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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Trump and Sessions Pressuring FBI Director?; Washington Post: Muller Seeking to Question Trump in Coming Weeks. Aired 4-4:30p ET
Aired January 23, 2018 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
QUESTION: Or can agreements be truly win-win?
GARY COHN, PRESIDENTIAL ECONOMIC ADVISER: Look, the president believes we can have truly win-win agreements. America first is not America alone.
I said in my remarks, when we grow, the world grows. When the world grows, we grow. We're part of it. We're part of a world economy.
And the president believes that. He is going to talk on world leaders about making sure we all respect each other. We all abide by the laws. We all have free, fair, open and reciprocal trade. And if we live in a world where there are not artificial barriers, we will all grow and we will all help each other grow.
And the president truly believes that. He went to the G7. He went to the G20. He went to NATO. He went to APEC. He's gone to the U.N. He's talked about these positions consistently, and this is exactly what the president is going to talk about at the World Economic Forum.
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) General McMaster, there have been reports in the news recently that leaders, authoritarian leaders in other countries, particularly in Southeast Asia, are using one of the president's favorite phrases, fake news, to describe reporting that isn't flattering and it reflects poorly on their country and reports inconvenient truths.
And President Trump has made a point of not publicly talking about things like human rights and freedom of speech, freedom of expression. Is he concerned at all? Or are you concerned that the president's rhetoric combined with his silence on these issues is creating a climate where authoritarian leaders feel they have free rein to do what they want and the United States will not...
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
We are going to break away from the White House press briefing and we are going to continue to monitor and bring you any updates from it.
But now let's turn to politics lead.
We're now learning that two major key players have been interviewed by special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigators. Fired FBI Director James Comey was and Attorney General Jeff Sessions was as well.
A source telling CNN that Comey spoke to investigators last year and "The New York Times" reports that Comey was specifically asked about memos he wrote about his interactions with President Trump. Sources are also telling CNN that Attorney General Jeff Sessions was questioned for several hours last week by special counsel Robert Mueller's office, marking the closest member of the Trump administration, the most inner member of the circle to be interviewed by the special counsel as part of the investigation into Russian election meddling and whether anyone associated with the Trump team worked with the Russians.
And then of course on the question of whether the president or anyone obstructed justice in the investigation.
Breaking news just in right now. "The Washington Post" is reporting that special counsel Mueller is seeking to question President Trump in the coming weeks that his decisions to fire Comey and fire the national security adviser, Michael Flynn.
My political panel is here with me to talk about all of this.
"The New York Times" is reporting that Comey was asked about the memos he wrote about the conversations with the president. I support potentially this is part of a potential obstruction of justice investigation.
MARY KATHARINE HAM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, which has always sort of seemed me the more likely thing that they land on or find some more convincing evidence of.
Look, it is getting closer to the president. I am pleased at this point I guess someone has seen the memos. Did Mueller get to see them? Because to my knowledge, we have been talking about them for, what, eight months, a year, and no one has actually seen them yet, so that will be nice. And I also wonder will if Comey is as emo in his interviews as he is on Twitter.
TAPPER: David, what do you make of "The Washington Post" report that Mueller is seeking to interview President Trump in the coming weeks? That's something we've been getting -- we have gotten mixed messages frankly from the president about it, first an absolute willingness, 100 percent, to participate and then more of an ambivalence, I think.
DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Sure.
Listen, I don't think it is a surprise to anyone that Director Mueller, the special prosecutor in this case, is going to want to talk to the president. He looked across at Jim Comey, across the table, talked to him, heard from him. I'm not surprised that anyone thinks he would not want to do the same with the president.
TAPPER: You think he will participate?
(CROSSTALK) URBAN: I don't know. I'm not his counsel, Ty Cobb. I don't know what he advises, but I don't think the president has anything to hide here at all. And it is up to his counsel. And there is a lot of things to deal with the role of the presidency, not just Donald Trump citizen involved in this.
So I'm not -- executive privilege and this is the executive branch interviewing the executive branch. A lot that doesn't apply. It is a much bigger issue than just Donald Trump talking to Bob Mueller.
TAPPER: And, Karine, one of the things that's interesting, I was listening to CNN earlier today.
Ken Cuccinelli, a former attorney general of the Commonwealth of Virginia, a Trump supporter, talking about what he would do were he one of the president's lawyers. And one of them was, one of the big key bits of advice was, don't speak with hyperbole. Don't speak in a braggadocios manner, as President Trump uses that word quite a bit. Answer the questions honestly and succinctly.
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Yes. It will be interesting to see Donald Trump actually be able to do that.
TAPPER: I don't think we will see it.
JEAN-PIERRE: Well, it will be interesting to hear, or however that goes.
But I think Donald Trump does have something to hide. We know that he fired Comey, he admitted it himself, because Comey was getting too close to the Russia thing. He was trying to protect Flynn.
And I think what's interesting about all this is how far Mueller has come. Right? Donald Trump and Sessions fired Comey to protect Flynn, and now Mueller has basically talked to Flynn, who, as we all know, has been indicted and has pleaded guilty. He has spoken to Sessions and he has spoken to Comey. And I think that says a lot of how far he's gotten.
And now it makes sense that Donald Trump would be next.
HAM: I'm not sure I ever thought he wasn't going to talk to those people. What exactly would the investigation be?
JEAN-PIERRE: But it happened really quickly.
HAM: I guess. The word from the beginning was that this would be efficient.
JEAN-PIERRE: We just found out. TAPPER: We just found out.
URBAN: Karine, kind of what you're saying. So your narrative is that the president fired Comey because he was getting too close to the Russia thing. Right?
JEAN-PIERRE: Right. He said it.
URBAN: And here we are again, right? And there is no Russia thing. Right?
If there was a Russia thing and it involved General Flynn, he wouldn't have been let off the hook with basically a speeding ticket.
JEAN-PIERRE: But we don't know that.
URBAN: You can't have it both ways.
TAPPER: To be precise, what the president said was he was thinking about the Russia thing when he fired Comey. That's what he told Lester Holt.
And I think you're projecting some motivation there, but also just -- I fact-checked her. Let me fact-check you. We also don't know. We have no idea.
TAPPER: No, no, but we don't know what Mueller has. We don't know if there is something there. We don't know if there isn't.
URBAN: I would suspect that, from what you have been seeing and hearing, right, at the end of the day, Russia comes out to be what we have seen already, involving Mr. Manafort, Mr. Gates, some of these other individuals that have been charged.
TAPPER: Donald Trump Jr.
URBAN: Some of these others -- the people who have been charged. Right?
And the more serious things they're looking into are the firing of Comey and these other things. And that is going to what is going be looked into more seriously. There is no -- at the end of the day, if the Democrats and everyone is hanging their hat on some big Russian collusion, I think they're going to walk away empty-handed.
HAM: What we do have is a year of leaks that has not brought us to that conclusion about collusion. And the leaks have not exactly been restrained.
JEAN-PIERRE: OK. But what we do have is four people have been indicted that were close to Donald Trump. So I think that...
JEAN-PIERRE: But that's what we have. It's not a nothing burger.
TAPPER: And two of them were indicted for lying to the FBI about contacts with Russia.
URBAN: But that is completely different, Karine, right, than saying that those individuals then somehow coordinated an ongoing campaign with the Russians to help tip the election in favor of Donald Trump.
What those gentlemen have been charged with is lying to the FBI.
HAM: There's a lot of room between shady and reckless, which is what I think the Trump team often is.
HAM: Hold on. And what I think the Democrats' fantasy is of what happened here with the Russia thing.
TAPPER: With Jared Kushner barking out orders to Russian bots.
But let's talk about what we do know beyond the -- let's talk about what we do know with the collusion and then let's talk about what we know about potential obstruction of justice.
In terms of collusion, we know according to the U.S. intelligence community the Russians hacked and got a whole bunch of DNC e-mails from John Podesta and also from the DNC. Two, we know a whole bunch of Russian cut-outs made offers to Trump people.
And then, three, we know a bunch of Trump people expressed interest in the dirt. And then we don't know if -- we have no proof or evidence at all that they ever coordinated. But all the dirt got out there on WikiLeaks.
URBAN: But that last part, we have no proof.
TAPPER: The collusion part.
URBAN: That's the big one, right? That's what you're trying to prove. Right?
TAPPER: But it's not nothing is all I'm saying.
JEAN-PIERRE: That's right. It's not nothing. And there is the obstruction of justice. That's on the table as well.
TAPPER: We will get to that in one second.
URBAN: But that's the big jump, right? That's the big leap. Right.
You go from, you have these facts and then something bad happened. Well, there's no factual nexus between those two. Nothing has been proven. Nothing has even been articulated closely.
TAPPER: As we know, one of the big things that happens in Washington, D.C., it is not the crime, it's the cover-up. Right? With Bill Clinton, it wasn't whatever he did with Monica Lewinsky. It was committing perjury and suborning perjury, et cetera.
And it's possible, as you note, that the firing of Comey and whatever was done with Michael Flynn ends up being more of a problem than whatever might have happened with the Russians.
HAM: Yes. And again it has to hit the threshold, which I think is the only point we're making. We have to actually walk through this process.
But I have long thought that what might get them in trouble before the idea of this Russian collusion, which I don't think there is a ton of there there, is the fact when they're speaking to different folks in different venues, sometimes under oath, the folks in this administration are not always pristine in their language and in their presentation, perhaps sometimes sloppy or reckless with the truth, and that that is what will get them in trouble.
And that is what has gotten Manafort and others in trouble.
TAPPER: And one of the things, David, you will see the point that we didn't even know that Papadopoulos existed until all of a sudden those legal papers dropped.
URBAN: Well, let met tell you something. From the guy who worked on the campaign, neither did I. OK? So there's a news flash.
URBAN: I did work on the campaign. And I will tell you, until I read it in the newspaper, didn't know who he was.
TAPPER: But, Karine, as you know, one of the things about Papadopoulos is that he was approached by a professor who had contacts with the Kremlin.
And this person, I think it was in March or April of 2016, saying we have dirt on Hillary Clinton. And he expressed an interest and mentioned it to an Australian diplomat and on and on. But, again, as David points out, we don't know of any evidence that it went beyond those conversations.
JEAN-PIERRE: Right. The person who knows is Robert Mueller. Right?
He is the one who is in charge of this. He is leading this and he is going to get the answers to all of his questions.
JEAN-PIERRE: But there is a question here. What is it that Donald Trump is trying to hide? What is it, right?
Because there's clearly something. Comey is fired. Flynn is fired. Now we're hearing this new story about the new FBI director. It is reported that he was forced to fire some of his senior staff.
TAPPER: He was pressured.
URBAN: If you look at the reports of how that came about, right, he wasn't pressured. It says, the report, the Axios report, which is all of this is based on, right, says the president never spoke directly.
JEAN-PIERRE: It was via Sessions. It was Sessions.
URBAN: The president may have tweeted.
JEAN-PIERRE: Right, but the president tweeted a lot about wanting to fire people at the FBI.
URBAN: When you get a new job, you're entitled to staff it up like you like, right? That's not something that is unusual in this town.
JEAN-PIERRE: But the FBI director seems to be getting pressure to not do that.
JEAN-PIERRE: Well, I'm just saying it is being reported.
TAPPER: We're going to get to that in a second. Jim Sciutto is going to have a report on that story.
But I do want to turn to the obstruction of justice charge and the idea that Mueller wants to question President Trump about the Flynn departure. I understand why he would want to talk to President Trump about the Comey departure, because the question is, did you fire him so as to stop the investigation in any way?
Because that sounds to me, I'm not a lawyer, like sounds something-ish approaching obstruction of justice. But then why would he want to talk about the Flynn departure? What might be there?
HAM: Isn't that just about going the bat for Flynn and whether there was pressure applied in that arena as well? But the two would go together, it would seem to me.
TAPPER: Pressure on who? Pressure on Flynn?
HAM: No, to let Flynn off the hook, when he was having that conversation with Comey.
TAPPER: I want to bring in the CNN chief national correspondent Jim Sciutto right now, who has some news about "The Washington Post" report.
And this comes after, as we know, Mueller and his team interviewed both FBI Director James Comey, the former Director James Comey, and, of course, Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: It makes it very clear that a line of investigation, which we knew, is the possibility of obstruction of justice.
But clearly the special counsel is taking this line of investigation very seriously. He's interviewing now all the key players. James Comey, who was fired, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who was in charge of the Justice Department at the time.
But it looks like the line of questioning, according to "The Washington Post," to the president also zeroing in on those firings as well and whether they amount of interfering in the Russia investigation.
SCIUTTO (voice-over): CNN has learned that special counsel Robert Mueller's team interviewed Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the first member of Trump's Cabinet to be questioned, and the former FBI Director James Comey.
Comey was asked about memos he wrote about his interactions with the president before being fired, this according to "The New York Times," which first reported on the interview that took place late last year.
Sessions, who was questioned last week, is the 15th current or former Trump administration official to be interviewed in the Mueller probe. Today, the president said he is not worried about Sessions meeting with Mueller's team.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm not at all concerned.
SCIUTTO: Topics of Sessions' questioning likely included Russian meddling in the election and, crucially, what Sessions know about the president's decision to fire Comey, a matter that Mueller is investigating for obstruction of justice, according to a source close to Sessions.
[16:15:09] MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I made a list of about eight things that I think if I were Mueller, I'd want to speak to Sessions about. And obstruction surely is one of them. And perhaps foremost among them, how did it come to pass that Comey was asked for loyalty. How did it come to pass that Comey was fired?
SCIUTTO: New questions are also being raised about the Trump administration's interference with law enforcement. FBI Director Christopher Wray was pressured by the Attorney General to make staff changes at the FBI senior level, according to a source familiar with the investigation.
SEN. MARK WARNER (D-VA), VICE CHAIRMAN, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: That's one more example of this administration. The president and through his agent, the attorney general, trying interfere in the FBI's ability to follow the law and help with the investigation into the Russian interference in our elections and the possible collusion of the Trump administration or Trump campaign.
SCIUTTO: Sessions mentioned the bureau's deputy director Andrew McCabe, and its top lawyer, James Baker, though it's not clear if Sessions explicitly told Wray to fire or reassign them. Baker was reassigned last year.
Wray threatened to quit if McCabe was removed or reassigned from his post, appearing to follow through on a promise that he made at his confirmation hearing.
SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D-VT), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: If the president asks you to do something unlawful or unethical, what do you say?
CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: First, I would try to talk him out of it. And if that failed, I would resign.
SCIUTTO: Still, President Trump told reporters in the Oval Office today that Wray did not threaten to resign.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He didn't at all. He did not even a little bit. Nope.
SCIUTTO: The president has repeatedly blasted the FBI, tweeting in December: After years of Comey with the phony and dishonest Clinton investigation and more,
running the FBI, its reputation is in tatters. Worst in history. But fear not, we will bring it back to greatness.
SCIUTTO: To be clear, inside the FBI, that criticism is not received well, Jake. As I'm sure you do. I speak to people inside. And it hits hard. These are people who take the job very seriously.
One final note, the fact that Flynn, according to "The Washington Post", is part of the line of questioning the president is interesting. We should not forget that Flynn has pled guilty to a federal crime and it is now believed he is cooperating with Mueller.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: All right. Jim Sciutto, thanks so much.
Let's turn back to the panel and talk about it.
So, that's the Christopher Wray reporting that there was pressure from Attorney General Sessions to replace his number two, Andrew McCabe. President Trump -- what's interesting is we don't have to wait for any explosive expose of any secret meeting where President Trump made it clear that he wanted McCabe fired. He's been tweeting it for several months.
McCabe, of course, his wife ran for the state legislature in the commonwealth of Virginia. She got a lot of help from the governor -- former Governor Terry McAuliffe who is friends with the Clintons and for that reason, there's been a lot of impugning of his character and whether he was compromised.
But it is interesting that Wray was pressured, according to our reporting, pressured to fire McCabe and he said no. You'll have to fire me first. And then Sessions backed off.
MARY KATHARINE HAM, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Right. And it's a sign that Wray is probably in the right position. Trump picked him and I appreciate that.
This whole thing, as you were saying, what is there to hide, right? I think all of this is often consistent with him reacting to a personal affront as the president does and I think overwrought at times and sometimes ways that may lead him down the path to obstruction of justice. But it can be explained as consistent with that as he thinks the guy messed up the Hillary Clinton thing and he's mad at him and he lashes out personally and then he asked Sessions to go talk to him.
TAPPER: And also, we should point out, there is a controversy going on right now, a legitimate one, about whether or not people who were in the FBI had a bias against President Trump. There are these text message from the agent who has since been reassigned, in which he's saying a whole bunch of negative things about President Trump during 2015-2016.
But you would agree that it doesn't look good when the president tweets nasty stuff about McCabe and Sessions pressured Wray to fire him.
DAVID URBAN, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST: Let's go back bit. The FBI is part of the thin blue line here, right? The FBI agents all across America and across the world put their line on the lives to protect Americans every day. So I think we need to stop for a second and remember that.
Just like the diplomats and soldiers and firefighters and first responders, these folks are out there protecting our liberty every day. So, we get caught up in painting an entire agency with a broad brush. That's kind of tough. I think you have to be careful about doing that with the presidency as well, right, in terms of his tweets.
And I think these individual e-mails back and forth and the secret society, don't worry if he gets elected, we have a secret society to deal with that.
[16:20:02] TAPPER: Yes, I don't know what that means, yes.
URBAN: There's a lot of that kind of stuff which fuels, right, a lot of speculation about bad things and undercuts confidence in the bureau which is a shame, because these folks are really out front, at the vanguard of in law enforcement.
HAM: Because they're both incredibly dedicated public servants in the FBI and it's also a federal agency that sometimes indulges in abuses of power. These things can both be true and we have an I.G., inspector general, who's looking into it.
URBAN: Remember the name Ned Stevens. You remember the name Ned Stevens, right?
TAPPER: Sure. And I want to come back to this conversation but we have "The Washington Post" reporter, Josh Dawsey, who broke this story about Mueller seeking to interview President Trump in the coming weeks. We'll get back to this discussion in a second.
Josh Dawsey now a CNN political analyst.
Josh, welcome. Thanks for joining us.
What are the terms being negotiated right now for this interview? It's not -- it's a very difficult process, I would imagine.
JOSH DAWSEY, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, WASHINGTON POST: Sure. So my colleague Carol Leonnig and I just reported that President Trump's lawyers have been in touch with Mueller's teem several different issues. But they want to question the president on the firing of Mike Flynn and the firing of Jim Comey. And the negotiations include whether this part of interview can be in
writing, which part will be videotaped but they want the interview to happen soon. And what it shows is that there is an intensifying focus on the obstruction part of probe and the president's actions regarding these firings.
Separately, we're reporting that they've begun asking witnesses about the repeated efforts to oust Jeff Sessions as attorney general. We've reported and others, there were multiple efforts to get him to resign, a public smear campaign, a lot of pressure from President Trump's allies. And Mueller's team is questioning, why is that so?
TAPPER: How close might Mueller be to sitting down with President Trump? Are we talking about months, weeks, days?
DAWSEY: A lot of it depends on the negotiations with President Trump's lawyers. We're expecting those to begin and increase as soon as next week. And then after that, you're seeing today, they reported in the "New York Times," they reported, they interviewed Jeff Sessions. They're kind of wrapping up some of the key figures in the probe. And we're expecting President Trump's interview could be before too long.
TAPPER: What are the biggest sticking points right now? Whether it's tape-recorded, whether it's videotaped? Whether there are notes, whether he's under oath? What exactly are they discussing?
DAWSEY: I think all the above. One of the president's confidantes, people who are close to him are telling him, you know, it could be a perjury trap, to be very careful about an interview. We reported Roger Stone, a long time adviser to the president today, essentially saying it would be a suicide watch for him and to be interviewed with Mueller. So, a lot of it depends on what the president wants and what he's willing to agree to.
It's hard to imagine that such a probe would end, like the Hillary Clinton probe, that such a probe would end without talking to the president. But what the terms are remains to be seen.
TAPPER: This does mean do you think that they're focusing entirely on obstruction if the only subjects they want to talk to the president about are the firing of Flynn and the firing of Comey? Because that would suggest they're not interested in talking about, you know, the meeting in Trump Tower with Donald Trump Jr., et cetera, George Papadopoulos meeting with that professor with Kremlin connections, et cetera.
DAWSEY: Our reporting indicate that the main two buckets that Mueller's team has told the White House said they want to ask Trump about are those two firings and the events that preceded and followed those two different events. Obviously, the Flynn firing early in the presidency, and the Comey firing later that spring. And they've indicated to the president's lawyers, John Dowd, Ty Cobb, and others, that those are the two things they would want to lead the questioning with. TAPPER: And do you think the signals, I'm just trying to look at how
this was done with previous high profile individuals like Hillary Clinton. She was interviewed, I believe, July 4th weekend, 2016. And not long after it wrapped up. Do you think that this signals that the Mueller probe is wrapping up?
DAWSEY: Jake, I want to be careful in not saying what we don't know. A lot of reporting is still to be done here. In previous cases, as you intimated, the interview of, you know, the main subject has been near the end of the probe. But, you know, they continue to interview folks and one of the things our sources continue to tell us is that they're getting a wealth of information in each of these interviews that could lead them into new veins or to new places.
So, I think we would be a bit presumptuous saying that just because they're interviewing the president means that probe would immediately end afterwards.
TAPPER: And, obviously, we were discussing this. But when George Papadopoulos, when his name appeared in that legal document after -- in his plea deal, it was a surprise to us because he was somebody about whom we knew very little. There were really -- it wasn't a focus for the people covering the story.
How much are you expecting the same time of result when and if Mueller actually makes his next move? That it will be something that we don't -- I mean, we saw Manafort coming a mile away.
[16:25:01] But how much are you expecting that we will be surprised? I mean, the Mueller team does have a pretty good reputation for not leaking.
A lot of the leaks that people see in the papers and on CNN and other channels is -- are from lawyers and other people around the investigation. Not the investigators themselves.
DAWSEY: Well, I think you make good point. We saw the Manafort indictment coming, or a lot of White House officials at least told us they were expecting it. They were not expecting the Flynn indictment. They were not expecting the Papadopoulos indictment. And I think White House officials I've spoken to were surprised by some of the details they learned in the Flynn plea deal.
So, I think saying what we know from Mueller is hard to know. We've been able to track, based on the questions he's asking, you know, talking to people in and around the investigation. We've been able to get hints of what he's looking at. But I think it's impossible to know exactly what we'll see next.
TAPPER: All right. Josh Dawsey of "The Washington Post", the one-man scoop machine, thank you so much. Appreciate your time.
DAWSEY: Thanks for having me.
TAPPER: Joining me now is a former Republican congressman, Mike Rogers. He served as a chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and he was an FBI agent before his career in Congress.
So, your reaction to this breaking news from Josh Dawsey and his colleague at "The Washington Post" that in fact Robert Mueller and his team are seeking an interview with President Trump. And I want to focus on the firing of for FBI Director Comey and the firing for former national security adviser Mike Flynn.
MIKE ROGERS (R), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: Well, two things. The Flynn part of it wouldn't be the obstruction of justice. That seemed to get muddied a little bit later in the conversation. So, I would look at it two ways. Normally in an investigation like this, someone as high stature as the president of the United States would be the last person.
TAPPER: The last.
MIKE: The last person. And so, what it tells me on the Flynn piece, is that that cooperation that Flynn has been giving to the special counsel likely netted some information of which they have a line of questioning to get answered. It could be about the Russian probe. It could be about activities in the White House. You don't know what that level of questioning will get down to.
On the last piece of it, again, 95 percent of the time, that last subject, or the last person you interview is the big get, if you will, in an investigation. So, that would tell me they're trying to wrap up this notion of Russian collusion, if in fact they've asked. Now, remember, there are discussions about how the administration would handle, if they were asked. That was all speculation at that point.
If Josh is right, that means there was some kind of a formal request for an interview. That is kind of big news. That means they're wrapping up a piece of it. But it doesn't mean it would be over and it doesn't do anything to all the sideline investigations that are clearly ongoing.
And every cooperating witness gives a level of information for those interviews that makes the investigators and the FBI guys salivate. And then all the interviews that they conducted are instructive. It doesn't mean they took anything away that leads them to salivate but it instructs how they use that information with cooperation witness information into the interview itself.
TAPPER: So, I want to get to the interview in a second because, obviously, President Trump has sent mixed messages about his willingness to participate. And his friends, many of them, are advising him not to do so. But I just want to clear this up.
So, obviously talking about his firing of Comey is in the potential obstruction of justice category of this. You're saying the Flynn thing is a different matter potentially --
TAPPER: -- and could, in fact, be related to something having to do with the Trump team people and Russians. ROGERS: It could. I mean, again, this would be all speculation. But
if you look at the lanes of the investigation so far, there are many who make the case that the president may not have even known that there were certain meetings taking place in his campaign. That is not unheard of.
And so, with the Flynn cooperation, remember, he was as close to Sessions as anyone in that. That national -- there was a campaign national security team.
ROGERS: He was a part of that. So that discussion would be a little bit different. And I think the value would be pretty significant.
TAPPER: All right. Stick around. We have much more. We're going to sneak in a quick break. Stay with us.