's not going to do that, he just talks and he lies.
KEILAR: Well, you -- I mean, you certainly know that politicians will frequently say they're going to do something to kind of get ahead of it, try to look like they're cooperating. But I want to ask about something else that he said, which was the tapes. Are there tapes? He raised this idea that there could be tapes of conversations with Jim Comey. Do you think there are or do you think that probably there are not?
MEEKS: Well, I know that Mr. Comey surely hopes there are. And I think Mr. Trump knows that there are not because otherwise he would be very scared. And so again, I think it's just him talking. But again, if there are tapes, I know that the House Intelligence Committee, both Democrats and Republicans, said they want them turned over to them within the next two weeks.
Let's hear the tapes. That will then decide the issue. If I was the president and there was tapes and I'm saying that Mr. Comey is lying, I surely would produce them. But if he is telling the truth, I surely would just -- I would not produce them and/or there are no tapes actually.
KEILAR: All right, Congressman --
MEEKS: Fabrication by the president.
KEILAR: Congressman Gregory Meeks, thank you, sir, so much. Have a great weekend.
And I do want to mention that next hour we're going to talk live with another congressman, Francis Rooney, Republican from Florida. So from both sides of the aisle here.
President Trump is facing deadlines, battle lines, investigations. We're going to break all of this down with our panel.
[09:41:04] KEILAR: Let's bring in our panel now. We have Paris Dennard, a CNN political commentator, Rebecca Berg, a CNN political analyst and A. Scott Bolden is the former chairman of the Washington, D.C. Democratic Party.
One of the things that I think stood out to a lot of people in the president's Rose Garden comments yesterday was that he said Jim Comey vindicated him, and yet some of what he said was not true. What did you make of that where he seems to say that he's lying, but also making his case?
A. SCOTT BOLDEN, FORMER CHAIRMAN, WASHINGTON, D.C. DEMOCRATIC PARTY: Well, I think he's cherry picking. I think he's saying part of testimony from Comey was a lie and some vindicated him. I'm not sure what vindicated him because quite frankly the fact that he did not -- he was not under investigation really isn't a vindication, because certainly he is under investigation now. But trying to get the FBI to walk away from the Flynn investigation as well as walk away from putting out a statement saying he wasn't under investigation.
KEILAR: Do we know that?
PARIS DENNARD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Right.
KEILAR: Is he under -- I mean, do we know if he is --
DENNARD: That's what I'm --
DENNARD: We do not know if the president is under investigation. What we do know is --
KEILAR: You think it stands to reason, but we do not know that.
(CROSSTALK) BOLDEN: I can tell you he's under investigation because the memo had been turned over to the special prosecutor or independent prosecutor, rather.
DENNARD: The leaked memo.
BOLDEN: And as a result -- and as a result, leaked or not leaked, it doesn't matter.
KEILAR: You're talking about the Comey memos, just to be clear for our viewers.
BOLDEN: Of course. Because Mueller asked for them, and trust me, whether it's obstruction of justice or whatever else they're looking at, this president is under investigation right now and as we have in the campaign, he was always under investigation.
KEILAR: Rebecca, what do you think?
REBECCA BERG, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, he is certainly under investigation now in terms of the Mueller investigation, but that all stems from Trump's conversations with Comey when he was trying to get Comey to clear this up for the public.
But look, let's talk for a second about how amazing it is that the president stood in the Rose Garden and said that the FBI director, who he fired, he was basically accusing Comey of perjury in front of Congress and his testimony saying he lied. That is an astounding moment in history.
I think it's worth appreciating just how astounding that was. This is not something you see every day.
KEILAR: So here's -- if we take Donald Trump at his word, in order for Donald Trump to be being honest where he says essentially that Jim Comey committed perjury, we would have to then accept that Jim Comey had interactions with President Trump and then went and wrote memos that he falsified, that were untrue. That's difficult for many people to believe.
DENNARD: Perjury is a very hard thing to prove on either side. So it's going to be difficult for the president and his team to prove that.
KEILAR: But not an issue of proving it. What he is alleging is that the FBI director way back when he had these interactions falsified accounts of these interactions.
DENNARD: And what we know about what Director Comey said at the testimony was he -- he went into his first meeting with the president with a preconceived notion about him, saying that he was someone that he didn't feel is going to be trustworthy, he could lie, and so he went in with that. And he said, I did not know him that well. I didn't have a good read on the president. So Director Comey went in there with this preconceived idea about who he thought the president --
KEILAR: But, Paris, do you understand why he had that notion? I mean, when you look at President Trump prior to being President Trump has said a number of untrue things.
DENNARD: I think when you are an investigator, when you are a member -- when you are the director of the FBI director, you should go in there with an objective manner looking for facts. He went in there with a preconceived idea about the president and then he exercised that, he worked on that preconceived notion about the president that was negative and that was wrong, that he followed his actions after that, supported his preconceived idea that somehow the president was a liar, somehow the president was somebody that he did not trust, and somehow the president -- he had to do things with this particular president --
KEILAR: Was that your notion, Rebecca, of the testimony?
BERG: Brianna, I think you've hit on an important point here which is that in the court of public opinion, and in terms of Mueller's investigation, this is going to be a credibility question.
[09:45:05] And does Donald Trump have more credibility on this than James Comey? James Comey not only has these memos that he wrote at the time to back up his account but we know Donald Trump tends to exaggerate, he has lied in the past. And so when you compare their records, Donald Trump is going to have a very hard time making a case to the public and to investigators that his account of this is the correct one.
KEILAR: But if it's he is-he said, do you think that Robert Mueller would push forward on that if there's no way to prove beyond a reasonable doubt -- I mean, tapes would prove beyond a reasonable doubt, a memo does certainly carry weight, but -- then where will it go from there? Because some people are saying if it comes down to that, maybe this isn't going to go.
BOLDEN: But, Brianna, it's not going to come down to that, OK? As a former prosecutor, whether you're federal or state, you have one saying that sticks on your head when you're testing the credibility. Lies have no details. That means when you listen to someone who talks in broad terms and then you listen to someone like James Comey who not only gave spectacular testimony, detailed testimony, they have a detailed memo contemporaneous with those conversations, writing about Donald Trump driving that narrative, and then went back, then told a small group of leaders at the FBI, his team about it, and they strategize about it, and then they moved on.
And they told -- they even went to Sessions who said -- who Comey asked Sessions not to leave me alone in the room anymore. Those are details, those are corroboration, there are other witnesses that will be interviewed, and this -- the bucket for credibility on Comey stacks up pretty high. With Donald Trump, who may or may not provide testimony, his denial on the Rose Garden was really insufficient and will continue to be.
KEILAR: And that is certainly being looked at.
And I want to -- I just want to correct what I said before that the president wasn't under investigation. Just to be clear, as someone participating in alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials, something that the FBI has been looking at.
Tapes. Are there tapes, Paris? Do you think there's tapes?
DENNARD: I don't think that there are tapes. I don't think the president has said that there were. He asked the question, you better hope once again, that word hope, that there aren't tapes because --
KEILAR: He didn't say there weren't tapes, or not -- he did not -- he will not say that there are not tapes. You're saying he didn't say there are tapes. But he also won't say that there are no tapes.
DENNARD: He said well, we'll find out and you might be disappointed.
BOLDEN: But why raise that narrative at all as the president of the United States? He raised -- why put that out there? Why threaten Comey in the front of millions of Americans if there aren't tapes? What narrative are you trying to drive by raising that type of suspicion in regard to a very credible witness like Comey?
KEILAR: And with the Nixonian prop. Right.
DENNARD: I don't think it was a threat. I think it was an act of trying to get to the facts because we saw from Comey's testimony was that this is a person who was overtly political, this is a person who instead of raising his concerns that he allegedly had he did not do that. What he decided to do was leak a memo to the press, to the "New York Times." And so we have somebody who was universally -- I would say in a bipartisan fashion, people had distinct issues with his credibility and as the lead-in is proven with his political testimony.
KEILAR: All right. Real Quick, final word.
BERG: I think the simple fact here is that the president was likely bluffing and Comey called his bluff.
KEILAR: That seems -- does appear to be what happened. All right.
BOLDEN: Get them out.
KEILAR: Scott, Rebecca, Paris, stick around for me if you will. We're going to continue our conversation in the coming hour.
And time is ticking on the most expensive House race in history. Can a Georgia Democrat finish with a win in a reliably Republican district? (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
[09:52:55] KEILAR: Just 10 days left in the most expensive House race in history as Republicans are working to keep a Georgia seat that they have held for decades and a Democrat is trying to take it.
Here is our Nick Valencia.
NICK VALENCIA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They say politics and religion don't mix and usually they don't. But today at St. James United Methodist Church here in Atlanta, there's no dancing around it.
MARILYN HUMPHREYS, GEORGIA 6TH DISTRICT VOTER: That's a huge concern. And it's turned me for this election into a Democrat.
VALENCIA (on camera): You're the piano player --
HUMPHREYS: I am.
VALENCIA (voice-over): Marilyn Humphreys has lived in the 6th Congressional District for 37 years. Thanks to voters like her, it's been a Republican stronghold since the 1970s. A lot has changed since then.
HUMPHREYS: I always voted for Tom Price when he was our representative, so I'm sorry to see this change.
VALENCIA (on camera): You're changing your vote now from a Republican vote to --
HUMPHREYS: I definitely am.
VALENCIA (voice-over): Humphreys says under President Trump she hates what the party has become. So come June 20th, her vote in the congressional run-off will be for Democrat Jon Ossoff.
HUMPHREYS: The Republican have just kind been hold in mass and said, do this, do this, do this. And then woof, off they go. But it's time to change. And I think it has to change with young people who are committed to a broader view.
VALENCIA: Her church peers say they're also upset at President Trump and what he's turned Washington into.
ERIC EIDBO, GEORGIA 6TH DISTRICT VOTER: Anything in Washington was a circus.
VALENCIA: Eric Eidbo is a lifelong Republican.
EIDBO: I wouldn't be surprised if somebody showed up with a big red nose, you know, started squirting water. This is just a joke.
VALENCIA: But for Eidbo, he's most bothered by what he says Ossoff and the Democrats are up to in District 6th.
EIDBO: Did they have to bring in people to support this kid out from out of our district? Aren't there enough people that are homegrown that really want him?
VALENCIA (on camera): The out-of-state influence bothers you.
EIDBO: It does.
VALENCIA (voice-over): It also bothers Doug Scales. He won't say which party he's from but it doesn't take long to find out how he feels about the 30-year-old Democrat and his Republican opponent, Karen Handel.
DOUG SCALES, GEORGIA 6TH DISTRICT VOTER: He will be relegated to a hobble which means --
EIDBO: Well, here's how you vote.
SCALES: That's right. Here's how you vote. He will not have any power to help you or I.
[09:55:02] HUMPHREYS: And you think Karen Handel will?
SCALES: No. Nobody will.
VALENCIA: It's that political fatigue among local Georgia voters that's making the 6th congressional race so interesting and competitive.
Beyond St. James, we wanted to see how Washington was affecting voter sentiment and other parts of District 6th.
(On camera): You like Donald Trump and him liking Karen Handel makes you like her.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. I mean, I can't help it.
T.J. JOSEPH, DISTRICT 6TH RESIDENT: It's going to be more of a Democrats showing our support to ourselves and redeeming myself by voting.
CAROL MEAL, DISTRICT 6TH RESIDENT: I am planning on voting for Jon Ossoff.
VALENCIA: Is that a vote for Ossoff or is it a vote against Trump?
MEAL: It's a vote against Trump.
VALENCIA (voice-over): Back at St. James, there's plenty Trump talk, too. But ultimately they say on June 20th, he shouldn't be the person who decides the election.
EIDBO: You're looking at it as a referendum on Trump. VALENCIA (on camera): Shouldn't it be?
EIDBO: Well, no, not really. It's just a congressional race.
VALENCIA: It may just be a congressional race for some. But for others this has national implications. And if there's any indication it does, Vice President Mike Pence was in Atlanta this week to stomp for Republican Karen Handel. And the latest poll by a local newspaper here, the "Atlanta Journal Constitution," Democrat Jon Ossoff leads Handel by seven points with just two weeks to go.
Nick Valencia, CNN, Atlanta.
KEILAR: Ahead, we have more on where the Russia investigation is headed, including who else wants those memos that James Comey wrote and whether there is an investigation yet into obstruction of justice.
I'll be right back after a quick break.