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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Rudy Giuliani Joins President Trump's Personal Legal Team; Source: Deputy Attorney General Tells President Trump He's Not Target in Criminal Probe of Michael Cohen; New Trump Advisers Bolton and Kudlow Reporting Directly to President Trump, Bypassing Chief of Staff Kelly; Source: Justice Department Giving Congress Access to Comey Memos. Aired on 8-9 ET
Aired April 19, 2018 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:08] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. Thanks for joining us.
The president said often and as recent as yesterday that he wants the Mueller investigation to end. There's a smear campaign against Mueller being carried out by the president's supporters that reached some pretty bizarre levels. We're keeping them honest on that, ahead.
But tonight, there's also news about another man that seems to think he can be the one to help bring the investigation to a close. Rudy Giuliani is joining the president's legal team, saying the probe, quote, needs a little push.
CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger joins us now with the latest.
So, is it clear what Giuliani's role is going to be?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: According to our sources, Giuliani is going to be the guy who goes in there and says to Mueller what's the lay of the land? I was told he wants to cut through the B.S. I don't know if there's been any. Wants to cut through the B.S., get the answers to the questions about how long this is going to go on, and this is what was most interesting to me.
One of my sources says to me, he's going to find out if we have to fight and where this leads. They seem to think that Rudy Giuliani will be the one to be able to do that where nobody else was able to do that before.
COOPER: In some interviews, Giuliani today has said -- has talked about his prior relationship with Robert Mueller.
BORGER: Exactly, yes.
COOPER: It's not clear to me how a prior relationship with Mueller would impact an ongoing investigation.
BORGER: Right. I mean -- and he told that in his interview with Dana Bash, that they do have a prior relationship. I think I should remind people that John Dowd, the lawyer who quit, also had a prior relationship with Mueller. Giuliani did work with Mueller after 9/11, of course. He was a mayor in New York and the Mueller was the new head of the FBI at the time.
But I think that whole "we have a relationship and we get along" can be -- can be overdone because a lot of people worked with Mueller over the years.
COOPER: He also said to Dana Bash, I think that when she pushed him on a time frame, he said a couple of weeks.
COOPER: Does it seem to you that Giuliani is going to be on the legal team for long-term?
BORGER: No, it doesn't. He's taking a leave from his firm. But I think there's some sense that Giuliani is going to go in there, he's going to be the New Yorker, he's going to say, OK, put all your cards on the table here. Let us know what's going on. Let us know what we have to do and that miraculously, the Mueller team is going to answer all his questions and say, OK, here's where we are and this will be done in three weeks.
COOPER: Do we know how this came out? Who approached him? Because obviously, Rudy Giuliani is a friend of the president.
COOPER: Spoke out very -- when few people after the "Access Hollywood" tape would speak out, Rudy Giuliani was the one who went out there I think on all the programs on that day.
BORGER: We know they're good friends. We know he recently visited Mar-a-Lago, for example. So, we don't know if it was discussed then.
We do know at one point, he was being discussed as attorney general, if you'll recall, secretary of state. And none of that -- none of that ever happen. So, I think it was a little bit of a split there and I'm wondering if he joins this legal team now, whether he could ever become the attorney general because he might be conflicted because he represented the president.
BORGER: But they're friends obviously and what we do know is that the president is reaching back to people he feels comfortable with at this point.
COOPER: Right. Gloria, thanks very much.
Turning now to the other looming investigation involving another of the president's lawyers. We've been reporting that the president is fixated on the criminal investigation of Michael Cohen. Today, we learned that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told the president recently that he is not a target in that investigation.
Jim Acosta joins us now.
So, what more do we know about what Rod Rosenstein said to the president?
JIIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, we know that this -- this was a result of to some extent the president's anger about that Michael Cohen raid that occurred early part of last week. We know that that set the president off and that Rod Rosenstein came over to the White House, the deputy attorney general, and basically told the president in this meeting that was attended by other officials closer to the president that, listen, he's not a target of the Michael Cohen portion of this investigation.
Now, I'm told by a source familiar with this conversation that this was not any kind of assurance about the overall Mueller investigation and that is because the president received that kind of assurance in the past. But, of course, Anderson, any legal expert will tell you, those kind of assurances only go so far. They only work for what has been disclosed, what has been uncovered at that stage of the investigation.
But my understanding as we're talking to the source earlier today is that the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein did tell the president just recently and we believe this meeting happened late last week that he is not a target of that Michael Cohen investigation.
COOPER: Is there -- do we have any information about how the president reacted to that or has subsequently reacted?
ACOSTA: Well, we know he continues to be unnerved by the Michael Cohen probe. Obviously, Michael Cohen is a long friend of the president, has been his attorney for a long time, has been described by Gloria Borger and others as a fixer for the president.
[20:05:07] And my colleague Jeff Zeleny was reporting earlier today that the president has been consumed by this and I'm also hearing that from other sources that, you know, this is something that he fixates on almost every day.
But, Anderson, I will tell you, I did talk to a source familiar with these conversations that go on inside the White House about this and these were said earlier today that the legal team with the president at this point is not concerned that Michael Cohen is going to turn against the president and start singing like a canary. One of the phrases we have been hearing this week. That at this point, they expect Michael Cohen to do what he has to do in this investigation, but he's not going to be a cooperating witness of some sort against the president.
Of course, that is how they view things right now. They can't see into the future and know what is the unknown. But at this point, they're trying to convey to the president that they don't think that should be a concern at this point.
But, of course, the president from what we're told is still very, very upset and furious that that probe has been launched and these raids, excuse me, took place. The question is at this point, what happens in the future to Michael Cohen? What kind of information is uncovered? What kind of case could be brought against him and could that case, perhaps, convince Michael Cohen to become some kind of cooperating witness against the president? But at this point, people around the president are not concerned that that's not going to happen at this point.
COOPER: All right. Jim Acosta, thanks very much.
Gloria Borger is back with us now, along with Laura Coates and David Urban.
Laura, first of all, this notion of Rudy Giuliani being able to come in in the short-term and fix this, essentially get this to come to a conclusion in a couple of weeks. What do you make of that idea?
LAURA COATES, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Pretty arrogant and presumptuous of Giuliani to believe that he would be in a position to do so. Remember, even if he has a personal affinity or relationship with Mueller, this is business and compartmentalization is key here, because the idea here, it's been slow simply because the president of the United States has not had perhaps competent counsel who can urge the process along and expedite it. It's slow because it has to be thorough.
And although most people are used to the idea of having immediate gratification in the news and perhaps a television program and law and order and an hour, everything is wrapped up, when it comes to federal prosecution of this magnitude and an investigation this magnitude, it will take tile to flush out all the details. So, come in and say let me expedite this process that I can feel placated, that I'm not a target is really, really an odd thing to think.
COOPER: David, certainly understanding why the president's team would want to do that. Do you think Rudy Giuliani is the person who can do that?
DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Sure. I mean, the mayor -- you probably all come across his path at one point or another is, not only a close friend and confidant of the president but an incredibly capable individual in his own right. Former prosecutor and mayor all around, highly thought of individual, he's got a force of personality. A personal relationship with Director Mueller and I think he's going to try to nudge this along to a certain extent. I mean --
COOPER: But is an investigation like this something that can be negotiated away?
URBAN: I don't know if it's negotiated away. I think you can kind of try to cut through the weeds here a little bit. Whether the president is going to answer written interrogatories, whether he's going to testify, what that's going to look like. I think that can be expedited by having somebody with a force of personality like Mayor Giuliani on the team.
BORGER: But they've been -- but they have been discussing this, as you know, for months and they were -- you know, they were already, the legal team, that morning of the raid on Cohen's office was all ready to make a proposal to Mueller about the president testifying and then there was the raid of Cohen's office, his home, et cetera, and they pulled back, right? They had a meeting and they pulled back so they're already at a point now where things were moving along.
URBAN: And that may -- that point -- that may have changed dramatically, right? That morning, things may have changed and Mayor Giuliani may have been brought in to piece it all back together again.
COATES: Well, there are two different points in time. There's whether or not the president will testify willingly and, by the way, it's not up to him ultimately. They could always subpoena him to testify. So, right now, we're not --
COOPER: Which he could also fight obviously.
COATES: He could also fight. He could plead the Fifth. He could try to get him to compel him. No president has ever been attempted to be compelled by a court of law in that way, or been held in contempt for that reason or even attempted to do so. He has that option.
But the idea of expediting the overall investigation to a conclusion is a very separate issue. One is about details and about the terms and parameters. The other one is about trying to figure out that you already know the objective.
URBAN: And I think there's a political backdrop to this, right? There's upcoming elections this fall, very important. And I think Director Mueller is very sensitive to that.
Just like this afternoon, we heard Director Comey, he's not political but he's political, and I think that Director Mueller know that -- you know, doesn't want this hanging over as a cloud over the elections, so there's a reason that anybody can blame what happens in the fall on him. So, I think he's looking to wrap this up quickly.
COOPER: But a lot of folks who are looking to Mueller investigation, I mean, if Robert Mueller is trying to find out -- figure out intent of the -- I mean, if they're looking at obstruction of justice, intent is critical in a lot of the president's actions.
[20:10:06] And for that, you would think they would have to actually interview the president.
BORGER: Right. That's their point, I think. They would like to interview him.
The point from the White House is that we have given you over a million documents from everybody who's talked to the president contemporaneously and that the president of course keeps no notes and does no e-mails. So, you have all of this information. The lawyers, I don't think, Mueller's team, I don't think they're going to buy that, but they do understand there's different rules for a president than there are for you and me.
BORGER: So --
COOPER: On Rod Rosenstein story, does it make sense to you, Laura, that Rod Rosenstein would say to the president on -- we think it was at the end of last week, that he is not, the -- you know, the subject of a criminal investigation in terms of the Cohen raid.
COATES: I'll say what James Comey said, it's possible. It's possible and not say that he did that. And the reason for that is because it hasn't actually changed the ultimate objective. He could actually become a target at any time. All it takes is a piece of evidence to do so.
I'm not saying that's going to be the case here but remember, they have been investigating Michael Cohen specifically for a number of months, far beyond the idea of Stormy Daniels.
COOPER: But it certainly is good news for the president.
COATES: It's good news for the president.
COOPER: Because it tells if he's -- if that is an accurate report, and we don't know reasonable if it's not (ph), it tells you that at this point in the investigation, after months of reading his e-mails and stuff that --
COATES: It's a great sign for the president of the United States. It should probably satiated him in some way. It probably will not because there's still so much unknown about why they're after him, what they're investigating, what they told --
URBAN: Back to Anderson's point about the obstruction charge, right, or the, you know, the supposed obstruction charge, you're talking about the president's mens rea here, right? It's going to be incredibly, incredibly difficult to prove the obstruction case here. That's if that's what they're hanging their hat on, I think they should move on.
BORGER: But on the Cohen thing, what I don't understand, I'm not a lawyer, is why would Rosenstein volunteer that to the president. He was not asked. Is it to save his job? That's a possibility. Nobody --
COOPER: There's no requirement.
COATES: There's no requirement to ever comment.
BORGER: Right. Or is it something that he would do because he knew that the president was concerned about it and he shouldn't be. I just --
URBAN: Look, I don't think Rob Rosenstein is a guy who's going to get rolled here. He's a person who is a great character, high integrity.
BORGER: So why would you do it? URBAN: I'm not quite sure, I don't know. I mean, I think politics
seeps into every phase of our government now. The three separate branches are becoming, you know, the judiciary used to be kind of independent. We still hope it remains that way, but, you know, the executive branch and all the investigative functions now unfortunately seem to be a little bit politicized.
COATES: Well, we know the judiciary has already asserted itself just this week, two days ago, by saying they're not going to follow along with the president's immigration pledge. And they're going to side with somebody who's deportation, that's number one.
But number two, there may be a nonpolitical reason here, Anderson, and it may be that because there was a Department of Justice rule and discussion about guidelines about searching an attorney's office, maybe he was trying to explain to him that he was not after him as a target, as the -- because he is the client of this person, which would have raised questions about the attorney-client privilege being at issue here. Perhaps Rosenstein simply telling him, this does not implicate or make your attorney client privilege any less because we're not after him about what concerns you. That may be a non- nefarious, nonpolitical way to try to say this is not an issue for you.
BORGER: And separate from the Mueller investigation.
BORGER: It's separate.
URBAN: And Rosenstein signed off on that raid of Cohen's --
BORGER: I think perhaps he felt the need to explain that to a president who is very upset about it, to say, look, this is not part of Mueller. This is why he's referring to New York.
COOPER: As you said, good news for the president. It's still, if I was the president, I would still be concerned if my attorney who has allegedly only had three clients, one of those clients saying I was never a client. The other one seemed to have a short-term need for a hush agreement, the president is his longest term client. You know, if I had that relationship with a friend or attorney who was under investigation, I would still be nervous.
COATES: And the key here is what you said, friend or attorney, because what he was to Donald Trump is going to be key in what's going to make him nervous. Is Michael Cohen somebody who works for him and is an attorney or somebody that happens to have a law degree? That does not attach the attorney-client privilege. If most of their interactions were about business or not confidential or somebody else in the room or things that did not attach to privilege, then you're asking the same question that President Trump is probably asking, were you acting as my friend or my lawyer? If it was my friend, I have a lot of information now that could be now disclosed and making me or people a member of the Trump Organization very vulnerable.
URBAN: Well, I'm sure -- I didn't mean to interrupt you, but I'm sure that most of those conversations probably blurred, they're probably weaved in and out of privilege and non-privilege. So, that probably creates a --
COOPER: Also, if he's recorded conversations with other people, with third parties, who knows what is in those conversations, again, you know, reasons for the president to still be concerned?
BORGER: Right. And the president came out on Air Force One and said, Michael Cohen is my attorney.
[20:15:00] Talk to my attorney. So, that's sort of pretty cut and dry.
COOPER: Thank you very much.
Up next, breaking news on the new pecking order in the West Wing of the White House. Two new senior staffers getting the green light to bypass Chief of Staff John Kelly.
Plus, in a rare move, the Justice Department gives Congress memos written by fired FBI director James Comey about his most controversial conversations with President Trump. Comey talks about that and much more with CNN's Jake Tapper. We'll have that full interview tonight coming up in this hour.
COOPER: There's more breaking news tonight. Some changes in the West Wing that could signal that Chief of Staff John Kelly is losing some clout.
CNN White House reporter Kaitlan Collins joins us now with that.
So, what have you learned about the president's top aides here?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, Anderson. Some dramatic new changes to that pecking order in the West Wing, of course, with the addition of the new national security adviser John Bolton and the new director of the National Economic Council, Larry Kudlow, two of the president's favorites right now. He's been effusively praising them in public events, including during his trip here in Mar-a-Lago.
And I'm told by sources in the West Wing that though the president hasn't explicitly told Kudlow and Bolton that they're reporting directly to him, that is certainly the sense of functionality in the West Wing right now that they are reporting to the president and not the Chief of Staff John Kelly, of course, which makes that interesting.
[20:20:01] Now, Kudlow and Bolton have been on the rise for the last few days. We saw that pretty obviously there with Kudlow, of course, his scuffle with the United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley. Some aides in the West Wing saw that as a sign of his ascendance that some thought it was a little bit more overconfidence of course, when Nikki Haley later correcting him, because she does outrank Kudlow by being a cabinet member, someone who is confirmed by the Senate.
And then Bossert is asserting his authority by this hiring and firing and clearinghouse at the national security, in particular -- one aide in particular, homeland security adviser Tom Bossert who recently left the White House and I'm told by sources that when Bolton told Bossert he was dismissing him, Bossert was stunned and said he wanted to speak to the Chief of Staff John Kelly, but Bolton in turn made clear this is his decision to make and not John Kelly's.
COOPER: What does this mean for Kelly's future or lack thereof in the West Wing?
COLLINS: Well, that's the question. What does it do to his standing in the West Wing? Because whenever he became chief of staff, everyone was reporting directly to him, including Ivanka Trump and including Jared Kushner. And now, we're seeing the change and also that follow our reporting from last week that John Kelly is essentially what aides see as a downward slide in the West Wing because he used to hold staff meetings three times a week. Now he only does them once a week. He used to travel with the president on every trip. Now, he does not do that and he used to have essentially a toe in every decision, but we're seeing people be able to overrule John Kelly by getting rid of staffers like the deputy national security adviser Ricky Waddell who John Kelly wanted to keep in the administration but Bolton has dismissed him.
So, it does raise a lot of questions about just how much longer John Kelly will be in this administration.
COOPER: All right. Kaitlan Collins, fascinating developments. Thank you.
Another development tonight, the Justice Department has handed over to Congress the James Comey memos. Now, they detail his conversations with President Trump in the months before he was fired. The House Judiciary Committee chairman was threatening to issue a subpoena for the memos.
Our justice reporter Laura Jarrett joins us now with more.
So, now that the memos have been sent to Capitol Hill, obviously, we're waiting to see if members of Congress released them, can you just explain why Congress was demanding these documents?
LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: Sure, Anderson. Well, the memos provide a pretty incredible glimpse into James Comey's mindset leading up to his firing back last year and obviously many of these issues are in dispute. For instance, the loyalty pledge and James Comey's allegation that President Trump asked him to essentially let go of the investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Now, members of Congress had seen some of the memos in redacted form
but recently demanded they be unclassified and that they could be unredacted in full. And in explaining sort of the reasoning about why they're releasing them now tonight, the Justice Department official, Steven Boyd, who's in charge with legislative affairs, explains it this way, Anderson.
In light of the unusual events occurring since the previous limited disclosure, meaning to Congress, the department has consulted the relevant parties and concluded that the release of the memorandum to Congress at this time would not adversely impact any ongoing investigation or other confidentiality issues -- interests I should say of the executive branch. But he goes on to explain, Anderson, this is an unusual move.
COOPER: Did the special counsel's office object at all to the DOJ releasing it?
JARRETT: No, in fact, I'm told according to a source familiar that the Justice Department in fact consulted with the special counsel's office and Mueller did not have any objection which is somewhat interesting considering earlier this year, CNN and other news outlets had tried to sue in court to get access to the Comey memos and a federal judge blocked it, saying they were part of the ongoing investigation at Mueller's request, Anderson.
COOPER: All right. Laura Jarrett, thanks very much.
Jake Tapper asked Comey what he thought about Congress seeing his memos. You'll hear what he said coming up later this hour, and the full interview.
And next, the attempt by the president's supporters to smear both Robert Mueller and James Comey reaches -- well, an erroneous and kind of absurd place. We're keeping him honest, ahead.
[20:28:02] COOPER: Well, a coordinated smear campaign is underway against both Robert Mueller and James Comey, and joined after by the president's supporters and Fox News, two groups which are increasingly indistinguishable from one another. The smear campaign includes a number of claims that are just plain false. The full thing is frankly kind of weird. So, stay with me here.
Two of the oddest claims are set in Boston and involve everything from the city's most notorious crime boss, to tragic marathon bombing five years ago, in an attempt to weaponized events surrounding both as a way to discredit the Russia investigation. With just one problem, there's no evidence for either of the claims that are being made.
We'll start with the Boston marathon bombing. The president's former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, said this week on FOX that fired FBI Director James Comey was somehow to blame.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) COREY LEWANDOWSKI, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: This is the same Jim Comey who I think was in charge of the Boston bombing at the time we had a terrorist attack in Boston. So, this was a man who failed time and time and time again when he was the head of eh FBI to protect American citizens.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, coming them honest, James Comey was not the head of the FBI at the time of the Boston marathon bombing. The bombing was in April. He didn't become FBI director until September. In fact, Comey wasn't even in the FBI at the time. He was a private citizen.
Andrea Mitchell pressed Lewandowski on this in an interview the next day.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC HOST: I want to ask you about something you said on Fox yesterday. You said that Jim Comey failed to protect Americans during the Boston marathon since he was FBI director. The fact is he was not FBI director for another five months.
LEWANDOWSKI: That's right. Look, as you know, Jim Comey served I believe as the head of the Boston office of the FBI for a period of time, at the same time that I think Mr. Mueller served as the U.S. attorney in the state of Massachusetts at the time. This goes back some 20-plus years.
MITCHELL: But not when they were -- not during the Boston marathon.
LEWANDOWSKI: Not during the Boston marathon, but Jim Comey was responsible, I believe, and we can go back and check for the Whitey Bulger fiasco which took place in Boston. I believe that Jim Comey at the time was the head of FBI in Boston --
MITCHELL: But Whitey Bulger had nothing to do with the Boston bombing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So, just -- I don't know if you caught that. There was no admission that he actually said something untrue. There was no apology from Lewandowski. Just moving along and, well, decided to bring in the Boston crime boss Whitey Bulger who had nothing to do of course with the Boston bombing as Michele McPhee said. Lewandowski is attempting to grasp but another straw and this bale of the -- saying that Comey was the head of the Boston FBI office at the period relating to the Whitey Bulger case. One problem, Comey was never the head of the Boston FBI office. Something that office confirmed to the Boston Globe. There's no record of him working in that office at all.
Now you might wonder where did Whitey Bulger come into all of this? Why are we even talking about Whitey Bulger notorious crime Boston secret FBI informant? Well it seems as if this may have started with this team Alan Dershowitz saying this on a radio show earlier this month, not about Comey but about special council Robert Mueller.
ALAN DERSHOWITZ, LAWYER: I don't think Mueller is a zealot. I don't think he's partisan. I don't think he cares whether he hurts Democrats or Republicans, but he's partisan and a zealot. He's the guy who kept four innocent people in a prison for many years in order to protect the cover on Whitey Bulger as an FBI informer.
COOPER: So he is referring to the wrong (INAUDIBLE) prison of four men, framed murder, they didn't commit, two of them died in prison. Two others along with the families of the dead men successfully sued the government for $100 million.
The now retired federal judge Nancy Gertner, who presided over that case writes in the "New York Times", "I can say without a equivocation that Mr. Mueller who worked in the United States attorney's office in Boston from 1982 to 1988 including a brief stint as the acting head of the office had no involvement in that case. He was never even mentioned." As the judge goes on to point out a former mayor of Springfield, Massachusetts who served on the Massachusetts parole board in the 1980s had said, he saw a letter from Mueller opposing the release of one of the prisoners, but no such letter has ever been found something the Boston globe revealed and after which Professor Dershowitz says he never repeated the allegation that quote "further investigation seems warranted".
Now of course, by then the genie was out of the bottle and the President's supporters held on simmering the Russian investigation have taken said genie and ran with it. And you know what that means, enter Sean Hannity.
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Robert Mueller was the U.S. attorney in charge while these men were rotting in prison. While certain agents in the FBI under Mueller covered up the truth.
Four men went to jail. He was -- Mueller was involved in the case.
We're going to go to crime families. Let's look at the Mueller crime family during Mueller's time as a federal prosecutor in Boston, four -- four men wrongfully imprisoned for decades, framed by an FBI informant and notorious gangster Whitey Bulger all while Mueller's office looked the other way.
COOPER: Oh Sean. When you're not interested in facts you can blame anyone for anything, but those pushing this factually incorrect tale, maybe do a better job or maybe checking their dates and actually getting their story straight.
Joining me is Shelley Murphy of the "Boston Globe", co-author of "Whitey Bulger: America's Most Wanted Gangster and the Manhunt that Brought Him to Justice".
Shelly, does it make sense to you that Corey Lewandowski is spreading this idea that Jim Comey was head of the FBI at the time of the Boston bombing?
SHELLEY MURPHY, REPORTER, BOSTON GLOBE: Yes. I mean that -- it's just simply not true. The Boston marathon bombings, you know, happened before Comey became director of the FBI. So to try to connect Comey to the marathon bombings is just simply not true.
COOPER: The -- and the Mueller part of this, I mean, the Whitey Bulger saga is obviously very complicated. Can you just explain for people who aren't from Boston or haven't seen the movies about it or read about it, why this allegation is just without merit?
MURPHY: Well, you know Whitey Bulger, he was one of the most notorious organized crime figures from this area. He was able to get away with murders for years because he was an FBI informant, but he was an informant from 1975 to 1990. He fled Boston just before '95, before his indictment. He was on the run for more than 16 years and there's just nothing in this long saga that connects Mueller to Whitey Bulger.
You know, Mueller was in the U.S. attorney's office in Boston from 1982 to 1988, but he did not prosecute organized crime cases. Whitey was an informant for the FBI and there were cases that the FBI was building against the New England Mafia at the time, but they were under a different prosecutorial unit. And I also might add that the Whitey Bulger story is this never ending saga here in Boston. There's been, you know, congressional hearings, and court hearings, wrongful death suits, criminal trials, there have been numerous hearings dating all the way back, you know, to the late 90s. I've covered all of them and not once has Mueller's name surfaced in connection with those.
COOPER: And the four people that were in prison for all of that time, two of them who died there, were able to finally sue and get money back once they were out. But Mueller had, as far as you know, as far as your reporting is and the judge in the case said this as well, Mueller had nothing to do with that either?
[20:35:07] MURPHY: No, and that's a case that I covered also. And, you know, I went back and looked through, you know, all the old files and that was a terrible case. You had four men, wrongfully convicted in this 1965 slaying. Two of them died in prison. The other two spent more than 30 years in prison and it was when the Whitey Bulger saga sort of erupted. When it was revealed that Whitey Bulger had a corrupt relationship with the FBI that there were these -- there was an investigation launched. And it was a Justice Department task force in 2000 that found these old documents, hidden documents in the FBI files that indicated that these guys had been framed for a murder that they didn't commit. And that is how this case sort of erupted.
So, you know, back in the '80s when Mueller was in the U.S. attorney's office in Boston and, you know, there were people who were writing letters, prosecutors, FBI agents, urging the state parole board not to commute the sentences of these guys, and -- but we were unable to find any letters that Mueller wrote. You know, asking that they be released. But I think also you need to understand that at that point in time, some of the prosecutors that were writing letters, there's no evidence that they knew that these men were innocent. So, you know, that really, you know, the story sort of evolved years later.
COOPER: The idea that Comey had any involvement with the Boston FBI office and with Whitey Bulger again just not true, correct?
MURPHY: Well that was just -- I can't even imagine where that came from, right. It sort of seems to have been pulled out of thin air because Comey never, you know, worked in the FBI's Boston office and I can't understand why somebody would -- where this could even have come from. It's nonsense frankly.
COOPER: Shelley, I appreciate your time and your reporting. Thanks for being with us.
MUPRHY: Thank you, bye.
COOPER: Well, up next an inspector general for the Justice Department sends its report on fired FBI director Andrew McCabe to federal prosecutors for potential criminal charges. What Mr. McCabe's legal team is saying about that, when we continue.
[20:41:06] COOPER: Welcome back the Department of Justice's watchdogs has made a criminal referral regarding fired FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. Now, last week the DOJ inspector general issued the report by Andrew McCabe, "lacked candor" on four occasions with internal investigators.
Pamela Brown joins us right now with more. So, explain what this referral is all about.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, so we learned that the Justice Department inspector general which is the independent watchdog had sent this criminal referral to the top prosecutor in the D.C. U.S. attorney's office essentially asking them to consider whether there should be criminal charges, whether they should pursue criminal charges against Andy McCabe, the formed that fired deputy FBI director.
So presumably what they're going to look at is decide Anderson, whether they should further investigate Andy McCabe potentially lying to investigators as you know in the report, the scathing report that came out last week it said that Andy McCabe had mislead, had lied to investigators and his former boss James Comey on four different occasions including three times under oath. This is something that Andy McCabe has denied. He has said that he never mislead investigators. He never mislead James Comey but the IG found otherwise and so basically now this is in the hands of the D.C. U.S. attorney's office to determine whether it should pursue criminal charges.
COOPER: And what's McCabe saying in response? BROWN: So McCabe's attorney Michael Bromwich came out with a statement to this saying, although we believe the referral is unjustified the standard for an IG referral is very low. We have already met with staff members from the U.S. attorney's office. We are confident that unless there is inappropriate pressure from high levels of the administration, the U.S. attorney's office will conclude that it should decline to prosecute.
As you know, Anderson, McCabe and his team said all along that they feel like McCabe has been unfairly targeted because he's the key witness in the Comey obstruction of justice probe and they believe as McCabe himself had said that he didn't do anything wrong and again just to reiterate here just because there's a criminal referral that doesn't mean that there will be criminal charges at the end of this. Anderson.
COOPER: James Comey weighed in on this referral in that interview with Jake Tapper. What did he say?
BROWN: He did. And it's really interesting because James Comey was the one who brought Andy McCabe on board as his deputy director. They had a close working relationship and now months later after all of this, now there is this IG report saying that his deputy mislead investigators. Here's what he told jake about that.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: How do you feel about your former deputy, according to the inspector general lying? Lying to you. Lying to investigators. For a leak that the inspector general said was only motivated to preserve his own reputation having nothing to do with the FBI and the public's right to know.
JAMES COMEY, FMR FBI DIRECTOR: It conflicted. I like him very much as a person. But sometimes even good people do things they shouldn't do. I read the report. I'm not the judge in the case, I'm not the discipline -- decision maker in the case. I it is accountability mechanisms working and they should work, because it's not acceptable in the FBI or the Justice Department for people to lack candor. It's something that we take really seriously.
BROWN: So one of the examples cite in the report is that McCabe claimed that he told James Comey, his boss that he was going to authorize a disclosure, that he had authorized a disclosure of information to a "Wall Street Journal" reporter about the Clinton Foundation. Comey claimed that wasn't the case, that McCabe never told him that. So that was one of the four examples there.
Now, President Trump no surprised here weighed in on all of this tweeting today Anderson, James Comey just threw Andrew McCabe under the bus. Inspector general's report on the case, it's a disaster for both of them. Getting a little, lot of their own medicine. So you can interpret that tweet how you want. Anderson.
COOPER: All right, Pam Brown, thanks very much.
More breaking news tonight, the President will not be attending the funeral of former First Lady Barbara Bush. We're learned the White House released the statement saying, First Lady Melania Trump will attend the memorial service for Barbara Bush this Saturday on behalf of the first family to avoid disruptions due to added security and out of respect for the Bush family and friends attending the service. President Trump will not attend.
[20:45:15] We asked the White House for clarification about what out of respect for the family mentioned regards the President not attending. And what the security issue is since we know four former presidents will be there, the White House did not provide that clarification.
Coming up, you'll hear some of Jake's interview there with enhance report. Up next you'll see the full interview with Jim Comey. Here's some of what he had to say about Andrew McCabe.
COMEY: Given that the IG's report reflects interactions that Andy McCabe had with me and other FBI senior executives, I could well be a witness.
COOPER: Yes. He had a lot more to say about McCabe, President, Trump, the Russia probe. The full interview with Mr. Comey, coming up.
[20:50:01] COOPER: Today former FBI director James Comey sat down for an extended interview with Jake Tapper. There's a lot of news breaking today and we heard Comey's take on all of it from Andrew McCabe to the notion of his own memos being release, the Congress. We also got some more clarity on his feelings about the President, some of which we're a bit of surprise. We're going to play the entire interview which began with the news of the day.
TAPPER: So, let's talk about this breaking news. CNN just breaking the story that Justice Department inspector general sending a criminal referral to the U.S. attorney in D.C., regarding your former Deputy Andrew McCabe. They did this after releasing report including McCabe repeatedly lying to investigators and to you about a leak to the "Wall Street Journal" in which he confirmed or he had people leak to the "Wall Street Journal" confirming the existence of an investigation into the Clinton Foundation.
If they ultimately bring a case against Andrew McCabe would you be a witness for the prosecution?
COMEY: Potentially. I don't know whether their reporting is accurate, I know with CNN reporting, but I don't know with my own accord. But sure, given that the IG's report reflects interactions that Andy McCabe had with me and other FBI senior executive, I could well be a witness.
TAPPER: You express a lot of horror in the book when public officials or even celebrities lie to investigators whether David Petraeus or Scooter Libby --
COMEY: Martha Stewart.
TAPPER: -- and Martha Stewart.
TAPPER: So, I would assume that you would be upset at Andrew McCabe. I haven't heard you criticize him the same way you criticize those others.
COMEY: Well, I didn't -- I hope I didn't criticize them personally. I think it's very important --
TAPPER: No, the act though.
COMEY: Oh sure, the act is one I take very seriously and so is the Department of Justice. What's going on so far it's the accountability of the mechanisms of the department working because it's a department that's committed to the truth. And so it's working. I don't know whether there's a criminal referral or what will happen, but that's part of accountability and examination of what the consequences should be if there was material line.
TAPPER: But how do you feel about your former deputy according to the inspector general lying. Lying to you, lying to investigators for a leak that the inspector general said was only motivated to preserve his own reputation, having nothing to do with the FBI or the public's right to know.
COMEY: They're conflicted. I like him very much as a person, but sometimes even good people do things they shouldn't do. I've read the report. I'm not the judge in the case. I'm not the discipline -- decision maker in the case. I think it is accountability mechanisms working, and they should work, because it's not acceptable in the FBI or the Justice Department for people to lack candor. It's something that we take really seriously.
TAPPER: The Justice Department is also expected today to begin the process of letting Congress see your memos detailing your interactions with President Trump. Is that the right decision to let Congress see them?
COMEY: I don't know, because I don't know what considerations the department has taken into account. It's fine by me.
TAPPER: You don't care?
COMEY: I don't care. I don't have any views on it. I 'm totally fine with transparency. I've tried to be transparent throughout this and I think what folks will see if they get to see the memos is I've been consistent since the very beginning right after my encounters with President Trump and I'm consistent in the book and try to be transparent in the book as well.
TAPPER: Senator Grassley, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, says that there are seven memos, he says four of them are classified. Is that right?
COMEY: I don't know, because I don't have the memos, I don't know exactly how many there are, some maybe memos, some maybe e-mails. There somewhere between five and 10 and maybe seven or maybe eight, I don't remember. And I think some of are. I know when I created some of them they were classified, but I don't know how many of that group.
COMEY: One of them is of the classified one is obviously from when you told President Trump in Trump Tower about what was in that two- page annex of the Steele Dossier. The summary about the Steele Dossier. What were the other classified ones be about?
COMEY: Well, I can't answer that if they're classified.
TAPPER: You can't even say the subject of them? Terrorism.
COMEY: Well, there were a number of conversations I had that related to our investigative responsibilities, and that I considered classified at the time. And if I go beyond that, I'll be breaking the seal on them.
TAPPER: The -- we're just learning that Bloomberg News is reporting that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told President Trump that he is not a, quote, "target" of the Mueller investigation, of the Russia probe. At this point in the investigation, what might that mean, telling the president he's not a target?
COMEY: I don't know what it means. It's a fairly standard part of any investigation, trying to decide whether a person you're encountering is a witness, a subject or a target. A target is someone on whom the investigation, the grand jury has developed significant evidence -- evidence sufficient to charge. Witnesses somebody who has nothing to do with any exposure, and a subject is everybody in the middle.
So I don't know the context in which the deputy attorney general did that, but that's the general framework.
TAPPER: The President has obviously had a lot of words in response to you for the last year and change, especially this last week. He's called you a liar and a leaker. Our reporting says that a Republican who recently spoke with the President says that the President feels as though he has weathered your book tour. Has he weathered the book tour? Has he come out unscathed?
[20:55:06] COMEY: I have no idea. The book tour is not about the President. It's about my hope that I can be part of facilitating a conversation about our values. President Trump figures in that, obviously, because he's part of the stories I'm trying to tell to illustrate ethical leadership. Because it's not about him, I haven't thought about it in terms of whether he's weathering it or not weathering it.
TAPPER: The book is about President Trump to a great deal -- I mean, there's a lot -- I read the book. There's a lot in there about your time as a U.S. attorney, about your childhood, but there's a lot in there about President Trump, especially in terms of leadership. He's an example of how not to be a leader, in your view. He is the example of somebody who is a bully. And you talk throughout the book about how you hate bullies.
COMEY: I think he is a counterpoint, that's why he's in there. I couldn't write about ethical leadership and illustrate it with stories without telling stories of someone I think fails to reflect the values of an ethical leader. So sure, he's three of the 14 chapters, it's an important part of the book. But all I meant is, it's not a book about Donald Trump, but I hope very much it'll be useful long into the future beyond a Trump presidency.
TAPPER: You leveled some very tough charges about him. You call him morally unfit, you call his presidency a forest fire. You say he's violating the rule of law. Do you think the nation would be better off if Hillary Clinton had won?
COMEY: I can't answer that. That's something -- that hypothetical is too hard for me to go back in time and try to answer. I think (ph) --
TAPPER: You painted a pretty dire picture of President Trump. It's hard to imagine how you don't think the nation would be better off if Hillary Clinton had won.
COMEY: Yes, I don't think about it in those terms though, Jake. I think we have the current president who was, in my view, legitimately elected, is serving as president. The question is, is he adhering to our values? He's clearly not. So what do we do about it? And I think the first thing we do is not get numb to it. When he calls for the jailing of private citizens in his tweets, don't shrug but realize that's not OK, that's not normal.
TAPPER: The -- it's interesting that you won't go as far to say that Hillary Clinton would be -- the nation would be better off if Hillary were president. Because you have called for the nation to respond to the challenge of Trump, in your view, by voting, presumably by voting against what he represents. Is that not a fair interpretation?
COMEY: I actually think of it -- maybe it's the same thing, but I think of it in terms of voting for something else, which is the core values of this country, which are more important than any policy disputes. I don't care whether people find that in a Republican or a Democrat or neither. It's important that our leaders reflect those values because that's all we are.
TAPPER: So you have spent decades building a reputation for being evidence-based, for being nonpartisan. The FBI is an organization that is supposed to be evidence-based and nonpartisan. Do you worry that by painting this stark portrait of President Trump and suggesting that the American people should vote for something other than the lack of values that he represents in your construct, that you are sullying both the brand of Comey and the brand of the FBI?
COMEY: Yes, I don't think so. And I certainly hope not, because I'm not criticizing President Trump because he's a Republican or because he has a certain view on taxes or immigration or anything else. I'm criticizing him on the grounds of values which is at the center of the FBI and something that should be at the center of all of our evaluations of our leaders. So I get that it's relevant to politics, but I see it as something actually more important than partisan politics.
TAPPER: Something you said to me in one of your interviews stood out. Quote, "If you've been investigating something for almost a year and you don't have a general sense of where it's likely to end up, you should be fired because you're incompetent." You write something similar to that in the book and it's you explaining why you wrote the letter basically exonerating Hillary Clinton from criminal behavior before you had even interviewed her.
But let's apply that same standard to the Mueller investigation. You oversaw the Russia investigation for almost 10 months. Did you -- do you have a general sense of how that investigation is going to end up?
COMEY: In some respects, I did at the time but not completely. I suspect that the team that's investigating it now has a general sense. I have no idea what that is. But again, it's a general feeling that on the current course and speed, we're likely to end up in this direction or that direction.
TAPPER: And where did you think it was going to end up? Did you think it was going to end up with people around President Trump being found guilty of conspiring, aiding and abetting with Russians?
COMEY: I can't say. I've left that out of the book for reasons that are -- should be obvious. I can't talk about classified information or sensitive investigative details. So, I'm not going to say.
TAPPER: But your -- your sense of where the investigation was headed is not classified, it's just your impression. And, obviously, the investigation has continued since then. Why won't you say? I mean, people want to know.
You have left the impression that there's something there. In your interviews, you have said, when asked, do the Russians have something on President Trump? You've said, it's possible -- it's possible, which is not a very FBI Director answer. Don't you think?
COMEY: No, I think it's an honest and calibrated answer.
TAPPER: Well the --
COMEY: So, I hope that's an FBI -- I'm not the FBI Director, but I hope that's an FBI Director type of answer. [21:00:04] TAPPER: Well, when you gave the press conference about Hillary Clinton in 2016, in the summer, you said, you didn't say she didn't lie or you didn't say it's possible she lied. You said, there's no -- you found no evidence that she had lied.