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CNN Town Hall Post Analysis. Aired 9:15-10p ET
Aired April 25, 2018 - 21:15 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[21:15:10] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And welcome back to CNN Town Hall with former FBI Director James Comey. You were -- you were actually talking to the students during the break. And somebody asked you, what your favorite class was here? What was your favorite class here when we were a student?
JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: It was called death. And it was.
COOPER: That was actually a class.
COMEY: It was a class. I was a chemistry major and I'm walking through what was then called Rogers Hall and it also housed the religion department and I'm walking on my way to a Chem. Lab and I see the word, death on a bulletin board. So I stopped as I hope you would. And I look at it and it's a course about religious perspectives, philosophical perspectives of death. And so I took it. I had a hole in the schedule and it was took by this remarkable German American Ethicist named Han Stiple (ph) who introduce me to Ryan (inaudible) and then I took another one, another one next thing I knew had enough credits for religion major and wrote my thesis in the religion department and not chemistry. So it was all about death on the bulletin board.
COOPER: This is Jack Craver, he is a freshman studying government and philosophy. Jack?
JACK CRAVER, FRESHMEN, WILLIAM & MARY: Director Comey regardless of controversy surrounding the President it was no accident that he was elected. The distinct changes in political norms surrounding the Oval Office were not unexpected though outrage persists. What does it signal to you that this is what the American people voted for? If this is what they wanted does that legitimize his unconventional leadership style regardless of how outside the norms it is?
COMEY: That's a great question, Jack. Thank you. Yes in one way, absolutely not in another. To my mind the concern is not unconventional leadership, communicating through Twitter, breaking norms around state dinners and all that stuff. To me what matters most and what the American people did not vote for and would not vote for is a derogation of the norms, the touch stone of truth, which is the heart of this country, the rule of law, the equal protection of the laws, the freedom of expression, freedom of religion. And one of the things I hope to do is get folks not to focus on the policy fights. Because again as I said earlier I don't care what people's policy views are. But instead to first talk about those values. Because a whole lot of people who supported Donald Trump come from families with inspiring military service histories.
And so the question I have is, so what do those folks fight and die for? Did they fight and die for a tax cut or an immigration approach or something? No. They fought and died for the core values that are all we are as a country, the ones I laid out. I hope we first ask -- maybe we want an unconventional guy. What is happening to these? Because if we lose these, that's all we are as a country, a collection of aspirations, a collection of values. We should realize those unite us. Insist that our leaders reflect those and then get back to fighting and these are like crazy about the policy issues. But this matters so much that I hope to contribute to a conversation even among those supporting President Trump and still do, to say we have to make sure these aren't lost.
COOPER: We have Colin Cochran, he a freshman studying internationals relations. Colin?
COLIN COCHRAN, FRESHMEN, WILLIAM & MARY: Thank you, Director Comey. In promoting a recent book, you've talked a lot about ethical leadership. Could you explain your claim to the moral high ground given your endorsement during your 10 years deputy attorney general of two memos that have proved to the Bush administration torture techniques including water boarding and sleep deprivation. And do you think torture is morally acceptable?
COMEY: Great question. First, I hope you don't hear me and if you do make sure you hammer me to be claiming I'm on the moral high ground. I'm a flawed person. What I try to do and inspire to do and especially learned from others is figure out how to make decisions as a leader with ethical considerations in mind with those external reference points. I hope you read the book. Because one of the things I talk about in the book is the struggle over torture.
Torture is not morally acceptable under any circumstances. The challenge we faced as a justice department was Congress chose to define torture different than you or I understand it. And so the question that was asked of the Justice Department is so what is the law? And what is permissible under the law? And if you read the book which I really hope you'll do, you'll see us struggling mightily to figure out what's appropriate, what's lawful, what can be done under the law and then you'll see me, something I regret actually not pushing hard enough on, stepping out of the lawyer role and begging the Bush administration to consider the policy, the moral considerations around torture, even if it's legal and even if the intelligences community claims it's effective which I don't buy. That doesn't mean it's right.
COOPER: Is water boarding torture?
COMEY: Yes. Oh, yes. And so I hope you'll see that struggle in the book that illustrates all of us are flawed people but how given our flawed nature do we make decisions? I hope that's what people find the book to be about.
COOPER: This is Robert Colter. He is a law student here. Robert?
[21:19:47] ROBERT COLTER, LAW STUDENT, WILLIAM & MARY: So I'm a Californian, a Mexican and a Republican. And my friends often urge me to switch parties. And sometimes I've been tempted. But I won't. Because to me it's still the party of Lincoln of Ike, of George H.W. Bush his son and my family. That being said, I think the way Trump -- I think his demeanor has been offensive to Republican norms and civil discourse. What first attracted you to the Republican Party and what do you think is a positive message we could rally around today?
COMEY: All right, I'll take the second part first. I don't know which is why I don't -- I'm not a Republican. I've been embarrassed and ashamed by the way the Republican Party has abandoned one of the two things that led me to consider myself a Republican in the 1980s when Ronald Reagan was a President. I was attracted by the notion that character matters and values matter most of all. That's where you start in evaluating a person and entity a country. What are their values that's non-negotiable?
And second, strong national defense, which I'm still passionate about. And so my question for the Republicans is so where it is that? Where is that commitment to character and values? And if people have convinced themselves we'll trade it temporarily for a tax cut or Supreme Court justice. As I say in the book that's a fools bargain because those values are all that you have. There are always be another Supreme Court justice, always another tax bill. You lose this, exactly what are you? And so what I hope they'll do is ask themselves Republicans so what will I tell my grandchildren? When they ask me, so what did you do? Did you trade a tax cut for the rule of law? For equal protection of the laws for the truth? Really grandpa? So I hope they'll themselves that question and realize that they have to look above those policy issues and think about what matters most in this country.
COOPER: You're talking about Republicans on Capitol Hill. When you write about that, you're talking about Paul Ryan, you're talking about --
COMEY: I'm talking Republicans on Capitol Hill, I'm talking about Republicans -- people who identify themselves as Republicans have to ask that grand child question of themselves.
COOPER: And you think they're failing that question?
COOPER: This is Ian Doty, a freshman who studying international relationships. Ian?
IAN DOTY, FRESHMEN, WILLIAM & MARY: Mr. Comey the conflict between you and President Trump had begun to characterize divisions within our country. In open reconciliation between the two of you, can not only allow our country to recover and unite but would also demonstrate leadership. Have you begun to forgive the President? Do you think you could ever do so? COMEY: I actually don't think of it in personal terms. I said this on CNN not long ago. I don't hate the President. I very much dislike the way he approaches issues especially the truth and values issues. And so to me there isn't a personal -- we don't really know each other personally. A personal skims between us. There is a different approach to what matters in this country. And so I don't see it as need for personal reconciliation. I do see of those in need for him -- and it would be a wonderful thing -- if he were able to change and say, you know, I have to start telling the truth. And when I'm asked questions where I haven't given an answer that's truthful hold myself accountable to try and answer that question in a better way. I'll say one other thing. And stop attacking the institutions that form the pillar of the rule of law in this country.
COOPER: This is Elizabeth Peteral, she a pre-med freshman. Elizabeth?
ELIZABETH PETERAL, FRESHMEN, WILLIAM & MARY: Hello. I turned 18 just before this past Presidential election and though it was exciting to be able to vote for the first time. I've become very disillusioned with what's going on in Washington not knowing who or what to believe. What can you say to young adults who are getting their first true taste of American politics during this tumultuous time? How do we comprehend thinking of the future when the present is so unsteady?
COMEY: Don't withdraw. We need your voices. We need your minds, we need your hearts. We need your passion. You are what is going to grow in the wake of in forest fire. Again, whether you're a Republican or Democrat, become involved, not just vote, but participate in the conversation to make sure the values of this country are preserved and protected. And I could imagine especially given how busy you all are and all you got going on is a temptation to say it's icky I'll put back. Please, don't do that. The one small thing I hope to accomplish with this book and I've written it and I hope so you all can enjoy it is to encourage you to participate in the conversation because we so desperately need you.
COOPER: Do you worry thought that your book has just added to the divisions in this country? I mean that people are choosing sides on you, they're choosing sides -- that it just adds to this sort of flood of betrayal?
COMEY: I don't think so. I mean, I think if you read the book, the whole book, I think you'll come away with a view that I'm -- what I'm trying to accomplish and that is not about trying to hate across divisions. It's about trying to drive a conversation about something that actually connects all of us and unites all of us. You think about William & Mary history, there are three buildings here, named of three people close and associated with this great institution, Washington, Jefferson and Madison. I lived in one of the three. And those people fought like cats and dogs about policy issues.
[21:25:09] All right, Madison and Jefferson didn't like the way that Hamilton was controlling Washington. But they had something in common, something above that that they lived their lives around, a set of values. We have to remember that and be inspired by that. And have 18-year-olds and 20-year-olds and 23-year-olds give that life today.
COOPER: Before we go to the next question, just one other question I forgot to ask on the memos. You said you gave the memos to your three people on your legal time are team. Are those the only people you gave memos to?
COMEY: Yes. Correct.
COOPER: Nobody else?
COMEY: Nobody else. Just the three lawyers only for the purpose of advising me and I've given to nobody else, shared the content with nobody else.
COOPER: Michael Murphy is the director of I.T. support here at William & Mary. Michael?
MICHAEL MURPHY, DIRECTOR OF I.T. SUPPORT, WILLIAM & MARY: I assume the point of your new book was to share your side of what happened as your time as the FBI director. How's an average American supposed to be able to sort through the information in your book against the conflicting information coming out of the White House and know what is fact and what's not?
COMEY: Yes. Great question. First I hope people read it. And I hope what they'll discover in there is someone who is trying to be transparent about things I've done wrong, things I've done right, criticisms that could be leveled at me. And it's about far more than my time as FBI director. It goes back to being bullied as a kid and bullying someone else here at William & Mary. It's designed to try and offer some framework for how leadership should be and must be.
And so in terms of how to figure out what's true, draw on as many sources as possible and evaluate track record consistency, take everything with a grain of salt. That's what you learn At William & Mary. Love everyone, trust no one, right? Understand biases, cross- examine yourself. Find other pieces of information. Crash it all together in order to make your best judgment. But always make that judgment knowing I could be wrong. I've worked as hard as I can to get this right. I could be wrong. That's my best advice to you.
COOPER: What do you think you've been wrong about in your leadership if there is one thing that you regret the most?
COMEY: Well, how much time do you have? A lot of different things. I made a bunch of poor personnel decision as FBI director. I did some things like -- I carelessly created a rift with Poland by speaking about them in a speech that wasn't about Poland. I did a bunch of other knuckle head things. No huge thing but probably about, I could probably tick off about 30 sitting here of those kinds of things.
COOPER: I want to you meet Denny Banks, who is an I.T. analyst here at the college. He has got a question about your future.
DANNY BANKS, I.T. ANALYST, WILLIAM & MARY: Good evening, Director Comey, (inaudible), a German word that means (inaudible) gain from the troubles of other. There have been (inaudible) moments in our country over the last couple years. For example your abrupt firing, resignations and election losses in both parties and the President's manful troubles to name a few. While many people obtain joy from these moments, they actually do more to divide this country. You are experienced talented and still relatively young. So, will you run for politic office and try to effect change in Washington?
COMEY: I will not. Thank you for that. I won't. I never will. That's not who I am. But you don't have to run for office to be part of effecting change in this country. I hope part of teaching at William & Mary about leadership and ethics is I can both teach and learn from an amazing group of young people than I'm trying to lecture at universities and other places trying to facilitate this conversation. So I think there is lots of ways for me to be useful without running for office.
COOPER: I can ask, on "The Today Show" I saw that you repeated over and over that you wouldn't run for President. You said you wanted your wife to hear you. Does that mean that your wife wants to you run for President?
COMEY: No. She keeps talking about my second wife might be OK with that. No. We have actually had this debate about whether I would ever feel compelled -- she knows I don't ever want to do it but because I felt I could make a difference no other way whether I'd consider it. And we've talked about it a lot and the answer is no. It just for a lot of reasons it's not who I am. But she and have a like mind that there are lots of ways we can contribute shortly of that.
COMEY: You write a lot about your family in the book, the loss of a child which is the -- you know, indescribable, the worst loss any parent can experience. How has your family shaped you all the experiences as a leader? What you learned from that?
COMEY: They've centered me. Mocked me. Given me absolutely wonderful and brutal feedback. They're a source of incredible laughter. And someone asked me walking through the airport in the other day basically how could I be happy? And I said I'm surrounded by people I love. I have this amazing family and friends. I'm the happiest richest man in the world given that. And so they bring me all that and they help compartmentalize in a great way. I came from work and we work really hard not to make dad the center of the family. Dad has issues. OK we put those to the side and then we talk about what everybody else is doing. And we laugh and we cry. And it helps me refresh.
[21:30:12] But look, one of the reasons I'm worried about is I don't want my children to be James Comey's daughter or son. They're amazingly talented kids. I want them to be them. And my family helps me with that. By saying, yes, yes, dad you're great. OK, and move to the next thing.
COOPER: How they dealt with the President of the United States saying you should be in jail? How has your family dealt with that? COMEY: At different levels of reaction. Mine which is something that concerned me a great deal is a shrug. Like, there he goes again. And then I catch myself. Because I hope you're not shrugging because that's me being numb to something that is not OK. That is not normal. And that Republicans that they just close their eyes and imagine Barack Obama waking up in the morning saying someone should be in jail they will understand that it's not normal. Now, my family has different levels of reaction.
COOPER: But you're saying essentially the danger is becomes normalized?
COMEY: Yes we become numb to it. That is not OK. This is the United States of the America. The President of the United States is saying -- forgot me, saying lots of private citizens shall be in jail, should be in jail, must be in jail. That is not OK, given our commitment to the rule of law.
And again, I'm ashamed of Republicans for this. And that's why I urge then close your eyes and imagine the next President if it's a Democrat doing that, what are you going to say? You'll be sitting in front of Anderson Cooper saying, it's outrageous, it's an attack on America. So why is it not today? It's bipartisan should be the outrage of that attack on our norms. So my reaction is a shrug to my family it's probably -- especially to my wife, it's more painful to see and to watch me in the middle of all this stuff. But at the end of the day given that centering that my gang has had since the very beginning, it's fine.
COOPER: You say the President's comments are an attack on America, yes?
COMEY: Right. The reason I say that is America's core is really two things. Truth and closely related the rule of law.
COOPER: I just want to point out how -- not only just how extraordinary it is to hear the man who was the FBI director saying that the current President's words are an attack on America. I mean that's not -- I don't think that's happened.
COMEY: I never -- you ask me three years ago ten years ago, would these words ever be coming out of my mouth? Of course not but it's happening. The President of the United States is attacking the Justice Department, attacking the FBI, attacking the Federal Judiciary and pronouncing that private citizens who have been accused of no crime should be in jail. Just pause for a second and reflect on that. No matter what your political orientation is. That's not normal. That is an attack on our core values. And if should stop. And everybody should call on it to stop.
COOPER: Former Director James Comey. Thank you very much. Thank you very much I appreciate it thanks for being with us.
COMEY: Thanks for having me.
COOPER: Thank you. Chris Cuomo starts right now. CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right. So there you have it applause for the Former FBI Director James Comey. We saw him put to the test tonight more than we have seen to date and was done by you, citizens in attendance at the CNN Town Hall.
Comey, forced to confront the most controversial calls he made and the criticisms that he has for the President. And on some of those he went even further than he has so far.
So we also have breaking news on two important situations. The first is that the nominee to head the V.A. Dr. Ronny Jackson is meeting right now with Senior White House officials about what the next steps are, why are they having this meeting? Well, there are new developments in his situations, allegations that have come up that we'll get into.
There is also a significant move in an important case involving the President's personal lawyer. So stay for all of that.
But first, let's get the White House response to all that James Comey put on the President as a liar, a bad leader, as someone who is endangering the fundamental institutions of this country. With that response Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the President joining us now. Kellyanne, thank you, I appreciate you doing it, as always.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: Hi, Christopher.
CUOMO: All right, so let me play you a piece of sound that went to the charge against Comey, the central one about his behavior, his decision to leak his notion of that word, and his assessment of his move. Here is the sound.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[21:35:00] COMEY: I sent one memo unclassified then, still unclassified and it's recounted in my book to my friend Dan Richmond and asked him to get the substance of it but not the memo out to the media.
Separately, I wrote a bunch of memos about my interactions with President Trump and I was what was called an original classification authority at the FBI. Meaning, I had the training and authority to make decision about what should be classified and what shouldn't. The bottom line is I see know credible claim by any serious person that that violated the law.
COOPER: You did leak memos. I mean is it OK for somebody at the FBI to leak something, an internal document even if not classified? Isn't that leaking?
COMEY: Well there is a whole lot wrong with your question. Anderson, first, I didn't leak memos. I asked a friend to communicate the substance of one unclassified --
COOPER: I mean, whether you --
COMEY: Can I finish for a second?
COOPER: Sure. OK.
COMEY: One unclassified memo to the media. And I was really important, I was a private citizen, I was not an FBI employee at that time.
COOPER: But it was an internal document, a document you've written while you were FBI director. That is a leak -- I mean, if you tell somebody don't give them the document but tell them in what's in the document that's a leak?
COMEY: Not to get tangled. I think of leak as unauthorized disclosure of classified information.
COOPER: Really, did? That's a leak?
COMEY: That's how I thought about it as FBI director. We investigated leaks unauthorized disclosure.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: So his answer in summary is, I ain't a leaker. I had the decision to say what was classified or not. I was a private citizen. And a leak is an unauthorized disclosure of confidential information. And this checked none of those boxes. Satisfied?
CONWAY: No. And you saw that he was squirming around answering those tough questions by your colleague Anderson Cooper. Maybe he wasn't expected that. I believe Comey expected a hero's welcome from many in the mainstream media and between Jake Tapper and Anderson Cooper I think many tough questions came as right.
Here is the problem with what Comey said about leaking. We already that he gave memos to his friend Daniel Richmond, more on him in a second -- with the intent that Richmond would leak it to the media and hoping "to trigger a special counsel." All of that happened, Christopher, everything he wanted to happen happened, including the word leak.
There is one thing that we didn't know until recently about Daniel Richmond. We know he is A Columbia University Professor. We know he is a "friend" of Jim Comeys. It's been recently revealed something that Jim Comey never bother to tell anybody while he was under oath up in Congress. Never bothered to tell the President, never bothered to write in his book, never bothered to tell anybody until it was revealed this week that Daniel Richmond was a special government employee at the FBI. This guy can come and go as he pleased at the FBI from the summer of 2015 until February of 2017.
CONWAY: Don't you think as a reporter, Christopher -- relevant? It's a very germane fact, and this guy tonight talking about concealment. He was concealing a very important fact. He called him a friend and Columbia professor as did everybody else in the media. You got to start identifying this guy to who he was. Special government employee at the FBI, 35,000 or so people work at the FBI. Jim Comey decided his friend should be there and decided that friend who just happened to be there at the FBI during the Clinton investigation after Trump won during the Trump transition and into the Trump administration until February of 2017.
CUOMO: How is this -- how does it change -- tell me why though.
CONWAY: He is plain body language --
CUOMO: Tell me why? Why is important who gave it to the leak to the media?
CONWAY: Oh come on, Chris.
CUOMO: I'm not saying your wrong I'm asking to you explain it. Explain it?
CONWAY: Excuse me. The only thing we ever heard about this guy previously is that he was his friend.
CONWAY: He never said his friend and then a Columbia professor. Never bothered to tell us once that that man worked with the FBI for over a year and a half, including during the time when Hillary Clinton was being investigated.
CUOMO: Right, why does that change it?
CONWAY: When Donald Trump was not being investigated.
CONWAY: Oh, come on. Are you telling me that you run on thin allegations all day long, this may happen that may happen, that may not have had happen, inclusion, allegation and this isn't a material fact? It goes to his credibility and it goes to how much he conceals. Also tonight, I think Anderson was right in asking Jim Comey the question --
CUOMO: Hold on, hold on, Kellyanne, Kellyanne I'm not saying that you're wrong what you're saying about Richmond. I have to get into it a little bit more --
CONWAY: You can have Richmond on the program tomorrow.
CUOMO: I would love to I ask people to come on all the time whether or not they say yes is different.
Well, he also said he gave it to his counsel to help in giving good division for his potential defense. But I just want to say, why you think it matters whom he gave it to disseminate to the media. Why does it matter whether his wife or someone who had some kind of lose affiliation with the FBI or someone who is a realtime agent with the FBI? How does that change the nature of Comey's decision with respect to the memos and what its importance is in the overall dialogue? [21:39:55] CONWAY: Well, in this case, we have only been told he was a friend and a Columbia professor. It's relevant because the man was at the FBI when all of the investigations and other things were going on. It's relevant because you don't know what other access to information he had. So if this man is speaking to the press with a Comey memo in his hand, then how do you know what else he knows or doesn't know don't you think that's a legitimate line of inquiry?
CUOMO: No I'm not sure because first of all I don't know if it's true. I don't really know if it's true if he had an official capacity within the FBI --
CONWAY: That he worked at the FBI?
CUOMO: Or if he had a role within the investigation. I don't know, that's not my reporting I have to check more into that. But even if it were all true, even if it is all true, I'm saying, I'll give you the benefit of the doubt on all of it it's all true I don't understand how it makes a difference in terms what have decided to do.
CONWAY: Christopher, you don't think it's relevant to the viewing audience that the same person who took the memo from Jim Comey also worked at the FBI previously or during all that time? Of course it is.
And here what sells relevant. Jim Comey said tonight this impassioned patriotic. I want you to stay involved. We all do. I want you to go and vote. He didn't bother to vote. He thought Hillary Clinton who he wanted to win didn't need his vote.
CUOMO: But you know why people in the bureau don't vote it helps give them the appearance of being impartial.
CUOMO: That's not uncommon with people in law enforcement let alone at the DOJ and FBI.
CUOMO: You know that.
CONWAY: That's not true. That's not fair.
CUOMO: It's a 100 true.
CONWAY: And by the way, he should not -- he has a right to vote. I'm sorry, he has the right to vote.
CUOMO: He absolutely has the right -- and he has the right not to vote.
CONWAY: And he can express that -- what he doesn't have the right to do I would argue, is go tell the world that Hillary Clinton is not under investigation and never bother to tell -- who wasn't the President, she was just a candidate twice failed and not tell the world that President Trump is not under investigation. Why won't he go and tell the country what he had told the President at least three times privately that he is not under investigation?
CUOMO: Because that's not the protocol of the FBI, they don't do that.
CONWAY: Oh, OK. So speaking of protocol of the FBI, you read Rod Rosenstein's memo from May 9th.
CUOMO: Rosenstein, yes.
CONWAY: He says that Jim Comey broke with protocol.
CUOMO: Yes. He did.
CONWAY: At the FBI.
CUOMO: But now you're asking him to break with protocol again isn't that making it worse?
CONWAY: No, no, no. Christopher, let me ask you something as an American for moment.
CUOMO: Pleas. I always answer an American by the way. But go ahead.
CONWAY: The rest of the country -- but the rest of the country -- the rested of the country to know that the sitting President of the United States is not under investigation, why shouldn't we know that.
CUOMO: Because they don't do that, because they're not supposed to do this.
CONWAY: Why shouldn't soldiers, our military and the brave men and women know that.
CUOMO: And when he did about Hillary Clinton -- all right, hold on, I'll let you finish. Here is the answer to your question that you asked me. One, he has the right to vote. He also has the right not to vote. And it's absolutely true that many people who worked in law enforcement, the FBI, DOJ even on the prosecution side don't vote because it helps motivates the sense of impartiality. It's a personal choice not a mandate obviously. However --
CUOMO: Hold on. Hold on I'm not done.
CONWAY: They don't write books the second after being fired.
CUOMO: That's a fair criticism it's a fair criticism.
CONWAY: They don't write books a second after they fire especially --
CUOMO: It's a fair criticism.
CONWAY: -- especially when they're witnesses -- he is definitely a witness in the Mueller investigation.
CONWAY: And he is certainly going to be a witness in the McCabe criminal his number two got criminal referrals last week.
CUOMO: We don't know if they'll prosecute but he certainly could be.
CONWAY: I also would have asked Jim Comey very simple question. With whom do you side? Do you believe the I.G., the office of the inspector general? Would you believe Andrew McCabe?
CUOMO: It's not his call.
CONWAY: Because they are in conflict here. And it was -- oh come on, it's not his call? He had an opinion on everything tonight. You're making him relevant --
CUOMO: Oh, that's not true.
CONWAY: -- by allowing him to moralize.
CUOMO: That's not true. Well, first of all, he is inherently --
CONWAY: He is a body language expert. He is a marriage counselor.
CUOMO: He is inherently relevant for reasons that you just mentioned and others.
CONWAY: No, he is relevant because Donald Trump fired him. A apart from him being fired tell me his distinctiveness is, as opposed to anybody else --
CUOMO: He spent quality of time investigating central and concerns to our democracy.
But hold on, there's something else here that I don't understand why you guys do it. Him coming out, Jim Comey, and talking about the Hillary Clinton investigation was without question damaging to the election and the prospect for Hillary Clinton. He made a call. You can argue whether a good call or bad call. He thought it would have been catastrophic to the FBI to say nothing. So he said something. The FBI doesn't do that ordinarily. He broke with protocol. It created problems. He then broke with protocol a second time after saying to Congress I'll come to you with any significant developments. He didn't know if he had a significant development. And he broke with protocol again. And then without question it negatively impacted Hillary Clinton. So you guys say he did the wrong thing with Clinton.
CONWAY: No, no, no. Don't do that don't say without question. No, no don't say without question.
CUOMO: Without question.
CONWAY: Christopher. Excuse me.
CUOMO: It was damaging to Hillary Clinton and having that suggestion come out a send second time.
[21:45:00] CONWAY: I don't hear a question there?
CUOMO: I'm not asking you a question I'm telling you how it is. That was undoubtedly the situation. So now --
CONWAY: No. You're telling me how you feel?
CUOMO: No. That was undoubtedly how as you can see, you can't say --
CONWAY: That is neither an apple nor banana. That is your opinion.
CUOMO: Please, look everything with you guys is fruit salad. Everything with you guys is fruit salad, Kellyanne.
CUOMO: Apples, bananas -- you guys, you're bringing a kumquat half the time.
CONWAY: Excuse, showing a little respect also. I represent the President. And let me tell something --
CUOMO: I know you do and that's why I respect you being here but just filibustering is it is not making it better.
CONWAY: This is very simple.
CUOMO: Here is my point and then you can knock it as aside.
CONWAY: You just spoke for a minute.
CONWAY: You just spoke for a minute.
CONWAY: So don't say the word filibuster.
CUOMO: The filibuster doesn't help. Here is my question --
CONWAY: Christopher, listen, if you think he broke with protocol.
CUOMO: Kellyanne, I know he broke with protocol.
CONWAY: Why are you giving him so much credibility?
CUOMO: I know he broke with protocol.
CUOMO: Because he is still relevant it's a critical basis of his analysis.
CONWAY: But don't say you don't -- (CROSSTALK)
CONWAY: And here is why, show me the statewide polls.
CUOMO: I don't care about the polls. I have a question.
CONWAY: Where Hillary Clinton was a 50 percent. No, no, no. This is important he -- excuse me, she was already not a 50 percent in all the states. I was on your network every single day saying that including --
CUOMO: There is zero chance. I don't care whether she was at 50 or not she still wound up winning the popular vote. She was never a 50 percent. It's irrelevant.
CONWAY: She was ahead of national polls, it's very relevant because the Electoral College is how you get elected. You are saying that unquestionably he hurt her.
CONWAY: And I'm saying unquestionably why is he out there except to insult the President of the United States with whom he had very, very little contact? How is that -- don't you think he damaged the reputation of the FBI because people at the FBI do?
CUOMO: I think it absolutely matters. I think he made controversial decisions. That have arguably hurt the FBI and the reputation.
CONWAY: Should be written the book this quick --
CUOMO: I think that is all fair criticism and debate.
CONWAY: Should he have written a book this quickly?
CUOMO: That is obvious subjective choice it's something that's obviously open to criticism. But hold on, you keep ducking this question. I want to ask you to, he broke with protocol.
CONWAY: I'm not ducking a thing. But ask the question.
CUOMO: Give me a chance. Thank you very much. He broke with protocol. OK. He made a decision to not break with protocol with response for the Trump probe and he argues very compellingly as to why they thought they shouldn't at that time. Now you guys are saying hey he broke with protocol it was a mistake what he did and the Democrats agreed. And he -- they wanted him done too.
CONWAY: No. How do you know he wasn't just being political? How do you know that?
CUOMO: But not you're saying, but he should have done it more Jim Comey. You should have said he is not under investigation. You should have come out in broken protocol even more when it suits the political purposes of Donald Trump and the administration.
CONWAY: Christopher, it's not a matter of protocol.
CUOMO: So you have to be consistent.
CONWAY: I'm sorry.
CUOMO: Breaking protocol is wrong or it isn't?
CONWAY: Christopher, listen to me. He is the President of the United States.
CONWAY: If he is not under investigation and he is being told that why is the FBI director telling the President, you're not under investigation.
CUOMO: Because he is being asked whether he is.
CONWAY: And not telling the country?
CUOMO: Because it's not his job.
CONWAY: Listen, why not tell the country. Why not --
CUOMO: It's not his job.
CONWAY: Why not allow the President to do his job under the cloud without --
CUOMO: We don't want him doing that.
CONWAY: Well, let me ask you this.
CUOMO: We want him to shut up and do his job and if they have something to act on then they come out that's his job.
CONWAY: He has written a book we've had. Christopher, we've had ten straight days of Comey which respectfully I would say is about nine and a half too many.
CUOMO: Of course, you beg that. I get what you're thinking.
CONWAY: This is somebody who you know is leaking, you know, has had a very casual relationship with the truth at times. You know has been asking people to leak. Has been -- wanted to trigger special counsel. Was absolutely fine with everything Donald Trump as President it seems loved to be in Oval. Loved to be in power, love to have dinner with him until he got fired.
CUOMO: Well, no that's not true by his own reckoning. Let me ask you one other thing while I have you. Dr. Ronny Jackson is supposedly meeting right now with Senior Official Marc Short that he was going back to meet, to figure out the next steps. What can we expect? Do you think Ronny Jackson is going to hang in or these new allegations about the set scripts and other types of behaviors, is it too much for the White House? Does he have to step aside? CONWAY: Ronny Jackson was nominated by the President who just yesterday said he understands if Dr. Jackson stays in and he supports him and he certainly understands if he withdraws the nomination --
CUOMO: Is the President call of his nominee?
CONWAY: Because of the process.
CUOMO: But it's the President's call. I knows what's out the there about him now. Is that sufficient for him to want somebody else in there?
CONWAY: Christopher, a couple of things. These are allegations. In my view Dr. Jackson should have his say whether it's through a statement or through press avail or through confirmation hearings where he is swearing under oath what's true and not true. This whole matter of crucifying somebody publicly with allegations anonymous allegations is very dangerous. We take every allegation seriously but we'd like these people to come forward or we would like Dr. Jackson to have his say.
CUOMO: Absolutely you have to have due process.
CONWAY: And I would remind you and the viewers because the hour changed here I know is been covered all day on CNN but this is somebody that has been through FBI investigations and other independent investigations. He has passed those. We know that President Obama has written glowingly about Dr. Jackson, including saying promote this individual. He deserves it. And so that was a god idea for President Trump as well. This is somebody who has been an arms length away from President Obama and his family President Trump and his family.
[21:50:17] CUOMO: Understood.
CONWAY: If people felt -- people should have come forward before don't you think? Don't you want people to come forward before if the allegations --
CUOMO: Right but they come forward when they come forward and people coming out at the last minute like this is not that unusual. But I just wanted to get you on the record as to whether or not --
CONWAY: Are you uncomfortable though -- well, what do you want me on the record saying?
CUOMO: Just saying whether or not the White House still backs the nominee and it seems like your answer is yes for now, you do.
CONWAY: So for today absolutely. Sarah Sanders said that from the podium.
CONWAY: I spoke with the President, I spoke with Dr. Jackson today. They're probably speaking again tonight. But what the President said yesterday was very important. But you should digest it all. What the President said was, I stand him if he wants to stay. I certainly understand if Dr. Jackson looks up and said. What do I need this for?
CUOMO: All right, I got you.
CONWAY: Because these processes are so brutal.
CUOMO: It's the President's call thought.
CONWAY: No, no, no, this is important.
CUOMO: It's the President's call.
CONWAY: It's important. And if he --
CUOMO: It's his nominee. It's his choice whether he stays or goes out.
CONWAY: No, no, no it's both of their calls. No, no, it's both of their calls.
CUOMO: Only one President, it's his call.
CONWAY: Excuse me. Excuse me, the nominee can also withdraw himself from consideration.
CUOMO: Yes, of course he can. But I'm saying, you don't let Ronny Jackson decide by himself whether these allegations merit that is based in or not, that's the President's call. That's all I'm saying. But I got to go.
CONWAY: It's not just the allegations that are a consideration.
CUOMO: Go ahead finish your point, please.
CONWAY: It's not just the allegations. Hold on, you got to take everything into account. The fact that he has been praised by President Obama --
CUOMO: I hear it all.
CONWAY: It has to work for him, there are two sides to every story. And I think it's dangerous for senators to come on your show not under oath and throw around terms, candy man and it's very dangerous --
CUOMO: Don't say not under oath because you it suggests that you think Tester is lying. And we don't know that. He's got 20 different sources coming forward --
CONWAY: No. I didn't say that. But I think Dr. Jackson -- no, I'm not saying that but I'm saying that Dr. Jackson should be able to respond to that. That's what confirmation hearings are for.
CUOMO: I understand. Kellyanne Conway, I appreciate you making the case to the people and coming in to us with the White House take, see you soon. CONWAY: Thank you.
CUOMO: All right, now, let's get some reaction we got a great panel for you. CNN Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger, we have Josh Campbell here. We have Symone Sanders here. We have Michael Caputo here. All range of expertise.
So, Gloria, on the Ronny Jackson just because we want to deal with it as breaking news, am I wrong, it is the President's call whether or not these allegations merit having this nominee stand or fault?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: It's the President's call. And he clearly had a conversation with Ronny Jackson and he came out and said look I won't blame the guy if he decided to withdraw, which is a big hint if a President says something like that. But if any of these allegations are true no matter how close the President is to Ronny Jackson I believe they are close. I believe he likes him tremendously. It is the President's call.
Now, Ronny Jackson request go in and say, Mr. President --
CUOMO: It's too much for me I'm done.
BORGER: Right. I'm going to leave and the President will say, thank you very much.
CUOMO: Right. Quickly, Michael, let me hop to you on this with a perspective closer to the White House on it. The FBI, the office of government ethics, Walter Reed hospital doing reviews, wouldn't necessarily pick up the allegations. These are a lot of deep political vetting questions that you ordinarily ask. How is it not true that the White House didn't do their job in making the phone calls on this guy when they should have? Because they should have been getting a phone call from Gloria who says hey, I hear that he had problem was prescriptions, they called him candy man, percocet. They should have known about it and said, yes, I know what you're hearing, Gloria. It's also wrong. Look at these reports from the office of government ethics. Look at this from Walter Reed, they're not ready for these questions fair point?
MICHAEL CAPUTO, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN AIDE: I think it's fair. But at the same time I think there was an investigation into some allegations during the Obama administration where he and one of his colleagues was investigated or at least looked into. And it came out that he was less culpable than his colleague. And I think these kinds of things are difficult to track when it comes from unknown people who are.
CUOMO: You but got to try.
CAPUTO: You do. That's what the --
CUOMO: Just box Obama liked him he is already in the White house, he must be fine let's put him in charge of the second largest bureaucracy. CAPUTO: Two things, number one, the confirmation process needs to go forward and that's where you answer the questions. And the second thing I think it's most important is that the veterans administration has been disarray for a long, long time.
CAPUTO: As a veteran I'm disturbed that it's continuing. I have friends of mine who work for the veterans' administration. They want to get to work. Everybody wants to get to work. And if they can just get into confirmation process move forward and get this done Americans veterans deserve it.
SYMONE SANDERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Chris. One point on this, one like vetting is extremely important. When I left the Sanders campaign and went to go worked for a convention, they vetted me. The convention team before I could go to work as a consultant. Clearly, I had been vetted on the Sanders campaign but they vetted me again because that's just the work that you did before bringing someone on. Like this is just a part of the political process and the Trump folks aren't doing.
[21:40:14] Secondly, in terms of -- I find it really interesting that a lot of allies at the White House are saying that the confirmation process has to go forward. That could be really damaging to the White House politically. I think these are unforced errors that they don't need to invite. Cut Dr. Jackson loose and go on with the rest of your day. I don't think the folks are really looking at the political calculations here. I just think the White House doesn't like to lose.
BORGER: You know, I think the President comes up with a good idea. He thinks, because he wants people who are -- he is comfortable with now in these cabinet jobs. You know, he said I tried it once, I didn't like those other guys. Now I'm going to get the people I want. Ronny Jackson is someone he liked. Clearly the process was shore circuited, really short circuited. And now they're suffering the result of it. So if Jackson wants to go through it he'll have the confirmation process. But that could be really difficult.
CAPUTO: And I think when you vet the doctor in the White House it's different than a cabinet member.
CAPUTO: And I think that -- now we're looking at confirmation. And everybody who is a veteran, everybody who works in the veterans' administration wants this taken care of. And it is urgent.
CUOMO: Right. And look, he has got some things on him also. Veterans groups are doing polls on him. He is not doing that well. He doesn't have the background. He had a lot going against him to begin with before all this personal allegations.
Topic switch. James Comey. He was up against it tonight. Coop is always on his game, Anderson Cooper. But the audience was on their game. These were tough questions. And there was a plumbing of his mind in this. I'm no leaker. Why? Because I decide what's confidential and what isn't. That's a little bit of a hedge, true but a hedge.
I was a private citizen. Irrelevant. Because what you do is work product for the FBI as is the FBI's. And well, this was my decision it wasn't classified. I wanted it out the there. Great. He also gave it to a third party. If it was so clean and so OK why didn't he leak it directly?
And I'm using the word leak because Josh that's what it is. I'm not as polite as Anderson. It's a leak whether classified or not. Authorized or not. It's a leak. Why didn't he do it himself?
JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: It's a good question. And let's say at the outset because I don't think we mentioned this. I was a career FBI agent who served for a period of time as Comey special assistant. So I just want the audience to know that.
This is going to be part of the I.G. investigation. They're going to determining whether or not, what he did falls within the scope of policy. I think it's interesting that one thing that he mentioned that contrary to some of the news reports that we've seen, the I.G. is not looking into the mishandling of classified information which that was the juicy irresistible part that people like Kellyanne Conway couldn't resist. That, you know, he is a leaker. This is classified and obviously we saw as the President also tweeting about this.
But as I've said, I mean, this is going to be part of that investigation to determine did he fall within the scope of process or did he violate that policy? I think we have to stop and wit for that process to play out. And then we'll know what we're dealing with.
BORGER: But we do know he is so Machiavellian and he was such a player inside Washington that when he heard Donald Trump tweet maybe there are tapes he thought oh, oh, I have got to make sure that there now is a special counsel if there were tapes. And he knew exactly how to do it. I mean this takes somebody with a lot of experience to know how to do it. And I think your point is really well taken. Why not just call "The New York Times" directly? Because I think he wanted a certain amount of deny ability.
CUOMO: Too cute by half.
BORGER: Too cute by half, right.
CUOMO: Too cute by half. I think he also is doing you guys a favor.
CAPUTO: He is not doing me any favors at all.
CUOMO: Michael Caputo, he is not being done any favor?
CAPUTO: This costs my family $125,000 in legal fees.
CUOMO: Because you're caught up in the process? CUOMO: He is doing no favors from my family. I just don't really respect James Comey. And 88 percent of this book is good, you know, but the last two chapters to me are a shame, a pax on the entire FBI. But the idea that this guy can go out and leak documents, and do things to make sure a special counsel is put in place, that ends up costing my family $125,000. I'm not fine with that.
CAMPBELL: Well, look if we remove ourselves personally from the equation.
CUOMO: Yes, but it's hard for us to do.
CAMPBELL: I know it is.
CUOMO: Because he is getting asked question about whether or not legitimate or not.
CAMPBELL: I understand that but let's put ourselves in the shoes of the American who are trying to decide, do we believe this person and not. Not only that but, who do we believe more? The former director was been fired or the President of the United States.
CAPUTO: I don't know. McCabe is a liar?
CAMPBELL: Let me finish but I --
CAMPBELL: One thing that you just said is that it caused great damage to the entire FBI calling the question of the reputation.
CAMPBELL: You can disagree with the people. You can disagree with those who are at the top. But it's statements like that where you're broad brushing and you're going after the entire FBI that's at the central you know part of the issue that most of us have with this. You can disagree with the decisions. I would argue those that those who disagree with the character maybe want to take another look. But do not attack the men and women of the FBI.
CAPUTO: I'm not attacking.
[21:45:00] CAMPBELL: You just did. You're saying the reputation of the agency not the individual.
CAPUTO: You're wrong, that's not what I mean. You're absolutely wrong.
CAMPBELL: I'm glad you can you clarify.
CAPUTO: Let me clarify this. The FBI agents that I know are ashamed of this. The FBI agents I know think that he may in fact get prosecuted. The FBI agents I know want this to be over with. The FBI agents I know think that the fact that he wrote a book so early and is out there pitching it is absolutely shameful. That's what they tell me.
CAMPBELL: All right, for every agent that you know that says that I know people on the other side.
CUOMO: That's fine and that's going to be part of a culture crisis they'll have to deal with. Two final facts we have on this. One James Comey created this situation by having those memos come out and precipitating this dialogue and now writing this book. So that's a bad fact on him.
The other one is, bad fact with the President of the United States don't fire James Comey you have no special counsel we're not in the situation. Caputo has got some more change in this pocket to buy himself in the skull ring.
SANDERS: Well, furthermore, don't fired James Comey but if you are going to fire him at least you just talk the points that your people give you, and don't talk to Lester Holt in NBC --
CUOMO: I got you. We got to wrap it up right there. Josh, Gloria, Symone, Michael thank you very much. this was a good discussion to have.
All right, so what else came up tonight? That was different? We got a lot to talk about Hillary Clinton in the decisions that were made. How is that going to be heard by the people who are around her? Well, how about the handsome man on your screen right now. Obviously, not me, I'm talking about Hillary Clinton campaign Manager in 2016 Robby Mook.
So what you heard there was, it was a bad decision for me to talk about this because this is not what we do at the FBI. But it would have been catastrophic for me to say nothing. Do you accept that?
ROBBY MOOK, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't because we heard Comey say himself that the reason he couldn't talk about Donald Trump is -- and the investigation into this campaign associate is because he didn't know what he had.
And the fact to the matter is when his -- when he put out a letter about new emails that potentially new emails that is surfaced from Hillary Clinton's office, he didn't know what he had. He put those -- he put that letter out because he was concerned that people in the FBI might leak out that there was new evidence. That was kind of the thing that was unspoken tonight. He felted like he had two bad options because people would leak. And I was actually just reflecting when you guys were talking about, you know, did he leak, did -- you know, was that right? Was that wrong? I think there is a general issue at the FBI of information leaking out. In fact, the entire investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails, the only reason we knew about that was because of FBI leaks until he went and spoke. He --
CUOMO: One is being a relative assessment, right Robby. I mean, do we get leak from the FBI? Yes. Do we get them that compares with what happens on the political side? No. So it's always a relative assessment.
CUOMO: But I do think something is interesting here. But we got to draw a distinction. If you knew what you had, OK that wound up being an operating dynamic tonight for him. If we knew what we had with Donald Trump will then, maybe I would have done more. But we didn't so I did nothing. But he didn't apply that to his second disclosure about Hillary Clinton because he did not know what he had.
CUOMO: In fact, in testimony he didn't even get the number of emails right. And ironically that's what the Trump folk call out in his lie. He lied -- yes, he lied about how many e-mails he had. It was a lie that even hurt Hillary Clinton more. He had to go back and clear it up. But he didn't apply that standard to a second disclose about Hillary Clinton. He did apply it to his -- not making an initial disclosure about Donald Trump. That must be unsatisfying to you.
MOOK: Yes, exactly. And I think that's the question that hasn't been answered. And, you know, you and I talked about this before. What really matters here is that we learn from what happened and make sure it doesn't happen again. And the more I listen to him, I've been following on this tour, I've read parts of the book, the more I come back to the fact that he just shouldn't have broke protocol. And I honestly don't understand his logic. I don't think he is answering the question directly. I'd be a lot happier if he just come out and say, you know what, I made the best decision I could at the time. You know we probably shouldn't do this sort of thing moving forward because it absolutely was an intervention in the election. And I don't want it to happen to anybody else moving forward.
CUOMO: You know one of the reasons they have that rule, ROBBY -- and it's interesting, I don't mean this. look, obviously, you know, how I was raised what my name is I respect public service. I respect people in it. But Comey gave you guys on both sides to aisle and opportunity to push him even farther into compromise.
Once he said something about the Clinton investigation, the Clinton people were robustly -- I mean, you know this better than I do, Robby, pushing to get him say something else. Get him to close, get him to out because now he had opened Pandora's Box.
And now we hear Kellyanne Conway saying, you know, it was wrong for him to break protocol. He is a big mouth. He should have stayed quiet. But he also should have said that the President wasn't under investigation, why? Because politicians want to have it both ways and play to advantage, and James Comey gave them an opportunity to compromise in that way.
[21:50:00] MOOK: Well, this comes back and reinforces the point. I just don't think they should do it ever. I don't think she should be commenting on an investigation into the President -- what's that?
CUOMO: That's usually the rule. MOOK: Well, exactly. And that's why -- and I think this entire episode is evidence of why that should be the case. And I think all this swirl that we're having about leaking reinforces why it is so damaging when that agency or any other leaks in the way that they do.
And I just -- you know, Comey is talking a lot about moral leadership and so on. And I'm glad he's speaking what he believes is true. I just wish he would be more forthright about where he made mistakes.
MOOK: And where we can improve moving forward. I honestly think he has to know deep down something didn't go right here.
CUOMO: I got to tell you though, you know, part of the confusion in this, so I got Comey's book, I've got Hillary's book, and obviously I've got the Twitter feed for Donald Trump which is like 15 books already. And the confusing part is that, you know, Comey wound up being to blame for the same things that those two are also, which is that he wound up putting himself first, it seems.
Hillary Clinton, with how you guys handled the email situation in the beginning, it was a mistake. It wasn't own -- she didn't want to own it. I remember doing the town hall with her, I had to like chase her around the stage to get her to talk about it. That wound up making it worse.
Donald Trump fired James Comey, that was his big mistake, it lead to the special counsel, he even said again tonight, Comey, that could be obstruction of justice. He never wrote anything like this about Obama or Bush, and he never did it because he never felt the need to.
So there's a lot of instinct to go around and I guess depending on what team you're on is what you'll smell the most.
Robby Mook, I appreciate your perspective always. It's critical to our understanding of stuff. Thank you.
All right, we have other breaking news to get to tonight and it's really significant. There is late reporting on the President's personal attorney. He's pleaded the Fifth Amendment. He's asserted his constitutional right against self-incrimination. He doesn't want to therefore be involved in the Stormy Daniels case.
Pleading the fifth sounds bad, right? Donald Trump, our President, says it means people are guilty. But why he's doing it and what it could mean for that case and the overall investigation, I've got answers for you when we come back.
[21:56:09] CUOMO: Breaking news tonight, Michael Cohen taking the fifth. The President's personal attorney who is under criminal investigation filed court papers today saying that he will assert his Fifth Amendment rights in the Stormy Daniels case. Now, as you know, Cohen was involved in paying the porn star money, obviously that's what you would pay someone, to keep her quiet about an alleged sexual encounter with the President.
We asked Kellyanne Conway about this at the top of the program, but that's all politics, right? Let's to a legal analyst, Carrie Cordero. Carrie, great to have you. People when they plead the fifth there is a stigma but there is a constitutional truth and there is also a tactical truth here. What are they?
CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: So according to the Fifth Amendment, you can't be compelled to be a witness against yourself. And so that is what Michael Cohen has asserted. The judge requested that he specifically make a statement if he was going to assert his Fifth Amendment right to not be a witness against himself.
So what that means in the civil case is that now there is a delay and he will not have to be deposed or be interviewed by Ms. Clifford's lawyer, because what would happen if he was interviewed, there is risk for him, might he say something that is different than documents or information that was obtained in the criminal search warrant that was issued by the southern district of New York, executed in New York, against his home, his office, his devices, documents. And so I think the risk for him was, would he potentially say something that would implicate himself in that criminal case. So it's a safe thing for him to do.
CUOMO: Right. First full disclosure, I asked Kellyanne about Ronny Jackson, I didn't talk to her about Cohen, just to be accurate.
So also let's just clarify what this means. He doesn't want to talk about stormy Daniels that means he knows he's guilty. That's not what it means. Here it really is not what it means because it's a tactical choice. You have an open criminal investigation, you don't want to be involved with ongoing civil litigation. Is it true that pretty much everybody would have made this choice in the same circumstances if they had good counsel?
CORDERO: Well, it's certainly this is what his lawyer would advise him to do, he's following the advice of his lawyer. Look, that was a big search warrant. He is obviously under some significant federal investigation related to whatever were his business dealings and his declaration that he filed in the civil matter says that that search did include the information that the government agents got included information regarding the payment that was made to Ms. Clifford. So he knows for a fact that there is information the government has that's relevant to this payment that he made and he certainly doesn't want to get caught up, at least the advise of his lawyers would be. He doesn't want to get caught up in perhaps saying something inconsistent or exposing himself in information that then could be used against him in the criminal case.
CUOMO: Let me get one quick tape for you on something else. So we're right this off, he is pleading the fifth controversy or non- controversy, we'll check the box, non-controversy on this, it's tactical. Now, in terms of the Stormy Daniels case, the idea that -- well, Cohen is in trouble there, isn't there still a lot of wood to chop? I mean, there's a defamation claim against Cohen, you know, he filed an anti- SLAP, a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation, it's a California law, where Cohen is saying, you're only suing me for defamation, Michael Avenatti, Stormy Daniels to keep me quiet, I didn't defame you, cancel this. There is a lot of wood to chop left for Stormy Daniels there, is there not?
CORDERO: Well, it looks like -- look, there's a lot of different actions that she and her lawyer are filing in that case. I haven't read every single pleading in their civil case. But clearly there's a lot of different things that they're alleging. The question over the payment as it relates to the President is, was Michael Cohen authorized to make that payment on his behalf.
And so certainly he's going to want to set this civil case aside while his criminal investigative issues work their way through that process.
CUOMO: Long way to go, but this is an interesting development. It's great to get your take on it. Carrie Cordero, thank you.
It is not time to hand it over to Don Lemon, the man for CNN Tonight.