tv Anderson Cooper 360 CNN June 13, 2017 6:00pm-7:01pm PDT
ambassad ambassador. >> i don't appreciate it. i tried to give my best in truthful answers to any committee i have appeared before. i recuse myself from any investigation into the campaign for president. but i did not recuse myself from defending my honor against false allegations. >> reporter: the attorney general repeatedly rebuffed the speculation that has swirls since james comey's testimony when the fired fbi director briefed senators in a closed hearing that sessions may have met with kislyak for a third undisclosed meeting at the mayflower hotel. >> i did not have any private meetings, nor do i recall any conversations with any russian officials at the mayflower hotel. >> reporter: it was concise. when pressed by richard burr, his answer seemed less clear. >> i would have gladly have reported the meeting, the
encounter that may have occurred, that some say occurred in the mayflower if i had remembered it or if it actually occurred, which i don't remember that it did. >> reporter: sessions remained stern and emotional as he fought back against all allegations he had improper contacts with russians during the campaign. >> the suggestion that i participated in any collusion, that i was aware of any collusion with the russian government to hurt this country, which i have severaled wi eserv for 35 years, or to undermine the integrity of our democratic process is an appalling and detestable lie. >> reporter: sessions repeatedly refused to comment on the details of his interactions and conversations with the president. >> i'm not able to comment on conversation with officials within the white house. that would be a violation of the communications rule. >> so i'm understanding, does
that mean are you claiming executive privilege here today? >> i'm not claiming executive privilege. that's the president's power. >> what is the legal basis? >> i am protecting the right of the president to exert it -- i will assert it if he chooses. then maybe other privileges that could apply in this circumstance. >> reporter: democratic senator martin heinrich accused the attorney general of stonewalling the committee. >> there are two investigations here. there's a special counsel investigation. there's also a congressional investigation. and you are obstructing that congressional delegation -- investigation by not answering these questions. >> reporter: sessions publically pushed back against james comey's contention that he did not respond when comey expressed concern that comey's one on one meeting with the president in the oval office on february 14th was inappropriate. >> i believe it was the next day that he said something, expressed concern about being left alone with the president. that in itself is not problematic.
he did not tell me at that time any details about anything that was said that was improper. i affirmed his concern that we should be following the proper guidelines of the department of justice. >> reporter: sessions explained his recusal from the investigation resulted after weeks of consultation with ethics officials and disclosed he did not receive any information about the probe even before his formal recusal. >> from that point, february 10th, until i announced my formal recusal on march 2, i was never briefed on any investigation details, did not access any information about the investigation. i received only the limited information that the department's career officials determined was necessary for me to form and make a recusal decision. >> the attorney general -- is the attorney general or the
justice department giving additional rational for keeping the conversations between sessions and the president confidential since president trump did not assert executive privilege? >> sessions, he didn't cite anything during the testimony. tonight, the department of justice, they released two memos dating back to 1982. one from then president ronald reagan and one from then assistant attorney general ted olson. a portion of the memo outlines it's possible to withhold information while the president is considering whether or not to invoke executive privilege. it's important to note that attorney general sessions did not confer with the white house at all about whether the president might even consider invoking executive privilege. that's according to a senior administration official. the memo does imply that in order to withhold testimony, the possibility of executive privilege should at least be pending for the president. >> thanks very much. the attorney general's status as a former long time colleague did not quiet skepticism. for more on the reaction, let's
go to capitol hill. what's the latest? >> the reaction has come along party lines. democrats express frustration and not about not only why he was not able to recall key elements, including whether he had interactions with kislyak at the washington hotel last year, but in addition this policy that he is citing that jeff sessions cited in terms of why he could not discuss any of the interactions with president trump himself. republicans on the other hand say that jeff sessions did what he needed to do. they believe he was as forthcoming as he could have been. they believe that this whole sessions testimony was a side show from the ongoing russia investigation. here is marco rubio from right after the hearing when i asked him about jeff sessions. do you feel he was forthcoming in his testimony? >> i do. he is the attorney general of the united states. he's not a former member of the government.
he was as forthcoming with us today as director comey would have been had he still been fbi direct director. the he's the attorney general. they work on more than just the 2016 investigation. >> other committees do want to question jeff sessions as well, including the senate judiciary committee. chairman chuck grassley from iowa telling me earlier today that he does want to hear from sessions himself before his committee as they look into the broader russia issue in their own panel going forward. >> is there any more still to come with the attorney general sessions and the senate intelligence committee? >> it's unclear at the moment. this testimony that happened today really caught the committee by surprise. sessions offered on saturday to come before this committee. on tuesday the committee was really looking forward to having other big witnesses come forward first, namely the president's son-in-law jared kushner. they're planning on interviewing him this month. they were not prepared for session's testimony to happen so soon. sessions said today that he
probably could not disclose more in a classified setting. it's unclear how much more information he would give to the committee even if they went behind closed doors. >> thanks very much. the president just arrived back from a trip to milwaukee. air force 1 there on the tarmac at joint base andrews. we will talk more about his day shortly. the big story swirling around him, reports he was thinking about firing special counsel mueller. joining us our political eagle panel. gloria, you said that director comey left a lot of bread crumbs out there about the attorney general. did the attorney general clarify anything, address any of the unanswered questions? >> tried to sweep the crumbs away is what he did. first of all, the big confrontation today between senator widen and sessions was about one of those bread crumbs, because comey had said, i expected -- why didn't you go to sessions? and he said, i expected him to
recuse himself because he had been in the campaign. then there was another issue that was more problematic. that's a key word. it's my least favorite word of this investigation, everything seems to be problematic these days. he was asked about it today. he got incensed and outraged. there is nothing. there is nothing problematic. then comey also sort of implied that if he was fired because of russia, why did sessions have anything to do with it? because sessions is supposed to recuse himself on russia. and yet he was part of the firing. sessions today answered that question and said, no, he was fired for other reasons and referred us to rod rosenstein. >> david, somebody worked in administrations, what do you make of sessions saying this longstanding department of justice policy he was following about not revealing contents of a conversation with the
president even though the president hasn't asked for executive privilege? >> it may be longstanding but it's the first time rediscovered by an administration. some memo in 1982 that i can't remember anyone have a memory of this who has employed the rational he did. i have to preserve the president's right to exercise executive privilege. i would point out that the memo was 1982 from ronald reagan, when reagan had his iran contra scandal in his second term. he waved executive privilege for everyone. he wanted it clean. he wanted everything -- all the documents out there, everything was on the table. i think the reagan president is actually stronger on being transparent than hiding things. >> look, i think we had a preview of this when the director of national intelligence came before the same committee and the cia director. >> nsa. >> nsa director.
and they essentially made the same argument. that argument will stand unless the congress is willing to test it. >> despite -- >> i don't anticipate seeing that. look, we didn't get -- sessions went there for one reason and that is to deny this -- the bread crumbs, to sweep them aside as gloria said. he did not add much to the rest of the story. the one thing i thought that may have been underplayed but struck me strongly given the context is that he sort of kind of casually conceded that he never got a briefing on what the russians had done. this is a -- >> and didn't know the president -- didn't remember conversations with the president, the president talking about concern over what happened. >> which is a continuing concern.
comey said the president never asked him about it. this is a major national security issue. he is the attorney general. apparently isn't that interested in this issue. the president apparently isn't that interested in the issue. so when you go past all of these other questions, that seems like a major concern. >> there's the president as well as the first lady at joint base andrews -- excuse me, that's ivanka. bad lighting there. ivanka and the president returning to joint base andrews, getting off air force one. was there any legal basis for the attorney general to refuse to answer the questions? >> he didn't offer one. it was only after the fact that they came up with this 1982 memo. i think we can have an interesting debate about executive privilege and about the legal niceties. the fact is when you have a witness in front of the committee and he doesn't want to answer, he is not going to answer. unless you go to court to force him to answer, that's the end of
the story. with the senate and house in republican hands, you are not going to have litigation forcing these members to -- these administration officials to talk about their conversations with donald trump. and i think that's the end of the matter. >> a couple things. jeff is absolutely right about the legal side of this. if you are not forthcoming in a series of these testimonies over time, if we see a pattern as i think we're beginning to see, a pattern coming from the executive branch of evasion, not really answering the questions, the politics of that are pretty dreadful. >> carl, i want to play something that director comey said last week in his testimony about sessions lingering in the oval office before his one on one meeting with the president. let's play that. >> you were in a meeting. and your direct superior the attorney general was in that meeting as well. yet the president asked everyone
to leave, including the attorney general to leave, before he brought up the matter of general flynn. >> my impression was something big is about to happen, i need to remember every single word that is spoken. and again, i could be wrong. i'm 56 years old. i've been -- seen a few things. my sense was the attorney general knew he shouldn't be leaving, which is why he was lingering. i don't know mr. kushner well. but i think he picked up on the same thing. and so i knew something was about to happen and i needed to pay very close attention to. >> carl, while attorney general sessions did corroborate he was one of the last to leave, he refused to characterize how he interpreted it, how he perceived it the way comey did. >> he tended to confirm what his testimony actually confirmed what comey had testified. both in terms of that meeting and the phone call from comey the next day expressing his discomfort. i think we can look at today's events both rosenstein's
testimony and sessions' testimony as of a piece. the first piece is that it's clear that the president and those closest to him do not want us to know the facts underneath this investigation. the underlying facts about russia, russians, contacts and their deliberations with each other, the president's deliberations with sessions, with his other aides. we are not entitled to know those things s are what we are hearing from the president and from sessions. from rosenstein, what we heard is hugely significant. he drew a line in the sand today saying, this cannot stand if mueller is fired unless there's some extraordinary cause. that is a challenge almost to the republicans, you could hear the republicans talking about it today in private.
that they no longer will defend this president if he fires mueller. so there's a line drawn in the sand. for the first time, the word i have not used open tn the air a that is talk about impeachment among republicans if the president crosses certain lines and that they will have to look at that question. the word as everybody in the studio here today will confirm is being uttered if certain lines are crossed and if these investigations go in a certain direction. >> i don't think so. >> there's a real possibility that this investigation could go nowhere but we need to see where these investigations are going and why it is these people are trying to keep us from knowing what happened. >> i don't know what republicans you are talking to. every republican thinks impeachment is an absurd possibility. and i don't see how you can say
today's testimony makes impeachment any more likely. i don't think it really -- >> no, no, i'm -- pardon me. rose ros rosenstein, if that were to happen, that would be -- >> and i would argue that that's why the president's friend ruddy went out there and said this publically, because sometimes the best way to make an argument to this president is to take it to cable television and then have it ricochet and wind up in the oval office. i think if the president has been musing about it and doesn't like mueller and doesn't like the fact that he is appointed some samurai to attack him as he sees it, maybe one way to get to him to say you really can't do that is to say it publically. i believe that's what his actual friend may have been trying to do. >> to carl's original point, the one thing sessions didn't do is
cast any real light on the key question of the sequence of events that led to comey's firing. he said, we wrote this memo. it was all about his handling of the clinton matter. he was particularly unpersuasive on that. when questioned about his interactions with the president on it and what the president's motivations might be, he completely shut down. there was nothing about his testimony relative to that matter that would have shed any light. this, of course, we now suspect is something that the special counsel is looking closely at. >> i thought that was such a weak part -- >> hold on. >> there was such -- the idea that -- which sessions said repeatedly, which is he was fired because of his mistreatment of hillary clinton, i mean it was preposterous. >> it goes against what the president said. >> and senator jack reed of
rhode island at the end of the hearing brought out that sessions had praised comey during the campaign for the exact acts that he later said justified his firing. which just showed that he want fired because of clinton. he was fired because he was investigating russia. >> one of the elements that, of course, they criticize comey for now and others have criticized him for is the revelativelation made about the clinton investigation which was closed when he originally spoke to it. and yet we hear the president was enranged that comey wouldn't speak publically about the investigation into him or lack of investigation into him. so that is another sort -- >> i think rosenstein probably believed what he wrote to the president in that memo. the question is whether he was being used quite frankly by the president as an excuse to fire comey and whether sessions also
went along with it. >> we have to take a break. >> i just want to say, listen, i think that we're likely to see these congressional hearings may not produce what we thought they would produce. it's important to remember that mueller can put these people under only and thath and they wo answer the questions. without the bar for exercising executive privilege is higher. >> more to talk about, including reaction from the white house to this as well as late word on the story that got the town talking that the president was thinking about giving special counsel robert mueller the ax. the average family's much loved deck:
it all adds up to our most reliable network ever. one that keeps you connected to what matters most. the president watched a portion of the hearings today aboard air force one on his way to milwaukee. he is back in washington. we showed him arriving with ivanka. jeff zeleny joins us from the town that made schlitz famous. the white house offered thoughts on jeff sessions' testimony. what did they say? >> these were the first comments we heard from the white house after the president was flying back to washington from here in wisconsin. sarah huckabee sanders, the deputy press secretary, she said this. let's look. she said, what he did see and what he heard he thought that the attorney general session s today did a very good job and
was strong there was no collusion between russia and the trump campaign. so interesting, the president was trying to fly here to wisconsin to change the subject, to talk about jobs, the economy. he was trying to desperately get beyond this cloud that's been hanging over the white house. of course, i am told by someone who is on that plane with him that he watched it for the entire 94 minutes that he flew from andrews to here in milwaukee earlier this afternoon. he went about his business here holding three events and just flew back. this was on his mind here. also going back tonight, sarah huckabee sanders would not say if this president has confidence in his special counselor robert mueller. she would not answer that question. >> before the president left for wisconsin today, he made a surprising comment about the healthcare bill that passed the house last month. they celebrated. what did he say? >> he did. this was the first time that he has talked about health care in
more than a month, about six weeks or so. he had 13 republican senators over to the white house to talk about what was going on with the health care bill. a he acknowledged that the house passed health care bill was mean and mean spirited. he said the senate bill should be more generous. this is interesting on several levels. he was working so hard for this house bill. of course, it was met with fierce opposition in the senate. he was urging senators to be more generous. when he got to here in wisconsin, he didn't sound all that optimistic about the prospects for urgent massage of this. he said hopefully the senate can get it done at some point. we know mitch mcconnell had been talking about a july 4th passage of this. at this point, that seems very, very unlikely. his comments about the house bill certainly so interesting because, of course, this has to go back to the house again before he can ever, ever sign this into law. >> jeff zeleny, thanks for
reporting. back with the panel. jeff, what about -- if the president is saying to the senators who were there that it was mean, this is the same bill that he celebrated in the rose garden. >> the first thing a president has to do in getting through legislation i'm sure david would agree is get something through first. then you work from there. i don't know what the reference was in particular to what he saw as mean here. it's not out line with things he said over time, that he just didn't want to have people in the streets and people have to have health care. i don't think it's out of line. i would be interested to know what specifically it is there and if they can fix it. >> jeff makes a good point. it's not out of line with things he said during the campaign. it may be out of line with the visual of him celebrating in the rose garden seeming to back what happened in the house. is it? >> of course, i wasn't with the president when he did or didn't say this today. the only thing mean is if we don't take action to repeal and replace obamacare and it
continues to implode the way we're seeing it. i think there's a point that jeffrey touched on a bit here, the fact that the messaging wasn't right with the house bill coming out after they passed it. i think one of the things that both the white house -- >> what does that mean? >> the messaging, they haven't defined who is going to be helped by this bill and also make it clear who is going to be hurt if they don't repeal and replace obamacare. this is very important. it's upwards of a sixth or seventh of our economy. it's something this president promised he with ill do and i believe he will do it. they need to make a better point here on who exactly they are helping. that's probably what the president was trying to get to. >> that is absurd, absurd. absurd. i need to say it again. the man stood with a bunch of other white men, when you pulled the camera out, there was a woman or two, celebrating. if he thought was the bill was mean or he didn't know the messaging or didn't know who it helps -- we know a lot of people it hurts, women being high on the list, why did he go
celebrate? now he gets to flip the position, throw his colleagues in the house under the bus that i don't understand how a leader of the party would do that and now you say he is like having some intellect you'uintellectua process. this is like crazy town has moved into the white house. thank you. sorry. >> could you go over that again? >> many of the republicans that walk the plank in order to get this through the house and get it over the senate are from red republican leaning districts where now their democratic challengers that are going to be running in the districts are going to be able to say not only is this proposal opposed by the aarp, not only would it raise your costs and kick 24 million people off the insurance rolls, but president trump himself called it mean. so the appeal of that message will now reach not just democratic voters that will be enthused to turn out in the read leaning districts, not just independents that we're seeing register disapproval but some
republicans now that might actually -- >> to jeff's point that this is a way of pushing the senate to enact changes. >> here is the thing, john cornen has talked about how their bill is probably about 80% the same as the house bill. he has condemned the senate proposal before we have seen it by talking up how bad the house bill is that the senate republicans are not likely to deviate -- >> we should point out, i think that -- >> if they don't get this fixed, as you look at a third of the counties around the county have one provider. we're seeing open a weekly basis state after state with having providers -- >> part of the reason, this has been written about in some of the recent decisions by insurance companies, is they say the uncertainty that's been created by whether the administration is going to go forward with the commitment to provide subsidies makes it impossible for them to plan properly. the administration is back door undermining the markets as they
are like arsonists who light the fire and race in with the fire engine and say we're going to save it. >> the argument that it's collapsing -- >> there were problems in the exchanges that could be fixed. but what's happening now is the uncertainty is accelerating those problems. let me say -- i want to hear what you have to say about this. i think there's something else going on here though. i think that the president -- the reason he had a celebration in the rose garden is because he had failed -- they had failed to pass a bill. he was so hard up to have a victory and he had a victory. the contents didn't really matter that much. he actually used superlatives to describe that bill. it wasn't just the celebration. he used superlatives leading up to the vote about that bill. now he wants to get it through the senate. he wants a win. he sees himself as a winner. this is a little bit like the cabinet meeting yesterday. he wants victories.
he wants wins. the content doesn't matter. the content does matter to millions of americans. >> i think he understands that this bill as written would hurt his base to a degree. and i think he understands the politics of that. but a couple of other things are going on here. yes, he wants a win. and he also said we need a bill that's more generous, it's more kind, whatever language it was. that you have to spend more money on it. the point is, if they spend more money on the senate bill, it's not going to -- they have to save the same amount of money as the house bill or they can't pass it under these rules. >> more than 50 votes. >> right. it's a problem for them. because if the president is now gone out there and dumped all over something he applauded and asked for something more generous, he can't get it if he wants to save the same amount of money. which he has to do. >> he might just think about not cutting taxes for the rich as
much. that would make a difference. i think also the republican party, especially in the senate, is really sensitive to the fact that only 20 to 25% of the count people in the country support the bill. donald trump's disapproval rating hit 60%. if you are looking at it as a republican, we have to put more money into this, look at the governor of ohio. he had anthem pull out. anthem said we would be here if you were continuing to provide the subsidies. he is under a lot of pressure from the governors now to do something that's going to be more generous and more popular. >> from the policy standpoint, it's almost impossible for the senate bill to have -- to be that much more generous than the house approach because of exactly the point david made, because of the extent of the tax cuts to the wealthiest americans. it's not generous enough for people to get affordable coverage. they are talking about maybe extending out the medicaid expansion. at the end of the day, medicaid
enrollees will suffer. >> they barely got through the -- >> if it becomes more generous, you can get the house to go along? that's a tough -- >> providing economic growth. >> that's why it would -- they should combine the health care bill with the tax cut bill and get something that's going to go and help the economy. they could do it. if we go and take significant action object corporate tax, do something for the middle class, combine that with where we repeal and replace and do something, actually save the healthcare system before it goes off a cliff, i think it would be a winner and the president would probably be more excited to get out on the road and sell this. >> the white house is trying to move away from the russia investigation. is bringing the conversation back to health care a good way to do it? >> healthcare has not been a winner for the president. as was said by david, only 20 to 25% of americans think this is a good idea. this is not a winner. i think him pushing this out now
in this very disloyal way -- a man who honors loyalty to his republicans in the house really sends not just a bad substantive message to americans but it reminds them he is not a loyal guy. it reminds them that he doesn't have a clear policy agenda. it reminds them that he at best is a scattered thinker and has forgotten the needs of people like coal miners who he promised they wouldn't lose their black lung coverage. all of this just reminds people on substance and beyond what they don't like more and more about this president. >> coal mine opened in pennsylvania this week. >> when they get black lung, they will not be covered under the new healthcare act. it's great to have a job. it's good to not have your job kill you. we could do both in america. >> is the problem that this white house had on health care, is it a messaging issue as jason pointed out? >> the happiest person in washington to have all this focus on russia and with the
sessions hearing today is mitch mcconnell. he is going through a disorderly ro says. it's very hard for him to get 51 votes, even under the reconciliation rules. it's very hard to herd the cats behind a controversial proposal that has a 20% approval rating. he is able do it behind the scenes with little scrutiny in the back door manner. that's the way he likes it. they want a victory but they don't want too much scrutiny on the substance because the substance is a loser. >> if i were the president right now, i wouldn't be throwing house republicans under the bus. given what's going on with russia investigations and everything else, you are going to need to be able to rally your troops behind you and not let them think, well, okay, i was loyal to you but you are not being loyal to me. you could -- >> nancy pelosi during the house debate on this, famously said you are being asked to walk the plank for something that will never become law and it will be
tattooed on your forehead. i'm sure those words are sort of bouncing around in their heads right now. >> we have to take a quick break. a new record says the president's lawyer in the russia investigation has been going around saying that he was behind the firing of the u.s. attorney. we will hear from the reporter next.
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as you know, the president hired a personal lawyer in the russia investigation. he is the one who responded on the president's behalf to former fbi director james comey's senate testimony. a new report says he has been boasting he was central to the firing of u.s. attorney bharara. he was fired. so what exactly is he saying? >> he described his role as advising trump to fire bharara. he told one person that he told trump that you need to get rid of preet because he will get you. >> he will get the president? >> that's his account of it, that he has given privately. the central mystery here if you remember is that preet who is
probably -- at the time was the most prominent prosecutor in the country met with president elect trump at trump tower in november. trump told him he was going to keep him in the job. then fast forward five months to march, be a are march, he is fired. there's a bunch of issues there. one is that bharara's office had an open investigation into a tr trump cabinet member, tom price. there's an investigation into some of his stock trades when he was in congress. >> whether he benefitted from stock ez bougs he bought and th sort of trying to adjust legislation based on it. >> exactly. southern district has been investigating tom price. preet was fired during that investigation. after trump had told him he was going to stay on. we still have never gotten an explanation for why he was fired. trump has not nominated anyone
to replace him. one of the names that has been floated is one -- >> it's in the southern district -- >> i don't know there's any reported investigations of trump organization by the southern district. the southern district is reportedly investigating fox news in connections made -- in connection with payments made to women who accused the network of sexual harassment. there's an investigation into deutsche bank which is -- has a relationship with trump as his lender. the most important district in the country and we still don't have an explanation for why bharara was fired. >> i want to put it on the screen. i haven't even had my covfefe yet. >> i don't think he knows why he was fired. still.
again, adding to the mystery, trump hasn't nominated anyone for this job still. >> your report says that the president asked him to be his attorney general? >> kaz wits who has represented trump in his business matters -- >> a long time? sg >> the firm represented trump in a bankruptcy in the trump university case, now in the russia investigation. he now seems to be advising trump on public policy matters which i think raises all kinds of potential conflicts. it's a good size firm, around 300 lawyers. they have corporate clients with business before the government. he is not a government employee. until now he seemed to be only trump's personal lawyer. if he is advising the administration, you can imagine there's potential conflict. >> is it possible that -- this sounds like your reporting is
based on people who have heard him talking about things. is it possible he is just bragging and not saying things which are true? >> it's possible. my colleague and i have spoken to many people that know him and he does have a reputation for being sort of a brash bragging guy. i think the only people -- a small group of people who know what his conversations with trump have been. this is how he has described them to other people. >> fascinating report. thanks so much. justin will stay with us. i want to bring in the rest of the panel here. c could the president have broken any laws or violated ethical standards? >> i don't think so. it's customary for most -- for all the u.s. attorneys to turn over in the course of a new administration. what's unusual about the preet bharara story -- the president-elect told bharara in
november he was keeping him and then for some reason changed his mind. preet has said that there was this sort of weird courtship by phone similar to the one comey described which suddenly ended when bharara did not reciprocate, which ended with his firing. all of which is peculiar. but i can't imagine that it's illegal in any sense. >> if this is true, does it reinforce the narrative that if you are perceived as a threat, the president will come after you? how do you perceive it? >> certainly, it is traditional to see the turnover in the u.s. attorneys. i wouldn't call it traditional with president trump. but i don't think any of us see it as unusual when he reverses himself on something like this. so i don't have any kwaqualms or than about how he reverses himself frequently. there's no legal issue here. i do think given that it's one of the two most important districts along with eastern
district of virginia, which handles a lot of the espionage, national security cases, south earn district of new york handles finance cases, i think they should be priorities for getting a u.s. attorney nominated and approved by the senate as quickly as possible. but i do agree that when anybody fails to show signs of loyalty, that they are -- >> bharara said sunday when he was interviewed on abc that the president -- he felt the president was trying to cultivate some kind of relationship. that was the term he used. >> right. >> he was fired when he rejected it. >> i guess you would need another person to corroborate this because this is a person who brags a lot. you don't know how much credence you can give to it. i think the connection of him saying this was a deja vu watching the comey -- what happened with comey, that trump had a lot of unusual phone calls and the same kind of
inappropriate contact up to the point that he actually didn't return one of the president's phone calls because he checked with other lawyers and they said, this is inappropriate and the president seems to have then fired him after that. there is something -- i think that's important in light of the broader investigation. >> anderson, can i jump in here? cnn ran a story on tan gear island in the middle of the chesapeake bay recently and on their need for a sea wall. donald trump called the mayor there yesterday. they had a conversation completely unscheduled. i think this is just something that he does. let's not read too much into the fact that he jumps on phone with people who he has had a thought about. he does it in the positive. it's hard to argue with him calling the mayor where they are threatened by erosion and promising to help deal with it. and calling even the u.s.
attorney from the southern district of new york and engaging in a conversation sort of what appears to be on the spur of the moment without a lot of planning or background work. >> the thing i would say about that is donald trump didn't just fall off the turnip truck yesterday. whatever you think about him, he has some level of sophistication. he is an international businessman. he liver lives in manhattan. he has to know this is different than what you are describing. it's not quite the same thing. >> but he acts the same in both situations. >> you are investigating your hhs secretary, somebody who can cause problems for you. i think anybody who watches crime television knows you don't do this. >> matt, is there a mission -- the idea that there's some sort of mission creep for the president's personal lawyer, is that a concern? >> one is, donald trump just like he behaves in a way that's unorthodox, some of the people who surround him would not be ready for prime time. corey lewandowski, that guy
could have never gotten raised on any normal presidential race. lawyers the same thing. having said that, it was good political advice. somebody should have gone to donald trump much earlier and said, fire preet bharara. you do not want a liberal activist united states attorney especially in your jurisdiction. he should have done it right away, gotten rid of all of them, cleaned house. the problem is he did it too late. he mishandled the execution of it. the advice to fire him i think is solid political advice. >> sorry. in bharara's defense, he is known for going after top democrats in new york state. i don't see how you can describe him as a liberal activist. he put away the top democrat in the new york state house. he made his name doing that. >> what it shows to me is that everything with trump is transactional. one of the reasons he wanted to keep him on is because chuck
schumer the senator from new york suggested that he should keep this guy on. he is doing a favor. he thinks he is going to get something out of the relationship in the senate. then preet doesn't pay off for him. he is not showing loyalty. his personal lawyer according to your reporting says get rid of this guy. fbi was working in the jurisdiction and anything in terms of the finances, including dealings perhaps with russians or russian loans might have conceivably gone through the office of the u.s. attorney in the southern district and that certainly is something that lawyers in the u.s. attorney's office at the time suggested privately. whether that's the case i think
what we're seeing is that the president has an inclination to try to shut down legitimate investigation when he thinks it's coming close or closing in on him and all of this is at a peace and once again what rosen stein today was doing was laying down a marker and saying if the president goes over that line with mueller, then a line will have been crossed that others think is irretrievable. >> we're going to take a quick break. next new word from a white house official about what robert mueller was doing just a day before. so you miss the big city? i don't miss much... definitely not the traffic. excuse me, doctor... the genomic data came in. thank you. you can do that kind of analysis? yeah, watson. i can quickly analyze millions of clinical and scientific reports to help you tailor treatment options
i'm gonna just go back to doing what i was doing. find your awesome with the xfinity x1 voice remote. case in point on may 17th, robert muellerer was named special counsel and turns out just a day before president trump was interviewing mueller for fbi director. what a difference a day makes. the response from the white house spokesperson on whether the president would fire mueller. saying the president has the right to but he has no intention to. she didn't even address whether he's considering it, just said he's not going to do it. >> i think one thing we've
learned in the past 24 hours is that this idea of the trump firing mueller is just a catastrophic one that rec -- republicans recognize as much as democrats. it is technically true that the president, through the attorney general, can fire mueller but the idea he would do it, especially now when mueller's not done anything, it seems absurd. >> no one in the white house has acknowledged that he might have been considering it which is what he had said. and now saying it's not going to happen. >> and that's what they should say and to the extent anybody had that cross their mind, they should as quickly as they possible, scrub that memory from -- they're not going to fire this guy. his reputation is unimpeachable. i think it's important to make sure he has balanced hiring going on. that's the only area giving people meaningful concern i
think is legitimate. but the white house took the right position saying this isn't something we're considering or that we're going to do. >> and rosenstein made it very clear he's in charge of firing mueller. the president wants muler to be fired, he has to go through rod rosenstein and very clear the only way he would fire him is for what the regulations say was cause. absent that he would leave his job before he would carry out those instructions. you have republicans saying it was catastrophic, the person in charge of this mission if trump asked him to do it saying i'm nautd going to happen. so i agree with jeff saying in the 24 hours since he floated this, all the key players have said you can't cross this line. >> how much do you think this was a friend of the president floating it to get the message out that it would not be a good idea? >> i don't know.
it was also newt gingrich, and other people. clearly there were discussions that gave the idea of currency, perhaps as a trial balloon. and particularly because of republican reaction. you heard what sarah huckabee sanders just said. there is one silver lining perhaps. in mueller's for donald trump. mueller is self-disciplined and believes in the rule of law enough. and it's already started to i gather. the trump organization, perhaps trump loans, trying to get to the bottom of what happened with
things, russians, collusion, etc. but a fishing expedition, no and i think the white could take comfort in that perhaps. >> investigating him. i'm serious. >> he said he would resign and jeffrey you can lay it out for us from there. isn't there a scenario where he finds somebody to ultimately do what he wants. >> which is precisely what he said in the saturday night massacre. you had -- and i just think that is something that even donald trump who is not deeply steepd in american history does not want to replicate. >> that moment is certainly past at least for now.
if this was a real thing but maybe it comes back if they start closing in on something. >> i want to thank everybody on the panel tonight. time to hand over to don lemon and cnn tonight. this is cnn breaking news. >> attorney general jeff sessions angrily denouncing accusations while testifying before the senate intelligence committee. sessions had this to say to his former senate colleagues. >> and to suggest that i participated in any collusion that i was aware of any collusion with the russian government to hurt this country is an appalling and detestable lie. >> and plenty of fireworks between sessions and democratic members of the committee. sessions refusing to discuss his private conversations with president trump yet denying he was