tv Anderson Cooper 360 CNN June 13, 2017 9:00pm-10:01pm PDT
it all adds up to our most reliable network ever. one that keeps you connected to what matters most. the last man in the room before the president spoke alone with fbi director james comey spoke under oath. he's seen and heard lot as a cabinet member and before that as one of the closest campaign advisors and been known as being untruthful. and went beor the committee in part to set the recrd straight about secret innuendo being leaked about himself, the president and this whole affair. however he had lez to say beyond that to the considerable irritation of several and the loud approval of many others. and in a moment we'll hear from
senator ron wyden who was involved in the contentious exchange but first some of the key moments from today's testimony. >> i did not have any private meetings, nor do i recall any conversations at the mayflower hotel. >> has the president invoked executive privilege in the case of your testimony today? >> no, he has not. >> then what is the basis of your refusal to answer the question? >> the president has a constitutional -- >> i understand that but the president hasn't asserted. so what is the legal basis for your refuse tool answer these question snz. >> i am protecting the right of the president to exert it it. i'll exert it should he choose. >> did these people meet with russian officials at any point in the campaign? paul manafort? >> i don't have any information that he had done so.
he served as campaign chairman. i have no information that he did. >> i don't recall it. >> reince priebus? >> i don't recall. >> steve miller? >> i don't recall him having such a conversation. >> cory lewandowski? >> i do not recall any of those individuals having any meeting with russian officials. >> carter page? >> i don't know. >> have you ever in any of these fantastical situations heard of a plot line so ridiculous that a sitting united states senator and ambassador colluded at an open setting with hundreds of other people to pull off the greatest caper in the history of espionage. >> thank you for saying that, senator cotton. it's just like through the looking glass. i mean what is this? >> stone dstz walling of any
kind is unacceptable and general sessions has acknowledged there is no legal basis for this stonewalling. >> senator widen, i am not stonewalling. >> i want to ask you point blank why did you sign the letter recommending the firing of director comey when it violated your recusal? >> it did not violate my recusal. it did not violate my recusal. that would be the answer to that. and the letter that i signed represented my views that had been formulated for some time. >> chairman, just if i can finish that answer my my view doesn't pass the smell test. general sessions, respectfully you're not answering daegz. >> well, what is the question? >> the question is mr. comey said that there were matters with respect to the recusal that were problematic and he couldn't
talk about them. what are they? >> why don't you tell me. they are none, senatorer, there are none. i can tell you that for absolute certainty. this is a secret innuendo being leaked out there about me and i don't appreciate it. >> that was senator ron wyden of oregon. i spoke with him shortly before we went on air. you accused senator -- attorney general sessions of stonewalling. he claims he was holding long held policies. >> he refused to address the most basic issues today. why didn't he recuse himself sooner? what did the president say to him about firing director comey? look, the bottom line is that we have had one of these trump officials after another and they
basically say they're not going to respond to questions because they don't feel like it. >> i mean he did taken a oath to answer questions and executive privilege was not being called in. so is there any recourse you can take to get him to answer questions he wouldn't answer? or are your hands pretty much tied? >> you certainly can take action against officials. but look what we're going to do now is show that there's no legal basis for the stonewalling. he didn't have a claim of executive privilege and on some of the matters, he just threw in really bazar kinds of comments. for example when i asked him about what director comey said. director comey said when i asked him about jeff sessions recusal, he said it was really problematic and he couldn't get into it in public.
so i asked jeff sessions what was meant by that and jeff sessions just got all riled up and started haulering about innuendos. but he didn't answer the question. the question was why was the former fbi director find this so problematic he couldn't talk about it in public? here's my bottom line here, anderson. what we learned today is the country's top legal official doesn't have much of a grasp of the law and he certainly doesn't understand what recusal is all about. >> do you think he'll actually be able to find out whose account was accurate? was director comey accurate when he said he knew the attorney general was going to have to recuse himself based on things which he didn't go into? >> when you have a situation like that, hawaii said, he said,
examine the relevant facts. director comey responded to questions for several hours and didn't pass on any of them. what jeff sessions did was in effect pass on all of them. so when you have two officials and one of them is straight forward and laze out a lot of details and the other seems to duck and weave and trying to figure out how to escape accountability, i think the american people are going to say we're going with the people who offered the facts. >> today also the attorney general forcefully declared any accusation of collusion between the trump campaign and russia is a appalling and detestable lie. do you believe him? do you believe he had no hand in any possible collusion? >> what i can tell you is when you have someone who violates the terms of his recusal, you
certainly have grounds to question other matters. so the point you are asking about i intend to follow up on. >> and the attorney general said he would not participate in any effort to remove robert mueller. does hearing that give you confidence of the integrity of the investigation is going to be upheld? under normal circumstances, you would say yes but certainly when you look at the trump inner circle, they have a long track record here based on the first few months of this administration to take steps that honor the one principal above everything else, which is protect the president. >> finally the attorney general was asked about his meeting with kislyak in his office and seemed unable to go into much detail of what he actually did discuss. he said nothing to do with the campaign, that had to do with his role as a senator at the time and yet some of the major
issues as john mccain pointed out, it didn't seem like he went into them or didn't remember. normally would there be staff sitting in, taking notes? would thereby any account at the time of what was discussed? what i indicated at the hearing is some of these answers, anderson just don't pass the smell test. i mean if it you're talk about meetings with a prominent russian official and he says he doesants remember much, he doesn't know if there are any records, this kind of thing, it cries out for those of us who are charged with oversight to insist that we get more facts and we're going to stay tat. >> i appreciate your time. thank you. >> want to bring in the panel. and matthew whitker -- you said the attorney general's testimony was the white house basically having its cake and eating it
too. >> i thought so. he said -- he didn't answer any questions about what donald trump said or did but he did not site executive privilege. he just said confidentiality which is a made up legalal concept which has no basis in law. >> he tds was long standing darnlt of justice policy. >> that he could not identify in writing and not known to me or many people in that hearing. so the white house got the secrecy they wanted, the disclosure -- nondisclosure of conversations involving the president but didn't have to take the political heat of siting executive privilege. >> and executive privilege came up a lot. i want to show where the term was thrown around. >> as the the president invehicled executive privilege in the case of your testimony here today? >> he has not. >> then what is the base of your refuse tool answer these
questions? >> i'm protecting the right of the president to assert it if he chooses. that would call for a communication and i'm not able to comment. >> can you tell me what are these long standing doj rules that protect conversations made in the executive without invoking executive privilege? >> i'm protecting the president's constitutional right. mr. chairman, i'm not able to comment on conversations with officials within the white house. >> stonewalling of any kind is unacceptable and general sessions has acknowledged there is no legal basis for this stonewalling. >> i am not stonewalling. i am following the historic policies of the department of justice. >> it's the same thing, gloria, that we heard from -- or at
least rogers went tine classified testimony but no indication that sessions is going to. >> in fact sessions was asked about that and no indication he was going to do that. they asked the justice department what is the precedent that he's questioning and they poented to 1982. one from president regan and the other from ted olsen who was then the ag for the office of legal counsel. but it was not something that sessions could site in the hearing and i think that you have this pattern here of sessions, according to our reporting, did not go to the white house and ask whether he should assert executive privilege. the other two said they tried to contact the white house and never got a response if you'll recall. so the white house is getting people just saying i'm not going to testify about these
conversations because it makes it look like they could be actually damaging to the president. >> if it's not executive privilege, what is it? >> i think what all the lawyers in the room believe it is, it feels a lot like attorney-client privilege but they're thinking we're having confidential communications when they -- their sense tells them they shouldn't talk about it. >> but codes. >> exactly but what you see is the executive branch have come up with a strategy to not answer these questions. >> congress has a constitutional right to participate and investigate and a tingly sense, with all due respect, is not a legal concept. but the thing is they don't -- in the absence of contempt or some sort of coersion -- >> would it have made the attorney gen's argument
stronger? >> of course. the more specific you are in any time and he was specific in the opening statements and you expect more than in the back and forth with senators. so there's give and take on that. but unless the doj comes up with that kind of spes fisty for the tradition he's sited other than the memos gloria mentioned, then it looks like weak part of today's testimony. i will say it was all patterned around the same thing and that was conversations with the president where you would expect them to potentially exercise executive privilege and the tingly sense as it's now being described is leading somebody like general sessions who's lawyer, to have those instincts. you look at ron wyden today and boy, he looked like he was
huffing and puffing and couldn't stand it and this is outrages and of course this was all missing for eight years from people like ron wyden. so there is a lot of partisanship to this. if this hearing, like the comey hearing were structured to be purely substantive, each side would have their counsel asking the questions and they would be going to have their time shout nothing to the camera and we saw some of that again today like we did with comey. this is not the ideal structure for an oversight committee to get the most information out of a hearing and general sessions did well in his opening statement and there was a lot to fight about after that. >> i mean was today a good day for the trump administration? no real details came out about those conversations and a lot of the democrats wanted to hear. >> i think it probably was. if you're looking at is it from a political standpoint. it's probably good day for the
trump administration. by the way i thought that senator hinrich had the best questions today and he made the point that said either you take executive privilege or if it's classified information, you don't have to talk about it. otherwise if you pledge to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, then you have no excuse for not answering those questions. having said that i think that most of -- in terms of the news value and the possibility that down the road -- if attorney general seshzs had answered questions with more spes fisty, more specifically today and he'd gotten something wrong, even if he misremembered down the road it might have come back to haunt him. i think politically it doesn't hurt him and it fuels him down the road. >> and a lot of his answers were i don't remember and not to my knowledge which are classic
answers. >> it looked like he got cornered in the hallway by cameras. the president knew hawaii was coming and what he kept saying was that he was trying to preserve trump's future executive privilege as if they could rnt have had a conversation about it before he came to testify. it seemed like a game. i mean he can only play this card one time but he did play it and i think it harmed his credibility because it didn't make sense to people. i think you're thinking. >> forgive me for interrupting. they can play it as many times as they like as long as they have republican control of these committees because the only thing that's going to stop them from essentially stonewalling is coersion and you're not going to get that from republicans. >> and another thing hanging over the hearing is whether then senator sessions led in the hearing. i want to play a
portion from back in january and what was said today. >> if it's true, it's obviously extremely serious. and if there is any evidence that any one affiliated with the trump campaign communicated with the russian government in the course of this campaign, what will you do? >> senator, franken, i'm not aware of any of those activities. i have been called a surrogate at the time or two in that campaign and i did not have communications with the russians. and i'm unable to comment on it. >> he was asked about that by vice chairman warner. >> this is what happened. senator franken asked me a rambling question after some six hours of testimony that included dramatic new allegations that the united states intelligence community, the u.s. intelligence community had advised president
elect trump quote that there was a continuing exchange of information during the campaign between trump's surrogates and intermediaries for the russian government, closed quote. i was taken aback by that explosive allegation which he said was being reported as breaking news that very day. in which i had not heard. i wanted to refute that immediately. any suggestion i was part of such an activity, i replied quote to senator franken quote, senator franken, i'm not aware of any of those activities, i have been called a surrogate a time or two in that campaign and i did not, didn't have communications with the russians and i'm unable to comment on it. closed quote. that was the context in which i was asked a question and in that
context my answer was a fair and correct response to the charge as i understood it. >> senator franken put out a statement saying he doesn't buy the attorney general's investigation. >> franken asked him about intermediaries for the russian government, which is exactly what the russian ambassador is and surrogates for the trump campaign, which is what jefr sessions is. so even by his own explanation of the context of that question, i don't quite understand what attorney general sessions is getting at. the question was about the kind of context we now know he had. he may think they're innocent context. they were about issues totally innocent but the question was indeed about surgrts and intermedia intermediaries. -- >> and he said he wasn't meeting with the russian ambassador as a surrogate. >> john mccain kind of got into that. john mccain said i don't remember you being that
interested in foreign policyish oos. >> and quizzed him on what specific foreign policy issues they were discussing. >> and based on the department of justice accounting that sessions had had zero meetings with any ambassadors or foreign advisors of foreign governments up until the point he was appointed to the campaign in march and april he had an almost 30. >> i assure you -- >> i understand he could theoretically do that as a senator or surrogate. but he was doing it as a senator and previously did not do that. >> what kislyak was doing was to find out about the trump campaign. >> and later the man who would make the call if asked to fire special counsel hamueller. rod rosenstein was asked about it. see what he says. >>ium are sure. (work sfx)
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the president's yet to react to today's testimony. quote fake news is at an all time high. iers the apology for all the incorrect stories? so the president was traveling in wisconsin during sessions' testimony. do we
know if he watched it? >> reporter: he was talking about work force development, health care today. but a source does say the president sent most of this flight to wisconsin watching his attorney general jeff sessions testifying on the hill, getting
peppered with questions about russia and his conversations with even he is still dialled in on what's going on. >> has the white house, anyone had any comment about the hearings today? >> we'ver had no official response. i spoke with a spokesperson for the president's personal lawyer. he said he would not be putting out a statement today. it's possible we could hear from the white house on this. they're on their way back from wisconsin right now. and sarah huck aeb sanders is with reporters. so far the white house has been pretty mum on this, anderson. >> back for a second to the attorney general's meeting last year at a may flower hotel in washington. a key moment some sort of exchange at a vip gathering. and before that, video of the recession. and you see the ambassador,
sergey kislyak, making his way to the front and then senator sessions come across the front row, walk past the ambassador, saying nothing and sitting behind him. so that's the video. back with the panel. i know -- the long tradition of peopleal saying they don't recall certain things. it does seem like the russian ambassador was very forgettable. >> and to nancy pelosi too who said she'd never met them and then a picture shows up of the two of them at a meeting with other folks. seeing that video right before i came on the air i talked to someone in the room who, long with frank buckley, had helped write that speech and so they were there, sitting behind jeff sessions and mr. buckley has a piece in which he says if i saw this, i'd say so. i saw no indication he had any conversation with the russian
ambassador and left it alone. so in other words, i mean this is -- mr. buckley points out that bob woodward were there. this is a very public place. so to have some sort of private conversation in a conspiracy, that would hardly be the place to do it. it makes no sense on the tace of it. >> clearly he does not seemeger to go into a classified briefing to answer more questions. is there anything more the senators can do? >> if i was the democrats on the committee i'd have two things i'd be trying to pursue. number one going to senator burr, the and saying we need to change the process by which we're bringing the administration witnesses to capitol hill. by now these have been voluntary, they've agreed voluntarily to come to the hill
and testify. if you have a subpoena issued, you have the possibility of a contempt of congress situation hanging over the heads of witnesses. >> if you're saying -- >> correct. >> absent an invocation, there's no legal basis for these administration officials to be refusing to answer questions. members of both parties should be taking the issue seriously. but if you issue subpoenas, you can dangthal threat of a contempt of congress card, and they'll think twice about refusing to answer questions and getting ready some kind of statutory propose tool maybe revisit an independent counsel log. that was sunsetted in the twilight in the late '90s. both sides agree that investigation ran a muck and there was a serious question about lack of accountability as it was written in that statute.
but now you have a situation that where the president can basically fire, albeit through the acting attorney general and you have surrogates going around floating the possibility. if that happens and mueller is got rid of by donald trump we need to at least have the back up option of an independent counsel. >> what about the idea of subpoenas? are people willing to come voluntarily? is that fair? >> thalsh rr what attorney general sessions did today. he came voluntarily in front of the committee. you've seen a number of people say we would like to come and testify and knock down the silliness. >> they're testifying but not quite testifying. >> national review and a very well written piece writes preserving privilege is not ubstructing justice. i think it's clear what he was doing here.
i mean coming into today there were two potential outcomes. number one they would kill general sessions and knock him down politically and he wouldn't make it out or he would still be stapding in the end. in fact i think he came without a surprising amount of vinegar and fire in his belly with snof answers. he knocked down some of the hysteria from those wanting to make this a partisan show and this is really the end of the so-called russia hysteria we're seeing because we're this far into it and there's not one shred of evidences thereber been any coordinating and the biggest thing -- biggest piece of news is that we're finding out there are investigations into multiple leaks, which is a very big deal. >> the president wasn't happy with sessions before today. today sessions didn't speculate
at all about whether the president was appropriate in his conversations, he didn't discuss their conversationess, so you think he's back in the good graces? >> i think he was strong, decisive -- >> you're not answering. >> i'm not going to speak for the president. but i would say watching this, as any trump supporter, i would say that the attorney general did a very good job. >> he asked him a question about the russian interference. it was similar to what he asked james comey last week. >> you were part of the national security team so if he would have heard think is about russia and their capabilities and our concern about what they can do to our election process, was there any conversations concerning that whatsoever? >> i don't recall it, senator snp. >> i don't recall any conversations with the president about the russia election interference. >> did he ever ask you questions
about this? >> there was aen initial briefing. i don't remember it kmaktly where he asked questions about what we'd found and our confidence level was but after that i toent remember anything. >> now we have two people from -- who were in the administration or former fbi director and the attorney general saying they've not heard the president expressing much concern about russian interference in the election which the entire u.s. intelligence committee is on agreement on. does that inconcern you? >> well t does concern me because what our intelligence committee has said is that we had russian interference and it's not going to stop. they're go doing it again. i do think that the ball -- it needle didn't move one way or another but i will say whether or not you're talking about russia interference and attorney general sessions literally said if it did occur. he said if it occurred.
but whether or not we're talking about russia interference, ukrain, he was reminiscent of former attorney general in 2007 with his i don't recalls. but he looked relatively incompetent and this huge dosage of woeful ignorance. he never was briefed about russia interference and could careless. this is our top legal mind in the united states of america and he looked befuddled and utterly incompetent. >> there's still the question of whether or not the president taped jamps comey in the oval office. >> do you know if the president records conversations in the oval office or anywhere in the white house? >> i do not. >> if it in fact any president were to record their official duties, would there be a move to preserve those records? >> i don't know, senator rubio, probably so.
sglits rr just such an easy question to have answered. clearly nobody wants to ask the president or have asked and hadn't got an answer. >> i think that's a question they don't want to answer to, especially the attorney general. how is senator harris hysterical. i don't understand that. she was asking tough questions. >> completely partisan screen. >> but how is that hysterical? >> i would say from my objective perspective, it didn't seem like there was any effort to try to get to a real question or -- >> i think she asked a lot of questions. she was very dogged but not anymore than ron wyden was. would you say that? >> my opinion -- i think she was hysterical. i dent think senator widen was trying to get to the bottom of answers either. >> but he wasn't hysterical and she was. >> she was up, down and i
thought it was way out of bounds. >> she didn't shout, actually but even if she did, they both were asking a lot of tough questions and i think calling her hysterical is probably -- >> hysteria is a neutral quality. >>. >> and yet it's women called hysterical. i'm hysterical right now for example. i think she was asking a lot of questions and he wasn't being forthcoming and there was frustration on the part of the senators and it wasn't all democrats. >> so in your idea she was making a legitimate effort to hear. >> you may not like the questions she was asking but yeah. >> and you didn't view it as her talking over the top of him? >> i think he was talking over the top of her. like i said i think senator widen's was by far the most aggressive of the questioning and there's nothing wrong with that.
>> one of the things i think that attorney general sessions does very well is if you're stick is to be super polished and confident and on top of everything, that's a kind of a burden. you'll have to bring it every night and deliver. if your stick is being a characterture of a southerner and a good old boy, then you can be like i don't recollect that, i don't recall. i think he comes across as pretty likable. that's his stick. the opposite of hysteria. i don't know. tell me. >> he was outraged today. >> he was fired up. >> he was outraged. you're not going to do this to me. i came here because i want to clear my name and i recused myself from the russia investigation but not from clearing my name. >> it could also be his -- as someone who comes from the city.
people have southern accents is how they actually talk. i would not be able to go to the cooper family reunion if i did not say -- >> one thing, whether this was good for sessions or not, the most important thing that's happened in the last week is that james comey has laid out a case that a lot of foreign federal prosecutors argue is obstruction of justice and the thing i was looking for today is how much damage did that case get from sessions, who is a witness to a number of the things he in the comey testimony last week and i would say no damage at all. in fact, he corroborated overwhelmingly kraub rated the parts of comey's testimony he was involved with. did not contradict any piece of it and that is the thing to watch because it's far more important than the senate
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thfrmnts white house says president trump has no intention in firing special counsel, robert mueller. and on the way back from milwaukee, reporters asked about it. and "while president has a right to, he has no intention to do so. deputy attorney rod rosenstein would be the one to do it. he was in hearings on capitol hill. what did the deputy attorney general say? >> roadsenstein said he would not fire mueller unless there was cause. heed there would have to be good cause and it's not an action he would take unless it was lawful and appropriate.
this was something a number of senators, including republican senator, lindsey graham pressed him on. >> do you know of any reason or cause to fire mr. mueller as of this date? >> no, i do not, senator. >> and that would be your decision if that ever happened? >> that's correct. >> and your going to make it and nobody else? >> it would be my responsibility. >> and rosenstein explained the process by which that would happen. he said he would be the one to put it in writing. so this is something he would have to sign his name on to and he said if there was not good cause, that it would not matter to him what anybody says. he seemed to be saying that the buck stopped with him and he wasn't going to bend to any influence. >> did he say anything about his memo about director -- then director of the fbi comey? >> he did because that was the
memo that he sent on to jeff sessions and white house officials used to justify the firing of james comey. until president mentioned that russia was on his mind. rosenstein did say he was very careful not to associate himself with anything pertaining to russia. he said he stood by what he wrote, by the criticisms but the memo is about what it's about and said any questions about what clearly he seem bood referring to obstruction of justice, that was going to fall under bob mueller's purview. he would not say when he was told to write the memo and rosen stein would not tell him who told him to write that mempo. >> and a friend of president trump's was back. and chris rudy said the president is considering firing mueller. today he said he never spoke to the president about it.
and the attorney was on tv over the weekend. >> i never said the president told me. i ever said i have a conversation. i never implied. as you know i have been on cnn many times and i always speak for myself and not the president. he has his own spokesman, although they're, i think, in need of a it little bit of help from time to time. so the president's spokesman issued a -- -- interestingly enough they never denied my underlying report. >> cnn legal analyst. it is true that he never denied out right that the president was considering it or thinking about it. what they said last night sarah huck aeb sanders put out a statement saying it speaks for itself. and the question was is potus
considering whether he'll fire mueller and she answered he has no intention to do so. she never said no he wasn't taking it under advisement. >> i think you can file this under a trial balloon that sank very quickly and i think rosenstein underlined today how difficult it will be to fire mueller if the president wants to do it because it is quite clear that rosen stein is the person and who has to do it and he said i won't do it if i don't find good coz. in other words you're go having to to fire me and have someone else come in the job and do it. which is what happened in the saturday night massier they resigned rather than fire archibald cox. it raises the stakes that if the president wants to get rid of mueller at this point, it will be world war iii and i think no
one wants that. >> it is interesting in the three people we've heard from the white house or the three times we've heard from the white house, they've never said no, the president wasn't considering it. >> so what. this is not a place they can go as a practicate matter and i don't think they want to try to jeffrey's point. and i think it's a good one to stay away from for them. mural has a great reputation. there's no one i can think of in law enforcement who has worked with him who doesn't hold a high opinion of him. he's an ideal person to flesh this all out and as long as he doesn't run a muck, then i think america's going to be better for clearing this issue up and having whatever the outcome is put before the american people and rosenstein made it clear today he's not firing this guy unless the regulatory standard of good cause is met and look,
good cause for robert mueller is a very high bar. is a very high bar and i would say that i understand their concerns when you see the kind of smearing going on of the attorney general in light of what he had to say people's heads in the white house is clearly not the case. and we can let this thing take the path toward the truth,
whatever that may be, that robert mueller's job is to achieve. >> what about, you know, concerns have been raised about some of the attorneys that mueller has hired, that they donated overwhelmingly almost universally to democrats over the years, i think one of them had also donated -- >> nominal -- >> a nominal gift of 2,000 or something. i mean, do you -- is that a concern? >> i don't think it is. lady justice is blind. and political donations don't mean that someone has a partisan ax to grind. i think what the white house really should be worried about is a patrick fitzgerald-type special counsel with very broad discretion as rod rosenstein has given bob mueller for good reason. i think bob is worthy of that trust. but if you remember, sort of pat fisher got very expansive jurisdiction from jim comey of all people and used that to eventually convict scooter
libby. unrelated to what was initially the start of that prosecution. >> paul, what about the fact that according to chris ruddy here that the president had actually interviewed mueller the day before about -- before he was named special prosecutor about a possible position? >> that is such a strange coincidence. and when you consider that obviously the president had rejected the idea of naming him as fbi director and now mueller is in charge of the investigation. but you know, anderson, the federal regulation here about firing the special prosecutor is very specific. you have to demonstrate misconduct, dereliction of duty, conflict of interest -- >> that's what good cause would be. >> well, it's more than -- good cause is a separate item. but those things are also specifically listed as possibilities for firing somebody. what it amounts to is there's got to be a really specific act of misconduct to justify firing a special prosecutor, and it can only be done by the acting attorney general, which got richard nixon in trouble. you know, as jeff was saying, he
had to fire elliott richardson, william ruckles house, and then robert bork finally accepted the position of acting attorney general and fired archibald cox. and that scandal led ultimately to the resignation and disgrace of richard nixon. that's the example historically the president is looking at if he's going fighter special prosecutor. >> jeff, i wasn't reporting on the white house back then, but my understanding is with ken starr that the clinton white house, they had a lot of people going out basically impugning ken starr for a long time. >> daily. hourly. >> is that the strategy you think this white house may take toward robert mueller? >> it's quite possible. i mean, i think mueller is going to be a target. and he is in the midst of a political struggle. now, mueller is likely to conduct his business very quietly. we're not likely to know a lot of what he's doing until and unless he indicts somebody. so if he's completely silent, i
think it's less likely that they will be attacking him. but if he does charge somebody and if it does implicate the president he will be a big political target just the way starr was for the clinton folks. >> ken, this notion of the attorneys he's hired overwhelmingly have given money to democrats, that he met with the president maybe -- chris ruddy raised the idea that his law firm also had represented members of the trump family and therefore he might have been privy to some information, does that -- are any of those red flags for you? >> well, the only one that is a concern is the disproportionate hiring of democrats who have donated -- i don't consider $2,000 a nominal donation. >> compared to the $30,000 or $40,000 that that one individual gave to democrats. >> he needs to not only be beyond reproach, he needs to appear to be beyond reproach. and i think robert mueller will fix that, bob mueller will fix
that over time as they flesh out their hirings. but it's going to be more critical that when what they've done surfaces and most of it will be done quietly, that it be a rather obviously done professionally, be thorough and not be one-sided, that it be balanced, at least in terms of the consideration of all the angles. and if that's the case, then whatever final product, whether it's indictments or a report or what have you, could be a combination, would have greater credibility. the interview for the -- to take on the fbi director role again doesn't concern me. because of his reputation he was a natural person to have on that list to maybe bring back. i frankly think that the fact that he was on an interview adds to his credibility as special counsel. >> attorney general jeff sessions in the hot seat. what he said about russia's meddling in the election. what he can't recall about his meetings with russians. and what he refused to talk
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tripadvisor. the latest reviews. the lowest prices. we have been talking about today's disputed and occasionally discombobulated testimony from attorney general jeff sessions. he said he wanted to set the record straight on the russia affair, the comey firing and all the innuendo surrounding the administration. he called suggestions he colluded with russia a detestable lie.
he had a lot to say about that. less to say about encounters with russia's ambassador. next to nothing about certain conversations with the president. it was at times fiery testimony, maddening to his critics, encouraging to his supportsers, and whether you see it as stonewalling or straight talk there was plenty to see. so right now we just want to play more extending portions of the testimony. cnn's jessica schneider has more. >> there are none. >> reporter: attorney general jeff sessions grew angry and frustrated with the continued questions about a possible meeting with russian ambassador sergey kislyak in april 2016. >> this is a secret inwendo being leaked out there about me, and i don't appreciate it. and i tried to give my best and truthful answers to my committee i've appeared before. and i recused myself from any investigation into the campaign for president. but i did not recuse myself from defending my honor against scurrilous and false allegations. >> reporter: the attorney general repeatedly rebuffed the spec