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FBI Director & Deputy A.G. Face Grilling by House Judiciary Committee; Trump Blasts Mueller, Russia Probe Ahead of Putin Summit; Diplomat: Trump Told Allies "NATO as Bad as NAFTA". Aired 11:30-12p ET
Aired June 28, 2018 - 11:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:30:00] REP. JIM JORDAN, (R), OHIO: We started for asking for information in July of last year, and some of that is still not given -- still has not been given to the Congress. Still has not been given to this committee, the committee charged with -- the Judiciary Committee.
So I appreciate what you do. I just want the information. And we're so frustrated that there's now a resolution on the floor of the House and in just a few minutes that will be voted on.
GOODLATTE: The time of the gentleman has expired. Mr. Rosenstein will be allowed to respond.
ROSENSTEIN: I don't have any control over what resolutions you vote on, sir...
JORDAN: I know you don't.
ROSENSTEIN: ... and you should feel free to do that.
GOODLATTE: The gentleman will suspend. If -- the time now is the attorney general's.
ROSENSTEIN: If you're interested in the truth, Mr. Jordan, the truth is we have a team of folks. They're Trump appointees and career folks, and they're doing their best to produce these documents.
Director Wray explained to you the process. He's got hundreds of people working around the clock, trying to satisfy these requests. So whether you vote or not is not going to affect it. You're going to get everything that's relevant that we can find and produce to you.
I support this report, sir. I'm not trying to hide anything from you.
GOODLATTE: The chair recognizes the gentleman from Georgia, Mr. Johnson, for five minutes.
H. JOHNSON: OK. All right. Thank you, gentlemen. I appreciate your service. I've been impressed with your diligence and your honesty and your integrity in this very difficult environment that we find ourselves in.
And, basically, it's a situation where the majority is hurting this country. We're hurting our country with what we're doing today. What we're doing today is holding an emergency hearing -- a so-called emergency hearing based on allegations that political influence or political bias within the FBI and the DOJ has somehow led to a illegitimate result in the Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation.
That's an investigation that was conducted originally -- it was conducted by the FBI and DOJ, no criminal charges filed, investigation closed. Then there was a -- a inspector general's investigation of that investigation. Those reports -- or that report was issued last week. It found that there was no wrongdoing in the investigation of the investigation.
And now, today, we have an investigation of the investigation of the investigation. And it's a emergency situation. Also a part of this hearing is a attempt to investigate the ongoing criminal investigation into the allegations and indications of collusion and perhaps conspiracy with Russians in the conducting of the 2016 presidential election.
And, ominously, what the Republicans are trying to do is force the FBI and DOJ to turn over to this committee investigating the investigators information, documents that go to the heart of the criminal investigation.
It's been my experience that the criminal investigators never turn over information -- they're never even asked to turn over information in an ongoing criminal investigation. Can you both comment on the uniqueness of what's happening today and the danger that it poses to justice in this country?
ROSENSTEIN: Congressman, I don't believe it poses any danger, because we are not going to produce any documents that will interfere with an ongoing investigation.
H. JOHNSON: Well, if you...
ROSENSTEIN: I said the -- in response to Mr. Jordan's question, we actually are producing the documents. It's a large volume of documents. It's taking a lot of time. And I -- as I said, you know, I thought he had a legitimate point about the redactions that made it appear as if the bureau was concealing information.
So we brought in Mr. Lausch. We changed the process. And I actually think, in reality, it's working quite well. And whatever anybody votes on is beyond my control.
H. JOHNSON: Well -- go ahead.
WRAY: Congressman, we are committed to being responsive to legitimate congressional oversight. We're trying our hardest to produce documents as quickly as we possibly can and as completely as we possibly can.
We also have an obligation to protect ongoing criminal and counterintelligence investigations. We also have an obligation to respect grand jury secrecy. We also have an obligation to protect sources and methods. And we're sworn to do those things, just like we are to protect and be responsive to congressional oversight.
And the inspector general's report -- ironically, the report that we're here to talk about -- is very pointed on the subject, as one of the principal failings that it found was commenting on an ongoing investigation, publicly and with Congress. And so we take those lessons very seriously. We're trying to learn those lessons.
H. JOHNSON: Well, Director Wray, threatening you with a subpoena, threatening you with contempt of Congress for noncompliance with a -- a congressional subpoena puts you in a bad position, doesn't it?
WRAY: Well, certainly, when I was minding my own business in private practice in Atlanta, I didn't think I was going to be spending the first 10 months of my job dealing -- staring down the barrel of a contempt citation for conduct that occurred long before I even thought about being FBI director.
Having said that, I am committed to making sure that we're responsive to these committees. And, to the extent that we can do better, we're trying to do better.
H. JOHNSON: Well, there's certain information...
WRAY: At the same time -- but at the same time, in my experience, there is -- there are two principles that have to be balanced: responsiveness to congressional oversight, which is very important to me personally; but also respecting ongoing criminal investigations...
H. JOHNSON: And there's certain...
WRAY: ... which is (ph) also very important.
H. JOHNSON: ... and there's certain information that you cannot provide...
GOODLATTE: The time -- the time of the gentleman has expired.
H. JOHNSON: ... to this committee, based on the ongoing nature of the criminal investigation. Is that correct?
GOODLATTE: Time of the gentleman has expired.
The committee will stand in recess. There's seven -- or six minutes and 45 seconds remaining in a vote on the floor, and we will reconvene as soon as that vote concludes.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Kate Bolduan here. You've been watching along with me this House committee hearing with the director of the FBI and the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. And, man, we have seen a lot already.
Let me bring in now, Josh Campbell, CNN law enforcement analyst, former supervisory agent at the FBI, Nia Malika Henderson, CNN senior political reporter, and Evan Perez, CNN's justice correspondent.
Evan, I just sent this out as we were watching this whole thing play, there's not even a pretense of decorum anymore. It is straight up hostile between -- just look at Jim Jordan and the deputy attorney general. I know Jim Jordan said it wasn't personal but it is hard to think it wasn't.
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Really, you cannot help but think it is personal because here we have the deputy attorney general, who is a Republican, who is life-long Republican, who is appointed by President Trump, he's, you know, someone who is, according to him, trying his best to address the concerns of the members of Congress.
And, by the way, he revealed during his testimony that they produced 880,000 pages of documents, they got 100 staffers, he's also brought in a U.S. attorney to oversee the production of these documents. And he's also saying that they're trying to do this while trying to make sure that it doesn't affect or hurt the ongoing investigation that is being handled by Bob Mueller. So there's a lot of information that is being given to Congress. It is not being done apparently fast enough to the liking of Jim Jordan and Trey Gowdy and some of the other members of Congress.
What really struck me, Kate, was Christopher Wray, who is also a Trump appointee, telling them that they -- that he's trying to do things as quickly as possible, produce a document, but he also said that he's trying to do everything by the book, which is not a word that they're going to like, right? They want these documents just handed over and he's saying that despite the pressure to go around the process that the FBI normally uses this is the time he wants to stick by that -- by the policies.
And I also -- the exchange with Trey Gowdy was really stunning, Kate, because --
BOLDUAN: Just point of order, my friend, it wasn't much of an exchange. It was Trey Gowdy giving his monologue.
PEREZ: It was a monologue and he was railing against the idea that there's a presumption of guilt by the Democrats against the sitting President Trump with regard to the Russia collusion investigation and also the idea that Democrats might be fund-raising off the investigation.
But let me just remind you, Trey Gowdy oversaw the Benghazi investigation. And you can just use your Google to go back and look at clips of Trey Gowdy and other Republicans who had a presumption of guilt about Hillary Clinton. They said that not only was she mishandling the security of the personnel there, they -- that Hillary Clinton issued a stand-down order so that Americans who are under attack by terrorists were killed because they did not receive the proper help. And he also during that same time, even during the current investigation, President Trump and the RNC have been sending out a fundraising appeal because of what they say is a witch-hunt.
So, look, I think we know what happens during these hearings, but it is kind of -- to watch members of Congress to say the things they say.
[11:40:00] BOLDUAN: I do want to drill down, I want to drill down.
Josh, help me out on this one. What Jim Jordan and Rod Rosenstein were going back and forth about. This gets to -- there are many elements of this, right? It all kind of centers around the Russia investigation, the origins of it, and that's what this gets to. Jim Jordan says -- we have the sound pulled, I'll play it for you again, why are you keeping information from Congress? And Rod Rosenstein threw out, said that is not accurate. We are not hiding information from you.
I think we actually have it re-racked. Let's play this for you guys.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JORDAN: -- Congress.
ROD ROSENSTEIN, DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: Congressman, I'm not keeping any information from Congress that it is --
JORDAN: In a few minutes, Mr. Rosenstein, I think the House of Representatives is going to say something different.
ROSENSTEIN: I don't agree with you, Congressman. I don't believe that's what they're going to say and if they do --
JORDAN: I disagree. I think --
JORDAN: I think in a few minutes the House of Representatives is going to go on record saying you haven't complied with requests from a separate and equal branch of government, that you haven't complied with subpoenas, and you got seven days to get your act together. I think that's what's going to happen -- that's not Jim Jordan. I think that's a majority of the House of Representatives. In a few minutes, I think that's going to happen. I don't know why you won't give us what we asked for.
ROSENSTEIN: Sir, I certainly hope your colleagues are not --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: That was just the beginning of it, Josh.
JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: It was very interesting. The one thing that may have been missed there is, you know, Jordan was interrupting the deputy attorney general. If you listen to what Rosenstein said, he said we have been responsive in providing you everything that is appropriate for you to receive. It is that key piece of information, because as you look at the norms that we have long operated here with our Department of Justice, congressional oversight is obviously incredibly important.
Going back to Chairman Goodlatte and his opening statement where he referenced the famous Church hearings from the 1970s, that were looking into righteous, you know, actual abuses of power by the Intelligence Community. So no one questions that Congress is doing its job. The issue here, and we're going to see this play out the rest of today, is what is the information to which Congress is entitled.
The FBI, the Department of Justice is saying, look, we're going to provide you with information as part of your oversight duties, but the sources and methods are things long been protected. That's the showdown. It looks like the FBI, DOJ is going farther than they have been, with Christopher Wray saying they have a hundred people around the clock to try to churn out this information. But I don't think we're going to see Congress completely satisfied because the crux of what they're looking at is something that the FBI and DOJ as of now are not willing to hand over.
BOLDUAN: And, Nia, on this issue, on what the whole thing was about between Jim Jordan and Rod Rosenstein, do we know what they are really looking for? As Evan laid out, all of the documents have been produced, a lot of them obviously the American public can't see. But do we know what Republicans are looking for?
NIA MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICS REPORTER: I don't know that we do. It is clearly an exercise that Republicans are engaging in trying to paint this investigation as wrong, too wide ranging, as Rosenstein possibly holding information. It is not clear if it is a political gamesmanship here. But if you look at what Jim Jordan was saying, he was saying also he feels like that the investigators aren't respecting co-equal branches. And you heard one of the Democrats there say, is it actually right to give information during an ongoing criminal investigation, is that something that would normally happen? And Rosenstein answered that.
And was also I think interesting about the role that the Democrats are playing here, we saw what the Republicans were doing, you saw Cohen there, Steve Cohen, a representative from Tennessee, really trying to rehabilitate Mueller's reputation. They must be reading the same polls we are, which shows that Mueller's reputation has taken a beating, primarily because Trump keeps hammering on him and hammering on the investigation, calling it a witch-hunt. There was Steve Cohen there basically saying, didn't Bob Mueller volunteer for Vietnam? Didn't he go after notorious bad guys in his career? Didn't he forgo a very lucrative career to do public service instead? That was also an interesting dynamic.
This is, as you said, incredibly partisan. Gowdy complaining that it was -- the investigation or the investigators were biased and then I think showing that he was biased too in many ways in that exchange about, can't you hurry up and get this done? The American public wants to see what the results are. And Evan made this point, my goodness, the Benghazi investigation, I think, took two and a half years --
HENDERSON: --- something like $8 million. So that was really rich to hear that from Trey Gowdy.
PEREZ: Let me just add real quick, I think you heard from a couple of members of Congress, this idea that they wanted the FBI and the Justice Department to tell them whether the FBI was doing some investigative work on this Russia collusion and whether or not on people connected to the Trump campaign before July of 2016, right? You heard that a couple of times. And I think what they believe is that there's some secret documents that the FBI is refusing to turn over that may show that this investigation was started off from, you know, from some place that was very, very bad, and frankly, the FBI did not have a right to be doing what it had to be -- what it was doing. So I'm not sure they're ever going to get satisfied because, you know, there's a -- this began with a counterintelligence investigation --
PEREZ: -- and, you know this is what the FBI does. They do investigate things, check things out, and then they formally open an investigation when they think they have enough. And so I'm not sure that the members are ever going to be satisfied with that.
[11:45:41] BOLDUAN: No. And -- let me jump over to Manu Raju.
We lost Manu. We'll get to Manu when we can.
The point I was going to make, Evan, they're never going to see eye to eye on this. It all -- all that you need to know is what you're laying out with members of Congress, what members of Congress are asking for, and they think the beginnings of this Russian investigation were faulty or biased.
And then you hear Rod Rosenstein say, what we see coming out of the inspector general's report -- and they're troubled by the text messages they saw as well, let's make that very clear. He says, the result of that, the best result of that is to let Bob Mueller do his job and let him finish the investigation, bring it to its appropriate conclusion. And he says that's what he's told Bob Mueller he should do.
PEREZ: Right. Keep in mind, there's an election coming up in a few months. For members of Congress, a lot of members, there's another concern they have, which is that if the Democrats take control of the House, they're going to lose their subpoena power, no longer going to be in control. And so some of the questions that they have, they're afraid may not be answered because the Democrats are not going to be as interested in sending subpoenas and really holding the feet of the attorney general and the FBI director holding their feet to the fire on this issue.
I think that's a fair assessment on their part. We don't know how the election turns out. But there is -- it does appear that some of these members are in a hurry because they're afraid of what might happen in November. Whether that changes anything or not, we don't know.
BOLDUAN: Well, it seems it is not changing -
BOLDUAN: Go ahead, Josh.
CAMPBELL: I was going to say, on that point, this is pure politics. We try to call balls and strikes and see things down the middle here. This is the height of hypocrisy. In one breath, they say, well, the House Republicans -- the Democrats and MSNBC, they have invoked them saying they're prejudging impeachment, but they're prejudging a counterintelligence investigation that is not even complete yet. So one would ask themselves, why are they doing that? It is all politics, and this election that is fast approaching, they have to get something done.
BOLDUAN: Guys, stand by.
We have Manu Raju now who is on Capitol Hill, talking to lawmakers about the testimony.
Manu, what is any reaction to what we watched play out?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the hallways are absolutely on fire, Kate. Republicans and Democrats have a complete opposite reaction about what they heard. Democrats, in particular, going after the Republicans for what they believe is all an effort to undermine the Justice Department, all in an effort to undermine the FBI and undermine the Mueller investigation.
Eric Swalwell, one of the Democrats who interrupted that feisty back and forth between Jim Jordan, Rod Rosenstein, said that this clearly is all an attempt to kneecap Mueller and try to put the government on trial.
And the Republicans say they are just not buying anything that Rod Rosenstein is saying, no matter what him and Director Wray are saying about the number of documents that have been turned over. They say that is simply not enough.
Moments from now, we're expecting the House to vote on a resolution, calling for these documents to be turned over to the Hill by July 6th and if that deadline is not met to the satisfaction of the Republicans, that's when we should expect some next steps, potentially to hold Rod Rosenstein in contempt, which you be a symbolic measure, not necessarily forcing him to do anything, to be protracted fight. But nevertheless, that's what some Democrats believe is a pretext to give the president some cover to fire Rod Rosenstein or at least force Rod Rosenstein to step aside from overseeing the Mueller investigation, all playing out here in the halls of Congress.
And just moments ago, too, Kate, Rod Rosenstein left this committee room, just next to me, and I tried to ask him if he felt that Republicans are treating him fairly, he smiled and walked away. So we'll see how the rest of this afternoon goes, but expect more contentious line of questioning as he's not satisfied Republicans and Democrats are
[11:49:55] BOLDUAN: I'm looking on the monitor, Manu. I've got the House floor and I'm looking at the vote as it's playing out now. They haven't gaveled yet, but right now, it's 213 to 170. It's likely
the legislation will be agreed to. All you need is a majority of Republicans. I guess there are some Republicans who might presently not vote, who knows. Again, what's the point of the resolution again?
I just want to make clear, didn't Rod Rosenstein say they're working on getting them the documents?
RAJU: This has been the dispute that's been going on for months. The DOJ has been saying very clearly they're providing these documents. The director is saying there are 100 employees that are working around the clock to get these documents over, hundreds of thousands have been turned over. But Republicans just believe they have not gotten the right documents, they believe the documents have not been responsive, they believe they've been overly redacted, and they let out more requests for information, more requests. Devin Nunes having his own requests about these potential informants that have been used during the Obama administration, in his words, to spy on the Trump campaign, even though there's been no evidence to substantiate that yet.
He's demanding a lot of records in regards for that. And Democrats and Republicans also pushing for information about whether surveillance was improperly done on Trump associates. The records that have been turned over, they haven't been satisfied with that yet. Even though some records have been turned over, a lot of records, the Republicans are saying that's not enough, and the Democrats are saying this is all moving the goalposts, all part of an effort to undercut the Mueller investigation -- Kate?
BOLDUAN: Again, the Mueller investigation about Russia, about Russian meddling just on the same day the president decides to tweet, "Russia continues to say they had nothing to do with meddling in our election. This is where we are today, America."
Manu, thanks so much.
A lot coming up for us. The chance to reshape the Supreme Court for a generation not stopping President Trump from attacking the Mueller investigation. His new attacks on the Russian probe -- what I just said to you. And all of this comes ahead of the summit between President Trump and Vladimir Putin. That's next.
BOLDUAN: President Trump on the road, but on Twitter still. He seems to be defending Vladimir Putin this morning. Take a look at the tweet and you be the judge. "Russia continues to say they had nothing to do with meddling in our election." That flies in the face of what everybody says, the CIA, FBI, NSA, Republicans, allies, and everybody in-between. That's what they all found and that's what they all say.
The tweet posted just minutes before the White House announced that Trump and Vladimir Putin will be meeting July 16th in Finland.
CNN's Boris Sanchez is in Wisconsin where the president will be taking part in a groundbreaking ceremony at a plant there.
Boris, what are you hearing there?
[11:54:57] BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, there, Kate. Yes, President Trump waking up in Wisconsin. He's going to attend a number of closed-door fundraisers before making his way to this groundbreaking of a Foxconn plant. The president expected to deliver remarks touting the economic benefits of his agenda to a state he won by a single percentage point over Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election.
President Trump may go in any number of directions. He may comment on some of that testimony that we just saw from FBI Director Christopher Wray and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
Further, he could talk about the retirement of Justice Kennedy and the implications of that retirement and the upcoming nomination from the White House.
Of course, the president could also talk about the Russia investigation, as you noted, he did on Twitter this morning.
Here's some other tweets he sent out writing about Bob Mueller, listing his conflicts of interest, also asking, "What about the 13 angry Democrats? Will they list their conflicts with Crooked H? How many will be sent to jail on totally unrelated charges?"
The president going further and suggesting that there's a deep state within the FBI and the Department of Justice. All of that against the backdrop of the announcement that President Trump will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in mid-July. We'll see if he talks about that here in Wisconsin -- Kate?
BOLDUAN: Boris, thank you very much. We'll wait and see.
Joining me now, CNN international anchor, Christiane Amanpour.
Christiane, you have the tweet from President Trump. Back to where we began with him when it comes to Russian meddling, it seems. But additionally, you have this new reporting. Elise Labott reporting that President Trump told other leaders at the G-7 summit that, quote, "NATO is as bad as NAFTA." He lectured NATO a year ago. He lectured the G-7 last month. What does this new statement do now? CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Look,
this is a really, really dramatic moment because what the allies absolutely cannot afford and do not want is for President Trump to disrupt a NATO summit so shortly after he did the G-7 summit. In other words, not backing the alliance, pulling out of the final communique, insulting the host, Prime Minister Trudeau, and causing a lot of anxiety amongst the allies about his commitment to the allies, to the alliance, to the bedrock of U.S. foreign policy, and to the global international-based, rules-based world order. So this is really important for the NATO alliance to make sure that they have a successful summit with President Trump next month.
I spoke to the deputy secretary of state, John Sullivan, about this very point, and particularly in light of the meeting with Putin -- and we can talk about that in a second. But here's what Secretary Sullivan says about the NATO summit.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN SULLIVAN, DEPUTY SECRETARY OF STATE: We're very open with our NATO allies, our E.U. colleagues on the preparations for the NATO summit. It's obviously high on our agenda, a successful NATO summit, where our allies will hear directly from the president, his views on these important issues, reaffirming our commitment to NATO, to our NATO allies, to our NATO treaty obligations, which have been a bedrock principle of U.S. foreign policy in the post-war era. So we're looking forward to a successful NATO summit, I know the president is. And we'll discuss all of these issues openly with our NATO allies and with other E.U. colleagues, and we're very much looking forward to it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So that from the deputy secretary of state should be music to the alliance's ears. But they all know that President Trump is very transactional. He's bound to berate them again about the two percentage points of GDP that they should be paying towards their NATO budget, their military budget. And, you know, they were concerned about the Trump-Putin meeting. Probably better for them that it's happening after the NATO summit, because then they can, sort of, you know, sort of brief President Trump as to what's important to them before he goes to meet with Putin. Because we know that Putin likes to see President Trump, you know, sort of roil up the alliance and likes to see the alliance weakened in any form possible, so they're very concerned about that.
And to that meeting, again, Secretary Sullivan was quite clear about Crimea. You know President Trump said, well, perhaps Russia should have Crimea. After all, they've done all this, et cetera, and Russia should be readmitted to the G-8. Well, Sullivan says that we will not surrender our principles, that we believe Crimea is part of a democratic and independent and free Ukraine. So we'll see which side wins.
BOLDUAN: Yes. President Trump or it seems the rest of the government. Do you think there needs to be an agenda for the meeting? John Bolton
says there is. Do you think there needs to be an agenda or just sitting down is worth it?
AMANPOUR: I bet there's an agenda. The question is how successful it will be. You've seen a State Department reporting and others that there's some kind of quid pro quo that President Trump wants to carve out with President Putin over Syria. Whether or not that's workable, manageable, we'll have to see. But also beyond that, obviously, President Trump is a believer in the meeting of principal on foreign policy. He did it with Kim Jong-Un.