tv CNN Tonight With Don Lemon CNN May 9, 2017 7:00pm-8:01pm PDT
special report. up first don lemon and cnn tonight with the latest. >> anderson, thank you very much. our breaking news, president trump's bomb shell firing of fbi director james comey. let's put it as plainly as we can. the president of the united states has fired the man investigating his campaign's ties to russia. fired him. shocking confusion tonight on capitol hill around the country and round the world. and now questions being raised on whether there's a cover up going on. we have said it before but it's never been more true than it is in this moment. cnn's gloria, dana bash and pamela brown. history in the making. what are you learning? >> we're learning that the white house at this hour tonight is still in full crisis mode.
they're trying to explain what happened. they're not expecting the fallout that's happened since the firing of the fbi director. i just walked by white house press secretary sean spicer's office. it's filled with aids, advisors and the white house said look, we're done talking about this through the evening. that was not the reality here. because they know they have a bad narrative on their hands with republicans on capitol hill as well. let's take a look at this very brief letterer the president sent to the fbi director this afternoon. the second paragraph perhaps says it all. "while i greatly appreciate you informing me on three separate occasions that i am not under investigation, i nevertheless
concurthat you're not able to effectively lead the bureau." the white house is explaining the firing because the director had lost the confidence of the bureau. the deputy atutorney general ha made this recommendation to the president. but in their memorandums and letters, all of them are talking about the clinton investigation. they say director comey did not handle himself directly. in the president's letter he brings up his own investigation, the russia investigation trying to make a point on that. this is not the end of the story. it seems just the beginning of yet anothier chapter in washington, another controversy. >> as astonishing as that paragraph in the letterer is, it's astonishing to say they
didn't perceive, weren't prepared how big this reaction would be. who is that naive enthe white house that would not realize this would be a big story? >> it seems like that was pervasive. as your word not mine but probably pretty appropriate. when this news first broke, a source familiar with discussions inside the white house, that they did not expect this to be the political explosion that it was. and it was hard for me to believe that was the case because it was so obvious. it doesn't take somebody like me or others on the panel that know politics or studied history to know this is a really big deal but the way it bore out as jeff is reporting of the scramble
that has been going on outside of the white house in the dark with white house officials t trying to do damage control. this is an event that the white house did in and of itself. this is not like many, many times there's damage control because force or an event outside occurs. this is sthomething that was created by the president and the justice department. but the president himself is the one that said you're fired to james comey and the fact they were not prepared for the fallout. we're talking about the fact this has not happened in this way since richard nixon's administration. republicans who are loathe to criticize the president like the senate intelligence chair putting out a statement and issuing a tweet saying he's very
concerned this. it's that kind of reaction they weren't expecting and it's mind boggling that's the case. >> jeff flab who's a republican from arizona tweeting "i have spent the last several hours trying to find an acceptable rational for the firing of comey and i just can't do it." >> he was not a donald trump republican but richard burr was a donald trump republican and i think right now the balance of power here is going to be really important because we have to see how congress reacts to this. they're going to want to investigate what happened here. you don't fire your fbi director as he's investigating your campaign and russia hacking of the election just willy nilly
and they're going to want to talk to comey i am sure and jeff sessions i am sure and rob rosen stieb i am sure who wrote this letter. and let me say one other thing. the long letter detailed a lot of complaints that a lot of democrats had about james comey that he shouldn't have gone on july fifth after he cleared hillary clinton and the email controversy and said but she's reckless and he shouldn't have sent that let r and turned the election upside down. maybe that's why they weren't expecting this to be a disaster for them. but rosen stein doesn't speak for the president who, at the time these events occurred, was applauding them. so -- >> is this a firing in search of
a cause? >> i thik in search of rational and it was provided by the deputy attorney general and i am sure believes it as do other people, democrat and republican. but i don't know that donald trump really believes what the deputy attorney general wrote because he was applauding comey when he said that hillary clinton was reckless. he would have liked to have seen her indicted sure, but i don't recall him complaining about comey's words that time. >> and president elect also as a candidate applauding james comey at the time and as president saying he's got a strong backbone. comey was over seeing this russia/trump investigation fired
by the people he is investigating now. so who is in charge? >> that is part of what makes this so extraordinary, don and as of tonight, the former depute a edirector is the acting director at the bureau and it's being over seen by ron rosen stein. the person who recommended the firing of comey to the president. they're still working on this case. it's still moving forward. as we reported tonight but stheng of this magnitude could have a chilling effect among the investigators. just the perception alone. for are already growing calls for an independent prosecutor to take over this investigation and rosenstein has said previously
that he would indeed appoint a special prosecutor if in fact necessary and i wouldn't be surprised if you continue to see these calls. >> you also have some reporting tonight regarding grand jury subpoenas have been issued. >> that's right. just in the last couple of weeks they have issued grand jury subpoenas to associates of national security advisor michael flynn in part of this ongoing probe enrussian medaling. and the fbi's broader investigation began last july into ties between trump associates and russia. they were received by associates who worked on contracts for flynn. an attorney for flynn declined
to comment. but just looking at the circs here, you have these subpoenas issued to associates of president trump's former national security advisor and james comey has now ben fired by the president. >> that information is exclusive information that you're giving. let's go over this letter from rosenstein. is going to be acting director. he points to this press conference during the campaign saying he wasn't recommending charges against hillary clinton. he's pointing to how the clinton investigation was handled. why are they pointing out how the clinton investigation was handled? >> you got me. he probably believes it was
mishandled as do lots of usher prosecutors. >> that was july of 2016. >> and it's not a prosecutor's job to tell people why he did not indict people for example and he went after him for his testimony last week on his choice between conseal or speak but you have to put this in a wider context. we are talking about now president donald trump who didn't find anything wrong back then with comey's behavior nor did he find anything wrong with the letter he sent to congress saying he to reopen the hillary clinton investigation and so you have to wonder whether trump is saying i want to fire this guy. give me the reasons here.
>> stand by. we'll get back to you guys. i want to bring in congressman elijah cummings. start with you. your reaction to tonight's event? >> i'm not surprised. it seems as if when ms. yates appeared yesterday i said to myself we're going to have to a new issue tomorrow and we have constantly seen this movement of hocus-pocus when something seems to get close to the russian investigation. the next thing you know we've moved on to anothier issue. one of the reasons why -- comey came to our committee, the it oversight committee in the summer and made this announ announcement of how he thought hillary clinton was sloppy but
me wasabon't going to prosecuto. i said they are coming after you and they are going to put you on trial. the thing your guests don't know is that after that decision was made not to prosecute, they basically -- the republicans on the oversight committee subpoenaed almost every single document in the fbi file and what happened with comey is that he came back later on closer to the election to make those announcements because i think he was concerned they would come after him. that's what i believe. but again i think the timing is horrible. if we look at it, don, the president treated flynn far better thap he treated the fbi director. the fbi director didn't even know he was being fired and while flynn had 18 days after the president even knew he had
lied to the vice president. we've got to get to the bottom of this. i think the fact there's a grand jury and that questioning is being opened up, i think you're going to see a whole new escalation of this case. >> both of you have been privy to classified information and you know what's happening with the investigation. they are reporting that the white house and attorney general have pushed the fbi to pursue leaks ra s ra than what the investigation was about and that was possible collusion from the trump campaign with russia. >> don, i hope that's naot the case. orcountry was attacked by russia. there's a serious investigation going on as to whether any u.s. persons were involved and to make that a priority over p
protecting our democracy would be a serious misjudgment. to the average american this stinks. the president can't fire the person investigating him. that vilats bed rock principals of independence. we wrote legislation bp we think that's aa way to make sure we don't find ourselves in a mess like this again. >> adam schiff put out a statement that says the decision by president whose campaign associates are under investigation by the fbi for collusion with russia and raises profound questions about whether the white house is braisebly interfering in a criminal matter. what is the resource if so? >> jeff sessions should be
nowhere near the firing of director comey. he was supposed to be recused and because he was asked by the senate if he had any contacts with russia during the election. twice he said no. for him to be involved raises questions and on the judiciary committee i think we should have jeff sessions before us to explain why he was involved when he was supposed to be recused? >> i'm going to say i agree totally. i was shocked that we had a letter coming from the attorney general with the recommendation. i was assuming that would be solely of the deputy attorney general and i think the world of. he was our u.s. attorney in maryland for over 10 years but i
think he now has a -- we're going to have to do two things. we need to have that independent commission as we have put forth and we have to make sure that an independent counsel is appointed by rosenstein. you basically have to have both. one checking each other. i want to ask you about the deputy attorney general. he pointed to comey's pres conference on clinton. but i want you to listen to president trump. >> i respect the fact that director comey was able to come back after what he did. >> it took guts for director comey to make the move that he did in light of the kind of
opposition where they're trying to protect her from criminal prosecution. >> he's become more famous than me. >> so congressman, the president didn't mie didn't mind how it was handled then. what changed? >> i think whenever things are going to the president's way it's fine. it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see this and i thik that's why we've moved from one issue to ainothanother. what we need is integrity, transparenciy and if it anyone wants to see what it's all about, all they have to do is rewind the tape of yesterday. those are the type of public servients who make sure we
preserve this democracy and our system of justice. >> some republicans right now are saying hold on a second director comey was disliked by republicans too. >> whether people were happy or not, he came to congress in march and told congress and t american people that they were under intelligence investigations. at that point he should have been untouchable. that's the only way we would have an independent search for the truth by the fbi and the president has violated that principal of independence and i'm very concerned for our country. >> don, it is not normal for one whose under investigation -- i
practiced law over 20 years. whether they're under investigation to be doing things that stand in the way of that investigation. or saying things. i would tell my clients is we're going to cooperate with the authorities and move on and not constantly making comments and that's the way this should proceed. the president should not be involvauvl olve in all these tw. let the process play this out. >> that was the opening for our show that this is not normal for the person being investigated to fire the person investigating. >> i hope we have a special prosecutor and that person isably to find the truth so that anyone that worked with russia is held accountable because our
democracy is counting on it. >> anyone who wants to come on, you're welcome. we'll be leave throughout the it day and evening. so here we go again. you have been very out spoken about jeffrey, this is baurpd the realm for you. >> i don't know if there's been a cover up. what there has been is a travesty. i tik kaet can't to why he did this but it will disgrace his memory. there is one date that will be
remembered and it's the day of the tuesday night massacre. the day donald trump fired the head of the fbi. the it only other time was william sessions by bill clinton and that was politically uncontroversial. no uger time have we had them fired by a president under investigation by the fbi. >> some are saying this is a constitutional crisis. do you agree with that? >> should comey be the director of the fbi? no. he should have rezeened. he lost his credibility. second is should it be the president of the united states who makes the decision to fire him? not while he's under an investigation and third is who he apoints next. if he apoints s man or womb of
great integ reitary, it will not go down in history fourth, how about an independent commission, not a special prosecutor not done by congress but by people appointed by congress. they can then decide whether to apoint a special prosecutor. so we have to separate that out. >> who's to say he wouldn't fire this person too? sally yates gone. pete berar atold he was going to stay. gone. james comey, gone. all three of whom had the potential to trouble the trump presidency. >> all three appointed by democrats and appropriately
replaced by a republican. >> it was appropriate that james comey -- why do they have 10-year terms. >> i theng a lot of this is his fault. he should have said to himself i am not trusted by democrats, republicans by the american public and should have rezeened. >> i haven't forgot about you. the three people investigating this president or the administration fired. >> yates was a hold over. it was a question of which day. generally the u.s. attorney is replaced and comey is a unique situation. he may have changed the results of an election. he could not be the head.
>> she wasn't investigating but she was the acting attorney general. >> this is obviously a fig leaf and the president was looking for a reason to fire james comey but he gave him a reason. everybody's focusing on last summer but last week's testimony gave additional reason. he had the opportunity to say whether he was wrong for having done what he did and whether his motivation was in furtherance of the fbi or some type of tav for him personally and the letterer i saw today -- and my take on it is that they were focusing obthis particular point in time and don't get me wrong.
this is still a pretexttural reason, but he walked in the trap and gave him the reason they needed. he said my only choices were to speak or conseal and showed a complete lapse of judgmenjudgme. i have to say as a former prosecutor with the department of justice he was wrong to you srp the role. hes i actually had the nerve to call the attorney general and say i'm going to have a press conference. that was insubordination and he renewed and provided a comp rehensive reason for that. i think it was a bit of bravado and foresight to recognize he
walked into a trap. >> that is so rare but i agree with every single word you said. >> i theng comey made some mistakes on the hillary clinton investigation. it had nothing to do with his firing today. if he was going to be fired for his behavior with the hillary clinton investigation, he should have been fired on january 20th. and there is currently an inspector general's investigation going on of comey. the only reason he's being fired is because he's investigating the president. this whole hillary clinton is preposterously irrelevant. does anyone really believe that donald trump fired james comey because he was too mean to hillary clinton? >> absolutely not. and the question itself assumes
the hyperbole that i have not given. i don't believe he was fired simly because he was abusing his power last year. i think the curious dates are when did rosensteen take office and when did he testify again and talk about -- six days ago. it is relevant in terms of what i think they'll come out as giving the comprehensive basis for why he was irfooed. i think they were looking for a reason and he gave them one because he was ignorant to the fact he was no longer honoring his role and i'll paraphrasing rsh but swub to put on a cape.
he said that's what capped it off for me. what capped it off that molt in time is he still believes he had the right and the authority. he did not. >> rosensteen's letter on his own is correct. he believes he should be fired. the question is did president trump ask rosensteen to whicome with that letter? or did he come up with one on his own and say i have a man of great integrity saying i should fire him. i want to and now i have the reeaso reason. what came first the chicken or the egg? >> his track record here is somebody who has said we talk about a travel ban. figure out a way to make it the
right thing to do and justifiable thing. i waupt to get rid of james comey. give me a reason. did he give you a reezb? that's what we'll go with. >> and he can eliminate the suspicion by agreeing to have an independent investigation and help the what jeffrey is speculating about will be proved to be untrue by his later actions. >> that's all after the fact. >> my learned colleagues here are over thinking this whole thick. >> i agree with you. they wanted to get rid of this guy and they got rid of him. >> who is they? >> sessions and -- i am baffled by rosensteen's involinvolvemen. i don't know him well but i interviewed him and heard
nothing but good they cans. >> did he say you know what he should be feared. >> i don't know what rosensteen's role in all of this is. but there has to be some person in the united states government who could just open their eyes and say you don't fire the fbi directorer when he's investigating you. you don't do this because the only time there's been a comparable event is october 20th, 1973, when president 9nixn fired archbald cox and someone has to have said this is not going to look good. >> i thik one of the most important thing sz sometimes the answer is right enfront of you.
>> sometimes it's more complex. thank you all. president trump offering no further comment after firing fbi director comey bsending out conway. >> the president himself is not the substance of an investigation. and are you talking about the folks involved in the campaign? >> yeah. >> okay. well, you said the people around the president. are you talking about people who were -- >> some of them may still be around the president. >> but we know who is not the subject of the investigation, donald trump. you want this to be about russia when it's about restoring confidence in the fbi. >> i'm not sure -- many people believe this doesn't restore confidence. many peopleeral raising questions saying it destroys
people's confidence about whoever the president may appoint is now ibcharge of an investigation into people who have been close to the president during the campaign and collusion with russia. >> and today's actions had zero to do with that. >> a ceo of news max tv. good to have you here. thank you for joining us. why do you think the president fired james ko comey? >> he got a recman dalgz saying what he did as fbi director was not consistent with the neutrality of the bureau. i think if the president did
anything wrong was waiteding too long. the reez...en is he had lost the confidence of both democrats and republicans. not only the hillary clinton email press conference but a lot of democrats, you look at the clips you'll see that they were calling for comey to resign because of the investigation he laufrped into hillary clinton on the closing days. >> you agree that the timing -- he sld done it day one? >> i think he should have done it earlier. >> don't you thik the timing looks suspicious? >> you keep making comparisons to water gate. that was the middle of a major investigation but it's been going on throughout the night and the truth is three times the director of the fbi told the president there's no evidence.
we know director clapper has said there's no evidence -- >> of? >> collusion between the trump campaign and the russians. no evidence of any wrong doings. >> that's the whole point is the investigation is not finished and it was very strange that the president would mention that in a letter that he sent to the media and the fbi notifying him of his firing. >> everything has to be cleverly and carefully looked at. you said this is stopping the investigation. you mentioned earlier -- >> ib said where does this leave the investigation? >> there's no investigation that's being stopped. so why is there anything suspicious? if he was saying to the fbi close down your russia investigation, i think that
would raise serious concerns and i think he'ller pick someone who's very bipartisan and respected. there's an independent investigation going on. so i don't think we have anything to worry about. >> who do you think? >> i'm sure with the scrutopy that's going to come with that -- these are not a people, these are a plus people. and he has a number of people very independent of him. i think people are making a lot more out of this thap they should be.
>> we've been talking bot this investigation where you say there's no evidence thus far. the investigation is still going on. not that there is defenatively no evidence. and there's reporting from the cnn, the washington post that says they have pushed the fbi to pursue leaks. they thought the most important part of the story was the probe into russian collusion, possible collusion with the trump campaign. do you know anything about that? why would the president and the administration be pushing the fbi or any agency to turn their investigation one way? >> the president said it very tub pub luckly that they want to investigate everything with his administration but when there's clear efvidence of classified
conversations that yates had with counsel's office, all of that stuff is leakd and it's illegal and no wub is saying let's investigate that. >> is that not a separate investigation from this one? >> it may be but why is the fbi and others not interested in pursuing those investigations. >> because i would not know. i'm not with the fbi. but wouldn't the fbi have a -- >> you look like fbi. >> i like very official. wouldn't the fbi have a legitimate reezb not to pursue leaks. maybe they know something we don't because leaks should not be investigated without the leaks, flynn would be there. without the leaks, richard nixon -- >> there's been selective at
looking at leaks and they're very focussed on anything a trump official may have done. there seems to be a lack of fairness about how they're being treated here. i think the president made good decision because there's been a cloud under comey a lot of drn people, democrats were calling for his head and dwrb thought it was inappropriate to come out and make a comment about an ongoing investigation into hillary's emails. >> that is part of the rational we were told they didn't believe at the white house there would be this fallout. did they really not think that? >> i can't go into what the white house thought would happen wut there's been a lot of media critself of his toem. andepal
felt he wasn't acting in a neutral way like director sessions. nobody accused them of the partisan shm where he would like to talk about hillary's emails and he laid that out. sfwll do you think this administration feels that they are above the law? >> absolutely not. >> thank you. you can go on. >> i don't think there's anything they have done -- what they do feel is that the enforce lt of the law should be done on a communicable basis. so if there's classified data being leaked including his conversations with heads of state, why isn't that being investigated by the bureau but something mike flynn said that
he talked about the trade sanctions with the rush as. >> i love having you here but i have to go. those are good questions for the bureau that i can't answerer becausium wrr not in the bureau. >> can i nominate you? >> he's welcome to come obanytime. always a pleasure. i think to want in karen, a former senior spokesporousb for hillary clinton's campaign. >> great spin. let's think about how incompetent and erratic this seems. the fbi directorer is involved in a lot more than this investigation and hillary clinton's emails.. thick about any number of things and the fact the white house did is this
this without having wub orrer some kand dss resee to go is oud and fwivb weall reid know there's an internal investigation looking into this matter, why 245u9 wait until the end? so the timing i was zojoking th g given how well sally yates did yesterday, we should have seen this. it shows how far the president will go to change the headline and it's disturbing. >> he sent this letter to jeff sessions who was going to recuse himself from the rushzau regz and anything to do with california either. the director was wrong to u surp
the attorney general's authority and announce that the case should be closed without prosecuti prosecution. >> that was not the position of donald j. frump tloutd the cametle if me any real concerns about deesh twrou agree it was inapprop reed for team eto send that letter to schaung racongre. i love the fact that within this document that rosenstein did he quotes and references a document we put out and sites a former attorney general under the bushed a smin stragz and that's a document we actually put oibt
ourdom been a to make this argument the timing of this we just can't underestimate in terms of what that means with what's happening about who kifr the investigation. so the assistant attorney general who sends this letter is the person in charge of the russianau investigation. so he sents a let's ieth even campaign documents from the hillary clinton campaign to jeff sessions who is apparently misled congress. to then send that to donald trump. there's so much in here that is so suspicious and suspect. i think what the trump administration does not realize is what they have baus
themselves is an independent couns counsel. and i can't imagine any credible republican would deny any way to restorer integrity is to have a independent investigation. we have more on the breaking news tonight. the white house confirming president trump will meet with russianing foreign minister tomorrow. welcome in our panel. you said stheng that was i theng very important to me about this decision tonight by the president. what did you say? >> i dont understand the timing. you just mentioned this meeting tomorrow. it's at least a political error. >> do you believe he come to
regret this? >> yes because he has relit the russia fire. he's energized the democrats and it's ang unforced political error. the can new ec. again, they could wait, given comey notice. democrats don't trust donald trump. and this is going to energize democrats, raise suspicion. there was a storey kwb wrote about piten and trump. that's embarrassing nrmation. this is an investigation nothing to culawsuiting with a foreign country to change the outcome of apelection. >> john, i want to bring you in now. the president firing the fbi
director who was leading the investigationing into possible collusioning between his campaign on russia. >> i want to win the understatement cookie for the week. look, no presidents ever done this in this way. president clintb let jeff sessions go on an ethics question. this is the one analogy that has been well chews over is that of president nexen. nixon fired special prosecutor in october of 1973 and one of the worst political assaults. donald trump doesn't like divided sovereignty.
it's something that goes back to the greek city states. the idea you have a rule of law and power is divided amoung different bodies so you have a balance. he wants control and i think that's what we're seeing tonight. >> "i do not have confidence in him, james comey, any longer. then acts so indignant." kevin, what do you think of that? >> i think that argument holds up for a short peeriate of time. it's true they have expressed they lost confidence in james comey and that only answers one question which is why didn't the president do it when he first came in to office? now, rod rosensteen detd lay out
an targument in his let's today. and to go back to what john said whether you're a republican or democrat, if you're firing the fbi director who is leading an investigationi into your campaign, that is not good look. and they're going to continue to be more and more questions, more and more calls. as chaotic as tonight feels, we're at the genesis of our house it it they're going to have hearings for whoever the new fbi director will be. this is just the beginning. >> jace. how could the white house thought know this would be a big ostory. >> i'm not sure that was
entirely fookyarder for are again let's douk about the democrats seeing all all the employee backs. and so i think president trump is right when he didn't call him out. he didn't call out the other senator that had issue with it. >> nancy pelosi lost confidence in him. liberal columnists wanting him fire. valerie jarrett wanted comey fired. >> and also think that it was -- >> i have been watching tv all night tonight and nobody is standing up and saying james comey should still be in his job. people might have an issue with the timing possibly. i agree with what kevin said i would have done it on day one so it would have been different and i think president obama should have fired comey last year so
there can be an argument about the timing but there's nobody standing up and saying director comey should be in that position. he lost the confidence of his people. >> if president obama had fired james comey. >> he should have. >> what do you think would have happened -- you would have been on cnn screaming to high heaven that this was some sort of political stunt by the obama administration. >> but the indecisive back and forth trying to, director comey trying to rationalize what he was doing with the clinton investigation last year. he completely lost control of what he was doing. we need to get someone in there that's going to follow the rule of law and take the fbi and do what they need to be doing and for all the people freaking out tonight, talking about investigations, look -- >> did you praise comey when he made his decision about hillary clinton when he came out and said we have some information about hillary clinton and our investigation is back open?
did you praise him. >> the thing about director comey is if you stay around long enough he's going to find away to make everybody mad. at a certain point i'm sure i was frustrated and like somd of the moves he was making but this all adds up. he's out there trying to rationalize what he is doing. we need an fbi director that's going to enforce the rule of law. >> you didn't say that, nothing has changed since then. he made the decision. all he has done is come out to explain a decision that he has made so nothing has really changed with his decision making, right? he did it. you praised him and now you're saying he should go. >> and there was also plenty of criticism as well. senator lindsey graham hit the nail on the head when he said we need a fresh start at the fbi. even see moderate senators step forward saying the same thing but again the point i made when he came on board nobody is standing up saying that director comey should still be the
director of the fbi. he should not be leading and i think that's ultimately why trump removed him from this position. >> go ahead. i will answer jason's question about what will stand up. there's a lot of people that may have criticisms about how comey acted or behaved in the last couple of months both from the right and from the left but there are very few people who find any justification at this present moment to fire director comey in the middle of an investigation. and just getting to the timing issue to remind jason in the last 48 hours between the yates and clapper investigation, measure morings from the senate that they wanted information about president trump's financial dealings and of course now cnn is reporting regarding the grand jury. that's a whole lot of reckoning for the trump white house. >> hold on, that has nothing to do with director comey.
>> do not interrupt me tonight please. you were talking for awhile. do not interrupt me tonight. this is serious and it is nonpartisan. there's an investigation going on about whether the russians, let's remember who the enemy is, actually were influencing our election. that investigation has now lead to specific investigations about people around trump and we have reason to believe involves flynn so that is what is going on here and the firing, the idea that this firing is somehow not only justified but that the timing is just identified discounts almost all of the activity in the last had three weeks that is heading toward serious allegations not against trump but against his associates regarding either republican influence in the campaign or financial dealings with the republicans. so you cannot surround yourself now with some notion that because people from the right and left criticize comey that
the firing of the person in charge of the investigation is justified. it does not hold. >> okay. so youljulie even you can't def him. >> i want you to stick around and i want to bring in a man with unique perspective on all of this. the former nixon white house council and also he's going to stay with us as well. welcome to the panel. what's your reaction to the breaking news tonight. >> it's certainly not saturday night massacre two. it doesn't quite rise to that level. it's clearly botched as well. the white house did not handle it well. they acted in a way that raises the suspicions that you're hearing on your panel. they're widespread. i'm hearing on the radio and some people are confused about history and think this was another saturday night massacre. it was not. that was a unique situation
where the prosecutor, the special prosecutor was doing exactly what the president had instructed him he did not want done. they prosecutor lost and they shutdown the special prosecution office. that was the massacre. >> john. since you mentioned that this is from the nixon library tonight. president nixon never fired the director of the fbi but he did fire the prosecutor and the deputy attorney general re-signed. will there be fall out from this? >> that's a great question and one of the things that we have to figure out is to what extent of the events that lead to today? there is the memo from the deputy attorney general there's questions raised about when did that start? did someone in the white house ask for a pretext to get rid of director comey. if they did that why did they do
it in may and not in january or at any point going back and it's just a general point is there's going to be a lot of talk and there already is and the president has tweeted about this apparently about hypocrisy. hypocrisy is interesting but it's not dispositive in this case. the rule of law is dispositive and there's very reasonable people asking very reasonable questions about whether the president of the united states has something to hide in terms of the campaign -- his campaign and potential collusion with russia. he has dismissed that. he's called it a ruse. he's called it fake news and what he's used to is when he makes a declaration like that we're all 4th graders at a soccer game. we chase the ball to the other side of the field. we have to do everything we can to stay in position. >> i asked a friend of the president if the president and this administration feel that they are above the law. he said no.
what do you say? >> well, you know, i don't think they are deliberately trying to flout the law here. there's always been question to me with this president of a lack of experience and not really understanding the job and not bringing in people who do understand how the white house works. this could have all been avoided, don. they certainly, all they have to do is look at history and see how easy it would be to replay what they're getting tonight so i think there's two things that might be going on. one is a possible sinister motive but we don't know that. we don't have those facts. the other is incompetence which is if there is not a sinister motive, is the other alternative. >> john are you troubled by this? >> very much so. >> john. >> very much so. i think that they wanted a result and they found a pretext for it and i think that we have
a real question going forward about the separation of powers and the rule of law and i haven't been someone that's thrown myself in with the authoritarian narratives about president trump but this is not a step in the right direction. >> i want to ask you because of a serious question that was -- quickly here, staff writer for the new yorker said where are comey's files right now? who controls them. office was sealed. important. that is important. >> it is indeed. what would happen in a circumstance like this is very much unlike what happened with the special prosecutor when he was shutting that office down and they literally sent the fbi over to do it. so my phone was ringing there. >> that's okay. go on. >> the files i'm sure are secure. they're in his office. i don't know of any reason why he wouldn't be given access back to his office. to go in and get his personal
papers and personal belongings. this was some what hand fisted the way it was handled. it's unfortunate he was out here to give a recruiting speech and was not given any warning as to what was going to happen and that's why it's mysterious why they did it this way when it was bound to create a reaction to this happening. >> thank you so much. >> thank you. >> our live coverage of today's big news continues right now with my colleague jake tapper in washington. jake. good evening, you're watching special live coverage of breaking news. in fact stunning news even for president trump that has been known to shock people. president trump fired fbi director james comey just hours ago. first the official version of what happened according to the white house is that fundamentally