tv Erin Burnett Out Front CNN May 17, 2017 4:00pm-5:01pm PDT
no. it's been an amazing news period. you're right, it's been a daily series of astonishments. >> jeffrey toobin will be with us every step of the way. thanks for watching. i'm wolf blitzer in "the situation room." breaking coverage continues right now with erin burnett "out front." >>s this is cnn breaking news. >> good evening. i'm erin burnett. we are following the breaking news at this hour. the justice department tonight naming the forger fbi director robert mueller special counsel to take over the investigation into russia's medaling in the 2016 election and possible collusion between the trump campaign and the russians. it is a major development, raising the stakes for president trump. it comes just a day after a memo written by former fbi director
comey where the president is said to have asked for the dismissile of charges against michael flynn. we issued a statement with his reasoning. my decision is not a finding that crimes have been committed or any prosecution is warranted. i have made no such determination. what i have determined is that based upon the unique circumstances, the public enter requires many to place this investigation under a person. >> he headed the fbi starting one week before the september 11 attacks all the way through 2013. had his term extended by two years by president obama. pamela, the white house barely getting any notice on this. what are you learning? >> reporter: yes, we found out minutes ago that rod rosenstein
didn't notify the white house or general sessions about this investigation that puts mueller in charge of the investigation. this is a significant step for the deputy attorney general to take himself and the department of justice out of the equation, erin, and hand the reigns to outside special counsel. this is very rare. this hasn't happened in the last several years. in fact, the last time outside special counsel was brought in was 2003, but reading the statement from rod rosenstein, it is clear he made this decision because he thought it was in the best interest of the public, particularly when you look at the last week and all of the developments, the latest one, of course, erin, this revelation that former fbi director comey wrote in his memo that president are trump asked him in february to end the michael flynn probe. so it pashs that that factored into the decision.
we can tell you through talking to our sources, evan perez, my colleague and i, he had been considering appointing outside special counsel ever since the firing of james comey last tuesday. in fact, bob mueller, now taking over the investigation, was set to meet with rosenstein last wednesday. the day after the firing. so this had been in the works for a while. but as of late friday, rosenstein was still telling people that he didn't think it was necessary to appoint special counsel. so it does appear, erin, that this latest revelation could have been a tipping point but certainly a significant development from the department of justice. erin? >> what was it, was it the rev liegs of the memos or not? thank you very much. let's go to evan perez in washington. evan, i think everyone hears these words thrown around, special prosecutor, special counsel. the bottom line question is what does it mean? it is a gig deal. >> right. >> what does it all mean when
you look at all the investigations that are currently going on? >> reporter: one of the things it means is that this is an investigation that is plainly independent and that is good news for the people at the fbi who have been concerned that perhaps this might affect the investigation or the independence of the investigation or at least the appearance of that independence, which is very, very important to what they end up finding, but with the appointment here of mueller, look, he's empowered now to do whatever he wants. he can bring in staff. he can use the current staff that's handling the investigation. he's going to work with the fbi agents who have already been doing this investigation, but more importantly, it definitely reassures the agents of the fbi and the people of the justice department who have been very concerned that the firing of kwoem would at least damage the appearance of their independence. but this is bad news if you're at the white house. now you have no idea where this is going. >> yeah. >> one of the first things mueller is going to have to do,
erin. >> yes. >> is to decide whether or not to turn over the memos that james comey said he used to memorialize his conversations with donald trump. letters have been written to the fbi asking for those to be turned over as soon as next wednesday. mueller is now in charge of m e making the decision whether that will be part of his investigation. >> and that's a crucial question. just, evan, a follow-up as we try to understand exactly what this does mean. >> right. >> you see that mueller was apointed by the deputy attorney general, rod rosenstein, who was of course appointed by the president of the united states. when you say independent, is it truly and fully independent or would they have the ability to fire him? could you just put a little color around that? >> this is part of a special law that was passed after the expiration of the independent
counsel law in 1999, so really this means that he is truly independent. that's why there's so much reluctance usually by the justice department to bring in a special counsel, because you don't know where this is going to end up and certainly for the white house, this is the last thing they wanted to see. >> he answers to no one, which is obviously the crucial point. >> right. >> evan perez, in the midst of breaking news. as we get more we'll get back to him. jeff zeleny is back at the white house. you heard what evan just said. not good news for the white house because they won't know what's going on. we're hearing they got less than one hour notice. and they weren't told until it was signed. we have signed it. the deal is done. what's the reaction there? >> at the very moment the it was signed, the president was interviewing candidates for the fbi director. he still had control over this. i was talking to a senior administration official.
they are still trying to get their hands around this. but you're right. they had less than an hour to deal with this. but one official told us that it was still sinking in. we were told about it, not asked about it. the president was described as being shocked by this but also is seeing yet again for one more time the limits of his presidential power here in the executive branch. we cannot point out enough, erin, this is the third straight consecutive evening of blows to this white house. now, this of course would seem to be the most far reaching of all, because it does as evan and pamela were reporting, it takes control away from the white house. any white house in the administration certainly in a time of uncertainty and crisis like this, they like to control things as much as possible. this takes that control away here. sean spicer, only two days ago at the white house press briefing said this about the idea of a special counsel. he said there's frankly no need
for a special prosecutor. we've discussed this before. we have two senate committees, an fbi investigation, there's no need for it. that was the view of this white house, it was not needed. tonight they were told that it was happening. the question of whether it was with needed or not is a moot point. at this point, the white house scrambling -- they were having some briefings to talk kt a the next thing up on the president's agenda. his foreign trip. he's leaving on friday for saudi arabia and other countries. some of those meetings have been put on hold. the west wing is trying to figure out how to respond to this. we're not sure if we're going to hear from the president this evening or not. but it's a stunned white house once again, erin. >> thank you very much, jeff zeleny. we just got a statement from bob mueller immediately resigning from his job as a lawyer today to take this responsibility. his statement "i accept this responsibility and will discharge it to the best of my ability." bob mueller, fbi director from
2001 right before september 11 to 2013 under george w. bush and barack obama, the second longest serving fbi director in american history, widely respected and applauded by members of both parties. joining me now, jeffrey tubin are chris swecker. gloria borger, david gergen who viesed four presidents and david avelon. jeffrey, he says i accept this responsibility. we'll discharge it to the best of my ability. how big of a development is this? and as evan said it is truly independent. >> it is a major development because of the nomination of any special counsel but the fact that it's bob mueller makes it even more significant, because -- i don't think this is an exaggeration. this is the single most respected figure in american law enforcement. it's not just the 12 years at the fbi.
all of which went by without a scandal or a hint of personal controversy involving mueller himself. head of the criminal division of the justice department, u.s. attorney in san francisco, u.s. attorney in boston. this is someone who really embodies the best of the american criminal justice system and the chips are going to fall where they may. i mean, i think people who think there's a -- a crime was commit, they'll learn that it was and if a kroim wasn't committed, we'll learn that, too. >> let me ask, rucker, you know bob mueller. what do you think the first thing he's going to do is? >> the winners today are the american people. he'll hand pick his team. the he's a thorough professional. he's a good attorney. he won't be in the press. he'll quietly hand pick a team. they'll be in a separate space away from fbi headquarters and he will methodically,
professionally, quietly get to the bottom of this. this is the best news we've heard. i think it addresses the whole perception out there that someone outside the fbi had control of this investigation, which i dispute. i don't think that anybody outside of the fbi had any control of the investigation other than the department of justice. but putting robert mueller in there is, i think everybody's a winner today. >> so we can really understand what this means, let me ask. we know the house and senate investigations will continue. >> right. >> in a sense there's this weird competing for testimony and this strangeness that's going on. do we know fully what's part of thatthis? jim comey's firing, his memos. do we know the border line? >> we don't know the border line. but we know this. the person who decides what the border line is is going to be bob mueller. i don't envision any 12345scena
where those subjects you just mentioned would not be included within his jurisdiction. it's all related. it all relates to the possible collusion between the trump campaign and russia and the attempts to cover that up, if there were any such attempts. it's all the same story and mueller's going to have to deal with it all. >> let me ask you, i know you know jim comey. there's an article, forged under fire, bob mueller and comey's strange relationship. when he re-placed comey, mueller said of comey he was a good friend and a good choice and a superior there arer. you have jim comey saying the president said something. the president says he's lying. is the relationship between mueller and comey at issue here? >> that's a good question. i wouldn't discount the strength
of their bond and the impact on the investigation this would have. they worked side by side for years after 9/11, really through the fire together. they were involved in the famous scenes over the bush eavesdropping thing again and again. tremendous mutual respect and friendship. so when you have jim comey fired after writing the memo that he did, i would have to think that bob mueller is going to put a lot of weight in. >> let me ask you about the significance of that. bob mueller, nobody is besmirching his intelligence. but this could be deeply significant. g >> i want to join the coarse and say this is very good news for the yoi. -- country. it will begin to restore trust
in the process and in the outcome. in that sense, i do think that a lot of credit goes to mr. rosenstein. you know, who was so vilified because he got dragged in by the president and jeff sessions writing that statement when comey was firebird. this w b -- fired. he had the way in making the appointment. he turned to mueller, because he must have assumed, as others have said, bob mueller is so highly respected that he did not feel this would influence the outcome. >> john, what do you think happened? as pamela pointed out. rob rosenstein said a special prosecutor was not needed, right? he said so as recently as last friday, as we understand, telling people he didn't see any. since then we've learned of trump telling classified information in 2 white house and we've learned of comey memos. those are the two big pieces of
news that happened between now and friday. >> those are massive bombshells in this accelerating news cycle but i think the presence of the comey memo forces the handled. the calculus has changed on capitol hill. i do think that while this is a great reminder that we are a nation of laws, not men, that clearly rod rosenstein felt it needed to be taken not in coordination with the trump white house. the white house did not send the stabilizing signal. the justice department did. the attorney general has had to recuse himself. the selection of mueller is stabilizing. it will give breathing room. it comes from the heart of the justice dpept, not the trump white house. >> and the trump white house here, we're barely 90 minutes into knowing this. they got a little bit more warning than that but we don't yet have a formal response, which is a very significant thing. they have not decided what to say. >> and we're waiting for that.
as jeff zeleny pointed out, sean spicer has been saying there's no need for a special counsel. >> as recently as monday. >> right. this isn't going to be welcome news at the white house. this means that this investigation is going to be long and deep and it's not going to be over quickly. and i think you can only look at donald trump for that. i agree with john avalon the that something happened with that comey memo that probably made rod rosensteining change his mind. on capitol hill now, i would also add that this does give everybody a little bit of breathing room here. that the democrats obviously applaud this, and the republicans who didn't -- weren't much interested in a special counsel can now say, well, this is being investigated by a special counsel. i just heard from a top senate democratic aide who said to me, it's amazing to watch republicans go from we don't need one to he's awesome.
and that's exactly what's happening on the hill right now. so republicans are going to applaud this as well. >> so many more questions. just as we get more breaking news. laura jarrett with who was in the briefing at the justice dwept when they made this anoumtd, laura, you're learning more about this crucial question. the timing of the decision and when rod rosenstein informed the white house. >> reporter: that's exactly right, erin. i'm learning that rod rosenstein told the president after the order was signed and then the white house counsel's office was informed by the deputy attorney general's office. i'm also informed that attorney general jeff segs was informed after rod rosenstein signed the order. a little bit of interesting timing there. the deputy attorney general really did all of this before any heads-up was given to the white house or the attorney general. so an interesting development
there on the timing. we're also learning more about the scope of bob mueller's investigation. as you know, this has to do with the russia connection as outlined in the announcement we received from doj today but he has wide latitude to decide what's in that scope, erin, which is an important development. >> laura, thank you very much. i think among the many new tidbits, i think laura's reporting that jeff sessions did not know until after his deputy had signed this order naming the special counsel. i want to go to manu raju on capitol hill. democrats had been threatening, right? they said they were going to block an fbi director until they got a special prosecutor. ok. they got it. what now? >> it's likely that the new fbi director will be blocked for senate democrats for one reason, because there is a special prosecutor. they had been commanddemanding that as a condition of moving forward.
now i'm hearing they're less inclined to do that. we have to wait and see who that nominee is. that would require republicans to defect, also. right now this is good news for donald trump getting his own dpib choice appointed. democrats have manned to pepper rosenstein with questions tomorrow about naming a special prosecutor. i'm told by senators who had a private meeting today at chuck schumer's office, they came up with a strategy to pressure him. now he's named a special prosecutor that will take the heat off him. so democrats are feeling a little better. republicans, too, even the senate intelligence committee, richard burr feeling good about moving the investigation forward now that the question has been resolved. >> thank you very much, manu. eric, let me ask you, what does this all mean. now you have a special counsel, special prosecutor. you have the house and senate
investigations continuing. is bob mueller starting from scratch? is he being handed an investigation in progress? is there a better way to understand exactly what just changed here in terms of the tiemgts of when the american people are going to know what did or did not happen between the trump campaign and the russians. >> sure. i suspect the first thing mueller would do is to spend several weeks at the fik on getting up to speed on what's been done since the investigation opened last july, being briefed by andy mccabe and the top officials there. then he's going to want to build his own team, to take that investigation in progress and make it his own. he's going to want to bring in his own lawyers, write over fbi agents that he trusts arched his team trusts and map out a strategy. and as jeff toobin and others have said, that could take years. in the 1990s in the clinton
administration when you had more than half a dozen specially apointed outside counsels, those investigations could go on three, four, five years with unlimited budgets. if that's the guide, the law has changed since then, but if that is the guide it can go almost anywhere mueller wants it to go. >> i want to elaborate on that points. >> yeah. >> he's going to start from absolute scratch. he's going to rent a facility that is suitable for security. he's going to hire a staff who has to have a security clearance. that takes a long time. maybe then he'll have to appoint a grand jury. even if he's full of energy and full of determination -- >> we got a lot more time. >> i want everyone to know we're awaiting the white house on
special counsel. we'll get that response any moment. gloria, you have this process taking a long time but he's going to have the resources he needs, he's going to have independence. but what does that mean for the senate? do you have decisions coming out of there that conflict? explain. >> jeffrey remembers iran contra when you had separate investigations in the congress and then you had an outside counsel. and they did very different things, you know, the congress didn't give immunity. i mean, they did give immunity to rollie north and the special counsel did not. so you can go in different directions. >> that i'm menuity question is so central and it's already come up with the selection of general flynn. i'm sorry. do you need to go to a break? >> no. i just want to get the white
house statement. jeff zeleny, what are they saying? >> reporter: he said this, as i have stated many times, a thorough investigation will confirm what we already know, that there was no collusion between my campaign and any foreign entity. the president goes on to say this. i look forward to this matter concluding quickly. in the meantime, i will never stop fighting for the people and the issues that matter most to the future of our country. it ends with that. so erin, it is three sentences. from the president himself directly, who again only learned of this as he was interviewing fbi directors, potential directors this afternoon. he was told this. he was not asked about it, not asked for his input. he was told this. so of course he again is saying he looks forward to this matter ending quickly. but erin, that is very much hopeful and wishful thinking. the reality here as it settles into this white house that this will be the sound track of the
summer, perhaps much longer r than that, into the fall, it has overtaken the legislative agenda and everything else. but that is the first words coming from the president. >> thanks very much, jeff zel y zeleny. very shoorlt, very terse. there was no collusion between my campaign and any foreign entity. i look forward to this matter concluding quickly. that is from the president of the united states. >> and also clearly from his press shop. it doesn't sunday much like donald trump. i think that speaks to the severity of this moment and how much they were taken aback. when he says a thorough investigation will vindicate as he has long said. this is not an administration that has welcomed accountability in any form. the fact that it came through this route, rod rosenstein, a lot of questions raised about that memo he wrote that led to the firing of director comey, this declaration of independence by him is really strike iing its
completely changed the gain and will for months. >> but can the president be controlled by those around him. they've done that with this statement. that doesn't mean he won't come out on twitter or say something that would be inappropriate. >> well, it would be entirely out of character, woonltd it, for him to remain silent on this and not at some point lash out. as we've heard, it's not going to end quickly. one other point. why presidents don't like these kinds of special prosecutors is that once they start, they can find something that has nothing to do with the original reason for inquiry, that some other angle they want to pursue. let's remember back when bill clinton -- he was investigated
on whitewater and it ended up with monica lewinsky. >> right. >> we would not have heard of monica lewinsky had it not been for whitewater. white houses don't want to go there but they have to learn to live with it. >> jeffrey, of all the things out there. we know, for example, when you look at the house and the senate, rather what trump said in the oval office to the russians that that might not be in their scope. does he have the ability, let's say, to get trump's tax returns. >> absolutely. he could subpoena them. >> and the president can't say no like he has. >> he could go to court and try to stop it, but certainly, you can't stop the mueller investigation from seeking them out. i mean, many times, this certainly came up in the starr investigation of bill clinton, they tried to get secret service records. bill clinton's counsel went to court to the try to stop it.
there were many fights over what evidence the independent counsel, as ken starr was called, special prosecutor, special kwounl, what information he had access to. those court fights took a lot of time. that was one of the many reasons why the starr investigation went on so long because there were these legal fights over what evidence he could have. >> we know that the president will fight tooth and nail. on -- when you're thinking about where could this go in a completely different direction, that's something none of us have seen and this is the first time in this investigation that you're talking about someone who could actually get them. >> the financial connections are one of the first things mueller will explore. are there, in fact, financial investments, tax records would be one way of gleeng thaning th. absolutely. >> chris, mueller has accepted
this responsibility. how quickly do you think it's up and running when jeffrey's talking about you got to hire your staff, you've got to get them security clearances, you've got to spend all this team reading up and understanding where things are. how quickly is this rolling? >> i think it's going to go much more quickly than what we're hearing. robert mueller has been a homicide prosecutor, he's been in public service for years. the core investigative team is going to stay the same. that's what's most important. they'll work at fbi headquarters for a while. yes, they have to rent new space. this is like changing tires on a car as it moves down the road. he's going to move things along. he learned a lot in those 12 years. he knows the people conducting the investigation. nudge of the special prosecutors never darken the door of a kr courtroom. he's been in a courtroom. i think we'll get to the bottom
of this in less than a year. i really think he's the guy to do that. >> erin -- >> that's the point, obviously, his deep familiarity with the fbi. i think there's something else. in the clinton years, that was tainted by a deep partisanship. here you have an appointee who was appointed by a republican, who has deep credibility on both sides of the aisle. whatever controversy will inevitably swirl around this b special counsel is going to be undercut that will be positive for unity, something that was not present during the clinton investigation. >> gloria. >> what this also means is that the president of the united states has to have counsel, if he doesn't already, and maybe the reason we don't see a lot of tweeting about this -- because if you're his lawyer. i'm not a lawyer but jeff, you tell me -- you're going to tell him to stop tweeting. we haven't seen him tweet on this. i think that we may start
witnessings a little bit of a change in the president's behavior if he understands the stakes in all of this. >> oh, my goodness. >> yeah. >> it's the famous pivot. the pivot is going to happen. >> not a pivot but under -- if you have a lawyer -- on the advice of counsel, if you have a lawyer sitting at your side saying you're going to hurt yourself, you better stop it, you better be quiet. >> we'll see. >> i'm going to tell, we haven't seen tweets on this. i think that that's meaningful. my other thought is i do believe there should be and is a sense of urgency about all of this. we have a sitting president here and we have a country that's preoccupied request all of this. we have an election that was hacked. we have an election coming up in 2018, and i think that there are answers that the american people are going to want and that mueller understands that, that
this can't be open-ended for ten years or five years, even. i do think that there is urgency and congress understands that. and i would hope that he would, too. >> all right. let me get to our capitol hill reporter. i know you have some news here, the majority leader mitch mcconnell weighing in on the naming of a special bedroom. obvious -- prosecutor. what's he saying? >> reporter: that's right. this is the first time we've heard from mitch mcconnell on the choosing of the special prosecutor. notable in his statement he says that the senate intelligence committee's work will go on in tandem, of course, to bob mueller's new marching orders. his statement was void of any of the praise we've seen on both sides specifically bach mueller, bipartisan praise we're getting on capitol hill tonight.
many say he's a known commodity, has the stature to lead this investigation. even though people in leadership weren't given a heads-up about this. we know that rod rosenstein were here moments ago briefing congressional leaders. rosenstein will be up here on capitol hill tomorrow afternoon briefing the full senate. that of course was previously scheduled and certainly this decision to move forward with a special takes some heat off him on capitol hill tomorrow. >> all right, sunlen, thank you. now sir, your reaction. you've been calling for independent investigation, independent commission. are you satisfied with this? >> i'm pleased that the justice department has taken a step, the number two rod rosenstein has moved forward with this. i think it's good for the country that we get to the
bottom of this. i do think that both committees still need to do their work as i think eventually -- i think down the road we need to have an independent commission established. but as of right now, i think -- police is not the proper word. i don't know exactly how to describe it. i think the people want and deserve answers and in that sense i'm pleased that maybe we can get back to doing what we need to do in congress in terms of an agenda to move forward on behalf of the american people. >> i'm trying to understand how bipartisan this is. congressman n jason chaf its has come out and said "muller is a great selection, should be widely accepted." would you concur with everything that he said? >> well, i don't normally concur with b jason chaf its about anything, but i think in the interest of moving the country forward, i think he recognizes that something needed to be done. and therefore, in a very independent way, i think the
credibility of our government is on the line. the behavior of the president in terms of what happens in the oval office, his behavior outside the oval office is certainly about -- an issue of question as well. really get to the bottom of the sbrugsz, the invasion of russia into our body plik. not our own politics butst world politics as well. it has been serious and i think damaging to our republic so far. we need to get to the bottom of this and make sure it doesn't happen again. >> obviously, comey will have a place in this investigation. why was he fired. we don't know if the memos will be a part of what bob mueller will look into. that's the broad assumption. so bob mueller and jim comey are friends. comey succeeded mueller and mueller said he was a good friend, an excellent choice and a superb prosecutor. does that concern you given that
jim comey and the president of the united states is saying the other one is essentially lying right now? >> i do think that former director mueller comes with great bipartisan credentials in the senls that he's highly regarded on both sides of the aisle. i have that same type of confidence as i do in mr. comey. i've said before, i may not have agreed with the decisions mr. comey made but i've never questioned his integrity. i don't think anyone questions the integrity of mr. mueller, either. >> broadly, tonight some of your democratic colleagues are using the word "impaechlment" some think irresponsible. here's one speech. >> this is what i believe and this is where i stand. i will not be moved. the president must be impeached! >> do you agree with him or do
you think that that is not only premature but perhaps irresponsible at this time? >> i think every member of congress has the right to express themselves on the floor. and al green has that right. i believe that we need to find the facts. we need to get 209 bottom of this and let the facts lead where they may. >> you're clearly not comfortable using that word right now? >> i think it's putting the cart before the horse. i think we need to get to the facts. get to the base here and find out what happened, the time line, understanding everything. what was the intent? and let the facts lead where they may. i think that's what the american people expect. that's justice. that's the american way. >> h congressman crowley, i appreciate your time, thank you. >> thank you. >> with us, tim neftali and ackerman. nick, let me start with you.
part of what i'm trying to understand tonight. i think all of our viewers are. a lot of people were calling for this. sometimes people call for something and it may or may not matter. so we now have this special counsel. what does it mean? you've been there. how significant is this? what is he going to do? >> i think this is extremely significant. it means there's going to be a person in charge of this investigation who is independent. who es a not be40e8den to the attorney general, who's not beholden to the administration, who has an excellent reputation -- >> even though obviously rod rosenstein was a trump appointee appointed him, there is still a very clear independence. >> yeah. and it's set up like he was an u.s. attorney. that means he's going to make the final decisions on what's going to happen. rosenstein could come in and reverse the decisions but it's unlikely. i think he'll have complete independence here. this is very similar to what was done as cox, not quite as i7bd
pent. but if you look at the release tonight, it's clear that he's not only going to be able to investigate what went on with the russian collusion and whether there was any collusion with russia but he'll also be able to investigate all crimes arising from that. so that means obstruction of justice charges against the president will come within his purr view. >> right. it could include anything on this list or something that nobody's even thought of at this time. >> sure. we saw that with whitewater in the 1990s. >> he just pointed that out. >> mr. mueller understands the law. mr. mul eller ran the fbi so we that a democratic president asked him to stay. >> two years under a under president obama. >> he's greatly respected.
he now has subpoena power. there was always a question as to whether the house or the senate would use their senate power to investigate the russia hacking and collusion scandal. now we have someone with a great deal of professional ethics who has subpoena power. this is a very different investigation now. this is a serious investigation and he can take it wherever he feels it ought to go. so the whole game has changed and now it's a serious matter. and i'll say this. until the comey memos came out, this wasn't really about president trump. president trump now is at the center of this particular inquiry. in large measure it's because of the way he handled comey. and robert mueller, a man who loves the fbi and is committed to its reputation is the best person to find out why mr. comey kept those records and what those records really mean. >> right.
because we know that mr. comey says he kept them because he was appalled or concerned with what the president was saying. il say we haven't gotten to the leaks. we have not gotten to an answer that he didn't share that information with anyone until after he was fired. >> correct. that's the big question and what do these memos look like? >> right. >> we haven't read them. we haven't heard his testimony and heard his explanations. there's more to uncover here, yes, but i think the most important point is that the person uncovering it is going to be somebody the people have confidence in, that this is not going to be slid under the rug, that this is not going to be a coverup, that it will be investigated and we'll get to the bottom of what happened. >> we're not going to be getting updates. when you look at the fact that you have the house and senate continuing, at least as you of now they're going to continue with their investigations. we hear things that are happening in those vegszs. are we going to hear things
coming from bob mueller's investigation senior is is it going to be leak free and site until all of a sudden here is your revelation of nothing or something or completely new, whatever it might be. >> if you accept the proposition that it's going to be a serious investigation. then we don't need to know about it as it goes along, because you know something? >> there's no fear of political partisanship within the -- >> no. here's my answer. >> yeah. >> one of the ways that the nixon administration got ahead of the investigation, they figured out where it was going. they had sources in the justice department. if there are culpable people here, they shouldn't know what direction the investigation is going in. and that's one reason why we don't necessarily need leaks. if you accept the proposition that mueller will run a professional investigation, and i do. >> let me ask you, obviously mueller will have the power to
go ahead with criminal charges. he has all these powers. let's take obstruction of justice. it's not going to be easy. that is not something easy to prove. it is incredibly difficult to prove. >> mr. trump has made it a lot easier to prove than one could imagine. first of all, people have been focussing on the memo that comey created. the fact of the matter is if you look at the circumstances surrounding this, the fact that he didn't fire his national security director until 18 days after he was warned, the fact that the next day he meets with comey and has this kwvrgs with him about not going after flynn and firing comey and coming up with this protectable memo. again, it is a crime of intent, obstruction of justice. that has to be proven. right now there is probable cause that there was obstruction. >> tim, to this question,
though, the friendship between mueller and comey. is it relevant in that context of the fact that when it comes to these memos, you may end up in a situation, at least you are right now unless there's some kind of recording which the president has indicated there might be but it could be a big bluff. you're going to have bach mueller say who does he believe more. there's a lot of avenues of inquiry. but in that specific one, it's going to come down to a judgment kwum. perhaps who you know better or -- >> well, but i think any good investigation is going to ferret that out in terms of what corroborates comey, what else is there. there's plenty other fbi agents that comey spoke to after he met with the president. >> see what they have to say. >> yeah. >> you do a lot of research. >> it's more than determining whether the comey memos are enough for obstruction of justice. he's going to be looking at relationships between -- if there were any -- between the trump campaign and the rugszs.
he's going to be looking at that whole complex of issues. the comey memos are just a piece of the puzzle. >> thank you very much. i want to go back to pamela brown. this major development of the special prosecutor coming just 24 hours after we learned about these memos and we snow that there are now multiple memos, thanks in part by your reporting, pamela. obviously, this is crucial. what role these memos will play. >> that is the big question. who has seen the memos, who has looked at the memos. we know there's more than the ones yesterday where president trump told fbi director james comey to stop the flynn investigation. he also wrote memos from conversations with the president. and i'm told that there's some interesting information in those memos which we know has yet to
come out. in terms of the in-person meetings that then director comey had with the president. i'm told he would immediately write down everything that happened in the meeting, in his car before he took off, making sure what he wrote was captured and was accurate. sometimes before these meetings he would actually talk with his staff and in a sense rehearse and go over questions the president could ask him because there was a level of discomfort coming from james comey meeting with the president one-on-one, two occasions that we know of, given the ongoing russia probe. he would talk with his staff about it and try to come up with answers to question that were not confrontational. in president obama's era i'm told through a fam source that president obama would not meet
with jamthe prosecutor until th case was over. >> pamela, thank you very much. today president trump speaking out for the first time since we learned about the former fbi directors memo. he's come out with a statement tonight in which he says a thorough investigation will confirm what we already know, there was no collusion between my campaign and any foreign entity. this afternoon he was at a glaugs speech at the u.s. coast guard academy and he used his opportunity to speak to these graduates to comply about how he's being treated. >> look at the way i've been treated lately. especially by the media. no politician in history, and i say this with great surety -- has been treated worse or more unfairly. >> white house correspondent jeff zeleny is back with me.
jeff, obviously, the president facing mounting questions tonight from the press, but not giving many answers. >> reporter: he's not, erin. that gives you a sense of his frame of mind, a window into what he was thinking around noon or so. but boy, everything has entirely changed with his appointment of a special prosecutor. imagine what he's thinking now. if that was his 3450i7bd set. instead of giving an unkergeing speech as he gave over the weekend, this was filled with grievances as we heard there. as pamela was reporting, these memos so important that the a former fbi director was recording in real time exactly what was happening in these meetings. the white house is still pushing back on those, saying the president absolutely did not have those conversations. this is whats white house press secretary sean spicer said during a briefing as they flew back from the commencement exercise. >> the president has been clear that the account as published is
not an accurate description of how the event occurred. we've made it very clear. the president's very clear that this is not an accurate representation. i think we put out a statement very clearly. he made it very clear. put out a statement last night. very year our position was. >> the words "very clear" something that sean spicer wanted to convey. i can tell you it's anything but clear where this is going at the white house. the white house did not want a special prosecutor. we know that because sean spicer was asked just 48 hours ago in a briefing, he said frankly, there is no reason for that. so tonight, the administration still scrambling here. they were planning on preparing for the next chapter to turn the page here. but erin, this is the third straight night of bad news for this white house. this development has the most far reaching effect of all the others so far. >> absolutely.
jeff zeleny thank you very much. david sanger is with me, selena zi zito. we have new breaking news i want to share. this is from our dana bash. when it comes to whether jim comey is going to testify, a source telling dana that there is a special prosecutor, it is unlikely that james comey will testimony about the memo. they now say this shuts the whole thing down. that's the gop source to dana that he will not want to testify in front of congress. so obviously, that is crucial. and then this source -- i think this is interesting. i want to get your reaction to this, john, who has been in regular contact with rod rosenstein telling dana that he was so angry and exasperated with the trump white house. they believe he's throwing trump
overboard. he was so angry last week that he was considering packing his bags and moving. john, obviously very significant. this is coming from our dana bash, it is a senior gop source. this is one person's rendition but it is a pretty stark statement about the state of mind of the deputy attorney general. >> it is very >> it is very stark and it is overloaded because this can't be about a search for truth, it's got to be an outside investigation. the inside that rod rosenstein is so frustrated by his treatment by the white house, by his scapegoating being used of the comey firing. he said i'm just going to do what i think is right, i'm going to pick somebody who is beyond reproach and let the chips fall
where they may, it's a statement of independence from the deputy attorney general. >> what about when the president hears how his deputy attorney general feels. that rod rosenstein was so clear last week, this source believes that rosenstein is being thrown overboard with this special counsel. >> when you think about it, the president made a series of unforced errors that led him right to this point. you said before in your conversation with jeff zeleny, this is not where he wanted to be. they have a house investigation right now that really is beyond their control, now with the special counsel, not quite the same powers that the special prosecutor has, but certainly bob mueller is considered to be a very serious player. they've got an element there they condition control.
and the third element is what all the press is doing. it's not as if cnn and the "new york times" and "the washington post" are going to stop investigating this story. and all of these feed on each other. the revelation of the comey memo yesterday i think really forced the hand of the justice department to go for the special counsel. >> what is the president going to do, right? we have this statement that clear was produced by those around him which says that there was no collusion around my campaign, foreign or otherwise, but it's not his tone and it's not the way he talks. is he going to be able to hold back and let that speak for this. they're going to be getting all kinds of questions about this, he's going to be speaking to the press many times in the next few days as he travels overseas. can he hold back. >> that's the big question, right? here's what i think. i think the smartest thing he could do is sort of what
president bill clinton did when he was facing the impeachment over the monica lewinsky issues. he went out every day, he had a special press person with him, he showed that he was doing the work of the american people, he would go to community events, he would go to food co-ops, he would just be everywhere. and i think that that's something that trump needs to do. he just needs to show that he's doing the work of the american people and let the chips fall where they may. because like you said, everything is beyond his control, there's really nothing he can do. the worst message that he can send is that i'm holed up and i'm angry. the best message he can send is i'm just going to do my job and let the chips fall where they may. >> we don't yet know where bob mueller is going to go with this, but it's a betting
person's bet that they let's say ask for tax returns, if it goes in that direction, then the president fights that. how much time does this consume of this white house and this president as he fights disclosing what bob mueller warms? >> well, there's time, which is a big issue. but what there really is influence, political influence at home with congress, and influence with his foreign counterparts. if he is viewed as weakened, if he is viewed as insular foreign leaders are going to pick up on that, and they're going to toy with him. you know, it's going to be a much harder issue. and it might prompt him to go off into some kind of foreign venture, we don't know for a fact that it would, to sort of do the distraction, that's what bill clinton was charged with, i don't think accurately, when he did a bombing in kosovo and so forth during his administration.
>> god for bid that the national security is politicized in a context like this. but we also have to recognize the reality, is that we have a president without a poker face. part of the reason we're in this mess, this self-inflicted wou e woungd, this series of self-inflict eed wounds ask s tt this president cannot stop himself from -- this is going to be get much worse before it gets better. >> and we're already finding out how fast this is going to month. some say this could take two or three years. not to skip corners, but to be as efficient as he could. we know tonight two partners likely from the law firm where bob mueller is coming from are quitting to come and help him. you've already got two people joining tonight. >> i think it's going to be a
very swift process. and i think what's interesting, you know, in anticipation of coming on and talking about this, i reached out to a lot of those voters that voted for obama and then voted for them and said hey, do you think about this? they actually welcome this, because they feel as though this will -- either he'll get this out of the way and he'll proven to not have any problems or he will have problems and it's time to move on. it's sort of that same sense of relief that you're talking about that you're hearing on capitol hill. i thought that was pretty fascinating. >> thank you all very much. i want to go now for morrow action from capitol hill, republican congressman leonard from new jersey. are jo joining the chorus of what earn says, bob mueller is an excellent choice or do you have reservations? >> i have no reservations at all, and i think the deputy
general made a good decision and we respect his decision. >> the white house has come out with a very short statement from the president saying this will exonerate him. but this white house has been hit day after day, right at the end of the day, with the comey memos, what does the white house meet to do next, are you sitting there afraid that the president's going to lash out on twitter? >> no, i am not, and i thought that the statement from the white house was very reasoned and i hope that the white house will cooperate fully, not only with the investigation by the special counsel, but also, erin, with the investigations that are occurring here on capitol hill, in both of the intelligence committees, and i think they're working in a bipartisan capacity, as well as the decision that's now been made by the deputy attorney general. >> when it comes to the memo, which appears to be given the
timing, given that on friday rod rosenstein was telling those close to him that he didn't think there needed to be a special prosecutor. who do you believe, jim comey said that the president asked him to end the investigation into michael flynn, the president says that never happened. who do you believe. >> i want to get to the bottom of this situation, i think that's why it's important that mr. comey be involved and i hope he testifies before capitol hill and i hope that the justice department can get to the bottom of it now through the special counsel. >> and congressman, do you support whatever it is that bob mueller should choose to do, because this could take him wherever it takes him. would you support, i want donald trump's tax returns, that's just an example, would you support that? >> i support the independentness
of the special counsel, as your colleague jeff toobin points out, it will take some time because it's a matter that would take a few years. i'm sure mr. mueller will be thorough in his investigation. >> i know you're saying it takes longer, others are saying it could happen much more quickly than that. it's in bob mueller's hands now. what we're hearing tonight obviously is something very rare on any of us is such a bipartisan course of support for bob mueller. will that last? >> it's going to see how quickly the investigation escalates, how much it makes republicans uncomfortable. and the fact that just a few days ago, republicans outside the administration were saying there's no need for special counsel, now there's probable relief, the decision has been made and the person in charge is somebody who's above political reproach, now the process has been set in motion, and what
comes out with subpoena powers and other investigatory powers, these are going to answer a lot of interesting questions and these are going to be fascinating days in our republic. >> we do have more elections coming up. the investigation into russia's interference in our elections, anderson is cooper is next. and good evening, and what must they be thinking right now at the white house? bare ll lly eight day office th firing of jim comey, and just days after the -- barely hours after financial markets took a nervous dive and republican lawmakers began cautiously demanding answers a development that could change everything, the naming of a special counsel to lead the investigation. his name is robert mueller, he will have sweeping powers and a broad man date.