tv The Lead With Jake Tapper CNN June 7, 2017 1:00pm-2:01pm PDT
welcome to the "the lead." bombshell breaking news. i need loyalty. one day before director comey will tell his story before the senate the fbi director has released a statement detailing his conversations with the president in which comey says president trump put him in situations that concerned him greatly saying at a private dinner in january, for example, i need loyalty. i expect loyalty. comey confirms that the president asked him, the man in charge of the criminal investigation into his former national security adviser michael flynn, quote, i hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting flynn go. he is a good guy. i hope can you let this go, unquote. again, this is an accusation that the president asked the fbi director to drop a criminal
investigation of one of his former top aides. as comey writes, quote, i had understood the president to be asking we drop any investigation of flynn in connection with false statements about his conversations with the russian ambassador in december. it was very concerning given the fbi owes role as an independent investigative agency. the fbi leadership team agreed with me that it was important not to affect the investigation with the president's request which we did not plan to abide, unquote. as president trump previously claimed the former fbi director notes three different times that comey told president trump that the phone was not investigating him personally. once on january 6th when comey first presented the summary of the salacious and unverified dossier of uncompromising information the russians claimed to have about president trump, the second time during the january 27th dinner when comey says the president asked for loyalty and a third time in a march 30th phone call.
comey comey wants we need to get that fact out. i did not tell the president that the fbi and department of justice were reluctant to make statements that we did not have an open case on president trump for a number of reasons, mostly because it is would create a duty to correct should that change. the president went on to say, according to comb de, that if there were some, quote, sat lloyd associates of his who did something wrong it would be good to find that out but that he hadn't done anything wrong and hoped i would find a way to get it out that we weren't investigating him, unquote. in their last conversation, on april 11th, according to comey, the president says, quote, i have been very loyal to you, very loyal. we had that thing, you know. comey writes i did not reply or ask him what he meant by that thing. comey was fired on may 1th. his testimony was released today by the committee at comey's request. i asked the source close to comey why that is. he said, quote, because it's a complex narrative that he
thought required some careful reading before hearing it from him directly. also, he thought it the would ensure the commit he time to formulate probing and useful questions, unquote. cnn's phil mattingly has been look at the full statement from director comey, and, phil, these are not the types of conversations one would expect any president to be having with his fbi director. >> reporter: yeah, jake, unorthodox would be an understatement here. unsettled is probably a great way to characterize how jim comey comes across throughout these pages of testimony. seven pages that have dominated just about everything in washington over the last couple of hours. here's the deeper look. from are the first of jim comey's nine one-on-one interactions with president trump to the last, less than a month before his firing, testimony that lays out a story of loyalty pledges, potentially damning requests and a president infewer aid by the fbi director's refusal to say publicly he wasn't under investigation. >> during the phone call he said it and then during another phone
call he said, it so he said it once at dinner and then he said it twice during phone calls. >> did you call him? >> in one case i called him and one case he called me. >> and did you ask am i under investigation? >> i asked him, yes. i said if it's possible, would you let me know am i under investigation, and he said you are not under investigation. >> reporter: comey describing an oval office meeting with mr. trump and other counterterrorism officials where all but comey were dismissed. i want to talk about michael flynn, comey quotes the president as saying, referring to his recently fired national security adviser. i hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting flynn go, comey says trump told him. he's a good guy. i hope you can let this go. comey goes on to say he prepared an unclassified memo of that conversation, understanding that the president was requesting he drop any probe into flynn. he shared that assessment with his fbi leadership team but declined to share it with
attorney general jeff sessions on the assumption that sessions would soon be recused. while those details were kept close, comey says the next time he spoke to sessions, quote, i took the opportunity to implore the attorney general to prevent any future direct communication between the president and me, but comey also confirming that just as president trump wrote in his letter firing the fbi director, he had in fact first informed the president-elect on january 6th he wasn't the target of a counterintelligence investigation. it was a point that based on comey's recounting aided trump and dominated much of their interactions after trump asoumd office. trump, stressing the cloud of the russia probe as, quote, interfering with his ability to make deals for the country, comey recounted. trump telling comey at one point we need to get that fact out. and another saying explicitly he hoped i could find a way to get out that he wasn't being
investigated. comey in his testimony making clear one of the primary reasons he would not say trump wasn't being investigated publicly. quote, most importantly because it is would create a duty to correct should that change. and, jake, i asked an aide to a senate intelligence committee member what they were thinking about this testimony and they said, look, we're just as engrossed as you r.pointing to the loyalty pledge as james comey laid out in vivid detail, as you talked about at the top. show. where are the republicans on this? the republican national committee, jake, more or less is running the opposition research or the deflection research, if you will, on this hearing, and they put out a statement from the chairwoman saying president trump was right. director comey's statement reconfirmed what the president has been saying all along. he was never under investigation. essentially their tone right now is nothing to see here. move on. i think there's probably a lot to see here, and we're going to see ate lot more of it tomorrow during this hearing. >> seems like an odd strategy given if they are relying on
comey's testimony as potentially clearing president trump personally, then you kind of have to say that you rely on comey's testimony and everything he says is accurate, phil? >> reporter: yeah. that's what they are going with up to this point. we'll see if that changes tomorrow, but as of now that's the statement that they have put out. >> phil mattingly on capitol hill for us, thanks so much. let's talk this over with my panel. we have cnn's jim sciutto, evan perez and senior legal analyst jeffrey toobin. jeffrey, let's go to the nuts and bolts of this. is there any crime in this? if everything that jim comey says is accurate, is that a crime? >> there may well be, obstruction of justice, absolutely, yes. >> you think there's an obstruction charge in here? >> the february 14th meeting where he says -- where the president says to everyone else in the room least. i want to talk alone to comey,
which certainly suggests that he may know he owes doing something inappropriate and then he goes to the director of the fbi and says can you drop this investigation of my former top aide, that, combined with the fact that days later or a couple -- three months later when comey does not drop the investigation, he fires comey i think lays out a plausible case of obstruction of justice. >> what about the hurdle, i'm being told by people close to comey, intent is a big hurdle. >> the law says corruptly, and what that means is with bad purpose. you don't -- you are not as president of the united states allowed to dictate to the fbi or try to dick at the same time to the fbi who gets investigated and who doesn't because they are your friend and because you think he's a good guy. that is potentially corrupt intent. >> jim, let's -- let's go back
to january where the three of us, plus carl bernstein broke a story about this dossier full of salacious and unverified accusations against president trump put together by a former mi-6 operative stating that the russians claimed to have damaging information on him, because that's how the comey narrative begins and that seems to be the place where president trump and jim comey first start to go in opposite directions. >> well, that's right. i mean, it was -- and we knew because we had reported this, that it had to be an uncomfortable conversation already because this is the first time have a private sort of pull aside at this broad briefing of president-elect -- then president-elect trump where the fbi director had to say to him, by the way, we have this dossier that alleges the russians believe they have compromising personal and financial information, some of which we know is salacious, uncomfortable, as it is, and we know now based on comey's testimony that that's one of the first conversations where the president asked for assurance that he's not under
investigation, and -- and comey tells him that he's not under investigation, but what's interesting is that later he will then ask comey -- having asked comey to kill an investigation on flynn, he actually asked comey or brings up the idea of starting another investigation to clear him of anything in the dossier. listen, can we knock this down? can we investigate this and comey made a point and said, listen, if do you that, that will create the impression that you're under investigation which you're not. again, to jeffrey's point, here you have a president going to the -- to one. senior most law enforcement officials telling him to kill one investigation that relates to up of his most senior aides, national security adviser, and pressuring him to some degree to start another one to clear his name because he's uncomfortable and somewhat fixated on this dossier. >> it's fascinating. evan, comey the president said comey urged him to let go of the flynn conversation. comey said he was troubled by the conversation, but it's being can't out there by some in the media he felt pressured. he using the word pressured. i looked in this -- he does not
use the word pressure. doesn't talk about his feelings necessarily. >> and one of the things, you know, talking about what jeffrey was just mentioning. i think the thing we keep coming back to with the behavior of the president is that he's a political neophyte. he's new to the ways of washington. he doesn't know how this stuff works so people keep making excuses, that you know, maybe sometimes when he mentioned these things, he's not really saying you ought to drop the investigation. he just doesn't know how things work. well, i think we get the impression certainly when he tells everybody to leave the room and insists that they close the door when -- when reince priebus pops his head in and says, no, i'm not done yet, we get the sense that he feels he's back in new york and he's trying to get a certificate of occupancy for one of his buildings, and the building inspector is there and he's not real refinishing up the job, and, you know, he's trying to cajole and get that -- that certificate. it's sort of -- that's the sort of -- what he's trying to do here in washington. it's this version of what he's
trying to do. look, that's a problem, because in the last couple of days we saw reporting from "the washington post" about another such meeting with dan coats, the director of national intelligence, and the impression you get is that he's doing the same thing again. >> yeah. it's interesting, and then we haven't even gotten into, jeffrey, this meeting, this dinner meeting that they have on january 27th, just the two of them, to comey's surprise, where he says i expect loyalty. i demand loyalty, or words to that effect. >> which is not unlawful, but it does set a tone to the relationship that puts the rest of the material in context, that, you know, he doesn't say i want loyalty to the rule of law. he doesn't say i demand loyalty to the fbi. >> or the constitution. >> or to the constitution. >> he says i demand loyalty to me, and comey in a theme that comes throughout all of this tries to sort of put him off. doesn't expressly disagree but says, well, i -- i will be honest with you, and then he sort of turns it into, well,
i'll give you hon est loyalty, whatever that means. >> which means nothing. and he says that -- he says that in the document he's basically -- he says that it probably meant one thing to president trump and a different thing to me. >> and there are several places in the dock out. >> which is bizarre. >> totally bizarre, but there are times in the document where trump asks him to do something, and instead of answering him he says, well, i will refer that to the acting attorney general. instead -- he tries not to confront trump, but he tries not to agree with him either. at least -- and, again, it's important to say this is comey's version. >> right. >> and there may be -- and donald trump may have alternative memories of this. >> they have tapes. >> and they may have tapes. we can only hope. >> stay right there. hold that thought. we're going to take a very quick break and come back with our panel the white house is now reacting to what former fbi direct said and that's coming up next and stay with us.
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welcome back. we're back with more in the politics lead as washington dives into fired fbi director james comey's prepared remarks released this afternoon. president trump has been trying to turn the focus away from the russia investigation. earlier he announced his pick to replace comey and touted health care and his infrastructure plan in ohio. let's go to cnn's sara murray in cincinnati where the spoke just this afternoon. sara, how is the white house reacting to the release of these prepared remarks? >> well, we're certainly not getting a lot of reaction for them. you know, this came out basically as president trump was leaving his event here in cincinnati, heading back to washington, d.c. sara huckabee sanders, of course, the spokeswoman for the white house, spoke to reporters on the plane and essentially said that they were looking it over as she was talking to
reporters. there were questions, of course, about whether the white house is going to push back or dispute the accuracy of anything that comey puts in his testimony, and sara basically said they were reviewing that right now and would keep us posted. this is sort of fitting what we've seen from this white house. very little comment officially in terms of reacting to developments regarding the russia investigation, regarding comey. so far they have mostly been kicking things over to president trump's personal lawyer but we're still waiting to see whether we'll get more reaction from them on this today. jake? >> we know prusk has been mad at the attorney general jeff sessions for recusing himself from the russia investigation which ultimately led to the appointment of the general counsel to investigate. we're told that sessions told the president he would be willing to leave if the president no longer wanting him -- wanted him there. does the white house -- does the president have confidence in jeff sessions? >> that's a great question, jake, and one you would not
think would be a difficult thing for the president to answer. so far the white house has not cleared that up. we know the president has been stewing basically ever since jeff sessions decided to recuse himself as we get further and further into the russia investigation as there was a new development day after day. the president gets angrier and angrier and we know in one of his heated conversationed with sessions sessions offered to resign. sarah huckabee was asked about that today one day after sean spicer and she said i haven't had a chance to speak with the president about that but still no answer to the question whether the president has confidence in his attorney general. >> today questions that intelligence officials would not answer getting scolded by members of the committee and what are the chances that the
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welcome back to "the lead." ike jake tapper. sticking with the politics lead. various media reports including one this morning in "the washington post" detailed two top intelligence officials being asked by president trump to help undermine fbi director james comey into possible collusion between the trump team and government. dan coats and add miller mike rogers were asked by the president to deny any evidence of coordination which both refused to do, according to those reports but when asked in open congressional hearings tailed about these conversations, coats and rogers declined to directly answer the questions. they said they never felt pressured to do anything inappropriate, but both men refused to go into any sort of detail about what president trump may have asked them to do.
why? why would they not answer such basic questions? cnn's brianna keilar is here for that story. brianna, did either make a legal claim about why they weren't going to answer these questions? for instance, did they invoke executive privilege? >> they did not. one senator actually asked the director of national intelligence what his legal basis was for refusing to testify about whether president trump asked him to downplay the investigation of possible collusion between the trump campaign and russian officials and downni said he wasn't sure if he had a legal basis, an answer that frustrated both republicans and democrats on the committee. u.s. senators struggled to get any answers from president trump's intelligence chiefs as dramatic reports swirl about trump asking those very officials to publicly dismiss russia allegations related to his campaign. >> if any of this is true, it would be an appalling and
improper use of our intelligence professionals, an act if true could erode the public's trust in our intelligence institutions. >> reporter: seemingly straightforward denials from two key players today on capitol hill. >> to the best of my recollection i have never been directed to do anything i believe to be illegal, immoral, unethical or inappropriate, and to the best of my recollection during that same period of service i do not recall ever feeling pressured to do so. >> in my time of service, which is interacting with the president of the united states or anybody in his administration, i have never been pressured. i have never felt pressure to intervene or interfere in any way. >> reporter: but knows answers proceeded to unravel, question after question through parsing, dodging or just outright refusal to respond. >> you realize how simple it
would simply be to say no, that never happened. >> i think conversations between the president and myself are for the most part -- >> you seem to apply that standard selectively. >> no, i'm not applying it selectively. i'm just saying i don't think it's appropriate -- >> can you clear an awful lot up by saying it never happened. >> i do not share with the general public conversations that i have with the president or many of my colleagues within the administration that i believe are -- should not be shared. >> well, i think your unwillingness to answer a very basic question speaks volumes. >> reporter: officials making one thing clear, there would be no clear denial of the alleged conversations with the president. director of national intelligence dan coats and national security agency director michael rogers declining to elaborate on their initial carefully worded statements. >> never been directed to do anything in the course of my
three-plus years as director of the national security agency. >> not directed or asked. >> nor have i felt pressured. >> have you ever been asked to do somethiay something that's n true? >> i feel it's inappropriate. >> what you feel isn't relevant, admiral. you swore to tell tus the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth and you're refusing to do so much. what's the legal basis for you refruiting to testify to this committee? >> i'm not sure i have a legal basis. >> even the republican chairman was frustrated and add monished them for not answering to questions. >> at no time should you be in a position to come to congress without an answer. it may in a different format, but but the rifrmts our oversight duties and your
agencies demand it. >> but after this frustrating hearings as you can see, these witnesses participated in a closed door classified briefing with the committee and dni coats could have answered the question there, did trump ask him to downplay the investigation? his answer would not necessarily have been classified. no word on if he did answer that question, but there was a comment from senator john mccain that it shows what coined of orwellian existence we live in, the fact that they weren't answering the questions and yet he read the answers to the questions this morning in "the washington post." >> the post saying that they were asked to do this. they said no, we were never directed, but never said you were directed. >> and that coats discussed this with several associates. >> weird. brianna, thank you so much. next, we'll talk to one of the senators who will question james comey tomorrow and who was in that closed hearing with those top jens chiefs. stay with us. [ dog whimpers ] man: let's go! man #2: we're not coming out! man #1: [ sighs ] flo: [ amplified ] i got this. guys, i know being a first-time homeowner is scary, but you don't have to do this.
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will testify tomorrow that over the course of nine one-on-one conversations president trump asked him for a pledge of loyalty, to let go of the investigation into ex-national security adviser michael flynn and whether something could be done to, quote, lift the cloud over him surrounding president trump in the russia investigation. joining me now to discuss this and much more is democratic senator ron wiyden who is on th senate intelligence committee. first of all, what's your reaction to comey's prepared statement? >> jake, it is a remarkable statement, and it reads more like a tom clancy novel than the usual garden variety congress a.m. testimony. for example, comey confirms that trump asked him to end that investigation into flynn. that by itself is almost a watergate level effort to interfere with an ongoing
investigation. >> well, that's a strong thing to say. watergate obviously ended with the end of the presidency of richard nixon. based on what comey is alleging in these prepared remarks, do you think president trump potentially obstructed justice? >> what i can tell you, and you and i have sparred on these legal issues before, that's going to be a topic for lawyers, but i'll tell you if it looks like a duck and it quacks like a duck it just might be a duck. >> it is worth noting that according to comey's own testimony he did assure president trump at least three times that he was not personally under investigation. is that not significant? >> what i can tell you is that comey confirmed that the president did ask for a pledge of loyalty. i think his exact words were is i need loyalty. that's not what our great institutions are all about.
it's not about the individual. it's about the rule of law, and that goes all the way back to the very basis of our country. >> as you know, president trump suggested and the white house has refused to elaborate on whether or not there are any tapes of the conversations that president trump had with fired fbi director james comey. do you think that your committee might be willing to subpoena the white house to get to the bottom of what inevitably seems destined to be a he said he said discussion? >> i certainly support efforts to get all of the relevant materials, and when we were putting together what became the agreement between chairman burr and senator warner i insisted on the right to subpoena, the right of open hearings, the right of declassification so you bet. i think getting all the materials that we have to have to let the facts lead us ought
to include the subpoena. >> is there any indication that senator burr or republicans on the committee would be willing to subpoena the white house for those tapes, if they exist? >> i'll let them speak for themselves, but they were part of the bipartisan agreement. that was one of my special priorities. as you know, it was hard trying to get a commitment early -- early on to have an investigation that really looked at the relationships between the russians and the trump organization. i insisted on that subpoena power. we're going to go the distance to defend. >> senator, you just left that closed door briefing with the four top intelligence officials who testified today. throughout the public hearing rogers and coats refused to publicly answer as to whether or not president trump ever asked them to dismiss or interfere or undermine in any way the fbi investigation. can you tell us, did they answer those questions in the classified seting? >> well, first of all, you can't get into matters that are classified, but let's go to the morning session.
as you know, they sparred a bit with our colleagues because they said we don't want to get into the content of what we discussed with the president. so i said i'll set aside content. i'll just ask them whether there were any written materials prepared with respect to conversations or e-mails or things of that nature, and they just pretty much stonewalled everything other than their talking points, and the irony of this is, of course, the president has spoken so expansionively about these issues. he's been so outspoken in public this, idea that they can't say anything that touches on what the president has talked about widely in the public square just doesn't add up. >> well, let me put it this way. coats and rogers this morning suggested that they had never felt president bush ourd and that they had never been directed to do anything inappropriate or improper. "the washington post" and cnn and others have reported that
the president trump directly asked them to try to undermine the fbi investigation or to try to state that there is no evidence of collusion. do you know of anything that would suggest to you that "the washington post" and the cnn reports are not accurate? >> what i do know, jake, is something i can discuss in public and it's very serious. if you compare what director coats said to the senate armed services committee back in march, i think it was march 23rd, he said he had no awareness hon any matters relating to the flynn investigation. "the washington post" said something very different. now both accounts cannot be true. i intend to keep following up on this until we find out which account is accurate. >> senator ron wyden, thanks so much for your time. >> thanks for having me. next up, president trump said james comey said i wasn't
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welcome back. fired fbi director james comey and his prepared comments before his testimony tomorrow. david, perhaps the most trouble part if you believe the comey president is the when the president says, quote, i hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting flynn go. he is a good guy. i hope you can let this go. comey says i replied only that he is a good guy. some people, jeffrey toobin for one, says this is potentially obstruction of justice. >> i don't think that's the case, jake. pressure doesn't equal obstruction. director comby is a tough guy. you harken back to the bush days where he rushed to the hospital to see the attorney general in a showdown with then white house
counsel gonzalez. he knows pressures and what isn't pressure. he answered on may 3rd before the u.s. senate judiciary committee that he didn't feel pressure. he made -- he made a statement that nobody pressured him at the white house. the administration didn't pressure him to do anything, so i don't think there's any there there at at end. day. >> hillary, i mean, if the fbi director didn't feel pressure, is david right? could this -- i mean, how could it be obstruction if he didn't feel pressure to do something? >> look, we don't know whether he felt pressure or not and it doesn't actually necessarily matter what he does. what matters is what happened and the facts that happened. i think we're not going to get the facts honestly in any of this until bob mueller hauls all of these folks into a grand jury and gets real statements, but the more important piece for me on this conversation is that president trump actually denied even having that conversation with james comey, so it doesn't matter wl comey felt pressure or
not. president trump tweeted he never asked comey to lay off the flynn investigation and now we have comey coming before the committee saying under oath that that did happen, so the fact that we see the president sort of consistently lying about what happened, we see comey saying that a conversation did take place. that to me is more troubling than whether we're going to parse obstruction or not. >> susan, there was an interesting poll in "the washington post" this morning that suggested that when it comes to credibility, both president trump and james comey have issues, like when it comes to the public believing what they are going to say tomorrow. it's not just president trump who we know is struggling with approval ratings and such and trustworthiness but also james comey. >> well, people see both of these individuals through a partisan lens to some degree, but i think president trump hats tougher path here. you saw the quinnipiac poll out today that say 60% of americans say president trump did something that was either illegal or unethical. that's a really high proportion
and includes, of course, trump supporters who feel that he acted inappropriately in this case, and that's really the picture that comes out of this very interesting prepared statement that they have -- that they have posted this afternoon which is a picture of a -- of a situation that was just so full of conflict and frustration and -- and unease between this veteran prosecutor and a president who i think may not have understood exactly the way in which he was acting could be seen as inappropriate and as an obstruction of justice. >> he said to lester holt, he said actually president trump i got rid of james comey over the russia thing. >> he said he was thinking of russia when he made the decision. >> the idea that he was naive around his decisions. he fired the fbi director. he did it for a reason. you know, what those reasons are ultimately come out, but let's listen and take the president at his own word here. >> david?
>> i think susan is right, that we'll have to wait and see what the mirl report says. director mueller is an extremely thorough, fair individual. it will be a real redetailed report and when there is is all done i think there's no obstruction of justice and the legal definition, wide as the grand canyon. pressure and obstruction are really a big difference. >> one thing that went through my head and this maybe shows that i've been in washington too long but the idea that president trump had dinner with the fbi director, and it was just the two of them and then at another point when he has a whole bunch of people in the oval office and he sends everybody else out and it's just him and james comey in the oval office, where is the president's staff? i don't know any staffer in washington, d.c. that would -- i've gone to lunches with senators, and the senator is not by themself and we're not doing anything untoward and we're just talking. >> if you read the report, he says comey says they are linger
outside the door, the chief of staff pops his head in. the president says i'll be out in a second. >> but he's not supposed to pop his head in. the chief of staff is supposed to be there to make sure the president >> let me just say that the president said i would like a second with the director by himself. the meeting is wrapping up. >> what about the dinner? what about the dinner? >> the dinner -- plenty of people have dinner in this town by themselves. >> there wasn't an active investigation at the time. >> this particular issue that you're raising, jake, all the reporting is showing that the president and his team are having a hard time finding a reputable lawyer in washington, d.c. to actually take on this criminal probe because they do not believe the president will be a good client, that he does not act, that he's not responding well to what are really legal vagaries here. >> susan? >> either without an investigation these would have been inappropriate meeting. look what he described president obama met with him and talked with him one-on-one twice in four years and with donald trump talked with him one-on-one nine
times in four months, so -- so president trump for whatever reason was acting in an inappropriate way. >> why -- because he had a bunch of meetings? i'm not sure that you can say that. >> because it's an independent agency and the president is supposed to talk to the attorney general who talks -- >> the fbi director serves at the pleasure of the president. >> these are established procedures to prevent exactly the situation that the support in. >> again, listen to the president's own words, david. when he tweets and says -- >> hillary, i hear you. >> i hope director comb doesn't talk about our conversations, you know. why would the president himself say these conversations needed to be -- >> let's give david the last word. >> director comey is a tough guy. if he felt there was something wrong he should have spoken up under oath the first time he was asked about this on may 3rd so the question is going to be tomorrow did you perjure yourself on may 3rd or are you perjuring yourself now? that's what i would ask director comey tomorrow. >> thanks one and all for being
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welcome back. president trump's son eric is attacking a scathing report in "forbes" that suggests his father may have improperly pocketed money intended for charity. "forbes" says in 2010 the trump foundation gave his son erik's foundation a $100,000 donation. the problem is the trump organization apparently then charged eric's foundation to use his new york golf course where eric hosted annual tournaments to benefit st. jude children's research hospital. "forbes" also reported that more than $500,000 in donations to the eric trump foundation was re-donated to other charities, many linked to trump family members or interests, and they
also spent money renting trump golf courses. dan alexander is an associate editor at "forbes" and wrote the report and joins me now. thanks so much for joining us. you went through tax filings for eric's foundation and found costs for its golf tournament nearly tripled in 2010 compared to the year before. in 2012 costs went back down but then skyrocketed again. after that you -- you suggest it doesn't add up. was there an upgrade to the events? what is eric's foundation saying about what you callow pick accounting? >> well, the events might have gotten a little bit larger, but one of the big reasons that the numbers go up and we've got people inside the club and people who served on eric's board telling us this is that in 2011 donald comes in and basically says, look, eric, i know that you've been, you know, running this foundation. you guys do work for this charity, but up until now we haven't charged you, and now we're going to start charging you, you're holding this event
hon my property and that means you guys are going to pay. >> and the eric trump foundation did respond to your overall story saying in part, quote, contrary to recent reports at no time did the trump organization, that's the organization that runs and profits from the golf courses, at no time did the organization profit in any way from the foundation or any of its activities. while people can disagree on political issues, but this is shameful and disgusting. is there a denial of your story there, or do you see any loopholes in those words? >> no, i mean, earlier what they were saying, when i was talking to them was that they never charged it off, that there were no payments made. you'll notice now they are saying, well, there weren't any profits made. now, profit is obviously a very easy term to sort of misdirect, you know, if they are counting their depreciation on the golf course on one event maybe they can say they don't profit. the reality is they were charging them just like they
were any other organization, any other charity, and for a golf course when you have an event like this you expect to make money. >> eric trump also tweeted in response to someone else citing your report, i've raised $16.3 million for terminally ill children at st. jude with less than a 12% expense ratio, what have you done today, unquote? is there an argument that the foundation needs to spend money to make money? >> yes, of course, the foundation needs to spend money to host their events and all that sort of thing. the question is a guy worth $3.5 billion, donald trump, need to be charging his son's charity which raises money for kids with cancer, you know, 100,000 bucks every year to have a tournament. why not just give that up? >> and the fact that were not square originally, not honest when originally asked. daniel alexander from "forbes," thanks so much. >> follow me on twitter and that's it for "the lead." i'm jake tapper.
right now i turn you over to wolf blitzer. he's in "the situation room." thanks for watching. happening now. breaking news. comey's story. dramatic written testimony from the fired fbi director james comey in a statement released early by the senate intelligence committee. comey says the president demanded loyalty and asked him to let go of the fbi investigation into flynn and lift the cloud. comey says president trump repeatedly asked what could be done to lift the cloud of the russia probe. when all the facts are added up is there a case for obstruction of justice? what more will comey say tomorrow? stonewalling, top intelligence chiefs anger senators by asking whether the president asked them to downplay or sway the russia investigation and why are they keeping quiet? and changing the subject. president trump may have tried to divert attention with a surprise tweet announcing his pick for