tv Charlie Rose Bloomberg June 11, 2017 7:00am-8:01am EDT
♪ announcer: from our studios in new york city, this is "charlie rose." charlie: we begin this evening with james comey. the former fbi director gave his highly anticipated testimony before the senate intelligence committee earlier today. in his opening remarks, he said president trump lied to the american people when he said agents lost confidence in him. >> although the law required no reason at all to fire the fbi director, the administration chose to defame me, and more importantly the fbi, by saying the organization was in disarray, that it was poorly led, that the workforce had lost confidence in its leader.
those were lies, plain and simple. and i'm so sorry the fbi workforce had to hear them, and i'm so sorry the american people were told this. i worked every day at the fbi to help make that great organization better. charlie: comey also revealed he turned over memos documenting his conversations with president trump to robert mueller. it is the first public suggestion the investigation will look into trump's firing of comey. during the testimony, president trump spoke at a meeting of faith leaders and politicians in washington and pushed back against the media and his political opponents. president trump: they will lie. they will obstruct. they will spread their hatred and their prejudice. but we will not back down from doing what is right because, as the bible tells us -- [applause] president trump: we know the truth will prevail. charlie: for the latest on this developing story, here is a
report from the cbs evening news. >> i was concerned he might lie about the nature of the meeting so i thought it was important to document. >> comey told senators it was the president's pattern of dishonesty that prompted him to take notes. >> i knew there might come a day when i would need a record of what happened to defend myself and the fbi. >> he says he wrote down everything he could remember from a january dinner where the president demanded his loyalty. >> my common sense told me what is going on is he is looking to get something in exchange for granting my request to stay in the job. >> three weeks later, he says the president ordered everyone but him out of a meeting in the oval office. >> have you ever seen anything like that before? >> no. my sense was the attorney general knew he should not be
leaving which is why he was lingering. i do not know mr. kushner well but i think he picked up on the same thing. i knew something was about to happen i needed to pay close attention to. >> when they were alone, he says the president told him i hope you can see your way clear to dropping an fbi investigation involving fired national security advisor michael flynn. california democrat dianne feinstein. >> why didn't you stop and say, mr. president, this is wrong, i cannot discuss this with you? >> maybe if i were stronger, i would have. i was so stunned by the conversation that i just took it in. >> idaho republican jim risch. >> he did not direct you to let it go. >> not in his words, no. this is the president of the united states with me alone. this." "i hope i took it as this is what he wants me to do. i did not obey that but that is
the way i took it. >> the oklahoma republican argued president trump did not say anything to comey that he has not said on twitter. >> the president has informed about 6 billion people he is not fond of this investigation. do you think there is a difference in that? >> yes. i think there is a big difference in kicking superior officers out of the oval office, looking the fbi director the eye and saying, "i hope you let this go." i think if our agents heard the president did that, there is a real risk of a chilling effect on their work. >> president trump has disputed comey's account, even tweeting last month, "james comey better hope there are no tapes of our conversation." >> i hope there are tapes. >> comey says that tweet three days after he was fired let him to take the unusual step. he asked a friend to share the contents of his memos with a "new york times" reporter. >> i thought that might prompt the appointment of a special
counsel. >> why didn't you give those to somebody yourself rather than through a third party? >> the media was camping in my driveway. i worried it would be like feeding seagulls at the beach if i gave it to the media, so i asked my friend to make sure it gets out. >> comey says he resents the shifting explanations for his firing. >> the administration then chose to defame me, and more importantly the fbi, by saying the organization was in disarray, but it was poorly led, that the workforce had lost confidence in its leader. those were lies, plain and simple. charlie: we have a series of guests talking about the comey testimony today. joining me first to senator angus king of maine who is a member of the committee. you had a ringside seat to the event. anything to of great drama, of great consequence. event of great drama, of
great consequence. how did you see it? >> i think the important thing is somewhat obscured by all the attention to whether or not there was some kind of cooperation between the trump campaign or what did the president say to mr. comey. we cannot lose sight of the fact we are talking about a direct attack on american democracy by the russians. a very big deal and a very important one because it is not over. there is no reason to expect they are not going to be back trying to interfere in our elections in 2018 and 2020. that is why a series of questions this morning at the beginning of the hearing from chairman burr and others were to establish this is important and there is no doubt it happened. i loved director comey's phrase "there is no fuzz on this question." we know the russians did it. we know it came from the top of the government. we know it was sophisticated. we know they will try to do it again. i think that is a very important part of today's hearing. obviously, there were other very important parts in terms of his interactions with the president. but we cannot lose sight of what this is all about. charlie: do you think the
president, donald trump, knows the russians hacked and tried to influence our elections? that he agrees with that, and he agrees with the seriousness you just suggested it has for the united states in the future? >> i don't know that. it is a very disturbing part of this. if you recall, there was a question from senator manchin. did the president ever express concern about it? did he ask you about what this was all about and what the ramifications were? the answer was except for when he was initially briefed on january 6, essentially no. there were nine conversations. none of which were, what are the russians doing and what can we do about it? that is worrisome to me. charlie: do you believe the president -- and clearly we want to hear -- this is one senator after another including the chair and cochair -- expressed the idea this was an important
time to ask basic questions and inform the american people. do you believe -- where do you think that probe is? >> you mean the probe on what the russians did? charlie: yes. >> that is pretty well done. the facts are established on both what the russians tried to do and the release of the emails and the fake news and derogatory material, and all of that. we know that. that has been well established and well documented. the other piece that has not gotten much attention at all that i'm deeply worried about, i think one of the most important parts of this, is they also tried to get into state election systems. registration rolls of states. by all accounts, intelligences
-- intelligence says they were not successful. no votes were changed. but they were not doing it for fun. they were practicing and learning. and they are going to be back. imagine if on election night we had allegations of 100,000 votes changed in michigan and wisconsin or florida and north carolina. we would have had a true constitutional crisis. and that part of it i think has gotten less attention than it deserves. that is one of the most worrisome aspects about this. i keep emphasizing, as i asked mr. comey today, this is not a one-off proposition. they will be back. i think in some cases, they never left. charlie: how relevant do you consider it whether anyone from political process in america was in any way connected, whether collusion or not? how relevant is the question, did members of the trump transition team or campaign team or developing government have some connection with the russians who were doing this? >> i think it is relevant. i think it is relevant because here is a country that is a
major adversary. the russians do not wish us well. they were trying to undermine our democracy, the core of who we are. if there were connections, and i'm not saying there were, that is what we are investigating and what the fbi is investigating. but if there were, that is a very serious matter. and we need to understand it. part of this, this is not about relitigating the election in 2016. a big part of this is clarifying what happened so in the future it does not happen again and nobody might be tempted to develop such a relationship with a country that is trying to strike at who we are. charlie: is it relevant that the president, if he did, in some way trying to impede an investigation into what the russians did and what help they might have had from an american? >> it certainly is a relevant
part of the inquiry. i think that has become the fourth piece. did they interfere in the election? yes. did they try to go after state systems? yes. we know that. was there a relationship of some kind between the trump campaign and the russians? we don't know that. that is the investigation. the fourth piece has developed since the election. that is, was there some effort on behalf of the white house or president to impede or curtail the investigation? that is an important thing i know the special counsel is going to be looking into and we will certainly be looking into. i tried to get that information yesterday from the head of the the director of national intelligence. neither one would answer my questions. i was quite frustrated because i do not think there is any privilege. i don't think they have any right not to answer those questions. but if they were told by the white house or president to slow this investigation. and of course, we have director comey's testimony today, he was told that at least with regard
to mr. flynn, that is information we have to have. the ultimate conclusion on this will probably be drawn by the special counsel when he has all the answers in terms of the interviews the fbi is doing. charlie: what is the mandate for the special counsel, robert mueller? >> i think the mandate is to determine whether or not there was some kind of relationship or collusion between the trump campaign and the russians in terms of the russians' activity in the 2016 election. but based upon the comments i have heard from mr. mccabe who is the acting director of the fbi, he believes the question of the president's relationship to the investigation since he has become president is also relevant. the reason i know that is we had a meeting with mr. mccabe.
probably 10 different senators. i'm sorry -- mr. rosenstein asked him about the memo he wrote and who decided to fire mr. comey and when it was decided. he declined to answer any of those questions by saying that is going to be part of the investigation of the special counsel. i think the special counsel is going to be looking both pre-election but also post-election in terms of the relationship of the white house and president to the investigation itself. charlie: you were clearly upset admiral rogers and d.n.i. director dan coats would not answer your questions. what do you believe they can contribute? what evidence do we have they may have information or have been given information relevant to what the president did or did not do or want done?
>> there have been press reports the president spoke to both of them and asked them, similar to mr. trump, to go easy on the investigation or intercede with the fbi with regard to the investigation. i cannot confirm or deny that. but that is why i wanted to ask them to tell me what happened and were there such contacts with the president. they categorically refused to do so, even though i feel they had no legal basis for doing that. i remember one night i came in very late. my father said, "where have you been?" i did not say i do not feel i can answer that question or that is not an appropriate question. i believe they should have answered the questions. we are going to try to do a closed session because mr. coats said he would be more forthcoming in a closed session, so we are going to give him that opportunity. we want to know if their interactions with them similar to those mr. comey testified to today. if that is the case, that becomes a more disturbing pattern. charlie: let me ask you more questions about today.
james comey's testimony he made memorandums after meeting with the president because he felt the president -- he said it had to do with the nature of the person, was the word i think he used, and he thought the president perhaps would be lying and he wanted a record so his recollection would be better. he then sent those memorandum to a friend. i think the friend leaked them to newspapers. the new york times and the washington ost. washington pos. t. is that appropriate for the fbi director to do? >> he was not the fbi director when that happened. it is certainly appropriate to keep contemporaneous memoranda. people do that frequently. it was interesting he had interactions with president bush
and president obama. you never did such a thing. he never kept contemporaneous memos. he did with president trump because he felt uneasy about what was being said and how it might turn out later. by the way, he wrote those memos when he was the director of the fbi in good standing. he had no reason to think he would be fired. in fact, the president called him up and told him he was doing a great job and he was the director. but he had this uneasy feeling about these interactions of you thought he ought to document them. by the way in a court, contemporaneous memos like that have probative value. they are accepted as buttressing evidence to the testimony of the witness. it does have some value. and also, he mentioned it to several associates at the fbi so, the way he handled it after he was fired, he sent it to a friend who sent it to the newspaper. i don't know what was going through his mind. but i think he was provoked when he saw some of the tweets from mr. trump disparaging his leadership of the fbi and his personality and character. but they were not classified. i think it is important to use
-- i think it is important. co-used the word "leaked or wasmplies somebody violating classification. these were not classified documents. i do not think they were privileged in any way. charlie: everybody i have talked to raises the question, or the question is raised, about obstruction of justice. they all say there is not enough evidence for obstruction of justice yet. there may be other evidence that would lead you there but they have not seen as. they use metaphors like there is smoke that they do not see a smoking gun. is that a view you hold as well? >> i think so. i'm not going to draw that conclusion. that is a criminal matter. that is in the jurisdiction of mr. mueller. that is what he will be following up on. he's going to have access to all of that information. there really are two parallel investigations going on.
the mueller investigation, by the way, there is some confusion. this is not a new investigation. he is taking over the fbi investigation being led by jim comey that goes back more than a year. it is not like there is a whole new investigation. bob mueller will be the leader of that investigation. the fbi looks at criminal activity. that is what their mission is. our mission is fact-finding. there are certainly crossovers and relationships between our investigations, but they are not identical. i am not prepared to talk about extraction of justice or that kind of legal conclusion. we are going to try to get to the facts and then perhaps we will draw some conclusions. but that will be sometime down the road. charlie: did you believe director comey's testimony today? >> yes. it is based upon my experience with him. after four years on the intelligence committee, i have met with him in committee sessions, open and closed, mostly closed, probably a dozen times, 20 times. everybody i know that knows him,
he is one of the straightest arrows around. he has an impeccable reputation for honesty and integrity. people can argue about his judgment, how he handled the hillary clinton email matter and those kinds of things. but i have never heard anybody question his fundamental honesty and truthfulness. i have a friend in maine, and i believe people in maine who worked with him and for him who told me he is one of the finest men he has known or worked with. andrew mccabe, the acting director, said the same thing in public testimony. yes, i certainly -- unless i see evidence to the contrary, jim comey has a lot of credibility with me. as i mentioned, if there are tapes, if there is other evidence he was not telling us the truth, then we need it. let's see it, let's have it. if there is any other corroborating evidence that what mr. comey said is not true, i am
willing to listen and have an open mind. so far, i have not seen anything that contradicts mr. comey's version of events. and of course, the contemporaneous memos have some strength. it is important. he did not write those after he was fired. he wrote them while he was the head of the fbi and thought he was going to be there for the next six years. charlie: understanding what you have said, and this former director comey said, the significance of what the russians have done and are trying to do is a matter of national security and the essential thing that makes america enormously strong which is protecting its democracy. he said that. you said that. others have said that. what was it about this hearing
today that concerned you, alarmed you, angered you most? >> i think the question that really bothered me in terms of his answer was when joe manchin asked him whether the president had ever stopped and inquired about what the russians were doing and what we might do about it. and the answer was no. the president was asking, am i under investigation, and michael flynn, and those kind of things. but there was never, at least according to mr. comey today, and he was vague on the interaction at trump tower in january where he was first briefing the president on these matters, but there did not seem to be any curiosity or concern. the president has been dismissing this whole matter for months and months as fake news and there's nothing to it. there is a lot to it. and it bothers me, according to the testimony today, he never has taken the initiative to find
out what happened and how serious it was and understand how serious it was. one of the realities of this is right now this is viewed to some extent as a partisan issue. it is not a partisan issue. putin is not a republican. and he is not a democrat. he is an opportunist. this whole circumstance could be reversed in two or four years if putin decides it is in his interest to try to elect democrats. marco rubio gets this. he on the committee is very strong on this point that this could work in exactly the opposite way next time so it should not be a partisan issue. we should get to the bottom of what they did and figure out how to defend ourselves because they are going to keep coming. charlie: senator king, thank you so much. i hope we can do a longer conversation. i have had you for 20 minutes and that is a long time in television. i hope we can have a longer conversation at the table in new york.
decades this kind of drama unfolding in washington. but there you have a former director of the fbi accusing a president of lying and suggesting in order to protect himself from lies he had to make copious notes and memorandums to make sure what he saw and heard was recorded. and also suggesting he leaked information or had someone else leak it for him so it might further the appointment of a special counsel. this is really high drama. how did you see it? bob: it was an extraordinary day for an outsider who is now president as well. president trump spent the morning at the white house. i'm told by several white house
officials, partly in the dining room off of the oval office, 60-inch new television he has installed, keeping an eye on the proceedings, preparing for a lunchtime speech to a conservative group in washington. but what was most telling was what the president chose not to do, at least until the late afternoon. it was not to tweet, not use his favorite weapon, his favorite megaphone to share his thoughts. instead, he let his outside counsel issue a statement and have a brief news conference. he let his son donald trump, jr., play the usual role on twitter as a foil, the oldest trump son issued snarky putdowns about comey. the president was convinced i am told to lay low, stay cool, let others be his surrogates because of the thorny legal and political issues facing him. and because he was convinced this hardcharging new york lawyer would be combative enough in the public response that he did not have to weigh in, at least not yet. charlie: that is unusual for him
to be convinced, as he often finds it irresistible. you are suggesting it was the legal implications this time that may have held sway. bob: it is highly unusual for president trump to resist this kind of moment in politics, especially with his reputation on the line. in fact, charlie, earlier in the week when i spoke to white house officials at pennsylvania avenue, they said they worried he may actually live tweet the testimony. that they were not ruling that out. we had a front-page story about this angst inside the west wing that the president was unwilling at least earlier in the week to put away the idea he would engage with comey, perhaps minute by minute. in a series of conversations with white house counsel and other aides, trump was told to let it sit. you may be vindicated, they argued to him, if comey does not lead into the idea of obstruction of justice.
trump, i have covered himself a long time, he thinks of himself as a political warrior who wants to be his own spokesman. he suddenly on this thursday decided to sit back. charlie: do the people you talked to on that side, supporters of donald trump or members in good standing of the republican party who worry about where it might be, do they believe there was today some successful effort to impugn james comey? bob: there was certainly an effort. the republican national committee was active. kasowitz said in his statement that comey lied under oath, in his view.
he called comey a leaker for giving information to "the new york times." but there was not an all-out war against comey. there is still real concern inside the white house and administration about robert mueller, who is now leading the federal probe as special counsel. as much as they could have gone against comey today, comey is not the issue anymore. the legal challenges are not what about comey says in congressional territory, but all the things on the horizon in terms of the special counsel. that is why you have the caution today. not just because of the comey question, but the ongoing probe. charlie: isn't it ironic that one of the goals of the former director comey was in fact to get a special counsel appointed? bob: it is quite ironic. the white house is still trying to feel out this moment. they are not sure what is next. they seem, in their minds on late thursday, to believe the obstruction of justice charge
did not pick up in their view because of comey's testimony. comey did not say explicitly he felt trump's statements about hoping the flynn investigation would go away and comments that came during their exchanges would be something that would be a total burden for this presidency. let me say, as a reporter, this is a white house that is projecting calm and normalcy on thursday. behind the scenes, it is still a projection. a lot of the people in the white house are thinking -- do they need lawyers? could they be called as witnesses in the coming weeks and months? as much as they feel they escaped a major blow because of comey's testimony thursday, they know it is far from the end. charlie: do they believe, while the senate continue its hearings
and investigations, the whole focus shifted to robert mueller and his investigation? bob: the words the president used in the comey memo, was, the cloud. so many people around the president referred to the probe on capitol hill, the federal probe, these different questions and investigations, they call it "the cloud." think back to watergate. the famous phrase was that, there was a cancer growing on the presidency. inside the trump white house, they use this phrase, "there is a cloud over the presidency." if it is not able to be swept away in the next four to six months. it could suffocate his entire presidency. they still have not done much on taxes, health care has stalled, at least for now. senate infrastructure they try to jumpstart this week, but it has not gone anywhere, because they say, "the cloud." charlie: if they do not have the legislative success and go to the country in 2018 they have problems, do they not? those discontented voters that elected them, we are leaders and negotiators, donald trump said,
"i can do this. i will be your voice, accomplish things no one else can accomplish." bob: a good question. inside the white house, i am told the president is narrowly focused on making sure that trump base, the base come of that working-class populist base, is with him. his remarks didn't get much coverage at the freedom conference in washington. i found them so revealing. he did not directly talk about director comey or the testimony. he didn't at all, actually. he had references and statements. he said, "we are under siege," to the conservative crowd. he had a grievance mood. even though it was calm in delivery, he said, "we are under siege, you cannot let them stop us." talking in almost nixonian or spiro agnew way about the enemy. if the agenda continues to be stalled, what we have heard from president trump at this conservative event tells us a lot, that he will run against the political establishment, the political media who he believes deeply is aligned against the white house and perhaps that is the way to keep the base in his grip, even if he does not have a
lot of items or accomplishments to cite. charlie: comey said if there are tapes, bring them on, i welcome tapes. do you think the president has taped these conversations? bob: no, i do not. sometimes he has taped conversations that trump tower, but there is no evidence or discussion i have had on deep background with sources that there is a taping system inside the oval office or on the president's personal phone uses now. the president loves to make these kind of threats about tapes. he has done it throughout his career. it is unsurprising in makes this reference to tapes. again, i am not sure there is any evidence of an actual taping system. charlie: the other interesting thing to me is the way republicans went after james
comey in getting him to defend the fact that after he heard these things from the president, whether it was about michael flynn or other issues, that he might have gone back immediately to the justice department and said -- because he did ask the attorney general not to let him be alone with the president anymore. but he did not disclose to others the fact that he had experienced and heard these things that some people might have found inappropriate, at least. bob: that is true. that is a critique being made by some of trump's allies. what i found throughout my coverage of president is, so many people when they encounter them for the first time, when it comes to political staff, the republican party, they are struck by his personality, how combative he can be privately as well as publicly. they think this is just par for the course, outburst, strange
comments, things that maybe toe the line of appropriateness. comey struck me as another person in trump's orbit. people who think they can handle the situation. they find ultimately -- i found this repeatedly in my reporting, people say, i cannot handle this anymore. they say it is too much for me, they are fired or quit and leave trump's orbit. trump orbit's is a volatile place based on loyalty, friendship, what is best for the president and his popularity and political agenda or other things. that is what comey encountered, something he thought he could contain but could not contain it. charlie: robert costa, thank you so much for stopping in on a very busy day. stay with us. ♪
♪ charlie: we continue our coverage of the comey hearing with hugh hewitt, from the a popular conservative radio show. we are also joined by writers from the atlantic and washington post. i am pleased to have them here. hugh, let's start with you. give me your assessment of what you saw and heard today in washington. >> it was kind of an epic day, charlie. i was riveted. i believe most of the country will remain riveted, because it
is a political theater we have not seen since oliver north. it is a political event. as a legal event, it is almost of no consequence. it neither advances nor hinders an investigation. the president cannot be prosecuted to begin with. the obstruction of justice statutes probably do not even apply to these investigations. as a political event, it is enormously significant. there is a tug-of-war over who won that event. the president is claiming vindication. democrats are claiming obstruction, but james comey is walking away dinged up but not battered. charlie: why do you say that? other than what he said about leaking the memos he wrote after the occasions he met with the president?
hugh: that is a major part of the exhibits that will be there. he manipulates the president, probably leads people he did so, other occasions with different agendas in mind. he only took notes about president trump. what is most disconcerting, the first meeting, when he is president-elect, he goes with a steel dossier, which is a sinister document, gives it to the president and then concludes as he testifies, the president cannot be trusted. he leaves the meeting in which he proposed, i will discredit this mr. president and begins what some people have already begun to say is an entrapment course of action with the memo writing. i am very disquieted by what the former fbi director's vision of himself was, and how that will impact how many people think about the agency. >> comey did address that to a certain extent. he said part of that meeting before trump was inaugurated, he felt the need to start assuring him he was not under
investigation. he said that multiple times today, that while he was fbi director that the president was not under investigation because he was avoiding entrapment. he said he wanted to avoid a j edgar hoover situation. where the president thought because he was putting that out there he was hanging it over his head in a way. certainly, he is entering all of these interactions, it depends what side of the fence you want to see it from. supporters of trump said this exonerates the president because he hoped comey acted in a certain way. comey indicated he was the source of some of these stories they got to the new york times. but he answered all their questions and said, i was the source of this stuff. also, you have the people who were critical of the president saying, look, comey has been clear he felt uncomfortable and
felt he was being put in a situation where he thought others like the attorney general realized something was off and that he kept to those notes because he felt potentially set up himself. you can accuse it either way. there is not a hard and fast record of the president saying, "i order you to do this." that interpretation has to come from comey being in the room with the president at that point. comey would not go so far as to say, and i think this gets to obstruction of justice, people drawing the conclusion are inferring from comey getting pretty close to the line, that that is where he is trying to go. charlie: as the mueller investigation continues, are we going to look at a battle for public opinion here? >> i think so. i tend to agree with hugh, this is, has been and always will be a political story. i am not a legal expert. i have talked to legal experts. they generally agree we've not seen enough evidence to say this is obstruction of justice.
at the end of the day, it is extremely unlikely mueller would conclude this investigation by saying the president is guilty of obstruction of justice and needs to be held accountable, and drag him into a courtroom. this was always going to end up back in congress. that is why i think it is most important to filter this, today's proceedings, through a political prism. i talked to one former trump campaign adviser and asked them, what did you think today? the adviser said something interesting, that yesterday, when former fbi director comey's opening statement was made public online, a lot of trump allies were celebrating. both in public and especially in private, they were celebrating
this development, because they felt that while the opening remarks were certainly damaging to the president's reputation, they ultimately did not bring any new information to light that would lead to a serious sea change in this whole story. the adviser said that today's testimony was, while perhaps not legally harmful, was certainly politically harmful. i think, and this advisor agrees, it will continue to be a major political story and thing everyone is wrestling over here in the political arena in washington. charlie: did anything uf heard -- did you hear anything from james comey or anything else about the russian probe and the effort the president made in his conversations with the fbi, the director toe fbi did thatn flynn --
bother you? hugh: i am bothered by conduct on both sides. the president is not skilled and does not understand, you cannot intervene in investigations without political blowback. he was not prepared for a notetaking fbi director that would read into his every word, sinister motive. director comey also, it is very troubling to me the idea he would not exonerate the president when he three times privately assured him. everybody, diane feinstein went on cnn and said there was no evidence, and everyone seemed to leak this and senator rubio pointed out, director comey did nothing to put out the fire. where are we as we conclude the comey day? no evidence of donald trump involved in collusion whatsoever. donald trump not under investigation by the fbi when jim comey was dismissed. this exchange about mike flynn the day after mike flynn was fired. i said it already, but i want to underscore this for the non-lawyers, you cannot prosecute the president. that is the way to scholarly put
it. the obstruction of justice statutes, all do not contemplate fbi investigations as a procedure that can be obstructed. all you can do is go to congress and ask for articles of impeachment. ultimately, that is what nixon was charged with, obstruction of justice, articles of impeachment. if someone will argue that that conversation out the door, dismissing the attorney general in the room, is unusual. the president might have been worried about recusal, the russia thing being brought up with jeff sessions. there are explanations. if anyone wants to make an argument that that is an impeachable event, i think most political law professors are laughing at it. karoun: congress is still very much -- as much as people are hinting it is obstruction of justice, no one wants to say
impeachment. congress is in the fact-finding stage. it is interesting to see the next steps they are trying to take. many different senators of both parties are saying, we need to talk to dan coats the director of national intelligence. we need him to answer the questions we asked him yesterday. he was in front of the same intelligence panel, and they would not talk about their conversations with the president or comey. many people in both parties are saying, we need them to answer the same sort of question so we know if it was systematic or poor judgment for the president to get comey to say he wanted him to drop the investigation of flynn and it stopped there. or was it more systematic? they need to hear testimony from others. there was testimony that was given in front of the armed services committee, and there was the report we published in the washington post that indicated he was also influenced to try to use his influence over comey to get the investigation to stop. democrats are pushing to have a -- to have jeff sessions come up for testimony. to have rob rosenstein come for
testimony as well. clearly, all of that is building for the question of whether or not there was obstruction of justice, but it is at the building stage. it is hard to find senators that will use the "i" word. impeachment. even know you have had a few members of the house actually enter it. -- utter it. charlie: is it significant that james comey when talking about loretta lynch, urged him to not call it an investigation, but a matter? >> yes, there was a series of damage done today. one was to the former attorney general, loretta lynch. that appears to be politicizing an investigation. i do not think it is obstruction. the new york times took it on the chin for their big expose which was completely repudiated by director comey as 100% false. not 100%, but 95%. the washington post was wrong, but, in part, they got a pass because of the nature of the reporting. nobody won today.
nobody won. zero people won. we know that the russia collusion is not over. there is an investigation ongoing into general flynn. that investigation appears to still be underway. a couple detailed legal points as to why that would appear to reject legal arguments of obstruction. as political theater, it does not get any better than that. and i do not think it anybody's mind changed, period. charlie: you said to me in a different context that in the end, the question for donald trump to answer and have to answer will have more to do with financial items than the russian hacking. does that resonate with you? >> yes, yes it does. the investigation former fbi director mueller is leading -- investigations can go off in any direction. remember patrick fitzgerald
libby --g scooter --misleading him under oath and going on to be convicted on that. these investigations are dangerous and spiral off. the good news is, everyone thinks bob mueller is a straight shooter. that is not the case with jim comey. two schools of opinion, he is an elliot ness walking off the street and into your life. that you can trust him and he has absolute integrity. the other is that he is sanctimonious and self-serving. maybe it is both. we are in the first act, the first scene of the first act of a very long play. it is a very good act. charlie: where is the next stage and act to take place? hugh: we have to wait for mueller. , they cansia thing call in james comey so many times before it gets boring. bob mueller has every card in
his hand. until and unless he does something, the story is at an end because i no longer trust the national security reporters that produced the new york times piece. they were utterly buffaloed by somebody. media big time took it on the chin today. charlie: media or new york times? hugh: it is beyond the new york times. they are the direct recipients of the blow. but it ripples out. because if their paper record can be that wrong about that big of a story, it ought to have everyone to reflect upon anonymous sources and whether there are pieces of permanent government -- i reject the term deep state. we do not have a police state. if comey could ignore the president, we would have a police state. the elected people still controlled the appointed people. nevertheless, you got to worry about, why is this antagonism to the president so deeply embedded that there was an avalanche of leaks on a weekly basis? and why is the media so
gullible that there are agendas other than doing the right thing for the american people? some people are just protecting position, status, authority, and they hate donald trump, and they are leaking. charlie: why you think they are leaking? >> people leak for a variety of different reasons. as we have seen, comey was talking about himself having leaked things for one reason. others will not be sitting in front of congressional panels leak for other reasons. we have to be cautious about impugning the entire mainstream media based on the former director of the fbi being the source behind a variety of article.blication, one there has been quite a lot of questioning and re-questioning. it is all about trying to determine who the sources are behind various articles.
in the course of reporting, there is vetting done as well. it is not just dropped into our lap and end up on the front page the next day. there is a flow of information in washington. a lot of people will say -- and we are saying, especially a few months ago when the president was getting apoplectic about the leaks and wanted to focus on that alone, that is how washington works. it is not a surprise. washington leaks when things are of high importance and front and center. that is happening here, potentially to a more pronounced degree and with more speed than is normal. that is the character of this story, and how it has been moving. charlie: this is for anybody. we have seen people emerge from hearings like this and go on to a much bigger political career. certainly, you think of richard nixon come out of that. others have made themselves a
star in political hearings and gone on to higher national office. is anyone coming out of this so far that capture the attention in terms of the sharpness of questions or positions they have taken? >> it is an interesting question. you're right, a pretty common practice for members of congress to use these hearings, especially such high-profile ones, as a platform to promote themselves and advance their careers. i was pretty impressed with how relatively little showboating there was on the committee. i thought both republicans and democrats, for the most part, seemed like they were operating in good faith, asking serious questions, trying to get to the bottom of the questions here. i did see a lot of democrats celebrating kamala harris. i saw a lot of republicans saying they did not like their line of questioning. in general, i have not seen the big, star breaks you might see in other hearings. maybe it is because of how serious and high-stakes this particular hearing was.
charlie: this is the kind of thing you're good at. tell me how in the political drama you saw someone emerging. >> i think senator warner is doing a great deal of good for himself in the center of the country. senator harris, on the left. on the republican side, i was impressed by senator reese. i do not know him, but he did a fine job of establishing early on that there was not any collusion. then, i go to senators rubio and cotton who did good jobs of getting facts in. senator mccain wandered off and he even apologized. charlie: thank you, great to have you. >> thank you. >> thanks, charlie. charlie: thank you for joining
♪ carol: welcome to "bloomberg businessweek." i'm carol massar. oliver: and i'm oliver renick. carol: this week, some twitter advice for president trump. oliver: a look inside a brazilian construction giant, more specifically, the department of bribery. carol: and why buzzfeed claims to be king of online video. oliver: all that ahead on "bloomberg businessweek." ♪ carol: we're here with the editor in chief of "bloomberg businessweek," megan murray. you spoke with tom barrick. megan: tom barrick is a legendary financier, head of colony capital.