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tv   Anderson Cooper 360  CNN  June 8, 2017 9:00pm-10:01pm PDT

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good evening from washington, we are learning of
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what the fbi telling the senators in a closed session this afternoon. his testimony today before the senate intelligence committee did many things including making clear that the fbi was not investigating the president when director comey was running the bureau. the white house is seizing on that item. his testimony told a story and some argues adding up to the department of obstruction of justice. before getting further, laying down the laws, it is drawn from title 18th, section 1503 and two other related sections of irrelevant language, who ever corruptly endeavors to influence or impede due to administration of justice. >> first, james risch
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highlighting as what he sees as trump's friendly language of director's account. >> he did not direct you to let it go? >> not in his words. >> he did not order you to let it go. >> again, those words are not an order. >> he said "i hope." >> like me you did hundreds or thousands of cases charging people with criminal offenses and of course, you have knowledge of thousands of cases out there where people have been charged, do you know any case where a person has been charged for obstruction of justice or for that matter of any criminal offense where they said or thought they hoped for an outcome? >> i don't know well enough to answer. the reason i kept on saying his
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words, 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. >> we'll hear more from senator risch shortly. here is democrat from north virginia drawing something he sees. >> you are in a meeting and the attorney general is in the meeting as well and tyet the president asked everyone to leave including the attorney general to leave before he brought out the manner of general flynn, what was your impression of that type of action, did you ever see anything like that before? >> no. my impression was something big was about to happen, i need to remember every single word that was spoken. again, i could be wrong, i am 56-year-old, i have seen a few things, my sense is the attorney general knew, he should not
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believering. i don't know mr. kushner well but i think he picked up on the same thing. i knew something was about to happen and i need to pay close attention to. >> we'll be playing you all the key moments. we got the latest starting of the breaking news of the classified section. >> what have you learned. >> myself and evan perez learned in the classified session that fired director comey told senators of a possible third in disclosed meeting between the ambassador of sergei kislyak, this is based on the russian conversations discussing this meeting. cnn was the first to report this last week relating to april 2016 at the may flower hotel and this helps explain of a cryptic
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answer. have a listen. >> our judgment was that he was very close to and never going to recuse himself for a variety of reasons. we also were aware of facts that i cannot discuss in an open setting that would make his continued engagement in a russia related investigation problematic. >> who problematic apparently was -- still investigating that, he still has raw intelligence, these russian intercepts indicating to them that they may have been in a private meeting. he's -- a lot of people assume he will be reading them. >> that's right. his opening statement today
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which was delivered off the cuffs. he seems to be speaking more from his heart and it did not took him longer than 2.5 minutes before he mentioned the word "lie," accusing the president lying and he used that same word many times, have a listen. >> i knew there may come a day where i would need a record of what had happened and not just to defend myself but to defend the fbi and our integrity as an institution and the independent investigative function. i thought it is really important to document. >> important the document and then he went onto give details after that famous tweet, i hope there are not tapes of this conversation that he then felt the need to leak those contents of the memo to get it out of the public record and he again, as you mentioned before earlier today with the intention of having a special counsel being appointed which is what happens. >> the attorney for president trump is saying give a press
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conference -- those were privilege communications. >> exactly, we should note that the president referenced those communications himself in public settings. >> we'll have more of that coming up. what the president does, he's not tweeting about today's hearing which is remarkable. he often refers himself as a counter punter and calling a liar is quite a punch. >> we saw him much more restrained president trump. there were some rumors that he may tweet the testimony. he did not do that. reporters asked him later on during the day, we are you will under sieged and promising that he's going to keep hunker down and keep fighting. i am told that by sean spicer, the press secretary that the president did not watch all that
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much of comey's testimony secretary of defen. did he see clips? >> will he be watching tonight that that's a safe bet. >> the president's loyal, marc kasowitz, backed off his statement. he suggested that some parts of comey's testimony were not true. >> that's right. on the one hand, he looked at comey's testimony, the president was not under investigation when he was the fbi director. trump's lawyer says there were no indication that trump tried to block any kind of investigation. but then he went onto leaker. >> mr. comey admitted that there is no evidence of a single vote changed. mr. comey's testimony makes clear that the president never sought to impede the
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investigation into attempted russian interference in the 2016 election. mr. comey admitted that he leaked to friends of his proported members of those privileged communication, one of which he testified was classified. mr. comey also testified that immediately after he was terminated, he authorized his friends to leak the contents of those memos to the press in order to and mr. comey's words "prompt the appointment of a special counsel," close quote. >> on the one hand, they're looking at comey as a credible witness because he said the president was not under an investigation at point certain point. they took issues of a number of thi thing that is comey said. now, also denying president trump ever ask comey backing off
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on this investigation into formal national security adviser, michael flynn. >> one of the biggest news of dren comey that he thinks the president's team was a liar. >> insisting the president was not a liar. >> that's what we saw sarah hucklebee sanders do. he says the president is not a liar and it is insulting to bring that up. >> the prospect of whether there is a recording system in the white house whether there are tapes of his conversation with the president, she did not answer that. she said she has no idea if t s there is a taping system in the white house. you can bet that question is not going away. >> we can find out the answer. thank you very much on that. we are fortunate of three senators on the intelligence committee is joining us tonight. >> i want to play the key moment
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from his questioning today. >> with regards of these conversations and his interview of lester holt on nbc, the president said i had dinner with him, he wanted to have dinner because he wanted to stay on, is this is an accurate statement? >> no, sir. >> did you initiate that dinner? >> no. >> he called me at my desk and asked me was i free for dinner that night. >> did the same interview the president said in one case i called him and one case he called me, is that an accurate statement? >> it is press conference on may 19th, the president had asked whether he had urged you to shut down on michael flynn and the president responded, quote, "no, no." is that an accurate statement. >> i don't believe it is. >> in terms o f his comments to you of senator risch, you said i hope you will hold back on that.
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when you get the president of the united states in the oval office saying something like i hope or suggest, would you, would you take that as a directive? >> yes. it rings in my ears, i was just going to quote that. that's exactly of the same situation you are thinking of along the same lines. >> it was interesting to hear director comey and you seizing on that line. >> it was not rehearsed, i promise. >> it came to me as i was listening to risch's question of the power of the word or the sovereign or in this case the president in that situation. i had looked ip t up to get the date and james comey arrived at
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the same collusion. >> when senator risch focused on the word "hope," i hope you can do this. do you buy that? if somebody who's in a powerful position, you know looks you in the eye and along in the office, i hope you can do this. this is somebody in a powerful position, this is the president of the united states in the oval office with you alone. i think mr. comey's responsibility would be what was all of us and this is something the president wants done. that's what henry the 2nd said well, no one written me this. >> the president even said as a directive, drop this case, cut my friensome slack. >> it is hard and it is a very difficult matter. this whole question of what did the president do and did it rise
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to the level of violation flaw is squarely in the lane of the special counsels. that's what they are going to be looking at. our committee is a fact fiendin committee. it is part of our word. it is no the whole deal. i think one of the most significant things that came across today was this moment and you play it with mark warner where the president was in the oval office including mr. comey and jared kushner and others and attorney general, the president said "everybody's out" including the attorney general. >> several times. kushner lingered and reince priebus popped his head. we want you out. that tells me that the president knew what he was going to be discussing had some extraordina extraordinary significance. i think that makes it hard for the president to argue that well, i did not intend it.
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>> was that james comey should have done something either in that moment or gone to congress or gone to somebody to warn or raise reguld flags. >> comey conceded that. he said 2020 hindsight, he did go back to talk with the top leadership at the fbi. he did not share it with the attorney general because he was concerned about -- i believe where the attorney general stood in all this. he did share with the fbi. yes, you can say in 2020 hindsight, he should perhaps resigned or gone to the attorney general directly. he did spend a lot of time trying to get the attorney general and others to form a barrier and explaining to the president this was not appropriate to be meeting one on one ahead with the fbi. >> how does this evolve beyond
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just he says and she says. it seems like president trump teasing the idea that there maybe tapes. now you would think his attorney would not say that unless he knew there were not tapes if they were revealed. >> the easiest way to get out is if there are tapes, release it. the white house was unequivocal. lets find out if there were tapes, if they were, lets have them. end of discussion. secondly of the question of mr. comey's credibility, he as a great deal of credibility as we heard in these hearings and the memos he wrote. his memos go to the credibility of the witness as well as having told other people about this. >> is there another way to test who's telling the truth here to see if the president said similar things to other
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officials. >> what about -- >> that was the point of my question yesterday. >> exactly. you just introduced what you were saying. you had the director of national intelligence, mr. coats, the head of the nsa, both of whom refused to talk about their conversations on this very subject with president trump, what would you like to know? >> i would like to know whether they had similar conversations? that was a purpose of my question, they did not answer them. they had no reasons. >> there is no legal basis. >> imagine you will get home 3:00 in the morning and your dad says where the heck you have been, well, i find that an uncomfortable question, i am not going to answer. that's not going to wash. >> well, what can you do about it? >> you are a senator.
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director coats left the door wide open by saying i will discuss this in a closed hearing and be forthcoming. we'll make it happen. we'll be able to ask those questions and i think the point you are making is if they had similar conversations about the investigation as mr. comey - comey -comey -- comey -- comey is cleared today of what he felt of what the president was doing was strictly on the michael flynn investigation, the question is, is flynn a key part of the overall investigation and is he alluded in the testimony or if flynn was guilty of something, a prosecutor might well use him as a witness based upon his unwillingness to go to jail to get evidence in the remaining
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kind of case. he cannot read flynn out of the case. >> one of the mysteries that was not answered today is why the president was so energetic apparently and trying to get comey to cut some slack for general flynn, this is not his habit, of that level and degree of loyalty to people around him. is there anything that you have learned either in the hearing today or in classified settings. i know you cannot talk about specifics that would help explain why the president might be so invested in this notion that flynn getting off. >> i don't think it is possible to answer that question at this stage. we are talking about a lot of issues that the special counsel is going to be following up. we have got all the indications that the special counsels consider the whole question of the president's relationship to
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the investigation as part of his investigation. we are going to find out about that. but, in terms of what the motivation, it could be and it was alluded to today, it could be just the president like general flynn and did not want to seen hurt. it could be something as simple as that or an effort to try to impede the investigation. that's the question that the special counsel is going to ask. >> i know you talk about what's in the classified session. >> but you are going to ask. >> i am going to try to work around it to see if you can answer it. >> i heard jim sciutto reporting that jeff sessions had an additional meeting with the ambassador. i know you cannot confirm that. broadly, even listening to the public testimony from james comey today. how concerned are you about jeff sessions and his role currently as the attorney general of the united states? >> well, i cannot comment at all whether there is a third meeting.
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>> we already know that there were several name and we know jeff sessions recuseed himseld . >> that was what comey was hinting at in public testimony. are you concerned that there were something? >> we know from the public record, the president cited jeff sessions' recommendations in his letter firing comey. >> no question jeff sessions was involved in that decision. >> should he have been? >> um -- my sense is if he recuse himself and not have anything to do with that decision depending on what the real rational for that decision was and the president later said it was a russia thing. the recusal had 2020 vision today. >> to characterize what he saw
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and observe with the president as obstruction. he was a fact -- >> that was appropriate. >> from what you heard about from his testimony today, do you think there is a case that can be made against the president for obstruction? >> that's my job to make that call. you are asking me to be the judge and execution here, i am not going to do it. there is a lot of information that we still need. we need more information of what the president said to these other intelligence committee members but that ultimately, that kind of -- it is important to make that distinction. our committee is looking at the facts and trying to figure out to prevent this from happening again. to me that was one of the biggest stories of today. the comey, i love the phrase he used. this question has no fuzz.
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it is absolutely clear what the russians did, what they tried to do and they're going to come back and do it again. that's the important question. i am going to lever to the special counsel and the legal system >> congress ultimate have to decide. >> well, we might but we are a long way from that. >> the question is collusion. senator, the question is collusion by the campaign without going into what classified information maybe involved, are you confident that the committee is getting from the intelligence committee and perhaps from witnesses the beginning of an account and being able to put together a sense of what happened in terms of possible collusion by the campaign? >> yes. we have unprecedented access to intelligence -- and we are getting it. that was the compromised with the cia and the nsa was the
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documents would stay there so we go there to the documents but we have access to them and we are getting full cooperations from the intelligence agency at this point. i expect that to continue. >> is that a robust to use one of the terms part of your investigations to the extent that you think producing a picture of what might have happened in a preliminary phase? >> we are interviewing witnesses and our staff is going to interview jared kushner next week. that was announced this evening. >> this is a preliminary hearing of his staff. >> sebastian corkell, is he on your list? >> i am not going to answer who's on our list. >> are you concern of the former director of the fbi acknowledged
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he leaked these memos through a professor in columbia. there is an argument to be made that those memos could be government's property. he did about stuff within his duties and jurisdictions and he leaked a major document after the president said i really need your help dealing with leaks, does that concern you at all? >> number one, he was not in the fbi when this occurred. of course, it is a legitimate question and although when you use the word leak, it implies testify. these are memos he wrote to recall of an event. i don't know if why these documents other than, you stated, it is government's property perhaps but these were his personal recollections in the fbi files and important thing to me is we are going to get a whole of these memos.
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there are a lot of republicans who are in support. the president who were saying director comey should have spoken out and putting the emphasis on director comey's action as opposed to where the president himself said to director comey, do you think that's appropriate or should the focus be on with the appropriateness or inappropriateness of the president of the united states. >> i think people agree to second guess comey's decisions and as i said to you, he should have said mr. president, we should not have being discussing this or walk out. there are a lot of things in 2020 hindsight we say he may have done. he testified saying he was stunned about this and he did go back to talk to his colleagues
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and report it in his memo but to say -- i mean, that does not change what the president said, at least he alleged of what the president said to him. you could talk about what should have been done or you can talk about what the president should or should not done. >> given the fact that your company is probing of this issue of russia's role and you are leaving the rest to special counsel. you heard director comey said he never has been asked about russia and the role it played. other than the first meeting of january 6th with the intelligence committee representatives, do you think the president understoods tand sense of gravity of this and share your sense of gravity of what he's up to. >> the disturbing moment was when joe mansion asked o
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of -- what the russians did and the answer was -- he did qualify a little bit. there were some discussions but in the eighth subsequent conversations, there were never a question of what were the russians doing and how were they doing it? the president had been essentially dismissing the whole matter as a hoax and a fake and witch hunt and those kinds of things. that's disturbing. this was an attack on our democracy. putin is not a republican. marco rubio on our committee gets that very clearly. he said it a number of time, look fellas, next time this could be us. >> do you know if there is tapes? >> i do not. >> boy, if you know about them,
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let me know. thank you all very much. much more ahead tonight including the claim of the most powerful republican of the house that the president deserves a pass because he's kind of new at all this and why clapper says of the watergate pales in comparison of what he's seeing today. details on that later. with trave customer first guarantee... your only worry... will be navigating the local traffic. get help with hotels, free twenty-four-hour flight changes, and our price match guarantee. travelocity.® wander wisely.™ sarah destroy.dent. but when it comes to mortgages, she's less confident. fortunately, there's rocket mortgage by quicken loans. apply simply. understand fully. mortgage confidently.
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i'm gonna just go back to doing what i was doing. find your awesome with the xfinity x1 voice remote. many in washington are relati rivoted of today's testimony. things came to a halt until the questions ended. i understand you have new information of jared kushner meeting with the senate intelligence committee. he's going to meet with the staff next week, right? >> jared kushner will meet with the senate staffs first then he
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will according to two sources will provide document to the committee and after that, he's scheduled to meet with senators. there is no expectations that any of these are going to be public. he's willing to meet with anybody who's investigating anything and talk to them about his role. now, what are they looking at? cnn is reporting that when it comes to jared kushner of the issues related to a number of issues from the campaign digital operations and his relationship and michael flynn and the efforts reported to set up a back channel with russia. all of those things are of interests to investigators and looks like they'll get a chance to talk to soon. >> what's the reaction on capitol hill today? >> it is a mixed bag. if you are a democrat, the democrat senators i spoke to, this hearing is a vivid demonstration of what they have
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been saying up to this point and disclosure and illegality. if you talk to republican, there were some shrugging. john mccain told me he did not any anything that tshattering. they're trying to move on. the senate committee and the vis chairman and democrats, no matter what's going on and the reaction, their investigation cons their schedule to me with bob mueller and special counsel next week. they're investigation continues even though this super bowl of washington is now over. >> what are you hearing from house leaders. but we did hear from speaker paul ryan of a defense that i heard from a number of different republicans to put it plainly, the president did not know better. it is something that i push back on a follow up question. take a listen.
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>> of course, there needs to be a degree of independence of doj and the fbi and the white house and a line of communication of establishment. >> the president is new on this. he's just new to this. >> you said the president is new to this, why is it an acceptable excuse? >> it is my observation. >>. >> he's new at government and o so, therefore, he's learning as he goes. >> and anderson, this is something you heard from multiple republicans today, something similar that it was up to the president staffs, they are the ones that failed here that he did not know any better. it is not an excuse to fly.
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republicans acknowledged that what they have seen and what came out of james comey's testimony, and the big question now is does it go further than that? we don't have those answers. >> congressman adam schiff, thank you for being with us. what do you make of this that the president is new to this? >> i don't buy that at all. you cannot make an argument that we hold the president to an ethic ethical standards. that does not fly. what more i found among the most powerful part of the system when the david schechtekt director s cleared the room. to me as a former prosecutor, that says this is someone who's
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conscious of what he's about to do is wrong. >> if you are new, you may say it in front of anybody. >> yeah, if you did not think there is anything wrong with it or maintaining an independence of the fbi. and asking the director to drop the case. why clear the room? >> director comey should have spoken up, should have confronted the president immediately when the president says well, i hope you can do this or told other people more others than -- or gone to other people at capitol hill. >> i agree. >> i think that director comey should have said and mr. president that it is not an appropriate request. i cannot do that. i am not going to pledge royalty or i am not going to drop this case because you are asking me to and you should not be asking me to do. that's what he should have said. whether any of us in any circumstances should be less stunned than him or acted in a way that we would want to act in that situation, i cannot say. i will say this.
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what i found credible about the director's testimony among other things was that he's willing to the testify that he did not meet some of the standards that we want him to meet. >> he admitted that in retrospection would have done more. >> he admitted that and providing documents with the professor in new york that he said that he was persuaded by loretta lynch to use the word he did not feel was the right word. i think that adds credibility when he should have said i should have handle this differently. >> do you agree that he should have spoken to general lynch at the time, look, i am going to use the word "investigation" which is what it is and not "matter." >> sure, you should make the case of a different response for loretta lynch and for the president. he should have gone someone to justice or the acting deputy ag.
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none of that mitigates the president's conduct. to me it adds credible to comey's testimony. he was not the perfect fbi director, i had my own questions how he exercise judgment during the clinton investigation. the fact that he admits some of his failings to me made him more believable. >> anything decided? or anything really events? >> a lot was learned today and part of what maybe did not seem so shocking to people that we knew a lot of this beforehand because of newspaper stories and we knew a lot yesterday because of detailed written statement but when you step back from it and you realize that the former director of the fbi had just said that he felt the need to write memos about his conversations because he felt the president would lie about them. the fact that the director of the fbi felt that he could not go to the attorney general because the attorney general was
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conflicted and that the president asked him to drop the criminal case against the national security adviser, that ought to take our breath away and we cannot get to the point where we lose our shock over this president's conduct, and i don't accept it in any way shape or form that oh, he's a new politician. he knows right or wrong. that's not an adequate answer. >> i appreciate your time tonight adam schiff. >> thank you. here is what we have -- i have not heard from you today. what of today stands out? >> i think if you take director comey of his word, it painted a bad picture of president trump. the issue is you want to prove that president trump is engaged in criminal activities or obstruction of justice, you are going need something more than just one man's testimony.
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if you look back on other situation where nixon that there were no tapes, there would be no impeachment. it is not enough for one person to tell a story. everyone if donald trump were to tape the conversation, you need another person to come out and corroborate of what he had said, perhaps, another person saying yes, donald trump told me that he said this to comey and this is intense. now this is the second point, we have to know what the president intent was. he's allowed to fire the director if he wants to. the question is whether he was trying to obstruct justice and that has not been proourven. there is a lot of interesting information and he made a case in the obstruction of justice, we are a long way to prove any criminal behavior. >> this is a mixed bag and which every side or narratives you want to embrace, you can pick things out. he called himself a liar and he
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also called himself a coward. people keep on landing on the idea that he needed to take notes because president trump lied or president trump may not know what ethical lines are. i don't feel that's new information. it is also not something that on its face gives you out of office. we don't have a function for removiing you from office becaue you lied sometimes. we did get the news the that perhaps he was not being investigated before but maybe now in the moral part of this. i think that's important. but, i am not sure we have hit that bar at this point. >> and you have been putting emphasis on failure by director comey at the time to stand up to the president. >> and anderson, i said again, everyone says oh, director comey was a dear head light at that point. >> you heard him say i was taken aback from that and i did not
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know what the do and yet he went another time and another time. his main 2000s testimony in the bush's administration, he was driven home, he was told the attorney general and staffs were going to see at the hospital, he thought quickly to summon his forces. this is agent gentleman quick s feet and used to standing up to power and speaking truth to power. >> standing up to aschcroft when he's in his bed. >> he stood in front of andy carr and gonzalez. >> yes. >> yes, let me tell you why. in that situation, you have aschcroft and you are doing the normal thing you ordinarily do. if you are somebody that believes in the rules of law, you are going make a case of something you believe in.
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you are not basing the president of the united states maybe committing a crime in front of you or maybe be a weirdo. and so part of what i thin think -- you got to realize for ordinary people, you can try to talk your way around this stuff. if the best thing we can say about the president is that he's only called a liar but we are not able to prove him today. >> you are asked by the president -- >> here is the thing, i think comey was put in a bad position during the election. i think every time he talk, he looks worse and it is been cast the entire time as a boy scout who has no motivation other than the truth justice of the american way. that's a naive way to look at. >> when you cast as boy scout verses giant villain, it matters that the guy is not quite that. he's leaking his own memos.
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>> we are talking about two people. one of who today is a stay-at-home dad in northern virginia and the other is president of the united states, yet, jonathan, you want to talk about whether comey did right or wrong, who cares? >> let me finish. >> let me finish. if he leaks something. who cares? >> we are talking about the president of the united states in the oval office telling the fbi director to stop investigating his friend. >> and the credibility of that friend matters a lot when he's the only guy telling authority. >> it certainly does. >> a specific criminal intent. >> look -- wait a minute. >> why if you are just doing
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your job openly with your top advisers, why do you tell the vice president of the united states and the attorney general and the chief of staff that they cannot hear what you are telling jaim jam james comey. it is so secret. >> you don't think they know? >> director mueller will find out. >> part of the problem that jeff and i have with each other is if you look at this from a criminal defense standpoint, you see plenty of possible defense. looking at that hear ing, i thought comey created himself as a serious problem. if he hits the stand of witness, he's damaged good. the fbi website has specific rules of how he handle those documents. he violated those rules. >> the argument that if it was his personal diary -- >> that's how people portray
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this like it is a bad e-harmony date. he went to this dinner -- >> it does sound like a bad harmony date. [ laughter ] >> what you are talking abo about -- >> it is uncomfortable. >> you know the problem with this is those memos are written on the fbi computer about an important meeting that directly into the investigation and he erased it -- that was a good point. he believes that there was evidence. is this the standard he's going to play for the rest of the fbi agent that if you write a memo to yourself which agents do all the time that it becomes yours? >> i doubt it. >> the criminal division who we heard from earlier today said that what comey did was way out of the ordinary and he should have taken himself. >> pick and choose and
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credibility of james comey. he's credible that he told president three times but we don't believe him on other stuff. >> i am going to say the democrats -- the trump people are doing it now and the democrats did it as well. >> he behaved horribly. >> the hillary clinton thing was different. democrats remains in rage for comey for disclosing last minute investigation of anthony weiner and the whole situation. democrats never said he lied. there was never an issue of his credibility. it was an issue of his political judgment. >> i agree with you that comey have been built up and now he's a little more human. in some ways making him a little
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more credible. he says i am not done -- he says bad about trump. to me, it makes him credible. we are missing a big deal here which is out in the world, people are asking basic questions. where are the tapes? >> that's now in play in a way that it was not before. asked and answered where are the tapes. why would you have the president of the united states tease and talk about and threaten with the tapes. >> we have to take a quick break, we'll have more on comey and the line of questioning, about what he sees is a mask chasm about hope and obstructing. >> do you know of any case where a person has been charged with obstruction of justice or for that matter with any other criminal offense where they said or thought they hoped for an outcome? ♪ ♪
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a question for you, what is the real meaning of the word hope? pretty philosophical question to
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tackle, that was one of the questions from the testimony today with comey. senator james ridge was asking comey about his statement regarding the president, who said he hoped comey could let it go. here again is part of that exchange. >> he did not direct you to let it go? >> not in his words, no. >> he did not order you to let it go? >> again, those words are not an order. >> do you know of any case where a person has been charged for obstruction of justice or for that matter, any other criminal offense where this -- they said or thought they hoped for an outcome? >> i don't know well enough to answer. and the reason i keep saying his words, i took it as a direction. >> right. >> he 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 didn't obey that but that is
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the way i took it. >> i spoke with senator ridge shortly before air time tonight. >> senator ridge, that exchange when you pressed director comey on how he interpreted the president's comments in the meeting, what do you make of the former fbi director saying he took the president's comments as a directive? >> the good news about comey, he wrote an excellent seven-page submission to the committee, on page five of that he put the words in quotes as far as what his conversation was with the president on that very subject. he said he did that contemporaneously with the conversation. so it's there. it's black and white. mr. comey's a great lawyer. all of us who go to law school and do the paper chase, we study words. and those words were very clear that the president hoped for an
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outcome of the investigation. mr. comey has said he took it as something else. we prosecutors are not shrinking violets, mr. comey has been around for a long time, if he didn't understand the president he should have said mr. president, exactly what he was saying. the president said one thing. he said he took it as something else. if they had a misunderstanding between them, so be it. but it seems like mr. comey should have cleared it up. if indeed, he thought the president was directing him to get rid of the investigation, he had a whole suite of stuff he could have done. whatever it is, you have the president according to mr. comey saying one thing and mr. comey taking it another way, hope is a whole lot different than directing him or even requesting him to make the investigation go away. >> the president through his attorney denies that he ever asked comey to let the flynn
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case go. i guess for people who watch today it's going to boil down to who they believe. james comey or president trump? >> i don't think you have to do that, i think you need to read the president's words. he uttered 28 words, according to comey, three sentences two of them beginning with "i hope." and that is a whole different thing than directing someone or commanding them or even requesting them. stating that you hope something is very different kettle of fish than directing him. >> you have been tough on talking about people who have leaked information. the president's attorney blasted director comey for leaking a memo after he was fired to a friend from "the new york times" about the oval office conversation. the president's attorney called the release, he said they were privileged communications. do you believe that the director's personal recollections of his meetings with the president are privileged communications? >> you know, i haven't researched that.
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i don't think i would take that position on it. i wouldn't also call this a classic leak. it would have been nice if james comey had stood up and said look, media, here is my press release and here are the notes i want to release. going through the back door with this, it doesn't look good. it is not the classic leak. you have to give him kudos for at least standing up and saying, yeah, i did that in the hearing today. >> it was interesting acknowledging him that he did that because he wanted the special prosecutor to be assigned, and that by doing that he knew very well that would happen. >> and of course that is the direction he chose to do. he could have done a lot of things to try to get a special prosecutor appointed. and look, james comey is a good guy. this guy is a stand-up guy. he has been around a long time. he is an old-time prosecutor. he understands this stuff.
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and i think he did the american people a great service today. he did our committee a great service today by putting the seven pages in crystal clear english language, easily readable as to what happened. part of what is lost in all of this, is this is just a small slice of what our committee has been doing, the intelligence committee has been tasked with studying what the russians did, how they did it and reporting to the american people in detail those things. and we're going to get to the bottom of it and we're going to do this for the american people and do it right. >> senator, ridge, i appreciate your time. thank you. >> thank you. well, the watergate comparisons are coming fast and furious, just yesterday the former national intelligence investigator james clapper said the watergate testimony paled in comparison to today's testimony. did anything change his mind? we'll hear from him in an exclusive interview next.