tv At This Hour With Kate Bolduan CNN May 18, 2017 8:00am-9:01am PDT
hello, everyone. i'm kate bolduan. the breaking news -- president trump on defense this morning, going from a measured 57-word statement last night to throwing that all out the window in 140 characters today, calling the appointment of a special counsel to investigate possible ties between his campaign and russia "the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in american history." and what should no longer come as a surprise, the president's fiery tweets are in stark contrast to the official white house statement. that's accepted robert mueller
as special counsel, a decision made by president trump's own justice department. you don't have to read twitter much longer, my friends, to get the president's take. he is holding a press conference later today. we will be watching closely for that. on top of that, in a few moments, house speaker paul ryan is also holding a news conference. so, a lot to get to. let's start with cnn justice reporter laura jarrett and justice correspondent phil mattingly following this for us. how did all of this go down, because a lot happened over the last 12 hours? >> absolutely right, kate. as you've pointed out, trump broke his unusual period of silence on twitter this morning, lashing out on the appointment of a special counsel to lead the russia investigation as "the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in american history," going on to say, "with all the illegal acts that took place in the clinton campaign and the obama administration, there was never a special counsel appointed." now, we've learned from sources yesterday, kate, that the
president was not given a heads-up about this decision, instead only learning about it after the fact, when rosenstein had signed the special counsel order, and he told the white house counsel's office. but despite trump's anger over this, this is one of those things that is actually not in his control. as mueller's appointment under a special counsel regulations gives him wide latitude to pursue this investigation into any coordination between the russian government and trump campaign associates, as well as any matters that may arise directly from that investigation. so, essentially, he's been deputized to step in with full prosecutorial authority here as the attorney general would, if he had not recused. and mueller can issue subpoenas, he can convene a grand jury, he can conduct interviews. it's up to him on where to take this investigation. but most importantly, kate, he's really supposed to have more autonomy here to run the investigation than anyone else might have. this special counsel regulation says he is not supposed to be subject to the day-to-day
supervision of any official within the justice department, but rosenstein can, however, request an explanation for any investigative steps he might want to take. mueller can certainly be required to prepare a confidential report to rosenstein at a certain point, kate, so he is given wide latitude here. >> a lot of power with this post, but a huge job ahead of bob mueller right now. laura, thank you so much. really appreciate it. let's go to capitol hill. phil mattingly is standing by, probably slept there last night. i don't want to know, phil. there's bipartisan praise for mueller, but what does his appointment mean and what does this appointment do to the efforts that have already been under way in congress? >> reporter: yeah, great question. i think you're getting multiple answers from multiple people. house and senate republican leaders have made clear, the senate intelligence investigation into russian meddling, the house intelligence investigation into russian meddling in the 2016 campaign will continue unabated. but as laura kind of so succinctly laid out, the scope of the power and authority of former fbi director bob mueller here raises real concerns about whether or not these
investigations will run into one another, and perhaps even more importantly, whether or not james comey, who has been invited by multiple committees to come up and testify, both in public and in private session, can actually do that or will actually do that going forward. now, i think it's important to note, after, as you noted last night after the announcement was made, we heard bipartisan praise for bob mueller, bipartisan support for a special counsel, but that doesn't mean capitol hill is done with their questions, and that's not just from democrats, kate. take a listen to what senator john mccain had to say this morning. >> frankly, so far, we have not punished the russians for what we all know they tried to do, and that was to undermine the fundamental of democracy. so, all of us have known director mueller, very happy he's there, but that -- and that relieves us, relieves the congress and the executive branch from certain responsibilities, but we still have to move forward with the investigation of what the russians did. >> reporter: so, there's really
kind of two key points there. first and foremost, what the senator laid out in terms of relieving the congress of some responsibilities, it's also relieving members of having to deal with these questions, particularly republican members, on a daily basis. i've been told from multiple aides, members were simply beat down. and while a lot of them were opposed publicly to a special counsel, privately very concerned about what that would mean going forward for the white house, for the agenda. there is short-term relief that they might not have to deal with those questions, or can at least say, hey, look at bob mueller, go talk to him instead, not us. but i think the other important issue here is, there's no question about it, on a bipartisan level, there are still a lot of questions that capitol hill lawmakers feel like they need to be answered. these investigations are continuing. and of note, kate, rod rosenstein, deputy attorney general, the individual who wrote the memo that the trump officials cited and then kind of moved away from, then cited again, for the firing of jim comey, will be on the hill in a classified briefing for the entire senate at 2:30 today, briefing the entire house tomorrow morning. there are more questions than there are answers on this whole scenario here.
expect those to be asked today, kate. >> no shortage of things going on right now, phil. break out the flow chart. i really appreciate it, phil. thank you so much. so little to discuss! with me now, political correspondent dana bash is here, political analyst and political reporter for "the new york times," alex burns, cnn legal analyst mark o'mara is here and former cia analyst, nate aback were is here as well. dana, let's first talk about the reaction we heard this morning from president trump. his two tweets calling this the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in american history and criticizing that no matter what clinton or obama did, they didn't have any special counsel appointed. and as phil's talking about rod rosenstein going to the hill, this leads me to believe, so, last week, rod rosenstein was the respected reason behind firing james comey, and today he is now the driving force behind a witch hunt. >> exactly, well, which should not be a surprise. >> right. >> given the sort of behavior
that we've seen of the president on this issue, particularly on twitter. but look, i think at the end of the day, the fact that he's lashing out at the notion of a special counsel should not be -- also should not be a surprise, since i think he realizes that this could be really bad news. now, it could be really good news. >> yeah. >> at the end of the day, bob mueller, who has so much respect, has the best reputation -- if he at the end of day says there's no there there, that would be the biggest gift to the president, much more so, let's be honest, than the investigations that are less sterling, as bob mueller's likely will be. but he also understands, i think, recent history, or at least he's been told about recent history, which is the -- i mean, never mind the ken starr special prosecutor that started out as a land deal and ended up with impeachment of a president, but even during the george w.
bush years, the last time we've seen this, and it was in 2003, the question into who leaked the identity of valerie plame who was a spy, that ended up in the conviction of the person who had been dick cheney's top aide, scooter libby. and so, which we didn't -- nobody expected at the beginning. so, i think he understands that. but politically, i think it's very important to listen to what phil just said about republicans on capitol hill. last night, this morning, the fact that they feel that they have a short-term off-ramp to say, look, i can't talk about this constituent x, y or z, i just have to focus on my job and i'm going to let bob mueller do his work. that's huge. >> but where does this leave the white house, i wonder, alex? because you don't have to go too far in the distant past -- and don't worry, we have the tape prepared for everybody -- to see what everyone around the white house had to say about rod rosenstein in his sterling credentials. and dana has an amazing source
saying this is really seen as rod rosenstein throwing the president overboard. >> right. >> is dana's source. listen to what the white house has previously said about rod rosenstein. >> he made a recommendation. he'srespected, very good guy, very smart guy. the democrats like him, the republicans like him. >> president trump made the right decision at the right time. and to accept the recommendation of the deputy attorney general -- >> the president accepted the recommendation of his deputy attorney general. >> he took the recommendation of his deputy attorney general -- >> he made a determination that the fbi director had lost his confidence, made a recommendation to the attorney general. the attorney general concurred with that and forwarded that recommendation today on to the president. >> where does this leave the white house now, though, alex? >> well, i think by any conventional playbook, this would leave the white house in a position where they can't go after the special prosecutor, can't go after the person who appointed the special prosecutor. and by the way, even if they
hadn't said all of that, a conventional playbook would dictate that you don't go after the special prosecutor, right? >> that's true. >> i've spoken to people, both today, but just sort of over the last few months who have been through this kind of experience, not exclusively with a special prosecutor, but any kind of prosecution of a politician, and they say the only way you can just get out of that hole day to day is to be able to say that you're going about the people's business, right, that the investigation is going to run its course -- >> exactly. >> and for now, what i'm going to do is, you know, create jobs or solve health care or something like that. that is obviously not, based on the tweets this morning -- we'll see the press conference later today -- that is obviously not where the president instinctively wants to go, and i do think -- and dana touched on this briefly -- that you know, it does raise the burden on folks on the hill to show that they can do the people's business, right? that there is this question of is the house functional? can the senate get something done? if you aren't delivering something, it gets that much harder to move away from the questions about russia, russia, russia. >> that's a great point. and mark from your perspective,
do you think appointing bob mueller speeds things up or slows things down? i've heard both overnight, and also, what's the impact of donald trump tweeting on said investigation? >> it's going to slow it down in this sense. mueller's going to take his time and he's going to have an enormous amount of authority to do it. as you know, comey at one point said he needed more resources when he was looking into this, and we now know this special prosecutor is going to get those resources. and unfortunately, it's just going to take a long time. don't forget, the first thing he needs to do is set up the infrastructure. he has to be in a location that's been vetted out by all of the people necessary to make sure that confidential information can go there. >> boring and important stuff. >> absolutely. so, that's going to take several weeks to a month or two. then he's going to have to do his analysis, his strategy. what am i going to do, who am i going to look for first? literally, this is an investigation, a prosecution that's going to take a long, long time. and then with president trump, you know, using sort of the trump speak, going after witch hunt -- i've been involved with
literally hundreds of prosecutors, not as a target, but helping people out, and that's not somebody to mess with. i know they have a stronger and thicker skin to put off something like a witch hunt, but you know, this is almost short-term memory lapse that seems to be inherent in the way they speak about these things. it may come back to haunt him. >> we will see very, very soon. there's another new element today, as there's, like, 18 different moving parts at the moment. "the new york times" is reporting that michael flynn, he informed the transition post election, pre inauguration, that he was under investigation for being a paid lobbyist for turkey way back then, but that's an amazing revelation that we had not known, exactly that he had informed the transition, of course. from your background in the cia, how big of a deal is it that just on its face that this person with that background became national security advisor, even after they say he
informed the transition of it? >> i mean, the fact that they knew he was under investigation at that point and still appointed him as national security adviser, i question the judgment. it also doesn't make the administration look good when it comes to the question of collusion with russia. at that point, they should have held off, appointed somebody else, let flynn finish his investigation, and if he was exonerated, they could have then moved him back into the administration at some point. and it also still begs the question, the underlying intelligence question of what is the collusion, or not the collusion, but the influence that russia had on the elections? and i think we still need an independent investigation or a select committee to look at that question, because it's not clear to me that mueller will be able to get to that. >> is it under his purview, we will see. but dana, this also draws in, raises questions about what vice president mike pence knew, or
who knew what when, including vice president pence. he was head of the transition, and he was asked about michael flynn, and this is what he said in march to fox news. listen to this. >> let me say, hearing that story today was the first i heard of it, and i fully support the decision that president trump made to ask for general flynn's resignation. >> you were disappointed by the story? >> the first i heard of it, and i think it is an affirmation of the president's decision to ask general flynn to resign. >> and again that was back in march. that was when the story first broke that he had been under investigation, was being paid as a lobbyist for turkey. now with this news timeline today, what does that mean? >> well, it means one of two things. one is mike pence wasn't entirely telling the truth there, or that mike pence wasn't in the loop, one of those things. now, given the way that we know mike pence has historically
conducted himself, it's hard to imagine he would put himself in a position in that interview -- >> to lie -- >> -- to not tell the truth. it doesn't seem within his character. the more likely scenario is that he didn't know. but we don't know. you know, we don't know which way it is yet. we're trying get to the bottom of it. but it also begs the question, when michael flynn told the transition, who did he tell? i mean, what does that mean? >> exactly. >> what does that mean exactly? because mike pence was the head of the transition. and more importantly, aside from the mike pence question that we don't have answered, is the president. the president, according to this report, knew about it. so, the president knew about it. he still appointed him. and you know, did he feel that much loyalty to this guy because he was out on the campaign trail? he was with the president on the plane all the time. he was out there doing warm-up acts. he was out there taking one for
the team to the point where, you know, maybe as a former general and as a future national security adviser he went too far politically, saying "lock her up" and even worse. but the president does tend to form bonds with people, and for all of the stories, the real stories that we know of him, you know, sort of willy-nilly firing people, getting rid of people when he's done with them, he also does feel a sense of loyalty. so, was it that, or was it something that we just don't know the answer to? >> hold on one second. i'm just getting some news in my ear. we need to head to the pentagon. barbara starr has breaking news coming in on michael flynn. barbara, what do you have? >> reporter: well, good morning, kate. what we are learning here is that when michael flynn was working for the trump white house and he was talking to the obama administration officials during the transition, the obama administration discussed with flynn a couple of matters about syria, about the plan to fight isis. what they talked about was this
plan that the obama administration had to retake raqqah, the capital of isis, which is one of the key goals in the fight against that organization. flynn pretty much, according to sources we're talking to, put that plan on hold. now, why did he put it on hold? that's going to wind up being a key question. did he put it on hold because he had also had business dealings with the turks, personal business dealings, and the turks didn't want to see the u.s. necessarily move against raqqah? or did he put it on hold because the trump administration was going to do this big review of the isis strategy going forward and they weren't ready to commit to anything? the same issue coming up now with the obama administration on the plan to arm the kurds, which we've now seen happen under the trump administration. >> right. >> those kurdish rebels that are going to help retake raqqah. this was all happening during the transition, a lot of decisions back and forth.
michael flynn putting some things on hold when the obamas said, look, we'll go ahead and do it, and that way, the heat won't be on the trump white house in its opening weeks, but flynn putting it on hold. so, i think what we have here is it goes to the nuance of all of this. not all of it very clear cut. two great examples. did michael flynn put things on hold because it served his business interests with the turks? did he put on hold because the trump administration wasn't ready to commit to new policy on isis and wanted a chance to review everything? still a lot of nuance in some of these issues, kate. >> a lot of nuance, but you really hit on the perfect question. barbara starr, thank you so much for bringing that to us. i appreciate it. neda, let me get your reaction to that breaking news. how significant is this? >> that's very significant. when it comes to intelligence operations, putting anything on hold and possibly for a foreign power that does not have u.s. interests at heart is significant. when it came to raqqah, under
the obama plan, they were actually going to use the kurds as part of the incursion to go into raqqah and fight isis. so, of course, that's not going to be in turkey's best interests. they don't want to see us arming the kurds. so, it wouldn't be unrealistic to see turkey putting pressure on flynn to then ask him to put that plan on hold. and if i'm understanding the timeline correctly, trump didn't actually complete that plan, put it into place, until after flynn had been let go. >> that's right. that's right. >> let me just say, this is exactly why it is a monumental problem that michael flynn took money from the turks. this is why -- >> these rules are in place. >> yes, because he could be compromised. even if he didn't do it because he got money from them, the appearance is that he possibly could, and that in and of itself is a humongous problem. >> it certainly is, and i do think it's worth underscoring just how extraordinarily loyal trump has been to flynn over
virtually everybody else who surrounded his campaign. there were people like chris christie and rudy giuliani, who were -- >> what is it, though? >> we don't know. >> we really don't know. you know there were other people, i mentioned christie and giuliani, but there were others who went as far out on a limb, maybe further than flynn did for the president and they have no jobs and, certainly in giuliani's case, they have been rather publicly humiliated in the rejection as a job-seeker. and flynn not only got the job, but when he was dismissed, the president defended his character and said he was a good man being wronged. >> and potentially got caught up in obstruction of justice for asking comey to lay off of it. >> speaking of comey, and i know i'm jumping around here, but back to special prosecutor, and since dana perfectly mentioned james comey, in light of the special prosecutor, where things stand right now with bob mueller, do you think it is more or less likely that james comey will testify on the hill? >> i think, though congress has
the right to require that or potentially require that, i think they're probably going to give deference to the special prosecutor. i think they should -- >> if you're bob mueller, you don't want them to is what you're saying? >> i don't, and i want to do the investigation the way i want to do it. i want to have the questions ready, the background ready, the investigation. why rush to the point? now that we have the person who is going to be a point person for a true investigation, let's give him the time to do it right and do it in a way that is sort of more complete. don't rush to a congressional hearing when you have somebody who's going to do the whole job properly. >> maybe that's why we're hearing privately amongst lawmakers a grumbling that it's put their investigations on hold effectively, even though they can still move forward. guys, stick around. there's a lot more going on. stand by. moments from now, house speaker paul ryan will be speaking to reporters with his weekly press conference. you can imagine the questions he's going to be facing today. what answers will he offer? plus, the deputy attorney general who just appointed the special counsel will soon brief the entire senate on the firing of now former fbi director james
comey. stand by for that. plus, he's one of the most controversial trump defenders out there, and now milwaukee county sheriff david clarke, who says he's an enemy of black lives matter, one of many things he said during the campaign that raised eyebrows, he may be getting a job at the department of homeland security. here's the catch -- the administration not exactly saying that the job was offered. obviously, there's something to discuss there. we'll be right back. new neutrogena® rapid wrinkle repair with the proven power of retinol. reduces wrinkles in just one week. neutrogena® if you have moderate to severe plaque psoriasis, isn't it time to let the real you shine through? introducing otezla, apremilast. otezla is not an injection or a cream. it's a pill that treats plaque psoriasis differently. some people who took otezla
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we now have more news, more breaking news, on the death, involving the death of the fox news founder roger ails. brian stelter is here with more. what are you hearing now? >> the cause of death, according to a family friend. ailes passed away earlier today, but he slipped at home last week in palm beach, florida, slipped at home, suffered complications, and then slipped into a coma, according to a family friend who learned about this earlier in the week. there was some hope that maybe he would be able to come out of this coma, but officially passed away this morning. his wife, elizabeth, shared the news earlier today, and in some ways, you know, if you think about, ailes' career, his legacy, he was arguably the most powerful man in all of media until last summer, when he
resigned in disgrace amid sexual harassment complaints by women at fox news. his life changed drastically after that point. he bought this home in florida, had been spending time there, but relatively isolated, not speaking with many of his longtime friends and colleagues. ailes passing away this morning. >> now we're getting that cause of death right now. brian, thank you so much for bringing that to us. and again, our thoughts and prayers go out to his family right now. moving on for us, he has been one of the president's biggest defenders on television and one of the most controversial figures in donald trump's circle of friends, especially during the campaign, and now he may be joining the donald trump administration. milwaukee county sheriff david clarke, known to be an enemy of the black lives matter movement and someone who's taking steps to allow officers to conduct immigration raids inside his jails, and of course, he ignited controversy after controversy with comments like these. >> so many of the actions of the occupy movement and black lives matter transcends peaceful protests and violates the code of conduct we rely on.
i call it anarchy. the social order in milwaukee totally collapsed on saturday night. when the social order collapses, tribal behavior takes over. when tribal behavior takes over, the law of the jungle replaces the rule of law. don, i wish you had that message of civility -- >> nice to have a conversation with you -- >> -- towards this hateful ideology, these purveyors of hate. >> you don't know what my message is. what i want to say to you -- are you going to let me get a word in? we'll be right back. >> i'm tired of all this crocodile tears about the kids, the poor kids coming. we're not talking about that. we're talking about able-bodied, grown men fighting agents that should be back in syria or the middle east, fighting for their country, coming over to the united states to spread jihad. >> so, that has been then, and here is the deal right now. clarke has said that he has accepted a position with the department of homeland security. one problem here, one caveat, the administration won't actually say if the job has been
offered. let's discuss. let me bring in right now chris cillizza for much more on this. chris, what's your take on this? do you think clarke has a job or not? >> i mean, this is -- remember, kate, this is a week in which kim guilfoyle gave an interview to "the san jose mercury news," essentially saying she had been viewing for the press secretary job, which, fyi, is currently filled by sean spicer. so you never know. would it be outside the realm of possibility? no. remember, i heard in your last segment alex burns of the "the new york times" was making the point about michael flynn and donald trump's loyalty. this is another example of that. david clarke is someone who donald trump sort of liked the way he approached things. he liked that he's willing to say controversial things. he likes that liberals hate him. and so, i certainly would not be stunned if it would happen. i also would not be stunned if david clarke put the cart before the horse and maybe in so doing nixed his chances of getting the
actual job. >> well, i mean, you say that democrats are going to hate it. well, that is for darn sure. i mean, just, i saw one tweet from kamala harris when this, senator kamala harris when this came out, saying that his unconscionable record makes him unfit to serve. this appointment is a disgrace. key here is i don't think this is a position that he was going to be taking on that requires senate confirmation, right? >> right. so, you could say what you want about donald trump's political acumen, but i think someone, if not him, someone will be in his ear saying that david clarke will never be confirmed to anything in washington. this would not be a confirmed job that would require any sort of senate confirmation. this is -- the job that he says he is getting, he said on a milwaukee radio station, he says he's getting is essentially a liaison between the dha, the federal government, and local law enforcement. you know, it's not an insignificant job, but it's not as though he's going to be the deputy homeland security secretary. so, once you get a little bit
further down in the federal bureaucracy, easy for me to say, there's a lot of jobs like that i that you can just appoint to. remember, mike flynn would never have gotten through a senate confirmation. national security adviser is not a confirmed post either. i think donald trump likely, given what we know what donald trump knew about mike flynn before he nominated him, i think donald trump was aware that flynn wouldn't have made it either. >> well, i mean, this obviously a position that probably traditionally would go unnoticed when it really becomes filled. definitely not going unnoticed this time. but first and foremost, let's find out if job offered and job accepted. i guess we should start right there. regardless, great to see you, chris. thanks so much. >> thanks, kate. we're going to be following more of our breaking news. president trump lashing out this morning, on defense following the appointment of a special counsel to investigate russia's involvement in the election and donald trump's campaign ties, possible campaign ties to russia. moments from now, we are going to get the first public reaction from the top republican in the house. stand by for that. i just want to find a used car without getting ripped off.
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following more breaking news just in. the senate intelligence chairman, richard burr, he has just told reporters that michael flynn's attorneys have said that they will not honor a subpoena that the committee had given to them for records from flynn. here's a quote from senator burr -- "general flynn's lawyer said he would not honor the subpoena, and that's not a surprise to many, but we will figure out on general flynn what the next step is, if any, but we're going to continue with a lot of interviews and continue with our investigation." let me bring in right now my panel, but let me start quickly with david drucker, cnn political analyst and senior congressional correspondent for "the washington examiner." david, what's your take on this? what does this mean? burr says -- to me, that sounds like burr says they're not cooperating. >> right. so, this isn't necessarily out of the ordinary for a congressional investigation to run into trouble -- >> i'm sorry, david, i'm going to go to the house. house speaker paul ryan's press
conference. let's listen in. >> -- with national police week when we honor the sacrifices made by our police and their families. yesterday the house acted on a new round of sanctions against the syrian regime in order to cut off resources for assad's war machine. also this week, the house approved landmark federal i.t. reform legislation that will reduce wasteful spending and enhance the government's information security. will hurd has really taken the lead on this, and he's trying to bring our government into the era of thug computing and this is a big, big mark forward in bipartisan progress in getting waste out of government. as we speak, the ways and means committee is holding a major hearing today on examining pro growth tax reform. pro growth means just that, growth of wages, growth of jobs, growth of opportunity, and growth of our economy. also this weeks, the education and workforce committee unanimously approved bipartisan legislation to improve career
and in technical education, making it easier to connect people with the skills they need to get good-paying, in-demand jobs. i've got to tell you, wherever i go, just in wisconsin last week, we have a real skills gap between the skills people need to get good jobs and the good jobs that are out there being offered. this is something that we really have to address, and i'm very pleased that the education workforce committee is moving forward on this legislation. later today, armed services committee chairman matt gor gorenbury will unveil his effort to streamline bureaucracy to improve the way we develop weapons systems. this is an essential part of our efforts to rebuild our military for the 21st century. ahead of memorial day, the veterans affairs committee has approved 11 bills, including bipartisan legislation to fix the v.a.'s broken appeals process. this is a problem we've been working on tackling for years, and under secretary shullkin,
the v.a. is already taking better strides to get our veterans better care, shorter lines and more peace of mind. in the senate, our colleagues continue to discuss the path forward on keeping our promise to repeal and replace obamacare. and lastly, yesterday the president signed the 14th congressional review act resolution to stop president obama's last regulatory onslaught that he did last year. up until this year, congress had successfully just repealed one regulation under this law. now, just this year already, we have done it 14 times in a matter of months. we have much more to do to end washington's culture of overreach and overregulation, but this is a big promise kept as we work to protect jobs and to grow our economy. i know it's a long list. it is by no means complete. every day here we are working to advance our agenda and to address the problems that americans face in their everyday lives. questions? phil. >> mr. speaker, earlier this week, senator mcconnell said "we could do with a little less drama from the white house on a
lot of things," saying, basically, it could undercut or hamper your agenda. do you agree with that assessment? >> well, yeah, it's always nice to have less drama. but the point i'm trying to make, and i tried to make this the other day at my press conference, people in the country need to know that we are busy at work trying to solve their problems. so, i realize that there's a lot in the media these days. that doesn't seize up congress. that doesn't stop us from doing our jobs to work on people's problems. one of the reasons why i just read you the list of just what we've done this week, on closing the scale gap on streamlining i.t. to get waste out of government, make the pentagon more efficient, get tax reform moving, these are things that really affect people in their daily lives. we're working on this. and so, i just think it's very important that people know that we can walk and chew gum at the same time. and sure, drama is not helpful in getting things done, but we're still getting things done, and that's the important point. yeah. >> a number of congressional leaders met with the deputy attorney general, rod
rosenstein, here at the capitol last night. were you at that meeting? and what's your understanding about why doj took this step? >> well, i was at the meeting. i don't comment on such meetings that are classified. as i said before, i believe that the professionals at the justice department need to do their jobs independently, objectively, and thoroughly, and i believe the special counsel, which is robert mueller now, helps them do that. >> interferes with the congressional investigation? >> no, it doesn't, actually. so, we are going to keep these investigations going here. as i've always said, i think the intelligence committees are the right place to do that. this is an investigation involving russia, involving another country interfering with our elections. and so, the intelligence committee, in my opinion, is the best place for that. and so, these bipartisan, bicameral investigations -- house intelligence committee, senate intelligence committee -- are going to continue their investigations. rachel. >> you didn't mention oversight there. do you still think oversight should continue?
and another follow-up on that. oversight chairman jason chaffetz has told people he would probably be leaving around june 30th for fox. does that present -- [ inaudible ] >> i have not spoken to jason about that, so i don't know. he has not told me that, so i have not spoken with the chairman about that. >> step aside and -- >> i will find out from chairman chaffetz what he is doing or isn't doing, so i'm not going to comment on something that's in the media. i'd rather hear from him myself as to what his plans are. as far as the oversight committee, they've made document requests. that's their duty, that's what they do. so it's perfectly appropriate that they make these document requests. but as a side, especially with response to intelligence, that's where i think the intelligence committee should do their jobs. >> thank you. obviously, you have been very close over the years with vice president pence, and you talked about him trying to continue to move this agenda. he's here often working on these
issues here. but considering the maelstrom that we dealt with with trump and russia the last few days, there have been some members who have said we might be better with vice president pence. what's your take on this? >> we shouldn't even -- i'm not even going to give credence to that. i'm not even going to comment on that. that's -- [ inaudible ] there's not even a point making a comment on that. yeah? >> does the appointment of a special counsel, you think, give you some breathing room now at least to work on this agenda? >> well, like i said, the appointment of the special counsel i think helps assure people in the justice department that they're going to go do their jobs independently and thoroughly, which is what we've called for all along. and so, i think it was perfectly appropriate to do that. in the meantime, we're going to keep doing our jobs. we're going to keep our russia investigations going with our intelligence committees, and look what i just described -- energy and -- not the energy and commerce committee -- the education workforce committee closing the scales gap, getting
the armed services committee, streamline the way the pentagon procures weapons. let's get ways and means working on tax reform. let's fix people's problems. and all of our committees are still doing that. so, as i said, i know that people get consumed with the news of the day, but we are here working on people's problems every day, and we have all these different committees that do different jobs, and our job is to make sure that we still make progress for the american people and we're doing that. >> but you're being asked about -- >> yeah, you want to ask about tax reform? go ahead. [ laughter ] [ inaudible ] >> mr. speaker, thank you. regarding tax reform, there's some folks who think it could slip beyond this year. where are you at this point? >> no, i don't think that's the case. our goal, and i feel very confident we can meet this goal, is calendar year 2017 for tax reform, and i think we're making good progress. you have a tax reform question. >> i do, actually.
so, senate leader, majority leader mitch mcconnell has said he thinks the prospects for a border adjustment part of the plan are rather bleak, and yet, he still says it should be revenue-neutral. what are the alternatives being discussed? and is there a way that the border adjustment can either have a transition that would make it more palatable or some kind of half border adjustment? >> yeah, so, i think you can say yes to all of the above to what you just said. what we have to do, as an old tax writer, i would say this, is you have to weigh alternatives off one another. it is obvious that you can and should have some kind of an adjustment and phase-in period if you're going to have a border adjustment. i honestly think border adjustment's the smart way to go. i think it makes the tax code the most internationally competitive of any other version we are looking at, and i think it removes all tax incentives for a firm to move overseas or to move their production overseas. but if you're not going to do border adjustment, then you have to look at the alternatives to
that. there's always up sides and down sides to alternatives. that's the process we're going through right now. we're going through the process of looking at what is the best way to reform the tax code and to lower tax rates for businesses and to make the american tax system internationally competitive. right now it is literally one of the worst tax systems in the industrialized world. we're losing companies who are becoming foreign companies. we have an incentive that basically tells companies, outsource your manufacturing. why on earth are we doing that? so, we really believe -- this is, again, we're working on this, fixing people's problems, and that is why tax reform's so critical. and i do believe that there are very serious and legitimate concerns to any version of tax reform, and we're going to have to accommodate those concerns as we move to a new tax system. >> mr. speaker, thank you. from pbs. two questions, following up on rachel's question, you talked about the russia investigation, could you talk about where the questions of mr. trump's relationship with mr. comey and potential obstruction of justice
issue should fall? you said you want to get the facts on that. and then on health care, insurers are getting ready to set rates. do you think there's any possibility that whatever comes out of aggression will affect next year, or are we already looking two years down the road? >> well, i'll defer you to hhs on csr payments. we have a deadline, i think monday, if i'm not mistaken. we'll meet that deadline. we'll do a status report with the court, the house republicans will. that issue is still unresolved. but i would have to defer you to the secretary on csr payments. >> the question of potential obstruction of justice questions? >> oh, yeah. look, that's what investigations are for. you now have a special counsel who will take over that portfolio within the justice department. i think it's appropriate. the whole point is to have an independent investigation and follow the facts wherever they may lead. it is premature to prejudge anything at this point, only that we have a process in place. we have a process in place here
in congress, and the administration now has a process in place in the justice department. i'll just have to leave it at that. >> oversight or intelligence here? >> i'll leave it up to the committees to determine that. thanks. >> all right, and there you have it. house speaker paul ryan in his press conference today, trying to talk about the legislative work that the house of representatives is trying to work on, but also facing a lot of questions, of course, no surprise, on the major breaking news, of a special counsel being appointed to oversee and take over the investigation into russian meddling in the election and any possible ties between the trump campaign and russia. on special counsel, let me bring in my panel. margaret hoover is with me. margaret, house speaker ryan, he says we're going to follow the facts, same message we heard from him i think just yesterday. we're going to follow the facts. it's too early to prejudge anything. says that the special counsel helps the justice department do the job that they were already working on doing and investigating this. and says that it doesn't get in the way of congressional
investigations that are under way. really? you think? >> you know what it does? >> what does do? >> it gets out of paul ryan's way. paul ryan got to have an entire press conference, the following 20 minutes of which he talked about only things he wants to talk about -- >> tax reform -- >> that he wishes the american people were focusing on. they're not. they're focusing on the drama emanating from the white house, as he talked about, but this is, as we discussed, it is really a big gift to the members of congress. they still hope that they can pass a republican and a movement conservative legislative agenda, despitem-hmm. >> and this will at least take the pressure cooker off of them from the constant news coming out of the white house whereby they might be able to pass a few more things out of their body. >> hold on, mark. i want to bring in david drucker, since i rudely cut you off, david, in order to get to house speaker paul ryan. but margaret says that basically, when you look at winners and losers and where things stand now with the appointment of the special counsel, margaret raises a good
point, congressional republicans, they seem to be one of the winners here. they don't have to answer as many questions as they did, or they can more rightfully defer questions when they get them. losers, is it congressional democrats, because then they don't have this drum beat about congressional investigations and a special prosecutor to beat on all the time? >> not necessarily. they still have trump and his twitter feed, so that's plenty to work with. i think margaret is right in this regard. i spoke with congressional republicans last night right after news of the mueller appointment broke and they were relieved. many of them felt really glad, that this gives them an opportunity to move this at least to the side and focus more on health care reform and tax reform and things like that, because they're going to stop getting so many questions about whether or not a special counsel should be appointed and what exactly they plan to do about the fact that trump might be compromised in this fashion, vis-a-vis the justice department. so, i think a lot of republicans feel good about this. i even asked them, what about
the fact that a lot of times special prosecutors in the past, or counsels, have started going one direction but ended up in another direction and made things a whole lot worse. they weren't very concerned about that at the moment. they believe that mueller has a lot of credibility. they think he's a straight shooter. in fact, that's mossad moss . is say that there should be a prosecute commission or collect committee in congress that should not rely on the house and senate sbuintelligenc committees that are run by republicans. for now the republicans are breathing a sigh of relief. i don't know if they, but that's where they are. >> they've been holding their breath so long they need to breath about anything. i want to get back to some of the breaking news we were talking about before we went in to house speaker paul ryan. the chair and ranking member of the senate intelligence committee, they say michael flynn's attorneys are not responding. they are not going to
accommodate the subpoena they have sent over to michael flynn. i think we have new sound in from senator richard burr. let's listen. >> general flynn's lawyer said that he would not honor the subpoena and that's not a surprise to the committee. but we'll figure out on general flynn what the next step, if any, is. but we're continuing on with a lot of interviews and through those interviews it leads us to additional document requests and additional individuals we like to talk to. >> mark, what does it mean? >> first, this administration sort of feels like a never-ending law school exam question. >> are you passing or are you failing right now? >> i don't know. that's up to everybody else. i'm just trying to answer. my answer is he's obviously subject to potential contempt for failing to abide by their subpoena. it means he could go to jail for up to a year. but it may be deferred because we talked about the special prosecutor. more primportant for olympiafly
what he said in the statement through his lawyers, he may have some legitimate concerns as to whether or not he's going to incriminate himself and he has an absolute right not to do that. anything that is a link in the chain that could lead to incriminating him, he can protect himself by at fifth amendment right. and he could say to them i'll talk but i want immunity like he's already said or he can sit back in response to a contempt proceeding and say i cannot say a word because i have a fifth amendment right that does, in fact, override a contempt authority from congress. >> and it also demonstrates the limit to these congressional hearings, because even if you're held within contempt of congress, then you have a jude indicate that. that takes time. >> one thing we're keeping an eye on is president trump. he's going to be holding a new conference facing reporters later today. if you were in this white house, how will you be advising, let's assume he listening to your advice, how will you be
adviolation hadvising him to handle this. >> on a side note, not to tweet anymore on this, period, end of story. >> he's not listening you to. >> but moving forward, i think he's made a statement on this. he says that as he has said in the past there is no collusion between the campaign and russia. he needs to leave it at that. he needs to continue to say over and over that he has spoken on. this now there is a special counsel appointed to. this as ryan said, let the facts lead to its conclusion and let's put it in the special counsel's hand and let them do their job. i don't think it's helpful for him to bring in allegations any criminal activity on behalf of the clinton campaign or the obama administration n. terms of russia, he needs to let that play its course and he needs to get back on offense. he needs to do what he does best and that is talk about why he was elected. talk about what paul ryan says. helping to push tax reform, working on repealing and replacing obamacare. doing steps to improve our
education and taking away the burdensome federal regulations. those are the things that americans voted for him for. that's his strong suit. that's what he needs to focus on. and that's the best way he can pivot on the issues that he wants to talk about. reporters are still going to talk about all things russia, but he needs to get back on offense and keep his head down in the game on what's best for him. >> needs to is one thing. will he? that's absolutely a very different thing. matt, with all your time in democratic politics, a couple questions. you pick whichever you want. special counsel, good news or bad news for democrats? or does this restore some amount of order for washington? >> it's a great question. watching the speaker there reminded me of watching president clinton when i was sevening serving in the second term of his white house. when joe would come out and read a long list of things we were doing and no one was writing things down and all of the questions were about the
lewinsky investigation. they can hope that the appointment of mueller is going to completely change the subject for zmthem and allow them to ge back on track with their policy agenda. it is hard. it was hard for president cl o clinton who was an incredibly skilled communicate or. for president trump without that skill it's going to be harder still. >> harder still. guys, stand by. we'll take a quaick break. we'll be back with more in just a moment.
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welcome to "inside politics." i'm john king. day 119 of the trump administration is day one of a new world for the president, his team and all of washington. a new special counselor special prosecutor now taking over the russia election meddling investigation. and the work isn't limited to last year's campaign. >> this is the system and that's why it's good to have mueller
doing what he's doing and it's important for the congress of the united states to do what they're supposed to do. >> one giant question for bob mueller now. did the president of the united states improperly try to shut down the investigation and did he then fire the fbi director when he refused to comply? >> the way the system works sometimes, particularly in the mainstream media, they want to prove you guilty before you've actually had anything. that's what the mainstream media has tried to do to this president is accuse him of things that there's been so evidence whatsoever. >> republican leaders are exhausted and annoyed by the daily if not hourly white house dramas and missteps. they now are embracing both the new special counsel and more aggressive oversight by congressional investigators. >> they're going to do their jobs independently and thoroughly which is what we've called for all along. so i think it was perfectly appropriate to do that. in the meantime, we're going to keep doing