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tv   At This Hour With Kate Bolduan  CNN  June 9, 2017 8:00am-9:01am PDT

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hello, everyone. i'm kate bolduan. just moments from now, president trump will be speaking live as he and fired fbi director james comey are now trading accusations, calling each other liars. the president breaking his silence this morning on twitter, saying that he has been vindicated, also calling comey a leaker. this comes after comey had this to say about his former boss before the senate intelligence committee yesterday. >> saying that the organization was in disarray, that it was poorly led, that the workforce had lost confidence in its
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leader. those were lies, plain and simple. i was honestly concerned that he might lie about the nature of our meeting. >> the president said "i had dinner with him. he wanted to have dinner because he wanted to stay on." is this an accurate statement? >> no, sir. >> then in that same interview, the president said "in one case, i called him, and in one case, he called me." is that an accurate statement? >> no. >> did you ever call the president? >> no. >> in his press conference on may 18th, the president was asked whether he had urged you to shut down the investigation into michael flynn. the president responded, "no, no, next question." is that an accurate statement? >> i don't believe it is. >> no, i can definitively say the president at not a liar. i think it's frankly insulting that that question would be asked. >> so, there's that. and now cnn has learned that the president isn't just tweeting about this, he is also threatening action, but how real is that threat and how real is that action? let's get right over to cnn's joe johns, who's at the white house with much more on this. so, what exactly is the president and his legal team threatening now, joe in?
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>> reporter: well, what we know is that a person who's familiar with what's going on here tells cnn the president plans through his attorney to file complaints, both on capitol hill as well as at the department of justice, against jim comey. this is all part of the pushback that started with the president's tweet today. those complaints expected to zero in on jim comey's assertion during the hearing yesterday that he used an intermediary to release information to the news media that turned out to be fairly explosive. so, what does all of that mean? well, it's a little bit unclear, because quite frankly, when you look at it in process terms in washington, number one, the president did not assert executive -- >> privilege. >> reporter: -- executive privilege over this. the second thing i think is important to say is this is the kind of thing that jim comey sort of guarded against in many
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ways. and there's no there there, according to a lot of our sources. however, it's a political move, and it gives the president an ability to push back, the kind of pushback that he's used through attorneys coming from new york, the real estate world, all the way to the white house. the question, of course, is where it goes, except to say that the president is pushing back and pushing back hard. >> there you go. all right. we'll see what the next step is and if that complaint actually sees the light of day. great to see you, joe. thank you very much. let's get right to it. with me, former clinton white house counsel jack quinn, former chairman of the house intelligence committee, republican congressman pete hoekstra, former assistant special prosecutor during watergate, nick akerman is with me, and cnn political analyst and "washington post" reporter abbi philip is here as well. all right, it is a new day, it appears, and a lot to get to, so let's start here. jack, let me start with what joe was just laying out for us, this threatened legal action coming from the trump legal team.
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they want to file a complaint, if you will, with doj and with congress about comey. all the guidance that i'm looking at is that this doesn't have much behind it. it can't go really far and it doesn't really have any teeth with it, so what does it do then? >> well, it's certainly a distraction, and it calls into question the manner in which director comey responded to the concerns that he had. look, it remains to be seen. you certainly can't take out of your government position documents, particularly documents that might be classified, but this doesn't seem to be material of that kind. i have a hard time seeing the basis for any kind of legal action or reprimand of the director on this basis. >> fascinating. and also, it's worth noting that donald trump, as joe noted, is notorious for threatening lawsuits and legal action of many kinds, and many of it never
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appearing after getting a lot of headlines. but nick, on this point, the president's response to the hearing this morning, when he sent out that tweet, was "despite so many false statements and lies, total and complete vindication. wow, comey is a leaker." all right, so, they're threatening to file a complaint, and he's now calling comey and leaker and also saying there are so many false statements and lies. is president trump accusing james comey of perjury? >> i have no idea what he's accusing him of. i mean, this is not a real estate case. the supreme court has basically held in this department of homeland security versus mclean, that under the whistle blower statute, somebody like jim comey had every right to release this information. there was no executive privilege on it because it was a statement made in furtherance of a criminal scheme to obstruct justice. >> well, and the president never tried to invoke it going forward, before he testified, and they said very clearly they weren't going to. >> that's exactly right.
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and if you look at history here, when john dean testified before the u.s. senate back in 1973, he detailed a whole series of conversations in the oval office with the president, with aides. nobody ever filed a complaint against him. nobody ever said that he was a leaker. i mean, this whole thing is just a bogus distraction from the fact that now we have in the record pretty firm evidence that the president was involved in a scheme to obstruct the fbi investigation. >> congressman, weigh in on that. do you agree with nick akerman here? >> i'm not an attorney, but to jump to the president was involved in obstruction of justice, you know, absolutely ludicrous. there's a couple of things that i agree with james comey on. number one is that the report that you're talking about this morning that may or may not be accurate -- james comey didn't say the media was guilty of fake news, but he did say that a lot
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of the information that had been reported as news actually was dead wrong, so he's calling into question the quality of the current news reporting that we're seeing. >> okay. >> the other thing is james comey said he was a leaker. he's not a whistleblower. he ran to the media through a third person to get this information out. he should have gone to -- if he really felt strongly about this, he should have gone to the senate intelligence committee, the senate judiciary committee, or their house counterparts and given those documents to them. they're still looking for these documents, while "the new york times" at least has a pretty detailed description of this. james comey clearly indicated he was a leaker and not a whistleblower. >> nick, abbi, i want to bring you in, but nick, respond to that. >> i can respond in a number of ways. first of all, what he did was totally proper. there was nothing illegal about it. there was no classified information. he have every right to release that information at any point.
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secondly, the idea that donald trump was not engaged in a scheme to obstruct justice is absolutely ludicrous based on the overwhelming evidence that we now have under oath and in the public record. one, you've got what mr. comey said yesterday about the direction not to try and stop the investigation -- to stop the investigation. >> uh huh? >> but on top of that, you also have rogers admiral, rogers with the national security office saying that -- i mean, he's going to testify under oath that donald trump asked him to try and stop the investigation. coats is going to testify that donald trump asked him to stop the investigation. and then you've got the complete pretext that's used when james comey is fired by -- >> well, they actually dodged those questions under testimony. they dodged those questions. >> they dodged them, but believe me, when they get subpoenaed into a federal grand jury, they're going to provide that testimony. so you've got four pillars to this obstruction of justice case, and once you start getting
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into more of the facts -- the motive for doing it, the fact that mike flynn was meeting with the russians to try and get the sanctions off of russia based on the ukraine and based on the meddling in the election, the motive here is just extraordinary. >> let me go with the politics of this, abbi. let me bring you in on this. one thing that i and a lot of folks have noted -- and we've all seen it since the hearing -- is that you have not seen -- you have seen more republicans coming to the president's defense in response to james comey's testimony than moving away from the president. from -- what is your sense? what has been the reaction that you've been hearing on capitol hill? do you think that this testimony is bringing republicans together around the president or pulling them further apart? >> i think it's giving them a pretty narrow frame by which they can actually defend trump on this. you know, i talked to some republicans this morning,
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including some who are involved in trump's legal defense in consulting with him on that, and they are basically saying that they're looking at this from a very simple frame -- is there a case to be made for obstruction of justice? and you know, they're saying that they don't see anything in comey's testimony that would stand up in a courtroom setting that would justify a charge of obstruction of justice against the president, and they have taken this whole leaking idea and really -- you know, i think that's probably less legal and more political. they've seized on it to kind of undermine james comey's credibility. so, i think that the testimony gave them -- they feel like it gave them a couple of openings. whether that's justified or not, they see a sort of legalistic, very narrow, legalistic frame by which they can defend trump by saying james comey felt whatever he felt, but in a court of law, that's not going to stand up. i think that there are a lot of
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other people who will take that same legal argument and say that it's nonsense, but that's where the white house is coming from. that's what trump believes. that's what his lawyers believe. and i think republicans are for the time being comfortable with that because it's very -- for now, i think it's going to be a long time before any of this is actually adjudicated in a courtroom. and so, it's a perfectly fine argument for them to get through this political storm at the moment. >> yeah, sure sounds like it's going to be a while. and let's all not be pollyanna about this whole thing. the white house leaks, members of congress leaks. that's why they have the name it's leaky like a siv and everyone gets information. so, saying -- everyone leaks in washington, not classified information that goes into a different category. this is not, as far as i was told by everyone, this was not classified information that, obviously, james comey leaked to his friend who leaked to the press. so i just want to make sure we're all being realistic about this. let me ask you about kind of what led to that leaking, if you
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will, jack. the biggest -- one of the biggest questions today, and it seems it should be easy to answer, is are there tapes of the conversations between donald trump and james comey? don't you think that -- is that -- should that be easy to answer, jack? >> well, certainly, there either are tapes or there are not tapes, and i'm confident that robert mueller will be on the trail, if he's not already, in finding out if those tapes exist, and if so, if anyone's tampered with them or destroyed them. look, i do want to come back to this whole question of where we stand right now. >> okay. >> and it may sound odd coming from me, but i think it's overstatement, frankly, to say that a case of obstruction of justice has been made out at this point. obstruction is a hard crime to prove. you've got to get into the mind
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of the target. you've got to know that it was acting corruptly, and you've got to have a nexus between the effort to impede an investigation and the actual conduct of that investigation. that is emphatically not to say that those things will not come to be proven. but at this moment, to say that we're there is simply incorrect. i think, frankly, going to the end of this -- and this is, remember, all in the context of a process that is legal but intensely political. there isn't going to be a courtroom appearance, and the $64,000 question is to be whether or not in that political process, because the president can't be indict ed, but the question will be can he maintain strong support on capitol hill among republicans? and i think at this point, i think the fact that there aren't
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really cracks in the dike reflects the fact that the director's testimony, as important, as relevant, as disturbing as it was, is not such as to lead a stampede away from the president in terms of his legal defense. >> congressman, i can't let this point go, and i want to get your take. i mean, everyone has been asking the white house since the president's tweet about tapes -- and the tweet was back on may 12th -- and they haven't been able to answer the question of whether the tapes exist or not. they simply keep saying, i don't know. can you think of a reason why they cannot answer that question? >> i can't think of a reason why they can't answer the question, because obviously, there are people in the white house who know whether that's true or not. so -- >> what does that say? >> it's going to be very easy for mueller to get to the answer on that, and right now they're just kind of holding it out there in suspense. and thank you, jack, for your analysis of this.
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i don't think the case has been made for obstruction of justice. you know, clearly, people have not listened to the testimony of mike rogers, of dan coats, and comey, who have all said they have not felt pressure to stop the russian investigation. comey -- >> the one bit on that -- [ everyone talking at once ] hang on, the one bit on that, congressman -- between leave it here -- is that they didn't actually answer the direct question. yes, they did not feel pressured, but when asked, when they would not answer the question, if they had been asked to -- if they had been asked to take these actions, they would not answer that question, over and over again. that was a glaring moment in that hearing, and i know you saw that as well. everyone stand by. we've got to take a break. give me one second, guys. >> okay. one thing james comey said he could not talk with in the public hearing, circumstances surrounding attorney general jeff sessions recusing himself. hear what he told sentors behind closed doors and why sessions will be in the hot seat very
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soon. plus, another election, another surprising outcome. theresa may's future now in question after taking a huge gamble. so, where does the uk go from here? and moments from now, president trump speaks live, hours after calling james comey a liar. you'll definitely want to stand by for that one. we will be right back. help you feel lighter, more energetic, by naturally supporting your digestive and immune health. trubiotics, a daily probiotic that helps restore the balance of good bacteria. trubiotics, from one a day.
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as if what james comey had to say in public wasn't enough, he had more to say behind closed doors about the russia investigation and attorney general jeff sessions. the former fbi director telling senators privately that sessions may have had a third undisclosed meeting with the russian ambassador to the united states. i should note, sessions is set to testify before the senate next week, and i do wonder, then, if his appointment book will somehow make its way into the line of questioning. abby phillips is back with me, but first, cnn's phil mattingly is on capitol hill with the very latest. so, phil, what are you hearing? what would another, another undisclosed meeting between sessions and kislyak, what would it mean? >> reporter: well, it could be very potentially problematic, based on jeff sessions' own testimony at his confirmation hearing january 10th, where he stated that he had not met with any russian officials during the campaign, testimony he later had to amend, because it turns out,
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he had. now, here's the issue if you want to track back. this goes back, kate, to april of 2016. if you remember, it's a very big foreign policy speech by then candidate donald trump. among the attendants was sergey kislyak, russian ambassador to the u.s. jeff sessions and the justice department have said repeatedly there was no meeting between kislyak and jeff sessions during that speech at the mayflower hotel here in washington, d.c., but as you know, kate, yesterday, in the classified setting, after the public hearing, jim comey told senators, according to sources, that they had raw intelligence of intercepts, of russian officials speaking to one another where sergey kislyak stated that he did, in fact, have a one-on-one meeting with jeff sessions. now, it's important to note a couple things. first and foremost, officials caution that sometimes russian officials might be overstating what these meetings entail. and it's also worth noting, the justice department has made clear, they don't believe, or jeff sessions has said repeatedly that third meeting did not exist, did not happen.
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but why this matter's going forward, obviously, jeff sessions going to be in a public session testifying in front of the senate appropriations committee next week. democrats certain to ask about this, but perhaps more importantly, the senate intelligence committee, which is conducting the main investigation into the russian meddling, is now very interested in this and were actually interested in this before james comey talked about it yesterday in the classified session. what you're seeing right now is what you're hearing, at least, from some senate democratic aides, is the possibility, if this is true, then jeff sessions is in a lot more trouble than just having to amend his testimony. again, the big question is whether or not this actually happened. justice department continues to say no, but this is an issue he is certain to be questioned on, and it's something that not just senate democrats, not just people on the appropriations committee next week, but also the senate intelligence committee, are now very interested in, kate. >> so, abby, so sessions very likely, we could guess, is going to get more questions about this next week when he testifies. and as phil notes, all signs have pointed to he's been on
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thin ice or something of not-so-sturdy ground recently with the president. it makes you wonder, i mean -- and add to that what we heard, that the white house still will not specifically say, that the president has confidence in sessions, only saying that the president has confidence in his whole cabinet. what should people read into this? do you think sessions is on thin ice and now maybe on thinner ice? >> well, i do think that there was a time when trump was pretty upset with the idea that sessions recused himself from something that the president thought was, as he said publicly, a witch hunt. >> right. >> at the same time, i don't think that jeff sessions would be still working for the president if trump actually wanted to fire him. so, i think that things can always change, but for the time being, sessions is probably not going anywhere. the question becomes, to what extent is sessions actually recused from this whole, all these russia matters? i think -- >> good question. >> when trump was looking for another fbi director, jeff sessions was involved in that
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process, a. and b, at the time, his aides basically said he stepped aside, but he didn't actually totally take himself out in a concrete way. so, i think there are some questions here about how involved is he and to what extent are these new revelations going to make it much more important for him to really say is he really completely out of this whole thing or not? >> yeah, and abby, so, play the odds for me. odds that when sessions testifies next week about the budget, he's only about the budget. >> the chances are zero. he will be asked about this. he will be asked about this. he will be asked about comey. he'll be asked about everything. there is no chance this is just going to be about a budget. >> yeah. welcome to capitol hill, especially when your name is jeff sessions, and you know exactly how capitol hill runs. abby, phil, thank you guys. coming up, here is a question, how is your morning
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going? i mean that. i truly wonder, but i also bet that it has been better than the one that british prime minister theresa may just endured. she is now facing calls to resign today after her party was dealt a huge blow at the polls. was her relationship with president trump a factor? plus, house speaker paul ryan says president trump is "learning as he goes." does that explain everything? will that be a good enough excuse for the special counsel? the new line of defense republicans are offering the president now.
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remember this? i assure you, this was probably better days for british prime minister theresa may, when she
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was visiting president trump at the white house. that was not so long ago, as you can tell. now, her future is suddenly in question after an election stunner in the uk. in a major upset, theresa may's party lost its majority, losing seats when they were pretty confident they would actually win more of a majority in the end. so, what does this all mean? cnn's international correspondent, phil black, is right outside 10 downing street for us. so, phil, fill us in. >> reporter: so, kate, it wasn't supposed to be this way. it didn't have to be this way. theresa may called this election because she thought she saw an opportunity. she was well ahead in the polls by about 20%. she wanted to increase her majority in parliament and thought this would do just that, but her lead was continuously eaten away. and the vote yesterday and the result from that we know, her conservative party no longer holds a working majority in the british parliament. it's what's known here as a hung parliament. and so, theresa may is trying to
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pull together a government with the help of one of the smaller political parties from northern ireland, and she has gone and asked permission to do so, the usual process. she still holds the bigger number of seats in parliament, but not the crucial majority. she came here to downing street moments ago and basically said she would continue to govern, she has the legitimacy to do so and can bring the certainty no other party can. but what she hasn't done is admitted this is a campaign that failed, that voters rejected either her leadership or policies. she's trying to soldier on with a brave face on this. kate. >> pretty amazing how this is playing out. pretty amazing. phil, thank you so much, outside 10 downing street for us. let's discuss this further and what this means here and there. stephen fielding is professor of political history and director of the center for british politics at nottingham university. stephen, thanks so much for joining me. >> kate. >> so, today may says that she
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is staying and will be working to form a government. you had initially said you think she is a goner. do you still think that she's on her way out in the end? >> well, she's making a fist of it. she's determined to just power on through, but there's a question mark over her because many of her colleagues around the cabinet table, some people who were going to be sacked after she planned to come back with a huge majority, i think they've got more questions than she's prepared to answer. and so, i think they're going to probably see how the press reacts, how the media reacts, how social media reacts. and if it doesn't look like people are buying it and they're still being criticized, then i suspect they'll move quickly to get rid of her and get somebody else in, because they can't mess around. brexit negotiations start very quickly. >> right. >> so, they've got to really think about it. >> talk about uncertain times. and may's relationship with
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president trump, i mean, some have described it as a cozy relationship, but she has shown some distance in recent days on some pretty big issues. do you think that the american president had an impact on the uk election, the relationship that they've had? >> well, i think it gave an extra argument for people that didn't like theresa may, another reason for not liking her. certainly, after the london attack and the kind of bizarre twitter spat that he had with the labor mayor of london, sadiq khan, did not do him any good -- did not do theresa may any good, because she didn't want to criticize trump for doing something that many people in britain, whether they were labor, conservative or not, thought was quite outrageous under the circumstances, but i don't think it was a decisive impact in her performance. >> just bottom line, why did she take this gamble? >> she thought she'd win. she thought she'd win big. she was 20 points ahead of the labor party. everybody was anticipating she would get a huge majority, a
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majority of 100, maybe 150 seats. but during the course of the campaign, she showed she was not the person that she presented herself as being, a strong and stable leader. she made lots of mistakes. she was terrible in the media. she looked kind of robotic. and the contrast with jeremy corbyn, who really enjoyed campaigning, was dropping jokes, seemed to be authentic -- >> he had nothing to lose. >> he had nothing to lose, which is why he was relaxed, but nonetheless, the contrast was there, and it looked like theresa may was going to be taking people's houses away in order to pay for social care. there were lots of mistakes in that campaign. it set a gold standard about how not to have a campaign. >> that is not a good review of how things went. steven fielding, i appreciate your time. thank you so much. >> thank you. >> amazing times we live in right now. so, any moment now, president trump is expected to break his silence after the james comey hearing, speaking live after, of course, this
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morning breaking his silence on twitter, calling the former fbi director a liar. we'll bring you his comments live as soon as they begin. did you know that l'oréal actually invented hair color? so who better to care for it. color vibrancy haircare from l'oréal. protects color-treated hair
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he's just the new guy! haven't you ever heard of a learning curve? those, of course, are something that you might hear in your office about the new guy or the new gal, but about the president of the united states? president trump this morning accusing james comey of so many false statements and lies. republican leaders not going that far, but they are coming to the president's defense with this kind of defense. listen to house speaker paul ryan. >> the president's new at this. he's new to government. and so, he probably wasn't steeped in the long-running protocols that establish the relationships between doj, fbi
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and white houses. he's just new to this. >> yes. so is chris cillizza. joining me now, chris cillizza, cnn politics reporter and editor at large, phil nutt, also new to this, former cia and fbi official. james gagliano, former fbi special agent. all right, let's get to this. chris, what do you make of the explanation that we got from house speaker paul ryan there? what is he trying to do? >> the latest in a series of attempts to rationalize and justify support for donald trump, despite the fact that he has said and done many things that make paul ryan incredibly uncomfortable, would be my guess. i'm not a big believer in this line of reasoning, kate. the presidency is a unique job in many ways. you can't necessarily -- you don't know how to do it. you can't practice. >> right. >> there's no simulator to be president of the united states. at the same time, donald trump
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has not demonstrated a willingness, a curiosity, an acknowledgement that he doesn't know everything. he got elected in large part because he was a guy who had no past political experience, but the fact that he is our first president with no past elected experience and no military experience means he comes at this at a unique disadvantage just in terms of the logistics of how this all works. given that, you would think he would really nose to the grindstone on a lot of this stuff to get up to speed. my sense from the way in which he acts, the way in which he tweets and talks, is he doesn't feel the need to do any of those things. so i don't know that you can use his unwillingness to learn the ways that washington works and the way that the legal system works, as an excuse for him. >> look, and being an outsider and staying an outsider, staying with that kind of theme may be great in one sense, but it can clearly also get you into trouble. what are we looking at right
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now? it's got him into trouble. phil nutt, the president is a newcomer to politics, yes, so you should give him a pass on how he interacts with the fbi director. does that fly with you? >> nope. no. what is with chris taking the polite pills today? let's be clear -- >> ha! >> this is nuts wrapped in silliness, stuffed in idiocy. >> come on, phil. >> mr. nutt always one for understatement. >> come on. >> no, let me give you the conversation, kate, seriously. so, you're going to walk into a 70-year-old president, claim that he doesn't know the job. here's the conversation -- there's a well-knowned, publicized, ongoing investigation for months that you've heard about in classified and unclassified settings and that's at the core of media coverage, and you've got to tell the president, hey, you might want to learn that it's not particularly appropriate to tell the director of the fbi to back off? that's what you've got to learn? that's crazy! >> pure crazy. that's how i describe phil nutt, but i understand and thank you for your point.
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james joining in this conversation now, this side of it. how about this one? try this one on for size. the former director of national sellas, james clapper, he has had a lot to say in the past weeks about how this is all playing out and his view of it. he says that watergate pales in comparison to what we're seeing now, and he's talking about the fact that we are talking about a break-in. with watergate, we're talking about russia influencing being involved in our election with this. but he also had this to say, and this is about your former agency. listen to this. >> are you saying that you believe the president of the united states is a threat to democracy? >> well, to our system. you know, the assault on the institutions, starting with my own, the intelligence community, and his characterization of us as nazis. the commentary he's made about the judiciary and individual judges. the assault on the bureau, as
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examples which are not constructive for our country. >> does being a newcomer to politics and the system explain that, or is he right? >> no, i mean, i don't think you can fall back on i'm a neophyte at this. that's not a good excuse. i have great respect for the former dni, and he's a wickedly smart man. i think he entered into some dangerous territory there of hyperbole and going over the top. look, i've been harshly critical of the president. i think that the roadmap that james comey laid out in that seven-page document, which literally you can make an argument for obstruction there, although people can see it two different ways. >> right. >> where i was let down, kate, and you and i spoke yesterday and i said i was exceedingly proud of the former fbi director for standing up, for pushing back, and for getting the facts out there. i believe him. i do believe him. and he was brave. he called the president of the
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united states a liar five times. you don't have that happen very often in washington. what struck me, though, was, and where i think james comey lost the moral high ground yesterday, was the leak. there's no such thing as a leak. that's a benign word. it's an unauthorized -- >> they're trying to make it into something, but keep going. >> but my feeling on that is it's an unauthorized disclosure of classified information. >> do you think that was classified? >> i do in this sense. if i want to write a book about my experience in the fbi, i have to clear everything, all of my intellectual property. it doesn't belong to me. there's a proprietary interest that the department of justice has about it. so i have to write a book, send it in and wait two years for them to get back to me on it. he took an fbi document, whether a memo or electronic communication, he took an fbi document -- and this is what disappointed me most about james comey, instead of going directly to "the new york times" or the "washington post," which would have been brave, he said there were a "variety of reasons" that he elected to give it to a friend and colleague at columbia university and have him leak it.
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that just smacks of hypocrisy, because if i had done that as an fbi agent, hell, if i do it now, there are going to be people knocking on my door saying you could be sanctioned for this and guess what, we'll go after your pension. >> i want to continue that conversation, important points, but now to the washington, d.c., department of transportation where trpresident trump is speaking right now. let us listen in. >> -- this department, and the progress is being made so quickly, but leaders and officials gathered here from across the country have all praised the work that the secretary is doing to create a safe, modern, and reliable transportation system for the united states and for its great, great, great people. i also want to thank secretary zinke for the fantastic job he's doing at the department of the interior to clear the way for
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new construction and economic development. both secretary chao and zinke met with us yesterday with state and local leaders to develop plans to replace america's decaying infrastructure and construct new roads, rails, pipelines, tunnels and bridges all across our nation. we are here today to focus on solving one of the biggest obstacles to creating this new and desperately needed infrastructure, and that is the painfully slow, costly, and time-consuming process of getting permits and approvals to build, and i also knew that from the private sector. it is a long, slow, unnecessarily burdensome process. my administration is committed to ending these terrible delays once and for all. the excruciating wait time for permitting has inflicted
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enormous financial pain to cities and states all throughout our nation and has blocked many important projects from ever getting off the ground. many, many projects are long gone because they couldn't get permits and there was no reason for it. we've already taken historic steps to speed up the approvals, including the approval of the keystone excel pipeline, which was very quickly approved. it was sitting there for a long time saying, well, that project is dead. then i came into office, and all of a sudden, america -- and i guarantee you, the consultants went over to the heads of the company and told them what a great job they did. they asked for a lot of money, most likely, but we got it approved, and we got it approved fast p.m. i'm also very proud to say that the dakota access pipeline is now officially open for business. it was dead 120 days ago, and
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now it officially just opened for business. [ applause ] very proud of that. hi, bill. we're also excited to be joined by representatives from our labor unions, including the north american building trades union, which i know well, and the laborers' international union of north america. you will play -- go ahead, fellas, . you will play a central role in rebuilding america. very important. we're also joined as well by many distinguished members of congress who share our total passion and desire to repair and restore america's highways, railways, and waterways. in the audience is a man that i've gotten to know well who's
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doing some job. it's not easy, but it's going to get a lot easier. chairman bill schuster of the house administration and infrastructure committee. stand up, bill. [ cheers and applause ] >> thank you, bill. great job. who is working very closely with us, including on our proposal to dramatically reduce airport delays by reforming air traffic control. we have an obsolete system. before elaine got here, they had spent close to $7 billion on the system. a waste. all wasted. but we're going to have a great system, great new system. the top of the line. it will be the best in the world. right now we're at the lowest part of the pack. it will be the best in the world for a lot less money than they've been wasting for years. for too long america has poured trillions and trillions of
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dollars into rebuilding foreign countries while allowing our own country, the country that we love, and its infrastructure, to fall into a state of total disrepair. we have structurally deficient bridges, clogged roads, crumbling dams and locks. our rivers are in trouble. our railways are ancient and chronic traffic that slows commerce and diminishes our citiz citizens quality of life. other than that we're doing very well. instead of rebuilding our country, washington has spend decades building a dense -- it took only four years to build the golden gate bridge and five years to build the hoover dam and less than one year to build
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the empire state building. people don't believe that. it took less than one year. but today it can take ten years and far more than that just to get the approvals and permits needed to build a major infrastructure project. these charts beside me are actually a simplified version of our highway permitting process. it includes 16 different approvals involving 10 different federal agencies being governed by 26 different statutes. as one example, and this happened just 30 minutes ago, i was sitting with a great group of people responsible for their state's economic development and roadways. all of you are in the room now. and one gentleman from maryland
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was talking about an 18-mile road and he brought with him some of the approvals that they've got ebbten and paid for. they spent $29 million for an environmental report weighing 70 pounds and costing $24,000 per page. and i said do me a favor, i'm going to make a speech in a little while, do you mind if a take that and show it? so i'm going to show it.
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[inaudible] >> better make sure i move it. i don't want to trip on the way out. that would be a big story. especially to trip over that. { laughter } >> so they spent millions and millions of dollars. when i said how long is this short roadway been talked about? the gentleman said well, if you say 20 years, you're safe. i said don't say anymore, because i have to be -- i have to be exactly accurate with these people back there. i was off by, like, two months. it's a major front page story. but these binders on the stage could be replaced by just a few simple pages. and it would be just as good. it would actually be much better. because these binders also make you do unnecessary things that
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cost billions and billions of dollars and they actually make it worse. as another example, the 23, if you look at it in ohio, the ohio river bridge, $2.3 billion. a project amassed a 150,000 page administrative record. 150,000 pages is a five-story tall building. think of it. if you put the paper together, it's a five-story building. how can a country prosper under this kind of nonsense? and i know it. i know it's a well-being in the private sector, but, you know, in the private sector you move and you wheel and you deal and you hope and you pray and maybe it goes a little faster, but
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it's a horrible thing in the private sector. and we're talking about reducing that for the private sector likewise. why should we continue to accept what is so clearly unacceptable? oftentimes for consultants that are making a fortune because you can't do anything without hiring them, paying them a tremendous amount of money, having them write up this nonsense, you can't get approvals. and there in the case of new york, albany, they go to albany, the state capitol or here they go to washington. and you have to hire them. it's a terrible thing. it's a group probably nobody has heard them talk about. because i'm a business guy i understand it. they work really hard to make it difficult and some are believers, but most aren't. most want to make a lot of money. so they make a very, very simple
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roadway or whatever you want to be building a very complicated subject and they make it very much more expensive. and they make it worse. it's not as good as it would have been. i was not elected to continue a failed system. i was electe to change it. all of us in government service were elected to solve the problems that have plagued our nation. we are haere to think big, to at boldly and rise above the petty squabbling of washington, d.c. we are here to take action. it's time to start building our country with american workers and with american iron and aluminum and steel. it's time to put up soaring new infrastructure that inspires pride in our people and our towns. when i approve the keystone
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pipeline, i said where was the pipe made? unfortunately they had purchased a lot of it, but i put a little clause at the bottom. you want to build a pipeline in this country, buy american steel. and let it be fabricated here. [ cheers and applause ] >> very simple little clause written in hand, but it does the trick. it is time at last to put america first. americans deserve the best infrastructure anywhere in the world. they deserve roads and bridges that are safe to travel and pipes that deliver clean water into their homes. not like what happened in flint, michigan. they deserve lanes of commerce that get people and products where they need to go on time.
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most of all americans deserve a system of infrastructure that is looked upon not with pity. the world in many cases is so far advanced that they look at our infrastructure as being sad. we want them to look at us with envy. a system worthy of our magnificent country. no longer can we allow these rules and regulations to tie down our economy, chain up our prosperity, and sap our great american spirit. that is why we will lift these restrictions and unleash the full potential of the united states of america. to all of our state and local leaders, i appreciate your being here today. thank you. thank you. thank you, bill. i want you to know that help is
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finally, after many, many decades, on its way. we are giving control back to the cities and the states. you know best how to plan your communities, analyze your projects, and protect your local environment. we will get rid of the redun cy and duplication that wastes your time and your money. our goal is to give you one point of contact and one decision, yes or no, for the entire federal government and to deliver that decision quickly, whether it's a road, whether it's a highway, a bridge, a dam. to do this, we are setting up a new council to help project managers navigate the bureaucratic maze. this council will also approve transparency by creating a new online dashboard allowing everyone to easily track major

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