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Cosby Defense Team Rests; Jeff Sessions to Testify. Aired 3- 3:30p ET

Aired June 12, 2017 - 15:00   ET



TIM O'BRIEN, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, BLOOMBERG VIEW: And Obama didn't golf nearly as much as President Trump. Trump basically lives on the golf course on weekends.

And, you know, I think this larger issue about these big and small lies is, he's -- he's under investigation potentially for everything that he's said in the past year or so as it conflates with this Russian investigation.

And I think he has to be very careful that he doesn't wind up discovering that he has perjured himself in the course of some of these things because he doesn't really distinguish between big and little lying because it's a routine part of how he rolls every day.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: What's the hyperbole, the art of the deal, what's the word he used?


O'BRIEN: Oh, he calls its truthful hyperbole.

BALDWIN: Truthful hyperbole.

O'BRIEN: Yes, back in 1987, 30 years ago.

BALDWIN: All right, Tim O'Brien, author of "TrumpNation," always a pleasure. Thank you very much.

O'BRIEN: Thanks, Brooke. Good to be here.

BALDWIN: Let's continue on. Top of the hour. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

Breaking news today, Attorney General Sessions, Jeff Sessions, will testify in public tomorrow in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee, as the multiple investigations into ties between Russia and Trump associates are moving forward.

This comes after questions swirl after the sworn testimony from former FBI Director James Comey that the president made the attorney general leave the room before he suggested Comey let go of the investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Comey saying he went to intervene, wanted Sessions to intervene, but

Sessions did not. The White House responded moments ago to whether or not Jeff Sessions may invoke executive privilege tomorrow.


QUESTION: When Jeff Sessions testifies tomorrow, do you believe that he should invoke executive privilege on conversations between himself and the president (OFF-MIKE)

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think it depends on the scope of the questions. And it would be -- to get into a hypothetical at this point would be premature.

QUESTION: In any way did Jeff Sessions, folks at the DOJ ask for the White House's permission in essence for him to testify publicly tomorrow?

SPICER: I don't know the answer to that question. I know Congress, generally speaking, sets the -- whether a hearing is open or closed based on the sensitivity of the subject.

QUESTION: Is the president then OK with him testifying in this open setting tomorrow?

SPICER: I think he's going to testify. We're aware of it and go from there.


BALDWIN: With me now, Chris Cillizza, CNN politics reporter and editor at large, Michael Moore, former U.S. attorney representing the Middle District of Georgia. He also knows fired acting Attorney General Sally Yates and her interim A.G., Dana Boente. Also, Gloria Borger is with us, CNN chief political analyst.

So, Gloria, let's just begin with the it depends note from Sean Spicer. Specifically, let me pull up my note on whether or not Jeff Sessions will invoke executive privilege. It depends, says Sean Spicer. What's your interpretation?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, he said it depends on the questions.

And I don't know whether this has been a topic of discussion over there or whether Sean was speaking with knowledge having spoken to Sessions or about whether Sessions has spoken with the president about what he intends to do, but it seems to me that there are going to be lots of difficult questions that are asked, because don't forget the president, number one, is already upset at Sessions. And the Congress is wondering whether he perjured himself.

And so if he takes it question by question, I think it will be very telling to us which questions he might decide to say I can't discuss it because it involves a conversation with the president.

And it may be about Jim Comey getting fired. Right?


BALDWIN: On the executive privilege, just so we understand -- actually, forgive me. We're going to pull away from that.

Here's the president of the United States welcoming the 2016 NCAA football national champions the Clemson Tigers to the White House.


Today, I'm truly proud to welcome to the White House our college football playoff national champions, the Clemson Tigers.


TRUMP: And they look like the real deal, don't they?

Congratulations to all of you and to your terrific coach, and you know who that is, right? Do we love him? Dabo, Dabo Swinney, what a great job. I was with coach Belichick. He said this guy is a real coach. That's a pretty good compliment, right?

You can't do better than that. Congratulations, coach. You have many dedicated fans and admirers here today to celebrate your victory, including many distinguished members of Congress, lots of them. I especially want to thank your governor, Henry McMaster, my friend, my endorser. Don't forget he endorsed me when it wasn't exactly in vogue to do that.


So, I remember, right, Henry? And thank you, Henry and everybody, for joining us today. Clemson Tigers, you gave America an incredible game that will go down in the record books as one of the hardest-fought and probably one of the most exciting games ever played. Last second.

That was pretty good, coach. Good job, coach. All of you played with such tremendous heart and determination. You never, ever gave up. You can never give up in life and it all paid off. With your grit and resolve, you proved one of the most important truths in life, that success is about how hard you're willing to fight in order to overcome and in order to win.

After being down 14-0, I don't think the coach was worried. Were you worried? Yes, probably, a little, about a little bit, coach. Maybe?

You're down 14-0 almost halfway through the game. Like true tigers, Clemson roared back and with the whole nation watching and beyond the nation, Deshaun Watson, going to be a great NFL player. Watch. Where is Deshaun?


TRUMP: Hey, fellows, is he that good? Tell me. (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: You better believe it. He's going to be fantastic. He passed the ball to Hunter Renfrow. Where is Hunter? Oh, Hunter, you're so lucky you caught that ball.

To score the game-winning touchdown with just one second left on the clock. That's pretty cool. It was an inspirational finish to a historic season for Clemson. The team willed their victory. Just you willed it. That was a victory that was willed.

Arnold Palmer, they used to say, great champion, he would will a victory. Jack Nicklaus, he would will a victory. The great champions tend to do that. This team willed their whole way to victory. You came so incredibly close last year against Alabama. You don't remember that game, coach, do you? He will never forget it.

And you wanted the rematch. And you got the rematch. And you went on and you earned it. You beat great teams like Florida State, Ohio State and, of course, your big rival, South Carolina.


TRUMP: You believed in yourselves. You believed in each other. And you won a championship victory for the ages.

It's one of the greatest games I ever watched, actually. People are going to be talking about what you did for a very, very long time. That victory and the great comeback was the product of a vision that began nine years ago when coach Sweeney assembled a team of assistant coaches who believed in his vision.

They recruited great, great players. And together you worked hard, had fun, and turned Clemson football into a winning machine. It's what it is. The Tigers have gone an astonishing 89-28 -- how did you lose 28 games?

That was the early seasons, right? Most of them were in the early -- while you were building. Under the coach's leadership, he helped forge a new culture at Clemson. It was on display in the locker room right after the big game.

The coach recalled how he told the team that the theme of the college football playoffs this year is chasing greatness. He told them nobody is better than us. And we got to believe it. That's great. Tell yourself that. Nobody is better.

You chased greatness and now you have achieved true greatness. I understand that on the inside of your championship ring there's a Tiger climbing upwards and it says a little extra, just a little extra. That's often the difference between winning and losing, just a little extra, right, coach? Is that right?

And, by the way, standing next to the coach is another winner, your el presidente, Jim Clements. That's another winner. I will tell you that. (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: We don't talk about Jim too much, but, number one, he made a lot of good decisions.


Number two, what people don't realize about Clemson, it's a great academic school, one of the top 25. And as a combination, probably number one. Great job, Jim.

That's how Clemson achieved great things. When you set an expectation of maximum effort and a culture of confidence from the top, you inspire every person to perform at their very, very best.

And that's exactly what you have done. More Tigers this year than ever before, nine of you, went to the NFL scouting combine and two of you were drafted in the first round. That's pretty good.

But during the championship game, all of you shined, every single one. Offensive MVP quarterback Deshaun Watson took some very, very hard hits, but he never rattled. He's great under pressure. I have seen that. I have heard that. He's great under pressure.

He is great under pressure. He always got right back up ask he fought and he fought and kept winning. Now he will bring that toughness together to the Houston Texans.

And I have the owners of the Texans here someplace. We just saw them and they are so excited about Deshaun.

Defensive tackles Carlos Watkins had an incredible game and he will be joining Deshaun in Houston. I'm going to be watching that team very closely. Nobody can read plays like defensive MVP Ben Boulware. Where's Ben?


TRUMP: Carlos, get up here, Carlos.

BALDWIN: All right, All right, President Trump having some fun today there with the Clemson Tigers coming up from South Carolina. They won the big game last year.

It's been 35 years since the Clemson football team won its first national championship back in 1981. So, congrats, Clemson.

We're going to take a quick break. We're going to come back with our conversation here, ahead of tomorrow's public testimony for the attorney general, Jeff Sessions. The big question everyone is asking, will he invoke executive privilege? We will discuss next.



BALDWIN: Back with our breaking news. Let's bring my guests back here.

And where were me, Michael Moore? We were talking about executive privilege ahead of the big public testimony in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee. We will all be listening to the words coming out of the attorney general's mouth, Jeff Sessions, tomorrow.

And so Gloria was just talking about, and correctly so, pointing out that Sean Spicer was saying, well, it kind of depends on some of the questions that he's asked as to whether or not he will.

Michael Moore, former U.S. attorney representing the Middle District of Georgia, your take on executive privilege. When would he invoke it?

MICHAEL MOORE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Executive privilege is a positive thing, in the sense that it protects the deliberative process.

So, if the president is having consultations with advisers about strategy or policies that are legitimate, then that's something that's clearly I think would be covered under executive privilege or matters of national security. I think there are times when it plays an important role in government.

What it's not to be used for is some kind can of tool to cover up conduct that's improper or illegal perhaps. So, I think really what needs to happen tomorrow is, the panel needs to very carefully craft their questions, so that they can elicit responses which would be outside of the privilege.

There's a way to do that. It means that you don't necessarily go off the hip. It means that you have sometimes people who are trained as prosecutors think about the questions and the information that you're seeking from the witness.

And I think that may help get around some of the issues that we could see with the invocation of the privilege. What we don't want is to have a long delay caused because there's an invocation of that privilege.

I think that Sessions wanting to speak in an open hearing is interesting. And let me throw this idea out.

BALDWIN: I don't know if he wanted to. Let me just say that. I think it was some pushback from Democrats. Therefore, it's now a public hearing.

MOORE: Well, I think basically what may happen, though, is he may use that as a way to have an additional safety net.

So if he gets asked a question that he's uncomfortable with, he can say simply this is not a question that I want to answer in a public setting. I would be happy to address it in a closed session.

BALDWIN: Which is precisely what we heard last week with Coats and...


MOORE: That is exactly right. And we never got to the answers. And we never got to the answers. That was frustrating.


BALDWIN: But on the questions, Chris Cillizza, this is when we could be hearing about that possible third meeting with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. We could be hearing about the lingering, according to Director Comey, outside of that Oval Office before the -- according to Comey, the let Flynn go conversation. What are you listening for?

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, so I think both of those things are the two key things that we don't know answers to, Brooke, and that Jeff Sessions can provide. Whether he will provide or not, I don't know.

I would say I think that Sessions is smart, politically speaking, to have this be an open hearing. Whether it was forced upon him or not, the fact that he has sort of embraced it in that statement I think is smart.

I think if it's a closed meeting, you are going to see some leaks that are going to be very, very tough for him to deal with. I think if he does it in an open setting, he can say, you saw it, I saw it, the president saw it.

It does give him a little bit of a fallback, but I think he should use that very judiciously. I think the perception right now is Jeff Sessions asked for and got a hearing, a public hearing that we didn't even expect him necessarily to testify. So now we're having this. It's tomorrow.

And this is not the Comey testimony, right, where it was weeks buildup. I think that's a positive storyline, broadly speaking, for Jeff Sessions. I think if you start to invoke too much, well, I can't say this in an open setting, people say, well, why are we having this open setting?


So, he is someone who is obviously in a very perilous position, given what we know of his relationship with Donald Trump. My guess is, he will everything he can to fortify that position, be a strong defender of Trump.

But I remind people he's under oath. This is not tweeting. This is not an interview with the media. This is under oath with real penalties if you do not tell the truth.


CILLIZZA: That will make Jim Comey and Jeff Sessions now having testified under oath about this, which we have not obviously had the president do yet. BORGER: Brooke, here's what we can hear. And here's what we can

learn, which is, I am sure he will be asked the question, you didn't recuse yourself from the firing of James Comey. Why was he fired?

So, we have the explanation from Donald Trump, which was to Lester Holt about the Russia investigation. I'm wondering whether Sessions has a different reason, because he obviously recused himself on Russia, so he probably believes it was as a result of some other reason.

And maybe it was the Rosenstein memo about how he behaved during the election. It will be really interesting for us to see Jeff Sessions' point of view here on the Comey firing and his explanation of why he was involved in it.

BALDWIN: Speaking of firing, Michael, I'm going to pose this one to you.

MOORE: Sure.

BALDWIN: One of the president's attorneys appeared on ABC and he actually did not rule out firing the special counsel, Bob Mueller. Listen to this.


GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: Would the president promise not to interfere, not attempt at any time to order the deputy attorney general to fire Robert Mueller?

JAY SEKULOW, ATTORNEY FOR DONALD TRUMP: Well, the president -- the president of the United States, as we all know, is a unitary executive.

But the president is going to seek the advice of his counsel, and inside the government as well as outside. And I'm not going to speculate on what he will or will not do.

I can't imagine that that issue is going to arise, but that again is an issue that the president with his advisers would discuss if there was a basis.


BALDWIN: Michael, there's no way the president is seriously considering firing Bob Mueller, correct?

MOORE: Yes, I can't think that he would seriously have any thoughts about that.

I think this president likes to keep everything out on the table and try to keep everybody guessing about everything, including whether or not they are recorded every time they walk into the White House.

So, I can't imagine that. I do think there's a great benefit to having an outside counsel, a special counsel. I think, if he tried to pull something like that, you would probably see Congress come together and look at a select committee or some other way to move forward.

But I just can't believe that he could withstand or the party could withstand the political fall=out of him trying to get rid of Mueller, especially if he was starting to pull on a string and the case against Trump was beginning to -- or Trump's case around himself, I guess, was beginning to unravel a little bit.

BALDWIN: All right, so, short of that, Chris Cillizza, what is up with these Republicans? I think of the former House Speaker Newt Gingrich being one and the tweet. What's behind some of these Republicans' efforts going try to, at least going into this, discredit Bob Mueller?

CILLIZZA: Politics, in a word.


CILLIZZA: They are trying to -- honestly, you saw Donald Trump do a little bit of this, essentially saying this is the greatest witch-hunt in history, the special counsel, I think setting the table for the possibility, not probability, but possibility that if the special counsel gets too far -- goes too far off track, whatever you want to say, that Donald Trump can say either the findings are partisan and biased or fire the special counsel.

I stopped saying Donald Trump won't do X thing during the campaign, because he repeatedly did that thing, whatever it was, and I had to say, well, I didn't see that coming.


CILLIZZA: I think it's exactly right that firing Bob Mueller, even trying to really question whatever findings he comes up with, is going to be very difficult, and, in the case of firing, would be political suicide.

That said, I rule nothing out. So, I think you're seeing some of the president's allies -- and this includes Newt Gingrich -- setting the table for that if and when it comes to that.

BALDWIN: After saying before that he thought Bob Mueller was a superb choice. I'm just saying. That was then, this is now.


CILLIZZA: ... many times, Brooke, that he can say one thing one day and say the exact opposite later that day, and not feel as though there's any internal conflict there.


I'm out of time. I thank you all so, so much, Chris Cillizza, Michael Moore, Gloria Borger.

Great to see all of you.


BALDWIN: The other question is of course about the tapes. Does President Trump have tapes or not? The president playing games, the White House playing games over the -- over this tape saga. Hear what the White House just said on this very issue moments ago when pressed.

Also, breaking news today in the trial of Bill Cosby, his defense abruptly resting its case after all of an hour. Hear the only witness they called ahead.




QUESTION: Does President Trump have audio recordings of his conversations and meetings with the former FBI Director James Comey?

SPICER: The president made clear in the Rose Garden last week that he would have an announcement shortly.

QUESTION: Do you have any sort of timeline on when that announcement will be?

SPICER: When the president is ready to make it.

QUESTION: Why leave this question open?

SPICER: I think the president made it clear.

QUESTION: If the president does have evidence that the FBI director lied under oath, what's he waiting for?

SPICER: I think the president made it very clear on Friday that he would get book as soon as possible on this and his position on that conversation.

QUESTION: Right. What's he waiting for? What's the delay?

SPICER: He's waiting -- he's not waiting for anything. When he's ready to further discuss it, he will. But I think he laid out his position very clearly, very concisely on Friday.


BALDWIN: White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer there responding to questions about whether President Trump has tapes of his conversations with Jim Comey or not and why the heck aren't they answering the question yet?