tv CNN Tonight With Don Lemon CNN May 9, 2017 11:00pm-12:01am PDT
the fisher director who is the only person who is independently leading this moving forward when you don't have him doing that you need an outside group doing it. republicans should call for that shouldn't be a partisan thing. >> cnn live coverage of this breaking news is obviously going to be continuing all night. jake tapper along at 11:00 p.m. eastern with a special report. first don lemon and cnn tonight with the latest. >> anderson thank you very much our breaking news tonight, president trump bombshell firing of fbi director james comey. this is cnn tonight i'm don lemon 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 around the world. now questions being raised of whether there is a cover-up going on. this is definitely not politics as usual. we have said it before but it's
never been more true than it is in this moment. so let's get right now to correspondents and reporters and our contributors krn aren't gloria borger dana besh shall jeff zeleny and pamela brown each with own unique report og jeff start with you history in the making what are you learning? >> well, don we are learning the white house at this hour tonight is still in full crisis mode trying to explain what happened. they were not specking believe it or not the fallout happened in the last several hours since the firing of the fbi director. i just walked by the white house press secretary sean spicer's a few moments ago fild with aideless filled with with advisers they're trying to strategyize the way forward. comes after several hours ago look we're done talking about this for the evening we do not expect to address this anymore. that was not the reality here because they know that they have a bad narrative on their hands not just with democrats with republicans on capitol hill as well. but let's go back and take a
look at this very brief letter the president sent to the fisher director hand tlifrd to the fbi late this afternoon, the second appraise of this letter perhaps says it all. let's take a look at it don. it says while i greatly appreciate you informing me on three separate occasions that i am not under investigation, i nevertheless concur with the judgment of the department of justice that you are not able to effective lead the bureau. now, all of in is coming -- the white house is explaining the firing because the director of the fisher had lost the confidence of the bureau. he said the deputy attorney general and the attorney general made this recommendation to the president. but in their memorandums and letters that they sent out here paul of them are talking about the clinton investigation, the 2016 campaign. they say director comey did not handle himself properly in that investigation. in the president's letter he does not mention the clinton controversy campaign one time. he brings up his own
investigation, the russia investigation trying to make a point on that. don, this is not the end of the story. it seems it's the beginning of yet another chapter in washington, another controversy perhaps the biggest one yet with the trump administration. >> i think you're absolutely right as astonishing as that appraise in that letter is it's also astonishing to say they didn't perceive at the white house dana bash, weren't prepared for the reaction how about the reaction would be who is that naive in the white house that did not realize this would be a big story. >> it seems like that was a pervasive. naive is your word not mine but it's probably pretty appropriate here don given the fact that i was told by earlier tonight right when in news first broke that by a source familiar with discussions inside the white house, that they did not expect in to be the political explosion that it was. and it was hard for me to even
believe that that was really the case. because it was so obvious. it doesn't take somebody like me or others here on the panel who are covered politics or you know have studied history to know that this is a really really big deal. but the way that it bore out as jeff has been reporting and taking pictures of the scramble that has been going on outside of the white house, in the dark, with white house officials trying to do damage control, and it's not as though this was an event that happened to them. this is an event that the white house did in and of itself. meaning, this is not like many, many times there is damage control that happens in washington because a force outside or an event outside occurs. this was something that was created by the president and the -- and the justice department. but you know the president himself is the one who said, you're fired, to jamestown
comey, the fact that they were not prepared for the fallout. we're talking about fallout. we're talking about the fact that this has not happened in this way since richard nicken's administration. talking about the fact that republicans is who are loathe to criticize the president like the senate intelligence chair richard burr putting out a statement and issuing a tweet saying he is concerned about this. that kind of reaction they were clearly not expecting mindboggling that's the case. >> gloria i want to bring in dana you may not have it because you were just mentioning burr. but jeff lake a republican from >> gloria peting out i was food trying to find a acceptable rationale for the timing of the firing and i just can't do it. it's not just democrat it's republicans as well. >> it is republicans. remember you know jeff flake was not a donald trump republican. but richard burr was a donald trump republican. and i think right now you know
the balance of power here is going to be really important. because we have to see how congress reacts to this. congress is going to want to investigate exactly what happened here. you don't fire your fbi director as he is investigating your campaign and russia hacking of the elections. just which willy nily. they're going to want to talk to comey i'm sure. they were going to want to talk to jeff sessions i'm sure and rod rosenstein who wrote the letter. let me say one thing rod rosenstein's long letter detailed a lot of complaints that a lot of democrats had about james comey, that he shouldn't have gone on on july 5th after he cheered hillary clinton and the email controversy and said, okay but she is reckless. and he shouldn't have sent that letter on october th and turned
the election upside down maybe that's why dan an the white house wasn't expecting this to be a disaster. >> that's exactly right. >> for them. but you know rod rosenstein doesn't speak for the president who at the time these events occurred was applauding them. so, you know. >> is this a firing in search of a cause gloria. >> well i think it's a firing in search of a rationale, right. and -- and the rationale here was provided by the deputy attorney general. but -- and the deputy attorney general i'm sure believes it as do lots of other people in this country, democrat and republican. but i don't know that donald trump really believes what the attorney -- 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 you know i don't recall him
complaining about comey's words at the time. >> yeah. and the president-elect also as a candidate applauding james comey at the time as well. and also as president as well saying he has taken some heat got a strong back bone pamela here is the really important question. comey was overseeing the russia trump investigation, fired by the people he is investigating now. so who is in charge what does it mean for the investigation. >> that is part of what makes this so extraordinary, don. as of ton the former deputy director of the fbi the andy mccabe is the acting director of bureau and the investigation is still being overseen by the deputy attorney general we were just talking about rod rosenstein, the person that recommended the firing of james comey to the president according to this letter. you know career fisher agents and prosecutors are still working on this case, still moving forward. they are issuing subpoenas as we
reported tonight. but of course something of this magnitude happening could have a chilling effect among the investigators as you know don there are frohhing calls particularly from exactic lawmakers for independent prosecutor to take over the investigation. and rosenstein has said previously during his senate confirmation hearing that he would indeed appoint a special prosecutor if -- if enact necessary. i wouldn't be surprised if you continue to see these calls. >> um-hum. pamela, you also have some reporting tonight. regarding grand jury subpoenas have been issued in this fbi russia investigation. what can you tell us about that. >> that's right we learned that just in the last couple of weeks federal prosecutorers have issued grand jury subpoenas to associates of former national security adviser michael flynn seeking business records as part of the ongoing probe of russian meddling in last year's election. the subpoenas represent the
first sign of a significant escalation of activity in the fbi's broader investigation that began last july into possible ties between trump associates and russia. they were received by associates who worked with michael flynn on contracts after he was forced out as director of the defense intelligence agency in 2014. robert kjell ner an attorney for flynn he declined to comment as to the justice dp, the fbi and the u.s. attorney's office. but you know just looking at the circumstances here just in the last couple of weeks you had the subpoenas issued to associates of president trump's former national security adviser. en and it's remarkable to think the man overseeing this whole investigation james comey has now been fired by the president. >> so that -- that information that you're giving now is exclusive information that you're giving. groeria i want to go back to something that you -- we talked about let's go over the letter from rod rosenstein deputy to attorney general now and going to be acting director. in the memo he points to the press kerns that comey held back
in 2016 during the campaign saying he wasn't recommending charges against hillary clinton. he is pointing to how the clinton investigation was handled. really. >>? why are they point pointing that out? >> you got me. look, i think it's something rod rosenstein probably believes it was mishandled as do lots of other prosecutors. >> that was july of 2016 though. >> right. and i -- and i think a lot of people believe that -- that was a mistake it's not a prosecutors job to tell people why i did not diet somebody for example. he also went after him for his testimony last week on -- on why his choice between conceal or speak. but -- 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, more
did he find anything wrong with the letter comey sent to congress, saying that he had to reopen the hillary clinton investigation. and so you have to wonder whether you know trump is saying -- donald trump is saying i want to fire this guy, give me -- give me the reasons here. >> yeah. i stand stsh shall have been stand by i want to bring somebody stand by you guys i want to bring in congressman elijah cummings. swal we chl congressman cummings start with you reaction to tonight events. >> well i'm not surprised. it seems as if when miss yates appeared yesterday i said to myself, we're going to have a new issue tomorrow. and we have constantly seen don this movement of hoke us poke us when something gets close to the russian investigation, the next thing we know we moved on to
something -- another issue. but there is something that your guests don't seem to understand. one of the reasons why -- keep in mind comey came to our committee, oversight committee back in the summer and made the announcement how he thought hillary clinton was sloppy but he wasn't going to prosecute. i told him at that hearing. i said, they are coming after you. that is the republicans don't like what you're doing. and they are going to put you on trial. the thing that 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 i think that what happened with comey is that he came back later on closer to the election to make those announcements because i think he was contender that they would come after him. that's what i believe. but, again, i think the timing
of this is -- is horrible. i think -- i mean if we look at it, don, he -- the president treated flynn far better than he treated the fbi director. i mean the fisher director doesn't -- didn't even flow he was being fired. >> yeah. >> and while flynn had 18 days after the president even knew that he had lied to the vice president we've got to get to the bottom of this. i think the fact that there is a grand jury and that questioning is now being opened up i think you're going to see a whole new escalation thereof case. >> i want to ask you going, congressman swal well i know both ever you congressmen have been privy to classified information and you know what's happening with the investigation. there is reporting tonight cnn and others as the "washington post" said reporting that the white house and the attorney general had pushed the fbi to pursue leaks rather than pushing them to pursue with the investigation was about and that
was possible collusion from the trump campaign with russia. did you know anything about that congressman swalwell. >> well don i hope that's notes case. our country was attacked by russia. there is a sowers fbi investigation going on into whether any u.s. persons were involved. to make that a priority over protecting our democracy would be a serious misjudgment. as far as firing fbi director comey, to the average american this stinks. the united states is a democracy. the president can't fire the person who is investigating him. that violates bedrock principles of independence. elijah cummings and i also wrote legislation to have a independent commission that's the best way to get to the bottom of what happened to make sure we never find ourselves in a mess like this again. >> your colleague ranking intelligence committee member put pout a statement saying the decision by the president have under the investigation by the
fbi fore collusion with russia to fire the man over the recommendation on the recommendation of the attorney general who has recused himsz from that investigation raise profound question base whether the white house is brazenly interfering in a criminal matter. congressman, do you see it that way and what is the recourse if so? >> jeff sessions should be noware near the firing ever director comey he was supposed to be recused remember he was supposed to be recused he was asked by the senate if he had any contacts with russia during the election. twice he said no we learned later because of press reporting he had. for him to be involved also raises questions on the judiciary committee where i serve i think we should have jeff sessions before us to explain just exactly why this was not -- just exactly why efts involved in this while he was supposed to be recused >> congressman cummings and go ahead, congressman. >> i'm just going to say i agree totally with congressman
swalwell. i was shocked we had a letter coming from the attorney general with the workmen's. isume any any recommendation would be solely that of the deputy attorney general who i know quite well and i think the world of. he is -- he was our u.s. attorney here in maryland over ten years. rosenstein. but i think rosenstein now has a duty -- i think we're going to have to do two things. one i think we need to to have the independent commission as congressman swalwell and i put forward. but we also have to make sure that an independent counsel is appointed by rosenstein because some kind of way you basically have to have both one checking each other. >> i want to ask you dwresman about -- a little bit more about the deputy attorney general since i recommended in firing because of how comey handled the clinton investigation. pointing to comey's press
conference on clinton pointing to the letter before the election. but i want to you listen to president trump when all that happened. then we'll discuss. >> i respect the fact that director comey was able to come back after what he did. it took guts for director comey do make the move he made in light of the kind of opposition he had where they're trying to protect her from criminal prosecution. >> he has become more famous than me. >> so congressman, the president -- the didn't mind how it was alanda then so what changed? >> i think whenever. >> what change was that director comey. >> congressman cummings. >> i think whenever things are going going the president's way it's finite with him when they're not going with him it's not fine with him it doesn't say a rocket scientist to see this. that's why we have moved from one issue to another we will see that over and over again.
basically what we need in this whole process is integrity, transparency and if anything wants to see what transparency and integrity is all about, all we have to do is rewind the tape of sally yates and clapper yesterday. those are the type of public servants who make sure that we preserve this democracy and preserve our system of justice. >> congressman swalwell some republicans right now are saying well wait hold on a second director comey was disliked by democrats too nobody was happy with him what's your response to that. >> well with whether people were happy with him or not he came to congress in march and told congress and the american people that the president's campaign was under criminal and counterintelligence investigations. at that point unless director comey commit add crime he should have been untouchable that's the only way we could have an independent prosecution an independent search for the truth
by the fbi credible. and make progress. and now the president has violated that principal of independence and i'm very concerned for our country. >> do you think we'll see a special prosecutor. >> don -- don one of the things we are missing here too is that it is not normal for one who is under investigation -- i practiced law over 20 years one who is under investigation or their associates under investigation to be doing things that stand in the way of that investigation. or saying things usually what i would tell my clients is we're going to cooperate with the authorities and move on. and not be constantly making comments. and i think that that's the way this should proceed. the president should not be involved in all of these tweets about how he doesn't think this is happening or that's wrong. let the process play itself out. >> yeah that was the opening to the show tonight that this is not normal for the person investigating this administration now fired by in
administration and by in president. quick kwek do you think we'll see a special prosecutor congressman swalwell. >> i hope we do. i hope we have an independent commission a special prosecutor and that that person is able to find the truth and do it with independence so that anyone that worked with russia is held accountable because our democracy is counting on it. >> thank you congressman. i appreciate it. >> thank you. >> and i want. >> my pleasure. >> any republican congressman anyone out wants to come you're welcome to come on even later on cnn we'll be live throughout the day throughout the evening i want to bring in cnn senior legal analyst, jeffrey toobin and laura coats. you have said -- you have been very outspoken about in jeffrey toobin. >> yeses. >> do you think there is a cover-up heres in just beyond the realm for you. >> you know, i don't know whether there's been a cover-up. what there has been is a travesty. i can't speak to the ultimate
motivations of the president in why he did this. but the fact that he did this will disgrace his memory for as long as this presidency is remembered. there is only -- you know one- one day that will be remembered after january 20th so far in the trump presidency. and it's the day of the tuesday night massacre. in is the day that trump fired the head of the fbi. the only other time the head of the fbi has been fired was william sessions by bill clinton and that was politicly uncontroversial. so never in history have we had an fbi director fired by a president who was under investigation by the fbi. and it's just wrong. and it's obviously wrong. >> allen some are stay saying it a constitutional crisis for the president to fire the man investigating him do you grie with that. >> look i think there are four separate questions you have to ask. should comey be the director of the fbi? the answer to that is no. he shouldn't be the director.
he should have resigned on show i called for him to resign. he lost his credibility. second question is should it be the president of the united states who makes the decision to fire him? not while he is under an investigation. third and where i disagree with my friend and former student jeffrey, is who he appoints next if he appoints a man or woman of great integrity in date will not go down and remembered in history because we will have been proved i don't think that it was some kind of a cover-up if he picks somebody who can pursue the investigation. fourth how about an independent existing not a peshl prosecutor there isn't probable cause but a independent investigation not done by congress but done by people appointed by congress. they can then decide whether to appoint a special prosecutor or recommend a preshl prosecutor i think to separate out the four separate questions. >> announcer: as a hypothetical if he payments one. >> who is to say he wouldn't
fire them to a zblchlt preet bharara told he was going to stay, gone. james comey, gone. all three of whom had the potential to investigator -- and trouble the trump presidency. >> all three appointed by democrats all three appropriately replaced by a republican. but what we think. >> wait, wait. >> it was appropriately that james comey -- why do nef ten year terms. >> i think it's appropriate that he not be the director of the fbi. i think a lot of this is his fault. injury he should have resigned he should have looked in the mirror and said to himself "i" not trust the by democrats. i am not trusted by republicans. i am not trusted by the american public. and he should have resigned. >> yeah now he didn't and that's put the president. >> pick it back let's put the picture back up. the tlie people who are investigating this president are
the administration fired. >> yates was a hold overshe was going to go only a question of which day she was going to go and be replaced. generally the u.s. attorney is replaced. and comey, is a unique situation. he really messed up. he may have changed the results of an election. >> yates. >> he could not -- he could not be the head of the fbi with credibility. >> yates wasn't investigating but he was the acting attorney general. do you find this -- do you find this fishy laura sfla arrive absolutely i do this is obviously a figure leaf the president was looking for a reason to fire james comey. james comey guy him a reason everyone is focuseding on the fact he had a testimony back last summer as one of the reasons he should have been fired by nonattorney general lynch but last week's testimony gave additional reasoning. remember he had the opportunity to say whether or not he was wrong for having done what he did and whether or not his motivation was in furtherance of the credibility of the
department and of the fbi or whether it was some type of gratuitous task or journey for him personally. and the letter i saw today from the deputy attorney general i have to tell you a totally reading than we talked about my take is they were focusing on this particular point in time and comey's refusal to accept responsibility that he was in fact wrong don't get me wrong. this is still a pretextual reason but i walked right into the actual trap and grave guy are gave them the reason they needed. remember also he said my only choinss were either to speak or conceal. it showed a complete laps of judgment to recognize there was a very third obvious opportunity for him which was to follow the protocol of the department. and i have to say as a former prosecutor with the department of justice, he was wrong to usurp the role of the attorney general. and what he said was if you remember correctly he said i actually had the nerve to call the attorney general nonlynch
and say, i'm going to have a press conference. but i'm not going to tell what you it's about. that was insubordination and he renewed and provided a different and more comprehensive reason for that last week. so he walked into it. i think it was a bit of brafd o and a bit of his lack of foresight to recognize that he had walked into a trap. >> i agree with everything you've just said. that is so rare but i agree with every single word you just said. >> i sure don't. >> go ahead. >> look, i think comey made mistake sns the hillary clinton investigation. i -- i agree on that point. but these were not -- it had nothing to do with his firing today. if he was going to be fired for his behavior with hillary clinton investigation he should have been fired on january 20th. plus there is currently an inspector general investigation of comey going on why didn't they wait for that? the only reason he is being
fired is because he is investigating the president. the whole hillary clinton thing is just pro post-errously irrelevant backup does anyone really believe that donald trump fired james comey because he was too mean to hillary clinton? >> absolutely not i don't think that -- and i think the question itself assumes the hyperbowl that i have not given i don't believe the reason that james comey was fired was because of simply the fact he was abusing his power last year. i think the curious dates here are when did rosenstein take offers about 14 days ago when did comey testify before congress again and really have the audacity to talk about why he thought he was still justified and had to come forward. you know -- six days ago now i'm not saying -- it is relevant in terms of what i think they will come out as giving the comprehensive basis for why he was fired. that's what they're going to say. what i think actually happened was they were looking for a
reason and he gave enemy one. because he was ignorant to the fact that he had not honored his initial role as no longer being a prosecutor and the final arbiter but as somebody who am paraphrasing him to put on the cape when he was capped off by miss furious and frustration with lor eta lynch on the tor mack he said that was what capped it off for me ffrmt what capped it him for him was the he still believed he had the right and authority to act the way did he. he did not. >> here is the question we don't know the answer to. rosenstein's letter on its own is absolutely correct. rosenstein absolutely believes that he should be fired because of the way he handled the clinton thing. remember rosenstein is nonpartisan. the question is did president trump ask rosenstein to come wup that letter or did rosenstein come with the letter on his own and president trump said, ah-ha i have an independent man of great integrity saying i should fire him. i want to fire him.
and now i have the reason. i think that's the real question. what kim first the chicken are oh the egg. >> you know what his track record -- his track record here allen you make a good point. his track record here is somebody who has said when you talk about the travel ban and giuliani. i want tuesday something wrong figure it out a way to make it right and justifiable. now we have opportunity again i want to get rid of james comey give me a reason did he give you reason? that's the one we're going with. his track record makes this suspicious and justifiably so suspicious. >> he can eliminate the suspicion by appointing a terrific woman or man to be head of the fbi and agreeing to have an independent investigation. then what -- what jefferiry is speculating about although it may be true -- will be proved to be untrue by miss later axes. >> that's all after the fact though jeff. >> the timing is suspicious. >> my learned colleagues here my betters are overthinking this whole thing.
>> i agree with you. >> is that you know they wanted to get rid of this guy and they got rid of him. and hillary -- sessions -- well i mean i don't know -- i am baffled by rosenstein's involvement. >> you poe him. >> i don't know him well but i interviewed him i heard nothing but good things about him. >> do you think rosenstein just at this point just came up said you know what i think he should be fired especially considering his testimony yesterday. >> i don't know. >> we can. >> i don't know what rosenstein's role in all of in is. but there has to be some person in the united states government who could just open their eyes and say, you know, you don't fire the fbi director when he is investigating you. you don't do this because the only other time there's been a comparable event in all of american history is october 20th, 1973, the saturday night massacre when president nixon
fired archibald cox. that's the only comparable event somebody that that administration has to have said, you know, this is not going to look good. >> i think one of the most important things you said tonight jeffrey was sometimes the answer is the front in you the most obvious is answer is but sometimes more complex. >> sometimes but rarely. thank you all. president trump offering no further comment tonight after firing fbi director james comey but sending out. le counselor kellyanne conway who said this to anderson. >> the president himself -- skaus me is not the subject of investigation and most importantly are you talking about the folks who were involved in the campaign? >> yeah. >> okay well you said the people around the president. are you talking about people who were shall did dsh who were adviser. >> some of them may still be around the president. i don't know exactly who is
being investigationed there is ongoing investigation by the fbi. >> but again you want this to be about russia when this is about quote restoring confidence and integrity at the fisher morrell is low. >> you wanted this to be about restoring confidence in fbi but i'm not sure -- many people believe this doesn't restore confidence in the fisher in fact a lot of people are raising questions saying it destroys people's confidence in the fisher about whoever the president may appoint is going to be in charge of an investigation into people who have been close to the president during the campaign. any potential collusion with russia. >> and today's actions had zero to do with that. >> i want to bring in a close confidante of president trump that's christopher rud ceo of news max news max testify zblap why tuning the president fired james comey. >> i think he made it pretty clear that he wanted to have someone he got a recommendation from a former clinton
administration justice department official rod rosenstein saying what he did as fbi director was not inconsistent with the neutral of the bureau he decided to act and ask for termination i think if the president did anything wrong was waiting this long. i think when he was inaugurated he should have asked for comey's resignation. and the reason is he had lost the confidence of both democrats and republicans. not only the hillary clinton email press conference, which is the basis of the rosenstein letter, but a lot of democrats if you go back you look at the clips, don, you'll see that they were calling for comey to resign because of the investigation he launched into hillary in the closing days. >> you agree that the timing by him waiting as you say he should have done it day one is that right. >> veshd it have done it earlier but i don't think he is wrong. it would have been better
served. >> doesn't you think the timing makes it look suspicious now. >> i don't think it's -- you keep making comparisons and other guests have on the show about watergate. that was the middle of a major investigation. >> i haven't made the watergate. >> but it's wg been going on throughout the night. and the truth is three times the director of the fbi told the president you're not -- there is no evidence. we know that director clapper has said there is no evidence. other officials disbelieved. >> testified of. >> collusion between the trump campaign and russias. >> that's the whole point of the investigation is not finished and also since you bring it up it was very strange thatted he said -- he would mention that in a letter that he sent out to the media and to the fbi. and actually to the fbi director notifying him of his. >> so everything we say is really have to be cleverly and carefully looked at one of the things you said earlier was that this was stopping the investigation. the president has not stopped
any investigation -- fbi investigation. >> i never said any investigation was stopped. >> by firing you mentioned earlier. >> i asked where does this leave the investigation not that it stops the investigation. >> there is no investigation that's been stopped so he is not acting to thwart anything. why is there anything spish if he was saying to the fbi close down your russian investigation, i think that would raise serious concerns but he is not saying that. i think the proof of the pudding here is going to be who he picks as the successor. and i think he will pick someone very bipartisan and respected and when they do that i think any questions -- but look the house and senate committees are investigating this. there is an independent investigation going on out of the justice department on this. so i don't think we really have anything to worry about. >> who might the person be that he is going to appoint. >> my god i don't know i'm not in the legal law enforcement world i'm sure there is a number of highly qualified people. i'm sure with the scrutiny that's going to come with that. the president is going to -- if you look at all the choices the
cabinet that he picked largely for the government these are not a people they're a-plus people. she has a number of people on the cabinet very independent of him have great experience. i think people are not -- we don't have anything to worry here and i think that people are making a lot more out of in than they should be. >> ask i ask you something because there is concern because we've been talking about the investigation where you say there is -- there is no evidence. you said there is no evidence thus far. >> correct. >> the investigation is still going on not that there is definitively no investigation until the investigation comes to a conclusion. there is also reporting tonight from cnn the "washington post" process l it says the white house and the attorney general have pushed the fbi to pursue leaks. the fbi did not want 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 -- why would the president.
>> we know at a. >> be pushing the fbi or any agency to turn their investigation one way or another. >> well the president i think is frustrated -- he has talked to me about this in the past and he said it very publicly, that they want to investigate everything relating to his administration or to mike flynn but when there is clear evidence of classified conversations he had with world leaders clear evidence of other classified discussion that is yates had with counsels office all of that stuff leaked is in the press it's illegal chl no one self the press saying let's investigate that. >> is there not a separate investigation from in investigation. >> hur it may be but why is the fbi and others not interested in pursuing those investigations? but there really hell bent. >> do they have a leonard -- i would not know i'm not with the fisher the media is not with the fbi. >> you look like an fbi agent. >> i've been told that before but i look very official. wouldn't be the fisher have a
legitimate reason not to pursue leaks maybe they know something we don't or they don't think 80s viable investigation because leaks should not be investigated. >> well, they. >> without the leaks flynn would be there. without the leaks richard nixon. >> i think there's been a selective decision to only go after -- or look the other way at any leaks that are harmful to the trump administration and they're very focused on anything that a trump official may have done or somebody associatewood the campaign. there seems to be a lack ever fairness i think there is a lot of frustration the whole white house about how they're being treated here. i think the president made a good decision because there's been a cloud on the comey. you know if you go through all of cnn clips a lot of cnn people a lot of democrats were calling for his head. i actually thought it was inappropriate for him to come out a few days before the election and make a comment about an ongoing investigation of hillary's email. >> having said that that was part of the rationale that the -- we are told cnn is told
they didn't believe that the white house would be this fallout because they thought democrats would be on award did he really not think there would be this much fallout. >> i can't dwo into the mind what they thought would happen there was a lot of criticism of come in a lot of criticism of his testimony. a lot of people weren't thinking he was acting neutral way like director sessions or. no one accused them of the same degree of partisanship where he would like to talk about open investigations the way he did hillary's emails seemed inappropriate and rosenstein laid that out. >> >> have you spoken to the president since he made the decision. >> i have not no. >> do you think the administration feels -- feels that they are above the raw? >> absolutely not. >> thank you. >> you can go on. >> well i don't think interests anything they have done they're willing to -- what they do feel
that the enforcement of the law should be done on an equal basis if there is classified data being leaked out classified agencies including classified conversations with heads of state why drnt isn't that investigated by the bureau but something mike flynn said which i don't think was illegal that he talked about the trade sanctions with the russians -- i don't believe was a violation of federal law to begin with. >> i love having you hear but i have to go good questions for the bureau that i cannot answer because i'm not in the bureau please convey to the president. >> can i be nominate you zblool he is welcome to come on any time sit down with him anyway thung chris. >> definitely do that. >> tlaung i want to bring in karen finishy karen is senior adviser and senior spokesperson for hillary clinton ace campaign what did you make of what chris ruddy had to say. >> great spin. i think the thing we need to keep in mind we think how
incompetent this has been how erratic this seems. the fbi director is involved in a lot more than just this investigation -- you know hillary clinton ace emails and the investigation into russia. think about counterterrorism think about any number of things. the fact that the white house did this without seeming to have someone or some candidate ready to go to replace him seems odd. it also seems odd that you know given the fact that we know that there is already an internal investigation by the inspector general at the fbi looking into this matter with comey, why not wait until the end of that investigation. so the timing i was -- i was joking with some colleagues in green room given how well sally yates did yesterday we should have expected this to -- something like this to come today. because i think it shows how far this president will go to change the headlines. it's very disturbing.
>> this is rod rosenstein he sent the letter to the memo to attorney general jeff sessions who by the way announced efts going to rekeyes him from the russia investigation or anything to do with hillary clinton as well. as you and i discussed he says i cannot defend the director handling fortunate conclusion fortunate investigation of secretary clinton's emails the director was wrong to ewe turp the authority on july 25th 2016 and announced his conclusions that the case shb christed without prosecution what do you say to that karen. >> what i say is that certainly was not the position of donald j. trump during the campaign and when this initially happened. he was praising comey. if he had real concerns about his behavior i guess the question i would ask the president so therefore do you agree that it was inappropriate for director comey to send that letter to congress 11 days before the election? i mean he certainly had no problem with that. let me point out one other thing, don. i love the fact that within this
document that roetsenants did he quotes and refrpss a document we put out from the campaign and he cites a former attorney general unthe bush administrationen a the fact that this -- that there were almost 10 oh other former officials. well that's a document that we actually put out from our campaign. so he is citing our campaign materials to make in argument. and again i think what we can't escape is the timing of this. we just can't you know underestimate what that means in terms of what was happening in the investigation. and the concerns that the white house may have had about you know who controls that investigation and i think you know think about just the chain of events here. so you know the assistant attorney general who sends this letter is the person who is in charge of the russia investigation. so he then sends a letter citing you know even campaign documents
from the hillary clinton campaign to jeff sessions, who you know as apparently misled congress to then send that to donald trump. i mean there is so much in here that is so suspicious and so suspect. i think what the trump administration does not yet realize is that what they bought themselves is an independent counsel and having been part of an administration where that happen. i can't imagine that any credible republican would deny that the only way to restore any kind of integrity here would be to have an independent investigation. >> all right karen out of time thank you i appreciate you copping we have more on the breaking news tonight the white house confirming president trump will meet with russian foreign minister lavrov tomorrow and now i want to bring in cnn global officer. historian john meech nam and julia kai yam and kevin madden. you said something i think david very important to me about this
decision. tonight by the president. what did you say about that? >> i don't understand the timing. i mean you just mentioned this meeting with laugh hoff tomorrow. it's sort of -- it's at least a political era if he is completely innocent. >> do you believe he will come to regret in decision. >> i think politicly yes he has relit the russia fire. again if he is completely innocent he is just -- gotten all the suspicion going. energized the democrats it's an unforced political error. >> listen the new thing we got now he is meeting with lavrov what do you think the foreign minister. >> they could wait, roll it out given comey notice. he is meeting tomorrow with the russian foreign minister. democrats don't trust donald trump maybe that's gnat fair to him but this is going to energize democrats raise suspicions. this is a huge issue there was a comment earlier about the leaks. process there was a story
reuters wrote about a conversation between putin and trump details about nuclear accords trump didn't know embarrassing information. this is a investigation into colluding with a foreign country to change the outcome of a presidential election. so much more grave than embarrassing details about a president's phone call. >> john, i want to bring you in now. the president firing the fbi director. who was leading the federal investigation into possible collusion wean his campaign and russia. i mean how does this look? >> i don't think it looks particularly good. and i want to win the understatement cooky for the week. look, no president has ever done this in exactly in way. president clinton let judge sessions go 24 years ago on a an ethics question. you know this is the one and algae that has already been well chewed over fwu has the virtue of being true, is that of president nixon.
president nixon fired archibald cox the special prosecutor in october of 1973. it was one of the most significant presidential assaults on the rule of law in our history. i think we're witnessing something akin to that. donald trump doesn't like -- he is a doory phrase here but important. divided sovereignty goes back to the greek city states the idea you have a rule of law and power is divided among different bodies so that you have a balance. balance is not what he wants. he wants control. and i think that's what we're seeing tonight. >> um-hum. i want to read something this was just tweeted by the president saying chuck schumer recently i do not have confidence in him james comey any longer then acts so indignant. >> kevin madden kefren what do you think of that? >> well i think that argument holds up for only a short period
of time. i mean it is true that democrats on capitol hill have vested that they have lost confidence in james comey. but that only answers one question which is why didn't the president then do it when he first came into office. and i think the -- there will be continue to be questions about why the president took this action now. now you rod rossenants lay out a rather cogent argument in miss letter today. but there are still remaining questions. and to go back to what john said, whether you're a republican or a democrat if you are firing the -- the fbi director who is leading the investigation into your campaign, that is not a good look. and, against a back drop of that investigation they're going to continue to be more and more questions there will be more and more calls. i think as chaotic as tonight feels we are only at the very genesis of the chaos of the decision. there will be congressional hearings called. see congressional calls for a
special prosecutor. they're going to have hearings for whoever the new fbi director will be. this is going to be a -- this is just the beginning. >> jason how could the white house know -- how could they not know that this would be a big story at the that the fallout would be what it is now. >> well i'm not sure if that report was entirely >> for sure the white house would have known there would be significant amount of blowback from democrats. they're the same folks who are calling for the -- for president obama to fire comey last year and so i think president trump is right when he's calling out senator schumer. the only thing i want to say to the president -- >> he didn't call out the other senator who had issues. >> nancy pelosi had lost confidence in him. we had liberal columnists wanting him fired. i mean, this is -- i mean, look, don, nobody tonight --
>> you can also think that it was -- >> nobody standing up saying james comey should still be in this job. people might have an issue with the timing and i think that's a debate. i agree with what kevin said. i would have done it on day one, and actually i think president obama should have fired comey last year. so there can be an argument about the timing. there is nobody standing up saying he should still be in that position. he lost the confidenced of v hi people. >> you would have been on cnn screaming to high heaven that this was some sort of political stunt by the obama administration. >> but look, the indecisive back and forth trying to -- director comey trying to rationalize what he was doing with the clinton investigation last year, he kplooed completely lost control of what he was doing and i think we need to get someone in there who's going to follow the rule
of law, who is going to take the fub and go do what they need to be doing and i think for all the people freaking out tonight, talking about investigations, look, this is not going to change anything about the investigation. >> did you proximate cause comey when he came out and said we have some information about the investigation? >> if you stay around long enough he's going to find a way to make everyone in town mad. so i'm sure at a certain point i probably liked some of the things he was doing but this all adds up that he's out there trying to rationalize what he's doing. we need an fbi director who's going to enforce the rule of law. i'm actually going to agree. >> nothing has changed since then. he made the decision. all he's done is come out to explain the decision that he's made, so nothing has changed with his decision making. he did it, you praised him and now you're saying that he should
go. there was plenty of criticism as well. senator graham hit the nail on the head when he said we need a fresh start in the fbi. but again, don, the point that i made when he came on board, nobody is standing up saying director comey should still be the director of the fbi. he should not be leading and i think that's why president trump removed him from this position. >> julia, go ahead. >> i will answer jason's question or -- about who will stand up. there are a lot of people who may have criticisms about how comey acted or behaved in the last come 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
end of course clapper investigation,some murmurings from the senate that they wanted information about president trump's financial dealings and of course now cnn's reporting about the grand jury that's a whole lot of reckoning for the trump white house. >> that has nothing -- >> do not interrupt me tonight, please. this is serious and it is nonpartisan. there is an investigation going on about whether the russians, let's remember who the enemy is, actually were influencing our election. that investigation has now led to specific investigations about people around trump and we have reason to believe based on cnn's reporting that 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 justified discounts almost
all of the activity in the last 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. and so -- >> so julia, even you think -- >> i've got to go. thank you all. i appreciate it. jon i want you to stick around. i want to bring in john dean a former nixon white house counsel. also jon is going to stay with us as well. what's your reaction to the breaking news tonight? >> well, it certainly is not saturday massacre two. it doesn't quite rise to that level. it is clearly botched as well. the white house did not handle
it well. they have acted in a way that raises the suspicions that you're hearing on your panel. they are widespread. i'm hearing them on the radio and some people are confused about history and think this was another saturday night live -- or 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 were each testing the other, and the prosecutor lost and they shut down the special prosecution office. that was the massacre. >> yeah. jon, since you mentioned that, this is from the nixon library. president nixon never fired the director of the fbi but he did fire the attorney general and the deputy attorney genre signed. will there be further fallout from this as kevin says? >> that's a great question and i think one of the things we have to figure out is to what extent -- what was the impo tus
for the events that led to today. there is the memo from the deputy attorney general, 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 just a general point is there's going to be a lot of talk and there already is and the president just 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 are reasonable people asking very reasonable questions about whether the president of the united states has something to hide in terms of the -- his campaign and potential collusion with russia. he has dismissed that. he has 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 like fourth graders, we chase the ball to the other side of the field. i think we have to do everything we can at this point to stay in position. >> i asked chris ruddy who is a friend of the president, if they 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 a question to me with this president of a lack of experience, and not really understanding the job and not bringing in peopl works. this could have all been avoided, don. they certainly all -- all they had to do is look at history and see how easy it would be to replay what they're getting tonight, so 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's not a sinister motive is the other alternative. >> are you troubled by this? >> very much so. >> am i troubled? >> jon? >> very much so. i think that it's -- i think 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 -- i haven't been someone who's, you know, thrown myself in with tauthoritarian narrativs but this is not a step in the right direction. >> a serious question that was -- quickly here, staff writer for the new yorker said where are comey's files right now? who controls them. that is important. >> it is indeed. what would happen in a circumstance like this is very much unlike what happened with
the special shutting that offic where they literally sent the fbi over to do it. so -- my phone was ringing there. >> that's okay. go on. >> anyway, the files i'm sure are secured. they're in his office. i've -- you know, i don't know 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 somewhat hand fisted the way it was handled. it's unfortunate that he was out here to give a recruiting speech and was not given any forewarning as to what was going to happen and that's why it's kind of mysterious why they did it this way when it was bound to create a reaction that is happening. >> thank you so much. >> our live coverage of today's big news continues right now with my colleague jake tapper in washington.