tv Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN June 8, 2017 2:00pm-3:01pm PDT
happening now, breaking news, lies and defamations by fired of fbi director james comey repeatedly accusing the president and his administration of lying and defaming him of the fbi and say he was fired because of the russia investigation. >> president trump's lawyer is firing back and calling comey a liar and a leaker. comey tells lawmakers he took president trump's hope to end the investigation and firing
michael flynn as a direction from mr. trump. >> comhe leaked his memo to the news media through a friend in hope of a special counsel will be appointed. that's the matter? >> republicans seize on comey's claim that loretta lynch told him to call the probe into hillary clinton's e-mail a matter rather than an investigation. is that what prompted comey to go public with the result. >> i am wolf blitzer here in e "the situation room." this is cnn breaking news. we are following breaking news, extraordinary testimony by the former fbi director james comey, appearing before the senate intelligence committee accusing the trump administration and the president of lying and defaming
the agency led until he was fired by president trump almost a month ago. comey told the panel he believes he was dismissed to change the way the russia investigation. a stunning revolution, comey asked a friend to leak his memo about exchanges with the president after mr. trump tweeted suggesting there maybe recordings of their conversation. he hope the leak will prompt the point of a special counsel. president trump's lawyer suggesting that comey should be under investigated. he never saw to impede the russia probe. we are covering all of that and much more including our guests
and the judiciary and our correspondence and specialists are all standing by. lets go with dana bash with more of comey's testimony. it was a remarkable hearing. >> it was sure was, wolf. comey said today that he had no doubt the president fired him as a way to change the way the russia investigation was being conducted. based on comey's testimony today, the russia probe was changed but not in the way the president intended or hoped. >> the former fbi director under oath calling the president who fired him a liar. >> the administration shows to defame me and the fbi by saying that the organization was in disarray that it was poorly led that the work force had lost confidence in its leaders. those were lies, plain and simple.
using "l" word more than once. i was concerned that he may lie of the nature of the meeting so i thought it is important to document. >> james comey described the faithful february 14th meeting in the oval office when everyone was kicked out except for comey. >> my impression is something big is about to happen, i need to remember every spoken word. i am 56-year-old and i have seen a few things. the attorney general knew he should not believing which is why he was lingering. i knew something was about to happen and i need to pay close attention to. >> the president did not explicitly order him to lay off flynn, that is how he took it. >> i took it as a direction. it is the president of the united states with me alone
saying i hope this, i took it as this is what he wants me to do. i did not evade that but that's who i took it. >> he came under scrutiny from lawmakers for not pushing back at the moment. >> why diplomdn't stop and say preside president, this is wrong, i could not discuss this with you. >> a good question, maybe if i am stronger, i was stunned. i didn't want to make it sound like i am captain courageous. i don't know what i would have. >> the president tweeted that he better hopes there is no tapes. >> i see the tweet about tapes, lordy, i hope there are tapes. trump's tweet prompted him to deliver realtime memos he wrote about his conversations with trump to the press. i woke up in the middle of the
night that there maybe corroborations for our conversation, i need to get out to the public square so i asked a friend of mine to share a content with the reporter. i did not do it myself because i thought that may prompt the appointment of a special counsel so i asked a friend of mine to do it. comey a private citizen used the press to force the amateur ppoi of a special counsel. >> the president asking an fbi director for what he took as a loyalty pledge. >> i could be wrong but my common sense told me is what's going don heron here, he's look exchange for granting my request for stay ng ting in the job. >> like this about flynn.
>> you said the president was trying to obstruct justice or for a way to mike flynn to see fa face. >> it was an open investigation with his connection of the russian contacts and the contacts themselves. >> he hinted information not yet known about attorney general jeff sessions. >> he was close to and inevitably going to recuse himself for a variety of reasons. i cannot discuss in an open setting that would make his investigation problematic. comey did in fact tell the president he was not being investigated. comey revealed that he handed over his memos of his conversation with trump to the
special counsel which could mean now the president is being investigated for obstruction of justice. he dropped a political bomb of last year's clinton e-mail investigation and loretta lynch which she had come under fire from democrats. >> the attorney general directed me to call it a matter which confused me and concerned me and took a not subtle swipe at the president for having to learn he was fired on television. >> the fbi is and always will be independent. and now to my former colleagues if i may, i am so sorry that i did not get a chance to say good-bye to you properly. the fact that comey handed over his moemos to the special counsel so he can read part of it to the press but not to congress -- the top democrats will meet next week with special
counsel robert mueller and getting those memos will be on the agenda. >> this investigation is intensifying. a rapid response from this from the white house. the president himself is framing it as a battle. lets go our sarah murray, she has this part of the story for us. defense coming from the trump's legal team. >> the president himself and a lot of restraints, we did not see any tweets or respond from questions about comey's testimony. as for trump's allies, they s seize on the testimony that the president did nothing wrong. >> as you know we are under seized and you understand that. we'll come out bigger and better and stronger and ever. you watch. [ applause ] >> president trump telling an
evang evangelical group that he will fight on. instead, the president left to defend in the hands of allies. >> mr. comey confirmed public hi what he repeatedly told president trump privately, that is, the president was not under investigation as part of any probe into russian interference. >> marc kasowitz seizing on comey's comment that the president is not under investigation and insisting that trump never tried to obstruct an investigation or pressured the former fbi director. >> the president feels completely vindicated. >> marc kasowitz attempted to turn the table on the fired fbi director for revealing he asked a friend to deliver detailed conversation with the president to the new york times. >> we'll leave it to the appropriate authorities to determine whether these leaks should be investigated along
with all the others that are investigated. >> meanwhile, the white house insists that the president can be trusted. >> i think frankly insulting. >> this as comey explains why he documented his encounters with trump. >> i was concerned that he may lie about the nature of our meeting so i thought it is important to document. >> comey contradicting some of the president's statement about the interaction of the former fbi director. >> the fact he asked specifically of loyalty in the context of asking me to stay. >> the president never told mr. comey, quote, "i need loyalty, i expect loyalty." he never said it in forms or
substance. >> trump and his lawyer denied that. >> the president never inform or substance directed or supggeste that mr. comey stopped investigating anyone including the president never suggested that mr. comey, quote, let flynn go. >> i don't recall a conversation like that. >> trump has lavish confidence with russian leaders. on thursday, the white house plans to uphold current sanctions against russia. >> some simply dismissed trump's interaction of calling it a misstep. the president's new at this. he's new to government.
>> comey hopes tapes of the president emerged. >> i have seen the tweet about tapes, lordy, i hope there is tapes. >> today, white house spokesperson sarah hucklebee sander says she has no idea of that existing. >> i will try to look under the couches. >> one question the white house did have an answer for is whether the president has faith in his attorney general jeff sessions. today sarah hucklebee sanders said the president has confidence in his entire cabinet. >> he dshe did not say specific.
>> the entire cabinet. >> jeffery, what's the most significant we heard today from james comey? >> the most significant thing was that he told a story that had a beginning, middle and an end and it all fits together. he goes in and loyalty, loyalty is the theme that trump is demanding from him and why does he want loyalty? >> he wants to be exonerated and to be said that he's not being investigated for russia and he keeps asking for that. comey gives him that. comey does say to him no, you are not being investigated. the demand for loyalty continues and the most important meeting which is february 14th in the oval office, he clears the room and gets rid of vice president pence and the attorney general and it is just the two of them alone and this is his request,
he said "let flynn go," let it go, and at that point, comey does not know what to do and he ignores the request. the investigation continues and days later he's fired. that's the story in each piece fits together if you believe comey's testimony. >> clearly, the president's attorney flatly denied president trump -- what do you think of his statement that he read later in the day? >> what's so interesting about marc kasowitz's statement is he embraces part of comey's testimony. the part where comey says yes, i did tell the president three times that he was not under
investigation, marc kasowitz, says that's exactly right but he says no, comey never was asked for a pledge of loyalty and he was never asked by trump to drop the flynn investigation. the problem marc kasowitz has is why would comey be lying in circumstances by telling the abo absolute truth than others. >> we'll have you back. >> a member of or judiciary committee, thank you very much for joining us. you went to school with comey. do you think effectively without saying so lay out a case for obstruction of justice against the president? >> well, i am not going say this. former director mueller is going to get to the bottom of that.
i think what he did do showing his enormous integrity from beginning to end. he explained and answer every question of democratic or republican and did it with a common sense and down to earth way that the american people could relate to. that's a guy that i knew in law school and that's what he did today. >> what new details jumped out at you required further investigation? >> well, i think first of all, the obvious one that jeff brought up of the way this went down of the question of leaving flynn alone, that was major. the fact when senator warner asked him of other investigation that the president in query, no, there is ten thousand investigations and he did not ask about russia. i think my colleagues did a good job of getting to the facts of this is the investigation and the investigation of flynn. the fact that he wanted the fbi director to spin for him. those were the things that the
president repeatedly going back to director comey about including i want loyalty and i expect loyalty, wolf, i am a former prosecutor, a prosecutor would get sworn in, they'll take an oath to the law and not on oath to me. i cannot imagine calming them into my office and asking them if they would be loyalty to me. they have an obligation to enforce the law. >> the president is expressing his hope that comey will let go of the flynn's investigation as oppose to an order of "let it go." >> this is not like you are out with your friends and say hey, i hope we can go out finite tonight for a beer. he cleared the room, he had the vice president out of the room and everyone was out of the room when he picked that moment, "i hope you would let this goes."
>> attorney marc kasowitz is flatly deny that the president ever imposed that order to let go of the flynn investigation and even made any sense of investigation and flatly denied that he ever asked comey for a loyalty test. what was your reaction when you heard the president attorney say that? >> well, my first reaction was, while i do not know the president and i do know james comey and i trust him. >> when the president's spokesperson said today, she did not know if there was a tape system and she will look under their couch. they know if there is a taping system in there and jaimes come just says said please put those tapes throughout so we can get to the bottom of that. that's certainly something the american people want to hear. >> she may not necessary liily e is a taping system.
you are smiling. >> this question had been asked before by the media and congress and we have sent letters about it. certainly they are aware that the question is out there. >> what is the white house saying to you when you asked for those tapes? >> we have not gotten those answers. >> you want to subpoena those tapes. >> do you think the white house will acknowledge there is tapes? >> at some point they have to make these tapes available. they can claim executive privilege, this is the president of the united states having private conversations. this is something that the investigator and a special prosecutor is going to have to get to the bottom of it >> do you think it is fluffy. it was the president's tweet that raised the issue. >> the other thing is special prosecutor is trying to trying to get to the bottom of the facts. we just want to get to the truth here. they did not come in there as partisans or republicans and
democrats, they came in there as patriots and they were asking questions of getting to the bottom of things. in addition to director comey having the opportunity to tell his agents good-bye and telling them hutch she respected them because the fact that the senate functions. describing comey's decision which he himself spoke about today going and handing over those memorandum to his friend. >> it is clear and there have been and continue to be those in government who are attempting to under mind this administration with selective and illegal leaks of classified information and privilege communications. mr. comey has now admitted that
he is one of these leakers. today, mr. comey admitted that he you knunilaterally -- >> marc kasowitz calling for r a full scale of investigation of comey for doing that. >> do you believe those descriptions in the memorandum -- >> i have not seen those, i cannot answer that until i see them or if i will ever see them. i do believe that jaime james c would be careful. my guess is that he will not put out classified information. you have the fact that the president himself was tweeting and making claims about calling
director comey, in this case to the russian ambassador and putting out information about the reason that he had with comey which later were dispelled by his own interview. >> he did let the president know he was not under investigation. we know that members of congress were informed of that. why was the american public informed that the president was not under investigation? >> well, i think first of all, director comey made that very clear and said that today and in part of his testimony, i think they do know that now. >> now, he himself have confirmed that he told the president on three occasions that you are not under investigation. >> with everything that's going on, i am not sure director comey knew what was going on. he wanted to be careful of what he said and also very concerned
of the reasons the president trying to do this to him was to hold something over his head as some kind of a threat. i think he saw sort of integrated with what was going on with trying to get to lay off of flynn and then spin for the president and he just did not see that as his job. >> senator klobachar, listen to this intriguing exchange of senator ron white had with comey, listen to this. >> what was the attorney general's interaction with the russians or his behavior regarding to the investigation that would led the entire leadership of the fbi to make that decision. >> our judgment was that he was close to and inevitably going to recuse himself for a variety of reasons. we are aware of facts that i cannot discuss in an open setting that would make his
investigation problematic. we were convinced and i think we heard that the career people were recommending that he recuse himself that he will not be in contact for related matter such longer and that turns out to be the case. >> it leaves the possibility of more of attorney general sessions' communications or involvement of the russians causing serious problems. what's your reaction to that? >> i don't know what those interactions would be. i know we have troubling episode and the judiciary committee where we did not get the right answer and later found attorney general sessions have met with the ambassador after the president had met with pew tint a putin that he was not going to lead the sanctions.
i will say that turning it over to rod wilson is the right thing and appointing to a special prosecutor which allows us to get to the fact. >> you voted for him? >> i did. >> the former attorney general, loretta lynch. comey dropped another intriguing matter when he said that in his conversation with loretta lynch, they were investigating hillary clinton's e-mail server and she said to him don't use the word investigation, use the word matter. that irritated comey, a man you went to law school with and a man you noel, he thought it was
strange. >> i can see why someone like james comey who believes protocol as and following the rules? >> do i like the way he handled hillary clinton e-mails the way he got involved a week before the election? >> do i think he should have been fired and smacked down in the middle of a major investigation of attempting to influence our election? >> no, i do not. senator klobachar, thanks for coming in. >> coming up, i will have much or on today's electric fieing system and the startling accusation that the president and the trump administration are lying. more on comey's stunning revelation that he engineered a leak of his memos. hoping it would result in the appointment of a special counsel.
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breaking news of former fbi james comey. comey began his testimony by talking directly to senators explaining why he came forward accusing the president and the trump administration of lying. it was relatiivoting. watch this. >> i understood that i serve at the pleasure of the president. even though i appointed of a ten
year term which congress created the importance of the fbi being outside of politic and independent. i understood that i can be fired by the president for any reason or no reason at all. on may 9th when i learned that i have been fired, for that reason, i came home as a private citizen. but then the explanations, the shifting explanations confused me and increasingly concerned me. they confused me because the president that i had had multiple conversations about my job both before and after he took office. he repeatedly told me i was doing a dpragreat job and he ho that i would stay. i reassure him that i did intend to stay and serving out the remaining six years of my term. he told me that he talked a lot of people about me and including our attorney general and learned that i was doing a great job and i was well liked by the fbi work force. so it confused me when i saw on
television the president saying that he actually fired me because of the russian investigation. and learned again from the media that he was telling privately other parties that my firing had relieved great pressure of the russian investigation. i was confused by his officer publicly that i was fired because of the decisions i had made during the election year. that did not make sense to me for a whole bunch of reasons including time and all the water that gone under the bridge so it is hard decisions that had to be made. that did not make any sense to me. although the law requires no reason at all to fire fbi director, the administration then chose to defame me and more importantly the fbi by saying the organization was in disarray and it was poorly led and the
work force have lost confidence in their leaders. those are lies. i am sorry that the fbi work force had to hear them and the american people were told that. >> joining me is dana bash spending two and a half hours listening and watching every single moment of that. what's the picture that he painted of president trump? >> first and for most, that's one of the most important things he said right off the bat speaking without notes, did not speak from that seven page prepared testimony but instead wanted to appear to be speaking from the heart, calling the president a liar and repeatedly doing it one another time using that word but other times making a suggestion that he was not telling the truth over and over again. james comey has a reputation play of dramatic, that was clear in the way that he told the stories over again about the conversations that he said he
had with the president but i also think that aside from narrative that he painted, one of the interesting sort of take aways that we'll look at going forward are all of the droppings that he left of where the investigation is going or at least was going when he was fired in may. that's really an important thing like confirming that michael flynn was under investigation, criminal investigation and not just about dealings with russia but about not telling the truth about the fbi or left a big open question of jeff sessions and the fact that even though the president was desperate for james comey to talk in public about fact that trump was not under investigation because of all the conversations he had with comey and now he may be under investigation for obstruction of justice. we learned a lot of things that they're going to keep us interested to see where the senate committee is going and more importantly where this is
going. >> michael flynn is in legal jeopardy. >> how significant that james comey called the liar not once but twice. >> yeah, he used the word liar only a few times, lying or that's a lie but total at least five times directly disputed, three times in particular in a back and forth, disputed the president's telling of well, when they met, who called who and who said what. look, i think the people outside of washington they always say why don't you just call a lie a lie, my politician, i include jaime, he james comey, he's been in this world for a long time. they believe that it gets the motive and intent. but, so i think it is meaningful.
i also think this is again in the beginning of the testimony, why did you sort of start taking notes as soon as you left the first meeting on january 6th of president trump? because i thought there is a possibility that he would lie of the nature of the conversation. >> just stop there for a second. that's the sitting fbi director making an assessment of the not yet president, -- donald trump changed the way i used the word stunning or remarkable and amazing but that's stunning and remarkable and amazing. >> what do you make of comey expressing regrets of those exchange of president trump, he did not fight back. >> there is a hidden story that we did not see in the conversation today. anybody in washington can see, if you look at this conversation and you look at his explanation about his interactions with the
intern general and deputy attorney general, i serve at the fbi, as soon as he go to the attorney general, i felt there is an inappropriate conversation with the president and once step forward, the president pulled me aside for one on zwand had dinn with one on one. anybody in my world would say why didn't the attorney general pick up the phone at the white house and say you cannot do this again. what james comey was doing is a washington version of "the sopranas." it is not visible inside the belt way but outside the belt way is clearly evidence. >> this is an exchange that comey had with senator heinrich of the president is saying one thing and the president is saying one thing. >> a lot of this comes down to who we should believe. do you want to say as to why we
should believe you? >> my mother raised me not to say things like this about myself. >> people should look at the whole testimony. when i talk about a witness, you cannot cherry pick, on this he's a dirty rotten liar and you got to take it together and i try to be open and fair. a significant fact to me is so why did he kick everybody out in the oval office, the president, the chief of staff out to talk to me if it was about something else. so that to me as an investigator is a significant fact. >> how compelling is his argument? >> it is a pretty good argument. prosecutors make that argument all the time, you cannot cherry pick of what to believe or
whatnot to believe. >> trump's lawyer, marc kasowitz says, well, we believe come comey -- he says comey is lying about trump's demanded loyalty or asked for an end to the flynn investigation, that's the point that comey is making. he really feels so betrayed by these people. this is a human story as well. he was not allowed to say good-bye to the fbi which he obviously had this tremendo tremendous -- this is a pissed off dude >> the time he was angry when he was talking about that the fbi was leader less and they did not respect him. that was when you saw him genuinely angry.
>> of course, you cover the fbi and you can see how bitter and angry he was. he learned when he was being fired when he looked up at an los angeles tv screen, he thought it was a joke. he immediately resigned as he had to, he could not go back and ask the men and women who he worked with for three and a half years, that really, really angered him. >> it really did. >> there was a humiliating way to find out you had been fired. he had resigned and he kind of laughed it off because he knew he had not resigned. that's how he find out. today was actually kind of bad, another bad day for the fbi. you talk to people over there ta want this to be over with. they learned they're going to get a new director and christopher wray who's a good, probably a good person for them,
but they're going to have the livermore -- live more of this drama. there are people there who are still at the fbi who are starting to have to answer questions now. i briefed them when i came back to some of these discussions with the president. it is going to spread some of this on the seventh floor of the consecutive suit. part of this is restoring comey's reputation and the fbi's reputation but also more harm to the fbi. they don't want to have more of this drama around him. they want to quietly going back to doing their work even though obviously that's not in the cards radioiight now. >> everybody standby, we have a bunch more of breaking news that we are following james comey. the president tweeted about tapes, could hold al key to figuring out who's telling the truth.
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following several breaking news stories. comey arranged of a leak of his own memo forcing an appointment of a special counsel and it did. >> today we spoke with operatives, james comey revealed in details how he orchestrated the leak of his account. that's part of what he did to shape the course of this case and steer public opinion. >> today james comey revealed his skills as an inside washington pop raoperator. the fired fbi director testified that he arranged the back channel to the public of the one on one discussion of michael
flynn. >> the next day the president tweeted "james comey better hope there are no tapes of our conversation before he start leaking the tapes." >> i woke up on the middle of the night, it did not dawn on me that i needed to get that out into the public square so i asked a friend of mine to share the content of the memo with a reporter. >> in a remarkable admission, comey revealed he did it to impact the investigation he was no longer in charge of. >> i asked him too because i thought that my prompt the appointment of a special counsel. >> reporter: the fired fbi director seemingly -- >> i've never seen that from anyone in the government or who has been fired from the government. it is an extraordinary measure which i think reflects james
comey's lack of trust of the president and the justice department apparatus. >> reporter: james comey has laid out in this case leaving a trail of documents and witnesses for investigators. first he wrote memos to himself to detail his private conversations with the president. >> i was honestly concerned that he might lie about the nature of our meeting and so i thought it really important to document. >> reporter: and important to provide details. his written testimony describing his yarn dinner with the president saying they were quote, seated at a small oval table in the center of the green table. two navy stewards waited on us. in another z-rings of a february oval office meeting comey details who sat in a semi-circle of chairs, as the participants started to leave the attorney gen lingered by my chair but the president thanked him and said he wanted to speak only with me. >> i think he provides a road map to others on here are other people who may be able to
corroborate certain instances from my narrative and here are other people that you might want to talk to. >> reporter: the white house quickly brushed back on comey's accounts, declaring the president is not a liar and mr. trump's outside counsel refuting comey's account that the president demanded loyalty in one meeting. comey's leaking of his memos were quote, unauthorized disclosures of privileged conversations. >> and he said james comey should be investigated. thanks very much for that report. evan perez you covered the fbi. were you surprised about comey's admission, how he went ahead and orchestrated the release of those memos to the news media? >> there's a couple of things that stood out, because if you're the fbi and you're an employee at the fbi and you're wondering can i do that, the answer's no. you can't do that. so the fact that the former fbi director actually wrote these memos and then passed them off to friends and then had the
friends leak it to the "the new york times" and to the other news organizations that's a strictly forbidden practice for anybody else at the fbi. so that's one thing. the secondly i think one of the things you saw today was an attempt by comey to control the narrative of this. he knows that the white house is coming after him. he knows that they're going after his -- whether or not he's telling the truth and whether he can be believed and you can hear that in some of his testimony and this is one example of him controlling that narrative. he knows it's going to come out so might as well put it out there in public and show that he's been transparent. >> not just control the narrative, but it seems to me that by admitting that unsolicited that this is something that he did, that he kind of understood how to play the washington game, that he wanted the president and his people to know, i outmaneuvered you guys. really, you're going to fire me? okay. take this. this is what i did. >> he also had that intriguing little nugget about the attorney
general jeff sessions that are raising all sorts of questions. >> if you want to understand how washington works that negative gut about what sessions did in terms of his reduceal is 30 seconds of everything you need to know, several months ago sessions said i'm recusing myself from the russian investigation. it's sort of incidental. i had a couple meetings but it would be appropriate for me to step back. what is james comey say today that 99% of america missed? he said i thought that the attorney general, jeff sessions, recused himself but if you want me to talk about why i thought that, we have to go into closed hearing. that is a message that says, you have to investigate this because the reasons he had to recuse himself are not incidental, they're secret reasons and ugly. that was a great washington move. >> i think a simpler point is that one of the jobs of the attorney general is to protect the fbi director from political
interference from the president and at least once comey went to sessions and said, you have to make sure that i am not stuck in a room alone again with the president. and what does sessions do? he sits there silently. i mean it's like out of house of car"house of cards". it's just unbelievable. he doesn't yes or no. says nothing. >> stand by. everyone stay with us. we have much more ahead on the breaking news. the former fbi director james comey accuses the president trump administration and the president of lying about why he was fired. >> there's no doubt that it's a fair yumt, it's my judgment that i was fired because of the russia investigation. totally immersed weekenders. whatever kind of weekender you are, there's a hilton for you. book your weekend break direct with hilton.com and join the summer weekenders.
and it's also a story mail aabout people and while we make more e-commerce deliveries to homes than anyone else in the country, we never forget... that your business is our business the united states postal service. priority: you happening now. breaking news. lies, plain and simple. james comey accuses the president of publicly defaming him and privately pressuring him. this hour, new reaction to the former fbi director's explosive testimony and the questions still unanswered. shocked and troubled. as senators ask why he didn't speak out earlier. comey sites a stunned response to the president's actions. we're digging deeper into comey's account and his credibility versus the president. i hope there are tapes, comey is urging the release of any secret white house recordings of his talks with mr. trump that might confirm what he wrote in those memos. the former fbi chief now